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More to Shinagawa and Ota wards than just transport hubs

More to Shinagawa and Ota wards than just transport hubs
Mainichi - May 2, 2011
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/travel/news/images/20110502p2a00m0na001000p_size5.jpg http://i2.ytimg.com/vi/0cy3ulRKIO4/0.jpg

Shinagawa and Ota are two wards bordering on Tokyo Bay that aren't known for being huge tourist spots but hold two major travel hubs: Haneda Airport, recently reopened to regular international flights, and Shinagawa Station, which has connections to a number of major train lines. Tourism associations in these two wards are hoping to leverage their travel hubs in the future by offering mini-tours for international visitors passing through the area. (Mainichi)
Bullet-train passengers down 11%
Japan Times - May 11, 2011

A total of 9.12 million people used shinkansen and other express trains operated by the Japan Railway group during this year's Golden Week holiday season, marking a record 11 percent year-on-year fall, according to data released by six group member companies. East Japan Railway Co. reported a 27 percent drop in passenger numbers, also the steepest drop on record since the group was established in 1987 through the breakup and privatization of Japanese National Railways. (Japan Times)

Kyoto free booklet guides tourists to scenes of cartoons, animations
Kyodo - May 9, 2011

The Kyoto city government is handing out a free booklet in Japanese to guide tourists to scenes in the ancient city described in 20 popular Japanese cartoons and animations including "Lucky Star," "Tatami Galaxy" and "Negima! Magister Negi Magi." The 91-page "Manga de Irodoru Kyo no Tabi: Kyoto Mansai" (A Kyoto trip featured by cartoons: Kyoto Mansai) introduces about 100 restaurants and shops in addition to tourist spots seen in the pieces. The booklet is placed at JR Kyoto Station, the Kyoto city hall and elsewhere, and there is also an online version. (Kyodo)

New Michelin green guide for Japan goes on sale in France
Kyodo - May 13, 2011

A new version of the Michelin "Green Guide" for Japan went on sale Friday in France, including for the first time the historic Kumano Kodo route in western Japan, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and other tourist attractions as three-star destinations. With the publication of the French-language second edition of the guide book for Japan, Nihon Michelin Tire Co. President Bernard Delmas said the company is hoping the book will help curb the fall in the number of foreign tourists to Japan following the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (Kyodo)

Ritz-Carlton to open third in Kyoto
Japan Times - May 2, 2011

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. is planning to open its third hotel in Japan in the ancient capital of Kyoto in spring 2014 by rebuilding the Hotel Fujita Kyoto, which closed in January, business sources said Saturday. The U.S. luxury hotel operator and Sekisui House Ltd., an Osaka-based home builder that owns the premises, have reached a basic agreement to that end and are making final arrangements, the sources said. (Japan Times)

Rainy season hits Okinawa, Amami
Japan Times - May 1, 2011

The rainy season probably started Saturday in Okinawa Prefecture and the nearby Amami islands, making them the first parts of the country to come under the annual weather phenomenon, the Meteorological Agency said. The season began nine days earlier than average in Okinawa and 11 days earlier in Amami, which is governed by Kagoshima Prefecture. In an average year, the rainy season ends around June 23 in Okinawa and June 29 in Amami. (Japan Times)

Kyoto comedy theater returns - and with English subtitles
Japan Times - May 1, 2011
News photo
(Funny business: Gion Kagetsu performers (from left) "Sakura" Saki Inagaki,
Ikuyo and Kuruyo Ima, Happo Tsukitei, Kausu and Botan Nakata, Eri Koizumi.

Foreign tourists to Kyoto often end up in a bubble of tour buses and traditional culture shows (five minutes of bunraku, five minutes of flower arranging, etc.), while those looking to break out and entertain themselves like the locals can run into language barriers. Yoshimoto Kogyo, the Osaka-based talent agency and media company that manages most of the comics on Japanese television, will soon offer those tourists another alternative: live comedy and other performances with English subtitles at the newly renamed and refurbished Yoshimoto Gion Kagetsu theater near Kyoto's landmark Yasaka Shrine. (Japan Times)

Bullet train service fully resumes in Tohoku, 1st in 50 days
Mainichi - Apr 30, 2011

Bullet train services on the disaster-stricken Tohoku Shinkansen Line fully resumed Friday between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori for the first time in 50 days since last month's mega earthquake and tsunami. The resumption of services on the first day of Japan's so-called Golden Week holiday season is expected to bring back tourists to the disaster-hit northeastern region of Tohoku as well as stimulate reconstruction activities there. (Mainichi)

Tohoku bullet trains fully resume
Japan Times - Apr 29, 2011

Bullet train services on the disaster-stricken Tohoku Shinkansen Line fully resumed Friday between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori for the first time since the March 11 disaster struck. The resumption of services on the first day of the Golden Week holiday season is expected to bring back tourists to the disaster-hit Tohoku region as well as stimulate reconstruction activities there. (Japan Times)

Holidaymakers should travel to revitalize devastated economy
Mainichi - Apr 28, 2011

The "Golden Week" holiday period is approaching as cherry blossoms have bloomed in the northernmost area of Honshu Island. Tourist destinations are usually busy over that period, but it is feared that the number of travelers in Japan will sharply decrease in the aftermath of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake. The Japan Travel Bureau predicts that the number of travelers in the country during Golden Week will fall 28 percent from a year earlier. (Mainichi)

Kansai airport now linked to U.S. east coast
Mainichi - Apr 29, 2011

Kansai International Airport in Osaka began hosting regular flights to and from New York by China Airlines Thursday, gaining a link to the U.S. East Coast for the first time. The Taiwanese airline will operate three round-trip flights between the Osaka airport and New York per week. "We had wished to serve direct flights to New York ever since our airport opened so we will go all out to support (China Airlines' new service)," said Shinichi Fukushima, president of Kansai International Airport Co. (Mainichi)

JAL Group Promotes Unique Destinations in Japan
Asahi - Apr 29, 2011

The JAL Group (JAL) will launch a Regional Development Project from May 2011, in collaboration with various local organizations and companies to create and boost leisure demand to regions in Japan and to promote each region's local produce. Japan stretches over a land size of more than 375 thousand square kilometers and offers visitors myriad different experiences as regions across the country are unique in their cuisines, natural environment, art and culture and produce. JAL will select a destination each month to spot-light in its in-flight magazine, domestic in-flight videos and meals, as well as on its website, travel catalogues and airport lounges through which the airline hopes to introduce the unique characteristics of each place from various angles. Each location's people, sceneries, traditions, culture and cuisine will be themes used for articles in the airline's in-flight magazine SKYWARD. (Asahi)

Thailand approves 90-day visa-free stays for Japanese tourists
Kyodo - Apr 26, 2011

Thailand's Cabinet approved Tuesday extending the time Japanese can stay in Thailand without getting a special visa. Vachara Kannikar, the deputy government spokesman, said that beginning May 1 through Oct. 31 Japanese tourists will be able to stay in the country for 90 days visa-free. Previously, Japanese could enter only for 30 days without a visa. (Kyodo)

Annual star festival in Sendai to open Aug. 6-8 despite quake damage
Kyodo - Apr 26, 2011

The annual Tanabata star festival will be held as usual from Aug. 6 to 8 in Sendai, northeastern Japan, with this year's theme set on recovery and requiescat, following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit the area on March 11, its organizer said Tuesday. The three-day summer festival, which around 2.35 million people had visited last year, is known for colorful streamers and bamboo branches decorating the city's shopping arcades, but citizens are encouraged this year to decorate their homes as well so the event will return to its original shape, said the organizing group under the Sendai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said. (Kyodo)

Haneda's global hub hopes fly in face of hard realities
Japan Times - Apr 27, 2011
News photo
(Slow start: Planes are parked at the international terminal at Tokyo's Haneda airport on April 18.)

Just six months after Haneda airport in Tokyo resumed full-fledged international operations, its ambition to attain a status as a global hub that rivals other major airports in Asia has waned as overseas travel to and from Japan plunged after the March 11 earthquake. The number of people going on overseas trips via Haneda probably has sunk 20 to 30 percent compared with the prequake level although accurate data are still not available, says the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. (Japan Times)

BTDT4 Japan English Edition
haveyoubeentheredonethat.travel - Apr 11, 2011
(Been There Done That; Japan checklist;“Checklist for those travellers who love Japan”)

Japan checklist has 27 unique lists that cover some eye-opening lists such as "Must do", "Seasonal Delights", "Onsen(hotspring)", "Places of interest", and "World heritages". Compared to the original global edition of Been There Done That, the Japan checklist is a "light edition", compact and something that looks like a foldable map, easy to open and easy to carry around whilst going around Japan. (haveyoubeentheredonethat.travel)

Trains resume service through most devastated areas of Japan
NTDV - Apr 25, 2011

Train service on the Tohoku Shinkansen Line between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori partially resumed services on Monday. It's been out of operation since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Trains will run between Tokyo and Sendai, including stops in Fukushima outside of the no go area, near the troubled nuclear power plant. Railway officials say the line will be fully operational by this Friday. (NTDV)

Golden Week holiday travelers to fall 27% due to quake
Kyodo - Apr 19, 2011

The number of travelers during Japan's Golden Week holidays will fall 27.6 percent from a year earlier, the biggest year-on-year decline since 1990 when comparable data is available, in the wake of the massive earthquake, JTB Corp. said Monday. The major travel agency said 16.09 million people are expected to set out on an overnight or longer trip between April 24 and May 4 -- 15.66 million domestic travelers, down 27.8 percent, and 431,000 overseas ones, down 16.6 percent, marking the first year-on-year decrease in three years. (Kyodo)

Japan's hula girls twist for tourists
IOL - Apr 18, 2011

They pulled on their grass skirts to help save their mining town once before, now Japan's "hula girls" plan to save it again, this time from becoming a nuclear ghost town. A spa resort on the cusp of the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant exclusion zone might be a difficult sell to tourists but a group of sexy Hawaiian style dancers plan to do just that. "People now associate Fukushima with people exposed to radiation," said dancer Ayumi Sudo. "I want to get rid of that image. "We have felt like dancing naked to show that we are not contaminated." Sudo and her hula girls twirled their naked waists outside a Tokyo train station this week to promote safe farm produce from their Pacific Coast hometown of Iwaki, in Fukushima prefecture. (IOL)

Japan travel is safe, says UN tourism body
Vancouver Sun - Apr 15, 2011

There is no reason to avoid travel to and from Japan as radiation levels at the country's airports and ports are "well within safe limits", the UN World Tourism Organization said Friday. Emergency crews have struggled to prevent a catastrophic meltdown at the Fukushima plant in northeastern Japan since a massive earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, leading many foreign governments to urge their citizens to stay away from the country. Just 352,800 foreigners arrived in Japan in March, 50.3 per cent fewer than the same month in 2010 and the largest decline ever recorded, according to the Japan National Tourism Board. (Vancouver Sun)

US downgrades Japan nuclear evacuation advice
AFP - Apr 15, 2011
US downgrades Japan nuclear evacuation advice
(This handout picture, taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on April 14 shows a temporary contamination…

The US has downgraded advice that had sent diplomats' families fleeing Japan in the wake of a nuclear emergency, allowing them to return to the country, a statement said Friday. "The Department of State has lifted voluntary authorised departure, allowing dependants of the US government employees to return to Japan," said a statement issued in Washington.

The statement said the risk from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where workers are battling to cool overheating reactors, had lessened. It said its advice was "based on the much reduced rate of heat generation in the reactor fuel after one month of cooling and the corresponding decay of short-lived radioactive isotopes" (AFP)

By TS on May 16, 2011
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Author:T. SATOH