Archive for the 'Tourism' Category

Swastika symbol removed from maps for foreigners

Comparison of nazi swastika to Japanese manji symbol for temples on maps

A traditional symbol that resembles a swastika which is used to indicate Buddhist temples on maps for foreign tourists in Japan will be replaced. The Japanese map symbol is called "manji" and originates from an ancient Sanskrit symbol that has been associated with Japanese Buddhism for centuries. The manji symbol looks very similar to the Nazi swastika symbol that was used by Adolf Hitler to represent the Nazis in Germany from 1920, through WWII and the early 1940s.


Swastika symbols used for temples on maps in Japan


Swastika icon indicates temple on local map in Japan Swastika symbols is similar to Japanese Manji ideogram denoting temples on pedestrian maps and other maps in Japan


Japanese Manji character resembles swastika symbol on maps in Japan

Map icon looks like swastika - indicates temples in Japan


In order to avoid confusion about the meaning of the map swastikas, the symbols will be replaced with a three-storied pagoda icon on maps for tourists. The manji icon on Japanese maps will not be changed.

New symbols for Japanese tourist maps replace swastika for olympics 2020

Results of an international study by Japan’s Geospatial Information Authority prompted the agency to revise some symbols on tourist maps in Japan.

news source: Examiner (pdf) photos: Iwate; Koenji; Yokohama; Miyagi

Japan Geospatial Information Authority (Japanese)  (English translation)

Sexy city stamp rally promotional poster recalled

Minokamo busty stamp rally poster Japan

A provocative poster promoting a local shopping incentive campaign by the Minokamo City Tourist Association has been recalled due to public outcry.

The poster features a manga illustration of a woman with an exaggerated bust size. The character is from a popular anime TV program which is being used in a tie-in with the city’s "stamp rally" point card campaign. A stamp rally is a promotional effort in which users receive a blank booklet and have the booklet stamped when they make a purchase at participating retailers. When the booklet is full of stamps, the customer receives a free gift or a discount on goods from a specific retailer, a group of participating merchants, or the organization sponsoring the campaign. Stamp rallies are also used for short term offers such as during local festivals or local events.


Minokamo buxom anime character used in stamp rally poster in Japan

The Minokamo City poster features a buxom female character from "Nourin", an anime TV series based on a 2014 novel for young adults about an agricultural high school. The story focuses on a fictitious school that is based on an unnamed actual school in Minokamo. Several female characters from the animated program are used in the stamp rally.

The controversial poster was distributed in late November to 21 Minokamo City shops and the local train station. On November 29, the poster at the station was removed due to complaints.

Minokamo is located in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.


Anime character used in Minokamo city PR campaigns in Japan


Other stamp rally posters for communities and tourism campaigns in Japan


Hokkaido tourism stamp rally poster in Japan Mie prefecture stamp rally poster in Japan

Mt. Fuji stamp rally poster in Japan


Tokushima stamp rally poster in Japan Wakayama stamp rally poster in Japan

Yokohama stamp rally poster in Japan

Beach naming rights sold to cookie company

The maker of a popular pigeon-shaped cookie was awarded naming rights to three beaches in Kamakura, Japan. The beaches will be renamed in 2014 by the manufacturer of the Hato Sabure (pigeon sable) butter cookie. Toshimaya company opened the first Hato Sabure confectionary store in Kamakura circa 1897.

The Kamakura city government in Kanagawa Prefecture sold the naming rights to cover the cost of beach maintenance. Ten firms submitted naming rights bids. Hato Sabure will pay 12 miliion yen annually for 10 years. It is the first time beach naming rights have been sold in Japan.


Koshigoe, Yuigahama, and Zaimokuza beaches will share a single name. Hato Sabure officials have not chosen a name for the beaches but says it does  not intend to name the areas Hato Sabure Beach.  

Kanagawa prefectural outdoor advertisement regulations limit advertising displays to 2-meters in size.

Recipe: Butter Cookies 

: Zaimokuza beach; Yuigahama beach; Koshigoe beach.

Smoking Rules on the Beaches

People  peace sign finger no cigarette Japan Designated smoking area stand hut Zushi beach Japan


A popular beach near Yokohama implemented a smoking policy at the start of this year’s swimming season in June. Zushi beach in Kanagawa Prefecture has banned smoking except at designated areas on its 600-meters of sand. Five smoking huts have been installed on the beach. Four standing ashtrays have also been placed in the span of sand. There is no penalty for violating the smoking rules.
Zushi beach Japan Mayor smoking ban beach signs

city in Wakayama Prefecture implemented smoking rules on its beach in 2008. Banners and a standing signboard notify visitors of the locations of smoking areas. There are several standing ashtrays in the sand. 
Ougigahama beach Tanabe City Japan smoking rules
A smoking policy went into effect on the July 2 season opening of the 300-meter-long Ougigahama beach in Tanabe City, Wakayama. No-smoking signs are posted in three places, and there is a smoking area near the official beach facilities office.

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Boso Peninisula Japan designated smoking area on beach


Atami City in Shizuoka prefecture commenced smoking regulations at its beach in 2005. Kanagawa is the only prefecture of Japan’s 47 prefectures to have a smoking policy in effect for a beach.


beach clean up fesyival volunteers Okinawa Japan

Cats Eye Stationmaster Posts

Tama-chan cat station master in Japan Tama-chan cat station master in Japan Station cat promoted

Tama-chan, the cat stationmaster of a rural Japan train station, has attained the position of Operating Officer.

The stray cat was found in front of Kishi Station on the Wakayama Electric Railway Co. Kishikawa Line in 2007. Named Tama-chan, the kitty was offered the position of Stationmaster and held that post from 2007 until being promoted to Super Station Master in April 2008.

With the appointment as corporate executive Tama-chan becomes the first cat in the world to hold an executive post of a railroad corporation, a company official said.

Tama-chan, 10, will continue to perform stationmaster duties in addition to its responsibilities as Operating Officer. Those additional duties have not yet been determined.

The cat is responsible for an increase in passenger numbers. The company plans to rebuild Kishi Station into the shape of a cat’s face this summer.

Marron Chestnut the stationmaster dog in Japan Funeral held for Marron Chestnut the stationmaster dog in Japan memorial service held for dead Marron station master dog in Japan

 Station dog cremated

Maron, the 9-year-old Yorkshire terrier stationmaster for the Iwate Galaxy Railway Company died the evening of August 29, 2009. The cause of death was bronchitis. The dog had served as Station Chief at Oku-Nakayama Kogen Station, in Ichinohemachi since September, 2000. A funeral service for Maron was held on September 12, 2009.


Rena the blogging cat stars in Wii game in Japan. Dr. Evil expands into Japan railways?


With Tama-chan promoted, and Maron out of the way, cats are poised to pounce on stations throughout Japan. Cat-blogger and star of the Wii game Sukeban Shachou Rena Wii, "Rena" is likely to take over the position formerly held by Maron. Rena is currently CEO of Cat Queen Inc.

It is rumored CQI is a subsidiary of Virtucon Corporation. Following the mysterious disappearance of CEO "Number 2", leadership of Virtucon was assumed by "Mr. Wigglesworth". Police suspect Wigglesworth was involved in the Number 2 case and the sudden death of Maron. Police also link Wigglesworth to the quick promotion of Tama-chan. "We believe this Mr. Wigglesworth cat is the mastermind of these plots," said one police official.

Station employees had originally protested the latest promotion of Tama-Chan, but they denied they were threatened. "A hairless cat wearing a thick leather collar and flu mask did come to see us late one night after the last train had passed", said one employee who refused to be identified. "But the feline was very polite and did not hiss or scratch us," the employee said.

Police continue to investigate possible foul play among the cats. "It is highly unusual to reach a management position in such a short time. Especially for a cat," the police official said.

Virtucon Corporation did not respond to inquiries. In addition to assigning cats to oversee train stations in Japan, it is believed Virtucon Corporation desires to take over the world.

Top Japan Monthly Laughs of 2009

Canon Japan employees leave early to make babies

Canon lets workers leave early twice a week to encourage them to have more babies. The 5:30 p.m. lights-out program at Canon addresses the declining birthrate problem while also reducing employee overtime costs.

‘Doorplate mania’ man arrested.

A 42-year-old Tokyo man is arrested for stealing about 290 nameplates from house entrances. "I loved to collect plates of rare names. I repeatedly stole nameplates in Tokyo, Chiba and Saitama prefectures from about five years ago," the man told police March.

Teacher forced student to wear maid costume

A 51-year-old male high school teacher in Odate, Akita Prefecture forces an 18-year-old female student to wear a maid costume in the school’s art club and makes other club members take pictures of her.

Doctor admits lacing tea with sleeping powder

Kyoto University Hospital doctor arrested on suspicion of putting a sleep-inducing drug in a female graduate student’s tea. The doctor said he was fond of the student and wanted to attract her attention.


Horror-themed Toilet Paper from Japan Puts You on the Edge of Your Seat

Novel printed on toilet paper rolls. Written by Koji Suzuki, who also authored the horror novel "Ring".

Dead tadpoles fall from sky

Ishikawa Prefecture, located on the Japan Sea Coast experiences raining tadpoles. One resident finds 13 dead tadpoles each around 3 inches long, on and around his car. Another reports hearing a strange noise in a nearby parking lot, then finds 100 tadpoles covering cars in the lot.

Love hotels not touched by recession.

Japan’s love hotel industry thrives while other businesses suffer. (Love hotel finder.)


Elderly American tourist jailed for holding small pocketknife

Man asks Tokyo cop for directions. Cop asks if man has a knife. Man says yes. Man jailed for 10 days.

Blue lights soothe suicidal in Tokyo train stations

Blue lights installed on train platforms in Tokyo to prevent people from jumping into oncoming trains. "Blue lighting was selected because there are claims the color blue calms emotions," an official from East Japan Railway’s Tokyo office said.

Airline passengers told to use toilet before boarding

All Nippon Airways positions staff near the boarding gates in terminals to ask passengers waiting for their flight to relieve themselves before boarding the aircraft. ANA claims empty bladders means lighter passengers, which in turn means lighter aircraft and lower fuel use. ANA said that it may expand the October toilet-trial if results are positive and it is well received by passengers.


Dead pets come back as bracelets

A Shiga, Japan company advertises it will pickup a dead pet, mix its ashes with the clay from the bed of nearby Lake Biwa, and bake the ashes into jewelry for the owner of the deceased pet. The clay from Lake Biwa is commonly used to produce traditional Shigaraki pottery and stoneware.

Hotels with train view entice train spotters

Hotels near stations try to attract railway fans with rooms marketed as having a "rail view". There are estimated to be 20,000 railway buffs in Japan. (Odakyu hotels rail fan stay plan; Keikyu hotels rail fan stay plan.)

License Plates Rice Fuji Castle Cloud Shapes

Tome city Japan rice-shaped license plate on motorbike.Grain of rice Japan.
A cloud-shaped license plate issued by Matsuyama City is the first non-rectangular vehicle number plate in Japan.

Rice-shaped license plates have been issued by Tome City, and Ueda City has produced a castle-shape number plate.

Mt. Fuji vehicle license plate in Japan.Standard regulation-size vehicle license plates in Japan. Mount Fuji, Japan’s most famous landmark, is represented in a new rectangular license plate for cars and a mountain-shaped number plate for smaller vehicles The 4 non-standard designs can be used for scooters with an engine displacement under 50cc, motorcycles of 125cc or less, and small-sized special vehicles such as tractors and combines.

The cloud number plate represents Matsuyama in the clouds on the top of a hill. Tome, a rice growing area in Miyagi Prefecture, began offering rice-shaped license plates in October. The rice shape was chosen by citizens’ votes on entries submitted in a city-sponsored design contest in April. The slogan on the plate is ""Mizu no Sato Tomeshi" (Water’s hometown: Tome city) The castle-shaped license plate that promotes Ueda Castle is issued from the Ueda city government. The white, yellow, and pink color options are dependent on the engine displacement of the registered vehicle.  

Tome city Japan license plate design contest rice winner.Rice and cloud shaped license plates for small vehicles in Japan.
License plate regulations were modified in 2006 to allow themed "Place Number" license plates. Previously, only official car registration office locations – such as Shinagawa, Hachioji, and Tokyo – were imprinted on standard-sized plain plates.

Obama Tee Shirts Japan: Yes We Can

Nozomu Sato Nocchi impersonates Obama in Japan President Obama t-shirts on sale in Japan November 2008.

 More Barack Obama tee shirts available from ClubT, a design-your-own tee shirt and goods website in Japan.

Barack Obama Yes We Can t-shirt in JapanYes We Can Obama tee shirt Japanese

Obama town in Japan Barack tee shirtObama city  Japan residents watch US presidential electionMcCain tee shirt in Japan

 Obama City, Japan: website; news and photo. Obama impersonator.  Also see Obama Instant Tee Shirts.  

Government Gal’s Sexy PR DVD

City council member and gravure idol Yuri Fujikawa Hachinho Japan

 A female member of a local government stars in a sexy DVD that goes on sale Nov. 19. Yuri Fujikawa, 28, a member of the Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, City Council appears in "Yuri Fujikawa DVD love navi Hachinohe " a gravure-style video, and "Hachinohe Photos Moe Navi (2000)" a photo book. Both products promote the Hachinohe area.

City council member video clip news report Yuri Fujikawa Hachinohe JapanFujikawa was elected in April 2007. After an in-depth local TV news report about her in January 2008, she became a hot topic on internet forums and attracted nationwide attention. Her personal website received more than 230,000 hits per day and at times overloaded the server. Her personal website was soon taken offline and replaced with a more businesslike site.

Following the TV broadcast, she hired an agent to handle numerous requests to pose for photo shoots and appear at events. Since taking office in 2007, Fujikawa had often been asked by a Pony Canyon Inc. producer to make an idol-style DVD. Following the attention in April, she agreed to make the DVD provided it would promote Hachinohe.

In August, Fujikawa played taiko drums in the Hachinohe Festival. She wore a shoulder-revealing sarashi.

In September Fujikawa disclosed the DVD project, and a video clip was released. In the video, Fujikawa wears a white swimsuit and is shown posing on the beach. The reaction among locals was generally favorable. Though some people objected to her appearance in swimwear. In addition to the beach scenes, Fujikawa also wears yukata, haori coat, and hakama as she visits tourist spots and attends festivals.
City council member Yuri Fujikawa campaigns in Hachinohe JapanJapanese news reports are unclear about any connection between Hachinoe City and the production of the PR video.
Fujikawa’s father, Tomonobu Fujikawa was a council member and vice-mayor of Hachinohe city.

More Japan news report videos: ( 1 ) ( 2 ). Yuri Fujikawa blog.



Railway Kitty Keeps Cash Coming

Report: Tama-chan Boosts Business

Tama chan the trainmaster kitty July 2008 photoKishi station home of Tama chan the station cat

For only the price of cat food, a kitty in a train station in rural Japan has benefited the local economy.

In April 2008, Lets Japan wrote about Tama-chan (Cat in Hat Can’t Quit), the official hat-wearing stationmaster feline at Kishi train station on the Kishigawa Line in Wakayama Prefecture.
Tama-the-cat was appointed in January 2007. Since then, railway officials say 55,000 more people used the line than would normally be expected.

Front of Kishi train station home to Tama-chan the catTama drops candy from stationmaster cat

AFP reports on a study by Katsuhiro Miyamoto, a professor at Kansai University’s School of Accountancy.
The research released earlier this month shows sales of Tama-chan picture books, DVDs, and other goods, brought the local economy as much as 1.1 billion yen (10.44 million dollars) in 2007.

Tama-the-kitten was found on the street and brought to the station by the owner of a nearby shop, then kept by the owner of a grocery store next to the station, before becoming the cat-in-residence at Kishi station.

Strawberry train Wakaya Kishi JapanStrawberry Photo and Sketch

Tama-chan has recently been promoting the railway’s "Strawberry Photo and Sketch" contest for its "Strawberry Train". The contest deadline is October 30, 2008. The strawberry-themed train debuted on the first anniversary of the  establishment of the Wakayama Electric Railway. The line had been part of the Nankai Electric Railway until April 1, 2006.
 Tama chan the station cat DVD
Strawberries are grown throughout Japan. Wakayama is not especially known for strawberry production.