A brand ski resort group “Hakuba Valley” consisting of ten ski resorts in Nagano prefecture started a new service of issuing a common ticket for all of its member resorts(http://www.hakubavalley.jp/english/). The president of the group’s promotion board, Hikari Takanashi announced at the press conference in Tokyo on Nov.24.
This new ticket is called “Hakuba Valley Tickets” can be used at the members resorts by implementing just one purchase procedure of such a common ticket, namely, Jiigatake,Kashimayari,Sanosaka, Goryu, Hakuba47, Happoone,Iwatake,Tsugaikekogen, Hakubanorikura, and Cortina.
The primary purpose of this new service is to increase the number of foreign visitors to those resorts. The number was 85,000 in 2005, but increased up to 225,000 in 2015 which raised by 163.5%, which account for 15% of the total number of the visitors there. The group has an intent to increase such international visitors’ number up to 300,000 which will account for 40% of the total number within 3~4 years. Currently, Australians are 60%, Asians are 30%, and westeners and others are 10%. The group especially would like to increase the number of Asians. As for the prices of Hakuba Valley Tickets, the one-day ticket is ¥5,700(3,200 for a child), the two-day ticket is ¥10,000(5600 for a child), and the three-day is ¥14,900(8300 for a child). The tickest are available at the tickt booths in the each resort and travel agents appointed by the Hakuba Valley.
JNTO (http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/) lauchned a new prize system to promote inbound tourism, called “JAPAN Incentive Travel Awards” on Dec.21st. And three travel agents have been conferred the first awards and ceremony was held at the International Meeting Expo 2016 on Dec.7th(http://expo.nikkeibp.co.jp/ime/2016/eng/index.html) .
The grand prix was given to a tour of 6500 participants visiting Hokkaido hosted by LionTravel in Taiwan(http://www.liontravel.com/). The planning award was given to “Chaumet – Hurry up for sales” hosted by teamtravel premium GmbH in Germany. That tour included 55 participants visiting spots related to jewelry using ipad services in Tokyo in style of a rally competition. And the Contribution award was given to “Millennium Achievers Tour” hosted by JTB Australia Pty Ltd. including 25 participants visiting Tokyo,Okayama,Kagawa, enjoying cultural activities of each local areas.
A new hotel grandly opened near Tokyo Sky Tree on Dec.23rd. This hotel “Budo- no Nagaya(/The Terraced House of Grapes)” is equipped with a special outer bath facility on its roof so that guests can command the breathtakinbg view of Tokyo Sky Tree while soaking. (https://www.facebook.com/%E8%91%A1%E8%90%84%E3%81%AE%E9%95%B7%E5%B1%8B-1414142378884322/)
The hotel is located near Hikifune station where you take about 5 minutes from Asakusa by train and is alos near popular shopping streets.So, the hotel is quite convenient for sightseeing and shopping as well. A mascot cat Hokuto is ready to welcome you at the reception of the hotel as an “animal receptionist”.
The hotel charges are 10,000 yen for one guest and 12,000 for two includng bath fee for one night but also you can take bath without staying the hotel in certain limited time slots. the guest rooms are decorated in a mixed style of oblects of both western and Japanese. The each facilities don’t have level gaps on the same floors so that even the older people or young children can enjoy staying at this hotel.
The number of the international visitors to Japan made the record high over 2,000 by the end of this October, and amazingly supposed to have reached 21,988,400 by the end of this November, according to the official report of JNTO(http://www.jnto.go.jp/) . The total number of the year might be even over 22,000,000 by the end of this year. The number of this year has increased by 22.4% compared to that of last year.
An special exhibition about Zen Buddhism was held at Tokyo National Museum in Ueno park in Tokyo Oct.18-Nov. 27 (http://zen.exhn.jp/en/).
This exhibition is “The Art of Zen~ from mind to form” ,commemorating some historical zen monks birth anniverssaries. Zen Buddhisim is one denomination of Mahayana Buddhis which prevailed 6~12 centuries in China and introduced in Japan in 12 century. The essential idea is purifying your spirit to find out simple and fundamental yourself through meditations. The concept was welcomed and accepted by Japanese especially Samurai warriers in the Kamura Period (1192-1333) mainly due to the similarity between Zen and the warriers’ Bushiod or Japanese chivalry. So, Zen has given huge influences on generatiosn and developments of Japanese culture and art, such as tea ceremony, pottery, Indian ink paintings, dry landscape gardens and so forth.
Tokyo Metro hosted a mystery rally event of quiz concerning Zen in collaboration with the exhibition at its subway stations during the same period.
A talk show event related to Japanese culture is being held Nov.24-27 at Tokyo Taiikukan(Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnagium) in Tokyo. (http://fes16.moshimoshi-nippon.jp/about.php)(http://www.tef.or.jp/tmg/en_index.jsp)
At the event, various celebrities, officials of big businesses, artisits and so forth give lectures and discussions of how people should promote Japanese art, culture and young peoples’ potential to the world.
A new skyscraper of commercial and office complex opened in Kyobashi, a central area so close to Tokyo station and Ginza on Nov.25th. This is “Kyobashi Edogrand” that is 170m high and has 32 floors groend and 3 floors underground, provided with 34 renowned shops of foods and stuff. (http://www.edogrand.tokyo/en)
Kyobashi Edogrand consists of newly built part of the higher rises and old Meijiya Kyobashi Building which has old history. This facility’s building project started 15 years ago as a redevelopping plan of the area led by owners of shops and lands of the area to reinvigorate the old office and shopping streets. The building has the state-of-the-art technology of quakeproof systems to keep things very safe and secure. the new building is expected to draw a lot of attention from people both in Japan and overseas.
JR group announced their new policy of starting tentative sales of Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) from the next March for one year even after foreign tourists arriving in Japan on this 11th. (http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/)(http://japanrailpass.net/en/index.html)
JRPass is a very convenient pass service that is able to be received only by a short- stay foreign tourist to Japan. You can buy various JR train and bus service tickets at discounted prices using this pass. If you would like to get one, you have to buy a coupon of the pass from your tarvel agents in your own countries before you leave for Japan and you will have to exchange the coupon at Japanese airports or majoy JR stations after you have arrived in Japan. Currently, you cannot buy the pass after you have aarived in thsi country, but in order to increase international visitors to Japan for inbound industry, JR has decided to change its policy for a while and, now starting the new service of avilability of the pass even after your arrival in Japan March 2017- March 2018. The transporting services for foreign travelers to Japan is highly expected to improve due to this big change.
Tokyu group(http://www.tokyu-fudosan-hd.co.jp/english/) that owns the lands in the central areas of Shibuya holds six huge redevelopping projects of the Shibuya area and the new skyscraper plan is one of them. The name of the building will be “Shibuya Stream” and is to be a highrise of 180 m and the total floor squares will be 116,700 ㎡. According to Tokyu, 1~3 rd floors will be for commercial facilities,4th floor is for incubation offices, 6th is for conference rooms, 9-13rd are for hotel, and 14-35 floors are for office areas. The developper says, the new building is expected to make dedications and contributions for promoting the unique culture being born in Shibuya. The project is to finish its first stage in 2019 and all stages will be finished and open to public in 2027.
Nintendo annnounced the name and basic specs of its new game machine on the Oct.20th. The name of the machine is “Nintendo Switch” and the new console will be released in march 2017. (https://www.nintendo.co.jp/corporate/release/2016/161020.html)
The new machine is a stationary type console but you can take it out with you when you go out from your home using a portable functions. you don’t have to keep seated in front of your machine at home to play games. The imformation about the prices and more details will be released from now on bit by bit by the company.
An exhibition about the art related to the world of the traditional Japanese poems ,”Waka” and poetry is being held at the Iwami Art Museum in Grand Toi in Masuda city, Shimane pref., in the Sanin region in southest part facing the Sea of Japan Sep.21-Nov.7.(http://www.grandtoit.jp/museum/exhibition/2016/09/post-122.html)
Hitomaro, Kakinomoto, a famous poet in the 7th century lived in the Masuda area where the Grand Toi is located. His poems, statues, pictures are set or shown in some spots in the area, and pictures and other art works describing the contents of his pand others’ poems are exhibited at the event. I took a travel to Shimane and stayed in Masuda for a while and visited that exhibition there last month. I felt, especially paintings created in the Muromachi Period (1336~1588) were colorful and beautiful.
The venue facility, Grand Toi is a quite fancy culture facility and the art museum and theater are in the building. The city as a whole seemed historical with mountains, rivers, old battlefields and Iwami Airport, Tsuwano, a popular historical town are close. In addition, two of the four well-known landscape gardens designed by Sesshu, one of the most famous Japanese paintings painter in the 15th century were all there. I visited the two gardens and staffers told me those tourists’ destinations are becoming popular among international visitors to Japan as well. I found the area very interesting with traditional Japanese atmoshere with good historical occurences.
ODS, a driving school in Saga pref., Kyushu (a region in the southwest part of Japan) has begun to adopt so-called “Ita-sha”(a vehicle of pain ,implying subcultural ideas or objects of bad but cool taste) for its driving lessons since this October. (http://www.oomachi-ds.jp/main/)
ODS now has started using two “Itasha” out of its 24 driving- lesson cars, expecting to draw attention from especially young people in the local area. the design is about Hatsunemiku, a popular two-dimensional virtual female idol character and other subculture-related depictions. Itasha is gaining popularity among the subculture lovers and may influence other industries like driving schools and the like.
“Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen mae Hashutsujo”(/This is the Police Box in front of Kameari Park in Katsushika-ward.) , the world’s longest manga series, which won Guiness Record, finally put an end to its 40- year history. The final book was the “200th book” and published on Sep.17th.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kochira_Katsushika-ku_Kameari_K%C5%8Den-mae_Hashutsujo)
The grand finale of one of the most popular manga works draws a huge attention of a lot of fans of the manga and its ramified works of anime and TV drama series.
Tokyo Game Show 2016 was held Sep.15-18 at Makuhari Messe in Chiba. (http://expo.nikkeibp.co.jp/tgs/2016/)
At this TGS 2016, the number of the paticipant businesses made the record high of 617 and the event was full of lively energy and passion of the new games and visitors. And, there held the special live concert of “PSN meets Secret Artist” ,at which EGOIST, a popular “fictitious singer” from an anime work, sang songs.
Rio Paralympics were held Sep.7-18 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the Japanese team’s athletes won eight silver and 11 bronze medals. (http://www.jsad.or.jp/paralympic/rio/index.html)
At the closing ceremony, the position of the host of the event was handed over from Rio to Tokyo in the Flag Handover Ceremony, which lasted for eight minutes with the theme of “Tokyo 2020 Positive Switch”. Musicians and fashion models performed there.