Patagonia Japan Spring Surf Catalog 2010 is now online at http://www.patagonia.com/web/jp/fb/index.jsp?id=4&slc=jp_JP&sct=JP&src=e00280
"The Cove" documentary film about Dolphin hunts in Japan was canceled in Tokyo after protests. Read more about it at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100603/ap_en_mo/as_japan_dolphin_killing
Hilton Nagoya offers complimentary bicycle service to guests Hilton Nagoya guests can now enjoy a new complimentary bicycle rental service, part of the hotel’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint by encouraging an eco-friendly and convenient way to travel around the city. The new service follows an experiment (called “Mei Chari’) conducted by Nagoya City in 2009, that offered registered members complimentary use of bicycles in the city. Its overwhelming success not only confirmed the pleasures of cycling but also showed a growing acceptance of bicycles as an effective eco-friendly way to respond to global environmental issues. Hilton Nagoya is working closely with “The Forum for citizens with bicycles,” a non-profit-organization, to encourage staying guests to take advantage of the hotel’s fleet of meticulously maintained “Corratec” and “Raleigh” bicycles. “We are strongly committed to addressing environmental issues and promoting a healthy lifestyle,” said Hilton Nagoya General Manager Jamie Mead. “Using one of our complimentary bicycles is not only a smart choice for convenient transport and reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but will also add great value to exploring this beautiful city. Our staff is also on hand with up-to-date city maps and advice on the best cycling routes to fully enjoy your stay with us.” There is a maximum of four hours per person. Reservations are required before use and a contract needs to be signed before using the bicycle. Other terms and conditions may apply.
Tohoku bullet train services to be extended to Aomori City in December Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train services will be extended to the city of Aomori in December with the opening of a roughly 80-kilometer section in northeastern Japan, East Japan Railway Co said Tuesday. The Dec 4 opening of the section between Hachinohe and Shin-Aomori stations, both in Aomori Prefecture, will enable passengers to travel between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori in about 3 hours, 10 minutes, on the fastest train available on the line. The upcoming extension was originally scheduled for next spring, but East Japan Railway, known as JR East, said it had decided to move up the schedule reflecting a smooth construction process and strong local requests to open the services in the new section soon. JR East gave the nickname ‘‘Hayabusa (falcon)’’ to the new model of train to be introduced to the Tohoku Shinkansen Line next spring. Hayabusa will initially operate with speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour, compared with up to 275 kph for ‘‘Hayate (swift wind),’’ currently in service on the same line. JR East plans to operate Hayabusa at a maximum 320 kph beginning in the spring of 2013 to make it the fastest train in Japan and shorten the travel duration between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori to about 3 hours, 5 minutes, at the fastest.
United Airlines protests awarding of Haneda routes to other airlines United Airlines on Wednesday protested its exclusion from new routes to Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Earlier this month, the Transportation Department tentatively gave four coveted new slot pairs—the rights to take off and land—to other airlines, including two for Delta Air Lines Inc. One went to AMR Corp’s American Airlines and one to Hawaiian Airlines. United and Continental Airlines Inc were shut out. The slots awards will make it possible for the first time since 1978 for U.S. airlines to serve Haneda airport, which is closer to downtown Tokyo than Tokyo’s other airport, Narita, and more attractive to business travelers. United said its planned route from San Francisco would benefit more U.S. passengers than Hawaiian’s flights from Honolulu. Hawaiian’s service will mostly benefit passengers originating in Japan, United said, and there is already extensive service between Japan and Honolulu. United also argued in the filing that Delta already dominates U.S.-Tokyo service so it should not have gotten two more routes. United said that it should be given either Hawaiian’s slot or one of Delta’s. Continental Airlines Inc and its Continental Micronesia unit objected to the route awards, but did not ask the Transportation Department to change its tentative decision. Continental did ask to be allowed to fly the routes if one of the other carriers doesn’t launch its service as planned.
ANA seeks to take all 4 U.S. route slots at Haneda All Nippon Airways has asked the transport ministry to grant it all four daily slots for U.S.-bound flights from Tokyo’s Haneda airport to be allocated to Japanese carriers when they become available in October, sources close to the matter said Wednesday. ANA is arguing that allowing Japan Airlines, restructuring with the help of the government, to open new routes ‘‘will distort the competitive environment,’’ according to the sources. The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry have been making arrangements to give two slots each to ANA and JAL, but might review its plan, the sources said. New landing-and-takeoff slots will be created after the opening of a fourth runway at Haneda airport in October. The U.S. Department of Transportation said earlier this month that it will approve Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines to inaugurate flights from the U.S. to Haneda, if no objections are lodged. -Kyodo
Best Western adds four new hotels in Japan Best Western International has added four new hotels to its growing portfolio in Japan – the 242-room Best Western Hotel Fino Sapporo (Sapporo), 145-room Best Western Hotel Fino Oita (Oita), 72-room Best Western Naha Inn (Okinawa) and 168-room Best Western Fukuoka Nakasu Inn (Fukuoka). The four new hotels join Best Western’s existing portfolio of seven hotels in Japan, located in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagasaki, Hirosaki, Sendai, Takayama and Wakayama, further establishing the brand’s position as one of the country’s fastest expanding hotel chains. Another two properties are also set to soon join Best Western in Osaka and Sapporo in July and November this year. “Japan boasts a diverse array of tourism destinations and enchanting culture, backed up by strong government support for the tourism industry and impressive infrastructure, transportation and communication systems,” said Best Western International’s Vice President Operations for Asia and the Middle East, Glenn de Souza. “We are thrilled with the new additions to the Best Western family in Japan, which significantly reinforces our presence in what is a key destination for our brand. Adding up to 11 hotels in Japan in strategic cities, it will position Best Western as the second largest international brand in the country.” Best Western Hotel Fino Sapporo is centrally located in Sapporo, a major gateway city to the state of Hokkaido, famous for its natural beauty and ski resorts. Shopping, seafood dining and breathtaking golf courses are also enjoyed. Best Western Hotel Fino Oita enjoys a convenient location between state government offices and a shopping/dining district in Oita city. Situated along the Seto Ocean, the seafood is abundant and the hotel is also close to the Beppu Hot Springs area, one of the world’s second largest outputs of hot spring water. Best Western Naha Inn is in Naha, the capital city and business, shopping and entertainment centre of Japan’s renowned beach resort on Okinawa. Naha’s main street Kokusai Dori and the monorail are a few minutes’ walk from the hotel. Best Western Fukuoka Nakasu Inn is centrally located in Fukuoka, Kyushu island’s largest city known for its blend of beautiful green spaces and big city feel. There’s wild nightlife, plentiful shopping, traditional shrines and historical sights to visit and a unique cuisine to enjoy.
New Michelin guidebook to cover Yokohama, Kamakura A Michelin guidebook that rates restaurants and hotels will extend the coverage of its edition for Tokyo to include nearby Yokohama and Kamakura, Nihon Michelin Tire Co. said Thursday. Bernard Delmas, president of the Japanese unit of French tire maker Michelin, said ''Michelin Guide Tokyo Yokohama Kamakura 2011'' will hit store shelves in November and come out in both Japanese and English. He said researchers for the new guidebook have been making clandestine visits to the two Kanagawa Prefecture cities since mid-2009. Delmas said Yokohama has a food culture with international flavor, while Kamakura, where numerous temples and shrines are located, has good restaurants. Michelin's guidebook for Tokyo has been published once a year since 2007 and Michelin Guide Tokyo 2010 gave the highest three-star ratings to 11 restaurants. On Wednesday, Michelin said it will add Kobe to its guidebook for western Japan, which currently covers Kyoto and Osaka, for it to be published in October. -Kyodo
Old steam locomotive chugs through snowy Hokkaido The annual run of an old steam locomotive started in Hokkaido recently with tourists treated to the sight of the smoke-billowing train whistling its way through a snowy wetland in the northernmost main Japanese island. Hokkaido Railway Co. operated the locomotive over the weekend between Kushiro and Kawayu-Onsen stations, drawing many train enthusiasts alongside the tracks, and will run it between Kushiro and Shibecha stations from Jan. 30 to March 7 in the Kushiro Wetland. ''It's very powerful. I still remember I used to get covered with soot when I rode it,'' a 75-year-old local photographer said. -Kyodo
Panel issues report on enhancing 'ryokan' info for foreign tourists <!-- start --> A Japanese governmental panel has compiled a report on ways to make Japanese-style ''ryokan'' inns more convenient and comfortable for foreign tourists by providing various information in foreign languages and employing online images and animation. The outline of the report, which was presented Friday by the Japan Tourism Agency panel, proposed that commonly used systems for accommodation and other services at Japanese-style inns be introduced to foreigners in easily understandable ways. For instance, the report says that foreign visitors often face difficulties learning about traditional bathing customs at hot springs and many believe ryokans are expensive because they normally charge for one night stays with two meals. The panel emphasized the need to distribute information in foreign languages, specifically Chinese and Korean, to boost the number of tourists from East Asia. ''The demand among foreign tourists is potentially high for use of ryokans as a place to experience forms of Japanese culture,'' the report said. It also urges the government to hire foreign trainees and students living in Japan as interpreters at the inns. The panel also called for improvements to the system under which accommodation facilities in Japan are registered as ''international hotels'' if they meet certain standards, including being able to provide customer services in English. Hinting that the system does not sufficiently cater to the needs of foreign tourists, the panel said a review of the standards is necessary. -Kyodo