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5 Tokyo experiences you won't forget

5 Tokyo experiences you won't forget
CNN - Jul 15, 2010

Japan is thick with temples, shrines and cultural attractions with a unique and interesting ancient history. But beyond what you can learn about the past, modern Tokyo offers more than a few memorable experiences. You can't beat Japan for variety and quality of native cuisine. If you find yourself hungry, keep walking; you won't get very far without stumbling over something delicious or odd (and usually -- but not always -- both). From vending machines and food stalls to traditional and cutting-edge (and stratospherically expensive) restaurants, there is no shortage of options. (CNN)
Revealing Japan's low-tech belly
BBC - Jul 13, 2010
AFP
(Tokyo is viewed as a high-tech hub)

Police stations without computers, 30-year-old "on hold" tapes grinding out tinny renditions of Greensleeves, ATMs that close when the bank does, suspect car engineering, and kerosene heaters but no central heating. A dystopian vision of a nation with technology stuck in an Orwellian time warp? Not at all. These are aspects of contemporary, low-tech Japan that most visitors miss as they look around the hi-tech nation that its government, electronics industry and tourism board are keen to promote. Despite the country's showy internet speeds and some of the cheapest broadband around many Japanese are happier doing things the old way. (BBC)

Japan's old roads
Wall Street Journal - Jul 8, 2010

Several hundred thousand people climb Japan's Mount Fuji every year, many of them in the peak period of July and August. But for an altogether more secluded and spiritual hiking experience, the Kumano Kodo region four hours south of Osaka offers an ancient network of pilgrimage trails and majestic shrines set among the densely forested mountains of the Kii Peninsula. The Kumano Kodo - meaning "Kumano old roads" - includes the Buddhist retreat of Mt. Koya and the temple area of Yoshino, sites that are relatively well-visited because of their proximity to Kyoto and Osaka. It also includes the three grand Shinto shrines, or "sanzen," near the southern tip of the peninsula - an appendage of the main Japanese island of Honshu - and the pilgrimage pathways that link all these locations. (Wall Street Journal)

Beating the heat with classic unagi
Japan Times - Jul 2, 2010
News photo
(Long tradition: Myojinshita Kandagawa Honten serves eel with refinement.)

The Great Heat has returned, blanketing the city, sapping our energy and, worse yet, stifling all appetite for food. There's only one solution for lifting that summer lethargy - at least if you hold with local lore: It's time to feast on that supreme summer specialty, unagi eel. Whether or not you believe in its restorative powers to combat the debilitating midsummer heat, there's no denying that kabayaki grilled eel is one of Tokyo's great plebeian pleasures. Or that there's any finer setting for indulging than at the wonderful Myojinshita Kandagawa Honten. (Japan Times)

Aquariums' novel ideas lure visitors
Yomiuri - Jun 28, 2010

In the period spanning the tsuyu rainy season into summer, aquariums serve as indoor leisure spots and are popular destinations for family outings. Aquariums nationwide are going the extra mile to not only display rare fish but also make visitors feel closer to the popular creatures of the sea and rivers. Aquamarine Fukushima, a marine science museum in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, which attracts the largest number of visitors in the Tohoku region, is popular for its Aquamarine Egg life-form educational facility for children. The facility's main attraction is a fishing hole where visitors can catch such fish as coho salmon and horse mackerel, and eat them on the spot after the fish are cleaned. (Yomiuri)

Cool (old) Japan flourishes along flowing rivers of Edo
Japan Times - Jun 27, 2010

In blistering midday heat, traffic blasts by, spitting out exhaust and grit at the busy intersection of Yotsume and Shin Ohashi Avenues. I've exited Sumiyoshi Station on the Toei Shinjuku Line, eager to find Sarue Onshi Park, said to be pretty with streams and water features. About to produce a water feature of my own (sweat, that is), I take desiccative action by ducking under the fresh white noren curtain flapping in front of soba shop Oedo. A little zaru (bamboo strainer) of cold, hand-cut noodles and tempura seems like the perfect refresher before exploring this area of Koto Ward. My order arrives with a mystery item in the tempura, something resembling a cactus flower. (Japan Times)

Free Internet access to be made available at Narita airport
AP - Jun 25, 2010

Narita International Airport Corp. said Thursday it will provide a free Internet connection service in one of its two airport terminal buildings from July 17 when a new high-speed train service commences. After clearing immigration, passengers will be able to use five desks to access a local area network with personal computers that can connect to wireless LAN services. The new Narita Sky Access train service will reduce the journey time between central Tokyo and the airport to less than 40 minutes. (AP)

Young, hip and hanging out at museums
Yomiuri - Jun 24, 2010

Museums in Japan are abuzz with visitors aplenty, more so than in any other nation--but they are not all solemn art lovers attempting to cultivate their tastes. Observers say the main contributing factor to booming attendances is a perception among young people that visiting museums is cool. The four most well-attended exhibitions worldwide last year were held in Japan, according to an international survey, and the number of visitors to national museums has nearly doubled over the past 10 years. The April issue of The Art Newspaper, a British monthly publication on visual arts, said Japan's love of museum exhibitions is "recession proof." The publication's survey of exhibition popularity, conducted annually and based on average daily attendance, ranked "The National Treasure Ashura and Masterpieces from Kofuku-ji" exhibition at the Tokyo National Museum as the most popular in the world last year, attracting 15,960 visitors per day. (Yomiuri)

Resort to sheer pleasure on Ishigaki Island
Japan Times - Jun 20, 2010
News photo
(Holiday idyll: Windsurfing is just one of many outdoor and indoor activities available for guests at Club Med Kabira Beach. The resort is seen here (above) on the coast overlooking glistening white beaches.)

Want to get away from it all? Then why not fly 2,000 km toward the Equator from Tokyo to Ishigaki, the main island of the southerly Yaeyama group in Okinawa Prefecture. And once there, then treat yourself to a stay at Club Med Kabira Beach, where you can do almost anything you want - or nothing at all. From the airport, a hotel car makes a leisurely 40-minute drive along roads lined with palm trees and flowers to the resort in Kabira, which is known for its bay that's classed as one of the 100 most beautiful scenic spots in Japan. (Japan Times)

By T.S. on July 17, 2010
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