"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

11 Reasons To Visit Japan In The Winter

Above, a view of the falling snow from my hotel room's window. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

My trip to Japan last February was the first time I have visited the country in winter. It was quite interesting, to say the least.

As regular readers of this blog know, I was stuck midway between Narita International Airport and Tokyo in Chiba Prefecture due to heavy snow. Little did I know that when I scheduled my trip, my arrival would be during one of the heaviest snowstorms to hit the Tokyo and Chiba areas in years.

Still, even being stuck in a train car was somewhat fun. It certainly was different.

The Inside Japan Blog has posted an article on the "11 Reasons To Visit Japan In The Winter."

It begins with:
In the autumn there are the turning leaves, in the summer there’s hot sun and lush green landscapes, and in the spring there is (of course) the famous cherry blossom. 
When there are these wonderful seasons to travel to Japan, why choose to come in the bitter depths of winter? Well, I’ll let you in on a secret: winter is actually the best time to travel to Japan. 
OK – so the claim isn’t unqualified. Winter in Japan has its attendant inconveniences, just like any other season. For instance, on the day my family arrived in Tokyo in February for their winter Japan holiday, it was the heaviest snowstorm the city had seen for fifty years (which is just typical). [Ah-ha! The article's writer showed up in Japan at the same time I did! - A.] If you can’t put up with cold weather, the chances are that winter in Japan is not for you. But if you’re anything like me, the following reasons will be more than enough to persuade you that winter in Japan is the best season of all.
I'll have to admit that the eleven reason to visit Japan are good ones. That is, if one is a winter sports enthusiast. Even if one isn't, they are worth taking into consideration.

The first reason is quite obvious: there are no crowds. I'll let you read the article to find out what the other ten reasons are.

To read more, go here.

Japan Issues Safety Guidelines For Tourists

Above, Fukuoka Tower. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Suppose you are in Japan on vacation (or even business) and disaster strikes. The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has created some guidelines just in case something happens.

According to an article posted in the Bangkok Post:
TOKYO — The Japan National Tourism Agency has released guidelines for supporting foreign tourists in major disasters including earthquakes, prompted by the rising number of foreign visitors to Japan. 
The guidelines urge local governments, hotels and other tourist facilities to specify multilingual instructions and consultations, stockpiles, including of religious items, and other measures in their antidisaster and evacuation plans. 
Noting that visitors who have never experienced an earthquake may panic, the guidelines provide specific examples of instructions including an advisory to protect the head.
I've felt two earthquakes in Japan. Since I am from earthquake-prone California, I am used to them.

To read more, go here

Friday, October 24, 2014

Osaka Castle Theme Park Planned

Above, Osaka Castle. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The Asahi Shimbun has posted an article on a planned Osaka Castle theme park that will be constructed on the grounds of the castle.

They wrote:
OSAKA--Visitors to Osaka Castle Park can soon take a trip back to the Edo Period (1603-1867) where they can dress up like a samurai and dine in restaurants that recreate the feel of those olden times. 
The Osaka city government on Oct. 16 selected the firm that will manage the Edo Period theme park that will be situated on the grounds of the castle, originally constructed in the 1580s by warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598). 
The theme park, scheduled to open within the next fiscal year, will be located directly in front of Osakajokoen Station on West Japan Railway Co.'s Osaka Loop Line. 
Attractions in the theme park will include a photo studio that allows visitors to be photographed in samurai outfits and restaurants that let customers experience the Osaka of the Edo Period.
Godzilla fans are familiar with Osaka Castle as being the site where Godzilla finishes off Anguirus in Godzilla Raids Again (1956) (released in the U.S. as Gigantis, The Fire Monster in 1959). I would be impressed if the planners of the theme park included a special Godzilla exhibit to commemorate the movie.

Above, Anguirus and Godzilla battle at Osaka Castle. Toho Co., Ltd.

To read more, go here.

Latest Blog Pick-ups

The good folks at The Japan Daily picked up several blog posts from yesterday for sharing with their readers.

They include:



To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Travelience Launches Online Professional Tour Guide Service for Tourists Traveling to Japan

Above, Nakamise Dori in Asakusa during a winter evening. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Source: Press Release

TripleLights Service Only Uses Licensed, Professional Tour Guides and Provides Personal Videos, Profiles, Blog Posts, and Reviews of Each Guide

New York, NY (PRWEB) October 23, 2014

Today Travelience officially launched TripleLights, the easiest way for American tourists and business travelers to find the best professional tour guides anywhere in Japan. Unlike other services, TripleLights only uses licensed professional tour guides to ensure that tourists can purchase the most engaging, fun and educational tours. The new service also provides guides’ personal videos, written profiles, blog posts, and customer reviews that help tourists get to know each guide before booking a specific tour.

There is growing demand for professional guides since the number of tourists in Japan is projected to grow to 20 million in 2020, up from 10 million in 2013 (source: Japan Tourism Agency). Providing tours anywhere in Japan – including top cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Mt. Fuji among many other places – TripleLights is well positioned to meet this growing demand.

TripleLights solves two key problems. First, many other tourist services and travel agencies rely on amateur volunteer guides who often have insufficient knowledge of Japanese culture and history, are not completely fluent in English, and/or force tourists to make time-consuming stops in souvenir shops.

Second, in Japan many tourist guides are underutilized because most traditional travel agencies tend to use only guides who can travel and stay overnight away from their home towns, leaving out many qualified female guides who can only do one-day tours and must stay at home to take care of their children at night. In addition, many “older” guides are not savvy in using the Web to attract new customers. As a result, 50 percent of these guides in Japan work less than three days per month.

“TripleLights is a marketplace that connects professional tour guides with tourists traveling to Japan,” said Naoaki Hashimoto, CEO of Travelience. “I started our company after having a bad tour experience in Tibet with two guides, who were not very professional or knowledgeable. We allow tourists to easily get to know their prospective guide before booking a tour on our website. And we help licensed professional guides earn more revenue through more consistent employment opportunities.”

How TripleLights Works

On TripleLights.com, tourists can quickly browse, search and buy various tours anywhere in Japan led by professional guides. They can also get to know each professional guide before purchasing a specific tour by watching guides’ personal videos, written profiles, blog posts and customer reviews. Most tours are done walking and via public transportation (not on a traditional tour bus), which creates a more personable and interesting way to learn about local culture and history. Most tours are given in English, though there are some guides fluent in French, German, Spanish, and Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese).

Travelience, which started out by focusing its guided tours in the Tokyo area, has one of the best industry reputations, highlighted by its 55 five-star guide ratings on TripAdvisor.com. The TripleLights blog is also one of the world's best resources on Japanese culture and things to do and see in Japan.

“The whole family and I had a great experience with Yuriko as our guide. Everything went really smoothly,” said TripleLights customer, Daphne, after a tour of popular spots in Tokyo. “This is also the first time that we have commuted via public transportation on a guided tour and it was a different experience instead of being shuttled everywhere on a tour bus. We are really thankful to Yuriko for helping us in our queries that we posed during the tour, and she followed up on them even after the tour was over!”

The average tour price per group on TripleLights.com is about $245, depending on the duration, location, size of group, and experience of the guide. Most tour groups range from five to ten people, making the price per person very affordable.

About TripleLights

Travelience’s TripleLights is the easiest way for tourists to find the best, professional tour guides anywhere in Japan. It is an online marketplace that connects tourists with professional tour guides in Japan. On TripleLights.com, tourists can browse and buy various tours and get to know professional guides easily through videos, blog posts and customer reviews. As of October 2014, TripleLights has 105 professional guides, and the number of guides is increasing each day. Each guide must pass a national certification exam administered by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO).

Travelience also has plans to expand TripleLights to Taiwan by mid 2015. Travelience earned a 2014 Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor.

For more information, please visit http://www.triplelights.com.

Mitt Romney To Attend Ben Sasse Rally



Big news!

We're wrapping up our 93-county tour in Adams County next week. This will be the biggest rally of them all - and we'll be joined by special guest Governor Mitt Romney!

This rally will be free and open to the public - and we want to get as many people as we can there, so please forward this invitation to your friends and family in the area. After 93 days traveling to 93 counties, we're going to wrap up this tour with thousands of voices at this rally.
http://clicks.skem1.com/trkr/?c=38873&g=1118&p=ec80264f85f1c535f3e492885c4448b5&u=627fd747756ceadb2d065e37b09e7ecf&q=&t=1
Here are the details:

WHERE
Hastings City Auditorium
400 North Hastings Avenue
Hastings, NE 68901

WHEN
Monday, October 27
5:30pm doors open
6:30pm start time

Click here to RSVP online. 

It should be an amazing way to kick off the final week of the campaign. Hope to see you there!

Tyler Grassmeyer



Federal law requires us to use our best efforts to collect and report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for each individual whose contributions exceed $200 in an election cycle. Contributions from foreign nationals and corporations are prohibited.

Contributions are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.

Paid for by Ben Sasse for U.S. Senate, Inc.


Ben Sasse for U.S. Senate, Inc.
P.O. Box 1976
Fremont, NE  68026-1976

Pacific Holidays Unveils Japan Vacation Specials With Airfare

Above, the Nijubashi (or Double) Bridge at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Source: Press Release

For those who want to tour Japan with an organized tour company, Pacific Holidays has announced nine different Japan vacation specials.

According to their press release:
(PRLEAP.COM) October 23, 2014 - Pacific Holidays is happy to announce nine different Japan vacation specials for travelers. Each vacation package provides travelers with an exciting and intimate look at at the Land of the Rising Sun. Each Japan vacation package marries adventure with convenience and affordability. 
For Japan lovers who want an exciting new vacation spot, Pacific Holidays has plenty of options.
What caught my attention was that the nine Japan vacation specials also include airfare:
Each trip offered by Pacific Holidays include round trip air fare and hotel reservation costs. Most trips include cross-country transportation options via bullet train or airplane. Select vacation packages, including Japan Express and Historic Japan, offer some meals to guests. All-inclusive trip prices offer savings over booking individual travel and accommodations. 
As I have stated in prior blog posts, if one doesn't feel they can handle an "on your own" vacation to Japan, then they should look into an organized tour, especially one that also includes round-trip airfare and not tied to the fluctuating foreign exchange rate of the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen.

The tour packages appear to be reasonably-priced, especially the 8-day Japan Bullet Train vacation package. It is under $3,000. They do have a number of options available.

To read more, go here

5 Recommendations For A Luxury Tour of Japan

Above, a view of Tokyo Tower from Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

For the most part, this blog focuses on travel to Japan "on the cheap" or economically. But there are some who would like to splurge a little bit and enjoy at trip there in some luxury.

Well, another blog, A Luxury Travel Blog, has posted an article with their "5 Recommendations For A Luxury Tour of Japan."

In it, there are some ideas presented to those who want to live it up.

They begin with:
If you’re a traveller with a sense of adventure then the Far East is a part of the world you absolutely must see. Japan is a particular jewel of East Asia and a remarkable place to visit. Culture shock is the phrase perhaps most often used by visitors to this intriguing island, but this is no bad thing. Japan is a different world to most other countries in many ways, but it is this difference that makes it special, and which makes trips to the land of ancient samurai and geisha girls impossible to wipe from the memory. History, a fascinating culture, amazing food and drink and eye-popping modern countryside and cityscapes make Japan stand apart from other travel destinations. And if you want to experience the country in the most comfortable way possible, you’ll be pleased to know that Japan is no stranger to luxury. So here are a few tips and things you need to know for a fabulous luxury tour of Japan.
Following this, the article states, "Tokyo is the only place to start."

So, if you have a little extra cash that you want to spend, to read more, go here

Blog Post Pick-ups

The good folks at The Japan Daily picked up three blog posts from yesterday to share with their readers.

They are:




To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Gaijinpot: "Beginner's Guide To Supermarket Shopping In Japan"

Above, a Tokyo supermarket. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Most foreign tourists to Japan will go out to a restaurant or a fast food eatery instead of cooking their own meals. Or, if they stay at a ryokan, will take their home-cooked meals there. There are some who plan on an extended stay and will be lodged in an extended stay hotel (here's an example) or apartment with kitchenette facilities. If you plan on staying at a place with kitchenette facilities, then this article is for you.

Those who plan to cook their own meals while in Japan will have to shop at a Japanese supermarket.

Gaijinpot.com has an article on the "Beginner's Guide To Supermarket Shopping In Japan."

They wrote (in part):
Let’s start by focusing on the supermarket themselves. In many ways Japanese supermarkets are exactly the same as those in any other country, but they also differ in one or two ways too. Firstly, most supermarkets in Japan are actually better described as grocery stores, in that they exclusively sell food. Don’t go in expecting to buy bubble bath, a razor and a few cheap t-shirts because most supermarkets just won’t stock these kinds of items.
To read more, go here.

Foreign Visitors To Japan May Have Already Topped 10 Million

Above, the Tokyo Skytree from Kitchen Town. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japanese government data appears to indicate that the number inbound foreign tourists have already exceeded last year's record 10 million visitors to Japan.

According to the Japan Times:
More than 10 million foreigners are believed to have visited Japan so far this year, amid a weakening yen and relaxed visa restrictions for some nationals. 
Foreign arrivals in the January to September period soared 26 percent from the same period a year earlier to a record 9.73 million, government data showed on Wednesday. 
At this pace, the number of foreign visitors for the whole of 2014 is almost certain to surpass the previous high of 10.36 million, which was logged in 2013, the Japan National Tourism Agency said. 
The increase in foreign visitors to Japan was also attributable to a greater number of international flights being given slots at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, the government body said.
To read more, go here

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla": Whatever Happened To The "Queen Coral"?

Above, the Queen Coral as it appeared in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974).

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) featured the first appearance (and first incarnation) of Mechagodzilla. The movie also featured the first appearance of the Okinawa god monster, King Seesar.

The movie also featured a passenger ship that took several of the cast members to Okinawa. While en route to Okinawa, one of the ape space aliens was shot and fell overboard. The ship, the Queen Coral.

The Queen Coral had a long service. It was built in 1972 by the Hayashikane SB & Eng. Co., Ltd. of Nagasaki, Japan. After it was retired from service in Japan, the vessel was sold several times. It also was renamed at least twice. It was also known as the RIF (1987) and Hanaa (1992), but one database indicates it was also named the Queen Vergina.

Above, the Queen Coral as the Hanaa a few years before it was scrapped.

It was sold for scrapping in February 2004 under the Hanaa name.

Tokyo's Top Ten Non-Tourist Sites To Explore

Above, the Rainbow Bridge and Odaiba. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There are so many tourist websites with their "top (you insert the number)" lists of places to see and do.

I've another one for you to take a look at (if you so choose). It is provided by Examiner.com and it is the "Tokyo's Top Ten Non-Tourist Sites To Explore." Many of the places on the list I have spotlighted before. But, if you are intersted in Japan travel and have never seen them, well, who am I to deny you the information?

They begin with:
You'll find parks, mountain, public bath, fashion district, train line, bridge, fish market, and others are just some places in Tokyo not many foreign tourists know about. There is so much more to see in Tokyo, Japan besides the popular tourist sites. Tokyo may be a super high-tech city, but there are hidden places that reflect the traditional Japanese lifestyle.
The Rainbow Bridge, that crosses Tokyo Bay, is one of the places listed.

To read more, go here.

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Blog Post Pick-ups

The fine folks at The Japan Daily picked up several blog posts from today to share with their readership.

They include:




To read The Japan Daily, go here.

Godzilla/Gamera Anniversary Panel Schedule Change



Due to a goof by the organizers of Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo, they had our panel leader Jessica Tseang scheduled for 2 panels at the same time, ours and one on James Bond.

Since she wasn't born twins, our panel will begin Friday, October 31 at 5:00 PM, one hour earlier. I made the change at the original post.

This is good for me as well as I wanted to attend the James Bond panel as a spectator. Now I can.

We'll see you at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Halloween!

The Japan News: Trip Through Time At Elvis Presley's Graceland

Above, Graceland. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Memphis, Tennessee, Graceland and Elvis Presley are about as far away from Japan as one can get. Yet, The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) has a feature article on the King of Rock 'n Roll's mansion.

They begin it with:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There’s a sightseeing spot in Memphis, Tenn., that draws 600,000 people every year. About 200 adults were lined up there recently on a blisteringly hot day, without showing any sign of fatigue from the heat. 
They were waiting to enter Graceland, where Elvis Presley lived for about 20 years until his death in 1977.
Above, Elvis Presley's grave in the Meditation Garden of Graceland. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

I visited Memphis in 2001 and took the Graceland tour (as well as the tour through Elvis's jet, the Lisa Marie) and wandered around Beale Street, the city's blues center.

To read the article, go here

Spending Dough

Above, comic books for sale at last year's Comikaze Expo. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Great news was received today, and it comes at the most opportune time.

My Nebraska farm tenant told me this morning that he finished harvesting the corn crop grown on my land and the check from the buyer will be coming within the next week or so. As expected, although corn prices are down (what can you do?), we had an almost unbelievable high yield this year that will help to make up for it.

Above, a costume and t-shirt vendor at the 2012 Comikaze Expo. Photo be Armand Vaquer.

What I mean about "opportune" is that the crop check should be here before I go to Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo on October 31 for the Godzilla/Gamera anniversaries panel discussion. [Details here.] As one can imagine, Comikaze Expo (besides comic books, celebrities, panels and displays) has many vendors hawking their goods. With plenty of spending money on hand, I will be able to make some purchases there.

For the list of Comikaze Expo's exhibitors, go here.

Tokyo Cheapo: Which Japan Rail Pass To Choose?

Above, two rail passes I used during past Japan trips. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

One of the most convenient things that the Japanese tourism industry and Japan Rail devised are the JR Rail Passes.

These are only available to foreign tourists and in order to purchase a pass, a tourist has to buy a JR Rail Pass voucher (Exchange Order) in their home country. Then, after entering Japan, the voucher is exchanged for the pass at a JR ticket office.

Before buying, one must decide whether it is worth buying a JR Rail Pass (there are several types available at different prices) or not.

Generally, if a visitor is planning to make a trip up north to Sendai (as I did in 2006) or southwest to Osaka, Kyoto or even to Kyushu (as I did in 2007), then the Rail Pass will save a lot of money. But, if one is just staying in Tokyo, then getting a Rail Pass would not be cost-effective.

With some restrictions, the JR Rail Passes are valid on shinkansens and commuter trains operated by a JR company. In 2007, I used the JR Rail Pass to get to Fukuoka in Kyushu. While in Kyushu, I used it to get to other cities (such as Kumamoto, Nagasaki and Sasebo) on local JR-operated commuter trains. I even made use of it for the train ride to Mount Aso Volcano National Park.

Above, inside of the two rail passes I used. Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Tokyo Cheapo has posted an article detailing the kinds of Rail Passes available and will help tourists decide on what kind to get and whether it would be cost-effective to do so.

They begin their article with:
JR Passes are available to anyone visiting Japan on a short term tourist visa.  They are a fantastic discount on regular rail travel, but if you don’t have any experience with Japan’s rail transport system it’s difficult to know if you need it and which one you should get.  To add to the confusion, the various regional companies that constitute JR (JR East, JR West, JR Central, JR Hokkaido, JR Shikoku and JR Kyushu) all have their own passes.  Each is priced differently and has different conditions.  To try and put some of the confusion to rest, we’ll try to explain the exact conditions of the main JR Pass and that of the two biggest regional companies – JR East and JR West and hopefully give you enough info so you can decide which one to get.
The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan has information on the JR Rail Pass (although the prices have changed since publication) on pages 10-12.

The JR Rail Passes are a great tool for exploring around Japan. A visitor with a Rail Pass doesn't have to reach for their wallet of yen. All they have to do is just show the Rail Pass to the clerk when getting a train ticket.

To read more, go here.

Japanese City Makes Condé Nast Traveler's "Top 25" List

Above, the Kiyomizu-dera pagoda in Kyoto. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Condé Nast Traveler has posted their Readers' Choice Awards for 2014 and one Japanese city made into their list of the "Top 25 Cities In The World."

Before getting into their list (which is presented as a photo slideshow), they posted:
Nearly 77,000 of our readers rated their favorite cities in the world. Is your favorite on the list? Read about all the best hotels, resorts, islands, spas, and cruise lines in the world in our Readers' Choice Awards 2014.
The Japanese city that made it into the top 25 list was Kyoto.

To see what number Kyoto came in at, as well as seeing what other world cities made the list, go here.

Monster Japan Travel Guides Ready For Shipping

Above, Yuu Asakura with The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Sales of the print edition of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan have been doing well last week and this weekend. 

All orders are ready for mailing, so I will be heading off to the local post office to mail them all out.

In case you've "missed the show," the guide is in the midst of a close-out (or clearance) sale of $9.95 per copy (that's $5.05 off the cover price) plus $2.00 shipping & handing.

The guide will also be available at Stan Lee's Comikaze Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center following the Godzilla/Gamera anniversary panel discussion on Halloween (that's Friday, October 31). The one-hour panel begins at 6:00 PM. (Comikaze Expo begins October 31 and runs through November 2.)   

For ordering information (including PayPal), go here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bogus Arguments Against West Africa Flight Bans



The so-called disease control "experts" (the World Health Organization's "experts" have already botched the containment of west African Ebola) are against travel bans to or from affected countries.

President Obama is also against any flight bans. He's a fine one to talk since he isn't enforcing existing immigration laws or securing the borders, thereby allowing people with diseases to enter.

One argument is that such a ban will prevent needed medical supplies and physicians from getting to affected areas. Another is that it will cause people to flee affected areas in other ways.

Those are ridiculous arguments.

It is doubtful that a flight ban to or from Ebola-affected countries would also include special humanitarian flights with medical supplies, etc. An exception would or should be made there.

Also, it is bogus to say that banning flights will cause people to "flee" in other ways.

In order for someone to enter another country, they would have to produce a valid passport. The border guards will check passports of people to see where they've been by the stamps. If someone tries to hide where they've been by tearing out any stamped pages, they then can be refused entry. They can also be screened for Ebola at the border crossings just like at the airports.

If someone is hell-bent on entering this country, nothing we can do will prevent them from doing so. But why make it easier to allow someone with Ebola to come in and infect the American people?

Current Blog Pick-ups

The latest blog posts pertaining to Japan travel have been picked up by The Japan Daily for sharing with their readers.

They include:





To read The Japan Daily, go here

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Grave Hunting In Tokyo's Cemeteries

Above, the view of the snow-covered Aoyama Cemetery from Tokyo City View at Mori Tower. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Does exploring cemeteries and looking for graves of famous people interest you? If it does, you're in luck.

The Japan Times has an interesting article on "Grave Hunting In Tokyo's Realms of the Dead." Here, the writer tells about four different cemeteries in Tokyo where people hunt down the final resting places of notable people.

One part of the article:
Four (pronounced “shi”) is considered an unlucky number in Japan because it’s a homophone for 死, the character for death. It’s appropriate, then, that when you talk about Tokyo cemeteries, there are only four places worth discussing, not only for the names you’ll find inscribed on their combined 450,000 headstones, but for the storied histories of the places themselves. Dead men may tell no tales, but stories grow like weeds in the boneyard.
To read more, go here.

Godzilla and James Bond As Tour Guides

Above, the Wako department store was featured in Godzilla (1954). Photo by Armand Vaquer.

When I started out making The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan several years ago, it was with the premise that fans will want to visit Japan to see for themselves the landmarks and locations featured in Godzilla, Gamera and other giant monster movies.

Sure enough, I was right. For the most part, members of the baby-boomer generation received their first exposure to Japan and Japanese culture through these movies. So, too, fans of James Bond movies were exposed to the exotic locations that were featured in the 007 movies.

An article has been posted in the Philippines' Sun.Star on James Bond and tourism. They got the premise right, but goofed on the pre-title sequence of Thunderball (1965). The writer describes the scene in Hong Kong where Bond (Sean Connery) is assassinated in a Chinese Murphy Bed. That sequence was actually in You Only Live Twice (1967), where the movie's main center of action was Japan.

It is still an interesting article to read and it begins with:
THERE is no doubt that James Bond movies are promoting tourism… places, festivals, food, lifestyle, and fashion. Agent 007 is suave but dynamic charmer, equally capable of disarming both bomb and bombshell. That makes James an effective tour guide. 
When I presented my paper before a group of college students taking up BS Tourism, many eyebrows went up. Probably (just probably), they have just realized (and their teachers, too) that James Bond movies are not just about James, super villains, fantastic girls, prodigious gimmicks, neoteric guns, and phantasmal gadgets. 
I am encouraging tourism students, teachers, tourism officers and those who are involved in tourism to review (see again) James Bond movies. When producers, Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, introduced James Bond (Sean Connery) in 1962 in the movie “Dr. No”, the movie audience was brought to scenic Jamaica (sun and beach).
Likewise, Japan's giant monster movies also are promoting tourism: Godzilla (1954) is centered in Tokyo. Godzilla Raids Again (1955) is centered in Osaka. King Kong vs, Godzilla (1962) prominently features Tokyo and Atami. Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) is centered in Nagoya. Rodan (1956) is centered in Kyushu (mainly Sasebo and Fukuoka). Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) prominently features Kyoto as does Gamera 3 (1999).

To read more, go here.

Michelin Star Chefs Collaborating With ANA On Meals

Above, an ANA jetliner being loaded up at Narita International Airport. Photo by Armand Vaquer.

After my rather disappointing experience flying aboard United Airlines (once my favorite U.S. air carrier) in February, I decided that future flights to and from Japan will be strictly aboard Japanese or other Asian (such as Singapore Air or Korean Air) airlines.

One of my beefs was the food. It wasn't bad (as in swill). It was edible. But being edible alone does not make me want to fly on United Airlines again. Prior to my trip this year to Japan, I last flew aboard Korean Air to Japan. The food was very good (the best airline food I've had during the past ten years was with Singapore Air in 2004). United's food was probably no better than elementary school cafeteria food.

After this year's trip to Japan, I became a member of All Nippon Airways' (ANA) Mileage Club. I intend to give ANA a try the next time I go to Japan.

Incentive Travel & Corporate Meetings (U.K.) posted an article that provides another incentive for giving ANA a try:
ANA, Japan’s largest airline, has announced a new partnerships with two world-renowned chefs, Pierre Gagnaire and Toru Okuda.  
This is the first time the 3-star Michelin chefs have collaborated with ANA. They will work with the airline’s in-house, expert catering team to offer the best of French and Japanese cuisines onboard flights from Japan.  
The chefs join the close-knit circle of The Connoisseurs, launched by ANA in September 2013: a unique panel, bringing together 26 premier chefs, sommeliers, oenologists, sake specialists and ANA chefs. Under The Connoisseurs label, ANA is proud to offer its passengers an exceptional quality of service with a choice of exclusive dishes. 
Sounds good to me!

To read more, go here

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