March 2013

 

Cherry Blossom Forecast Now Available!


It is the height of cherry blossom season in Japan! Actually according to forecasts the season has started about a week early this year because of slightly warmer temperatures. Wondering when the blooms will be their best in a certain area? Check out The Bloom of Cherry Blossoms JNTO map! Based on the forecasts by the Japan Weather Association we have put together an interactive map of blooms across Japan, showing what areas are blooming and what areas have yet to bloom. Check out the special Bloom Forecast Page for all of the great information!

 

Currency Exchange Service Now Available in Shinjuku Station


Odakyu Electric Railways, one of your gateways to Hakone from Tokyo, is now offering a new service at their Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center in busy Shinjuku Station! They have now opened a TravelEx Currency Exchange booth to better serve international visitors! The Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center is one of the many JNTO approved tourist information centers so it is well equipped to handle all information needs and they can even help to book various services! For further information, here is the Odakyu Sightseeing Service Center webpage.

 

Setouchi Triennale 2013 Spring Art Series


The event is a must see for art lovers and features everything from large outdoor art structures to performance events. The Triennale will be held during 3 times this year during the Spring Summer and Fall Seasons, offering many things to see and do around the Inland Sea of Japan. Of course including installations on the world famous Naoshima Art Island, the Triennale covers 12 islands with many new works.

The event will feature almost 200 Japanese and International artists. Take a look at the event site for all of the info and a detailed calendar. Don't forget to pick up the special 2-day ferry pass for the event, see 6 islands with the one easy pass!

 

Ando Museum Opens on Art Site Naoshima


Speaking of Art in the Inland Sea area of Japan. A new museum opened on March 12th on the famed Naoshima Island. Designed using the outer frame of a 100 year old house by award winning international architect Tadao Ando, the museum features works that highlight the history of Naoshima and Ando's various works. Please see the Benesse Art Site Naoshima webpage for information.

 

Hiroshima Confectionary Expo 2013


Do you love sweets like me? Then you should check out the 26th National Confectionary Exposition in Hiroshima! Held roughly every 4 years since 1911 in various locations around Japan, this year is the first time the event has been celebrated in Hiroshima! The expo will take place at the site of the former Hiroshima Municipal Baseball Stadium & the Hiroshima Prefectural Sports Center, which are for those not familiar with the city, just next to the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Peace Memorial park. The event will be separated into display areas and of course tasting areas as well as a poolside area for everyone to rest and relax!

Visit the expo during the open period from April 19th to May 12th to see all of the goodies, including a 1/15th scale confectionary artwork of the nearby Itsukushima Shrine! Please visit the official website for all of the details.

 

Fukuoka One Day Transport Pass


Nishitetsu Trains and Buses now have a new convenient way to cover travel expenses within Fukuoka City. Enjoy seeing the sights by purchasing the new Fukuoka 1 Day pass at any of the listed stations or bus offices. The pass is good for Nishitetsu bus routes in Fukuoka, Kurume, Saga and Chikuho as well as the local Green Bus. For trains you can ride any Nishitetsu lines between Fukuoka and Yanagawa station and on the Dazaifu and Amagi Lines. Please see the information PDF for all of the details and purchase prices.

 

Tokyo Midtown Blossom 2013


Join everyone at Tokyo Midtown in Roppongi for a variety of special events this Cherry Blossom season. The shopping and entertainment plaza is hosting everything from horse-drawn carriage rides to champagne and sweets under the canopy of pink blooms. Enjoy the beauty of spring in the heart of Tokyo. See the Tokyo Midtown Event webpage for more information.

 

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Last month was a feature on my travels through Okinawa. This month I (Tina) tell you a bit about what I did on a quick stop over in Tokyo!



The Metropolis of Tokyo


I only had a short time to re-acquaint myself with Tokyo before flying back to the US so I tried to visit a few of the top new sites. After parting with the Okinawa group at Narita International Airport, I picked up a Suica & Narita Express pack at the JR Travel Service Center then hopped on the train to Tokyo!



Preparing to ride the Narita Express


From Narita it is a direct trip to Shinjuku on the express train and just takes a little over 1 hour. From there it is only a short walk from Shinjuku station to Keio Plaza Hotel, where I had the pleasure of staying for my two short nights. I had a fabulous view of the Tokyo skyline from my east facing room, Tokyo Tower was even peeking out from between two high rises.



Night view from Keio Plaza's 37th Floor (Tokyo Tower!)


The first night it was off to Shibuya to see the new Hikarie building. I dined in one of the many restaurants on the 7th floor then spent much too much time exploring 6 floors of shops and checking out the "Creative Space" on the 8th floor.



The Shibuya Hikarie at Night


Sunday morning was spent in Akihabara, the anime & geek meeca, shopping for electronics and presents. For lunch I headed to Asakusa to see the interesting new Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center which is just across the street from the famous Kaminari Gate & Sensoji Temple. The building was designed by Japanese Architect Kengo Kuma and is made to look like many buildings stacked on top of each other. On such a beautiful sunny day, the interior was surprising bright and airy feeling which made for a very inviting space to have brochures, computer access and other services. But my goal was the 8th floor observation balcony!



The New Asakusa TIC


Along with a cute cafe the 8th floor has an open air observation space that offers two prized views. Firstly, you can look down at the Kaminari Gate and follow that view all the way along the Nakamise shop path to the beautiful Senso-ji temple. After the crush of getting a picture taken in front of the gate with its large red lantern, the view from above is very refreshing. Secondly, you can look across the river for one of the best views of the new Tokyo SkyTree! Though it's hard to capture in photos you can really feel the full impact of the world's tallest free standing broadcast tower from the deck.


After seeing the far away view, of course it was off to actually visit the Tokyo Skytree. While I didn't have the time to ascend the tower, just walking beneath it was humbling. Also the new Solamachi center around the base of the tower is full of fun shops, eateries and things to explore. It even has an aquarium!



Tokyo SkyTree from the Observation Deck of the TIC


For dinner it was off to a Japanese pub in Ikebukuro. After dinner I had to stop at my favorite dessert place for a parfait and people watching through their second floor windows. I also finished up my gift shopping there at the various large shops including Tokyu Hands which is many floors of interesting goods.



Yummy Dessert at Milkyway in Ikebukuro


The next morning after a lovely breakfast at one of the many restaurants in the Keio Plaza Hotel I headed out to wander Shinjuku. Just 5 or so minutes from the hotel is the impressive Tokyo Metropolitan building, which has not only a tourist information center but also has two free observation decks on the 45th floor for great panoramic views of Tokyo. On a clear day you can see all the way to Mt. Fuji.



Tokyo Metropolitan Building


Then it was off to Narita. Instead of taking the train I decided to take the Airport Limousine bus right from the front door of the hotel. It takes longer than the train but the Metropolitan Expressway offers many great and surprising views of Tokyo as you skirt around it. Many of the Limousine Bus routes pass landmarks such as the Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow bridge. Those quick with their camera can get some great pictures.



Tokyo from the Metropolitan Expressway while on the Airport Limousine Bus


As always my time in Japan was too short. There was so much more I wanted to see and do but like any traveler I know I will have other opportunities to return in the future! I hope you enjoyed this quick summary of a handful of sights in the metropolis that is Tokyo.


Next newsletter we will be back to our regular Monthly Features.


Are you ready for the summer holiday?

All Japan Tours
The Golden Route Japan Summer 7 days & Japan Enchantment - Gion Summer Festival Tour 2013 - commissionable.

Adventures in Japan
Japan: A perfect Introduction & Amazing Tokyo - 10% agent commission.

IACE Travel
The Enchanting Eastern Hokkaido Tour 2013 & 8th Okinawa Youth Exchange Program (for middle and high school students) - commissionable.

Inside Japan Tours
Small Group Tour Historic Mountain Trails & Small Group Tour Essential Honshu - 10% agent commission.

JapanQuest Journeys
Signature Journey Collection - The Mountains & The Spiritual - 10% commission.

Mountain Hiking Holidays
Hokkaido National Parks Hiking Tour (Pictures of the last Hokkaido Hike) - 10% commission.

Orient Flexi Pax
Family Fun Japan & Japan and South Korea - Earn extra 5% commission when booked by 4/30/2013 for travel through 9/30/2013.

PacSet Tours
Narrow Road Tour (Nakasendo Route) & Lost Islands Tour (Ogasawara Islands)

SITA World Tours
SITA's Affordable Japan & Japan's Scenic Vistas - Save $100 per couple.

SuperValue Tours
10-day Japan Classics & Kyushu in a Week - Call 877-388-1777 for our guaranteed departures. Commissionable.

Visits to the Japanese Countryside
Hike Japan's Ancient Pilgrimage Routes - 10% commission for group of 8, 5% commission for group of 6.


Grand Park Otaru
Spring into Spring at Grand Park Otaru - From now until 26 April, welcome Spring with us at Grand Park Otaru with a special room and party package starting from just JPY 7,000 per person. Choose to stay in comfort at our modern guest rooms overlooking either sweeping mountain vistas or vast ocean views. For dinner, savor delectable dishes along with succulent seafood and other local spring dishes at the dinner buffet.

Continue the party with free flow of drinks including beer, wines, shochu and selected cocktails. For reservations or enquiries, please call 81-134-21-3111 or email rsvn.gpot@parkhotelgroup.com

 

Hoshino Resorts
Executive Chef Hamada Noriyuki wins 3rd prize at Bocuse D'Or Noriyuki Hamada, the executive chef at Hotel Bleston Court Yukawatan won the 3rd Bronze award for the first time for Team Japan, since the first participation in 28 years, at the Bocuse D'Or, the World Culinary Competition for chefs which took place in Lyon, France from January 29 to 31, 2013. As the representative of Japanese culinary professionals, Hamada matched the chefs from 24 countries worldwide.

Team Japan also took 1st place in the Fish Theme category with a mouth-watering Red Label Turbot Fillet coasted with sliced Shiitake Mushroom, stuffed with a Blue Lobster mousseline. A Special "Bocuse de Bronze" menu will be presented at the Bleston Court Yukawatan between March 1st and May 31st.

 

Park Hyatt Tokyo
Spring Feast and Rakugo Storytelling at Kozue - For seasoned Japan enthusiasts; Park Hyatt Tokyo will hold an event to pique both culinary and cultural interests. Chef Kenichiro Ooe's dynamic cuisine will delight the eyes and palate, while a live performance by Rakugo artist Yanagiya Sanza promises a still deeper journey to the heart of Japan. Using only a paper fan (sensu) and hand cloth (tenugui) as props, the Rakugo artist, a lone storyteller, relates an intricate yet humorous story, often involving dialogue between several characters. *

Performance given entirely in Japanese, without interpreting. Held on May 22, 2013; doors will open at 6:30pm. For Enquiries or Reservations contact: Kozue, Tel: +81-(0)3-5323-3460

 

Prince Hotels and Resorts
Grand Prince Hiroshima - The Grand Prince Hiroshima is pleased to introduce special 2013 FIT Rates for stays at the fabulous waterfront hotel. Conveniences include, a Miyajima Ferry in front of the hotel, Hot springs, shuttle bus service and complimentary luggage transfer from Hiroshima Station. There is also the Grand Prince Hiroshima welcome counter right in the Hiroshima Station convenient for those arriving on the bullet train.

Special rate are valid until December 30, 2013; blackout dates apply. For details and reservations please call 800-542-8686.

 

Royal Park Hotel, Tokyo
Executive Floor Spring Promotion - Book 3 nights or more and enjoy the Executive Floor Promotion with breakfast, lounge access, gym and pool fee included. The promotion valid period is between April 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013. Room rates are from 24,000yen between April 1 to May 31 and from 23,000yen between June 1 to June 30. When booked through GDS there is a 10% commission for agents. (If booked through the hotel website it is non-commissionable.)

 

The New Otani
The New Otani Hotel New Otani Osaka
- Visit Japan 2013 special promotion. Valid until Dec 20, 2013 enjoy special rates on Superior Rooms with "Royal Views" of Osaka Castle! Also included in the offer are complimentary admission tickets to Osaka Castle and discounts on river cruises on the "AQUA-LINER" as well as beautiful postcards.
Hotel New Otani Tokyo - Special rates available for rooms booked at least 21-days in advance for 3+ night stays.

Rates are available for The Main Standard Rooms, The Main Quality Rooms and Garden Tower Standard Rooms. For details or to book these special promotions please contact the New Otani Hotels Nort American Sales Office by Email(nyoffice@newotanihotels.com) or Phone: 1(212)880-1501. 10% agent commission available for both offers.

 

Tokyu Hotels
Early Summer Special for Family - From May 6, 2013 to July 12, 2013 take advantage of special family room rates for group travel with stays in Premier King Rooms. Double occupancy is at JPY 46,000 per night, Triple occupancy (with extra bed) is at JPY 45,000 per night and Quadruple occupancy (with two extra beds) is at JPY 40,000 per night. Extra taxes and fees may apply.

Start your day with the newly started Buffet! - The Capitol Hotel Tokyu has begun providing buffet for breakfast at the Origami restaurant. It offers variety of foods, different style of eggs can be cooked and offers optional menu, which will satisfy any guests to start off the day! To make a reservation please contact: Tokyu Hotels New York Office, tel:212-490-0456, email: reservation@tokyuhotelsjapan.com

 

Travel Bound Ryokan Specials
Travel Bound offers booking for over 15 Ryokan across Japan. Currently they are featuring the Tokyo Sadashiyo Ryokan starting from $123 a night, the Kyoto Watazen Ryokan from $120 a night and the Osaka Kaneyoshi Ryokan from $86 a night. Prices are per person double occupancy during low season including all tax & service charges. Visit the Travel Bound website for more information and booking details.


Japan Airlines

JAL Sky Suite 777 - Starting May 7 between New York & Narita - From May 7th enjoy the comfort and service of the new JAL Sky Suite 777. Every cabin will be outfitted with comfortable new seats and configurations and enjoy new meal service and in-flight entertainment. JAL Sky Suite 777 site.
oneworld Yokoso/Visit Japan Fare - Japan Airlines Group is proud to offer a discount domestic air fare for overseas visitors to Japan, the oneworld Yokoso/Visit Japan Fare. The fare can be used to over 30 cities in Japan served by JAL (except flights operated by FDA and Jetstar Japan) and Japan Transocean Air (JTA) based in Naha Okinawa. For campaign details please see the information page.


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THE FINE PRINT/LEGAL STUFF
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.
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email: info@jnto-lax.org
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