Japan Travel Journal Cafe
Vol.5 2009 Sept.
- Win a Free Trip to Japan as part of Visit Japan Year 2010!
- Top News
        Don't miss it! $899* Special Package from JTB!
        Facebook & Twitter "Visit Japan" page launched.
        Hoshinoya Kyoto will open in December, 2009
        Tokyo Marathon 2010 Road Runners Tokyo Tour
- Upcoming Events
- Events in the US: Save the Date!
- Hot Deals
Main Course
- Ramen Mania: The Slurp Heard ‘Round the World
- How to Enjoy Onsen
- Anatomy of Japanese Travel: JNTO Staff Survey - Vol.2
- Quiz: Where in Japan?
- Useful Words When Traveling in Japan: Lemon-hi or Lemon-sour
- Editor's Note
First Course

Win a Free Trip to Japan as part of Visit Japan Year 2010!

We are honored to announce that 2010 is VISIT JAPAN YEAR! Many events and attractions are coming up to make your trip to Japan an unforgettable experience! We have launched a Visit Japan Year Contest where everyone gets a chance to WIN A FREE TRIP TO JAPAN! There are millions of reasons to visit Japan, each one unique in its own way. For some of you it may happen to be a lifelong dream, while others may have been inspired by friends, families and TV shows, and some may even be die-hard fans of a specific Japanese celebrity. Tell us why you want to visit Japan within 2,010 characters*, or upload a photo with a caption within 201 characters*, and you'll be entered for a chance to win FREE tickets to Japan, a free stay in luxury accommodations, tour packages, premier 2010 goods, or other fantastic prizes! So why wait? Grab a pen or pick up your camera, and tell us which one of the millions of reasons to visit Japan is yours. Access VISIT JAPAN YEAR 2010 Website now!
*including spaces

Main Course

Top News

The Democratic Party of Japan won the majority in the Diet for the first time in the postwar period.
The general election for the House of Representatives was held on August 31. In Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party had been ruling as one-party government over 50 years in total, and there had not been a change of regime. However this time, the Democratic Party of Japan dominated the Lower House for the first time in the Japanese parliamentary government system. Once elected, the new prime minister will receive a high public pressure to solve the critical problems such as the economic depression and social welfare.

Don't miss it! $899* Special Package from JTB!
This $899 + tax ($79)* special package includes airfare, fuel surcharge, 4 nights incl. taxes and 1/2day sightseeing tour in Tokyo! Tickets must be issued 21 days before the departure date from the US. For more information, please visit: www.jtbusa.com/en/tour/cotokyo
* Price is per person/double occupancy from Newark, NJ, and for departure from October 1st, 2009 to March 5th, 2010 every Wednesday & Thursday. The offer is subject to availability. Black-out dates may apply. Applicable taxes and fees, and September 11th security fee as of August 26, 2009 apply.

Facebook & Twitter "Visit Japan" page launched.
Want to receive our most updated news? Want to be alerted about upcoming events? Want to make friends who are also interested in Japan? Click here (Facebook or Twitter) and become a fan or follower of JNTO on Facebook and Twitter to receive the most updated Japan travel news, to connect with Japan travel specialists and network with Japan fans from all over the world!

Hoshinoya Kyoto will open in December, 2009
Yes, Kyoto is a must-see destination for tourists, and Hoshinoya Kyoto, the historic ryokan with the modern renovation, adds another reason to visit this city. This historical Japanese-style building was originally the library and house of a wealthy merchant in Kyoto, and turned into a ryokan 100 years ago. Hoshinoya Kyoto inherits the tradition and opens their authentic Japanese-style villa deep on an exclusive delta in the river in the Arashiyama area in western Kyoto city. Only accessible via 10-minutes river boat-ride from the foot of Togetsukyo bridge, and with all 25 guestrooms with river view, Hoshinoya Kyoto assures an unforgettable romantic experience. The Togetsukyo bridge is only within 25-minutes car-ride from Kyoto station.

Tokyo Marathon 2010 Road Runners Tokyo Tour
The next Tokyo Marathon will be held on February 24, 2010. Starting at Shinjuku, just outside the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings, athletes will enjoy running through Tokyo and take in spectacular views of the city until they reach the goal at the "Tokyo Big Sight" exhibition center on the other side of the city. Although the official registration already closed on August 31, JTB USA Inc. is offering a Road Runners Tokyo Tour Package with a guaranteed registration for the Tokyo Marathon if you sign up before November 23, 2009. For more information, visit: http://www.jtbusa.com/en/tour/marathon10/

High school baseball tournament
Japan's high school baseball tournaments are major part of the nation's baseball scene just like collage football in the United States. Twice a year, in spring and summer, the best high school teams all gather for the national baseball championship tournaments to be the number one in the country, and this is a lifetime dream for many young baseball players. The national tournament is taken place at the legendary Hanshin Koshien Stadium in Hyogo Prefecture, and this is considered the pinnacle of Japanese high school baseball. This year, the final face-off was between Chukyo University High School from Aichi Prefecture and Nihon Bunrei High School from Niigata Prefecture, and 47,000 people filled the stadium on the hot middle summer day on August 24. Chukyo won the very close game at the end 10-9, and marked the 7th national championship title, which is the record number of the victory in the tournament's history.

Charles & Sho's Environmental Bike Trip through Japan!
This summer is one of the most memorable for an 8-year old from New York: Sho Scott and his father Charles Scott have traveled by bicycle across the entire length of Japan, the home country of Sho's mother. Starting from Cape Soya on June 25, the northern most point of Hokkaido, they have pedaled about 3,000 miles to reach Cape Sata at the end of August, the southern most point of Kyushu. Entitled, "Unite to Combat Climate Change - Ride Japan," their eco-friendly travel follows a route that takes them through many of Japan's richest cultural and natural sites. For more information, please visit the riderís website.

"USN - Visit to My Homeland - 3rd Season" on AIR!
"Visit to My Homeland" is the USN's original program introducing various regions in Japan. Each program focuses on one region and informs you from famous tourist spots to deep hideaways within 15 minutes! The program is sponsored by JNTO, IACE Travel, Kintetsu International Travel, Nippon Travel Agency, and JTB USA. For more details on this program, please visit their website: http://www.irmnet.com/usn/visit.html For broadcast channel, http://www.irmnet.com/usn/about.html

100-Yen Beer launched at supermarkets
What can a dollar buy in Japan? How about a 350-milliliter can of beer? 100-Yen Beers can now be purchased at the large supermarket chains Jusco and Ito Yokado! This "third-category beer" is made with malt substitutes such as soybeans, corn and peas and offers a taste close to more expensively-priced beer at just 100-Yen. Aeon Co., a supermarket chain operator, co-developed this 100-Yen Beers called "Mugi no Kaori" with Suntory and started selling it at their chain supermarkets in July. Not to be outdone, Seven & I Holdings rolled out a rival product, "The Brew," at their Ito Yokado supermarkets. The popularity of these new beers is soaring in Japan! Try one yourself, and see if you can tell the difference!


Upcoming Events

Sept. 24-27 Tokyo Game Show 2009 Tokyo Game Show 2009 The show hopes to cheer up the world through games and show "power of games"! Special package tour available Chiba
Oct. 9&10 Takayama Autumn Festival Takayama Autumn Festival At the highlight, marionette performance on the floats, Japan's important cultural properties by themselves. Takayama, Gifu
Oct. 9&10 Mino Japanese Paper, Akari-Art Exhibition
Artwork of Mino Japanese paper is lit up and exhibited along the old streets, full of romantic atmosphere. Mino, Gifu
Oct. 14&15 Nada Fighting Festival Teams carrying humongous portable shrines collide with each other. For its fierceness and dynamism, the festival is the largest fighting festival in Japan. Himeji, Hyogo
Oct. 16&17 Nikko Grand Autumn Festival Samurai horse-back archery and samurai-style 800-people procession for worshipping the Shogun. Nikko, Tochigi
Oct. 17-25 Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF)
Every year since 1985, TIFF has been screening feature films from all over the world. This year, the festival is establishing the "Green Carpet Club" in order to further develop its ecological and green initiatives, a manifest hope that all filmmakers, moviegoers, and the entire film community call the Earth our home. Roppongi Hills, Minato-ku, Tokyo.
Oct. 22 Festival of Ages The processions cover seven periods of Japanese history. Kyoto
Oct. 24-Nov.4 Tokyo Motor Show
The Tokyo Motor Show is one of the world's largest motor shows. This year the show highlights various innovative programs, such as the passenger car/motorcycle test-drive program, tours of the show led by the Automotive Journalist Association, and a crafting experience for parents and children. The theme of this year's show is "Fun Driving for Us, Eco Driving for Earth." Makuhari Messe, Chiba.
Nov. 2-4 Karatsu Kunchi Festival 14 giant floats race and brave shouts. Karatsu-City, Saga
Nov. 3 Feudal Lord’s Procession in Hakone ‘Down, down, the lord comes!' in a hot spring town. Hakone, Kanagawa
Nov. 12, 24 Tori-no-ichi (Rake Fair) Gorgeous rakes are sold by lively vendors until midnight, wishing good luck and business prosperity. Taito-ku, Tokyo
Nov. 15 Shichi-Go-San (Children's Shrine-Visiting Day)
At the age of 3 or 5 (for boys) and 3 or 7 (for girls), children will be brought to shrines by parents to wish for the healthy growth. Throughout Japan
December 1-
March 31
Kyoto Winter Special 2010 4-month special tourism campaign in Kyoto: Hanatoro, historical shop fronts and cultural heritage sites are lit up by Japanese lanterns. This winter it will be accompanied by the Kyoto Restaurant Winter Special too!
Feb. 5-11 Sapporo Snow Festival 
Started in 1950, the Sapporo Snow Festival is one of Japan's largest winter events. Hundreds of beautiful snow statues and ice sculptures turn Sapporo into a veritable winter wonderland of crystalline ice and powdery snow. Home to the 1972 Winter Olympics and Sapporo Brewery, Sapporo is also well known for its miso ramen dish. For more about ramen, please read "Ramen Mania" in this issue! Sapporo, Hokkaido.
Mar. 25-28 Tokyo International Anime Fair
Come and meet some of the most famous anime creators and characters from all over the world! The fair will have zillions of exhibitions, symposiums and screenings that can be attended. Various competitions will also be held, and celebrities within the anime community will be honored for their work at the anime award ceremony. Tokyo Big Sight, Koto-ku, Tokyo.

Events in the US: Save the Date
Sep. 18-20 Anime Weekend Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
Started in 1995, AWA is one of the most popular Japanese anime conventions in the US. You will find a variety of programs, including a cosplay (costume play) contest, anime screenings (from 60s classics to new releases), workshops and panel discussions. Of course you will also find tons of anime and manga related merchandise such as toys, games, books, DVDs and CDs. .

Sep. 19-20 JapanFest 2009, Duluth, GA
JapanFest welcomes its 23rd year as the largest Japanese festival east of Houston and south of Washington, DC. We at JNTO will be promoting our "Visit Japan Campaign" during the event, and we'll also have a "Cool Japan Travel Seminar" at noon on both days. We hope to see you there!

September 19 Greater Kansas City Japan Festival , Kansas City, KS
Meet JNTO staff at the Japan Travel Seminar!

Sep. 25 & 26 Folk Festival of Japan at Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
An amazing array of Japanese folk music and dance programs comes back to Carnegie Hall for the first time in a decade! Programming includes Ryukyuan (Okinawan) dance and a performance of the Japanese bamboo flute by Hozan Yamamoto, who is designated a National Living Treasure of Japan. Stages are scheduled for 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm at the Banquet Hall and 7:30 pm - 10:30 pm at Stern Auditorium on Friday the 25th, and 2:00 pm - 4:30 pm at Weill Recital Hall on Saturday the 26th. This is a FREE event, but you need to RSVP. Please contact Friends of RINRI KENKYUSHO of N.Y., Inc. (Tel: 212-869-1922, Tue & Thu 10:00 am - 5:00 pm) or JTB International, Inc. New York Office (Tel: 212-698-4941, Mon thru Fri 10:00 am - 5:00 pm).

Sep. 25-27 New York Anime Festival , New York, NY
If you are an anime fan, you won't want to miss this humongous festival in New York City! Events such as World Cyber Games National Final and Neo-Victorian Fashion Show will be held, as well as anime screenings and a cosplay contest. The Yume Cosplay First-Place Prize is airfare to Japan, five nights in a Tokyo hotel, VIP tickets to the Tokyo International Anime Fair, and $1,000 in prize money! We at JNTO will promote our "Visit Japan Campaign" at booth #216 in the Exhibition Hall. See you there!

Nov. 13-22 Japanese Musical, Talk like Singing New York, NY
Have you ever heard of Koki Mitani? A talented Japanese playwright and director, he has produced a tremendous amount of TV dramas, movies, theater performances, animations and comedies. His newest work is "Talk like Singing," a comedic new show in both Japanese and English which he has written and directed. Japanese superstar Shingo Katori will make his international stage debut at Talk Like Singing's world premiere in New York City on November 13, 2009 at 8:00 pm at New York University's Skirball Center.

Nov. 20-22 Anime USA, Arlington, VA
As in the beginning in 1999, Anime USA's mission is to educate the public about and promote Japanese arts and popular culture. And they remains a convention of fans, by fans, and for fans. We JNTO will be there to promote how you can experience Japanese arts in depth while traveling Japan. Meet JNTO Staff at the booth!


Hot Deals

Tsukiji Sushi Free for JAPANiCAN Guests!
WIN ¥10,000 worth of gift certificates when you apply for any Club Tourism Yokoso! Japan Tour!
JR East Pass Special – 3-day unlimited rail travel for 10,000 yen!
JAPANiCAN launches Hokkaido driving tours!

Package Tours
Amnet New York, Inc. : Japan Packed Package – Tokyo, Kyoto & Takayama 7 days
Quilters' Express to Japan : Japan Tours Tour #19 – "Japan-uary 2010
JTB USA, Inc. : Tokyo Marathon 2010 Road Runners Tokyo Tour Package
JTB USA, Inc. : Continental Tokyo Package 2009
G.A.P. Adventures : Japan Hike, Bike and Raft
GTS Globotours : Tokyo Four Seasons Escape Package
IACE Travel : Art of Shikoku Tour
SITA World Travel : Affordable Japan 8 days
Collett Vacations : Smithsonian Journeys – Japan's Hidden Treasures
CIEE : Gap year abroad in Japan for U.S. high school graduates
Gate 1 Travel : 9 Day Affordable Japan
Ampac Tours : Japan Alps - Backroads Adventure Tour
Journeys East : From Farmhouse to Teahouse Tour

Special Online Airfares from US to Japan! (Update by July 2, 2009; through September 31, 2009)

  From NY to Tokyo From LA to Tokyo
Japan Airlines $ 720 USD + tax ~ $ 590 USD + tax ~
All Nippon Airways $ 740 USD + tax ~ $ 590 USD + tax ~
American Airlines $ 730 USD + tax ~ $ 589 USD + tax ~
Continental Airlines $ 730 USD + tax ~
(from Newark to Tokyo)
$ 798 USD + tax ~
(from Houston to Tokyo)
Delta Airlines $ 730 USD + tax ~ $ 589 USD + tax ~
United Airlines $ 730 USD + tax ~ $ 589 USD + tax ~

Hotel deals
Akasaka Excel Hotel Special Promotion
Hotel located 10 min. by subway for Shibuya, Shinjuku, Ginza, Roppongi, Tokyo !
Availability - 9/1/2009 - 12/30/2009 -
Special Room Rate (Conversion rate $1 = 94yen (August 2009)
Single A (161 sq.ft) : 12,000 yen ($127) (Regular Rate: 19,480 yen)
Single B (205 sq.ft) : 13,000 yen ($138) (Regular Rate: 22,077 yen)
Moderate Twin (237 sq.ft) : 14,000 yen ($148) (Regular Rate: 27,272 yen)
Moderate Double(237 sq.ft) : 16,000 yen ($170) (Regular Rate: 27,272 yen)
Triple (237 sq.ft) : 18,000 yen ($191) (Regular Rate: 30,302 yen)
This rate includes:
  * Free High Speed Internet Access !
  * Free shuttle bus for Tokyo Disney Resort.
  * The above rates are subjected to 5% Tax, 10% Service Charge and Accommodation tax.
 For the reservation: Tokyu Hotels Reservation Center North America
Tel:1-800-42-TOKYU(86598),or 1-212-490-0456,
e-mail: reservation@tokyuhotelsjapan.com

Hotel New Otani Tokyo 45th Anniversary Stay at Deluxe Room with 45% off Promotion
Availability Until December 30th ,2009
Special Room Rate (Single or Double use Conversion rate $1 = 94yen (August 2009)
  * The Main Deluxe Room 27,500yen ($ 292) (Rack rate 50,000yen)
  * The Main Deluxe Bathroom with City View 30,250 yen ($321) (Rack rate 55,000yen)
  * The Main Penthouse Deluxe, Bathroom with Garden View 35,750yen ($380) (Rack rate 65,000yen)
  * Rates may occasionally vary due to the date, availability and any other reasons.
  * This Rate is not including breakfast, 10% service charge, and taxes.
New Otani Club : You can register Membership free. For members offer a discount for breakfast and you will get points for various benefits.
Frequent Flyer Mileage Programs: You can get your mileage points of AA, UA, NW and more.
For the Reservation: New Otani Hotels North America Sales Office
Tel: 1-646-216-2186
Fax: 1-646-216-2188
E-mail: nyoffice@newotanihotels.com


Ramen Mania: The Slurp Heard ‘Round the World

After sushi, ramen is possibly the next most well-known Japanese food in the world. Introduced to Japan by way of Chinese noodles sometime before the Meiji Restoration, ramen has taken on a distinctively Japanese air and has become one of Japan's most famous exports. What college student hasn't survived at least partially on instant ramen packages at some point? However, real ramen - the kind made from scratch each morning in thousands of mom and pop operations across Japan - is light years in taste from the dry packaged version most Americans are familiar with. This authentic style ramen is slowly gaining popularity in North America as real Japanese ramen-ya have begun to pop up here (mostly in urban areas such as New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Vancouver and Seattle).

Ramen is composed of three parts, and each part has variations which make up the different ramen styles found throughout Japan. The first is the noodle. Most ramen noodles are made with the usual, simple noodle ingredients (flour, water, salt) with the addition of kansui, a type of alkaline mineral water which gives it its distinct yellow hue and springy firmness. The shape of the ramen noodle can vary from thin and straight, to thick and flat, to wavy and curly.

The second component is the broth. Traditional ramen broth, shio ramen, has a simple salty taste to it, made with some sort of chicken or fish broth, salt, and vegetables or seaweed. It has a clear, pale appearance and a light taste. Ramen made with a soy sauce broth is called shoyu ramen and has a dark brown complexion with a rich, salty, soy sauce taste. Miso ramen is, as you guessed, made with a miso broth and is cloudy white with a rich, hearty, sweet flavor. Finally, tonkotsu ramen is made from boiling pork bones which gives it a rich, fatty, pork flavor and creates a milky white broth.

Lastly, the third piece of the ramen puzzle is the ingredients. Traditionally there will be a couple of slices of pork, green onions, nori (dried seaweed, as is used in sushi), and kamaboko (fish cake, often colored with a red and white swirl pattern). After these usual ingredients, there are a wide variety of others that could be added depending on with what kind of broth and in what area of Japan the ramen is made, as well as the individual store and cook. These other ingredients include corn, bean sprouts, bamboo shoot, hard-boiled egg, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, spinach, seafood, tofu, and more.

Specific regions of Japan are especially known for their ramen variations, such as Sapporo, Kitakata in Honshu, Tokyo, Yokohama, Fukuoka and Kagoshima. Ramen is typically served in small shops or izakayas (snack bars), though the traveling ramen carts of old can still be found in the more rural areas of Japan. Gyoza (fried dumplings) are a popular side dish with ramen, as are fried rice, yakitori and a tall, cold glass of beer. Japan also has a much larger variety of instant ramen than we have in the West, exemplifying the almost cult-like status that ramen has there. There are even TWO ramen museums in Japan: The Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum in Yokohama, which is dedicated to the more traditional side of ramen, and the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka, which is named after the late founder and chairman of Nissin Foods, one of the most popular instant ramen producers in the world.

On your next trip to Japan, make sure you devote at least one meal to the enjoyment of this savory dish. And don't worry about slurping - it's completely acceptable in Japan. To find a ramen place close to your destination, go to GourNavi at http://www.gnavi.co.jp/en/. Itadakimasu!


How to Enjoy Onsen

Onsen (hot springs) are one of the "must" experiences in a trip to Japan. Japanese people love onsen! Onsen are almost everywhere in Japan, so even if you're only going to Tokyo you can easily make a day trip to an onsen. Nowhere is a better place than an onsen to forget your hectic daily life, relax, and soothe and rejuvenate your body and mind.

Here are some rules, manners and advice on how to enjoy onsen. Simply put, 1) Get naked, 2) Rinse off, and 3) Soak and relax, but I would like to elaborate a little more:

1. First of all, you will completely undress in the dressing room. And you won't wear a bathing suit. You must be naked when you enter an onsen. You can bring a small towel with you into the bathing area which can be used to wash your body and to hide your private parts (if you want) outside the water. You don't necessarily have to cover your parts, but it's a good idea to not show them off or draw attention to them anyway. It is recommended to take off your accessories and watches. Eyeglasses are okay, but be careful not to break them. Also, almost all onsen have separate bathing areas for men and women, so you don't have to worry too much about being watched.

2.You should drink a glass of water before going to the bathing area, and it is not recommended to bathe in the morning shortly after you wake up.

3. Once in the bathing area, be careful as the floor is slippery. You will rinse off and wash before getting into the tub/pool. This is important as it allows you to get used to the hot temperature and also keeps the bath water clean for other bathers. The water may feel a little too hot for those not used to it, as it's around 104° F. Also, don't dive into the pool!

4. Feel free to say hello to other bathers. Japanese people may be shy and not good at English, but your greeting will break the ice and start some small talk in a friendly atmosphere.

5. In the bath, it is recommended to soak up to your knee first, then waist, then chest, and finally neck. This helps you gradually get used to the temperature and water pressure.

6. Don't put your towel into the water. Put it on your head, the edge of the tub or a rock near you. As mentioned before, you do not need to hide your parts, but if you want to, you need to do it with your hands or by crossing your legs. In some onsen, you need not to do it because the water is milky white and nobody can see your body in the water.

7. Don't put soap in the water. Also, never swim, pass gas or urinate in the water!!

8. You may be able to drink some beer or sake while soaking, but take good care not to drink too much.

9. Don't soak for too long. If you begin sweating, you may want to get out of the water for a bit and then soak again. An onsen is not a place to compete in endurance.

10. Do not shower after you soak. Most onsen have mineral elements and a shower is likely to weaken those minerals' healing effects.

11. Wipe your body with your towel before returning the dressing room.

12. Dry off your body and hair in order to not cool down too quickly, as you could catch a cold.

13. After getting out of the onsen, drink water or a sports drink to hydrate yourself.

14. Take at least a 30-minute rest after the onsen. Bathing in an onsen takes physical energy whether you're aware of it or not.

Too many rules and manners?
Don't worry.Remember the basics: 1) Get naked, 2) Rinse off, and 3) Soak and relax.
And be a nice person. Voila! You are a great onsen bather!


Anatomy of Japanese Travel: JNTO Staff Survey -Vol.2
Greetings from the JNTO New York Office! We would like to share with you the second volume of JNTO Staff Survey Result, focusing on the World Heritage sites in Japan by showing the favorites of our staff and travel experts. Japan has rich cultural and natural tourist destinations with 14 world heritage sites. It has more heritage sites than those of its neighboring countries, including Korea (9) and Thailand (5)! Among the 14 sites, 11 are cultural heritage sites that consist of many buildings and man-made structures influenced by the unique sensitivities of Japanese people, and three are natural heritage sites, created by the country's diverse natural environment and its climate. Now, let's get into the results and see which site we have actually visited the most.

Which of the World Heritage sites have you visited before?

#of votes
   1 Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto   11
   2 Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara   10
  The Shrines and Temples of Nikko   10
   4 Buddist Monuments in the Horyu-ji Area    8
  Itsukushima Shinto Shrine    8
   6 Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome    7
   7 Himeji-jo Castle    5
   8 Shiretoko    4
  Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu    4
  10 Sacred Sites and Pilgrimage Routes in the Kii Mountain Range    3
  Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama    3


Not surprisingly, all of us have visited the Historic monuments of Ancient Kyoto, which is ranked as #1. Kyoto is no doubt the most popular destination for cultural and historical attractions, not only for visitors but also for the Japanese! It is easy to access from Tokyo (less than 2.5 hours by Shinkansen), and so are Nara and Nikko, which ranked # 2 and #3. Some are rather remote such as Shiretoko in the northern island Hokkaido, and the Gusuku sites in the southern island of Okinawa, but these are very popular even among Japanese, and are in top of our next destination list if not yet visited. So take some time for an excursion while you are in Japan, and discover the hidden beauty of these distinctive heritage sites!


Recommendation from JNTO staff
I have visited Shirakawa-go once, and fell in love with this beautiful village right away! In the remote, mountainous region between Gifu and Toyama prefectures, the true beauty of a historic village remains untouched in Shirakawa-go and neighboring Gokayama, featuring traditional farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Stop for enjoying the local village food or even stay overnight in these traditional houses, and feel as if you have time traveled back into the old days of Japan (Y. Yamagishi)

A few years ago I traveled along Japan's Romantic Road to Nikko, a small city at the entrance to Nikko National Park. Along this passage are beautiful mountainous landscapes, lakes, waterfalls, hot springs, wild monkeys and hiking trails, and it also passes near the Lake Chuzenji, which is famous for its scenic beauty. The best time to visit is during the beautiful fall foliage (koyo) season.
Toshogu Shrine, Nikko's other shrines and temples are just 30 minute walk or 10 minute bus ride from Nikko train stations for Tobu and JR Lines. Other interesting places in the Nikko area include Edo Wonderland, an amusement park with the theme of Edo period culture and lifestyle through attractions and performances; Kinugawa Onsen, a popular hot spring resort with large capacity, multi-storied Ryokan, And make sure to check out hilarious comedy shows at Nikko Saru Gundan (the monkey circus). (M. Fujiwara-Gaul)


Quiz: Where in Japan?
Quiz: This golden shachihoko (a mystical animal in Japanese folklore with the head of a tiger and the body of a carp) sits atop which of Japan's most iconic structures? Please choose from the following: Golden Pavilion, Nagoya Castle, Inuyama Castle.

Hint: The city where the structure is located will celebrate its 400th anniversary in 2010 and will host a series of commemoration ceremonies throughout the year.

Prize: Two lucky winners will be chosen among all correct answers submitted to receive a shippo-yaki (cloisonne) pen tray courtesy of the Aichi Prefecture Government Office in San Francisco.

How to enter: You can enter from September 1 to September 30, 2009, at: http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/survey-intro.zgi?p=WEB229LU6UZ2LA

Let's review the last quiz, which was an easy one. The answer to the last issue's quiz is Tiger. Out of 94 replies, 90 (96%) had the correct answer!

Useful Words When Traveling in Japan: Rotenburo
This month's useful word corresponds with our article on onsen. Many onsen, especially in the cities, tend to be indoors. However, off the beaten path, in rural areas and in luxury spas one can find rotenburo, or outdoor/open-air onsen. While you may already be familiar with the onsen experience and how relaxing it can be for both body and mind, rotenburo takes relaxation to a completely new level. Soaking in steaming hot water as your muscles soften with a cool breeze caressing your face and grazing your hair is an experience like no other. Luxury spas take this concept even further, with rotenburo that look out on majestic scenery and make you feel as if you are immersed in nature. Rotenburo are especially popular in the northern island of Hokkaido, which pairs rotenburo with snowscapes, creating an exhilarating temperature contrast. Japanese macaques, or snow monkeys, are known to be very fond of taking a leisurely soak in the tepid waters as an escape from the otherwise frigid climate. Such scenes are commonplace in Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano. Rotenburo can be found throughout Japan, so be sure to seek one out on your next trip. Keep in mind that the usual onsen etiquette is still expected, so be polite and be clean. Also keep in mind that due to their open-air nature, some rotenburo aren't as private as indoor onsen, so keep that towel handy!


Editor's note

Warm greetings from a new editor-in-chief! I thank you all for reading our newsletter through the end. Summer in Japan is almost about to turn into fall, another beautiful season with the colorful autumn leaves all over the country.
In this bi-monthly newsletter, we would always like to have this newsletter as opportunities to communicate with our readers, and we would love to hear your opinion on our messages, your favorites in Japan, your personal travel experience in Japan, etc., so we can reflect in our newsletter and provide more practical information for your next trip to Japan.
We are also very excited to talk to you on our newly launched Facebook & Twitter pages! Become a fan & follower for latest news of Japan, and get an alert with hot deals and upcoming events to mark in your calendar. Invite your friends to your Japan group where we can all chat on everything about Japan. JNTO staffs are all welcoming you to our social network space!

(Yuki, Yamagishi)


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 Tourism Organization,
New York Office
Japan National Tourism Organization,
Los Angeles 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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