Affordable Japan Campaign Old beliefs die hard: there are still many people who strongly believe that Japan is prohibitively expensive, but in reality that is a story of the past. The Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), together with JTB USA, JALPAK International USA, and IACE Travel is promoting tour packages of "5 Nights in Tokyo including airfare starting from $899" using the L.A. Times and San Francisco Chronicle.
Commission is available to retailers. IACE Travel 866-735-4223 email: email@example.com URL: www.iace-asia.com JTB USA, Inc. 800-685-5824 email: firstname.lastname@example.org URL: www.jtb4asia.com JALPAK Int'l USA 800-252-5725 email: email@example.com URL: www.jpi.travel Aeromexico Inaugurates Mexico City - Narita Flight On November 18, 2006 Aeromexico will become the first airlines to fly direct from Mexico to Japan.
The flight will go twice a week between Mexico City and Narita, stopping over in Tijuana. Free shuttle bus service to Tijuana will be provided for passengers departing from the United States. To book, please call 1-800-637-6639.
The flight schedule for the flights is as follows (subject to change): Departs Arrives Frequency MEX - TIJ 22:50 00:15 Mon, Thu TIJ - NRT 02:00 06:45 Tue, Fri NRT - TIJ 14:55 08:00 Wed, Sat TIJ - MEX 09:35 14:35 Wed, Sat For more information, log onto URL: www.aeromexico.com All JR East Trains to Go Non-smoking On Tuesday, 6 June 2006, JR East announced plans to make almost all of its trains completely non-smoking by spring 2007. The new policy will apply to all Shinkansen "bullet trains" (Tohoku, Joetsu, Yamagata and Akita lines) as well ... more.
as all Limited Express (Tokkyu) trains operating only within JR East territory. JR Hokkaido has already gone non-smoking, and JR Kyushu is contemplating doing the same.
To accommodate smokers, JR East is planning to increase the number of "smoking rooms" on the station platforms for long-distance trains, and a few trains such as overnight sleepers and special event trains will still allow some smoking. The status of trains that cross into the territory of other companies will be decided by discussions with those companies. URL: http://www.jreast.co.jp Prince Hotels & Resorts Prince Hotels & Resorts has introduced their new GDS code: PJ (Prince Japan).
An additional 5% commission is offered to agents who book using the new code "PJ" from October 1 to November 20, 2006. Reservation: 1-800-542-8686 URL: www.princehotels.co.jp Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel 2006/2007 Winter GDS Promotion From November 26, 2006 until February 4, 2007, the Cerulean Tower Tokyo Hotel will be offering a special GDS rate at 21,500 yen for floors 19-24 and 23,500 yen for floors 25-34. Contact Tokyu Hotels for details at 800-428-6598 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sapporo Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival) Japan's largest snow and ice sculpture festival, Yuki Matsuri, began in 1950 when local high school students built six snow sculptures in Sapporo City's Odori Park.
It has since then grown into an international competition and showcase of hundreds of intricate ice sculptures that attracts about two million people every year. The good news for American travelers is that the festival is held in the off-season (February) which means that international flights are at their lowest. Americans may also take advantage of discounted domestic flights to Sapporo offered by JAL and ANA (both around $100 U.S.
each way). Be sure to make hotel and flight arrangements as early as possible since this is a very popular festival. For information on attending Yuki Matsuri and to see beautiful photos of last year's sculptures, log on to URL: www.snowfes.com In addition to taking in the sculptures, visitors to the festival may enjoy snow sliding, hot air ballooning, snowman making, a snow labyrinth, or even a cocktail from an ice bar (out of an ice glass, of course).
The local cuisine (ramen and fresh seafood) and a tour to Sapporo beer brewery make it a perfect vacation. Dates : February 6 - 12, 2007 Location : Sapporo City (Odori Park, Susukino and Satoland) Access : 46 daily flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport (1hr. 30 min.), 3 daily flights from Narita Airport, and14 daily flights from Osaka's Itami Airport (1 hr.
50 min.). 2007 Sapporo Snow Festival Tour offered in the U.S. IACE Travel URL: www.iace-asia.com Kobayashi Travel Services, Inc.
URL: www.kobay.com R & C Hawaii Tours, Inc. URL: www.rchawaii.com Panda Travel, Inc. URL: www.pandaonline.com Japanese New Year Celebration For those who would like to experience an intimate part of Japanese culture, the Japanese New Year season is perhaps one of the best times to be in Japan, especially if one can spend time with a Japanese family or friends in Japan.
Toward the end of the year, Japanese throw several "Bonenkai," or forget-the-year parties, which involve drinking with friends or co-workers to forget the troubles and worries of the past year. On the night of New Years Eve, it is traditional to eat soba (buckwheat noodles), since they symbolize longevity. Fans of Japanese food will also want to try Osechi-ryori, special New Years dishes that all symbolize auspicious things, such as long life, health, fertility, etc.
In contrast to the wild parties and countdowns of the west, it is more traditional in Japan to visit temples or shrines to bring in the New Year. As the year changes, giant bells in temples all over Japan are struck 108 times, symbolizing the 108 earthly passions that must be overcome to achieve enlightenment. Those visiting shrines and temples on New Years Eve or the next three days (a practice called hatsumode) offer prayers or wishes for the New Year and may receive a small dish of sake.
Those in Tokyo may see the emperor of Japan come out to give his annual speech at the Imperial Palace on January 2. URL: www.kunaicho.go.jp Travelers should note that most businesses and tourist attractions are closed during the New Year holiday (generally December 31 to January 3), and transportation is very crowded due to the amount of people going back to the countryside. Skiing and Snowboarding in Japan Go all the way to Japan just to ski?
That is what Australians have been doing for years - partially so that they can ski in the Southern Hemisphere's off-season, but mostly because Japan has some of the best slopes in the world. In fact, Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972, and Nagano did as well in 1998. Japan has many great locations for skiing in Hokkaido, Tohoku, Niigata and Nagano.
Rentals are widely available, but travelers with boot size of 28.5 cm or above (U.S. 10 1/2 men's or 12 women's) may want to call ahead or bring their own boots since they may not be available at rental shops (except at the larger resorts). Snowboarders are generally welcomed at ski resorts in Japan - in fact, they may outnumber skiers on some slopes.
For more information, including information on different destinations and resorts, see JNTO's practical guide here URL: www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rtg/pdf/pg-802.pdf or log onto: www.snowjapan.com for an in-depth guide to winter sports in Japan. For Ski tours available in Japan, log on to: Holidaze Ski Tour URL: www.holidaze.com SkiJapan.com URL: www.skijapan.com Ski Japan Holidays URL: www.japanspecialists.com Ice Floe Tours in Hokkaido Liberal Air Helicopter Tour Company offers short helicopter tours of the ice floes off the shores of Abashiri, on the Northeastern side of Hokkaido Island. Helicopters can take 5 people each, and cost ranges from 4800 yen (children 3500) for a 4 minute "experience" to 10,000 yen (children 9000) for the 7 minute Okhotsk Tour and 20,000 yen (children 18,000) for the 15 minute Cape Notoro Tour.
Tours run from late January through late March. For more details, please log on to their website (Japanese only) URL: www.liberal-air.com or contact JNTO. For reservations, call their Abashiri office (English spoken) at 090-5813-0699.
Those with a fear of heights may prefer to ride on an icebreaker boat instead. These boats operate 4 to 6 times per day from January 20 until April 1, 2007. The hour-long tour through the ice floes costs 3000 yen for adults and 1500 yen for children (10% off for groups of 15 or more).
For more information or reservations, please call 0152-24-2147 or log onto URL: www.ms-aurora.com Convenience Store Ticketing Machines Tickets to some events in Japan can be reserved from overseas. The majority, however, must be purchased upon arrival to Japan. The good news is that ticket sales locations can be found almost anywhere; the easiest places to locate for foreign travelers are the ubiquitous convenience stores (Lawson, 7-11, Family Mart, Circle K Sunkus, etc.).
Ticket Pia URL: t.pia.co.jp Ticket Pia (Ticket + Utopia) is like America's Ticket Master. Tickets may be purchased by credit card, but the website is in Japanese only and it requires a Japanese mailing address. This link offers hints to non-Japanese who want to use Ticket Pia: URL: metropolis.co.jp Ticket Lawson URL: www2.lawsonticket.com (Inside Lawson Convenience Stores) URL: www2.lawsonticket.com (English explanation) Kabuki Plays (Traditional Japanese theater) Kabuki-za Theatre & Ticket in Tokyo URL: www.shochiku.co.jp (Reservations may be made by phone or in person) Noh Plays (Traditional Japanese masked theater) Kawamura Noh Play Theater in Kyoto URL: www.kid97.co.jp This site is in English, but tickets may only be purchased inside Japan Bunraku Plays (Traditional Japanese Puppet theater) National Theater of Japan in Osaka URL: www.ntj.jac.go.jp The site is in English, and reservations may be made by phone (but tickets must be picked up within ten days of making the reservation) Takarazuka Plays (Modern, unique Japanese theater group) URL: kageki.hankyu.co.jp This website has some information in English, but the ticket purchasing information is in Japanese.
Those who do not know Japanese may purchase tickets through Ticketpia or at a convenience store. Sumo Tournaments URL: www.sumo.or.jp Advance tickets may be purchased from inside or outside Japan by calling the Kokugikan (National Sports Theatre) at (+81) 3-5237-9310 (English OK). Please have the following information ready when you call: Name; Telephone number in Japan (Hotel number or friend's number); Date of match Seating level - prices are about: A section (rows #1 - #6): 8,200 yen/seat, B section (rows #7 - #11): 4,900 yen/seat, C section (rows #12 & #13) 3,600 yen/seat.
Tickets can also be purchased at Ticket Pia, Family Mart & Circle K Sunkus. Baseball Games and Other Sports Tickets to baseball games can be purchased at stadium kiosks either the day of the game (if not sold out) or beforehand. Japan Ball, a Seattle based company that also runs baseball-themed tours to Japan, can order advance tickets for you for a small fee URL: www.japanball.com Tickets for baseball, soccer, boxing, pro-wrestling and other such sports may also be purchased from Ticket Pia or convenience stores.
Imperial Palace & Villas in Tokyo & Kyoto A complimentary guided tour to the Imperial Palace & Villas is just a click away. It is important to apply far in advance since many tours fill up as soon as they become available(three months in advance). URL: sankan.kunaicho.go.jp (online form) Tokyo Imperial Palace : sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/koukyo.html Kyoto Imperial Palace : sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/kyoto.html Katsura Imperial Villa : sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/katsura.html Sento Imperial Palace : sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/sento.html Shugakuin Imperial Villa : sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/english/guide/shugakuin.html Note: Reservation by phone is only available for Tokyo Imperial Palace at (+81) 3-3213-1111 (Please note the time difference before calling).
Information is provided in this Japan Travel Update 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.
Publisher: Japan National Tourist Organization, L.A. Office 515 South Figueroa St., Suite 1470, Los Angeles, CA 90071 email: email@example.com website: www.jnto.go.jp or www.japantravelinfo.com