Japan Travel Updates
2009.06-01
In this Issue:
News Updates
Upcoming Events and Festivals
Autumn and Chrysanthemums
Japan Tour Updates
Travel Tips
Hotels
Introduction to SIT
Local Events
Register as a Japan Travel Specialist

JR Hokkaido Rail Pass Price Update
The Price for the Japan Rail Hokkaido Pass has been updated. Please refer to this website for more details.

Tokyo Game Show September 26th and 27th
Tokyo Game Show is coming up on the 26th to the 27th of September at Makuhari Messe in Chiba Prefecture. Come and see what's new in the gaming industry this year! Many tour operators offer tours to this game show, so please keep an eye on our anime microsite for any updates!

Hamamatsu International Mosaiculture 2009
September 19 to November 23, 2009
This spectacular horticultural artistic event will take place in Hamamatsu of Shizuoka Prefecture from September 19 to November 23, 2009. Artists shape living plants according to the natural formation and the theme of the event. For more information on the event, please visit here.

Top

41st Tokyo Motorshow October 24th-November 4th
Car fans it is that time of year again to see the latest technology in cars from October 24th-November 4th at Makuhari Messe in Chiba. The event is open to public on these days and will cost for adults 1300 yen (1100 yen for advance purchase) High School students 600 yen (500 advance purchase) and Junior High School and under will be free.

Festivals:

Nagasaki Kunchi Festival October 7th-9th
This is an autumn festival held at Suwa Shrine, which has a history of 370 years. Today, this festival is held every year for three days starting on October 7th in accordance with the solar calendar, drawing large numbers of tourists from both inside and outside Nagasaki Prefecture.

The greatest highlight is the Hono-Odori in which the towns in charge, called Odori-cho, take turns every year to perform dances. Moreover, the attractions prepared by the Odori-cho include dazzling floats shaped like river barges or Chinese boats on wheels.

Nikko Toshogu Shrine Shuki Taisai Grand Autumn Festival October 17th
This is the autumn festival of Nikko Toshogu, a registered World Heritage Site, where the Shunki Reitaisai - Grand Spring Festival is staged on May 17th and 18th. Just as in the Spring Festival, the main attraction in the Grand Autumn Festival is the grand procession of men dressed in samurai costumes (known as Hyakumono-Zoroe Sennin Gyoretsu or the Parade of 1,000 Samurai Warriors). This procession, consisting of one mikoshi (a portable shrine) and a train of about 800 people, is slightly smaller in scale than that of the Spring Festival.

Festival of the Ages October 22nd
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.

Top

Chrysanthemum is one of the symbols of Japan, as seen on the crest of the Imperial Family. While autumn foliage is famous during the time of Fall, many visitors and local residents also love the blossoming chrysanthemums, which represents nobility. Many chrysanthemums festivals are scheduled around the mid to late autumn time, with many of them taking place at shrines or parks.
Some places include:

Chrysanthemums exhibition in:
Yasukuni Shrine, Tokyo (10/16/2009 - 11/5/2009, tentative)
Meiji Shrine, Tokyo (10/25/2009 - 11/23/2009, tentative)
Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo (11/1/2009 - 11/15/2009, tentative)
Nihonmatsu Chrysanthemums Dolls Show, Kasumigajo Park of Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima (10/1/2009 - 11/23/2009, tentative)

Top

Travcoa - Sensational Japan

R&C Hawaii - Hokkaido Grand Autumn Tour

SITA World Tours - Total Solar Eclipse Tour (Get a 5% discount or a free cabin upgrade when you book by mentioning JNTO! Rate is also 10% commissionable to agents)

Super Value Tours - 9 Day Japan Classics

NWA WorldVacations - Highlights of Japan

H.I.S / Destination Japan - Tokyo Manga Program

Top

Money in Japan

One of the big questions we get at our office is in regards to getting money. Usually the first question is, "Can I use US Dollars to pay for things in Japan?" The answer to that question is "NO".

Traveler's Checks and Cash
The next question we usually get is in regards to traveler's checks and if they should bring them. The only place you can exchange travelers checks are usually in hotels and banks. Personally, I find it is best to bring cash about $200 worth of Japanese yen (around 20,000 yen with 100 yen to $1 exchange) per person with you when you come to Japan. That way you'll be able to pay for things as soon as you step off the plane and not worry about trying to find an ATM or a place that accepts credit cards. Please remember some places may accept credit cards to pay for the bus or train ride in but it is safe to have cash on hand.

ATM's and Credit Cards
Foreign credit and cash cards can be used at Post Office, Seven Bank (located at many 7-11 convenience stores) and Citibank ATMs throughout Japan.

When using one of the 26,000 Post Office ATMs in Japan, please look for the sticker indicating which cards are accepted. Cards from the Cirrus, PLUS, Maestro and Visa Electron networks can be used. Accepted credit cards include VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club.

You should have no problem accessing your money in Japan using your US bank's ATM card in Japan. Please double check with your bank just to be safe to make sure you are able to withdrawal money from an ATM overseas.

With credit cards, they can be used at most hotels and major department stores with no problems just like here in the United States. However, if you go to small restaurants and places that are out of the city, please make sure you bring enough cash, as most people don't use a credit card for small purchases and many places in Japan are still on a cash system only.

Top

Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Hotel Granvia Kyoto is offering guests a unique opportunity to enter the world of Geisha Entertainment - Book online for a 4 nights 5 days stay program and just simply include either June 17 or July 22 - You will have a chance to enjoy this traditional and unforgettable experience. Rate is 16,000 yen per person per night for this plan - For more information and reservation, please contact Hotel Granvia Kyoto at 81-(0)75-342-5855 or e-mail.

Hyatt Regency Tokyo
The remodeling project in Hyatt Regency Tokyo has come to an end in early April, and guests may now enjoy the renewed guest rooms, Regency Club Lounge, spa, and restaurants. Marking the finish of the renewal project is the opening of Caffè - a restaurant located on the lobby floor with Italian-inspired menu, opening from early morning to late night. For more information on the restaurants or guest room reservations, please contact Hyatt Regency Tokyo Office in Los Angeles at 310-301-2696

New Otani Hotels
New Otani Hotels are now offering special rates for Hotel New Otani Tokyo until the 30th of September - Rates for rooms in Garden Tower Building start from 15,400 yen (rack rate 31,000 yen), and rates for rooms in The Main start from 23,400 yen (rack rate: 33,000 yen). Rates are 10% commissionable to agents. Some restrictions apply. For reservations and details please contact New Otani Hotel North America Sales Office at 646-216-2186.

Prince Hotel & Resorts
Prince Hotel & Resorts are now offering a wide range of discounts on properties in Tokyo and Kyoto area. Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto is now offering a summer promotion until the 30th of September - Enjoy more savings with longer stays for Superior Floor Twin rooms for Prince Club Int'l members: During June 1 to September 30 start from 18,000 yen/room/night for double occupancy.
Park Tower Tokyo is also offering room discount until 31st of August - Stay at the Park Twin room for 18,000 yen/room/night (single or double occupancy) for Prince Club Int'l members and receive triple mileage forAmerican & United Airlines frequent flyer members.
Both above rates are 10% commissionable and inclusive service charge, 5% Tax and breakfast - For questions and reservation please call 800-542-8686.

The Peninsula Tokyo
The Peninsula Tokyo is now offering the "Summer Splendour Room Package" until the 30th of September - Enjoy great room rates with exceptional value-added benefits, such as daily breakfast for two, $100USD credit for the use in hotel, gift certificate for one night complimentary stay at any Peninsula Hotel worldwide, complimentary Internet access, one-way transport via The Peninsula's customized Roll's-Royce and BMW fleet within 2km radius of the hotel, and much more! Room rates start at 48,000 yen - For questions or reservations, please contact The Peninsula Tokyo at (81-3) 6270 2288 or by e-mail. (Some restrictions apply)

Tokyu Hotels
Tokyu Hotels is now offering a summer promotion for Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel from June 1 to September 6, 2009 - Stay at this 5 star hotel with rates starting at 19,000 yen (Standard Twin or Queen) and 22,000 yen (Standard King). Rates are 10% commissionable. Rates also subject to service charge and taxes. For more information and reservation, please contact the Tokyu Hotels Reservation Center North America at 1-800-42-TOKYU (86598) or e-mail.

Keio Plaza Hotel
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo is now offering a range of room discounts for a limited period of time - Enjoy a stay at the Superior Room from 15,200 yen or the Plaza Premier Room from 18,800 yen! Other room types are also available and agents can earn 10% commission of the room rate - This offer is limited so hurry and contact the Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo Los Angeles Office at 1-800-222-5346 or by e-mail. (*Rates are subjected to service charge and taxes)

Top    

Our “Introduction to Japan” has finished last year (and of course, it was still very superficial to cover everything on the entire Japan!), and this year we would like to introduce some SIT (Special Interest Travel) ideas to you.
Japan is a treasure chest for SIT – Traditional arts, culture, nature, sports, etc. are available for your clients to discover!  We will be talking about some SIT ideas throughout this year, and perhaps you can include this in your client’s itinerary and make him/her feeling special!

Religious/Philosophical Experience
One thing that travelers love about Japan is the cultural aspects such as visiting temples and shrines, but many might not know that they can even engage in such an experience and see Japan from another perspective.  For such category, we suggest some of the following:

Shukubo (Temple Lodging)
Shukubo, or Temple Lodging, is the best for those who want to experience the Buddhism life in Japan – Travelers will stay at a temple for normally one night, with meals (vegetarian cuisine) and maybe even some classes (such as copying Buddhist scriptures or Zazen meditation) offered.  While it might be the best to have someone who has good command of Japanese to accompany travelers, some temples also have English speaking priests. 

While you do not have to feel extremely formal when staying at a temple, you should always respect the rules and tradition of each temple.  You should also make reservations in advance (by contacting the temple directly or through Japanese travel agencies) and have cash in your hand for payment.  Some of the famous temple lodging sites include Kyoto, Mt. Koya, or even Shikoku Island (where the Shikoku Pilgrimage is very famous).

Zazen
Zazen is also called Zen Meditation.  Zazen is practiced for both religious and non-religious reasons.  For those who are non-religious, Zazen can be stress relieving and offer you some insight into this practice or Buddhism.  Many temples or organizations offer Zazen classes or sections and temples in Kyoto often offer this.  It is often a good idea to contact the temples in advance and see if reservation is required.  Some temples might ask for a small contribution or donation for Zazen.

Top    

69th Annual Nisei Week Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA      August 15-23

Nisei Week Grand Parade featuring Kodomo Nebuta & Nagoya Feudal Japan Processional
      August 16th starts at 5:30pm

2009 Aki Matsuri Bellevue Community College, Bellevue, Washington     September 12 & 13

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.

Top    

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.

To unsubscribe this newsletter, please click here.

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