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Top Tokyo haunts: five scary spots

Top Tokyo haunts: five scary spots
Japan Times - Oct 25, 2011
(Sunshine 60 Build)

1) Sunshine 60 Build a massive shopping and entertainment complex in Ikebukuro (at one time the tallest building in Asia) on the very site where seven Japanese war criminals were executed and you are bound to piss off some ghosts. In fact, its construction was plagued by many incidents (injured workers, strange apparitions and so on). Even now people sometimes spot strange fireballs floating around. (Japan Times)
To carry or not to carry your 'gaijin card' upon re-entry?
Japan Times - Oct 25, 2011

The official answer from the Immigration Bureau is that their officials will ask to see your ARC, or "gaijin card," in addition to your passport upon arrival. In practice this isn't always the case, but we suggested that it is still advisable to carry your ARC with you. Stephanie disagrees, and thinks it's possibly unwise to take your ARC with you when leaving Japan: "I am an American and permanent resident of Japan. Over the past 25 years, I have left and returned to Japan maybe 50 times. I have never, even once, been asked to show my alien registration card on re-entry. (Japan Times)

Ibaraki Airport voted CAPA's low-cost airport of the year
Japan Times - Oct 22, 2011

Ibaraki Airport has won the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation's best low-cost airport of the year award. The airport, which opened last year in Ibaraki Prefecture about 40 km north of Tokyo, received the award for being the most "innovative and influential" airport in the Asia-Pacific region, an official of the Sydney-based CAPA said Thursday. An official from Ibaraki said some of the factors for the airport's success could be its proximity to Tokyo, its ability to keep the fees it charges to budget airlines low and a highly popular route run by China's Spring Airlines between the airport and Shanghai. (Japan Times)

Japan, Tokyo chosen as best travel destinations
Mainichi - Oct 21, 2011
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/travel/news/images/20110327p2g00m0fe060000p_size5.jpg http://mdn.mainichi.jp/travel/news/images/20110701p2g00m0dm007000p_size5.jpg
(Left: A tree is set up at Sensoji temple, one of major tourist attractions in town,
in downtown Tokyo, Japan, Saturday, March 26, 2011.)
(Right: A rickshaw man guides tourists to an antique store in the Asakusa
shopping district in Tokyo on Thursday, June 30, 2011.)

Japan and Tokyo topped the rankings of highly satisfactory travel destinations, compiled by British newspaper The Guardian, the Japan National Tourism Organization said Thursday. It is the first time that both Japan and its capital were top ranked simultaneously in the categories of "favorite long-haul country" and "favorite overseas city," both of which exclude European countries and cities, according to the JNTO. (Mainichi)

Japan's battle to rebuild
telegraph.co.uk - Oct 21, 2011
(Japan's ryokans are a highlight for many visitors to the country)

Sliding screens, paper lanterns, tatami mat floors, kimono-clad staff and exquisite cuisine: a stay in a traditional ryokan is often an atmospheric highlight of any visit to Japan. Now, however, the nation's precious ryokan industry has hit hard times: 68 inns were forced to close down across Japan during the first five months of the year alone, according to new research. The global economic crisis is seen as the main driving force behind the demise of many of the inns, though this has been compounded by the triple disaster earlier this year of an earthquake, a tsunami and a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. (telegraph.co.uk)

Japan, U.S. eye quicker entry process
Japan Times - Oct 21, 2011

Japan and the United States are considering expanding a U.S. expedited immigration clearance program to include pre-approved Japanese travelers, allowing them to use automated counters upon arrival at major U.S. airports, a senior U.S. government official said Wednesday. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Global Entry Program allows "pre-approved, low-risk" travelers to clear immigration upon arrival by presenting their travel documents and scanning their fingerprints for verification at automated kiosks to shorten the time of their passport control. (Japan Times)

Exhibition of Tussauds wax figures opens in Tokyo
Japan Times - Oct 21, 2011
(Brush with greatness: A woman poses next to a waxwork of Audrey Hepburn at an exhibition
in Tokyo organized by London's Madame Tussauds wax museum in the Odaiba district.)

A three-month exhibition organized by London's Madame Tussauds wax museum opened in Tokyo in late September, featuring life-size figures of celebrities including Hollywood stars. Madame Tussauds is considering opening a branch museum in Tokyo in two years if the current event through Jan. 4 is successful. The "Madam Tussauds Tokyo" exhibition at Decks Tokyo Beach commercial complex in the Odaiba waterfront area comprises around 20 waxworks that visitors are free to touch. (Japan Times)

Discover samurai tombs hidden in the hills of Kamakura
Japan Times - Oct 16, 2011
(Spirit markers: Ancient gorinto tombstones still populate caves at Mandarado Yagura.)

No matter how warm and sunny the day, there's always a chill in Mandarado Yagura, a samurai graveyard in Kotsubo, right at the boundary between Kamakura and Zushi in Kanagawa Prefecture just south of Yokohama. In this secreted locale little more than an hour by road or rail from the concrete and steel of Tokyo, lush vegetation obscures the many caves housing tombs, though their stone markers stubbornly materialize through the greenery. Here, history, nature and the unknown ripple through the wild flowers, stirring the grass and causing the heart to skip a beat or three. (Japan Times)

Sales war sparked in Yurakucho / Department, other store openings set to revitalize Tokyo district
Yomiuri - Oct 14, 2011

The opening of new and renovated major department and other stores at the Yurakucho Marion commercial complex is likely to trigger and intensify sales competition this autumn in Tokyo's neighboring Ginza and Yurakucho districts. The Yurakucho branch of Osaka's Hankyu department store will reopen Saturday after long-term renovations, while Lumine Co. will open a new branch on Oct. 28, where the former Seibu department store closed in December last year. To counter the new competition, Mitsukoshi Ginza department store and its neighbor, rival Matsuya Ginza, will start their first joint event next week to attract as many of Yurakucho's new customers as possible. (Yomiuri)

For foreign tourists, there's room at the inn
Japan Times - Oct 14, 2011
(First in line: American tourist Martin Smith, 32, smiles for a photo
in front of Kashiwaya Ryokan in Shima, Gunma Prefecture, last month.)

When Martin Smith checked into a small "ryokan" in the hot-spring resort of Shima, Gunma Prefecture, on a rainy September night, staff at the traditional inn saw a glimmer of hope that overseas guests could be lured back after the March triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident. Smith, a 32-year-old cofounder of a software company in San Diego, was the first foreign guest that Kashiwaya Ryokan had received since launching an English-language word-of-mouth campaign using Facebook and other websites earlier in the month. (Japan Times)

Interpreters to be stationed at airports, seaports
Yomiuri - Oct 12, 2011

The Justice Ministry has decided to station about 50 foreign-language interpreters next fiscal year at immigration clearance counters of 18 airports and seaports across the country, a move apparently designed to cope with the increase in visitors from other Asian countries. It is estimated hiring such interpreters from the private sector will cost 300 million yen, the ministry said. The ministry has included the cost in its budgetary requests for fiscal 2012, starting next April. The 50 interpreters will consist mainly of those with Chinese and Korean language skills. (Yomiuri)

Tsunami-hit train now cafe for residents, tourists
Yomiuri - Oct 10, 2011

An exchange and tourist information center recently opened at Sakari Station in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, using the station building and a train disabled in the March 11 tsunami turned into a coffee shop. The station is on Sanriku Railway Co.'s 37-kilometer Minami Riasu Line, running between Sakari and Kamaishi stations, which suspended service after the tsunami. It is unclear when the line will resume operations as the rails were severely damaged in the disaster. The Kita Riasu Line, the other line operated by Sanriku Railway, has resumed partial service. (Yomiuri)

By TS on Nov 1, 2011
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Author:T. SATOH