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Low-cost airlines fuel competition

Low-cost airlines fuel competition
Japan Times - Aug 28, 2010

Japan's tightly regulated skies have been seeing some changes in recent years, with a wave of low-cost carriers from Asia entering the market and domestic budget airlines rising to intensify the competition. Observers are looking carefully at the impact on the Japanese airline industry, especially what it means for All Nippon Airways Co. and Japan Airlines Corp. When JAL filed for protection from its creditors in January, transport minister Seiji Maehara said he would take a close look at whether Japan will need two megacarriers in the future, when competition will only grow more intense. (Japan Times)
Touring Tokyo on a tight budget
Fox News - Aug 26, 2010 

One of the most fascinating things about Tokyo is the way it combines both the ancient and the modern. Or rather, the way it doesn't combine them at all, so the new and the old are side by side everywhere you turn. Take the metro to the Chiyoda Ward in central Tokyo and you'll find yourself surrounded by a tangle of glass and steel skyscrapers - until out of nowhere appears a moat, a pavilion of neatly trimmed grass and the hulking stone walls of the imperial palace. There's hardly a guard in sight and entrance to the surrounding gardens is free and open to the public. (Fox News)

Summer samba carnival brings the heat to Asakusa's streets
Japan Times - Aug 27, 2010

Powerful drum beats, cheerful songs and passionate dancing from Brazil will fill Tokyo's Asakusa district, the capital's traditional downtown, during the 30th Asakusa Samba Carnival. The annual event was launched in 1981 by an association of local stores in an effort to revitalize the area. The group modeled the event after Rio de Janeiro's famed Carnival. The festival attracted some 500,000 audiences last year, according to the organizers. The event, which runs from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Aug. 28, will take the form of a contest. (Japan Times)

One-way trip between Shanghai, Ibaraki to cost 4,000 yen
AP - Aug 25, 2010

Chinese discount carrier Spring Airlines will offer a 4,000 yen one-way ticket between Shanghai and Ibaraki Airport, about 80 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, from September 15 to 29 on a total of 14 flights, it said Wednesday. The discount fare will apply to around 10 percent of the total 180 seats per flight, while fares for other seats are set at between 8,000 yen and 26,000 yen. Spring Airlines launched chartered flights between the two destinations in July, and has recently received approval from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism to offer the 4,000 yen ticket. (AP)

Theme restaurants work some magic
Japan Times - Aug 25, 2010

A ninja takes you through a dark narrow path, serves you food and drink and performs magic in a restaurant in Tokyo's Akasaka district where the likes of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and famed film director Steven Spielberg have dined. The Ninja Akasaka theme restaurant, opened in 2001, has been attracting around 3,000 to 5,000 customers a month, according to Will Planning Inc., its managing company. (Japan Times)

Top-quality hotels join Japan's cityscapes
independent.co.uk - Aug 21, 2010

A slew of luxury hotels are nearing completion in a number of Japanese cities, with operators delighted at the state of the inbound tourism industry despite the strength of the yen against other currencies. Figures released by the Japan National Tourism Organisation show that some 4.2 million foreign tourists visited Japan in the first six months of the calendar year, up a remarkable 35.8 percent from a year earlier and the second-highest figure ever recorded for the period. To meet the surging demand for top-notch accommodation in Japan's second city, the first St. Regis hotel in the country will open in the heart of Osaka's bustling commercial and entertainment district on October 1. (independent.co.uk)

Nara temple may be world's oldest wooden structure
Asahi - Aug 16, 2010

A Zen Buddhist hall in Nara is the oldest wooden structure still in use and a century older than famed Horyuji temple previously thought to hold the crown, according to an expert in tree-ring dating. Research by Takumi Mitsutani, a visiting professor of dendrochronology at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, reveals that Japanese cypress wood in the roof of the Zenshitsu (zen room) building of Gangoji temple was logged around 586. Mitsutani argues that his findings indicate that the structure of the hall was made 100 years before Horyuji temple in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, hitherto thought the world's oldest, which was built between the late seventh and eighth centuries. (Asahi)

Two lovingly preserved Japanese villages
FT.com - Aug 14, 2010
19th-century houses on a street in Tsumago, Japam
(The post town of Tsumago)

We step off the bus at Magome and look in disbelief at the steep cobbled slope winding up the hill in front of us. In the past there would have been scrawny porters elbowing each other out of the way, vying to cart our bags. Had we been great lords we would have been carried up by palanquin, with thousands of retainers and guards barking at the peasants to get down on their knees. But in 21st-century Japan there's nothing for it but to walk. We sigh, pick up our bags and set off up the hill. Behind us Mount Ena rises spectacularly. A huge waterwheel slowly turns, creaking and splashing, and a narrow stream trickles noisily alongside the road. There are no electric wires overhead and no cars and every now and then we catch a whiff of wood smoke. (FT.com)

Relics of Ice Age Japan
Japan Times - Aug 15, 2010

Scrambling across hillsides may not be everyone's cup of tea, but we naturalists are determined folk and take such activities in our stride when exploring our environment. Take the average hillside or mountainside in Japan; what does it consist of? Usually, forested slopes on dark soils, with bare rock exposed here and there. Yet occasionally, an observant and well-traveled hiker may notice loose rocks - not ones recently shattered by winter's freeze-thaw processes, or formed by crashing rock falls - but rounded rocks, weathered and worn, though not as smooth as if they have spent millennia in running water. (Japan Times)

Explore Osaka-Kyoto 'power spots'
Japan Times - Aug 13, 2010

Ramada Osaka offers an accommodation plan that encourages guests to see historic sites in Osaka and Kyoto and visit trendy, faddish "power spots." Going to so-called power spots - places believed to give visitors some special energy, healing or refreshing, spiritual feeling - has been a popular activity among some Japanese of late. The places are usually religious, historic or natural. The accommodation plan at the Ramada Osaka for guests wishing to join this fad comes with a one-day tourist ticket, which allows unlimited use of local subways, city buses and some trains, as well as free entrance to 26 tourist spots and facilities, such as Osaka Castle. (Japan Times)

East meets West at the dining table
Japan Times - Aug 13, 2010
News photo
(Cultural similarities: The creaminess of tofu goes well with the rich butteriness a of Chardonnay.)

Matching wine with Japanese food can be fraught with difficulty. A refined, oak-aged Bordeaux paired with a cool plate of sashimi, for example, can come across as brash and overbearing, completely drowning out the subtle spectrum of seafood flavors. But that's not to say great matches are impossible. They do exist; but like all forms of cross-cultural communication, it helps if you're flexible - both with your choice of wines and your seasoning. Wines that are designed to suit Japanese cuisine are almost nonexistent, but there is one winemaker who has made an effort to adapt his product for such dishes. (Japan Times)

By T.S. on Setp 4, 2010
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Author:T. SATOH