Japan Travel Updates is a publication of the Los Angeles Office of the Japan National Tourism Organization.
Hiraizumi, Ogasawara Islands up earn "World Heritage" Designation from UNESCO
World Leaders, Stars Voice Support for Japan Tourism
Osaka Station gets a major makeover
In spite of the long shadow cast by the March 11 disaster, a significant number of travel agents, reporters, and other travelers made the trip to Japan over the past two months. Their mission: to see the country and share their views on how Japan is doing after the earthquake. Here are their stories, reactions, and anecdotes:
Blogger Daphne talks about visiting the resort town of Hakone near the foot of Mt. Fuji.
San Francisco-based photographer and travel writer Shawn Clover took advantage of reduced fares to Tokyo in June and brings us this gorgeous gallery of photos from his journey, along with his thoughts on Japan's recovery.
Shangri-La Hotel Launches Support Drive
JNTO President Tadatoshi Mamiya outlines recovery plan for Japan Tourism
On behalf of the Japanese people, I would like to express our most sincere gratitude towards the material and emotional support that we received from all over the world following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. On behalf of the Japanese travel industry, I would especially like to say thank you to all the assistance provided by the tourism industry partners from all over the globe.
After the earthquake, our country has come together, working rapidly in the affected areas towards a quick recovery. With the strenuous efforts of various personnel, we have made good progress towards the reconstruction of our transportation infrastruct ure. Sendai Airport, which was struck by the earthquake, was opened again on April 13, and the entire Tohoku Shinkansen network (the high speed rail network that serves locations in East Japan) was restored on April 29. Additionally, Tokyo Disneyland reopened on April 28, and other tourist attractions and facilities are back to providing the same level of service and enjoyment that they always have.
Moreover, many top officials from various tourism industry partners around the world have visited Japan to see Japan's famous tourist sites and offer encouragement. We have also exchanged honest opinions and received positive suggestions from government officials of different countries at various events, such as the Japan-China-Korea Trilateral Tourism Minister's Meeting in Kangwon-do, South Korea and at the Japan-U.S. Tourism Export Expansion Conference in San Francisco, U.S.A. We are greatly encouraged by this support, and we believe that we can only respond to this support and solidarity by working diligently towards the goal of recovery.
In response to this support from our friends all over the world, Japan has developed the following strategies and projects –some of which are being implemented immediately.
First of all, in addition to providing accurate information about conditions in Japan just as before, we are hosting a large-scale observation tours for overseas industry and media partners, so that they can see the progress Japan has made and discover how safe Japan is. We expect to host 1,000 guests from different parts of the world starting in late May until July. We believe that by vigorously promoting the "vibrant and appealing side of Japan", it will not only leave an impression on people from overseas, but it will also become a source of support to the people and areas who have been affected by the disaster.
The next step will involve promoting Japan tour offerings so that travelers will know about them.
Outside of the areas affected by the disaster, residents are living their lives as usual, and the beauty of these tourist destinations remains unchanged. Food is also inspected and controlled by strict guidelines so they can be consumed safely. For the travelers who have visited Japan, they have been satisfied with their experience, they have said that they are glad that they visited Japan, and they are certain that they would like to come again.
Japan is a country with four distinctive seasons, blessed with beautiful nature, world heritage sites, rich culture and respected traditions. At the same time, these all co-exist together with modern high-tech attractions and pop culture. We encourage you to visit our country, and we look forward to welcoming you with omotenashi -our traditional spirit of hospitality.
Tadatoshi Mamiya, President
Reitaisai - September 14~16
Held in Kamakura, the "little Kyoto" of East Japan, the Reitaisai has it all: musical performances, float processions, traditional dancing, and more. At the center of it all is the "Yabusame" event on the 16th, where archers on horseback in full samurai regalia take aim at targets set on the riding grounds - while moving! An event not to be missed if you're in the area.
Nagasaki Kunchi Festival - October 7~9
With 370 years of history, the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival is a testament to the history of Nagasaki City. Each year, a different neighborhood in the "Odori-cho" area is tasked with performing the main dance of the festival, while all of the neighborhoods prepare their own floats and portable shrines for the festival parades and processions.
Ikegami Honmonji Oeshiki - October 11~13
If all you've seen of Tokyo is the skyscrapers and city lights, you owe it to yourself to check out this festival dedicated to Buddhist Saint Nichiren, who passed away in 1282 and inspired the start of the festival. The Ikegami neighborhood closes streets to traffic during the festival as lantern parades and processions of monks fill the streets. The event reaches its peak on the evening of the 12th, when the parade runs in excess of four hours and 300,000 + visitors fill the streets to eat festival food and enjoy themselves.
Nada Fighting Festival - October 14~15
Yes, you read that right - fighting. In this festival, locals with portable shrines square off by running the shrines into one another. Later, local men and boys also join the madness as they wield bamboo poles and head into the battle area. The contest ends when one shrine is hoisted on top of another. As for the battle, don't expect to see the participants fight one another - the spectacle is all in good fun.
I am writing to say that I will be returning to Tokyo at the beginning of August. These three years in Los Angeles have been a very rewarding and challenging time for me and JNTO/LAX, and I have learned a lot of things. It has been a humble and memorable experience to be a part of the effort to promote Japan-bound tourism. During these years, in spite of the global economic recession and the recent disaster in northeastern Japan, we have received a great deal of emotional support from you. Without your involvement, we do not think we could have been successful as we are today. In that regard, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for the support and kindness you have extended to me.
My successor, Mr. Daisuke Tonai, will take office with my outstanding staff members. He previously worked at the JNTO/LAX office in 2001-2005 as a Marketing Director and I am sure that you will find him to be an excellent fit in this new position. I hope that you will extend the same support to Mr. Tonai as you have given to me.
Your cooperation will be essential to the future success of JNTO/LAX's goal and mission here in the United States.
I wish you all the best success in your future endeavors.
Guidebooks are a wonderful thing - the maps, the detailed directions, the language tips that help get you out of a crisis. However, for many travelers, its those moments that we forge beyond what the guidebook suggests - or "off the beaten path" - that lead to unique views and experiences that stick with travelers long after they return home. Over the next three issues of Japan Travel Updates, we'll be looking at some truly unique, out-of-the-way destinations that the traveler can hit from Japan's major destinations. We'll be presenting these spots on two categories: "Off" the path for places that some tourists see but most skip, and "Way Off" for places where visitors are rare. First up: destinations accessible from Tokyo.
Ogasawara Islands, Tokyo Prefecture
Lots of good specials out there this month - many of which are commissionable. Let's get to the list!
Adelsman Tours - Tokyo Seven Days on a Budget Tour (August/Sept., 2011) and The Perfect Introductory Tour of Japan - Fall Colors (November 2-16, 2011) Both tours are commissionable!
Royal Park Shiodome Tower
The Peninsula Hotel
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo is currently offering special promotional rates until October 31, 2011 - Save 20% on 2 nights stay, 30% on 3 night stay, and 40% on 4 night stay! For further details about this promotion or reservations, please contact the Keio Plaza Hotel Los Angeles Office at 1-800-222-5346 or email@example.com
JNTO is here to help! We can provide you with updated information, advice, brochures, and more to make yours a trip to remember. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our office between 9AM and 5PM Pacific Standard Time. We look forward to assisting you!
JNTO Hotline: (213) 623-1952
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