Japan Travel Updates
2010.11-10
In this Issue:
News Updates
Events & Festivals
Upcoming Events at Tokyo Disney Resorts and Universal Studios Japan
Japan Tour Updates
Hotel Updates
JNTO Staff Corner
Local News
Register as a Japan Travel Specialist

More than just Golden Route!
Japan is more than Tokyo and Kyoto - Learn about these featured destinations and tour products on our special landing page and make your client's trip memorable!!

Japan Winter 2011 Specials on our website
Japan has very distinctive four seasons which makes traveling special during anytime of the year - See here for some special packages that we have for you during winter 2011. Don't forget to keep an eye on the sweepstakes that will start soon!

More international services to Tokyo!
Haneda International Airport (HND) is now officially opened! The new international terminal is located in the heart of Tokyo, also just right next to the biggest domestic airport of Japan, making access to the metropolitan and other locations in Japan very convenient. Services from LAX, SFO, and HNL are now available with DTW and JFK to follow in the future For more information please refer to the website.

Airport Limousine Bus Group "Meet and Assist Limousine Passenger Service"
Airport Limousine Bus Group is now offering the "Meet and Assist Limousine Passenger Service" to passengers using the Narita International Airport or Haneda International Airport - You can arrange a staff from the Airport Limousine Bus Group to meet your clients and assist them with transportation and travel information, so they can travel at ease. Various types of services and agent pricing are both available - For further information please see here or contact the Airport Transport Service Company Limited Sales Planning Department at Tel: 81-3-3665-7304/Fax: 81-3-3664-1485/e-mail: Meetassist@limpax.po-jp.com

Fixed Fares Taxi Service
With the new International terminal at Haneda Airport opened in late October, fixed fares taxi service has become available to travelers. Reservations are required for rides to Haneda Airport. For fare listings and more 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

Tokyo Marathon   February 27th, 2011
Where: Tokyo
Tokyo Marathon will be held on 27th of February, 2011. This event is held in usually late February to March, which participants will have a chance to tour through all the famous spots in Tokyo, such as Imperial Palace, Hibiya Park, Ginza, Asakusa, Tsukiji, and Tokyo Big Sight. For more information please see here.

Tokyo International Anime Fair   March 24th - 27th
Where: Tokyo Big Sight, Tokyo
The Tokyo International Animation Fair (TAF) is an annual event highlighting animation in which many products designed by professionals and amateurs are exhibited. It is the largest anime exhibition attracting visitors from all over the world. It will be held from 24th to the 27th of March (with public attendance only on 26th and 27th). For more information please see here.

Festivals

Omizutori (Water-drawing Festival)   March 1st-14th
Where: Todai-ji Temple, Nara
From the 1st to the 14th of March in Nara, Priests at Todai-ji Temple, famous for its enormous statue of Buddha, confess their sins before the Eleven-faced Kannon enshrined in Nigatsu-do Hall, and also pray for world peace and a rich harvest for 14 consecutive days. The Omizutori, the highlight of this event, is performed early on the morning of the 13th. Water which only springs forth in front of the temple building on this very day is drawn up and offered to the Buddhist deities. This water is said to have special powers for curing all disease.

Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival)    March 3rd
On the 3rd of March, hina ningyo dolls will be displayed at homes where there are daughters. Offerings of diamond-shaped rice cakes, sweet and peach blossoms are made to accompany prayers for the healthy growth and happy future of the daughters. There is also the custom of cooking clams and short-necked clams, these dishes decorate the doll-stand and are served as a special dinner for this feast.

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With Christmas just around the corner, Tokyo Disney Resorts® and Universal Studios Japan® will be offering some great entertainment that your clients can surely feel the warmth of Christmas, while they are traveling in Japan during this holiday season. We would like to emphasize that these two wonderful amusement parks offer many types of attractions which will make your client's trip to Japan memorable. Besides the rides and entertainment facilities which are available all year round, these two parks also offer many unique events at different times of the year, making each visit special. This time we would like to introduce some upcoming events, and for other event and facility information, please visit each park's website for further details.

Tokyo Disney Resorts®

©Disney
Starting from November 8th to December 25th, 2010, Tokyo Disney Resorts® will be offering a variety of Christmas themed shows throughout the two parks, filling the Kingdom of Dreams and Magic with Christmas spirit.

At Tokyo Disneyland Park®, come and join Mickey Mouse and all of his Disney friends as they come together in the winter wonderland of "Christmas Fantasy." Don't miss some of your favorite characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Tinker Bell and Terence, and Chip n Dale skating happily on the floats of "White Holiday Parade", which will be held 2 times daily along the parade route. Starting from sunset, visitors can also witness the beautiful snowfall and Christmas music in front of the Cinderella Castle, which will for sure put everyone in the Christmas mood.

At Tokyo DisneySea®, a new special event named "Christmas Wishes" will be hosted throughout the park, giving visitors an opportunity to feel the Christmas spirit - The event features the display of different Christmas trees at seven different themed ports and a new revue called "Christmas Wishes" (that is now running until December 25th, 2010) hosted near the Waterfront Park. The show will feature some spectacular dancing, Christmas carols, and a 30ft high Christmas tree created by Christmas sprites.

Universal Studios Japan®

© 2010 Sesame Workshop. © 2010 Peanuts
© ’76, ’10 SANRIO APPROVAL NO. EJ0070701 ™
& © 2010 MGM. BEETLEJUICE: ™
& © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s10) ™
& © 2010 Marvel. ™ & © Walter Lantz Productions, LLC.©
& ® Universal Studios. All rights reserved. 
Universal Studios Japan® is launching the event "Universal Wonder Christmas" from November 8th, 2010 to January 10th, 2011. Come and enjoy the last year of the romantic night show "The Gift of Angels", which has recently won the 2009 Big E award for Best Overall Production (More than $2 million dollars). The climax of the show will feature a 108ft "Universal Super Christmas Tree," which is the tallest artificially built stand-up style Christmas tree in Japan. As a memorial of "The Gift of Angels" and "Universal Super Christmas Tree" finale, the official recognized Santa Claus from Lapland, Finland will make his visit to Universal Studios Japan® all the way from Santa Claus Village to welcome and greet the guests.

Finally, Universal Studios Japan® will commemorate its 10th Anniversary starting from March 31, 2011. Under the theme "Happy Surprises on the Greatest Scale in History of the Park", the park will offer an ongoing series of world-class entertainment from March 3 (Thu) 2011 to April 8 (Sun), 2012. During the 10th anniversary event period, popular characters, entertainers and crew members will offer you various programs filled with surprises one after another, anytime, anywhere in the Park. For example, you may encounter a musical performance at a place where you would never have expected it to happen. Perhaps you may notice a dinosaur walking beside you, or may be taken aback by some trick art (Trompe-l'oeil, art works using optical illusions). Your clients will surely leave with a big smile on their faces with these delightful surprises beyond their imagination.

* Contents of the above-mentioned plans may be subjected to change

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Adelsman Tours - 7 Days & 7 Nights, Tokyo and The Perfect Introductory Tour, Japan

AsiaLuxe Holidays - Japan Holiday, Tokyo Hilton

Asia Journeys - Classic Japan 8 Days and Imperial Tokyo

Asia Transpacific Journeys - Quintessential Japan and The Cultures of Buddhist Asia - Japan, Laos, and Bhutan

Charming Asia Tours - Japan Holiday

Destination Japan - Tokyo Anime Freedom Tour

Geographic Expeditions - Japan: A Cultural Feast

Globus family of brands - Discover Japan and Visions of Asia

Inside Japan Tours - Japan Enchantment

JTB USA - JTB Winter Promotion, Tokyo & Osaka Free Plan and Otaku Anime Tour 2011

Mountain Hiking Holidays - Hiking in Japan

R&C Hawaii Tours - Hokkaido Snow Festival Tour and Kanto Cherry Blossom Tour

Royal Adventure Travel - Honshu Shikoku Cherry Blossom Tour and Japan Alps, Sado Island, Niigata, and the Noto Peninsula Tour

Super Value Tours - 6-Day Kanto and 9-Day Japan Classics (Mention "JNTO special" for departures between Jan - Feb 2011 and save up to $400 off. 2011 tours' commission also increased! Call 877-388-1777 for details)

Walking Softly Adventures - Japan Art Now

Commissions are often available to agents for the above tours - Make sure you call and ask!

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The Peninsula Tokyo
From 1 November 2010 until 31 March 2011, guests can enjoy special room rates and benefits with the Winter Escapes room package from the Peninsula Tokyo. Some of the benefits include room upgrade, daily American breakfast, complimentary use of fitness center and swimming pool, and complimentary one-way transport via the Peninsula's customized Rolls-Royce (within a two-kilometer radius of the hotel). Room rate starts at 52,000yen* per room (*subject to service charge, sales tax, and accommodation tax) Also do not miss the opportunity to get in shape while staying there Ask about the Imperial Palace Jogging Program while making your reservation! For more information please contact the Peninsula Tokyo at (81-3) 6270 2888 or e-mail.



Okura Hotels & Resorts
Okura Hotels & Resorts is currently offering some special promotions for Hotel Okura Kobe. From November 1st to December 31st of 2010, enjoy wonderful rates available for all week long. Standard room is 13,500yen*/person/night (double occupancy) and price is even lower on weekdays, with standard room rate at 11,000yen*/person/night (double occupancy). This rate includes breakfast so do not miss this great opportunity! Rate is also 10% commissionable to travel agents For further information and reservations, please contact Okura Hotels & Resorts Global Sales Office North America at 800-526-2281.
(*rates do not include taxes)


Hotel New Otani Tokyo
Hotel New Otani Tokyo is currently offering the "Try Haneda!" special offer until March 31, 2011. Enjoy early check-in/late check-out with no extra charge and some amazing room rates starting from 19,800yen* (rack rate: 31,000yen). Valid boarding pass, e-ticket, or itinerary certificate for flights arriving or departing at Haneda Airport is required upon arrival to qualify for this special. For other room rates, specials, or reservations, please contact the New Otani Hotels North America Sale Office at 646-216-2186.

Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo is currently offering special Tokyo walking tours to guests staying at the property. Tours range from pop culture, art, nightlife, history, to even ghost stories! For further information and pricing please refer to here.

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This time we have featured an article written by our Assistant Director, Mr. Curtis Griffin, who recently went on a Scuba Diving familiarization trip to Okinawa.

Okinawa - Japan's tropical paradise

In October 2010, I had an opportunity to visit one of places in Japan that was on my bucket list for a long time - Okinawa. To be honest I didn't know much about Okinawa until I started studying Japanese which was back in my high schools days 16 years ago. Since then, I have studied a lot about this place, and I always had the desire to visit the islands that make up Okinawa Prefecture.

On this particular trip, I took a group of Tour Operators that specialize in scuba diving and visited some unique diving spots in Okinawa.

Monument of westernmost point in Japan
One of the areas we visited was an island called Yonaguni Island. This island is the most western island in Japan and is only 69 miles away from Taiwan. On a clear day, you can even see Taiwan from the Monument of the westernmost part in Japan. The population of Yonaguni Island is 1610 people - Sugar cane farming, fishing, and raising cattle are the main industry on this island.

So you might ask, why take a group of scuba divers all the way to Yonaguni Island?

There are two reasons, one, a chance to see the underwater "ruins" of Yonaguni and two, to see the hammerhead sharks.

Yonaguni Ruins (photo by Ken Jones)
Nobody really knows how old these "ruins" might be, and there is still a debate whether these "ruins" are really manmade ruins. The underwater ruins consist of a large number of terraces, staircases, and channels that appears as if someone carved these for ditches. For anyone who is curious about these ruins, you have a few options to see them. The best way to experience them would be to dive into the ocean. One of the dive areas is called Iseki point or No.1 point, where the structure resembles a castle. The depth of this monument is about 100 feet, and it is not recommended for someone who has just started scuba diving. You can also get a glimpse of the ruins from a glass bottom boat (*depends on the sea and visibility conditions).

As for hammerhead sharks, we were not able to see any during our trip as they don't come out until around winter time (from December to March), but is a must see for divers who want to swim with swarms of hammerheads above them.

On land, we took a tour around the island and visited an awamori factory that makes "hanazake" or flower sake, which is Yonaguni's famous sake. The owner let us sample some his 20 year old "hanazake" which is 60 proof and sells for 50,000 yen (over $600) per 1.8 liter bottle! We also had a chance to see the traditional style of weaving called "minsa", and had a delicious lunch at one of the local restaurants that served some of Yonaguni's famous marlin.

Although our time was short, I enjoyed being away from the busy life of LA - No skyscrapers, no traffic jams, just clean air to breathe on an island surrounded by the blue sea with not many people around. I have so much more to explore around the islands of Okinawa - I hope one day I can return to this tropical paradise of Japan and explore more beautiful islands this destination has to offer.




How to get there:
First of all, getting to Okinawa is very easy. You can either fly to Okinawa from either Narita International Airport or Haneda International Airport. There are many flights offered daily and the flight is less than 2 1/2 hours to Naha, which is Okinawa's largest city.

To access Yonaguni Island, there are no direct flights from Narita or Haneda International Airports so one would need to fly to Okinawa. The easy way to access the island would be to fly from Naha. From Naha, there are four round trip flights per week. Also one can fly into Ishigaki Airport that has one round trip flight daily.

For information on Okinawa please visit here and for Yaeyama Islands (where Yonaguni Island can be found) here.

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JNTO is excited to announce the upcoming events that JNTO will be attending. If you have a chance, come by and say Hi, take some brochures/maps, and ask us any questions you may have regarding traveling to Japan.

Japan Showcase
Mark your calendars! JNTO's Los Angeles office will be holding Japan Showcase educational seminars at the following 4 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. January 21, 2011 (Friday) in San Francisco, CA
2. March 2, 2011 (Wednesday) in San Diego, CA
3. March 3, 2011 (Thursday) in Anaheim, CA
4. March 8, 2011 (Tuesday) in Minneapolis, MN

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.

Please watch your mail in the coming for the invitation and hope to see you soon at one of our showcases.

Luxury Travel Expo
   December 7th - 9th, 2010, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV
Japan, a marvelous blend of East and West, welcomes travelers to explore its unique, luxurious, cultural experience. Japan National Tourism Organization is attending the Luxury Travel Expo 2010 in Las Vegas, NV with Japan Specialist Partners, on behalf of Japanese Government. Please join us for the one hour Japan seminar (Dec. 7th from 4:30pm ~ 5:30pm) and visit our Japan booth at the trade show, and explore how Japan can be your client's next luxury destination. Also click here for more information and get the 10% discount code for the registration to the Luxury Travel Expo 2010! For further information please contact our office.



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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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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