Japan Travel Journal Cafe
Vol.1 2008 Dec
Greetings from New JNTO NY Executive Director
First Course
- News Updates
- Upcoming Events
- Hot Deals
Main Course
- 7 Best Ski Resorts in Japan ---------------------------------------------------------------- Ski Resorts
- Best Small Town in Tokyo ------------------------------------------------------------------- Forever Tsukishima
- Featured Spa ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Hyatt Regency Kyoto
- A Great Hotel You May Not Find in a Travel Magazine -------------------------------- Homeikan (Tokyo)
- Favorite Local Places You'll Want to Visit ------------------------------------------------ Wedding in Shrine
- Practical Info
- Quiz: Where in Japan?
- Useful Travel Word
- Editors Note
Greetings from New JNTO NY Executive Director

I'm Shuichi, the new Executive Director of the JNTO New York Office.
Thank you for your interests in Japan.
We have changed our newsletter into a more enjoyable one with personal stories and travel recommendations from our staff. In addition to news and hot deals, our staff will provide you with intimate information you won't hear elsewhere. We hope you enjoy it!

Here is a little information about me. I'm from Seki in Gifu Prefecture, which is located between Tokyo and Kyoto. My hometown is famous for the cutlery industry which dates back to sword-making in the 16th century. You can see the traditional katana making ceremony. If you are a good cook, why don't you buy a world-renowned cooking knife there?

I moved to Tokyo for university and spent more than 20 years there since. You may have seen Tokyo's crammed-to-the-extreme trains. It is a very tiring experience EVERY DAY. But I can assure you that it is great fun and an unforgettable memory during your visit. It's like a ride at an amusement park! And in only a short walk after this excitement, you can contemplate in a tranquil Japanese garden to recover yourself.
Crowded trains run on almost all the train lines in Tokyo in the weekday morning rush hour around 8 o'clock. Japanese gardens close to stations are Rikugien and Hamarikyu to name a few.

Our aim is to provide you with unique view of Japan tourism, and we look forward to sharing more stories with you in coming issues! (S. Kameyama)

First Course

Japan Travel Guide Session in JNTO NYC
Are you planning to visit Japan next year? Do you know someone who loves Japan as much as you?
Here is the perfect event for you! JNTO NYC office welcomes you and provides you with basic travel info & hot destination info at this casual weekday day/night event *.

When: Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
  2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Seminar, Q&A
  6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Seminar, Q&A
Where: JNTO NYC Office One Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1250, New York, NY 10020 (You'll need photo ID)

How to register: please visit by noon (EST), Friday January 16th, 2009
* If the program attracts a large number of applicants, we might coordinate the number of attendants by a drawing. On the contrary, if there are only a small number of applicants for either one of the schedule above, we might coordinate the schedule.

News Updates
Kyoto Winter Special! If you return to Kyoto, why not in winter? http://www.kyotowinterspecial.com
Yokoso Japan Weeks 2009 Are you a coupon lover? Yes, it's time to go www.yjw2009.jp
Shangri-la hotel Tokyo (Opening March09) http://www.shangri-la.com/en/property/tokyo/shangrila
Nikko Historic Areas, north of Tokyo, is ranked 4th out of 109 places in National Geographic Traveler ratings
Kabuki-za, a historic Tokyo Landmark, will be closed for reconstruction after April 2010
City of Obama near Kyoto is Thrilled! http://abcnews.go.com/International/Story?id=4261093&page=1

Upcoming Events
Dec 11-21 FIFA (Soccer) Club World Cup 2008 in Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya
Jan 2&3 Hakone Ekiden 15 colleges compete b/w Tokyo and Hakone with 10 runners.
Jan 11-25 New Year Sumo Tournament in Tokyo
February 5-11 60th Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido
February 9-11 World Summit of Gastronomy Tokyo (First time in Asia!)
February 21 Hadaka Matsuri (literally, Naked Festival) in Okayama
March 15-29 Spring Sumo Tournament in Osaka
March 22 Tokyo Marathon (30,000 runners!)
Late March~ Cherry Blossoms! (Blanketing Japan)

Hot Deals
Fly to Japan, Then see China by Majestic Vacations - from $1314
Choose Tokyo 1 night and Shanghai 3 nights or Tokyo 3 nights plus air to Shanghai.
On this tour, you will fly out of the convenient Haneda airport to Shanghai.

COLD STEEL TOUR 2009 by Pop Japan Travel
From $2719 Jan 30-Feb7 A very unique tour, perfect for manga/anime fans.

Honeymoon to Japan? How about a destination wedding in Kyoto by Sunrise Tours
Kyoto wedding photo package 130,000Yen (1US$ = 93JPY as of Dec. 5, 2008), includes kimono rental, photo, hair & make-up, transport to UNESCO World Heritage Kamigamo shrine from your hotel in Kyoto

HOTEL NEW OTANI OSAKA from JPY 31,000 for triple occupancy per night
Osaka Castle or Town View, near famous cherry blossoms of minting authority, until December 30, 2009 (1US$ = 93JPY as of Dec. 5, 2008)

Main Course

7 Best Ski Resorts in Japan
It is not surprising some of our JNTO staffs are ski experts, regardless when they started skiing. They get hooked on skiing because Japan is such a winter paradise. Here’s their review of the best ski resorts in Japan! (A.Tomonaga)

SHIGA KOGEN (Nagano) www.shigakogen.gr.jp/english
The breathtaking scenery of the North Alps and exciting night skiing were beyond my expectation. The blockbuster Japanese film “Take Me Out to the Ski” (1987) was set in this biggest snow resort in Japan. Explore 21 ski slopes, 70 lifts and more than 80 courses along with high mountain ranges. The resort serves for various populations from groups to individual skiers and from couples to families.

FURANO SKI RESORTS (Hokkaido) www.skifurano.com
I took a train from Sapporo Station and arrived at this small town in the heavy snow. Cozy B&B and inns are several steps away from skiing terrain. Be sure to wake up early to get ready for the finest fresh snow! A picturesque location and heartwarming welcomes from locals will remain with you forever. This is a place for mature skiers who seek hidden skiing resorts in Japan.

NISEKO (Hokkaido) www.niseko.ne.jp/en
For savvy skiers. Views of Mt. Yotei from the fabulous snowy terrain.

ZAO HOT SPRINGS SKI RESORT (Tohoku) www.jm-support.com/zao2
"Snow monsters" - snow and ice form around the trees.

HAKUBA (Nagano) vill.hakuba.nagano.jp/english
HOLIDAZE SKI TOURS offers a comprehensive ski tour to Hakuba for both individual and group trips, with an extension trip to Tokyo and Kyoto.

NOZAWA ONSEN SNOW RESORTS (Nagano) www.nozawaski.com/winter/en
The Mecca of skiing and hot springs. Bring your families to enjoy historical spas for free.

GALA YUZAWA & YUZAWA ONSEN KOGEN (Niigata) www.galaresort.jp/winter/english/
Short ride on a bullet train from Tokyo. Perfect weekend getaway, still quiet and hidden.

For more information on skiing in Japan please visit these sites below.
- Snow Japan www.snowjapan.com/e/index.php
- Best of the Classic Mountain Resort www.mt6.jp/modules/tinyd0/index.php?id=1

Best Small Town in Tokyo: Forever Tsukishima
Have you ever heard about Tsukishima, a small town in Tokyo? If so, you might be an expert about Japan/Tokyo. Tsuki means moon, and shima means island, so naturally, this small old town is located in the bay area of downtown Tokyo. Why I recommend this town? Three reasons (plus one!):

# 1 Unique Landscape
The structure of this town is very unique! This town has one main street, a 10-minute walk, and on both sides of the main street, there are many narrow streets which cars cannot access. Tokyo previously had many areas like this, but most of them have disappeared. Let me say this town is equivalent to Beijing’s Hutong areas.

# 2 Pub Hub
There are so many small classic Japanese style pubs to choose from. I guess I can say this town is one of the most pub-haunted areas in Tokyo. This town is famous among Tokyoites for its Monja-food, a soft type okonomiyaki (pancake), which is delicious. But the true joy of visiting this town is jumping from one pub to another, as this town has a great concentration of top quality old Tokyo style pubs. Begin your visit by walking around town and then enjoy the real Tokyo local pub scene. (My top three are Kishida-ya, Hyokinmura and Ajisen)

# 3 Close to Downtown Tokyo
This town is close to downtown Tokyo, about a 10 minute walk from Tsukiji Fish Market or a 30 minute walk from Ginza. This visit was a time machine experience! To me, it is a miracle that this town has survived against waves of urban developments for so many years.

Plus One Point
I lived in this town for 5 years in my 20s. So long the days of my youth! (A.Obata)

Featured Spa
Hyatt Regency Kyoto RIRAKU
Tired of crowded parking lots, grumpy shop assistants and long lines at the mall for the holiday shopping? It is time to take a deep breath and think about rejuvenating your body, mind and spirit! Here is our suggestion.

RIRAKU Spa at Hyatt Regency Kyoto offers you an oriental treatment of Japanese acupuncture. Qualified parishioners and highly trained therapists provide personal consultations and treatments tailored to your specific needs. If you've never treated yourself to acupuncture treatment now is the time. Acupuncture penetrates into muscles and releases fatigue and tension- you will experience ultimate relaxation. For those of you who are not comfortable with the acupuncture, RIRAKU offers a signature aromatherapy massage treatment with Chidoriya Oil. Chidoriya was established in 1949 in Kyoto and they used to make original beauty products and bags for Maiko dancing girls and Geisha who were fashion and beauty trend-setters in Kyoto at that time. Even after 50 years, Chidoriya is professional Japanese beauty.

There are so many Spas around the world but there is no other place like RIRAKU, you can truly indulge yourself with Japanese ultra modern + traditional spas! (T.Niimi)

Aromatherapy with Chidoriya Oil: 70min/16,000 yen 90min/19,000 yen
Japanese Acupuncture Bliss Body Treatment: 120 min/28,000 yen
(1US$ = 93JPY as of Dec. 5, 2008)
URL: http://kyoto.regency.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/index.jsp

A Great Hotel You May Not Find in a Travel Magazine
Homeikan (Hongo, Tokyo)
This Ryokan (traditional Japanese style hotel) is located inside the Yamanote-loop line and located near the University of Tokyo campus. It is a bit hard to get there as you need to explore narrow curved streets from nearby subway stations (5-10 min walk), but it is worth staying here as this kind of traditional Ryokan is hard to find in Tokyo nowadays, and its price is remarkably reasonable as a single room rates starts as low as $65.
You can book a room through their English web-site http://www.homeikan.com.
Homeikan is also a member of JNTO related Welcome Inn Group. http://www.itcj.jp

Favorite Local Places You'll Want to Visit Next Time in Japan
Wedding Ceremony in Shrine
No tourist can finish their trip to Japan without visiting a shrine.
I strongly recommend that you visit a shrine on the weekends if your schedule permits.
Especially in Spring and Autumn, you'll probably encounter a Shinto wedding ceremony in a shrine. Although the ceremony itself is exclusive to relatives and cannot be seen by tourists, you can see the bride and groom parade toward the shrine.
Despite the fact that a wedding ceremony has been tied with Shintoism for long time in Japan, the ritual was expanded and unified nationwide because Taisho Emperor's wedding was known in 1900.
Actually not many couples have Shinto wedding.
Catching a glimpse of a Shinto wedding, you'll be able to understand a part of today's role of the Shinto Shrine in Japan. (S.Asano)

You want to do by yourself? Check this package in Kyoto, maybe best present for your 20 years wedding anniversary!


Practical Info
Summer 2009, Delta will add more flights to Tokyo, Narita, from JFK, Atlanta, Salt Lake City
Delta will expand trans-pacific routes vigorously from summer 2009. http://news.delta.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=11185

Now it is easier to visit East Asia from Tokyo
Narita has been long time the name for the international gateway to Japan or Tokyo. However, now Haneda airport, which is closer to downtown Tokyo and has been a domestic hub, now has additional international flights, mostly to nearby Asia cities. Now, Haneda has convenient flights to Seoul, Shanghai and Hong Kong, but it will add more destinations with its new fourth runway, which is planned to be open in Fall 2010.

JNTO LA Office moved to Little Tokyo
The LA office has moved to a new location. - Little Tokyo. Please stop by at your convenience.
Address: Little Tokyo Plaza 340 E. 2nd Street, Suite 302, Los Angels, CA 90012 Tel (213) 623-1952

Where in Japan?
Hint: This one does not need a hint. It will be under repair work 2010-2014, so be prepared for a small inconvenience

Five lucky winners will be chosen among all correct answers submitted, and will receive original Visit Japan T-shirts.

How to enter: You can enter from December 15th, 2008, to January 15th, 2009, at

Useful Travel Word
Jizake : Sake from local small breweries. Ji means local, zake is same word of sake. There are more than one thousand Sake breweries in Japan.

(Example) Do you have a jizake?
Do you know a good pub nearby which serves good variety of Jizake?

Editors Note
I hope you enjoyed our updated newsletter. We would like to share our passion for Japan with you. Please send your comments & suggestions on this article, and your personal experience in Japan. We may post your letter on Reader's Voice in the next newsletter.

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful holiday season! See you in the next issue!



Japan Travel Journal Cafe as a courtesy to readers of this newsletter. Though the 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 the JNTO nor any holder of 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.

Japan National Tourist Organization,
N.Y. Office
Japan National Tourist Organization,
L.A. Office
One Rockefeller Plaza, Suite 1250
New York, NY 10020

email: visitjapan@jntonyc.org
URL: www.japantravelinfo.com
  Little Tokyo Plaza 340 E. 2nd Street, Suite 302
Los Angels, CA 90012

email: info@jnto-lax.org
URL: www.japantravelinfo.com

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