tourism

Forget Tokyo’s giant Gundam statue, we wanna visit this plastic-bottle Gundam in Tochigi!

We’re pretty big fans of Odaiba’s full-scale Gundam statue, which towers over Tokyo Bay at an incredible 18 metres tall. But there’s nothing quite like homespun charm, and we’re equally delighted to discover the existence of a plastic bottle version, built single-handedly by one enthusiastic sake shop owner in Tochigi Prefecture, north of Tokyo.

Our friends over at off-the-beaten-track Japan travel site Another Tokyo went to check it out last month, and this is what they found.

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Oblivious tourists wander back into Japanese airport’s departure area, mass chaos ensues

Delays at airports are often inevitable due to congested air traffic or technical difficulties, or because the evil cabal of airline operators deemed it time for more delays. Whatever the reason, it’s certainly frustrating to have to wait an extra hour on the tarmac while children scream, people shuffle around, and someone possibly has an Alec Baldwin-esque outburst.

But these woes are nothing compared to what people at Japan’s Naha Airport endured when three tourists accidentally wandered back into the departures area and single-handedly put the entire airport on lockdown March 9.

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Yo-kai Watch’s Jibanyan meets the governor of Hawaii, global domination imminent

We’ve talked a lot before about how Yo-kai Watch has overtaken Pokémon as the phenomenally popular kids’ franchise of choice, and a lot of it is down to its loveable orange ghost-kitty mascot, Jibanyan. With the people behind Yo-kai Watch gearing up to bring the insanely popular series to the West (and believe us, there will be no escape), Jibanyan’s starting to get even busier lately.

Recently, he met up with the governor of Hawaii for a promotional campaign to get Japanese kids excited about having a holiday in Hawaii (as if that wasn’t exciting enough!). But we suspect that Jeeby’s trying to get in with the right people in order to satisfy his plans for complete global domination!

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Japanese tourist gets lost in Windsor Castle, wanders into Queen’s private rooms

Recently, all of Japan was very excited because Prince William made his first-ever visit. But back home in ol’ Blighty, the Royals had to deal with the aftermath of an embarrassing little security snafu at Windsor Castle that happened on February 12.

It seems that a Japanese tourist inadvertently wandered into some off-limits areas during a visit to the castle – namely, the Queen’s own private rooms. Her Maj wasn’t home at the time of the intrusion, but the incident still prompted a wave of panic over the sightseeing interloper.

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Noto Peninsula shows us how to keep warm during the Japanese winter 【Photos】

I recently had the opportunity to travel to the Noto Peninsula, an outcrop that sticks out from Japan’s main island of Honshu into the Sea of Japan. The area relies heavily on fishing and agriculture, and is famous for its delicious seafood and beautiful scenery.

Noto’s not so popular as a tourist destination in winter, but I went along on a trip to see what the place has to offer when it’s coooold outside. As it turns out, Noto out of season is about as chilly as I’d expected. But it was also very cool.

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China launches program to instruct its people on how to behave while abroad, shame offenders

While Chinese tourists have occasionally made the headlines for their less-than-stellar behavior while abroad, their biggest critics are in fact those at home, as well-to-do Chinese lash out with harsh criticism of their “barbaric” countrymen.

In an effort to curb the unruly behavior of some Chinese tourists overseas, the Chinese government has announced that it will be launching several campaigns to better educate people on how to conduct themselves when outside the country, and is even encouraging the public shaming of those who bring shame on China through their behavior.

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View beautiful photos of Kyoto’s Kiyomizu Temple any time on their new instagram account

Kiyomizu Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Higashiyama, Kyoto. Kiyomizu, which means “pure water,” takes its name from the waterfall which runs off the nearby hillside. However, it is perhaps most famous for its grand viewing veranda, a sort of stage on tall pillars that juts out of the hillside and commands beautiful views of the surrounding area. But a single visit to Kiyomizu doesn’t do it justice – you need to see it against a backdrop of cherry blossoms in springtime, bright red leaves in the autumn, and of course there’s the yearly illuminations! Luckily for those of us who don’t live in Kyoto, Kiyomizu Temple has set up its own dedicated Instagram account, and the photos that they’ve been uploading are completely breathtaking!

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Why is Japan such an unpopular tourist destination?

You would think that a country like Japan, rich as it is in both traditional culture and technical innovation, as well as plenty of weird and wacky things you’ll never see elsewhere, would be a huge hit with tourists. But as it turns out, Japan is actually not such a popular destination for people traveling abroad. Join us after the jump to find out why.

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Around Japan in 22 days…on a bus! (Yes, it has a toilet.)

One of the hardest parts about visiting Japan is deciding where to go, especially if you have only a limited time. Obviously, everyone wants to hit up Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, but that often means missing out on places like Nara and Aomori. If only there were a way you could get on a bus and just let someone take to every prefecture in the country…

Well, if you have about US$5,000 and 22 days, pack your bags, because that’s exactly what Club Tourism is offering this year!

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Town in Hiroshima now offering exciting… snow-shovelling tours?

To someone raised in an area that receives little to no snow in the wintertime, living in a snowy region might seem like a lot of fun, what with all the sledding, snowball fights, and easy access to ski resorts. But it’s not all fun and games when you need to shovel through feet of snow just to leave your house or to get your car out of your driveway.

But maybe to someone who hasn’t grown up having to shovel heaps of snow each winter, snow-shoveling could be a fun experience too. At least, that’s what the Akiota-cho Sightseeing Association in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, seems to be hoping as they try to lure city-dwellers to their 4th annual “Heavy Snow Region Experience Tour“. However, this tour has some net-users questioning why anyone would want to pay 5,000 yen (approximately US$50) to shovel snow for someone else.

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Get spirited away in China’s Ghibli-esque tourist complex

Studio Ghibli’s acclaimed film Spirited Away is beloved around the world for its touching story and beautiful animation, and the whimsical setting has a real-life counterpart. Jiufen, a mountainous area of New Taipei City in Taiwan is said to be where creator Hayao Miyazaki drew a lot of his inspiration for the film, and many tourists visit the area to feel like they’re stepping into the magical world of Spirited Away. But it turns out there’s also somewhere similar in China! Check out these photos and videos of the incredible place.

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Coming to Harajuku? Check out this new tourist booth for maps, Wi-Fi, crêpes and more!

Long before Gwen Stefani was inspired by the Tokyo neighborhood, Harajuku’s status as the center of Japanese fashion and pop culture had been well solidified. From strange footwear to unbearably cute cuisine, a visit to Harajuku is never dull and is a must-see for any tourist coming to Tokyo.

But the crowded streets, small shops and the language barrier might be a bit daunting for a first-time visitor. So to make that trip more worthwhile, a tourist organization is opening up a bilingual information booth in the heart of Harajuku to make sure visitors get the most out of their time in the exciting neighborhood.

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New Guess ad campaign features Japan in all her stunning glory

If you’ve ever visited Japan and fallen in love with its beauty and culture, prepare to be swept off your feet again with the latest ad campaign from Guess.

Shot by famed Chinese photographer Chen Man, the photos take us on a journey through cherry blossoms and tea houses, featuring girls with samurai swords and parasols.

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Japan’s “cat island” Aoshima is being overwhelmed by tourists

Aoshima (青島), which is incorporated into Ozu City, Ehime Prefecture, is a small, unpretentious island in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan (which one of our English-language correspondents has covered extensively). However, the 0.5 km² island does have one unique claim to fame–it’s known as a paradise for cats and cat lovers.

We actually featured Aoshima on our list of the 11 top cat islands in Japan back in April. After one Japanese Twitter user shared photos of the island’s hordes of cats online, Aoshima has experienced an unprecedented influx of tourists, leaving the local residents baffled and unprepared to deal with the flood of people streaming in.

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Another Chinese knock-off has hit the market, this time it’s a city!

This year, we’ve learned that the provincial and local governments in China are spending their money on truly extravagant things. Two different areas in China have invested in special “towns” trying to elevate their cities with modernization and attract a number of wealthy people. While those towns are batting .500 on the success rate, with one of them already becoming a burgeoning ghost town, what other ideas do the governments have to bring the cash into their cities?

How about a recreation of the most romantic city in the world, Venice, canals and all?

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New first-class bus seats have built-in massage functions, internet access and… dictionary

Starting soon, you’ll be able to make the journey from Fukuoka to Tokyo with about as much style as you can get while riding an excruciatingly long night bus.

The Nisshi Nippon Railroad Co., which confusingly also apparently operates a bus line or two, says it will be installing the new “Premium Seats” on a very small selection of its newest buses. While we’ll admit there’s nothing all that luxurious about a bus seat, no matter how far the seat reclines and how fancy the amenities, this one comes with a pretty extensive list of perks:

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Fukuoka’s “Wisteria Tunnel” delights visitors with pretty pastel petals

Anyone who has visited Japan during hanami (cherry blossom viewing) season will definitely agree –  they’ve got some really gorgeous flowers over there. But Japan’s not all sakura, you know! In fact, there’s a veritable cornucopia of beautiful blooms to appreciate at different times of the year. If you’re too impatient for the springtime sakura, you can get a head start by checking out the plum blossoms that start to peek out during the tail-end of winter. And if you’re still not satisfied after feasting your eyes on the sakura itself (or feasting on snacks during hanami, as the case may be), why not plan a summer visit to the “Wisteria Tunnel” located in Kitakyushu, Fukuoka Prefecture?

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Secrets of an Innkeeper: 3 Japanese guesthouse habits we could all learn from

At the beginning of this year, my husband and I took over management of a guesthouse in Japan. While we were looking forward to our new role in the community, the truth is that we were already busy enough without taking on yet another daily responsibility. But in the countryside, where it’s hard to find employees willing to come and live far from convenience stores and flush toilets, most of us are already doing double or triple duty to keep our little villages alive. And where I live, tourism is a big part of that.

So, while the countryside “slow-life” will probably always elude us, we admit that whenever Japanese people check in to our guesthouse, we both give a sigh of relief. Why? Because Japanese people are the best guests in the world! And that makes our job all that much easier.

We share with you three things that make Japanese guests the best an innkeeper could ask for.

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New tax exemption system for foreign visitors to Japan starts today!

If you are a regular RocketNews24 reader, you may already know that there have been a lot of changes to Japan’s consumption tax system this year. For those of us who live here, it’s meant an annoying price hike for nearly everything, but for visitors, there is some good news.

Starting today, October 1, new rules regarding consumption tax exemptions for foreign visitors go into effect, and for once, these are actually changes that work in your favor. More details after the jump.

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【TBT】The five Japanese streets that people of Japan most want to visit

If you’ve ever longed to go back to an old Japan, where samurai stayed at old ramshackle inns and merchants filled the air with the scent of food, then some of these traditional streets will be right up your alley. We take you to five of Japan’s most-loved streets, from well-worn paths in secluded valleys to bustling pilgrimage routes in scenic villages, all with an amazing history and atmosphere. Let’s take a stroll together and see what they have to offer.

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