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Enjoy your burger shaken, not stirred

JAL operates all-girls flight to celebrate Japanese Doll Festival
eturbonews.com - Mar 3, 2011

March 3 is a special day for girls in Japan as families celebrate and pray for the happiness and health of their daughters in a popular local festival known as Hinamatsuri (Doll's Festival). For a month leading up to Girls' Day (as it is also commonly known), families with daughters display in their homes traditional Japanese ornamental dolls known as Hina ningyo, comprising figures of an emperor, empress, their attendants and musicians atop a 7-tier platform. In marking this special day by expressing appreciation to customers for their support, and by showcasing the vigour and capabilities of the women in Japan Airlines' workforce, JAL today operated a special all-girls/ladies flight from Tokyo (Haneda) to Seoul (Gimpo) with the airline's first aircraft that has been painted with the latest red crane logo. (eturbonews.com)
Enjoy your burger shaken, not stirred
Japan Times - Mar 4, 2011

Martiniburger. It's a great name for a restaurant. Even before you arrive you can picture it in your mind: As sleek as a cocktail lounge, with subtle lighting, cool music and even cooler people tucking into prime patties of best beef. And you wouldn't be far wrong. Except for one detail: You visualize it in one of Tokyo's ritzier districts - behind the boutiques of Omotesando perhaps, or in upwardly mobile Azabu-Juban. Instead you find yourself trudging away from the bright lights of Kagurazaka, down to the unfashionable, unheralded slope known as Watanabezaka. (Japan Times)

Alluring charms of Japan
dnaindia.com - Mar , 2011

No country does spring better than Japan. The scenic beauty of the delicate pink cherry blossoms blooming on the branches of cherry trees, the beautiful azaleas decorating the hills and fields, the snowy peaks, emerald forests and magnificent meadows, are a reminder of the bountiful generosity of nature in this country. During March, April and May, as the temperature rises, the buds on the cherry trees unfurl and a dazzling 'cherry blossom front' sweeps across the archipelago. The blossom front usually hits Tokyo towards the end of March and then travels north through April and May. In Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island, you may spot wild mountain cherries in bloom even in June. (dnaindia.com)

Yakushiji's nat'l treasure pagoda open for 1st time in 1,300 years
AP - Feb 28, 2011

The three-layer east pagoda of Yakushiji, a Buddhist temple listed as a World Heritage site in Japan's ancient capital of Nara, was opened to the public Tuesday for the first time since it was built some 1,300 years ago. The national treasure pagoda in western Japan, often described as "frozen music" for its rhythmical appearance and beauty, will be open to general visitors through March 21 ahead of its major renovation around this summer. During the renovation, which is expected to take eight years, visitors will not even be able to view the exterior of the tower. (AP)

Last 747 set for sayonara flight
Japan Times - Mar 1, 2011

Japan Airlines Corp.'s only remaining Boeing 747 will take off for its final flight on Tuesday, marking the end of the carrier's fleet of the wide-body jet that has linked key cities in Japan and abroad for roughly four decades. JAL, which used to have one of the world's biggest fleets of Boeing 747 jumbo jets, is retiring the popular plane earlier than planned as part of a restructuring necessitated by its bankruptcy last year. (Japan Times)

Japan: a nation of iron chefs
etravelblackboardasia.com - Feb 28, 2011

The best way to experience Japanese cuisine is to go to Japan. Forget Paris and New York. Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants then the two gastronomic powerhouses combined. And if 'haute cuisine' isn’t your thing, there are curry houses, soba and udon stalls and tempura joints ready to feed your appetite for 800 yen (around ten bucks) or less. The myth that Japan is an expensive place to visit doesn't hold much water when it comes to eating. (etravelblackboardasia.com)

Latest bullet train to debut Saturday
Yomiuri - Feb 28, 2011

A new E5 series bullet train representing the state of the art of the nation's Shinkansen technology will debut on the Tohoku Shinkansen line Saturday, according to East Japan Railway Co. The train, the Hayabusa, is the first entirely new Shinkansen model to be introduced in 14 years. The top speed of the metallic green Hayabusa is 300 kph--25 kph faster than the current Hayate model and as fast as the N700 series Shinkansen trains on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines. By the end of 2012, the Hayabusa's maximum speed is to be raised to 320 kph, making it the fastest train in the nation and enabling passengers to travel between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori stations in about three hours and five minutes. (Yomiuri)

Notes from the underground
Japan Times - Mar 27, 2011

When my yoga class was canceled recently, I decided to explore Yoga instead. Yoga, in southwestern Tokyo's Setagaya Ward, was once a post stop on the old Oyama-Kaido pilgrims' road between the shoguns' capital of Edo (now Tokyo) and temples in the Mount Oyama area of present-day Kanagawa Prefecture. Today, it's a stop on the Tokyu Denentoshi Line about 20 minutes from the city center. When I emerge from the station, a sun salutation fittingly melts clumps of snow. Passing several yoga studios, I choose a backstreet heading south through a low-rise residential area, a sort of suburban shavasana. (Japan Times)

Dressed to kill: Japan's ninja festival
guardian.co.uk - Feb 26, 2011

To arrive in Iga-Ueno on the first Sunday in April is to feel like a stranger in ninjatown. This small city in the mountains, about two hours by train from Osaka, is supposedly the ancestral home of those fearsome feudal super-sneaks and master killers, whose name and reputation have spread across the world through movies, comic books and video games. Here in Japan, ninjas are now something of a national myth, a slightly cartoonish composite of old folk tales and modern pop culture. This morning in Iga Ueno, however, it would be discourteous to dispute their existence. It's the opening day of the annual ninja festival, and travel on public transport is free to anyone in costume. (guardian.co.uk)

Monkeys find rare sanctuary in Japan hot spring
CNN - Feb 25, 2011

In an outdoor natural hot spring, or onsen, in snow-covered Nagano, Japan, people get a rare up-close view of snow monkeys in their natural habitat. The monkeys mostly ignore the tourists armed with their cameras and the scientists who've traveled hours to be within centimeters of the crimson-faced creatures. For 46 years, the Jigokudani Monkey Park has been a sanctuary for these snow monkeys. The monkeys lounge, appearing to almost nod off in the steaming hot bath, almost all of them with hot water up to their shoulders. Jigokudani Monkey Park's beginnings were borne out of man's frustrations with the snow monkeys, whom Nagano residents considered pests. (CNN)

The high altitudes of airplane aesthetics
Japan Times - Feb 25, 2011

Aeronautical science has always been a hotbed of innovative technology. Changes in human society, such as improved global networking and an increase in travelers has meant that aircraft design has always been dynamic, improving to meet passengers' military and others' expectations and demands. In this sense, the evolution of the airplane could be seen to symbolize changes in human curiosity and our inquiring minds. The Museum of Aeronautical Sciences, close to Narita International Airport in Chiba Prefecture, explores this symbolic notion of the airplane in relation to industrial aeronautical design and art. (Japan Times)

By TS on Mar 8, 2011
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Author:T. SATOH