Japan Travel Updates
2010.07-08
In this Issue:
News Updates
Events & Festivals
New Year's Culture
Subway Discounts
Japan Tour Updates
Hotel Updates
JNTO Staff Corner
Local News
Register as a Japan Travel Specialist

New Design of the logo
Japan Tourism Agency (JTA) has unveiled the new logo for new campaign on the 6th of April, 2010. The new logo is accompanied by a new copy "Japan. Endless Discovery" and is designed with Japan's iconic cherry blossom element, representing Japan's natural beauty, tradition, culture, cuisine and arts. Japan's new copy implies that Japan is the destination with countless cultural and historic interests, encouraging travelers to see Japan as a destination for multiple visits.

Tsukiji Fish Market – Latest updates
Visitation rules to the Tsukiji Fish Market Tuna Auction Observation area has been updated since May 10. These changes have been implemented for three reasons: the size of the facility, the influence on businesses and the safety of visitors. For details please see here.

Delta Airlines new services to Japan and Duty Free shops renewal open at KIX
Delta Airlines has started their new daily service between Seattle and Kansai International Airport (KIX) from June 7th, making access to Kansai area (e.g. Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, etc.) much easier! Also Kansai International Airport has renewed their duty free area, with more shops available to provide a wonderful experience to travelers! Please click the respective link for flight and duty free information.

All Nippon Airways' new services to Japan from the U.S.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) has announced its inauguration for 2 new international flights from Los Angeles (LAX) and Honolulu (HNL) to Haneda Airport (HND) starting from October 31, 2010, on top of the existing flights between these two cities and Narita Airport (NRT), providing more services to Japan*. Haneda Airport (HND) is located in the Tokyo downtown, which offers great access to the city and also excellent domestic air connection. For schedule and further information please refer to here.
(*Subject to government approval)

Japan Airlines' new service to Haneda from San Francisco
Japan Airlines has announced new service between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Haneda International Airport (HND) starting from October 31, 2010*. Flights between six other new international destinations and Haneda Airport are also announced - For further information on schedule please refer to here.
(* Subject to government approval. Existing service between Narita International Airport (NRT) and San Francisco Airport (SFO) will be suspended upon the commencement of HND - SFO service)

Religious celebration in Kyoto and hotel reservation for 2011
The year 2011 marks the 750 years and 800 years since the death of Shinran and Honen, 2 extremely important founders of two Japanese Buddhism sects. Memorial services will be held in Kyoto during 2011, with many events concentrated especially on March to late April. Many believers will visit Kyoto during this time to attend the events, and room supply is expected to be tight. Kyoto Tourism Office suggests that making reservations as early as possible, and if vacancies are not available, hotels near Osaka (about 30 minutes from JR Kyoto station) or Otsu (about 10 minutes from JR Kyoto station) are also some alternatives.

Shinkansen (bullet train) service extending to Aomori
Tohoku Shinkansen (bullet train) service will be extended to Aomori in December 2010, making traveling in the Tohoku area even easier. For more information please click here.

Setouchi International Art Festival 2010
The Setouchi International Art Festival aims to bring back the vitality to the local areas in the Setouchi (Seto Inland Sea) islands and promote cultural exchanges with artworks by artists from all over the world. The festivals will take place in the islands in the Seto Inland sea (Naoshima, Teshima, Megijima, Ogijima, Shodoshima, Oshima, Inujima) and the Takamatsu Port area from the 19th of July to the 31st of October, 2010. For further information please see here.

Find us on Facebook and Twitter!
JNTO has recently established our page on Facebook and Twitter! Check out both of them and become our fan or follower to receive the latest news on Japan!

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Event

Sumo   November 14th to 28th
Where: Fukuoka
This is the last tournament of the 2010 season and will be held in Fukuoka. If you'd like to get tickets before hand, they go on sale October 2nd 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 the day of the event just keep in mind the weekends tend to be sold out. For more information on where to get tickets please click here.

Festivals

International Anime Festival 2010   August 7th-11th
Where: Hiroshima
Come and join with many anime fans from all over the world as Hiroshima City celebrates the 25th anniversary of International Anime Festival. .

Kyo no Tanabata   August 6th-15th
Where: Kyoto
Enjoy the Tanabata Festival in Kyoto by writing your wishes on a special postcard and then stroll the "Milky Way of Light" area near Horikawa. You can even complete the entire experience by renting a Yukata (summer kimono) on the spot. For more information please see here .

Shichi-go-san (7-5-3 Celebration)   November 15th
Where: All over Japan
Visitors will see the adorable sight of Japanese children dressed up in kimonos at temples or shrines on November 15. Boys celebrate it when they are 5 years old, girls when they are 7 years old, and both boys and girls celebrate it when they are 3 years old. 7, 5 and 3 are lucky numbers in Japan, and Shichi-go-san is to celebrate their growth through the difficult phases of childhood.

Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu Night Festival)   December 2nd - 3rd
Where: Chichibu Shrine in Saitama
This festival is one of Japan's three greatest float festivals, together with the Gion Matsuri of Kyoto (July 1st-31st) and the Takayama Matsuri of Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture (April 14th and 15th, and October 9th and 10th). The main attraction of the festival is on the 3rd when the kasoboku and yatai floats are lit up with many lanterns and are paraded through the streets with a spectacular fireworks show at the end.

Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri   December 15th-18th
Where: Wakamiya-jinja Shrine (close to Kasuga Taisha Grand Shrine in Nara)
This festival dates back to the 12th century when it was first organized and offers a chance to see some of the traditional arts performing arts of Japan during this 4 days festival. The best day to attend the festival would be the 17th, which is known as Hon-Matsuri. It is really worthwhile attending the performances of kagura, which is music dedicated to the gods, and bugaku, or court music accompanied by traditional dance. This festival features all kinds of other traditional performing arts which we rarely have a chance to see and will satisfy those that want a chance to see the traditional performing arts and hear some traditional music. For more information about festivals in other places please click here

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When we think of New Year's in the United States usually the first things that come to mind are parties, firework celebrations, and drinking. In Japan though, the first things that come to their mind are, Osechi, a traditional Japanese dish eaten at New Year, the first prayer of the year called Hatsumode, and watching Kohaku (Singing competition) on TV at New Year's Eve.

Unlike most places around the world, Japan is fairly quiet during this time, but don't think that it is quiet all over Japan as there are a few places you can still bring in the New Year with a roar.

For those wanting to bring in the New Year with a bang, there are many clubs and bars in major cities throughout Japan that hold New Year's parties and usually charge some sort of door fee.

Another main attraction is the various Countdown Events. One very popular event is the Countdown at Disneyland Resort. The park opens up at 8:00 pm and stays open all night. The tickets to this event sell out very quickly so you might have to contact a Japanese travel agent to see if they can get tickets. You can expect a huge crowd and also plan on dressing very warmly as the Disneyland resort is located next to the sea - It can get very cold during winter night. Besides Disneyland Resort you'll find many other places having their own Countdown events.

There is also Hatsumode, which is the first visit to either a shrine or a temple. At popular shrines like Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Osaka, millions of people will line up to offer their first pray of the year, and can expect to be in line for many hours. Hatsumode is usually done the first 3 days of the New Year and expect the 1st to be the busiest of the days.

Finally, as this is Japan's most important holiday, expect to see many business, museums, and sights closed between December 29th-January 4th, especially many will take January 1st off. To learn more about some of the traditional symbols of New Year's please click here. For other information regarding closure of various places go here.

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Many of you must have heard about the Japan Rail Pass, but we want to let you know that there are other passes or discounts (for local transportation such as subways) that you can use. But first of all:

1. Why passes?
- You might not need to purchase Japan Rail Pass for your trip (To calculate train fares, you may use this website), and also JR Pass only covers JR trains but not subways owned by other companies. Some passes also offer discounts on popular facilities.

2. What should I pay attention to when getting passes?
- The most important thing will be the validity of the pass - Passes are not valid on all subways or buses (since different companies run different subway and bus lines) so some of you might want to plan ahead and try to use only services from that particular company. Almost all websites will show the route map and details.

3. That is too complicated….
- Instead of subway passes, you may also get the IC card such as SUICA from JR East, Pasmo from Tokyo Metro, Kitaca from JR Hokkaido, ICOCA from JR West, and many more types in different area. You put your deposit into these IC cards, and you only have to pass it through the gates when you take subways (fares will be automatically deducted based on distance). These IC Cards do not give you discounts, but you don't have to calculate how much you need to pay, making traveling easier for those who are in a hurry.

Nonetheless, passes can offer good value. Here are some passes or discounts available in different area:
Tokyo: Tokyo Metro, Toei, JR East offer passes in the Tokyo area. Click into the websites for different types that they are offering.
Just outside of Tokyo: For those traveling to Hakone or Mt. Fuji, Odakyu offers some passes for traveling from Tokyo to these areas. For those going to Nikko area, Tobu Railway also has some passes for travelers.
Nagoya and Kansai area: Kintetsu Rail Pass (For Nagoya, Mie, Nara, Kyoto, and Osaka area)
Kyoto: Kyoto Sightseeing Pass card and Traffica are also available. See here for more details.
Osaka: Osaka Unlimited Pass offers discounts of transportation and facilities in Osaka area.
Kansai area: Kansai Thru Pass (For Kansai area such as Nara, Mt. Hiei, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, Mt. Koya, Wakayama)

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Adventure Center - Empire of the Sun and Ancient & Modern Japan (Commissionable to travel agents)

Asia Journeys - Classic Japan (Commissionable to travel agents)

Charming Asia - All Year Japan and Cultural Japan (Commissionable to travel agents)

Destination Japan - World Cosplay Summit & Tokyo (Commissionable to travel agents. Receive $100 off with full payment by cash/check by July 11!)

Globus - Discover Japan and Treasures of Japan and China (Commissionable to travel agents)

IACE Travel - Challenge! Climb Mt. Fuji Tour and 2010 Kansai Deluxe World Heritage Tour (Commissionable to travel agents)

Japan Airlines - 9 Days/7 Nights Tokyo & Okinawa Package

JTB USA - Life in Tohoku "Local Food & Cinema" and Mensore Okinawa Chura Umi Tour (Commissionable to travel agents)

R&C Hawaii Tours - Shikoku, Nara, & Kyoto "Ryoma Den" Tour and Hokkaido Grand Autumn Tour (Commissionable to travel agents)

Royal Adventure Travel - 2011 Hokkaido Winter Festivals and Honshu Shikoku Cherry Blossom Tour (Commissionable to travel agents)

Walking Softly Adventures - Japan: Temples, Gardens, Castles, & Villages and Japan Art Now! Art in Modern Japan (Commissionable to travel agents)

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The Peninsula Tokyo
The Peninsula Tokyo is currently offering their Summer Splendour Package until the 30th of September, 2010 - Enjoy special room rates and benefits such as daily American breakfast, complimentary one-way transport via The Peninsula's customized Rolls-Royce and BMW fleet within a two-kilometer radius of the hotel, and a choice of one value-added benefit such as room upgrade, hotel credit, and much more! Prices start from 49,000yen* - For more information and reservation please contact the reservation department at (81-3) 6270 2288 or e-mail.

(*Rates are subject to a 10% service charge, 5% national consumption tax and JPY 200 Tokyo accommodation tax per person, per night. Advance reservation required. Subject to availability)


Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo is offering their new"Sake Sampler Package" - Stay at the heart of Shinjuku and have a taste of the famous Japanese sake! Room rates start from 23,000yen* or 29,000yen*, including daily breakfast and also a sake sampler voucher for Amanogawa (sake bar). This promotion is until December 29, 2010 and 10% commissionable to agents. For more information please contact the Keio Plaza Hotel Los Angeles Office at 800-222-5346 or e-mail.

*Rates are subject to applicable 10% service charge, 5% sales tax, and 200yen city tax.

Park Hyatt Tokyo
Back by popular demand, Park Hyatt Tokyo is currently offering their “Stay Cool Package" until the 20th of September. Enjoy access to “Club on The Park" spa and fitness centre, plus brunch at New York Grill (with a glass of sparkling wine) together with your stay. Rates start from 54,285yen* (Park Deluxe Room) and from 118,965yen* (Park Suite). For more information please contact the reservation department at +81 3 5322 1234 or e-mail.

*Subject to availability. Rates are per night and inclusive of 5% consumption tax, 10% service charge, and are subject to 200yen per person, per night accommodation tax. Blackout dates apply

Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts
Since the opening in 1980, Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts marked 30th Anniversary and all group hotels worldwide are offering special packages and promotions. The only one Swissôtel in Japan, Swissôtel Nankai Osaka, is also offering unique promotions and packages till 31st October 2010. The hotel offers 30th Anniversary spa packages, stay packages, restaurant promotions and many more to come within the promotional period. Please refer to Swissôtel Nankai Osaka's website here for more information and details.

Okura Hotels and Resorts
Okura Hotels and Resorts is now offering some special summer rates until the end of September 2010 at Hotel Okura Tokyo and Kyoto Hotel Okura - Standard room rates (with breakfast) at Hotel Okura Tokyo starts at 22,500yen*, single occupancy (or 26,000yen* with double occupancy). Superior twin rates starts at 21,000yen* (single occupancy) (or 23,000yen* with double occupany) at Kyoto Hotel Okura - More discount rates are available so please contact Okura Hotels & Resorts at 1-800-526-2281.

*Rates exclude tax and service charge and is 10% commissionable to travel agents. Subject to availability

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Editor's note: Thank you so much for the warm responses that we have received for our previous issue! We will continue to bring different perspective from our staff this year on Japan - So stay tuned!
This time we have Mr. Yoshinobu Ota, one of our directors to talk about what he likes about Japan:

I have been working at Japan National Tourism Organization in Los Angeles since last September, and this is the first time for me to be assigned to an overseas office. When I was transferred to here from Japan, I brought many household goods with me because I was anxious, and I am so used to the great products that we have in Japan. Of course once I arrived here, I realized that there are so many products that are equally user-friendly and convenient here in the U.S., and I am getting used to my life here. Nonetheless there is one thing that I really miss from Japan - which is called the "washlet".

The "washlet" is a high tech toilet with some advance features - automatic air purifier, heated seat, bidet function, and so on. It runs on electricity and everything can be controlled by the user (from the water temperature to the pressure of the bidet, for example). I believe that this is the cutting edge technology of Japan, providing the most comfortable and cleanest experience that you can ever have while using the restroom - I am genuinely proud of it! In fact I even hear rumors that when Hollywood stars went to Japan, they were surprised by this gadget in their hotel bathroom, amazed by its excellence, and decided to purchase one and take it back home with them!

You will see them in many places in Japan - Hotels, ryokans, department stores, airports, and so on. While it might not be installed in every restroom, but I strongly encourage you to take a step out of your comfort zone and give all the functions a try - I promise this will make a very unique travel experience in Japan, and you can bring back your stories and share them as trivia with your family and friends. You might even fall in love with the washlet and cannot get enough of them!

We have so many amazing destinations in Japan, but I also believe that we have so many interesting gadgets that we use in our lives and I will never be bored during my stay there - If you look closer you will definitely find them, and I encourage you to try their functions. Travel, is more fun and unforgettable this way!



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Furoshiki Workshop   July 8th
Learn how to use this great wrapping tool! Please contact Japan Foundation for further details.

Target Free Family Saturday: On The Go!   July 17th
Japanese American National Museum Los Angeles, CA

70th Annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival   August 14th-22nd
Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA

Nisei Week Grand Parade featuring Nebuta Festival  
August 15 parade starts at 5:30 with the Nebuta float at the end

Streets of Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA

Aki Matsuri   September 11th-12th
Bellevue College Main Campus, Bellevue, WA

Festival Japan   September 25th-26th
Uwajimaya Plaza Beaverton, OR

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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.

You can also contact our office for travel brochures and language handbooks. Please e-mail info@jnto-lax.org for more information.

* 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.

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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