IAAF World Championships in Athletics      August 25 - September 2
This world-class athletics (track & field) event will be held at Nagai Stadium in Osaka. For details and ticket sales please see the website.

Autumn Foliage in Japan      Late September - Late November
Autumn foliage, called koyo or momiji in Japanese, is pursued just as fervently as the cherry blossoms are in spring. This time, the beauty travels from North to south. Hokkaido turns red and yellow from late September to early October. The Tohoku region, northeast of Tokyo, changes color throughout October (varies by region).

In November, autumn foliage can be seen on the more major tourist routes, including Nikko, Hakone, Kyoto, and Momijidani Park on Miyajima Island, Hiroshima. For a more comprehensive list of koyo locations, please visit our website.

Reitaisai       September 14 - 16
Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura, just an hour south of Tokyo, has been putting on the 3-day Reitaisai festival every year for the past 800 years. This festival has the usual dancing, parades, and various offerings to the Shinto Gods. In addition, on September 16th onlookers may view a performance of Yabusame, a samurai archery ritual of shooting targets while galloping on horseback.

Moon Watching      September 25, October 23
Autumn is also considered the season for moon watching (tsuki-mi) in Japan. In the Japanese tradition of appreciating nature's beauty with others, people will get together on the night of the full moon, drink sake, eat special foods such as dango (rice dumplings), and decorate their houses with susuki (pampas grass). The tradition of moon watching in Japan originated from the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. This year Tsuki-mi will be celebrated all over Japan on September 25 and October 23.

Formula 1 Grand Prix      September 28-30
The 2007 Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix will be held at Fuji Speedway, which is located at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Attendance is expected to reach 280,000 over all three days. Tickets, as well as 1 day, 2 day, and 3 day package tours are available from JTB Global Marketing & Travel.

Takayama Autumn Festival       October 9-10
Takayama is a quaint, well-preserved mountain town north of Nagoya with bridges that go across picturesque mountain rivers. Takayama Festival, held in spring and autumn, is considered one of the three most beautiful festivals in Japan. The 11 floats that are paraded around town are so beautiful that there is a museum to display them year-round.

Nada Fighting Festival       October 14-15
Himeji, about one hour west of Kyoto, is known as a peaceful city that is home to one of Japan's most beautiful castles. On October 14 and 15, however, young are pitted against old in this jarring festival. Men carrying portable shrines ram them against each other in a contest to hoist theirs on top of the others, assisted by men with bamboo poles.

Festival of the Ages       October 22
The Festival of the Ages, one of Kyoto's three major festivals, is sure to please those who are interested in Japanese history, textiles or handicrafts. Some 2000 people dressed in exquisitely recreated costumes representing various eras of Kyoto's 1,200-year history parade from the Imperial Palace down to Heian Jingu Shrine, making spectators feel as though they have traveled back in time to an older period in Japanese history.

Tokyo Motor Show       October 27 - November 11
To be held in Chiba's Makuhari Messe, the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show will showcase the newest motor and automobile technologies. There will also be interactive events, many aimed at small children. Tickets available through the website.

Escorted Autumn Japan Tours available from the U.S.

Saltwater Fishing Tours in Okinawa
IGFA Certified "Cap'n Billy" and his bilingual crew offer chartered fishing tours, commissionable 10% to travel agents (based on a $120 per person booking fee). Private charters are $1440.00 and offer a 10% commission as well. Whale watching tours are also available.

Agents should contact Charter Manager Shawn Cotton by phone at (+81) 909-788-5266 or by email at Shawn@Saltwater-Fishing-Okinawa.com

Sheraton Miyako Renovations (1-800-325-3535)
The Miyako Osaka and Miyako Tokyo have become part of the international Sheraton brand as of April 2007, turning them into the Sheraton Miyako Osaka and Sheraton Miyako Tokyo. Both hotels are undergoing renovations to their guestrooms and meeting facilities.

Prince Hotel Reveals its New Brands (1-877-783-8787)
Effective April 1, 2007: In an effort to enhance brand awareness, Prince Hotels & Resorts has announced the launch of a new corporate logo and 3 new hotel brands. The three brands include "The Prince", "Grand Prince Hotel" and "Prince Hotel". According to Prince, "The branding is not a measure of ranking or level, but rather, a way in which to establish and identify a consistency in quality for guests."

  New Brand Previous
The Prince Park Tower Tokyo
The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo
The Prince Hakone
The Prince Karuizawa
Tokyo Prince Hotel Park Tower
Takanawa Prince Hotel Sakura Tower
Hakone Prince Hotel
Karuizawa Prince Hotel
Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka
Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa
Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa
Grand Prince Hotel Kyoto
Grand Prince Hotel Hiroshima
Akasaka Prince Hotel
Takanawa Prince Hotel
New Takanawa Prince Hotel
Kyoto Takaragaike Prince Hotel
Hiroshima Prince Hotel
Prince Hotel Shinagawa
Prince Hotel Shin Yokohama
Prince Hotel Naeba
Prince Hotel Karuizawa East
Prince Hotel Otsu
Shinagawa Prince Hotel
Shin Yokohama Prince Hotel
Naeba Prince Hotel
Karuizawa Prince Hotel
Otsu Prince Hotel
  And others. (Total 35 hotels under this brand).

New Luxe Hotels in Japan (1-866-LUXE-411)
As of March 28, 2007, Luxe Hotels has added 7 properties in Japan to the Luxe Worldwide Collection.

In Tokyo: Kitano Arms & Hotel Monterey Akasaka.
In Kyoto: Hotel Monterey Kyoto & Hotel Heiannomori.
In Osaka: Hotel Monterey Osaka & Hotel Monterey La Soeur Osaka.
In Kobe: Hotel Pearl City Kobe.

Hotel Discounts
From now through June 30, 2007, Hotel New Otani Tokyo is offering a special promotional rate of 26,000 yen (22% off the rack rate) for single or double occupancy on newly remodeled Standard King rooms in the Main Bldg. Hotel New Otani Osaka is offering a "Stay 3 Nights, Get a Discount" special from now through September 30, 2007. The discounts are 17,100 yen for 1pax/night (50% off rack rate) & 20,700 yen for 2pax/night (45% off rack rate).

Contact The New Otani Hotels' N. America Sales office for bookings at 213-629-1114 or
email: mmorford@newotanihotels.com

Yokohama Excel Hotel Tokyu, located only one minute from Yokohama station and walking distance from various attractions in Yokohama, is now offering a special discount rate of 13,000 yen for single rooms (25% off rack rate), 16,000 yen for twin rooms (35% off rack rate) and 23,100 yen for triple rooms (30% off rack rate).

For details, call their U.S. Sales Rep. in New York at 1-800-42-TOKYU (86598) or
email to reservation@tokyuhotelsjapan.com

News from J.R. East Railway Company
Starting June 1, 2007, the JR East Pass (and the JR East Pass Special) will be sold on major GDS ticketing systems (Galileo, Sabre, Worldspan, Apollo, Amadeus), making them much easier for agents around the world to procure. For details, please see the press release.

The 2007 VJC Japanese Souvenir Contest
The winners are listed below. Tourists can purchase these award winning souvenirs from all four major international airports in Japan at the following stores:
Sakura (Terminal 1 & Terminal 2), Narita Airport (NRT); Cosmos, Kansai Airport (KIX); Gift & Travel, Centrair (NGO) and at the 2nd floor of Int'l terminal "JDF Haneda" at Haneda Airport (HND).

The results of the 3rd annual Visit Japan Campaign Souvenir Contest were announced on March 27, 2007 by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in collaboration with the Visit Japan Campaign Headquarters.

American Prize:
Bizen-yaki "Oritsuru" a ceramic clay figure styled in the shape of an origami crane. (1,800 yen - 2,000 yen)

  Grand Prize: Silver Prize: Bronze Prize:
  Shukora (4 pcs boxed)
Sake-infused Chocolate
(1,050 yen)
Wasabi Dressing
150mg (525 yen)
Nomanne Cup Sake
180ml (1,680 yen)
Wind Chimes
(1,890 yen)
Fuku wo Maneku
Lucky Cat doll
(650 yen - 1,400 yen)
Key Chain (367 yen)
  O-sushi Key Chain
(651 yen)
(1,050 yen)
Cell-phone Cleaner
Key Chain (367 yen)

JTB Launches New Website
JTB has launched a new website, http://www.japanican.com. The new website allows individual travelers to book hotels and tours and has a wealth of practical information in its Japan Info section.

Kyoto City's New Website
Kyoto City has launched its first official website, http://www.kyoto.travel. The website has been designed for usability, providing a hotel booking function and the latest information on transportation, dining, events, and places of interest.

Wa-Shoi! Free Bus Service between Narita and Akihabara
H.I.S. Experience, Japan Co. Ltd. is a relatively new company that offers various services to overseas tourists visiting Japan. One of their more notable services is free bus service between Narita Airport and Tokyo's Akihabara electronics and anime district. Some buses even go as far as Shinjuku. Passengers will need to register and earn 1000 points on the website, which involves getting friends to register and posting and answering questions on the Wa-shoi! Sensei. This service is perfect for budget travelers and anime fans.

For details about the bus and to become a member of the Wa-shoi! Web, logon to http://wa-shoi.com

Most U.S. travelers go to Japan to experience the unique Japanese culture. Ryokan, pronounced "Ree-oh-kahn," offer guests a quintessential Japanese experience, and are available at any price range. Many are surprised to learn that one of the cheapest accommodation options in Tokyo is a ryokan. Tama Ryokan, located in the Shinjuku District, is cheaper than a capsule hotel in the same district at 4,000yen per person per night (double occupancy). On the high end, super-luxurious Tawaraya Ryokan in Kyoto and Gora Kadan in Hakone go from 50,000yen per person per night (double occupancy). Mid-priced ryokan fall in the 12,000yen to 20,000yen per person per night range.

What can your clients can expect during a stay in a ryokan? Upon arrival, they will be greeted at the door by kimono-clad servers who will take their luggage into their room as they check in. Before stepping up onto the tatami (straw mat) floor, guests must remove their shoes and change into slippers, much in the same way they would when entering a private Japanese home.

Once inside the room, your clients will notice traditional Japanese architecture, Japanese art and calligraphy on the walls, and furniture that reflects Japan's floor culture. The table tends to be low to the floor, and usually the chairs have no legs. After settling in, a maid will come in to serve tea. In top luxury ryokan, it is appropriate to offer a tip at this time.

After relaxing, your client can change into a Yukata (summer kimono), which is usually provided by the ryokan, and head to the hot spring (onsen) area. It is important to fully wash one's body with soap before entering the communal bathing area and not to dip one's towel in the bath. See more onsen etiquette here

After the bath, your clients may put their Yukata back on and go for dinner. Ryokan fare ranges from a typical Japanese meal to kaiseki ryori, the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine. Many ryokan will serve local delicacies, especially in areas famous for their seafood. The price of meals is included in the cost of a night's stay (drinks extra) except in the case of budget ryokan.

Back to the room and it's time to experience a real Japanese futon. Here in the States, futon has come to mean a foldaway sofa bed, but in Japan "futon" means a mattress, comforter and perhaps blanket that are placed directly on the floor. Although some people with back problems may have trouble, most find them to be quite comfortable.

In choosing a ryokan for your client, it is important to first identify their price range.
The Ryokan Collection contains only top-end luxury ryokan.
The Japan Ryokan Association members include mostly mid-range to high-end ryokan.
Japanese Guest Houses is a booking site that lists a variety of ryokan by type and cost.
The Japanese Inn Group lists affordable ryokan at which including meals is optional.
Some of the best ryokan trips are planned around hot springs (onsen).

For a list of Japan's best, see here, here or here.

2007 NBC4 Travel Expo
Japan will be participating in the NBC Travel Expo in Los Angeles on June 16 & 17, from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Admission is FREE so please come visit us.

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.

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