Japan Travel Updates
In this Issue:
News Updates
Events & Festivals
Fireworks in Japan (Hanabi)
Japan Tour Updates
Hotel Updates
Introduction to SIT
– Gardens in Japan
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.

Visit Japan Year Winter Campaign
The Winter Campaign is featured as a part of the "Visit Japan Year" – Enjoy the special events and discounts from various locations and facilities. You may download the guidebook and coupons from the official website – Don't miss this chance as it only runs from January to March 2010! For further information please click here.

The Japan Railways New York Office
The Japan Railways New York Office web site, japanrail.com, is closed indefinitely for maintenance. In the meanwhile agents and individual travelers can still contact the office for information and brochures at info@japanrail.com or by phone at 212-332-8686.

Open! Shizuoka Campaign
Make your trip to Shizuoka a memorable one with the Open! Shizuoka Campaign, running until the 31st of March. Receive special discounts and giveaways from participating facilities by simply presenting the official booklet. You can also enter a drawing for special prizes as well! For more information please visit the official website.

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!


There are many festivals going on in Japan during the summer months, so please click here for more information. Below is list of just a few festivals going on during early summer.

Takoage-Gassen (Kite-Fighting Contest)   May 3rd-5th, 2010
Place: Nakatajima
City: Nakatajima Dunes, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture
More than 100 kites are flown in the sky over the Nakatajima Dunes, one of the three largest sand dunes in Japan, which overlooks the Enshunada Sea. Here you can see many large kites measuring 3.5 meters by 3.5 meters. Then to the sound of the trumpet, the fighting starts. Making the 5-mm thick hemp strings intertwine, the kite-fliers try to cut their opponents' strings by friction, which is very exciting to watch. The strings burn, giving off a scorched smell. You can try flying a kite yourself in the grounds adjoining the shuttle bus terminal. Don't miss this opportunity of experiencing the actual sensation of flying a kite high in the sky.

At night, you will see some 100 palace-like floats in the center of Hamamatsu City. This is a parade of floats of gorgeous sculpture works carrying three-stringed lute and flute bands. This was originally a parade welcoming youngsters returning from the kite-flying contest. All these events are organized as part of the Hamamatsu Matsuri (Hamamatsu Festival).

Hakata Dontaku Festival   May 3rd-4th, 2010
Places: In Fukuoka City
City: Hakata-ku, Fukuoka City
People dressed up in unique costumes parade through the streets while clapping shamoji spoons and dance on stages and in squares in various quarters of the town. A shamoji, which is a wooden utensil for serving rice, evokes the image of a woman, busy preparing a meal, dashing out to join the parade passing in front of her house. The parade of gorgeously decorated vehicles called hana jidosha is also entertaining. Of all the Japanese festivals held during the so-called Golden Week when there is a series of national holidays from the end of April to early May, the Hakata Dontaku boasts the greatest number of spectators, with some two million people turning out every year. Visitors are also welcome, so don' t hesitate to join in!

For those that can't make it out to these festivals Tokyo has 3 major festivals during the month of May. Please click on the links for details about each festival.

Kanda Matsuri (one of Japan's big 3 festivals): May 15, 16
Sanja Matsuri
(one of the largest Mikoshi (portable shrine) festivals): May 14-16
Sanno Matsuri
(festival in which many dress up in ancient costumes) June 9-16


Japanese fireworks displays are like no other. These fireworks shows are a big part of summer and festivals in Japan. Although the crowds will be huge, seeing a Japanese firework show is a must do during the summer months of July and August. Please make sure arrive early and dress for the warm and humid weather. Please bring a hand fan to cool you down, a hand towel, as well as something to sit on to enjoy the fireworks as there won't be any seating available but the ground. As for food and drinks, most places around the fireworks area have street vendor stands that do sell food and drinks, and are a must to try, as this is part of the fireworks festival experience. There also should be convenience stores in the area too but be warned as many others might have the same idea.

So where are the fireworks shows?

It would be impossible to list all the shows here, but here are just a few of the most popular shows:

The largest fireworks display in Tokyo is the Sumida River Fireworks Display (last Saturday in July).

Niigata Prefecture's Nagaoka Fireworks Festival (Aug. 1-3):
One of Japan's largest fireworks festivals in an otherwise quiet town.

Hiroshima Prefecture's Miyajima Floating Fireworks Festival (Aug. 14):
The picture speaks for itself – Fireworks next to one of Japan's "3 most beautiful sights" make for a spectacular show. (5,000 rockets + 200 fireworks shot from the water).

Akita Prefecture's Omagari National Fireworks Competition (4th Saturday in August) The top 30 fireworks makers in Japan compete to come up with the most unique and technically difficult fireworks displays. Considered the highest quality fireworks show in Japan.

For more information on fireworks shows throughout Japan, please visit Infomap Japan (info from 2008 Eastern part of Japan) or JapanFireworks.


Luggage is not such a problem in countries where rental cars and taxis are the norm, but in train-dominated Japan, it pays to study up on the alternatives to luggage lugging

Limousine Buses
These buses go from the airports straight to major hotels, and offer a space to store luggage. The only downsides are that they are not covered by the J.R. Pass like the express trains are, and they generally take slightly longer to get into town.

Luggage on Trains
JR's official restrictions on luggage are within what's allowed by most airlines, but physical restrictions make carrying luggage on trains difficult for some. There are no porter services or luggage cars on any trains in Japan, and the only trains with plenty of luggage space are the airport trains. For example, here is what it is like on the Narita Express. Transfers can also be difficult; more and more stations are being equipped with elevators, but in some instances people will have to carry their luggage up and down stairs when changing trains.

On shinkansen trains (bullet trains), there is no space to store luggage except for the small overhead bins, which can accommodate small backpacks or purses. There is space for "4" suitcases toward the back of each shinkansen car, but this space is sometimes taken by other passengers. As a last resort, passengers may have to store their suitcases in other cars out of sight or in front of their knees. It may be much more convenient to send one or both pieces of luggage to the next destination.

Takuhaibin (Courier Service)
Courier service in Japan is very fast and cheap in comparison to the same in the U.S. To send a single piece of luggage (25 kg, 160 cm) overnight a distance of 500 kilometers (300 miles) from Tokyo to Kyoto using Yamato Transport's takkyubin service (takkyubin is a brand name, takuhaibin is the generic term) costs around 1,890 yen. Luggage can be sent from hotel to hotel, to and from the airport, or even from a convenience store. Many people opt to send one suitcase ahead of time and take a smaller one with them on the train. Delivery times and costs vary by distance, and there is a surcharge for sending luggage to and from the airport. Here are links to delivery services at the international airports.

Narita Airport: http://www.narita-airport.jp/en/guide/service/list/svc_05.html
Kansai Airport: http://www.kansai-airport.or.jp/en/service/baggage/index.html#_03
Chubu Centrair Airport: http://www.centrair.jp/en/service/sv-luggage/index.html#1174592

Coin Lockers and Luggage Storage
Oftentimes, the most convenient thing to do is leave luggage in one place and travel around blissfully hands-free. Major airports and train stations have coin lockers large enough to hold suitcases. On average, they charge about 500 yen per locker per calendar day (less for smaller lockers) and take coins only. In general, hotels do not hold luggage after checkout, but many will hold luggage before check-in. Airports also have luggage holding services, which cost about the same as the coin lockers.


Follow Your Seoul to Japan – Fly directly from USA via Seoul (ICN) to the unique Japanese cities of your choice, affordably!! For more information please click on this website!

Best of Japan and Hong Kong - Visit these two wonderful cities in one single trip with very attractive prices! For more information please refer to here.

Adelsman Tours - Tokyo on a Budget and The Perfect Introductory Tour (10% Commissionable)

Asian Adventure - Delightful 5 Nights Tokyo and 6 Nights Tokyo & Hong Kong (5% Commissionable)

Destination Japan - Tokyo Anime Freedom 2010 (Commission available for U.S. Travel Agency with company check payment only)

Geographic Expeditions - Kansai Explorer and Shikoku & Naoshima Islands(10% Commissionable)

IACE Travel - Eastern Hokkaido Highlight Tour

Journeys East - Asian Havens: Art, Architecture, and Hot Springs

JTB USA - Northern Kyushu Free Plan Package (Commission available to agents)

Kobayashi Travel Service - Discover Japan (reserve by 3/15 and receive $100 early booking discount. Agent Commissionable.)

Lakani World Tours - Amazing Japan

R&C Hawaii Tours - Okinawa, Yamaguchi, & Hiroshima Spring Tour (Commissionable at $100/pp)

Royal Adventure Tours - Honshu Shikoku Cherry Blossom Tour (Commission available to agents)

Super Value Tours - 6-Day Kanto and 9-Day Hokkaido and Tohoku (Commission available to agents)


Hotel New Otani Tokyo
Hotel New Otani Tokyo is now offering special rates for guests who stay at the Executive House Zen until the 30th of June, 2010. Stay at the standard room (rack rate: 48,000yen) for 40,000yen* per night for 2 nights or even 33,000yen* per night for 5 nights or more. Or choose the deluxe room (rack rate: 60,000yen) for 50,000yen* per night for 2 nights or even 40,500yen* per night for 5 nights or more. Moreover, earn extra miles (3,000 miles per night for qualifying stays, up to 15,000 miles) with United Airlines, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines frequent flyer programs**. Rates are 10% commissionable to agents and for more information and details please contact New Otani Hotels North America Sales Office at 646-216-2186 or e-mail.

* Rates are subject to applicable 10% service charge and taxes.
** Promotional period: Jan 1 to May 31, 2010 (United Airlines and American Airlines) / Feb 1 to May 31, 2010 (Delta Airlines)

Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo will be holding the "Hinamatsuri" (Japanese Doll Festival / Girl's Day) exhibition at the lobby and other public spaces from January 15th to March 3rd. "Hinamatsuri" has been celebrated on March 3rd to pray for the healthy growth of girls. Traditionally, a set of ornamental dolls called Hina Ningyo, representing Emperor, Empress, attendants, and musicians are displayed on platforms with red carpet. You can enjoy three kinds of dolls: Spanish Lladro's porcelain Hina dolls (Limited edition), "Tsurushi Kazari" (hanging style dolls) and "Mataro Ningyo" (traditional wooden dolls) in the exhibition. Hinamatsuri special lunch is served in the onsite 5 restaurants from February 1st to March 15th. For more information please contact Keio Plaza Hotel Los Angeles Office at 800-222-5346 or e-mail.

Okura Hotels & Resorts
Okura Hotels & Resorts is now offering special discount rates for guests who stay at Okura Hotel Tokyo and Kyoto Hotel Okura – Standard room (double use) at Okura Hotel Tokyo is only 24,000yen* per night until the end of March 2010 (minimum 2 nights stay). Standard twin is only 14,400yen* per night and superior twin is only 18,400yen* per night at Kyoto Hotel Okura (both rates required a minimum of 3 nights stay). Other room types and discount rates are also available, so please contact the Okura Hotels & Resorts Sales Office at 800-526-2281 for details and reservations (rates are 10% commissionable to agents)

* Rates do not include service charge and sales tax.

Park Hyatt Tokyo
Park Hyatt Tokyo is now offering great values with their “Park 360" package – Enjoy a “Club Floor" experience with accommodations in luxurious rooms with great views of Tokyo, daily breakfast, evening cocktails from selected menu, unlimited soft drinks from selected menus, unlimited access to Club On the Park Spa and fitness center, and complimentary mobile phone and high speed internet access. Room rates start at 58,000yen* per night (double occupancy) at Park Deluxe Room to 67,000yen* per night at Park View Room. For details and reservations please contact the Park Hyatt Tokyo Office here.

* Rates valid until the 30th of December, 2010. Room rates are subjected to 5% consumption tax, 10% service charge and 200yen accommodation tax per person per night.


Gardens in Japan

Japan is very famous for its gardens and they are loved by travelers around the world. We will explore some of them and perhaps they might give you some inspiration!

The Three Great Gardens of Japan
Also known as the “Three Most Famous Gardens in Japan”, they are Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, Korakuen in Okayama, and Kairakuen in Mito. Enjoy the changing of seasons and the beautiful design of the gardens. For more information you may click on each garden’s name above. Besides the Three Great Gardens, we have also listed some other famous gardens as well:

Katsura Imperial Villain Kyoto (reservations are required for admission. For more information please visit the Imperial Household Agency’s website)
Saihoji Temple in Kyoto (Also known as the Moss Temple, it is one of the world cultural heritage sites. Reservations are required for visit. Apply by mail from one week to two months ahead of the visiting date. On a return postcard, please write in the date, time, representative’s address, name and number of people. Admission cost is 3,000yen. You may write to: Sanpaikakari, 56 Matsuo-Jingatani-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto, 615-8286)
Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto (Famous for its stone gardens which they use stones to represent all the aspects of nature)
Ritsurin Koen Park in Takamatsu (A famous garden with a vast area covering 6 ponds and 13 artificial hills)
Adachi Museum of Art in Shimane (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 list can go on and on…To find a garden which is close to where you will be going, you may also refer to our website here.


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 two 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. March 2, 2010 (Tuesday) in Santa Barbara, CA
2. 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

Government Statement on Japan Airlines: click here


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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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