Japan Travel Updates
2009.01-28
In this Issue:
News Updates
Upcoming Events and Festivals
Japan Tour Updates
Hotels
How to Enjoy Hanami
Transportation, now affordable
Introduction to Japan
Local Events
Register as a Japan Travel Specialist

Dear travel industry partners and friends,

Happy New Year to you! We wish you an exciting year with happiness, success and prosperity to follow.

The year 2009 is the year of hope and changes. We have encountered number of hardships last year, which every industry is striving for their best to perform well in this economic downturn. While no one knows what will happen in our future; however, we all know the mistakes we have made, and we are more than ready to plant the seed of changes so we can soon embrace the fruit of success. As JNTO, we are eager to promote our country to every consumer in the U.S. – We are dedicated to provide more information, detailed advices, and work more closely with our industry partners. If you are a travel agent, we encourage you to learn more about Japan by participating in our Japan Travel Specialist program this year, or simply read our newsletter and website to see what an unforgettable experience Japan can offer to your clients. If you are a supplier, we encourage you to take any opportunity that JNTO can offer and make your Japan business grow.

Yokoso! Japan – We always welcome you!

Yokoso! Japan Weeks 2009      Jan 20 - February 28
It's back again! Yokoso! Japan Weeks 2009 will be held from the 20th of January to the 28th of February, 2009. In continuation of last year's success, a wide range of events will be held all across Japan to welcome the many overseas visitors during winter this year as well, such as first hand experience opportunity to learn about the Japanese culture, regional festivals and features, plus campaign and discounts at various retailers! For more information please see here: the website will be updated very soon so don't miss out!

Kyoto Winter Special      Until March 31
Kyoto Winter Special is a winter promotional event starting from December 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009. This year the scale will expand even further with more special admission to normally restricted heritage sites, winter events, special promotions, and special cultural experience in Kyoto! Visit the link here for program details.

Port of Yokohama celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2009      April to September 2009
From April to September, the Port of Yokohama will be celebrating its 150th anniversary. Many exciting events will be held throughout the city of Yokohama, including a hands-on exhibit sponsored by Nissan, performance art by La Machine, and a spectacular nighttime Earth Balloon show. For more information, please click here and also you can visit our JNTO website here.

Nohi Bus English Website is now available
Nohi Bus English website has been established for visitors' use, with plenty of information on bus service near the Hida Takayama area or between various cities such as Tokyo, Nagoya, Matsumoto, Toyama, etc. Please visit the website here for detail.

Office relocation
JNTO Los Angeles has relocated to Little Tokyo, with the address as follows:

340 E. 2nd Street, #302,
Little Tokyo Plaza,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Please notice that e-mail address (info@jnto-lax.org) and phone number (213-623-1952) remain the same. For any questions please contact our office.

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Tokyo has 3 major festivals coming up in the month of May. Click on the links for details about each festival.

Kanda Matsuri (one of Japan's big 3 festivals): (May 16, 17)
Sanja Matsuri (one of the largest Mikoshi (portable shrine) festivals): (May 15-17)

There are many other festivals and events going on throughout Japan at this time, including Fukuoka's extravagant Hakata Dontaku Festival (May 3, 4), Kyoto's elegant and highly ritualized Aoi (Hollyhock) Festival (May 15), and Nikko's Grand Festival of Spring which includes a procession of 1000 men dressed as samurai warriors (May 17, 18).

Other events going on during this time:
Takigi (Bonfire) Noh Theater May 11-12 (Nara), June 1-2 (Kyoto)
Cormorant Fishing (May 11 - Oct 15)

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JALPAK - Spring Cherry Blossom Package (10% commission on check payment and 7% on credit card payments. For more information please contact 800-221-1081)

Asian Pacific Adventures - Samurai Legacy

Majestic Vacations - Sake Brewery Tour in Tokyo

Kintetsu International - Solar Eclipse Tour (near Tokara Islands, Kagoshima area); land only package

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Shangri-La's New Hotel in Tokyo is opening in March 2009
This international luxurious hotel is opening a new property in Tokyo in Marunouchi, an emerging commercial center of central Tokyo. Marunouchi, the prime location in the heart of Tokyo's business district and just a 10-minute walk from the Imperial Palace and major commercial areas. For more information, please visit their website here.

Hyatt Regency Tokyo New View Deluxe Room to Debut in January 2009
Hyatt Regency Tokyo has announced the new View Deluxe Rooms will make their debut in January 2009 - These rooms will bring even greater comfort and functionality to the 21st to 26th floors of Hyatt Regency Tokyo, with careful attention to the room and major renovations to the bathroom, bringing a soothing atmosphere for guests to relax. For more information please contact Hyatt Regency Tokyo Office in Los Angeles at 310-301-2696.

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One thing many tourist don't know about Japan is the range of theme and amusement parks Japan has to offer. Everyone may know of or have heard about some of the major parks such as: Tokyo Disneyland and Sea, Universal Studios Japan, and Kamogawa Sea World. These parks are great but for those wanting to experience a Japanese theme park you have some fun and exciting options.

Sanrio Puroland
For those who have kids, especially little girls and love Hello Kitty, Sanrio Puroland would be a great option for those who are in Tokyo as it is only 40 minutes from Shinjuku station. Sanrio Puroland offers many stage shows, a few rides, and theme park filled with Sanrio characters.

Edo Wonderland-Nikko Edo Mura
Wanting to step back in time and experience days of the Shogun? Edo Wonderland-Nikko Edo Mura is a park that lets the visitor experience life as if they were alive during that time. Visitors will be able to witness Ninja and Samurai battles, a chance to try out Japanese archery, and an option to take a ride on the Yakata boat cruise (for 500 yen) down the Ohori Canal. Located in Nikko, which is 2 hours by Tokyo, makes a great day trip for those wanting to get away from Tokyo and experience a blast from the past. To finish off the trip make sure you visit Toshogu Shrine, and soak your aching body in the close by Kinugawa Hot Springs.

Fuji-Q High Land
The final park, Fuji-Q High Land, is for the thrill ride enthusiasts who are looking for more an adventure. Fuji-Q is home to some of the most mind-boggling rides such as, Dondonpa, Eejanaika, and the former world recorder holder roller coaster, Fujiyama, which used to be the tallest and had the largest drop. If you're not into the gut wrenching coasters, try out the haunted hospital, Senritsumekyu, which for sure will have you running for the exit.

These are just a few of the theme and amusement parks Japan has to offer. Please go to here if you'd like to learn more about other parks.

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As the summer months are approaching this also means holiday season in Japan is too. The holiday times in Japan, especially the two holidays that come up during the summer are times when many Japanese people are off from work and either go aboard or travel around Japan. This can be a problem for tourist visiting Japan as many places like amusement parks will be crowded, hotels will be full, seats on the train and buses will be sold out, and air fare maybe more and fuller planes. Another issue you might find during holiday times is that banks and post offices will be closed. So if are traveling in Japan during this holiday time and you need to send post cards or exchange travel checks or currency, you may want to do that ahead of time and make sure you plan ahead.

The holidays to make note are:
Golden Week (a bunch of holidays packed together which tends to be about a week of vacation)
Dates to be aware of this year: April 29th-May 6th.

Obon Holiday (A holiday to welcome back the spirits of the dead) This holiday is not a National holiday but most companies shut down for a week so people can go back to their hometowns.
Dates to be aware of this year: August 8th-16th.

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Shikoku
Shikoku is made up of 4 prefectures therefore giving it the name Shikoku. The prefectures that make up Shikoku are: Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi, and Tokushima.

One of the main attractions of Shikoku is doing the 88 Temple Pilgrimage which is a famous but grueling 1,100-kilometer hike around the entire island. It is said that annually 150,000 people do this pilgrimage by bus, car, motorcycle, bicycle, or in the true spirit by foot. The point is not to just visit all 88 temples to get your stamps but to pay respects to each temple and to interact with the people from each city and village. It is also import to remember to take in the beautiful scenery, and enjoy eating the wonderful cuisine from each area. If you do decide to take part in this adventure, do some research before hand and plan accordingly. Also make sure you dress in the traditional pilgrim gear so the people will know you are taking on this sacred pilgrimage.

Ehime
What to do/see in: Dogo onsen (see picture), Ishite-ji Temple, Matsuyama Castle, Ukai (cormorant fishing)
What to eat: Mandarin Oranges, Taruto (sponge cake roll), Goshiki Somen (thin five-colored noodles)

Kagawa
What to do/see in: Seto Ohashi Bridge, Kompirasan Shrine, Ritsurin Park (see picture)
What to eat: Sanuki Udon, Olive oil products

Kochi
What to do/see in: Kochi Castle (see picture), Katsurahama Beach, Sunday Market
What to eat: Products made from Yuzu (type of citrus fruit), Katsuo tataki (bonito fish), Sawachi cuisine (local cuisine, Suisho Butan (another type of citrus fruit)

Tokushima
What to do/see in: Whirlpools in Naruto straights (see picture), Awa Odori Kaikan, Tokushima Indigo Museum, Tokushima central park
What to eat: Tokushima Ramen, Naruto Kintoki Sweet Potatoes, Iya Soba Noodles, Awa-odori Chicken

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Japan Showcase
Mark your calendars! JNTO's Los Angeles office will be holding Japan Showcase educational seminars at the following two cities. These seminars are an excellent opportunity to learn more about Japan and make important connections with suppliers (Airlines, Hotels, Tour Operators, Destinations, etc.)

Japan Showcases:
1. February 24, 2009 (Tuesday) in Los Angeles, CA
2. February 26, 2009 (Thursday) in Costa Mesa, CA

Invitations with more details will be sent out by post approximately one month in advance of each showcase, so watch for yours. Please do not RSVP before receiving a paper invitation by mail. If you do not receive by one by two weeks before the showcase date, please contact us and we will fax one to you. Participation is limited to two persons per retail agency.

* If you are not near any of the above cities, do not despair, as we vary Japan Showcase locations every year in order to reach as many agents as possible. In the meantime, please take advantage of our online educational JTS program (see below)

LA Times Travel & Adventure Show 2009      Feb 14-15
The Los Angeles Times Travel & Adventure Show is the West Coast's largest travel event!
Come visit the Japan booth (Booths #1001 & #1117) and meet the Japan Specialist for updated information on Japan!

Date:
Saturday February 14th, 2009 8:00 am - 10:00am (Travel Agents Only)
10:00 am - 5:00 pm (General Public)
Sunday February 15th, 2009 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (General Public)
Place: Los Angeles Convention Center ( http://www.latimes.com/extras/travelshow/ )
1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, California 90015

Japanese Food & Sake Festival at Hyatt Regency Orange County      March 5
Enjoy free tasting, exciting demonstration, and win a trip to Japan! For more information please see here.

Tokyo City Cup GIII at Santa Anita Park      Mar 28
Make it a family day for everyone! See the race and Japanese cultural demonstration! More information here!

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FIND YOUR NEAREST JAPAN TRAVEL SPECIALISTS
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.

JNTO

Information is provided in this Japan Travel Updates 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 Tourism Organization, L.A. Office
340 E. 2nd Street, Suite 302, Los Angeles, CA 90012
email: info@jnto-lax.org
website: www.jnto.go.jp or www.japantravelinfo.com