2008.2-5
In this Issue:
News Updates...
- Yokoso! Japan
Weeks!

- Kyoto Tourism
Photo Library

Upcoming Festivals and Events
Japan Tour Updates
Hotel Updates
Summer Activities
Language-Useful Phrases for Traveling to Japan
Local Events
Register as a Japan Travel Specialist

Yokoso! Japan Weeks!
The Yokoso! Japan Weeks 2008 will be held from January 20 to February 29. This campaign is designed to enhance traveling experience, and this year we have focused on these two major themes - "Experiencing Japan" and "Shopping Spree". You can enjoy the first hand experience by taking part in a variety of activities while enjoying discounts at various participating facilities! Click the link above for more details!

Kyoto Tourism Photo Library
The Kyoto Tourism Photo Library has been established for the promotion of Kyoto Tourism in the overseas. Pictures can be downloaded without charge - please refer to the website for details and the online application process.

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Kanda Matsuri
(Tokyo – 17th and 18th of May, 2008)
Kanda Matsuri, one of the most famous festivals of Japan, will take place near Kanda on the Saturday and Sunday closest to the 15th of May. The main attraction well worth viewing in odd-numbered years is the parade on the Saturday, with about 300 people marching through the central Tokyo districts. In addition to the portable shrines with a phoenix decorated on the roof, Shinto priests also ride on the horse back, producing a spectacular sight.

Shunki Reitaisai
(Nikko – 17th and 18th of May, 2008)
The highlight of this festival is the procession called Hyakumono-Zoroe Sennin Gyoretsu - 1,000 men dressed as samurai warriors on the 18th march through the streets near Nikko Toshogu. You can also listen to ancient music and see dance performances upon arriving at Toshogu. This Festival takes place on the 17th and 18th of May at Sannai, Nikko City.

Aoi Matsuri
(Kyoto – 15th of May, 2008)
Aoi Matsuri (Hollyhock Festival) is one of the three major festivals of Kyoto. Almost 500 people, dress in ancient court costumes and traditional make up which dates back to the 8th Century, parade through the main street of Kyoto. One of the highlights is the heroine dressing in the formal style of the imperial court, which this 12 layered costume is so sophisticated and refined that it weighs almost 30kg in total.

Mifune Matsuri
(Kyoto – 18th of May, 2008)
This festival recreates the boat party of aristocrats. Participants wear imperial court costumes and each boat features performance of a traditional art or music. You can also later visit the Kurumazaki Shrine, which is famous among many Japanese artists for its patron deity of the performing arts. This Festival takes place on the third Sunday of May.

Takigi-O Noh
(Kyoto – 1st and 2nd of June, 2008)
Also known as the "Bonfire Noh Performance", this event features the traditional musical drama of Japan (Noh Drama) performed on the open-air stage built near Kyoto. Illuminated by the bonfire, the performance starts in the early evening. With the elegant and sophisticated performance of Noh actors on the stage, Takigi-O Noh is a spiritual experience leading you to the world of Yugen, one of the major Japanese aesthetics ideas.

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Gate 1 Travel 9 Day Affordable Japan
Come join Gate 1 Travel and their 9 day Affordable Japan tour that will take you to Tokyo and Kyoto.
Adelsman Tours Tokyo 7 Days & 7 Nights
Get a full taste of Tokyo on Adelsman Tours. This tour is going out March 12-20, 2008 or March 25-April 2, 2008.

Walking Softly Adventures Hokkaido Trails
For those wanting to do some hiking in Hokkaido this tour will go out in August 29-September 7, 2008
Open Coast Travel Diving Tours for Okinawa
Open Coast Travel runs custom trips to the Ryukyus, Japan's southern islands and can arrange flights, guides, rental cars, windsurfing, kayaking and scuba diving. Seven-night packages with ten boat dives out of Zamami, located in the Kerama Islands just by Okinawa start at $1,150 and include breakfast, dinner, bilingual dive guides, and most ground transfers.
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Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto
Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto is offering a spring and summer savings promotion - guests can enjoy lower daily rates when they book 3 nights or more! Daily rate starting from 15,480 yen per person (Regular daily rate starts from 17,600 yen per person.) Simply join the free Prince Club International Program and enjoy this great opportunity! Rates are also 10% commissionable to travel agents. For more information, please contact Prince Hotels & Resorts at PrinceUSA@princejapan.com

Hotel Okura Tokyo
Hotel Okura Tokyo is now offering a limited time offer to North America travel agents - Validity is for all reservations in February 08 to March 08, Hotel Okura Tokyo will offer 15% commission for each commissionable booking via GDS.

Sabre Worldspan Galileo Amadeus
21871 HOC01 46269 TYO001

For more information on the available rates, please contact Okura Hotels and Resorts Sales Office at nyoffice@okura.com

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During the months of May and June, it is good time to get outdoors and enjoy some of Japan's outdoor activities. There are many outdoor activities in Japan but in the newsletter we'll focus on 3 sports: whitewater rafting, hiking, and scuba diving.

Whitewater Rafting in Nagatoro, Saitama.
For those wanting to escape busy Tokyo and are looking for a different kind of adventure, Nagatoro, Saitama in Chichibu-Tama National Park, is great way to enjoy your day. Nagatoro is only about an hour and half train ride from Ikebukuro using Tobu Tojo Line, making this a great day trip from Tokyo. Nagatoro River is famous for its whitewater rafting, kayaking, and taking a long boat ride that follows the steam of the river for about 30 minutes. Those long boats seat about 20 persons and offer close view on the shores of the river! If you prefer to do some sport, kayaking and whitewater rafting are also available.

There is a company that does offer a half-day rafting trip that includes equipment rental, professional guide, insurance and tax and will pick you up at the train station in Nagatoro. For those not wanting to go down the river but still take part in going to Nagatoro, you can go to the top of Mt Hodo. There are two ways to get to the top one by cable car and for those feeling more energetic, you can hike to the summit and get a great view of the river and the mountains.

Hiking around Mt.Mitake
Mt. Mitake is also located in Chichibu-Tama National Park in the Okutama region in Tokyo. Getting there is pretty easy from Shinjuku or Tokyo stations using the Chuo Line. There are two routes you can take up the mountain to get to Musashi-Mitake Shrine that sits on the summit at 2,787 feet. The first route to the shrine is the cable car and is recommended for those who don't want to walk up to summit. You will have to walk about 20-30 minute from the cable car station to get to the shrine however but the walk isn't so strenuous just some stairs when you reach the shrine. The second route is to walk up the trail to the shrine and it will take about 1 hour. This is recommended for those want to save 570 yen and enjoy a nice walk up the mountain.

The fun really begins by taking advantage of one of the many hiking trails Mt. Mitake has to offer. One trail that will wet the appetites of photographers is the moss covered Rock Garden (the picture on the right). If you can catch the sunlight at the right time, you'll be able to see the beauty of this magnificent garden. If you do decide to take the Rock Garden trail, make sure you wear some comfortable shoes. For those who have hiked Mt. Takao, you really didn't need to worry about shoes but for Mt. Mitake and the Rock Garden trail, you'll need them. Don't worry about hiking boots just some nice walking shoes will do. Also bring some drinking water with you. You will find some steep parts to the trail so climbing up and down could be a problem for those who have difficulty with stairs.

One more thing, make sure you visit the Mitake Vistors office right in front of the station. The staff there can give you some information in English and can recommend which trails to take and which direction to go. This is very important because oneway is a little bit easier than the other.

In our next newsletter, we will talk about hiking Mt.Fuji, so stay tuned!

Scuba Diving
The final sport that is great to enjoy during the summer is scuba diving. Japan may not be known as a scuba divers paradise but when you go down south to Okinawa, you might think otherwise. When it comes to diving in Japan, many people think it is cold water diving but in fact, Okinawa is the same latitudinal parallel as the Bahamas, so warm water diving awaits you and your wet suite.

Some of the places you can go diving are:

Yonaguni Island: For the ancient stone monument that is a divers paradise for those who want to explore some underwater ruins.

Okinawa Island: Famous for cave diving and wrecks.

Ishigaki Island: Come and see the manta scramble and watch the manta feed on the plankton.

Kerama Islands: The Kreama Islands are a chain of 22 islands that is great for all levels of divers. You can see some of the beautiful coral along with some rare species of fish.

You can find some local dive shops as well on the island and here is a company that does offer guides that speak English and also some US based agents that do offer diving tours.

If you'd like more information about the places we mentioned for the summer activities, please feel free to contact JNTO and we'd be more than happy to send you some information.

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Some of these phrases below will be lifesavers for you when you are in a jam. Below we have complied a few of the necessary phrases that will help you.

When you are trying to get directions:

[ Translation: Where is/are ~? ]
For example: 7-11 wa doko desu ka? Koban wa doko desu ka?

For those not knowing what the koban is, it is basically a small police station. The police here are a great help when you are lost and can direct you in the right direction. So don't be afraid to ask them when you are lost or not sure.

When you wonder if they can speak to you in English:

[ Translation: Is English ok? ]

When you do not really understand:

[ Translation: Please write it down ]

When you are shopping and wanting to know the price:

[ Translation: How much is ~? ]
For example: Camera wa ikura desu ka?

You can also just point at the item you want to know the price and say…ikura desu ka?

Expressing your gratitude:

[ Translation: Thank you ]

When you bump into someone you do not know:

[ Translation: Excuse me ]

If you are going to Tokyo you will use this a lot as you will probably end up bumping into a few people. This phrase is also good to use if you want to ask someone as question.

For example:
Sumimasen, eki wa doko desu ka? (Excuse me, where is the train station?)

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Japanese Food and Sake Festival
Hyatt Regency Orange County
March 13th, 2008

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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.

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

Publisher: Japan National Tourist Organization, L.A. Office
515 South Figueroa St., Suite 1470, Los Angeles, CA 90071
email: info@jnto-lax.org
website: www.jnto.go.jp or www.japantravelinfo.com