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In Japan, healthy minds rejuvenate in healthy forests

In Japan, healthy minds rejuvenate in healthy forests
Globe & Mail - Oct 8, 2010

Many of us have been forest bathing before, we just didn't know it. Forest bathing is translated from the Japanese shinrin-yoku, which has been defined as "taking in the forest atmosphere." While the good, old-fashioned term "walk in the woods" still applies in North America, shinrin-yoku has slowly made its way into the vernacular in Japan since a government agency coined it in 1982. More recently, Japanese scientists have started quantifying the impact forest bathing, and its more clinical-sounding cousin, forest therapy (shinrin-ryoho), can have on humans. (Globe & Mail)
Tourist info booths to open at Haneda stations
Japan Times - Oct 8, 2010
News photo
(All the fun of the airport: Media representatives enjoy racing toy cars Thursday at Hakuhinkan Toy
Park in Haneda airport's new international terminal, which was shown to the press Thursday)

With the opening of an international terminal at Tokyo's Haneda airport later this month, railways are planning to set up information centers for foreign visitors in their new train stations with access to the facility. Keihin Electric Express Railway Co., or the Keikyu Line, said Wednesday it will open a tourist information booth staffed by concierges skilled in English, Chinese and Korean at its station starting Oct. 21. (Japan Times)

First hybrid passenger train starts up
Japan Times - Oct 3, 2010
News photo
(More efficient transport: Station workers wave at the launching ceremony for a new hybrid
passenger train powered by a diesel engine and an electric motor at JR Nagano Station on Saturday.)

East Japan Railway Co. started operations of a hybrid passenger train with an electric motor and diesel engine Saturday in Nagano Prefecture, the first of its kind designated for tourists. The Resort View Furusato train will run between the city of Nagano and Minami-Otari stations once a day until Dec. 26. All 78 seats of the two cars are occupied by passengers, JR East said. The train features large windows so that passengers can enjoy the scenic views, and the front carriage is an observation car. (Japan Times)

Aichi's Centrair Airport looking to cash in on budget airline boom
Japan Times - Oct 2, 2010
News photo
(Friendly skies: A Jeju Air flight bound for Seoul takes off from Central Japan International
Airport in Aichi Prefecture.)

Unlike major carriers, their flights are operated at the lowest possible cost - by providing minimal onboard services and so forth - allowing them to offer fares 30 to 70 percent cheaper than the megacarriers. In hopes of increasing its presence as an international hub, Aichi Prefecture's Central Japan International Airport, also known as Centrair or Chubu Kokusai Kuko, is trying to win a piece of this new low-frills pie. Budget airlines that grew up in Europe now see Asia as a growth market. Their share of the Asia-Pacific region is estimated to have soared to much as 15 percent last year. (Japan Times)

Budget airline business taking flight in Japan
Yomiuri - Sep 30, 2010

Competition among budget airlines is set to intensify beginning Oct. 31, when regular international flights begin operating from Haneda Airport, with AirAsia X--part of the AirAsia group, the largest low-cost air carrier group in Asia--to launch routes from there on Dec. 9. The government has encouraged more low-cost carriers to enter the Japanese market by improving airport terminals and relaxing regulations on airfares. Airfares in Japan have been viewed as expensive compared to other nations, but increased competition between airlines has seen prices fall. (Yomiuri)

Tourist spots do more for foreigners
Yomiuri - Sep 27, 2010

(A canyoneer in Minakamimachi, Gunma Prefecture, traverses a 20-meter-high waterfall.)

Local governments and businesses around the nation are working to provide everything from English signs to circus performances to draw more foreign tourists to their areas. Canyoneering--a sport that originated in Europe--is especially popular among foreign visitors to Minakamimachi, Gunma Prefecture. Participants wear helmets and other protective gear to traverse rapids and waterfalls in canyons. New Zealander Mike Haris tried canyoneering for the first time in Japan, on a tributary river in the area. He now runs a tour company called Canyons that guides about 15,000 tourists a year in the sport. Nearly 30 percent are from overseas. (Yomiuri)

A taste of Spain in Shinjuku Ward
Japan Times - Sep 24, 2010
News photo
(Spanish revival: Terra-cotta tiles decorate the exterior of the cylindrical cigar room in the Ogasawara residence, completed in 1927, in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo. The interior of the cigar room has an Islamic-style mosaic floor.)

News photo

Just outside Wakamatsu-Kawada Station on the Oedo subway line in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, stands an elegant building with cream-colored exterior walls and an entrance with a modern canopy decorated with a motif of grapes. Completed in 1927, the two-story residence was home to Count Nagayoshi Ogasawara, the 30th in the family line that during the Edo Period (1603-1867) reigned over the Kokura Domain, which today is Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture. (Japan Times)

Trailblazing AirAsia's Japan foray seen bringing down prices
nikkei.com - Sep 22, 2010

Five overseas budget airlines already operate regular flights to Japan, but with AirAsia Bhd to join the fray, price competition on international routes is sure to take off. Japan had been on the airline's radar for a few years, but hefty airport usage fees and limited landing spots at Narita and other airports remained stumbling blocks. A proliferation of open skies agreements and more runways at key Japanese airports have been game changers. Even regional airports are beginning to woo international low-cost carriers. (nikkei.com)

Japanese rural areas through Chinese eyes
People's Daily - Sep 21, 2010

(Photo shows the scene of Japanese rural area.)

The Japanese rural areas have already achieved modernization, and the living standard of rural residents is relatively higher. There is almost has no gap between the living standards of urban residents and rural residents, and rural life is even more comfortable than city life. However, the population of villages is small and most are the elderly. The labor forces of rural areas are also mainly the elderly, since most young people move to cities for development, which is very similar with the current situation of the Chinese rural areas. (People's Daily)

Harajuku's famed Kiddy Land store gets temporary home
Japan Times - Sep 21 , 2010
News photo
(It's a kid's world: Members of Fudanjuku (Rotten Boys Cram School) pose with toy character Monchhichi last Thursday at the temporary Kiddy Land shop in Tokyo's Harajuku district. At right is a view of the store's exterior.

One of Japan's best-known toy companies, Kiddy Land Co., has opened a substitute outlet for its flagship store in Tokyo's Harajuku district while the old shop undergoes major renovation. Completion of the new flagship store is scheduled for summer 2012. The temporary outlet is about 150 meters from the old shop, which has been closed since Aug. 31. The Kiddy Land store, which opened in 1950, has become a required stop for many tourists in Tokyo. (Japan Times)

The tranquillity of Japan's Hama-rikyu Gardens
The Star - Sep 20, 2010

(Tranquil spot: Nakajima-no-ochaya, the teahouse on Nakajima on the tidal pond.)

It is easy to conjure up images of old Japan amid the serene surroundings of Hama-rikyu Gardens. Like Tokyo's Rikugien Gardens and Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens that we had visited in Bunkyo ward, Hama-rikyu Gardens in Chuo ward was formerly a daimyo (feudal lord) garden during the Edo period or Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868). Situated near the mouth of Sumida River, the 25ha garden was once covered with reeds and used as a falconry ground for the shoguns. The fourth shogun's younger brother, Matsudaira Tsunashige, a daimyo of Kofu, reclaimed the shallows to build his villa, Kofu Hama-yashiki (Beach Pavilion), in 1654. (The Star)

Kyoto: Japan's cultured pearl
mlive.com - Sep 19, 2010
(Torii, traditional shinto temple gates, lining the mountain paths at Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. The shrine has thousands of torii like these, each bearing the donor's name.)

Look to Kyoto if you want to explore Japan's cultural heart. In Kyoto, you will find the ancient temples, shrines, palace grounds and peaceful gardens that shaped Japan as its imperial capital from 794 until 1868. Despite Kyoto's 1.4 million population, you also will find a slower-paced setting that eludes tourists who confine their travels to Tokyo and its more hectic "Lost in Translation" atmosphere. During our four-day stay in Kyoto, we avoided the typical Japanese hotels with their tiny rooms. (mlive.com)

Hakone: One of the first and best tourist spots
Asahi - Sep 18 , 2010

For centuries Hakone served as way station for travelers between the eastern and western parts of the country. It was also the site of a roadblock manned by shogunate troops. They served a dual purpose--keeping firearms out of the capital of Edo and keeping the wives and daughters of feudal lords in. The women were held hostage to guarantee the loyalty of the provincial warlords, a system that remained in place until the Meiji Restoration in the second half of the 19th century. (Asahi)

By TS on Oct 12, 2010
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Author:T. SATOH