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Highlighting JAPAN

April 2015


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Japan-Qatar Summit Meeting
Japan-Poland Summit Meeting
Japan-Laos Summit Meeting
Japan-Germany Summit Meeting
Memorial Ceremony Marking the Fourth Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake
Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction



Open Door
Creating a convenient, fun and tour-friendly country
Interview with Shigeto Kubo, Commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency

Japan has enjoyed a dramatic influx of overseas visitors in recent years. That includes not just people headed for major destinations like Tokyo and Kyoto, but also travelers intent on enjoying the scenery at regional destinations and the events and theme parks full of local flavor. The shape of tourism in Japan and the locations it is taking people to is becoming ever more diversified. With Tokyo chosen as the venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, even greater numbers of tourists are expected to be touring Japan. We sat down with Shigeto Kubo, Commissioner of the Japan Tourism Agency to hear about how the government is working to make their travel experience even better.

Easy Navigation
Creating a town that travelers can enjoy exploring unaided

Takayama city in Gifu prefecture ranks alongside Kyoto and Nara as a three-star Michelin tour destination. With a population of just 92,000 people, the city hosted a total of 280,000 overnight guests in 2014. The home of the Takayama Matsuri, considered one of Japan's top three major beautiful festivals (the other two are Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and Chichibu Yomatsuri Festival in Saitama Prefecture), and the source of famous Hida beef, Takayama also has ancient streetscapes like Sanmachi and Shimominomachi-oojinmachi two areas nationally recognized as Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings. Hida Takayama Onsen and the ichii itto carvings of yew wood, a nationally designated traditional art form, also draw visitors. Takayama has succeeded in promoting its considerable charms both domestically and abroad, securing a major slice of inbound tourism.

Sake Brewery Tourism
Tasting the wares of a world-champion sake brewery town

Japan's traditional sake breweries are known as sakagura. Kashima, a city in Saga Prefecture, came up with the concept of "Sake brewery tourism," where visitors tour breweries and sample the rich brews each sakagura offers. The chance to savor so many fine sakes has drawn travelers from both Japan and abroad, and proven to be a huge success.

Hometown Roots
A taste of green tourism in traditional Japan

Along Honshu's western coast on the narrow finger jutting out into the Sea of Japan called Noto Peninsula lies Shunran no Sato, a group of agricultural villages in Ishikawa Prefecture where forty-seven traditional farmhouses serve as minshuku, or Japanese-style guesthouses. The lifestyle of the people in Shunran no Sato provides a glimpse into a bygone era of traditional and rural Japan that is still alive and well in this remote enclave.

Island Ride
The superb scenery of the Shimanami Sea Route cycling course

Last year CNN labeled the Setouchi Shimanami Sea Route as one of "the world's seven most incredible bike routes." Connecting the cities of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture and Imabari in Ehime Prefecture, the seventy-kilometer cycling route which takes cyclists across six islands along the Seto Inland Sea is attracting intense interest from overseas tourists.

Outside Perspectives
Two JET Programme participants describe the enchantments of Kyoto

The JET Programme is a project local government organizations launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) that aims to internationalize local Japanese regions. The participants come from abroad to live in various municipalities throughout Japan and help with tasks such as mutual understanding between Japan and other countries and to help internationalize their adopted communities. Two JET Programme participants based in Kyoto, Mark Garratt from the UK and Alice Bonamy from France, described the attractions of Kyoto from their foreign perspectives.

What made you a fan of Japan?
Some revealing perspectives and practical suggestions from foreign residents

Many foreign visitors come here with diverse and various images of what Japan is like, and discover that the warm hospitality of real Japanese people and experiences you'll find nowhere else are what make this country so appealing and unforgettable.

Japan Event Calendar

Now that you are in Japan, be sure to go beyond the usual tourist destinations and take part in some of the fascinating festivals and events held locally all over the country. There are many unique events going on throughout the year, so you'll have no shortage of chances and options.


The Old Man Who Made Flowers Bloom

Body Gauge
The advent of a form-fitting sheet-type biometric data sensor

Bryan Whitehead
Indigo Dreams
Preserving and Passing Down Japanese Textile Techniques


Mountain Highs and Nature's Bounty