2008.8-2
In this Issue:
News Updates
Upcoming Festivals and Events
Japan Tour Updates
Hotel Updates
All About Cell Phones
Introduction to Japan
Local Events
Register as a Japan Travel Specialist

See Japan's video on Youtube!
JNTO has launched the "Visit Japan Channel" and you can watch beautiful videos of Japan, including the famous Visit Japan Campaign promotional video! Haven't watched that yet? Now go to our channel for more details.

JR East News
Starting from July 1, 2008, the free area for JR East Pass has been expanded. Previously, passengers with JR East pass would need to pay a surcharge for a particular segment if the train used a non-JR-East private rail track, but now some of the routes will no longer require an extra fee.
However please be aware that while JR East Pass holder are waived from the additional fare, JR Pass holders are still required to pay the surcharges just as before.
For more information about this news and the routes, please see here.

JR East this year will offer the JR East Special Pass during this autumn - with 10,000 yen you can get unlimited travel on JR East trains for any three days during the period! For information on purchase or exchange, key dates and other details, please refer here.

Yokohama Triennale 2008
Yokohama Triennale is a series of international exhibitions of contemporary art. The theme is set by the artistic director with a wide range of artworks such as videos, installations, photography, painting, and etc. This event starts from September 13 to November 30, 2008. For more information please visit the website.

TripAdvisor 2008 Travelers' Choice Destination Awards
Kyoto is ranked as the 1st in Asia Category! The TripAdvisor 2008 Travelers' Choice Destination Awards results were released in May, and Kyoto was selected as the top destination in Asia Category! On top of that, Tokyo was selected as the 6th, for more information please go to here.

Seto Inland Sea's new website
A new website for Seto Inland Sea is now available in English, German, French, Korean, and Chinese. For those who would love to learn more about the beauty of Seto Inland Sea, please click here.

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Events:

Tokyo Game Show 2008      Oct. 9-12
For all you gamers out there, it is that time year! This year's show will be held from Oct.9th-12th and the usual September date, at Makuhari Messe in Chiba prefecture. Tickets can also be purchased the day of event but please remember that the first day is closed to the public. Make sure you give yourself enough time to look around, as every year tends to draw record crowds. Pop Japan Travel is also offering a tour package for the show.

Christmas in Japan      Dec.24-25
Christmas in Japan can be rather strange for those who are used to the typical western style Christmas. As you walk around the streets of major cities you might find many places with Christmas lights, Santa Clause, and the sound of Christmas carols. When you walk around the streets of Tokyo you might find many department stores advertising as if it was Valentines Day. For many Japanese, they celebrate Christmas on the 24th, rather than the 25th. For the young couples this the most romantic day of the year, they usually buy each other presents and go on a date on the 24th. As for families, some parents will buy their kids a present and some families like going to Kentucky Fried Chicken a.k.a. KFC for their dinner on the 24th. The lines at KFC are very long and you might even have to wait a half hour to an hour in some places just to get fried chicken! At the end of the night, many families and couples will have their "Christmas cake" that costs anywhere from $20 and up, to end their Christmas celebration.
As mentioned above, there are many places to check out the beautiful Christmas lights, and here is a list of the Top 10 sites to see. Click here.

New Year's Eve and New Year's      Dec. 31-Jan.1
The New Year's Eve holiday is celebrated rather differently in Japan than it is in Western countries. New Year's Eve in Japan is a rather quiet New Year's Eve, with no big fireworks celebrations or crazy drunkenness. Most people will go to a temple or shrine to witness a ringing of the bell (108 times for each of the worldly attachments) and to make an offering or prayer for the New Year, which in Japanese is called "hatsumode". This tradition is usually done on the first three days of the New Year at any shrine or temple. Some of the popular temples like, Meiji Shrine, and Sensoji Temple in Asakusa in Tokyo, can expect to wait in line at least 2 hours or more.

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Pop Japan Travel Tokyo Game Show Oct.5-12
IACE Travel Art of Shikoku Tour Nov.6-14
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Okura Hotel and Resorts agent competition
Okura Hotels and Resorts have launched an agent competition rewarding agents by a host of prizes from the number of room nights between July 1 to September 30, 2008. Bookings need to be made via Okura USA Office (GDS bookings are not valid for this competition). For details please contact the Okura USA Office at 1-800-526-2281.
Okura USA Office has also opened their new blog! Click here to check out news and specials.

Tokyo Disneyland Hotel Grand Opening!
Tokyo Disneyland Resorts' third hotel - Tokyo Disneyland Hotel - is opened on the 8th of July, 2008 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland. This Victorian style hotel has 705 guestrooms and luxurious dinning and banquet rooms. Disney stores and esthetique salon are also featured in this latest property. For more information please see here.

Hilton Niseko Village Grand Opening!
Located at Niseko, one of the most famous skiing resorts areas in Japan, the Hilton Niseko Village is now recently opened. Guests can enjoy all types of outdoor activities (golfing, horse riding, white water rafting, hiking, skiing, etc.) in Niseko, and later be pampered at the spa and hot springs in the hotel. Please see here for more information and reservation.

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, ranked the 6th in the world
Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, located at the vibrant center of Shibuya, was ranked 6th in the world and was ranked first in the Asia region among "Expedia Insider's Select 2008". The evaluation was based on users' feedback, Expedia's hotel expertise, together with other criteria on total satisfaction such as cost and performance factors. For information or reservation, please contact Tokyu Hotels (800-42-TOKYU).

The Prince Park Tower Tokyo Promotional Plan Extended
The Prince Park Tower Tokyo Promotional plan has been extended to December 30, 2008. Park Twin (single use) is only 17,625yen and 19,500yen (twin beds for double use). Guests must be Prince Club International member to enjoy this promotional rate. For details and reservation please contact 800-542-8686.

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Compatibility
Mobile phones technology is a little different in Japan that many of the cell phones in the U.S. would not work. The only foreign phones that might possibly work in Japan are some 3G (3rd Generation) models, and you will also need to consult your phone company about international roaming service, which might get quite expensive. You may also bring the SIM card (if it has 3G service) to Japan and rent the cell phone from companies, but not every cell phone rental company offers this option. Finally you can also rent a cell phone from a U.S. company - Rates will vary so please consult your phone company for details.

Alternatives
To avoid all the guessing and hassle, it might also be a good idea to rent a cell phone in Japan. You can find the cell phone rental stores in Narita or Kansai Airport. Rental rates usually consist of a daily rental rate and communication charges (many companies now charge a rate when you dial out, but you can receive calls for free). Please feel free to check their website for details on rates.

How to call using a Japanese cell phone?
Dial to a local number/cell phone in Japan:
A Japanese telephone number consists of area code and a phone number, e.g. (03) 1234-5678
Just dial all the numbers.
For cell phone it looks like (080) 1234-5678, you will also key in all the numbers.

How to call your mobile phone from outside of Japan?
First you will dial the international access number (in U.S. it is usually 011), then 81 (Japan's country number), then the phone number (omitting the first zero).
e.g. if your cell phone number is (080) 1234-5678, to call you the person from U.S. needs to dial: 011 + 81 + 80 + 12345678.

For more information on phones please see here.

Note: Visitors will not able to buy a Japanese cell phone from Japan - many times the purchase of phone requires a subscription of a certain cell phone usage plan, and to enroll you will need to show the proof of Japanese residency (such as Alien Registration card and a Japanese bank account).

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As we continue to try to introduce different regions in Japan, we hope you enjoyed our last section about the Tohoku area and got some ideas on some new places to visit. This time we'd like to introduce two regions: Hokuriku and some areas in the Chubu region.

Hokuriku

Fukui
Fukui is on the Sea of Japan side of Japan know its richness in historical places, crab "Echizen-gani" which is great in the winter, as well as Echizen pottery. You can also visit Eihei-ji temple, which is an education and training center for Zen monks.

What to see:
Nature: Tojimbo Cliffs, Echizen-Kaigan Coast, and The Five Lakes of Mikata
Famous spots: Eihei-ji Temple, Maruoka Castle, Obama National Treasure Tour, Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum
Famous Festivals: Mikuni Festival, Echizen Historical Costume Parade, Fukui Spring Festival

Ishikawa
Ishikawa is located in the middle of Hokuriku. One of the most well known cities of Ishikawa is Kanazawa, where a wealth of nature and culture, old and new, mesh together in this beautiful area. You can also find many traditional arts and crafts in Ishikawa with the traditional dyeing of Kaga Yuzen, Wajima Lacquer, and Kanazawa gold leafing. Finally, make sure you visit Kenrokuen Garden as it is listed as one of the Best 3 Gardens in Japan.

What to see:
Nature: Noto Peninsula, Kenrokuen Garden
Art
: 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Wajima Lacquer Art Museum, Terai-machi Kutani-yaki Porcelain Museum.
Famous spots: Kanazawa Castle Park, The Soji-ji Soin Father Temple, Eastern Geisha District
Famous Festivals: Noto Kiriko Festival, Seihaku Festival, and Hyakumangoku Festival

Toyama
Toyama has some of the most beautiful mountain landscape in Japan. It is also home to Gokayama, a world heritage that is similar to Shirakawago. Also take advantage of one the most famous hot springs, Unazuki Osen and enjoy being surrounded by nature.

What to see:
Nature: Mount Tateyama, Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, and Shomyodaki Falls
Famous spots: Unazuki Onsen, Zuiryuji, and Gokayama
Famous Festivals: Unazuki Onsen Snow Carnival

Chubu Region

Gifu
Gifu is located almost in the center of Japan is best known for Shirakawago and Hida-Takayama. Once you have explored these places head over to Gero Onsen, ranked as one of the best three hot springs in Japan, and soak your aching feet and body in a nice hot spring.

What to see:
Famous spots: Gero Onsen, Shirakawago, and Hida-Takayama

Aichi
The most well known city in Aichi Prefecture would be Nagoya, which is Japan's 4th largest city. Aichi Prefecture is also home to Toyota, located in Toyota City that makes a great stop for those Toyota fans. Finally in Aichi, take the time to see Inuyama Castle and Jo-an Tea House, which are registered National Treasures of Japan.

What to see:
Nature: Konrankei Gorge, Mikawa Bay Quasi-National Park, Hida-Kiso River Quasi-National Park, Mt. Horaiji Prefectural Park, and Atsumi-hanto Peninsula Prefectural Park.
Famous tourist spots: Meiji Mura, Inuyama and Nagoya Castles, Toyota Museum, Jo-an Tea House, and Horaiji Temple

Shizuoka
After your hike on Mt.Fuji, soak your aching feet and back in some of the many relaxing hot springs Shizuoka has to offer, especially along the Izu Peninsula and the facilities around Mt.Fuji.

What to see:
Nature: Izu Peninsula, Amigi-Toge Pass, Lake Hamana-ko
Famous tourist spots: Climbing Mt.Fuji, Atami, MOA museum of Art, Fuji Sengen Shrine

Yamanashi
Yamanashi is home to Fuji Five Lakes and Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. It is also home to one of the most thrilling amusement parks in Japan, Fuji-Q Highland. Yamanashi is an easy place to get to from Tokyo and can be a great day trip when starting early.

What to see:
Nature: Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Fuji Five Lakes, Shosen Valley, and Mt. Minobu-san.
Famous tourist spots: Fuji-Q Highland

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Nisei Weeks Little Tokyo: Los Angeles, CA Aug.16th-24th
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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