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I love making lists. Each month I make lists of my goals for the next month.  And like everybody else in the world I make lists for the coming year.  I have my personal goals, I have my business goals.  And I have my travel goals.  Being here in Japan we are so much closer to so much of the world that I haven’t explored yet.  So I’m so excited to be able to spend a few more years here to see more places.  For 2020, I’ve put together a list of 10 places—both countries and cities—where I want to visit.  There are so many places around Tokyo or on the main island that I’m sure we’ll visit this year, but, these destinations are the ones that will take some planning.

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Okinawa

Since WWII, Okinawa-hontō, the region’s biggest island, has been home to several key US military installations in the Pacific and a sometimes uneasy meeting of East and West. Okinawa’s bustling capital Naha and the sprawling resorts further north draw steady streams of shopping, sun-seeking and honeymooning tourists from neighboring Asian nations.

But seekers of nature and isolation will love the diversity and beauty of the smaller islands, from Yakushima’s primeval forests and craggy peaks to the turquoise waters and soft sands of the Amami, Kerama and Miyako groups, and the spectacular coral, dense jungles and mangroves of the Yaeyamas, furthest south.

–From Lonely Planet

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Hokkaido

Winter is a different beast entirely: cold fronts from Siberia bring huge dumps of light, powdery snow, which has earned Hokkaidō a reputation as a paradise for skiers and snowboarders; there are international-level resorts here, but also remote backcountry opportunities.

The island’s stunning natural scenery and the promise of outdoor adventure tend to overshadow everything else Japan’s northernmost island has to offer, which is a lot: there is excellent food, especially seafood; a vibrant capital city; and a compelling history, starting with the legacy of Hokkaidō’s indigenous people, the Ainu.

–From Lonely Planet

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Korea

South Korea’s compact size and superb transport infrastructure mean that tranquillity is always within easy reach of urban sprawl. Hike to the summits of craggy mountains – some of which transform into ski slopes come winter – enveloped within densely forested national parks. Get further off the beaten path than you thought possible by sailing to remote islands, where farming and fishing folk welcome you into their homes or simple seafood cafes. Gaze up at the distant stars from serene villages surrounded by rice fields, sleeping in rustic hanok (traditional wooden house) guesthouses.

–From Lonely Planet

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Hawaii

Snapshots of these islands scattered in the cobalt blue Pacific Ocean are heavenly, without the need for any embellishment by tourist brochures. Sunrises and sunsets are so spectacular that they’re cause for celebration all by themselves, such as atop Haleakalā volcano on Maui. As tropical getaways go, Hawaii couldn’t be easier or more worth the trip, though be aware that visiting these Polynesian isles isn’t always cheap. But whether you’re dreaming of swimming in crystal waterfall pools or lazing on golden-sand beaches, you can find what you’re looking for here.

–From Lonely Planet

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Taiwan

Famed for centuries as Ilha Formosa (Beautiful Isle; 美麗島; Měilìdǎo), this is a land with more sides than the 11-headed Guanyin. Towering sea cliffs, marble-walled gorges and tropical forests are just the start of your journey, which could take you as far as Yushan, Taiwan’s 3952m alpine roof.

In Taiwan you can criss-cross mountains on colonial-era hiking trails or cycle a lone highway with the blue Pacific on one side and green volcanic arcs on the other. And if you simply want classic landscapes to enjoy, you’ll find them around every corner.

–From Lonely Planet

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Thailand

Adored around the world, Thai cuisine expresses fundamental aspects of Thai culture: it is generous, warm, refreshing and relaxed. Thai dishes rely on fresh, local ingredients – pungent lemongrass, searing chillies and plump seafood. A varied national menu is built around the four fundamental flavours: spicy, sweet, salty and sour. Roving appetites go on eating tours of Bangkok noodle shacks, seafood pavilions in Phuket, and Burmese market stalls in Mae Sot. Cooking classes reveal the simplicity behind the seemingly complicated dishes, and mastering the market is an important survival skill.

–From Lonely Planet

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Vietnam

Unforgettable experiences are everywhere in Vietnam. There’s the sublime: gazing over a surreal seascape of limestone islands from the deck of a traditional junk in Halong Bay. The ridiculous: taking 10 minutes just to cross the street through a tsunami of motorbikes in Hanoi. The inspirational: exploring the world’s most spectacular cave systems in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. The comical: watching a moped loaded with honking pigs weave a wobbly route along a country lane. And the contemplative: witnessing a solitary grave in a cemetery of thousands of war victims.

–From Lonely Planet

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Cambodia

Contemporary Cambodia is the successor state to the mighty Khmer empire, which, during the Angkorian period, ruled much of what is now Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. The remains of this empire can be seen at the fabled temples of Angkor, monuments unrivaled in scale and grandeur in Southeast Asia. The traveler’s first glimpse of Angkor Wat, the ultimate expression of Khmer genius, is sublime and is matched by only a few select spots on earth, such as Machu Picchu or Petra.

–From Lonely Planet

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Bali

The rich and diverse culture of Bali plays out at all levels of life, from the exquisite flower-petal offerings placed everywhere, to the processions of joyfully garbed locals shutting down major roads as they march to one of the myriad temple ceremonies, to the otherworldly traditional music and dance performed island-wide. Almost everything has spiritual meaning. The middle of Bali is dominated by the dramatic volcanoes of the central mountains and hillside temples such as Pura Luhur Batukau (one of the island’s estimated 10,000 temples), while the tallest peak, Gunung Agung, is the island’s spiritual center.

–From Lonely Planet

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Singapore

Whizzing around Singapore can take a matter of minutes, thanks to one of the world’s most efficient and widespread public transport systems. Hankering for breakfast in Little India, but want to visit the temples in Chinatown before lunch? No problem, you’ll be there in a jiffy using the sparkling MRT system – and why not stop at Marina Bay for a spot of shopping on your way? Plus, with new metro lines opening practically every two years, this tiny island just keeps on becoming easier to explore.

–From Lonely Planet

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