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News & Notes


Oct 08 (Thu ), 2015

There is something about autumn that just feels traditionally Japanese. Perhaps it’s the fiery momiji (Japanese maple) leaves or the autumn harvest’s seasonal delicacies. Or maybe the refreshing autumn weather, after a sticky summer, that begs for a stroll through a temple or shrine. Then there are the spectacular traditional autumn festivals. Oct. 9-10 Takayama Matsuri Autumn Festival Widely considered to be one of Japan’s most beautiful festivals. Eleven floats elaborately decorated with motifs and karakuri ningyo (lifelike marionettes are a feast for the eyes as each float comes with its own story sharing Japan’s culture and history in the old town of Takayama. Don’t miss the night parade. Where: Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine, Gifu. Oct. 10 Ana Hachimangu Yabusame Experience traditional horseback archery (yabusame) in the hear t of Tokyo. The ancient Japanese art is no easy task. These festivals are often held in spring and autumn. Be sure to catch it while you’re visiting this season. Where: Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine, Tokyo. Oct. 22 Jidai Matsuri Travel back in time as more than 2,000 people dressed in traditional Japanese wear parade through Kyoto, reflecting the city’s 1,200-year history. The procession starts from Kyoto Imperial Palace (at noon), traveling along Oike-dori (12:50 p.m.) to Heian Jingu Shrine (2:30 p.m.). Special viewing tickets are available from Kyoto City Tourism Association for ¥2,025. Where: Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kyoto.   (Credits: Kyoto City Tourism Association) Oct. 22 Kurama Fire Festival The mountain village of Kurama hosts an exciting annual fire festival featuring 250 torches, some weighing over 100 kilograms and stretching three-meters high. The village is alight as villagers carry the torches through the streets followed by a mikoshi (portable shrines). Where: Yuki-Jinja, Kurama, Kyoto. Nov. 3 Shirasagi-no Mai (White Heron Dance) Shirasagi-no Mai is a ceremonial parade highlighted by eight dancers dressed as white herons to depict a scene penned on an ancient scroll. The dance and traditional attire brings the Heian Period back to life. Where: Sensoji Temple, Tokyo. Late November – Mid-December Fall Evening Illumination If you feel like avoiding the festival crowds, a more relaxing option is a visit to Rikugien Gardens. Built during the Edo Period, this daimyo teien (garden) belonged to a feudal lord and today is a popular destination to view kouyou (autumn foliage). Where: Rikugien Gardens, Tokyo.   Read the Full Digital Edition of Traveler magazine (Issue #57 / Autumn 2015) anytime, anywhere on your computer or mobile device.

Let’s Go! Tanzawa Oyama Yamanami Stamp Rally

May 14 (Thu ), 2015

 Let’s Go! Tanzawa Oyama Yamanami Stamp Rally Starts April 1, 2015 Ends March 31, 2016 WHAT’S A STAMP RALLY? In Japan, a “stamp rally” is a popular “game” often put on by cities and towns where participants can collect stamps by visiting different attractions or locations in the area. Once they have collected all the stamps, they can exchange their completed stamp rally cards for prizes. This year, the Tanzawa and Oyama areas will be hosting the “Yamanami Stamp Rally” with interesting locations ranging from train stations, ancient temples, trail heads and the top of three famous mountains in the Tanzawa and Oyama areas. “What? I need to climb four mountains to collect my stamps?” Yes, but no need to rush. You’ve got until March 31, 2016 to collect your stamps, and there will be a lucky draw at the very end with some fantastic prizes.         HOW TO PARTICIPATE <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Pick up a stamp rally card at one of the stamp rally exchange stations. These stamp rally cards will cost 500yen. <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Enjoy hiking in the beautiful Hadano area and, when you reach a stamp station, get your card stamped. You can collect your stamps in any order you like. <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Once you’ve collected all the stamps, take your card to a Stamp Rally Exchange station to collect your prize. Remember to get your card stamped for proof of completion. <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Fill out your name, address and contact information on your card and hand it in at the Stamp Rally Exchange Station (remember to make sure you have the proof of completion stamped on your card!). You can also mail your card in later. STAMP RALLY EXCHANGE STATIONS Stamp Rally cards and prizes (in exchange for completed card) are available at the following stations: <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Donguri House (Okura): Near the Okura bus stop. Open: Weekdays 9 a.m. – 5p.m., Saturdays, Sundays and holidays 7 a.m. – 5p.m. (Closed on Mondays). Tel: (0463) 87-0021 どんぐりハウス(大倉)大倉バス停の近く * 営業時間(平日)9 a.m. – 5 p.m., (土日祝日)7 a.m. – 5 p.m. (月曜定休) <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Hadano Tourism Office: Next to the Odakyu Line at Hadano Station. Open: All year round 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.  Tel: (0463) 83-6477 (Not to be mistaken with Hadano City Tourist Association) 秦野観光案内所 *営業時間9 a.m. – 8 p.m.(年中無休) <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Ohtsuya Kyarabuki Honpo: Located along the Oyama Koma Sandou. Open: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. with occasional holidays. Tel: (0463) 95-2704 大津屋きゃらぶき本舗(大山こま参道)               * 営業時間9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (不定休) Oyama Tourism Office: Next to the Oyama Cable Bus Stop. Open: All year round 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Tel: (0463) 72-8126 大山観光案内所 *営業時間 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. (年中無休) You can also purchase Stamp Rally cards, but NOT exchange prizes at: <!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Isehara Station Tourism Office: Located near the north exit stairs of Isehara train station. Open year round: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Closed for lunch from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.) Tel: (0463) 95-5333 – cannot exchange 伊勢原駅観光案内所(小田急線伊勢原駅北口階段途中) *営業時間9 a.m. – 5 p.m. (12:30 – 13:30昼休み)(年中無休)  WHERE CAN I GET MY STAMP RALLY CARD STAMPED? You must collect six different stamps from the following stamp stations in order to complete your card. Miyama Sansou (Tanzawa-san) みやま山荘(丹沢山) Tel: (090) 2624-7229 Sonbutsu Sansou (Tounodake) 尊仏山荘(塔ノ岳) Tel: (090)2569-6013 Nabewari Sansou (Nabewariyama) 鍋割山荘 (鍋割山) Tel: (0463) 87-3298  <!--[endif]-->Oyama Sanchou (Oyama) 大山山頂(大山) Tel: (0463) 95-2013 (Oyama Shimosha Jinja) Miyama, Sonbutsu, and Nabewari stamp stations are inside the mountain huts (sansou) on top of the mountains and can be reached by hiking up. Oyama does not have a mountain hut, but the stamp station is at the summit. The other two locations are easier to get to: Donguri House (Okura) どんぐりハウス(大倉) Tel: (0463) 87-0021 Oyama Tourism Office 大山観光案内所 Tel: (0463) 72-8126 *Make sure to check the opening/closing times for each location beforehand.  WHAT KIND OF PRIZES CAN I WIN?                                                     Participants who’ve collected all six stamps will receive a “four seasons tenugui” towel only available for those who complete this stamp rally. A different towel with different seasonal motifs will be given out, depending on the month. April – June: Spring motif towel July – Sept: Summer motif towel Oct – Nov: Fall motif towel Dec – Mar: Winter motif towel Starting this year, there will also be a “Grand Slam Award.” Each season’s motif towel comes with a special sticker inside the bag. Collect these stickers from all four types of towels, you will receive a 50th Anniversary of Tanzawa National Park and Grand Slam Award badge. Also remember to mail in your completed Stamp Rally card for the lucky draw. Winners will receive special prizes ranging from outdoor goods to local specialties.   ADDITIONAL INFORMATION    Hadano City Tourist Association 秦野市観光協会 Tel: (0463) 82-8833 www.kankou-handano.org                                        Oyama Tourism Office 大山観光案内所 Tel: (0463) 72-8126 http://oyama-kankou.a.la9.jp

AirAsia X and Thai AirAsia X to Launch New Flights to Japan

Jul 08 (Tue ), 2014

AirAsia X Berhad is to launch 4 times weekly flights to Narita, while Thai AirAsia X, Thailand’s first low-fare, long-haul carrier, will also launch flights from Narita and Osaka to Bangkok respectively. AirAsia X commenced flights to Japan in December 2010 to Tokyo (Haneda) and flights to Osaka commenced in November 2011. AirAsia X increased its initial three weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo (Haneda) to daily in June 2012. Further to this, AirAsia X will also fly into Narita 4 times weekly and will increase to daily flights in May 2015. AirAsia X will be offering promotional fares from as low as MYR299 (JPY9,990) in Economy and MYR799 (JPY38,000) in Business Class from Kuala Lumpur to Narita, Japan. Fares are available for booking online from 8 July to 13 July 2014 for travel between 21 November 2014 and 31 July 2015. Strange effect in the very sunny sky over Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok on 14 May 2014 while filming Thai AirAsia X's Airbus A330-300 Aircraft - HD Video Tour Special Thai AirAsia X fares are also available from as low as THB2,990 (JPY9,900) in Economy and THB9,990 (JPY38,000) in Business Class for flights from Don Mueang, Bangkok to Narita and Osaka, Japan for travel between 1 September 2014 and 31 July 2015. “AirAsia X is responding to the strong and growing travel demand to and from Japan. The airline has recorded on average 89% passenger load in the first half of 2014, proving the strong demand for the route since the commencement of its inaugural flight in November 2011. Overall, the airline has carried over 1 million passengers to and from its Japan routes and Japan contributes over 12% of the airline’s total revenue to date,” said Azran Osman-Rani, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia X. “The additional flights from both AirAsia X and Thai AirAsia X would further provide our guests from Malaysia and the surrounding region to Japan and from Japan to South East Asia and beyond the flexibility in their travel with better connectivity. With the convenience of our Fly-Thru flights, guests from our long haul network and that of the AirAsia Group may connect seamlessly to over 90 destinations across the Group’s network. The additional flights from both AirAsia and Thai AirAsia X will indeed open up new horizons for commercial activities and boost tourism in Japan and the ASEAN region.” Fly Thru services are also available on offer for flights from Narita to Indonesia (Bandung, Medan, Jakarta, Bali, Surabaya), Malaysia (Penang, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Alor Setar, Johor Bahru, Kota Bharu, Terengganu, Miri, Sibu, Tawau), Thailand (Phuket, Krabi, Hat Yai, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai), Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh), Singapore, India (Kochin, Tiruchirappalli), Cambodia (Siem Reap), Myammar (Yangon)and Australia (Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide)via Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. The Fly-thru service is also available from Osaka to selected destinations such as Mandalay, Hanoi, Singapore and many more. Nadda Buranasiri, CEO of Thai AirAsia X said, “Thailand has always been a popular destination for Japanese travelers and we are pleased to offer more affordable and convenient travel options for those who wish to visit Bangkok and beyond. In 2013, Thailand welcomed 1.5 million Japanese travelers, an increase of 11.9% compared to the previous year and we are confident that we can contribute to the further increase number of tourists travelling between the two countries.” AirAsia X was the first long-haul, low fare carrier to introduce Business Class Premium Flatbed seats, which have standard business class specifications of 20” width, 60” pitch and stretch out to 77” in full recline position. The Business Class Premium Flatbed seats feature universal power sockets, adjustable headrests and built-in personal utilities such as tray table, drink holder, reading light and privacy screen. Business class guests also enjoy premium complimentary products and services including pick a seat, priority check-in, priority boarding, priority baggage, 25kg baggage allowance, complimentary meal and pillow & duvet.

AirAsia to Re-Launch Operations in Japan

Jul 08 (Tue ), 2014

AirAsia has entered into a shareholders agreement with Octave Japan Infrastructure Fund I GK, Rakuten Inc., Noevir Holdings Co. Ltd., and Alpen Co. Ltd. to establish AirAsia Japan.   Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia said, “We are very excited to return to Japan’s skies together with Octave, Rakuten, Noevir and Alpen this time round. I am more confident than ever that AirAsia Japan, led by Odi (Odagiri Yoshinori) with the strong partnership we have with our new investors, will continue to realize our vision to revolutionize the low-cost carrier segment of Japan. The AirAsia Japan team is now working hard with the relevant authorities to obtain necessary operational approvals, and we hope that all will be in place to start both domestic and international flights by the summer of 2015.”   Odagiri Yoshinori, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Japan, added, “We are ready to take on this challenge and with great teamwork, we hope to bring AirAsia’s successful low-cost business model once again to Japan. Our counterparts in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and India have seen great and encouraging responses in their markets, and we will work towards the same for Japan. We would like to thank the investors for their belief in us and we look forward to working closely with them moving forward.”   Rakuten was incorporated in Japan on February 1997 and its major business includes internet services (e-commerce, travel), financial services (bank, credit card, securities. etc), telecommunications and professional sports.   Noevir was incorporated in Japan on March 2011 and its major business includes cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and health food, apparel and aviation business.   Alpen was incorporated in Japan in July 1972 and its major business includes manufacturing and retail of ski equipment, other sporting goods equipment including golf, tennis, marine sports, baseball, etc. and leisure goods; management of ski resorts, golf courses and fitness clubs.   Octave was incorporated in Japan on May 2014 and its major business is to acquire, own, manage, hold, sell, and dispose of the shares of AirAsia Japan and make collections from the shares of AirAsia Japan.  

AirAsia X Launches 48-Hour Promotion

Apr 10 (Thu ), 2014

AirAsia X, the long-haul, low fare airline affiliate of the AirAsia Group, is offering 48-hour sale to its destinations in Australia, Japan, China and Sri Lanka.   AirAsia X is offering fares from MYR 199 to Sri Lanka (Colombo), China (Shanghai, Hangzhou), Japan (Nagoya, Osaka) and MYR 249 Australia (Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast).   Travelers can also opt to book Fly-Thru flights within the AirAsia X network or onto the AirAsia Group network in conjunction with our sales. Fly-Thru destinations available include cities from countries in Japan, China, Sri Lanka and Australia to our vast ASEAN destinations via the Kuala Lumpur hub.   Bookings are available online between 10 April to 11 April, 2014 for travel between 1 May, 2014 and 30 June 2014. Terms and conditions apply.   AirAsia X Chief Executive Officer, Azran Osman-Rani said, “This 48-hour sale is our way of showing appreciation to the continuous support given by our guests towards AirAsia X. We are also committed in keeping on to our tagline that “Now Everyone Can Fly Xtra Long” making travel more affordable, easy, convenient and fun. With this exclusive 48 hours sale, guests can take a break from their busy schedule and enjoy mid-year holiday getaways with a group of friends or loved ones to exotic and exciting destinations across our long-haul network and that of the AirAsia group.”   http://www.airasia.com/jp/en/promotion/rx5350406.page

Marriott Opens New Hotel in Osaka

Mar 10 (Mon ), 2014

Marriott has expanded its portfolio of hotels in Japan with the opening of the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel.   With a prime location in front of Osaka Abenobashi Station, the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel is just 30 minutes from Kansai International Airport.   The hotel’s 360 rooms (each an average of 38 sq meters) are located on the 38th to 55th floors, and include six suites and 33 premium rooms.    The executive floor rooms are served by a dedicated executive lounge, one of the largest of its kind in Japan, with a 10 meter high ceiling and floor to ceiling windows. It provides an open, airy and relaxing space to unwind and enjoy the view while enjoying light refreshments and snacks.   The hotel’s meeting room facilities are high tech and Wi-Fi enabled throughout, ideal for handling all kinds of meetings. There is one larger meeting room (230 sq. meters) and six small meeting rooms (32 sq. meters), which are perfect for intimate parties and family events.   The lobby, lobby lounge and bar are located on the 19th floor. In addition, the bright open kitchen buffet restaurant, Cooka, offers a wide variety of Japanese and international dishes for all tastes in a casual dining environment. Taking over the entire 57th floor is ZK, a modern, sophisticated restaurant with floor to ceiling windows, serving both authentic Japanese and Western cuisine.   Masahiko Torii, General Manager of the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel said, “Marriott Hotels and Japan’s Miyako Hotels & Resorts are delighted to have joined together to proudly offer the highest standards of global hospitality, but with a Japanese touch, in Osaka. Our new hotel is ready to welcome guests from Japan and all over the world, and we anticipate the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel will become the most prominent new landmark and symbol of Osaka.”   Osaka is the gateway and largest city in the Kansai region, serving as a hub for business and leisure travel, and a key component of any itinerary to Japan given its proximity to Nagoya, Kobe and Kyoto.   Web: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/osamc-osaka-marriott-miyako-hotel/

Japan Cherry Blossom Calendar 2014

Mar 05 (Wed ), 2014

March is here, which means cherry blossoms will be blooming in most areas of Japan this month. Check out the latest Cherry Blossom Calendar to plan your hanami (cherry blossom viewing) party beneath the pink blossoms, a special time to be in Japan.  http://www.jnto.go.jp/sakura/eng/index.php

Japan Week 2014 New York (Mar. 6-8)

Mar 05 (Wed ), 2014

Japan Week promotes Japanese culture, cuisine, and tourism, announces that its 2014 program will spotlight unique features of Japanese culture from the last 100 years to the present. Delectable regional foods, technology exhibits, traditional arts and performances will aim to inspire greater understanding of Japan and travel to the country. The multi-day festival will take place at Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall from March 6 - 8, 2014. This event is a cooperative effort between the Japan Tourism Agency, Japan National Tourism Organization, diverse businesses, local Japanese governments, and supported by the Consulate General of Japan in New York. More details at http://japanweek.us

Tokyo on Two Wheels at the Shangri-La Hotel in Tokyo

Jan 17 (Fri ), 2014

Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo has has launched a “Tokyo on Two Wheels” promotion designed to give guests a new Tokyo travel experience.   “Tokyo on Two Wheels” offer guests a tour with local bicycle specialists around the city’s hidden spots. Together with an English-speaking guide, guests can enjoy a six-hour sightseeing tour through narrow alleyways and across pristine parks, dropping by eateries offering hard-to-find local specialities and more.    The ride begins at 9 a.m. and lasts until 3 p.m., and includes a Japanese ‘bento’ lunch box that will enable cyclists to enjoy eating outdoors at carefully chosen scenic locations.    The Tokyo Great Cycling Tour also includes an exclusive t-shirt especially for guests of Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo, as a memento from the excursion. Late check-out until 6 p.m. and transport from the hotel to the meeting point in Shinkawa will also be available for cyclists.    8-speed cross bikes and various children’s bikes are available, with no training required. Three routes are available:   Route A: Tokyo Bay Ride – Available every Saturday and Tuesday Route B: Edo-Tokyo Culture Ride – Available every Sunday and Thursday Route C: Cool Tokyo Ride – Ask for availability   Package prices range from ¥68,000 and is subject to taxes and a service charge. The promotion is available until 30 June 2014, and must be booked at least three days in advance. Other terms and conditions apply.   To find out more about Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo, visit www.shangri-la.com/tokyo, e-mail reservations.slty@shangri-la.com or call (81 3) 6739 7878.

AirAsia X Launches Promotion for Travel Between April and September 2014

Jan 17 (Fri ), 2014

 AirAsia X has launched an early bird promotion for travellers who book their flights in advance for travel between April and September 2014.   AirAsia X is offering special fares to its long-haul destinations with fares from MYR 159 to Sri Lanka (Colombo), MYR229 to China (Chengdu, Hangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai), MYR249 to Japan (Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo), Australia (Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast), MYR269 to Korea (Busan, Seoul) and Taiwan (Taipei), MYR 289 to Nepal (Kathmandu) and MYR359 to Male (Maldives).   Travellers who prefer a little extra comfort, can also experience the premium flatbeds from MYR 699 from Kuala Lumpur to Taiwan (Taipei) Korea (Busan, Seoul), China (Chengdu, Hangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai), Sri Lanka (Colombo), Male (Maldives), Australia (Sydney, Adelaide Melbourne, Perth, Gold Coast), Nepal (Kathmandu) and Japan (Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo).   Premium Flatbed seats have standard business class specifications of 20” width, 60” pitch and stretch out to 77” in full recline position.   The Premium flatbeds feature universal power sockets, adjustable headrests and built-in personal utilities such as tray table, drink holder, reading light and privacy screen. Premium seat guests also enjoy premium complimentary products and services including Pick A Seat, Priority Check-in, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage, 25kg Baggage Allowance, Complimentary Meal and Pillow & Duvet.   Fly-Thru promotional deals are available from MYR 369 from Penang to Nagoya.   AirAsia X’s CEO, Azran Osman-Rani said, “What better way to usher in the New Year by offering more affordable fares to our x-citing destinations? 2014 is the year of the Horse, and the Horse represents a year of practicality, love, endurance, devotion and stability. We are devoted in offering our guests affordable international fares and allow them to plan their holidays in advance with greater savings. The testimonial we received from our guests has allowed us to provide better deals to those who plan their travel in advance.”   The promotional fares are available for online bookings until 19 January 2014 for travel between 1 April 2014 and 30 September 2014. Terms and conditions apply.