January 2013

The 2012/2013 Japan Showcase agent Seminars have begun!
Remaining Locations: San Francisco, Seattle, San Diego, Anaheim, Honolulu
Join us at the seminars for your chance to win a
round trip air ticket to Japan!

Japan is heading towards full-scale winter.

A high-quality Japan that can only be experienced in winter awaits you.

December has come around. Japan welcomes its most bustling season with Christmas and the New Year. The clear blue winter skies and refreshing climate you see before your eyes is very beautiful.

In addition to Hokkaido, northern Japan and in mountainous areas you can appreciate the beauty of a silvery landscape blanketed in snow and enjoy snow sports such as skiing and sleighing.

You can also experience the ultimate form of relaxation as you seemingly become one with nature in an outdoor hot spring amidst the falling snow. Winter is also the best time to catch a glimpse of Mt Fuji.

In contrast, cherry blossoms will first start to bloom in warm Okinawa.

You can also look forward to culinary delights that can only be tasted during this season. Beginning with sukiyaki and shabu-shabu, hot-pot dishes of each region will warm your heart and body. Further, you can enjoy the Christmas illuminations in each area that resemble works of art as well as the best New Year sales.

Please refer to the following links:
Illuminations information
Special Event Information
Meet The New Japan Campaign : http://meet-j.jp/
Kansai Mega Sale : http://www.kansai-megasale.com/

At the year end and start of a New Year in Japan, you can experience both the town atmosphere overflowing with the energy of welcoming a New Year as well as the traditional and elegant New Year events. From 2nd January onwards, department stores and smaller shops are filled with shoppers for a specially planned sale period called "Hatsu-uri".

Japan National Tourism Organization uses the web and social media to introduce the appeal of Japan to people around the world. Japan can be enjoyed safely, securely and in comfort.

As always, we will continue to welcome all visitors warmly from the bottom of our hearts. We are sincerely looking forward to extending a hearty welcome to you on your next visit to Japan.

December 2012
Ryoichi Matsuyama
Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

Don't Forget to Share Your Wow! - Photo Contest
The cut off for entries if February 15th so add your entries now so you don't miss out! The awards ceremony will be held on March 15th in a most fascinating venue - the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel. The discharge channel is a huge underground cistern built to divert flood water away from city areas during heavy rain fall & Typhoons. It is also a really unique tourist draw and can be toured with advance reservations (Japanese speaker recommended). So enter your pictures of Japan now for your chance to win one of many great prizes and visit this interesting site! Japan Photo Contest.

Nankai Namba area Chinese Spring Festival Campaign
This coming Chinese New Year join in the special celebrations being held in the Namba area of Osaka. Nankai Electric Railway Co., Ltd is implementing a campaign from February 9th to the 12th to draw shoppers and tourists to the area with many special offers and events! Please see the press release (PDF) for all of the campaign details and information.

Winter Strawberry Picking in Shizuoka Prefecture - Club Tourism
To most Americans strawberry picking is a summer activity. I remember it fondly from my childhood (more berries went in my mouth than the bucket but it sure was fun!) In some areas of Japan picking strawberries is best done in winter! Many Japanese and foreign tourists alike love to join days tours picking strawberries (and eating them straight off the plant). One company that offers such a day tour from Tokyo is Club Tourism. The tour not only lets you taste some of the best strawberries but also includes a winery tasting, lunch, shopping and even a boat cruise. Check out the Club Tourism Tour page for all of the information and to book the tour today!

JR East Kanto Area Rail Pass Special Winter Ski Option
From December 22, 2012 to March 31, 2013 Japan Rail east is offering a special add-on to the JR East Kanto Area Rail Pass that includes a round-trip use on the Joetsu Bullet train to reach the Gala Yuzawa Snow Resort and special discounts at the resort for ski and relaxation! The JR East Kanto Area Passes with the Gala Ski Option can be purchased at JR East Travel Service centers and some JR East Stations. Please see the official information PDF for all of the details and prices. Join in the winter fun with JR East Kanto Area Pass.

Sky Duck! A new way to tour Tokyo coming Soon
Hinomaru Jidousha Kogyo Corp. which currently offers open top double decker bus tours of Tokyo will soon be introducing a new way to tour Tokyo from land and water! Tentatively slotted for a Spring start the new "Sky Duck: Tokyo Splash Tour" will tour the area around the new Tokyo Sky Tree on land then take a ramp and splash down into the water and continue the tour on the river! This amphibious vehicle tour will be the first of its kind in Tokyo so the vehicles and facilities are all brand new, some are still being built. It will definitely add a great new option for travelers visiting Tokyo. Please keep watch on their English Website for more details.

New/Renewed Japan Tourism Webpages
Japan Rail West New Website

New Electronic Brochures & Newsletters
Ishikawa Tourism Winter 2013 Newsletter
JR Hokkaido Mail Magazine Jan. 2013
Good Luck Trip Fukuoka/Kyushu 1/2013
Gunma G'-now December Newsletter

Great Resources List
Please use these resources to vamp up your webpages and advertisements or help your clients!
JNTO Free Photo library Make your free account for High Quality images, use on websites or print materials!
JNTO Youtube Channel Embed the videos on your website or link to your clients.
JNTO Brochure Archive Print the pdfs as many times as you need!
JNTO Accommodation Search Find hotels or ryokan across Japan.
Meetings & Incentives Planner Find all the latest on MICE planning for Japan here!

So much food so little time!

There are so many types of great food to eat in Japan. So much so that it can be bewildering and travelers are left wondering where and what to eat! This month we explore some of the varied resources for travelers to use to find a delicious meal while on the go.

JNTO Japanese Restaurant Search - The Japan National Tourism Organization's global website really is a wealth of information and you can even search for restaurants on it! It is an easy jumping off point to find a eatery within budget and walking distance! The search engine for the JNTO Search is actually powered by Guru Navi the next resource on our list.

Guru Navi - The Yelp of Japan, Guru Navi runs many different search sites in Japanese but this particular one is specifically for restaurants and they have made an English page for foreign travelers! (Guru is shortened Japanese for gourmet!) It is super handy and really easy to find a place to eat near wherever you are. Restaurants can be filtered by type, budget, location and even what payment types they accept. Also they have recently released a free smartphone app so you can even find nearby places (available in English, Chinese & Korean).

Ishikawa Gourmet - Many local governments offer recommendations for local food specialties and eateries on their websites. Ishikawa Prefecture has even recently made a wonderful search site for local restaurants that can be found by location or category. They even have a pretty extensive reference section about Japanese food and the regional cuisine. In this vein, also be sure to check with the local tourist information centers. The staff are always friendly and more than likely willing to direct you to a local favorite eatery that might not even be listed on any websites!

Zagat Guide - Did you know that Zagat not only rates American restaurants but also ones all over the world? Well they do! For Japan they have reviews and recommendations for Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe and all listed on their handy searchable website. (Just follow the links to their All Locations Page.) Also they have recently kindly in cooperation with the Japan Tourism Agency, Tokyo Convention and Visitors Bureau and Kyoto City Tourism Association have printed a pocket guide of Tokyo and Kyoto Restaurants. We received a huge stack of these a while back. If you would like some copies for your office or clients please let us know we would be happy to mail them out to you!

Michelin Red Guides - The famous Michelin Guide is produced for various areas of Japan every year. There are more and more restaurants and hotels being added to the Red Guides every year. While the lists in these books are defiantly for the more high-end luxury traveler you definitely won't be disappointed. And if you didn't already know Tokyo and Kyoto have more Michelin Stars than all of France, you can't go wrong!

Editor's Advice: I love exploring for new places to eat while traveling and Japan is such a great place to do this. For the most part even the smallest most hole-in-the-wall food spots in Japan have wonderful fare. Some of the best meals I've had there were places that most people wouldn't even notice on first or second glance. Encourage your clients to step out of their conform zones and try that standing counter only tiny eatery off the main roads in Japan. Even if they don't know Japanese they'll get by and probably have a very memorable experience and yummy (generally pretty cheap) meal! If you or they are worried about language barriers why not give them our handy language pocket guide (pdf) so they can just point to the appropriate phrases!

Upcoming Festivals and Holidays
More Information on these events can be found here.
Feb 5 - 11 Sapporo Snow Festival Official Website
Sapporo turns into a snow museum! Internationally renowned and Japan's largest snow festival is back in beautiful Sapporo City.
Feb 17 - 20 Hachinohe Enburi Aomori - Dancing and praying for a rich harvest. A dance expressing farm work to signal the arrival of the northern spring.
March 3rd Hina-Matsuri (Doll Festival) All Japan - This is a festive event held on March 3rd when hina ningyo dolls are decorated in homes where there are daughters. It is also called Momo-no-Sekku (Peach Festival). Displayed on a tiered doll-stand are gorgeous hina ningyo dolls together with miniature articles and furniture.

It's almost Cherry Blossom season again!

All Japan Tours
All Japan Tours The Golden Route Japan - Cherry Blossom Special & Japan In Depth - Takayama Spring Festival & Cherry Blossom Special - commissionable.

Cox & Kings
Japan - Land of the Rising Sun - Book by Jan 31st for your choice of special experience in Kyoto.

Goway Travel
Tokyo & Kyoto Getaway (Promo code 148831) & Japan in Depth Getaway (148831)

IACE Travel
Kyushu in Bloom Tour 2013 & The Amazing "Snow Wall" Japan Tour 2013 - commissionable.

Inside Japan Tours
Hidden Japan March 21st & Small Group Tour Tokaido Trail - 10% commission.

Japan Deluxe Tour
Essence of Spring with Hiroshima & Tokyo Anime Fair & Cherry Blossom - No Hassle - Fully Escorted Tour - 10% commission (Land) - FAM rates available

JapanQuest Journeys
Signature Journey Collection: Remote and Untouched Japan & Enchanting Kyushu.

Otaku Anime Adventure Tour & Kanto Cherry Blossom Tour - commissionable.

Mountain Hiking Holidays
Shikoku's 88 Temple Pilgrimage Hiking Tour & Hokkaido National Parks Hiking Tour - 10% commission.

Samurai Tours
Best of Japan Intro Tour & Best of Japan 23 Days - 10% commission.

SITA World Tours
Japan's Scenic Vistas - 6 Days & Affordable Japan - 8 days - 5% early booking discount.

SuperValue Tours
10-day Japan Classics and Kyushu in a Week Cherry Blossom dates almost sold out.
Call 877-388-1777 for our guaranteed departures. Commissionable.

Swain Tours
Nostalgic Japan & A Japanese Journey

Grand Park Otaru
In Otaru during winter, the community celebrates Yukiakari no Michi, otherwise known as the Snow Gleaming Festival, by lighting up the city with thousands of handmade lanterns and candles made from snow. Discover Love in Otaru this winter as Grand Park Otaru offers you the opportunity to experience a wonderful season with its fabulous Winter Otaru room and dining promotions. From just JPY 14,800 a night, you can be part of Yukiakari no Michi happening from 8 to 17 February 2013 and enjoy a relaxing getaway with buffet breakfast and dinner for two.
For reservations or enquiries,
please call 81-134-21-3111 or email rsvn.gpot@parkhotelgroup.com

Ishin Hotels Group
Winter Festive Package (including breakfast & late check-out) Enjoy the festive season with this limited time offer! You will receive an original bear, special bath amenities and complimentary breakfast.
Make your reservation today through our website or contact Ishin Hotels Group for more information. (*Please note that International Garden Hotel Narita, Narita Port Hotel and Sunroute Akasaka will participate with a different type of amenity)
The package includes:
1) Hotel original bear per person*
2) POLA aroma bath amenity
3) Breakfast
4) 12:00pm late check-out (reg. 11:00am)

New Otani Hotels
Bonus Mile Promotion - Now Through March 31st qualifying guests an now earn bonus air miles for their stay at participating New Otani Hotels. Bonus Miles can be earned for American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and their partners. Please see this webpage for all of the details and restrictions. Restaurant Satsuki Super Breakfast - Start your day with the ultimate breakfast buffet at Satsuki in the Hotel New Otani Tokyo. Enjoy 169 delicious items each prepared with the greatest attention to detail. Try Japanese, Chinese and Western menu items or mix and match for a unique breakfast experience. New Otani Club members receive a discount on this super meal!

Japan Airlines

Upgrade Award "Enjoy! JAL Premium Economy" Campaign
When you fly on eligible flights using Economy Class Fares, you can upgrade to "Premium Economy", ultimate in-flight comfort, with a deduction of 10,000 miles per sector. Enjoy the comfort of more space, foot rests and large personal monitor and the many other amenities offered in the JAL Premium Economy. Please see the "Enjoy! JAL Premium Economy" Campaign Page for all of the details.

Upcoming Events in the US!
Be sure to check with your local Japan Consulate or Japan-American Association for events in your neighborhood!


If you've been longing to make connections with major suppliers in Japan travel - all while learning about the amazing destinations that Japan has to offer - then mark your calendars! JNTO is proud to announce our lineup of dates for our annual Japan Showcase Seminars.

We will also be giving away many door Prizes at the showcases, including a Grand Prize of 1 Air Ticket To Japan at each showcase location!

These seminars are a fantastic networking and learning opportunity. We'll be joined by airlines, hotels, tour operators, tourism representatives, and other special guests. The dates and locations for the seminars are as follows:

San Francisco, CA February 5, 2013 (TUE) Hotel Nikko San Francisco
Seattle, WA February 7, 2013 (THUR) Hilton Seattle
San Diego, CA February 27, 2013 (WED) Marina Village Conference Center
Anaheim, CA February 28, 2013 (THUR) Hilton Anaheim
Honolulu, HI March 4, 2013 (MON) Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki

If you are interested in attending please RSVP with this web form:
SHOWCASE RSVP (Password: Showcase)

Other upcoming local events

February 8-10 Seattle Golf & Travel Show We'll be up in Seattle for the Japan Showcase and the Seattle Golf in Travel Show. Come visit our booth for great information on traveling Japan! Also if you are a golfer or outdoors person there are a ton of great activities to do at the show! Hop down to the Century Field Event Center and join us!
February 9-10 Visit Japan Fair 2013 in San Francisco The Consulate-General of Japan in San Francisco and partners (including JNTO) are pleased to announce a special Visit Japan Promotional Event to be held in San Francisco's Union Square this February 9 & 10. Join us for a celebration of Japanese culture and let us introduce you to all that Japan has to offer travelers.
February 12 Japan Travel Seminar in Denver With the generous support of the Consulate General of Japan in Denver, the Japan National Tourism Organization is proud to present an evening about Japan for Denver area Travel Agents. Presentations will be given by Japan Travel Experts, United Airlines and a Special Guest from the Takayama City, Japan. This event is further supported by the Denver International Airport, the City of Denver and the State of Colorado. If you are interested in attending please email: info@jnto-lax.org
February 22-24 LA Times Travel Show This year our partners from the Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau will be exhibiting at the LA Times Travel Show held in downtown Los Angeles at the LA Convention Center. Please stop by their booth (#1309) and find out all about this wonderful island destination!

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.
You can also contact our office for travel brochures and language handbooks. Please e-mail info@jnto-lax.org for more information.

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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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 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