tourism

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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How many references can you find in these bustling hidden object images?

How would fourteen of the world’s most vibrant cities look if you asked an artist to cram everything that represents them into one explosive image? Read on below for all the wonderfully diverse pictures, and see if you can spot the hidden passenger.

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The top 5 places to see the sun set in Japan

Japan may be known as the Land of the Rising Sun for good reason. The Japanese are extremely reverential to the sun and, if you can find a spot somewhere that doesn’t have a skyscraper blocking your view, Japanese sunrises are impressive and breathtaking to behold. They also happen at like 4 a.m., when no one in their right mind is awake – and those that are are likely enormously drunk and just getting ready for bed.

So for a lot of people, you might be better off watching the sun set in Japan. It’s equally gorgeous depending on location, and even in the middle of summer, the sun starts to slip behind the horizon around 6:30 or 7 p.m., so catching that perfect sunset is easy to work into your plans and doesn’t require remaining awake at some ungodly hour.

Of course, some places are better than others for catching a great Japanese sunset. While it’s cool and all to watch the sky turn all kinds of magnificent colors and the neon lights of the city winking on one by one from whatever street you happen to be standing on in the middle of Tokyo, it’s just not the same without a perfect backdrop and that eye-searing, crimson glory of the sun itself visibly sinking behind the landscape.

Here are our top five picks for watching the sunset in Japan (in no particular order):

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Is new “One Piece” plane awesome fan service or just a cynical cash grab?

In what can now officially be called a budding trend, the Japanese domestic carrier Skymark has announced it will be painting over five of its Boeing 737-800 model planes with characters from the popular and long-running manga and anime, One Piece.

Two designs – presumably on the left and right sides of the plane – will feature group shots of some of the series’ most popular characters to date, including main character Monkey D. Luffy, Roronoa Zoro, Nico Robin, Nami, and that reindeer thing. A separate graphic of Luffy will greet passengers as they enter the plane near the boarding door.

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Study kanji while taking a whirlwind tour of Kyoto with this beautiful video and GIFs!

We recently brought to you a collection of GIFs inspired by the thrilling city of Tokyo, designed by artists from around the globe. Now it’s Kyōto’s turn! A company called COG has created a highly stylized, four-minute animated film by dynamically fusing the original imperial city with kanji characters, and some scenes are now available as GIFs.

So get ready to hop aboard the city’s famous electric trolley and zoom though quintessential Kyōto sights like the Sagano Bamboo Forest and Daimonji bonfire. Along with two other GIFs making waves online, you’ll find yourself immersed in Japanese motifs that are anything but quotidian, and if you’re learning the language, see if you can name all 18 of the kanji characters used!

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16 tourist spots that China ripped off from the rest of the world

A replica of the Statue of Liberty in Shenyang, Northeast China, has been making the rounds on Twitter this morning.But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen large-scale replicas of global tourist destinations in China.

The Asian giant with a rich cultural heritage of its own, has also incorporated architectural styles from around the world and in some instances tried to replicate Paris and towns in England.

Shanghai rolled out a “One city, Nine Towns” scheme with small towns built in a different international style.

We compiled 16 spots that China ripped off — admittedly, some of these are part of larger theme parks.

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Bored with hotels? Abenomics bringing new lodging options for foreign tourists in Japan

With Japan’s population steadily decreasing, the country is finding itself with a bigger and bigger surplus of vacant houses—7.75 million of them, according to a 2008 survey. That makes more than 10% of all housing units in Japan unoccupied and that is set to increase to 30% by 2030.

But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic reforms, lovingly dubbed “Abenomics,” hopes to turn this vacancy problem into a cash cow for property owners by changing hotel laws and loosening restrictions on renting out your home to tourists planning their ultimate Japanese vacation. And to jumpstart the initiative, a Japanese real estate giant has teamed up with a home rental website to match up homeowners to prospective overseas tourists who want to experience a more authentic Japan.

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Orange-flavored rice balls: Japan’s newest way to fuse vitamin C and carbs

Ehime Prefecture on the western coast of Shikoku is known all through Japan for its tasty mikan, or satsuma oranges. Although the fruit is delicious enough on its own, the people of Ehime love to think up new ways to enjoy the fresh taste of a local orange. In the past, we have seen funny-shaped oranges and even citrus-flavored fish, but now there’s a new way to get some vitamin C in your life: orange-flavored rice balls.

We dropped by a shop near the hot springs that inspired Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away which sells the rice balls. But these little delicacies are only available for a limited time, so click below to find out more about this surprisingly delicious culinary creation!

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Tokyo Skytree’s disappointing attendance: 6.19 million visitors

Tokyo’s two most compelling yet conflicting traits, the energy from its sheer number of residents and the solitude of its back alleys, are both best appreciated from ground level. The metropolis’ scale can only truly be appreciated from high above, though, which is why Tokyo has no fewer than five major observation decks within the city limits.

As the newest and tallest of the group, the Tokyo Skytree, which opened in the spring of 2012, is by far the most prestigious of the group, and it has quickly become a more vibrant symbol of Japan’s capital than Tokyo Tower itself. But even with the millions of visitors the Skytree saw last year, the attendance was still below what was expected.

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One more check on your Japan ‘to do’ list: New capsule hotel to open at Narita Airport!

Capsule hotels are eternally fascinating to all who visit Japan. Their compact size, cheap prices, and spaceship-bunk-like nature seem quite bizarre to most people who have never had the pleasure of spending a few weeks in a submarine. While most of us want the largest hotel room money can buy, a capsule hotel literally crams people into the tiniest space available, while offering some incredible conveniences.

But when visiting Japan, there’s lots to see and do, so it’s easy to forget about checking yourself into a capsule. Fortunately, you’ll soon be able to find out what it’s like to be stuffed in a tube even at the airport!

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【TBT】In Japan, even cute animals obey the law

We’ve all no doubt heard of the polite deer in the city of Nara that have learned to bow their heads to tourists in order to get food, but did you know that they also obey the law and know how to cross the road properly?

Check out these photos for one incredibly cute example of how to use a pedestrian crossing!

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Watch the Singapore Tourism Board video that was so bad it was pulled from YouTube

Here are a few things you should NOT include when making videos to promote your country as a tourist destination: a cheesy script, terrible voice-overs, and music that seems strangely detached from everything else. Oh yeah, and a completely random pregnancy announcement. In a BOX.

Unfortunately, a recent cringe-worthy video by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has managed to nail all of the above requirements. The video received such a critical bashing that the STB was actually prompted to remove it from their YouTube channel and admit that it was awful. Don’t believe that an official promotional video could really have been so bad? Just wait until you’ve seen it for yourself.  

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Japan’s 7 most beautiful views in blue

If you try to think of a natural vista featuring the color blue, chances are the first image to pop to mind is a tropical ocean view or maybe a glacial ice-scape. Despite being somewhere in between those to climate extremes, Japan has some beautiful blues to offer as well. Here are seven of the most impressive blue landscapes in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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