Viewing sakura, or cherry blossoms, also known as Hanami, is one of the major events in the Japanese calendar. Blooming dates vary by latitude; in Tokyo and Kyoto, sakura trees bloom for about two weeks from the end of March through the first week of April, but dates will vary based on the weather each year. At more popular locations many people will arrive early in the morning to lay out a picnic tarp and get the best spots. Once their friends, family, or coworkers arrive, they will eat and drink together, watching the petals from the cherry blossom trees fall like pink snowflakes.

Kyoto
Kyoto is one of the most famous places for watching cherry blossoms in Japan. There are countless places to view them throughout the city and in Arashiyama (northwestern suburbs). The most popular place is Maruyama Park, which is especially beautiful when lit up at night. During the day, try Kiyomizu Temple.

Best Viewing Spots: Arashiyama, Okazaki Canal, Maruyama Park, Kiyomizu Temple
Access: 90 min. by train from Kansai Airport, or 2 hr. 20 min. from Tokyo by shinkansen
When to Go: Late March - Early April


Yoshino (Nara)
With over 30,000 trees, Yoshino is the most famous place for cherry blossom viewing in Japan. Most of the trees are on Yoshino Mountain, and they bloom from bottom to top as the weather gradually gets warmer.

Best Viewing Spot: Hanayagura Viewpoint
Access: Ropeway or shuttle bus (sakura season only) from Yoshino Station (Nara Pref.)
When to Go: Early - Mid April

Tokyo
Ueno Park is the most famous and most crowded of Tokyo's hanami spots. Chidori-ga-fuchi, a moat around former Edo Castle provides a more serene viewing experience - no picnic tarps or alcoholic beverages are allowed. Nearby is Yasukuni Shrine with 1000 more sakura trees.

Best Viewing Spots: Chidori-ga-fuchi, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Ueno Park, Sumida Park
Access to Chidori-ga-fuchi: 5 min. walk from Subway Kudanshita Station
When to Go: Late March - Early April

Hirosaki Castle (Aomori)
Those who think they missed cherry blossom season may still have time to see them in northern Japan, where they bloom toward the end of April and sometimes as late as mid-May. Hirosaki Castle Park is surrounded by 2000 trees and is beautiful when lit up at night.

Best Viewing Spots: Kajo Bridge, West Moat
Access to Hirosaki City: About 5 hr. north of Tokyo by shinkansen and train
When to Go: Late April - Early May

For information on other famous spots for cherry blossoms, please go to
www.jnto.go.jp

For Experienced Cherry Blossom Viewers: Famous Sakura Trees in Japan

It may be surprising to foreign visitors, but some Japanese people travel just to see special cherry trees. The trees introduced here are famous and have been living for centuries. Visitors appreciate not only their breathtaking appearances but the energy they receive from the trees.


"Garyuzakura" Cherry Tree (Ichinomiya, Gifu)
Age of the tree:
More than 1,100 years old.
Designated as a natural monument in 1973, the name comes from its unique shape which reminds visitors of a dragon lying on the ground. The tree is located near Takayama, an old castle town which is famous for its festivals in spring and fall.

Access: A minute walk from Hidaichinomiya Sta. on Takayama line
When to go: Mid - Late April

"Ishiwari-zakura" Cherry Tree (Morioka, Iwate)
Age of the tree
: Approximately 360 years old.
Located in front of the regional courthouse in Morioka, it stands on the crevice of a big rock, the sight which has been impressing visitors. The tree was designated as the natural monument in 1923.

Access: About 3 hrs by Tohoku Shinkansen to Morioka Sta.
When to see: Mid - Late April

"Jindaizakura" Cherry Tree (Hokuto-city, Yamanashi)
Age of the tree
: Approximately 2,000 years old.
"Jindaizakura" is known to be the oldest cherry tree in Japan. It is believed to be planted by a Japanese legendary hero "Yamato Takeru". It is the first cherry tree to be designated as a natural monument.

When to see: Early - Mid April

"Kechimyaku Sakura"Cherry Tree (Matsumae, Hokkaido)
Age of the tree
: Approximately 280 years old.
The legend says that a day before the cherry tree was to be cut down, a woman came to the temple. She claimed her life was about to end and wanted to get a pass ("Kechimyaku") which allowed her to enter Heaven. The priest was reluctant but the woman was so persistent that in the end, he gave in and issued her the pass. Next day, the priest saw the pass hanging on the tree and realized the woman was the spirit of the sakura tree.
The cherry tree is located in Kozenji temple.

Access: About 2 hour bus ride to Matsumae from Kikonai Sta.
When to see: Late April

"Miharu no Takizakura" Cherry Tree (Miharu-cho, Fukushima)
Age of the tree
: More than 1,000 years old.
It is known to be one of three best cherry trees in Japan. Its name comes from its appearance which resembles a waterfall. It was designated as a natural monument in 1922. In 2000, with 2,000 cherry trees in the area, Miharu-cho was chosen as one of the 100 best sakura spots in Japan.

Access: 6km taxi ride (approx. 2,000 yen) from Miharu Sta.
When to see: Mid - Late April


The LA Times Travel Show is the West Coast's largest travel event!
There is a traditional Japanese cultural performance of wood carving by Mr. Saburo Koga.
And don't forget to visit Japan booth (Booth Number #1023).

Date: February 10, Saturday:

February 11, Sunday:
8:00 am - 10:00 am (Travel Trade Only)
10:00 am-5:00 pm (General Public)
10:00 am - 4:00 pm (General Public)
Place: Long Beach Convention Center
300 E. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90802
 
Website: www.latimes.com

The N.Y. Times Travel Show is one the most influential travel shows in the country.
Please visit The Visit Japan Campaign Booth (Booth #870) and receive a free gift!

Date: February 23, Friday:
February 24, Saturday:
February 25, Sunday:
2:00 pm - 5:00 pm (Travel Trade Only)
10:00 am- 7:00 pm (General Public)
10:00 am- 5:00 pm (General Public)
Place: Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
655 West 34th Street
New York, NY 10001
 
Website: www.nytravelshow.com


Updates on VJC Special Representatives:

Government of Japan to Honor the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme Alumni Association of Northern California and Southern California as Special Representatives for the Visit Japan Campaign



In order to strengthen the cooperation between the Visit Japan Campaign and the JET Alumni Association, Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport designated the JET Alumni Association of Northern California (JETAANC) and the JET Alumni Association of Southern California (JETAASC) as "Special Representatives for the Visit Japan Campaign". Swearing-in ceremonies took place on January 17, 2007 in San Francisco for JETAANC and January 18, 2007 in Los Angles for JETAASC. Mr. Yuhei Shimazaki, Director-General of the Kinki District Transport Bureau of Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, attended the ceremonies and presented plaques to them. JETAANC and JETAASC will support the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO) on a voluntary basis.




Meet your Japan Travel Specialist agent !


Kora Dalager
BONSAI TRAVEL

We specialize in tours to Japan, geared to bonsai enthusiasts, and coinciding with Japans most important bonsai shows. We have escorted tours to Japan for over 25 years. The tours include private visits to the most important bonsai masters in Japan, including private gardens, which are not accessible to the general public. All tours are led by William Valavanis, the publisher of International Bonsai Magazine, and me. We go to Tokyo every year in February for the most prestigious bonsai show, Kokufu-ten, held at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum -and every other year to Kyoto for Taikan-ten, which is held in November. We also customize tours for independent travelers. We get office and ticketing support from Orinda Travel, located in Orinda, CA.

BONSAI TRAVEL  
5725 PEPPERRIDGE WAY
CONCORD, CA 94521
TEL: 510-610-9064
FAX: 925-459-2661
CST#:2081121-40 EMAIL: kora@orindatravel.com


Cruises to Japan

Do you know that many cruise ships make calls to Japan! And some cruises go around Japan.
Here is the list of cruise lines that go to Japan between April and June, 2007.

URL: Clipper Cruise Line(Intrav) 1-800-456-8100
URL: Cruise West 1-888-851-8133
URL: Holland America Lines 1-877-724-5425
URL: Crystal Cruise 1-800-804-1500

For port information in Japan, please log onto:
URL: www.japantravelinfo.com


JR EAST: New SUICA & N'EX Ticket Due in March

On Wednesday March 28 2007, East Japan Railway (JR East) will introduce its new discount Suica & N'EX ticket at a price of 3,500 yen($29), on sale at the JR stations in both terminals of Narita Airport. The N'EX part of this new package offers foreign visitors (anyone entering the country on a non-Japanese passport) a discount fare on the Narita Express one way from the airport stations to any point in the JR Tokyo Urban Zone. The Suica card included in this package allows 1,500 yen worth of travel on most local trains (both JR and non-JR) and many buses in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

For details of the package, please visit www.japanrail.com


Thank you very much for reading Japan Travelers' Page. Please visit www.japantravelinfo.com for the latest news, hotel and package tour information and more!

Information is provided in this Japan Travelers' Page as a courtesy to readers of this newsletter. Though the 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 the JNTO nor any holder of 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 Tourist Organization, N.Y. Office   Japan National Tourist Organization, L.A. Office
One Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1250 New York, NY 10020

email: visitjapan@jntonyc.org
URL: www.japantravelinfo.com
515 South Figueroa St., Suite 1470, Los Angeles, CA 90071

email: info@jnto-lax.org
URL: www.japantravelinfo.com