tourism

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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Ultraman’s family and friends join forces to pitch Hawaii for Japanese tourists

Have ever wondered what Japanese superhero Ultraman does to relax after fighting off rubber-suited lobster aliens? Apparently, everyone’s favorite defender of the universe has been vacationing in sunny Hawaii alongside his parents and a few of his mortal enemies-turned-surfing buddies.

The tropical holiday is part of a hilarious campaign by Hawaii’s tourism association to draw Japanese visitors to the islands. Click below to see some surreal pictures of the Ultraman crew lounging by the pool, learning yoga and practicing their hula dance!

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Looking for places to visit in Tokyo? Check out this trendy new website, 100 Tokyo!

With the rise of “Cool Japan” as a major part of both the Japanese economic and governmental policy, it’s hardly surprising that so much effort has gone into encouraging tourism. But really, they don’t need to focus on getting people to come…after all, who hasn’t watched an episode of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and not wanted to come to Tokyo!?

But once you’ve settled into your hotel room and slept off the jet lag, then what? Sure, you could just go outside and wander around until you stumbled over a cat cafe, but if your time in the city is limited, you want to do your sightseeing (and souvenir purchasing) efficiently. And for those of you who already live here or are planning for an extended stay, you might be looking for something new to do on the weekend. If so, it might be time for you to check out this new website called 100 Tokyo!

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“January in Japan” reminds us just how special a place The Land of the Rising Sun really is

Having lived here for around eight years now, I sometimes forget how uniquely beautifully Japan can be. This stunning video, simply titled “January in Japan” from director and photographer Scott Gold, however, has just given me a wonderful reminder. If you have any interest in Japan whatsoever, be sure not to miss this one.

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Japan dominates the list of most visited Google Street View locations in Asia

Thanks to the internet and Google Street View, you can see the world from the comforts of your own home. Eat a turkey leg while touring the Palace of Versailles or walk through the Taipei Train Station in your birthday suit, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing or how little you’re wearing while virtually touring famous sites online.

If you’ve ever dreamed of traveling around Asia, but haven’t quite saved enough time or vacation days, you can always take a virtual tour on Google Street View. Let’s take a look at the top virtual tourism locations in Asia.

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