Japan Travel Updates
2009.12-18
In this Issue:
News Updates
Events & Festivals
Where to see Cherry Blossoms besides Kyoto and Tokyo
Japanese Baseball
Japan Tour Updates
Hotel Updates
Introduction to SIT
Local Events
Register as a Japan Travel Specialist

Visit Japan Year 2010
We have designated the year 2010 as our Visit Japan Year – For the North America we have chosen 20 Experiences and 10 Destinations to inspire your perfect getaway for 2010. Visit Japan when Japan is at its best in 2010. Japan 2010 – Follow your imagination. For more information please click here.

Japan Airlines: Special Promotions and New Service to Okinawa from      Narita
Japan Airlines (JAL) is currently offering two great promotions for American Region JAL Mileage Bank members! Upgrade for less miles – JAL Super Discounted Upgrade Award Promotion allows JMB members to upgrade their eligible Economy Class tickets to JAL Executive Class for as low as 10,000 miles one-way through December 31, 2009 (Flight date). In addition, the airline is currently offering a JMB Double Mile Campaign allowing members to earn double miles on qualifying fares for travel on JAL's Americas/Europe = Japan routes through February 14, 2010 (on-board basis).
And, starting January 5, 2010, Japan Airlines will begin offering daily nonstop service between Tokyo's Narita International Airport and Naha, Okinawa. JL3095 will depart from Narita at 18:25 and arrive into Naha at 21:45. On the return, JL3098 will depart Naha at 13:35 and arrive into Narita at 16:00. The convenient new schedule provides JAL passengers traveling to and from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Honolulu with seamless connections to and from the beautiful tropical destination of Naha, eliminating the previous need to transfer to/from Haneda Airport.
For promotional periods and details on any of these topics, please click onto the links above, or contact JAL at www.ar.jal.com/

Okinawa Island Pass
Japan Transocean Air (JTA), a subsidiary of the JAL Group, has introduced an easy way for foreign tourists to explore the beautiful islands of Okinawa. The Okinawa Island Pass allows travel on five inter-island routes for a flat fare per sector. Minimum two sectors required. For more information on this pass, please click here.

JTB USA, Inc. / Luxury Escapes
JTB USA has recently established their luxury branch in the U.S. - Agents will find Unparalleled Service, Exclusive Programs & Unique Experiences, Luxury Accommodations, Professional Guides, Services for VIP's. Please visit www.jtbusa.com/luxury for more information

Kyoto Winter Special
The popular Kyoto Winter Special is coming back again this year! From the 1st of December 2009 to 31st of March 2010, visitors can enjoy the Kyoto in winter in many special ways – Visit the hidden treasures in temples and Shrines, enjoy the romantic illumination and Hanatouro at night, have a taste of Kyoto's traditional cuisine, and participate in a tea party with Maiko as well! For details of the campaign, please visit the website here.

Setouchi International Art Festival 2010
The Setouchi International Art Festival aims to bring back the vitality to the local areas in the Seto Island 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 Island 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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Tokyo Marathon   February 28th, 2010
Tokyo Marathon will be held on 28th of February, 2010. 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 25th - 28th
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 25th to the 28th of March (with public attendance only on 27th and 28th). For more information please see here.

Omizutori (Water-drawing Festival)   January 17th, 2010
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.

Takayama Festival   April 14 to 15th
The Takayama Festival is the collective name for the Sanno Matsuri of spring and the Hachiman Matsuri held at Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine in October, and is considered one the most beautiful festivals of Japan. You will see the very gorgeous floats named Yatai and also elaborate costumes and performances.

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So you have been to Kyoto and also to Tokyo areas to see the cherry blossoms (sakura in Japanese) and might be wondering where else can I see the cherry blossoms?
For those wanting to go off the beaten path and for those who been to Kyoto and Tokyo areas, this will be your guide on where to go next.

Motobu Yaedake, Okinawa
This place has the earliest cherry blossom festival in Japan. Usually the trees bloom around January, so for those that want to get away from the cold and can't wait to see some cherry blossoms, this makes a perfect destination.

Nishi Koen (Park), Fukuoka
This park is voted one of the Best 100 places in Japan and also the best place to see the cherry blossoms in Fukuoka City. Located on a hill, you are sure to get some great views of Hakata Bay while visiting this park.

Kakuzan Park, Okayama
Kakuzan Park (Tsuyama ruined castle) is located in central Okayama. Kakuzan Park is surround by about 5000 cherry trees. At night the paper lanterns are lit and the stonewalls are illuminated, making a perfect evening to see the blossoms.

Miyajima, Hiroshima
Rated as one of the Three Great Views of Japan, Miyajima is a small island located in Hiroshima Bay. Known for the famous torii (gate) that in the water, there are over 1,600 trees planted on the island.

Mt.Yoshino, Nara
This is really not off the beaten path, but with over 30,000 cherry trees, it is considered to be the best cherry blossom viewing spot in Japan.

Hirosaki Castle, Aomori
For those that can't make it to Japan at the end of March and first part of April, and still want to see some cherry blossoms, Hirosaki Castle in Aomori offers the perfect setting. Walking on the beautiful castle grounds, surrounded by more than 2,600 cherry trees make it a perfect trip back in time as if were in the 17th century when the castle was first built.

Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa
Kenrokuen Garden is rated one of the Three Great Gardens in Japan. Not known as being the best place to see cherry blossoms, there are only 420 cherry trees, but the beauty of garden and the architecture found within, will for sure make it worth the trip to the old town of Kanazawa.

Goryokaku Park, Hokkaido
Goryokaku Park used to be a fort that is located in Hakodate and is one of the most famous spots to view cherry blossoms in Hokkaido. With its unique star shaped, the fort was the first Western style fort built in Japan, and is surrounded by about 1,600 cherry trees.

For more information regarding the cherry blossoms, please go here.

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Want a chance to see the next Hideki Matsui or Ichiro Suzuki? How about attending a Puro Yakyu game? You might be wondering what a Puro Yakyu/Japanese Baseball game is like, but if you have seen the movie Mr.Baseball, starring Tom Selleck, you have some sort of idea regarding baseball in Japan.
For those who have been to Japan but have yet to see a baseball game, I strongly recommend you take a day out your schedule and experience Puro Yakyu. Sure you might have been to a professional baseball here in the US, but going to a game in Japan is a great way to experience another part of Japanese cultural. The atmosphere at the park is a bit different from MLB baseball. First off, the fans, they are crazy! You have fans sitting in the outfield bleachers waving flags, playing instruments, and cheering every minute of the game, so if you are not a big fan of noise bring some earplugs. Don't get me wrong though the noise might a deterrent but it is well worth it. Going to a Puro Yakyu game is part of modern day Japanese cultural and it is a must see event, even if you don't like baseball.
The season begins for the Pacific League March 20th and for the Central League it is March 26th. Tickets to baseball games can be purchased at stadium kiosks either the day of the game (if not sold out) or beforehand. You can also contact most Japanese travel agencies to get tickets or contact Japan Ball, a Seattle based company that also runs baseball-themed tours to Japan, can order advance tickets for you for a small fee http://www.japanball.com/tickets.htm Tickets for baseball, soccer, boxing, pro-wrestling and other such sports may also be purchased from Ticket Pia or convenience stores but you may need some assistance.  

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AsiaLuxe Holidays - Tokyo Treasure (10% commissionable to agents)

Asia Transpacific Journeys - Quintessential Japan and The Culture of Buddhist Asia – Japan, Laos, and Bhutan (10% commission available)

GTS Globotours - Signature Tokyo – Four Seasons Experience(5% commissionable to agents)

IACE Travel - Tenchijin Tour and Kyushu Highlight Tour 2010 Spring (10% commission available to agents)

Journeys East - Brushes with Inner Japan: Traditional Influences on Contemporary Design

Kobayashi Travel - Spring Nihon Kai with Sado Island

Royal Adventure Tours - Tenchijin – Yonezawa, Niigata, and Sado Island, Summer in Japan (Commission available to agents)

R&C Hawaii Tours - Hokkaido Snow Festival Tour 2010 (Commissionable to agents at $100/pp)

Samurai Tours - Cherry Blossom Tours, ($250 discount if you book before 2/1)

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Gion Hatanaka
Gion Hatanaka will be offering a Kyoto Cuisine and Maiko Evening to you from the 11th of January to the 22nd of March, 2010. Enjoy the delicate cuisine of Kyoto accompanied by beautiful and elegant maiko – You will also learn more about the Japanese culture and be able to take pictures as well. Price is 18,000yen per person (all you can drink with tax included). For questions and reservation please see the website or contact bye-mail.


Aranvert Hotel Kyoto
Aranvert Hotel Kyoto is now offering a special rate for Standard Single Room at 8.500yen* (rack rate: 10.972yen) and for Standard Twin Room at 14.000yen* (rack rate: 18.480yen). The hotel is located at Gojo Street, 1 minutes walk to the central station and Shijo, main shopping street in Kyoto. The location offers convenient access to many tourist areas! Rates are also 10% commissionable to agents. For more information please contact by email.


Tokyu Hotels
Tokyu Hotels is offering several discounts on their properties such as Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu, Haneda Excel Hotel Tokyu, and Narita Excel Hotel Tokyu – For the 5 star Cerulean Tower Tokyu the rates can be as low as 19,000yen* per night for a standard twin if guests stay for 3 nights or more! Many discount rates are available and they are 10% commissionable. For details and reservation please contact Tokyu Hotels Reservation Center North Americas at 800-42-TOKYU (86598).

*subject to 10% service charge, 5% tax and accommodation tax. Promotion runs from 23rd of November 2009 to 21st of February, 2010, excluding December 31st 2009 and January 1st, 2010.


The Peninsula Tokyo
The Peninsula Tokyo is now offering their Winter Escapes room package until the 31st of March, 2010 – Enjoy special room rates and benefits such as daily American breakfast, complimentary internet access, complimentary use of fitness center and swimming pool, and a choice of one value-added benefit, which includes an upgrade to the next room category, JPY 10,000 hotel credit or a Peninsula welcome gift. Rates start from 49,000yen*, for more information and reservation please contact The Peninsula Tokyo at (81-3) 6270 2288 or e-mail.

*subject to 10% service charge, 5% tax and JPY 200 accommodation tax.


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 18,000yen* (Single) and 26,000yen* (double), including daily breakfast and also a sake sampler voucher for Amanogawa (sake bar). This promotion is valid until the 11th of February 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.

Okura Hotels & Resorts
Okura Hotels & Resorts is now offering its 2010 rates for “Okura Club International" (OCI) members, with rates at hotels such as the Hotel Okura Kobe, Kyoto Hotel Okura and Hotel Okura Tokyo as low as 15,200 yen for a single room. Their partner hotel group RIHGA Royal Hotels is offering specials at the RIHGA Royal Hotel Osaka, RIHGA Royal Hotel Kyoto, RIHGA Royal Hotel Hiroshima and RIHGA Royal Hotel Tokyo, with rates starting as low as 15,000 yen. OCI rates are 10% commissionable for the Hotel Okura Tokyo. For questions and reservations please contact the Okura Hotels & Resorts Sales Office at 800-526-2281.


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Art Museums in Japan

Art museums in Japan are often a popular location for many tourists, and this time we would like to introduce some famous museums in Japan to you, which might be some ideas for your clients' next trip to Japan!

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa– Located near the famous Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa castle, this museum displays some of the best contemporary artworks in Japan. It is also a museum for children to see, touch, and experience art forms. Some of the famous permanent exhibitions includes “The Swimming Pool" and the “Klangfield Nr. 3 fur Alina". If you happen to be in Kanazawa you should not miss this one. For more information please see here.

Miho Museum – Miho Museum is located in the mountains near a town named Shiragaki in Shiga Prefecture. Travelers will take a bus ride, passing through beautiful mountain sceneries to reach the museum. The museum has a large collection of Asian and Western antiques collected by Ms. Mihoko Koyama. The museum is also known for its architecture, and the restaurants use only ingredients grown by natural farming method. English tour can also be arranged in advance if necessary. For more information please click here.

Adachi Museum of Art – Located in Shimane Prefecture, the Adachi Museum of Art is especially famous for its garden, which has been selected as the number one garden in Japan in the Journal of Japanese Garden (JOJG) for seven years in a row. The garden also receives the 3 stars ranking (“worth a journey") by the Michelin Green Guide and Guide Bleu Japon. Visitors can also see various Japanese paintings selected by museum staff according to the seasons, which also includes the works by famous Japanese painter Taikan Yokoyama. For more information please click here.

Benesse Art Site Naoshima – "Benesse Art Site Naoshima", located in Naoshima Island in the Seto Island Sea, is a collective term for Benesse Corporation's contemporary art activities in Naoshima, Kagawa, which includes projects such as Benesse House, Art House Project and Chichu Art Museum. The most well known museum is the Benesse House, which is designed by the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando, with plenty of contemporary works and also accommodation facilities. In fact the entire Island of Naoshima is filled with works of art for visitors to explore, and the Setouchi International Art Festival 2010 is also coming up. For more information please see 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 four 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 13, 2010 (Wednesday) in San Francisco, CA
2. January 14, 2010 (Thursday) in Seattle, WA
3. March 2, 2010 (Tuesday) in Santa Barbara, CA
4. March 3, 2010 (Wednesday) in Los Angeles, CA


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.

*If you are not near any of the above cities, do not despair, as we vary Japan Showcase locations every year in order to reach as many agents as possible. In the meantime, please take advantage of our online educational JTS program (see below)

LA Times Travel & Adventure Show 2010   Feb 13th-14th, 2010

The Los Angeles Times Travel & Adventure Show is the West Coast's largest travel event! Come visit the Japan booth (#1207) and meet the Japan Specialist for updated information on Japan
(More information will follow soon!)


Date: Saturday February 13th, 2010 8:00 am - 10:00am (Travel Agents Only)
10:00 am - 5:00 pm (General Public)
Sunday February 14th, 2010 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (General Public)


Place: Los Angeles Convention Center ( http://www.latimes.com/extras/travelshow/ )
1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, California 90015

Office Relocation

JNTO Los Angeles has relocated to Little Tokyo, with the address as follows:

340 E. 2nd Street, #302,
Little Tokyo Plaza,
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Please notice that e-mail address (info@jnto-lax.org) and phone number (213-623-1952) remain the same. For any questions 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.

* 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