Hakone Ropeways resumed its service partillay from Togendai station (the ground) to Owakudani station (middle of the mountain) on April 23rd. (http://www.hakoneropeway.co.jp/foreign/en/index.cgi)
The air ropeway service between Togendai-Ubako-Owakudani-Sounzan was partially suspended due to the smoking erupations of the Hakone Mountain in Owakudani area since May 6th 2015 (Togendai-Ubako has been in operation though). However, the erupting situations there now became kind of placated and the line Togendai-Owakudani has been resumed. Still, passengers can’t get on the cargo from Ubako but only from Togendai ,and they are not allowed to get out of the station building at Owakudani. Although there bus services substituting the ropeways are in operation, the buses don’t stop at Owakudani.
And the famous and popular sourvenir of Owakudani, the Black Eggs have now been resumed to be sold since April 29th, as the producing sites of the eggs have become safer. Still, ordinary visitors have not been allowed to get out of the station building there, the black eggs are soled only at the station and places other than the area. The black eggs are believed to be very good to health and if you eat one, your longevity is said to be extended for three years.
Tobu Railway announced its project of adopting classic trains in Kinugawa hot spring resort in Tochigi pref. in next summer 2017(http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/en/).
The types of planned trains are SL(steam locomotive) and DL(diesel locomotive). Those old types “retired” from service about 50years ago, but a lot of people still love those good oldies with nostalgic passions. Tobu decided to carry out this reinstatement in order to attract tourists to draw them in Kinugawa overcoming a bad image of the area caused by overflow of the river there last year ue to storms. the trains will run between Shimoimaichi station and Kinugaw-aonsen station (about 12.4km)on KinugawaLine. Each train will have capacity of about 400 passengers and 140 round travels a year at maximum.
The new official emblem design of theupcoming Tokyo Olympics 2020 have been chosen and released on April 25th.
The design is based on Kumi-ichimatsu-mon, a traditional Japanese art design of checkered pattern which became popular and prevalent im the Edo period about 300 hundred years ago. The adopted design was created by an designer Asao Tokoro.
The design consists of various shaped tetragons each of which represents a deffirent culture, nation, people and the total shape represents the diversity and unity of those defferent things and beings. The color is deep blue and the design is thought to be usable for various items and goods such as posters and shirts.
Central, northern,and eastern parts of Kyushu, such as Kumamoto, Ohita, and Fukuoka were hit by series of earthquakes mainly of the one of M6.5 on April 14th and the one of M7.3 on 16th. Some parts have been seriously damaged and temporarily more than 110,000 people evacuated(now the number is about 36,000). Toshihiko Aoyagi, president of JR Kyushu made a remark upon seeing off the first bullet train to complete the total resumption in which he said, “We have now successfully regained our daily landscape again for the first time in two weeks. We hope this resumption of our railroad services will be so helpful for rebuilding Kumamoto.”
JR Hokakido and East Japan launched the Hokkaido Shinkansen(/Hokkaido Bullet Trains) services on this Mar.26. And with this, Alll the four main lands of Japan are now directly connected by the Bullet Train services. (http://hokkaido-shinkansen.com/)(http://www2.jrhokkaido.co.jp/global/index.html)
The bullet train services between Tokyo and Shin-aomori(/new Aomorri, in Aomori prefecture in Tohoku region in the mainland) launced in 2010, and now the new services between Shin-aomori and Shin-hakodatehokuto started, which finally connected the mainland and Hokkaido island. With this completeion, Tokyo to Shin-hakodatehokuto takes now 4 hours and 2 minutes at fastest (used to take about 5 hours and 30 minutes), and Shin-aomori to Shin-hakodatehokuto one hour and one minute at fastest(used to take about one hour and 50 minutes) . 10 round travels are provided between Tokyo and Shin-hakodatehokuto and one round travel between Sendai and Shin-hakodatehokuto by “Hayabusa”( a nickname of a type of the new trains) a day and one round travel between Morioka and Shin-hakodatehokuto, and one round travel between Shin-aomori and Shin-hakodatehokuto by “Hayate” a day as well.
A major department store chain “Lumine” opened its new commercial facility complex called “NEWoman” at the south exit of Shinjuku station Tokyo on this Mar.25. (http://www.newoman.jp/)
This new facility showed up in one of the busiest areas in Japan consists of 5600㎥of 6 floors and 2000㎥ of three floors just above the station areas connected to a part of the station facilities. NEWoMan provides about 100 shops and expected to make 20- billion- yen revenue in its first year. Foods , cosmetics, fashion shops, cafe, a daycare, clinics, an event hall ,and so forth are there and mainly targetting working generations of females in thier 30-40s.
On this March 11th, a lot of ceremonial events of the East Japan Huge Earthquake Disaster were held nationwide, some of which were hosted by municipalities, some were by private businesses, some were by religious organizations, and so forth. And The Japanese Government hosted the offcial fifth Anniversary ceremony at the National Theater in Tokyo. (http://www8.cao.go.jp/tsuitou/tsuitou.html) (http://www.reconstruction.go.jp/english/)
At the official event, emperor, empress, pm Abe and other governmental representatives participated , and some representatives of bereaved families o the disaster and damaged Tohoku region’s prefectures were invited and shared the occasion. The Emperor and Abe gave remarks of condolences to the victims and the families, and sufferers, and wished a shiny future with good recovery from the tragedy.
Lots of events related to Hina-matsui (Girls’ Day’s festivals) were held nationwide in Japan on the March 3rd, the Girls’ Day. One of the popular events was the “Hyakudan Hina-matsuri”(/ hina doll decoration event on one hundred stairs ) at Meguro-gajoen in Tokyo (Jan.22-Mar.6).(http://www.megurogajoen.co.jp/event/hinamaturi/)
This year, for the first time traditional Hinadolls from three prefectures in Tohoku region, namely,Iwate,Miyagi,and Fukushima were decorated and exhibited.
Tokyo Marathon 2016 was held on Feb.28th. (http://www.marathon.tokyo/en/) This time the marathon was the tenth and more than 36,000 people joined the big event. The start point of the square in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Office Buildings in Shinjuku, Tokyo was covered with the runners and specutators.
And the forerunner event “Tokyo Marathon Frienship Run 2016” was also held on Feb.27th. (http://www.marathon.tokyo/news-media/news/news_000056.html)
In the Friendship Run, 919 foreign runners and 530 Japanese runners joined. The public speeches at the opening ceremony were made in both Japanese and English and the international friendship atmosphere was around. In addition, three other forerunner events of press conferences of Men’s elite Athletes, Women’s elite Athletes, and Wheelchair Athletes were held on the same day of 27th.
St.Valentine’s Day on Feb.14th is a popular practice among young people. Some websites carry out rankings of top popular chocolates.
Most of top popular chocolates are deluxe foreign ones such as Bvlgari’s “Saint Valentino 2016 Lui e Lei” (http://gourmet.bulgari.com/shop/default.aspx), Jean-Paul Hevin’s 、“LES PIEDS SUR TERRE, LA TÊTE DANS LES ÉTOILES (http://www.jph-japon.co.jp) ,and other European brands.
A new hotel “Life Tree” opened near Ueno station, which is one of the oldest and hub stations in central area in Tokyo on this Feb.2nd.(http://www.lifehotels.jp/ueno/)
It takes about 5 minutes to Ueno station from the new hotel. The station area is home to a lot of popular tourists’ destinations such as traditional Japanese-western restaurants, Ueno park, the most popular cherry- blossom veiwing spot in Tokyo, Ueno Zoo, art museums, national museums, Kaneiji temple, Ame-yoko old shopping street,and so forth. And ueno is close to other popular areas, such as Asakusa, Ginza, Yanaka and others.
Setsubun, a winter-closing day’s festival when people scatter roasted soybeans to dipel evil and becon good fortune is popular and that scattering -bean festivals were held on Feb.3rd nationwide.
For example, the festival hosted at Ikegamihonmonji temple in Tokyp on that day was viewed by a lot of visitors of over 10,000 there.
A new facility for tourists opened at Hakone-machi port on the lakeside of Lake Ashi in Hakone, Kanagawa pref. on this Jan.23rd. The name of this new establishment is “Hotoriya”(means; a shop on a lakeside ) and is a commercial complex of “wa-cafe”(/traditional Japanese style cafe) and sourvenir shops.
Hotoriya’s nickname is “Chaya-honjin”(means;cafe-style main local guest house ) because the building has a figure of an old main local guest house of hundreds of years ago where high-class samurai warriors stayed when Hakone was an important check point of travelers to monitor and control people by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Eating facilities and sourvenir shop to provide a variety of local food, beer,and other sorts of sourvenirs are in the establishement. Some of those shops are directly run by the operarion company of this facility, Hakone Sightseeing Cruise Co.,ltd.(http://www.hakone-kankosen.co.jp/foreign/en/index.html) and some are branch shops of renowned old major shops from Hakone and other neighboring areas. And from the cafes, you may enjoy magestic and panoramic views of Mt.Fuji and Lake Ashi.
The open hours of souvenir shops on the 1st floor is daily 9:30-17:00 and cafes on the 2nd floor is daily 10:00-16:00.
I wrote about the large monitor-vision PR clips of Fushimi-inari Grand Shrine in Kyoto on my previous post. And that big Shinto shrine of the most popular tourists’ destination among foreign tourists in Japan also began a new service for foreign visitors there this year. That new service is a”multilingual audioguide”.
This service comes in four languages of Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean. This is available when you prepare your own smartphone or similar correspondence devices and download special guiding application software at one of nine spots in the shrine’s precinct where you can get a QR code for this app. And a wifi service availablity is necessary on the premises.
The number of total foreigners that visited Japan in 2015 was about 19.74 million and marked the record-high in history of Japan, announced by Japan National Tourism Organization on this Jan.19th. This number is an increase by 47% compared to that of 2014, which was 13.41 million. This increase might mainly be caused by relaxation of visa systems, duty free systems, improvements of lcc services, and alleviations of political tenses with some Asian countries. The No.1 natinal is Chinese in this statistic.
The total revenue from inbound industry in 2015 was also the record-high with 3.4771 trillion yen, which exceeded the last highest number of 2.0208 trillion yen of the previous year.