2008.6-1
In this Issue:
New Online Seminar of JNTO!
News Updates
- Star Wars
Celebration in Japan

- New Flexible 4 day
Hokkaido Rail Pass

- Tokyo Disneyland
25th Anniversary
Upcoming Festivals
and Events
Japan Tour Updates
Hotel Updates
More about Subways
Introduction to
Japan-Tohoku
Register as a Japan Travel Specialist

Japan National Tourist Organization has launched the first online seminar about Japan! Simply sit in front of your computer, relax, and our experienced staff will teach you the basics about the destinations, how to sell Japan, and answer some of the top FAQs – But hurry before this is gone! Click here now – time and spaces are limited!
If the hyperlink fails please copy & paste the direct link to your internet browser:
http://ondemand.nice2meet.us/?log_key=6235979-1-dc28_911d71997b0b6d21da88dc1830dc1e23

Star Wars Celebration in Japan
Star Wars Celebration Japan, an official Lucasfilm event marking the 30th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars movie in Japan, will be held at Makuhari-Messe in Chiba from July 19 to 21, 2008. This is the first official Star Wars Celebration held in Asia, and programs including special performances by STAR WARS stars, lectures by special guests, and costume contests will be featured. For more information including tickets please visit the official website. Land only tour for this special event is also available at JTB USA, for more information please see here, and hurry sign up is until June 16!

New Flexible 4 day Hokkaido Rail Pass
JR Hokkaido now offers the Flexible 4 Day Hokkaido Pass which travelers can use this pass on any 4 days within the 10-day period. This pass costs only 18,000yen (ordinary class) and allows you to board any JR Hokkaido trains. Please note that the start date cannot be chosen, and it will be effective once the pass has been exchanged.

Tokyo Disneyland 25th Anniversary
This year is the 25th anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland. Special events, entertainment, goods, parades, and much more will be available. For more information about Tokyo Disneyland, please see here.

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Events:

Autumn Foliage in Japan      Late September – Late November
Autumn foliage, called koyo or momiji in Japanese, is pursued just as fervently as the cherry blossoms are in spring. This time, the beauty travels from North to south. Hokkaido turns red and yellow from late September to early October. The Tohoku region, northeast of Tokyo, changes color throughout October (varies by region).

In November, autumn foliage can be seen on the more major tourist routes, including Nikko, Hakone, Kyoto, and Momijidani Park on Miyajima Island, Hiroshima. For a more comprehensive list of koyo locations, please visit our website.

Please see the tour listings below for autumn foliage

Sumo      September 14 to 28, 2008
For those in Tokyo during the mid part of September, you should check out The September Tournament at Ryogoku. This tournament is the last tournament of the year for Tokyo and the second to last tournament of the 2008 season. If you'd like to get tickets before hand, they do go on sale August 9th but keep in mind when ordering from overseas, you'll need someone who can speak Japanese. If you can't find anyone who can speak Japanese, you should have no problem getting tickets when you arrive in Tokyo or on the day of the event. For more information on where to get tickets please click here.

Formula 1 Grand Prix      October 10 to 12, 2008
Calling all F1 race fans! The 2008 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix will be held at Fuji Speedway, which is located at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Attendance is expected to reach 220,000 over all three days. Tickets, as well as 1 day, 2 day, and 3 day package tours are available from JTB Global Marketing & Travel. So make sure you get your tickets now, because these tickets do sell out fast to this thrilling event.

Chrysanthemum Exhibitions
These exhibitions are held throughout Japan in such places as, Meiji shrine, Asakusa Kannon temple in Tokyo, and Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima. Keep in mind this is just a few places but there are exhibits all over Japan.

Festivals:

Reitaisai      September 14-16
Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura, just an hour south of Tokyo, has been putting on the 3-day Reitaisai festival every year for the past 800 years. This festival has the usual dancing, parades, and various offerings to the Shinto Gods. In addition, on September 16th onlookers may view a performance of Yabusame, a samurai archery ritual of shooting targets while galloping on horseback.

Takayama Autumn Festival      October 9-10
Takayama is a quaint, well-preserved mountain town north of Nagoya with bridges that go across picturesque mountain rivers. Takayama Festival, held in spring and autumn, is considered one of the three most beautiful festivals in Japan. The 11 floats that are paraded around town are so beautiful that there is a museum to display them year-round.

Nada Fighting Festival      October 14-15
Himeji, about one hour west of Kyoto, is known as a peaceful city that is home to one of Japan's most beautiful castles. On October 14 and 15, however, young are pitted against old in this jarring festival. Men carrying portable shrines ram them against each other in a contest to hoist theirs on top of the others, assisted by men with bamboo poles.

Festival of the Ages      October 22
The Festival of the Ages, one of Kyoto's three major festivals, is sure to please those who are interested in Japanese history, textiles or handicrafts. Some 2000 people dressed in exquisitely recreated costumes parade from the Imperial Palace down to Heian Jingu Shrine, making spectators feel as though they have traveled back in time to an older period in Japanese history.

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Travel Oriented Inc.      Tohoku Big Three Festival Tour (12 days)      July 29, 2008
 
Escorted Autumn Japan Tours available from the U.S.
Adelsman Tours: Fall Colors Tour – November 10 - 23, 2008
Asian Transpacific Journeys: 13 Days Quintessential Japan – October 25, 2008
General Tours World Traveler – Fall Foliage on the Golden Route, October 4-14, 2008
Geographic Expeditions: The Essence of Japan – November 5-19, 2008
Hermes Travel: On colorful roads – October 26 - November 7, 2008
Journeys East: From Farmhouse to Teahouse – October 18 - November 1, 2008
Kobayashi Travel: 2008 Autumn Tokaido Odyssey #2 – October 31 - November 12, 2008
Yamato Travel Bureau: Yamato Exclusive Deluxe Autumn Tour to Japan – October 18, 2008
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Hyatt Regency Kyoto
Hyatt Regency Kyoto is now offering a Yukata Package during this summer. This package includes one night's stay at a guestroom, one Yukata set (one yukata, obi, and seta) plus taxi service from hotel to dress salon then salon to the center of Kyoto. The Kawadoko package is also available for guests to taste the Kawadoko cuisine. Please contact reservation.kyoto@hyattintl.com for any questions.

The Prince Park Tower Tokyo
The Prince Park Tower Tokyo is offering special promotional rates for Prince Club International members. Park Twin (single use) is only 17,625yen and 19,500yen (twin beds for double use). The rates are 10% commissionable. Reservations need to be made by 30th of June, 2008 and hotel stay must fall before 30th of September, 2008. This plan is for individual travelers only. For more information please contact 800-542-8686.

Hakata Excel Hotel Tokyu
Located just only 1 minute walk from Nakasu Kawabata Station, Hakata Excel Hotel Tokyu is just minutes away from Hakata station, the major hub of Fukuoka Prefecture. Summer Special is available from the 1st June to 31st August, 2008, with rates starting from 13,000yen (Double) and 16,000yen (superior twin). Rates are 10% commissionable, for more information please contact 1-800-42-TOKYU (86598).

A New Brand Name for the Pacific Hotel Group
Le Meridien Grand Pacific Tokyo in Daiba will be re-branded as “Grand Pacific LE DAIBA" and Le Meridien Pacific Tokyo in Shinagawa will become “Hotel Pacific Tokyo" after the termination of business contract with Starwood Hotel Group on 31st of May, 2008. These two properties will join the Summit Hotels & Resorts Brand" from 1st of June, 2008, and the GDS code will be changed to XL. Please contact the Hotel Pacific Los Angeles Office for any questions.

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Many Travelers know about the Japan Rail Pass or other JR Regional Passes which gives them great savings, but subway passes are also available for other private subway lines. These city subway discounts are useful to travelers who wish to explore a metropolitan area extensively. We will give you some ideas in Tokyo and Osaka area this time.

A General idea about subway systems in Japan – subway lines in metropolitan area such as Tokyo are often own by different companies. Each of the company has their own tickets and discount passes, and many of them are valid only for their own company; however, you can also find day passes which are valid for other companies' services as well. Please check the validity before purchasing.

Tokyo
Tokyo Metro – Tokyo Metro offers many types of discounted tickets for travelers. Inside Tokyo travelers may purchase the Tokyo Metro One-day open ticket, which is good for one day unlimited ride on Tokyo Metro Subway system. On top of that, Tokyo Metro also offers Limousine & Metro Pass ticket which enables travelers to ride the Limousine Bus to/from Narita Airport (or Haneda Airport) plus one day unlimited ride on Tokyo Metro. For more ticket types please see here.

Toei Transportation – On top of a one-day economical pass Toei Transportation offer exclusively for Toei subways and buses, they also offer the Tokyo Free Ticket that is valid for one day on Toei transportation, Tokyo Metro, and JR East Lines. For more information please see here.

JR East – JR East offers a one day Tokyo rail pass (Tokunai Pass) which offers unlimited travel on JR local and rapid trains. For more information please see here.

Osaka
One-Day Pass – this pass includes an unlimited ride to subways, New Tram services and city buses for one day. In addition, many sightseeing facilities also offer discounts on admission to One-Day Pass holders on the day of travel. For more information please see here.

Kansai Thru Pass – Available in 3 days or 2 days format, this pass enables travelers for unlimited access for public transportation provided by 43 affiliated organizations and the Osaka Municipal Transportation Bureau (except JR). The region covered by this pass includes Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Hyogo, Shiga, and Wakayama. Travelers can also enjoy special privilege and discounts at tour facilities and participating restaurants. For more information on the pass please see here.

A final note – IC Cards
IC Cards are perfect for travelers who do not wish to purchase day passes but do want to avoid the hassle of purchasing tickets for multiple times. IC Cards are rechargeable smart cards which values will be added to the card before traveling. When, for example, passing through the gate at a subway station, user will pass the card through a card reader, and the appropriate amount will be deducted with respect to the distance traveled. IC Cards that can be used in Tokyo area includes SUICA and PASMO, in Osaka the ICOCA is used. Japan Railways also offers a discount at Narita Airport – you can get a SUICA (with 1,500yen credit included) and one one-way Narita Express ticket for only 3,500yen (a typical Narita Express ride is about 2,940yen to 3,110yen).

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This year at JNTO we'd like to take the time and introduce Japan in our bi-monthly newsletters. We will breakdown Japan into regions and explain briefly about each area and introduce you to some of the “must hit spots" that pertain to that region.

The Tohoku Region consists of six prefectures located at the northeast of the main island (Honshu), which includes: Aomori, Iwate, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata, and Fukushima. (yellow part of the map)

Aomori
Famous for nature, nature produce (especially apples), festivals, and also Shamisen (a traditional Japanese string instrument)
What to see:
Nature: Shirakami-Sanchi Mountain Range (the world's largest virgin forest of beech trees, World Natural Heritage), Oirase (famous for the beauty of its valley), Lake Towada-ko
Art: Munakata Shiko Memorial Museum of Art (Woodblock printing), Aomori City History and Folks Art Museum
Famous tourist spots: Hirosaki Castle, Choshoji Temple
Famous Festivals: Nebuta Matsuri in summer
For access information please see here

Akita
It is famous for nature and hot springs. Rice-farming is also the major business so sake brewing is one of its specialties.
What to see:
Nature: Lake Towada-ko, Lake Tazawa-ko, Oga Peninsula
Famous Historical Treasures: Kakunodate (The Daimyo Yashiki)
Famous Hot Springs: Nyuto Onsen
Access information is here

Iwate
Its long coastline brings an abundant amount of marine products and famous for nature and historical aspects.
What to see:
Nature: Geibikei (known as one of the best 100 sceneries in Japan), Genbikei
Famous Historical Treasures: Hiraizumi (a pending cultural heritage on the UNESCO list)
An extra note for Iwate: The famous Haiku poet, Matsuo Basho, wrote his well-known major work “Oku no Hosomichi" (The Narrow Road to Deep North) after his visit to various northern region to Japan, including Hiraizumi in Iwate.
Access information is here

Miyagi
Miyagi Prefecture is famous for one of the three best sceneries in Japan – The Matsushima Island. Other famous tourist spots include hot springs and the Sendai Castle.
What to see:
Nature: Matsushima Island
Famous Historical Treasures: Sendai Castle/Aoba Castle
Famous Hot Springs: Akiu Onsen, Naruko Onsen
Famous Festivals: Sendai Tanabata Matsuri
For access information see here

Yamagata
Yamagata Prefecture is famous for hot spring, skiing facilities (on Mt. Zao), and it is also the largest producer of cherries and pears in Japan.
What to see:
Famous Historical Sites: Yamadera, Dewa Sanzan
Famous Hot Springs: Zao Onsen, Yonezawa Jutto
Famous Festivals: Hanagasa Matsuri
For access information see here

Fukushima
Fukushima Prefecture is famous for its nature environment that visitors can enjoy water skiing, summer camping, hiking, skiing, and so on. It also has over 150 hot springs, and fresh produces are also abundant.
What to see:
Famous Historical Site: Aizuwakamatsu
Art: Kitakata
Nature: Bandai-Kogen
Hot Springs: Iwaki Yumoto, Tsuchiyu Onsen
For access information please see here

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Please remember to check out our new web seminar to learn more and to find answers to some of your questions you might have about Japan!
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Will your customers be able to find you when they click on that link from our website? If you have registered as a Japan Travel Specialist, the answer is yes. Just watch a few educational videos and take three short quizzes to become part of our JTS Program. See the website for details.
* A CD-ROM containing JTS educational material is available by request. Please contact JNTO's Los Angeles office at 213-623-1952 or email info@jnto-lax.org for your copy.

Information is provided in this Japan Travel Update as a courtesy to readers of this newsletter. Though JNTO endeavors to ensure the information is accurate, users of the information are to act on such using their own judgment and at their own risk. Neither JNTO nor any holder of a copyright to the information shall be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any loss or misunderstanding, either direct or indirect, that is incurred as a result of utilizing the information

Publisher: Japan National Tourist Organization, L.A. Office
515 South Figueroa St., Suite 1470, Los Angeles, CA 90071
email: info@jnto-lax.org
website: www.jnto.go.jp or www.japantravelinfo.com