Tag Archives: Travel

August is Ghost Month! The Scariest Places to Visit in Japan

In Eastern countries such as China and Japan, the month of August is one to celebrate. The “Hungry Ghost Festival” is known all around the world which is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. In celebration of ghosts, here are the most haunted places to visit in Japan.

1. Amidaji (Temple of Amida)

Located in Dan-no-ura in the Shimonoseki Strait, Amidaji is a legendary haunted place. A dead samurai is known to haunt the area. The story is quite famous and it has been adapted into a movie, Masaki Kobayashi’s film “Kwaidan.”

Amidaji

2. Aokigahara

Aokigahara is best known in Japan as the “Suicide Forest.” Located at the bottom of Mt Fuji, the area is frequently visited as a spot for suicide. This has caused a widespread belief that the place is haunted. In 2010, a record of 54 people were said to have committed suicide at Aokigahara.

Aokigahara-el-bosque-maldito

3. Hashima Island

Also known as Gunkanjima which translates to “Battleship Island”, Hashima is a 60,000 square meter cluster of concrete ruins off the coast of Nagasaki. It has been abandoned since 1974 when the coal mines on the island were shut down. The island was closed to visits until Hashima was re-opened to the public in 2009.

nagasaki-hashima

4. Himuro Mansion

The famous game “Fatal Frame” was allegedly based on the true events that conspired at the Himuro Mansion. According to legend, the mansion was a site of a brutal family murder and sacrifice. Onlookers claim to have seen bloody hand prints on the well, a wandering girl in a kimono and sprays of blood appearing out of nowhere.

himuro

5. Akasaka Mansion

Located in Tokyo, Akasaka is a well-known tourist spot. Tourists sleeping at the mansion claim to have been stroked on the face. Some have even been violently ripped from their beds.

akasaka-mansion

Hotaru-bi no Chakai: A Tea Gathering in the Fire of Fireflies

For anyone set to visit Kyoto this weekend, there’s one event Japanese haven’t failed to celebrate at the Shimogamo Shrine. Wondering what this is? Here’s all you need to know about the Hotaru-bi no Chakai.

Shimogamo Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Japan which is located north of Kamo and Takase Rivers of north-central Kyoto. The shrine dates back to the prehistoric periods and the first reference of the Shimogamo was of a fence repair dating back to 2BC.

The shrine has served as a central religious aspect for Kyotoites. It has said that the shrine played a significant role in the Heian period when prayers for the capital where held in that area. In countless tales, of which includes “Tale of Genji”, Shimogamo Shrine has been featured.

Today, this Kyoto shrine has been registered under the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Shimogamo contains 52 building all of which are recognized as iconic Cultural Properties. A number of events take place at the Shimogamo Shrine of which include the Hotaru-bi no Chakai

About Hotaru-bi no Chakai:

Hotaru-bi no Chakai is the event held at the beginning of June which is a special tea gathering done amidst the glow of live fireflies. “Hotaru” translates to firefly while “bi” refers to fire. “Chakai” on the other hand means tea gathering. This event shows the true essence of Japanese tradition where one of its aims is the preservation of Tadasu no Mori, “The Forest of Justice,” which surrounds the Shimogamo Shrine.

Hotarubi no Chakai

For the event, around 600 fireflies are released over the stream called Mitarashigawa which serve as invites to the grandiose tea gathering. Usually, a reservation is required for one to attend the ceremony but there are other programs of the Hotaru-bi no Chakai open to the general public.

If you are ever in the area, make sure to check the Shimogamo Shrine. Other than the Hotaru-bi no Chakai, the ancient “Juni-hitoe” where 12 layers of the kimono will be shown and various dance performances are set for the night. Twenty long established stands also sell around the area at 1pm where the popular Kyoto souvenir, yatsuhashi and the common rice dumpling, mitarashi dango is being sold.

Japan’s Most Famous Rollercoasters

Spring is officially over in Japan with the first Monday of June settling into a start. This would mean the complicated weather of sunny and rainy days are about to commence. Before this confusing rollercoaster ride of sun and rain begins, here are a few actual rollercoasters in Japan worth taking a ride.

While its summer elsewhere, the rainy season is about to begin in the bigger parts of Asia of which include the country of Japan. June is relatively the start of heavy downpours which would be a big sign for travellers to opt other months for travel.

Yet, with June still settling in plus the sweet scent of Spring still fresh in the air, it’s a big risk to get out in the open. In an effort to enjoy the last days of Spring, heading out to the open is the best activity so far. When it comes to the open, nothing beats spending time at an amusement or theme park. Of course, in Japan the best parts of their theme parks are their crazy and not to mention awesome rollercoasters.

Here are rollercoaster rides that you should try out in Japan.

The Eejanaika

First up is the Eejanaika located at Fuji-Q Highland in Yamanashi, Japan. This rollercoaster was featured in Complex magazine’s best rollercoasters back in 2011. The Eejenaika has a height of 249 feet with a top speed of 78.3 mph. The ride starts off by pulling the cart backwards before the sudden 90 degrees drop vertically. Then, the ride throws around like a pendulum with a reverse, a flip, a corkscrew and a cracked out see-saw. This ride is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

The Dodonpa

Next up is Dodonpa also located at Fuji-Q Highland. The Dodonpa has a height of 52 meters with a top speed of 172 km/h. Like Eejanaika, the ride pulls you backwards before a vertical drop of 90 degrees. It’s not as exciting as the Eejanaika though.

The Fujiyama

Third is Fujiyama has been named “The King of Rollercoasters” with 4 Guinness World Records dating back to 1997. Fujiyama has a max speed of 130 km/h with a height of 79 meters.

The Takabisha

Last but not the least is Takabisha which has been named the “steepest drop in the world at 121 degrees.” This spine-tingling drop has been produced using the linear launch system with a vertical ascent and linear acceleration. It has a total speed of 100km/h.

Take advantage of the Spring weather before the rain showers start to pour and get a thrill of excitement from Japan’s most awesome rollercoasters.

Akihabara: The One Stop Japan Spot for Otakus

Japan is notable for its many splendour tourist spots such as Shibuya, Okina and Kyoto. However, if there is one spot Otaku’s from all over the world wish to visit and this would be none other than Akihabara. Akihabara has been considered Japan’s one-stop-shop for all anime lovers and enthusiasts.

Where in Japan:

Located in Sotokanda, Tokyo Prefectur, Akihabara (秋葉原) is two stations north of Tokyo Station. Locals call the area Akiba after the local shrine. This area has gained quite the recognition from all over the world due to its diehard otaku culture. Major developments have already occurred thanks to the Akihabara Crossfield complex that promotes Akihabara as the centre for global electronics technology and trade.

How to Get There:

It’s easy to head to Akihabra thanks to Japans’ complex train systems plus their trains give meaning to “faster than a speeding bullet.” There are two options of which are as follows:

  1. From Tokyo Station: Akihabara is located two stations north of Tokyo Station by Keihin-Tohoku or JR Yamanote Line. The trip costs 130 yen and will only take three minutes. However, during the weekdays, Keihin-Tohoku line skips one station between Akihabara and Tokyo which will cut off a few seconds off travel time.
  2. From Shinjuku Station: Travellers should take the JR Chuo Line (colour orange) from Shinjuku to Ochanomizu Station of which takes approximately ten minutes. After, take a quick transfer to JR Sobu line (colour yellow) for one more station headed to Akihabara. This trip takes two minutes max. Alternate options also include taking the yellow train without transfer from Shinjuku to Akihabara for seventeen minutes trip. The fare costs 160 yen for either case.

What to See:

As mentioned, Akihabara is the centre for Otaku enthusiasts and lovers. From maid cafes to Tokyo anime centres selling merchandise and games, everything can be found here. It’s best to load up the wallet because the merchandise scattered around can easily lure Otakus in.

  1. Maid Cafes: Cosplay themed restaurants abound where food is served basically by waitresses in frilly and colourful attires. These “maids” also engage in fun activities with the guests.
  2. drinks

  3. Tokyo Anime Center: This is found on the UDX building of Akihabara Crossfield where anime related exhibitions are held.
  4. akihabara-2

  5. Gundam Café is extremely popular where food is served in gundam themes. A gift shop is also connected where visitors may purchase souvenirs and goods.

gundam-cafe

Why Visit Akihabara:

While Akihabara is heaven on earth for Otakus, some visit the area for real steals when it comes to the latest gadgets and electronics. Various centres offer whopping deals that are definitely a real steal as compared to any other place in Japan or overseas.

When to Visit:

Akihabara is open all year round! Take a trip to one of Japan’s busiest and most Otaku-friendly place on earth.

Important Reminders:

Japanese don’t like tourists taking photos inside stores. Unless you’re a famous celebrity or you’ve got special permission, keep the trigger happy camera’s to yourself or outside the store.

Japanese Travelers Scammed in Shanghai

Increasing numbers of Japanese are falling victim to scams in Shanghai, being lured into paying exorbitant charges for minimal services, according to Japanese consular officials.

This year alone there have been 70 Japanese who have fallen to Shanghai scams, costing them close on 10 million yen (around $130,000).

Most of the victims have been men, but some women have also fallen into the trap.

Read the rest of the story: Unwary Japanese scammed in China.

To Japan or Not? Japan a bargain or risk for travelers?

THE earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, and the nuclear crisis that followed, have had an impact on nearly every corner of the economy, perhaps none more directly than the tourist industry. The number of foreign visitors has plunged 50 percent since the triple disasters, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

But four months on, travelers are trickling back. Most are business travelers, adventure seekers and bargain hunters, a type of visitor not often associated with Japan, where a sushi dinner can wipe out a week’s savings.

The view of Japan as a high-priced playground is what kept Erin Conroy and Jenny McMeans, friends from New York City, from visiting. But this spring, they found round-trip tickets to Tokyo on airfarewatchdog.com for just $600, about half what they normally cost, and booked a room in a hostel for 2,600 yen (about $33 at 79 yen to the dollar) a night. Suddenly, Japan was affordable, even with the yen near record highs against the dollar.

Read the rest of the story: To Japan or Not? Travelers Weigh Risks With Bargains.

London to Tokyo in 2 hours: hypersonic plane unveiled

It will take only two hours to fly from London to Tokyo, be virtually pollution free, and promises to be no louder than today’s modern planes.

There’s only one catch for prospective commuters – it will be another 40 years before commercial flights take place.

Plans were yesterday unveiled for the first hypersonic passenger jet, which would use three sets of engines to reach 3,125mph, more than four times the speed of sound, known as Mach 4.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2005513/London-Tokyo-2-hours-Blueprints-3-000mph-hypersonic-plane-unveiled.html#ixzz1Q4rdb2ca

Hailed as the heir to Concorde, the aircraft would be propelled by a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, meaning its only emissions would be water.

The project, developed by Airbus’s parent company EADS, was unveiled before the official opening of the Paris Air Show today.

Carrying up to 100 passengers, a set of conventional jet engines would help launch the aircraft from a normal airport runway, meaning the aircraft would not produce the noisy ‘sonic boom’ that Concorde did.

Read the rest of the story: London to Tokyo in 2 hours.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVvP_l9dv4o

Japan Air Sees ‘Very Long’ Wait for U.S. Sales Rebound

Japan Airlines Co., the nation’s biggest international carrier, said ticket sales in Europe and the U.S. were lagging behind forecasts and would take a “very long” time to recover from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.“The recovery of demand from Europe and North America has not met our expectations,” President Masaru Onishi said in an interview in Singapore yesterday, ahead of the International Air Transport Association annual general meeting. “We feel it’s going to be a very long, drawn out and slow recovery.”JAL and overseas carriers including United Continental Holdings Inc. and AMR Corp.’s American Airlines cut Japan flights after the March 11 earthquake as concerns about radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear plant north of Tokyo deterred visitors.

Read the rest of the story: Japan Air Sees ‘Very Long’ Wait for U.S. Sales Rebound on Quake.

A somber ‘hanami’ this year in Tokyo as cherry trees begin to blossom

The Japan Meteorological Agency said Monday that Tokyo’s cherry trees will enter full bloom within a week. But the capital’s annual blossom-viewing parties, or "hanami," will be much quieter this year because festivals here and elsewhere are being called off in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Organizers say they felt it was appropriate to refrain from any kind of festivities when so many lives were lost, but added that the decisions were also based on efforts to reduce the use of electricity. Some also cited security concerns.

"It was a disaster that’s beyond imagination, so we felt we should express our condolences," said Kazumi Indei of the Chiyoda-ku Tourist Association, which organizes the cherry tree festival in Chidorigafuchi. The group has canceled its annual festival, including the evening cherry tree illumination.

Read the rest of the story: Tokyo faces somber ‘hanami’ this year.

Number of foreigners leaving Japan soars

An immigration official says more than 161,000 foreigners have left Japan since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered an unfolding nuclear crisis .

Taichi Iseki, an immigration official at Japan’s major airport, Narita, said Friday the number of foreigners flying out from March 11 to March 22 totaled 161,300 _ an eightfold increase from about 20,000 in the same period last year.

The quake and giant tsunami decimated much of northeast Japan, while the crisis at a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, one of the quake-hit areas, triggered a massive exodus of foreigners.

The number of foreigners arriving at Narita from March 11 to 22 plunged 60 percent year-on-year to 33,400.