"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.

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition
Get the ebook edition here! (Click image.)

Friday, May 31, 2013

"Superman Day" At 1939 New York World's Fair

Rare color footage of "Superman Day" at the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Jerome Siegel and Joseph Shuster can be seen in the video along with the first Superman costume appearances in public:

Skytree Takes Over Broadcasting From Tokyo Tower

Above, Tokyo Skytree under construction in December 2010.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tokyo Skytree tower is now a full-fledged broadcasting tower as of this morning.

Kyodo News reported:
Tokyo Skytree, which opened as the Tobu Railway Co. group's landmark tourist spot a year ago, took on the role of full-fledged broadcasting tower for the greater Tokyo region on Friday as six TV stations started airwave transmissions at 9 a.m. 
Skytree in Tokyo's Sumida Ward in Tokyo took over the function from Tokyo Tower in Minato Ward, which had beamed airwaves for TV viewers since 1959. Tokyo Tower is expected to be used as a backup in the event Skytree transmission facilities become disabled by a disaster or other circumstances.
Above, Tokyo Tower and moon in early morning.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

There remains a few reception bugs that still need to be addressed.  Test transmissions in December began to take steps to resolve reception issues in some pockets.  More than 99.5% of the transmission issues have been resolved.  It is estimated that 125,000 cases of poor reception will remain to be resolved.

To read more, go here.

California Marxist Democrats Want To Take Away Your Gun Rights

The Looney Left Report

The Marxists calling themselves Democrats in the California legislature are inches away from stealing your 2nd Amendment rights through the back door.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

Californians who want to buy ammunition would have to submit personal information and a $50 fee for a background check by the state, under a bill passed by the Senate. The state Department of Justice would determine whether buyers have a criminal record, severe mental illness or a restraining order that would disqualify them from owning guns. 
Ammo shops would check the name on buyers' driver's licenses against a state list of qualified purchasers.
The Senate also OK'd a bill that would outlaw the sale, purchase and manufacture in California of semiautomatic rifles that can accommodate detachable magazines. The measure, SB 374 by Steinberg, also would require those who own such weapons to register them with the state.

This is an infringement of our second amendment rights.  It will make buying ammunition more difficult for law-abiding citizens.  It is totally unnecessary, the background check done when a person buys a gun in California should be sufficient as they are already in the data base

And, this means I'll have to register my little ol' Ruger 10/22 rifle?  F*ck Steinberg!

This is just another step towards the confiscation of your guns if the Marxist Democrats decide the time is ripe.

To read more, go here.

Also, the Looneys are after the Boy Scouts!  Go here.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome At JapanTourist

Above, Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

JapanTourist has approved and posted the latest article on monster movie locations: Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome.

To view it, go here.

Japan Tourism Report By Business Monitor International Published

Above, the Shin-Saikai Bridge near Sasebo City in Kyushu.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Business Monitor International has issued their Japan Tourism Report Q3 2013.

The news release with the report states:

The Great East Japan earthquake, resulting tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis of March 2011 had a sharp impact on the Japanese tourism industry, immediately decreasing inbound and domestic tourist activity, with inbound travel falling by 27.78% to 6.2mn in 2011. Figures were recovering in 2012, when inbound travel reaching approximately 7.14mn. However we do not expect inbound travel to fully recover, ie, regain the 2010 arrivals figure of 8.61mn, until 2014. 

To read the full article (which contains a link to the report), go here.

Next Stop At JapanTourist: Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome

Above, the Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

My latest opus blending kaiju locations and Japan travel for JapanTourist has been submitted.

This time, we are headed back down to Fukuoka in Kyushu for a look at the Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome, which was featured in Gamera's return to the big screen after a fifteen-year hiatus in Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe (1995).

For the serious kaiju fan, this is familiar stuff as I have spotlighted Fukuoka Yahoo! Dome in G-FAN magazine and on this blog.  For the casual fan, this may bring some awareness to them that there are places to visit in Japan that were featured in the movies and get them off the sofa to make a trek.

Once the article has been approved and ready for viewing, I will post a notice here.

Stop Using Smartphones On Train Platforms, Japan's Railway Companies Ask

Above, a gathering place near the Hachiko statue at Shibuya Station is the place
 to fiddle with your smart phones, not on train platforms.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japanese railway companies are asking people to refrain from using smartphone while on train station platforms.

According to Japan Daily Press:

Due to the increasing number of people falling on the train tracks while using smartphones, some railway companies are asking passengers to refrain from using the devices while on the train platforms. A fifth-grade boy fell onto the tracks at the JR Yotsuya Station in Tokyo on Monday and suffered minor injuries. The Metropolitan Police Department said the boy was not paying attention because he was focused on his mobile phone.

I noticed how Japanese people have their noses buried in their cell phones, particularly on trains.  On my last trip to Japan, I saw one girl twice (same girl, but on two different days) at a train station with one hand diddling with her phone and the other picking and pulling her hair's split ends.

There has been many a time I felt like telling someone to "put down the freaking phone!"  (In the U.S. as well as in Japan).

To read more, go here.

Ginza Crossing Then & Now

About a month ago, I found some vintage post cards of scenes of Ginza in the 1950s.  Here's one of them:

Above, the Wako Dept. Store is on the left and the Mitsukoshi Dept. Store is on the right in the 1950s.

The next two photos are of the Wako and Mitsukoshi department stores taken in December 2010.  The streetcars are gone, but the two Ginza Crossing department stores still remain.

Above, the Mitsukoshi Dept. Store in 2010.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.
Above, the Wako Dept. Store in 2010.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Go to 08:44 min. to see the Wako Dept. Store torn down.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tofugu: "Gaijin"

Above, the Sendai ryokan I stayed at. Nearby, some bars did not allow non-Japanese.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Tofugu.com has an article entitled, "Gaijin."

In the article, they note:

Gaijin (外人, short for 外国人), or “foreigner” in Japanese, is a complicated word that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.

And, they also point out:

But for some people in Japan, “gaijin” can be a hurtful and alienating word. It can mean refusal of service at businesses, a barrier to entry for housing, or even threats of harassment or violence.

The only places in Japan I've seen where non-Japanese were not welcome were at some bars in Sendai. I was taking a walk near the ryokan I was staying at and saw several bars and clubs with "no non-Japanese" signs posted. Personally, I never ran into any problems.

To read the full article, go here.

Mt. Fuji Climbers Will Have To Pay Fees Starting This Summer

Above, the top of Mt. Fuji from the timberline.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Those of you going to Japan this summer to climb Mount Fuji, you're going to have to pay an entrance fee to two prefectures.

News On Japan reported:

The prefectural governments of Yamanashi and Shizuoka, central Japan, agreed Tuesday to start collecting entrance fees from Mount Fuji climbers beginning next summer.

Climbers heading for the summit of the mountain will have to pay their fees at the fifth station.

To read more, go here.

RNC Honors Paul Bannai As A "California Trailblazer"

Above, Armand with Paul Bannai in 1977 in Sacramento.

As I mentioned in this post from January, 2013 marks 40 years since the special election in the old 67th Assembly District (Hawthorne, Lawndale, Gardena, Torrance) in which Republican Paul T. Bannai was elected to fill the vacancy after the death of Larry Townsend.

I was a part of that campaign and went on to work in Bannai's district office as a field representative handling constituent problems.

Above, Paul Bannai (center) at a Japan Expo at the Los Angeles
Convention Center (circa 2002).  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Fittingly, Bannai was honored with three others by the Republican National Committee last month at their Spring Meeting in Los Angeles.  A luncheon was held honoring Bannai, Dr. Tirso Del Junco, Dr. Sammy Lee and Charles House.

On Bannai, the RNC said:
Paul Bannai was the first Japanese American elected to the California State Legislature, where he served from 1973 to 1980. He is also a former Gardena City Councilmember and served as the Chief Memorial Affairs Director for the Veterans Administration’s National Cemetery System. In World War II, he served in the United State Army’s 442nd Infantry Regiment and Intelligence Service.
To read the article on the California Republican Trailblazers honored by the RNC, go here.

Want To Be On The Big Screen...In Shibuya?

Above, Shibuya Crossing, known as "The Scramble."  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Ever wanted to be on the big screen?  Not the Hollywood kind, but one overlooking "The Scramble" at Shibuya Crossing near the Hachiko Exit at Shibuya Station.

Metropolis magazine has information how to cross this off your "Bucket List":
Ever dreamt of being on the big screen—the one at the Shibuya crossing? Well now’s your chance. PAS Communications is offering the chance to up your own Happy Message (Tel: 03-5216-3012; email: info@pas-com.co.jp; www.pas.com) on one (or all) of the large TV screens above the Scramble.
For more information, go here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Monster Japan Travel Guide Pre-Vacation Season Sale Ends Soon

Ten days from tomorrow, the pre-vacation season 20% discount sale of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan ends.

All orders postmarked up to and including Saturday, June 8 are entitled to the discount.


Source: Anime News Network.

Saving On Summer Travel In Japan

Above, a view of Kyoto from a shinkansen window.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Huffington Post's Travel section has a good article on saving money on transportation while touring around Japan this summer.

They start it with:
Over-the-top festivals, fireworks extravaganzas, street-side barbeques, a chorus of cicadas singing in every tree, shaved ice, colorful cotton yukata kimonos and the clip clop of wooden sandals: The sights, sounds and flavors of summer in Japan are not to be missed.  
Don't let the fear of high transportation costs hold you back from a visit at this uniquely Japanese time of year. Save big on transportation with these tips.
One of the tips they cover is the JR Rail Pass, which I have covered on this blog and in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan on pages 10-12.

They also cover other transit passes of municipalities and long-distance all-night bus lines.

To read the article, go here.

The "Adventures of Superman" Slideshow

Fans of the Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves can view a slideshow of all episodes (1951 - 1957) while listening to music cues from the show courtesy of noted fan Jim Nolt:

Ninja Travel Tips Without Breaking The Bank

Above, commuters waiting to board a train at Kumamoto Station.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Some nice little tips from RocketNews24 on Japan rail travel came to my attention today.  These tips are something that I was unaware of, but they look to be useful.

The article they posted begins with:
Ever wanted to cross Japan by rail but hate the idea of being stuck on the train, watching the scenery flash by without ever being able to get out and experience it? Today we’re going to let you in on a little secret few foreigners are aware of so you can explore further, without having to pay extra for the privilege.

This neat little trick is quite well known in Japan, but there are probably quite a few gaijin out there, and some Japanese people too, who aren’t aware of it. The secret is that Japan Rail (JR) has a special rule for certain tickets, which allows you to get on and off the train as many times as you like on your journey!

To find out the details, go here.  You learn something new everyday!

Obama Proposes Hiking Air Travel Tax

President Ronald Reagan used to say this about Democrats, "They never met a tax they didn't like or try to hike."  Well, they're at it again.

According to the Los Angeles Times:
The cost of flying might be going up, but this time it's not the airlines raising prices.

The Obama administration has proposed raising the taxes on air travel by about $14 per flight, a move airlines strongly oppose.

Higher taxes are needed to help reduce the deficit, pay for improvements at the nation's airports and add thousands of new immigration and customs officers to reduce wait times to process foreign visitors, the administration says. 
Airlines say higher taxes will backfire and hurt the economy.
There hasn't been a tax hike or a new tax imposed with the purpose of reducing the deficit.  They've all been imposed to increase spending.

I'm with the airlines on this one.

To read the full article, go here.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

Above, a 2010 flag display at Pepperdine University in Malibu.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

AsiaOne: 30 Tips For First Time Travelers To Japan

Above, apartment buildings and a feeder canal to the Sumida River in Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

AsiaOne News (a Singapore press holdings portal) has 30 tips for first time travelers to Japan.

Many of them are familiar to some of us, while others may be something new.  Still, in order to avoid a social mistake, it might be a good idea to review these or even print them and take them along with you.

The article begins with:

So you're traveling to Japan! Lucky you - such a fabulous country, absolutely unique culture, fascinating language and amazing natural beauty. Before you leave, check out our 30 tips for first time travelers to Japan - it's good to know the dos and don'ts firsthand.

To read the 30 tips, go here

Kamakura Throws In Towel On World Heritage Bid

Above, the Great Buddha of Kamakura.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The mayor of Kamakura announced that they are withdrawing their bid for World Heritage designation.

According to Kyodo News:

Kamakura mayor Takashi Matsuo said Monday he will ask the Agency for Cultural Affairs to drop its recommendation to list the ancient city in Kanagawa Prefecture, near Tokyo, to be registered on the World Heritage list.

Above, the Great Buddha in 1945 during the occupation.

To read more, go here.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Osaka Coastline In 1947 and "Godzilla Raids Again"?

Last year, my cousin Julie gave me 60 photos of post-war Osaka during the U.S. occupation.  They were taken by her father-in-law while he was stationed in Osaka around 1947.

One photo in the collection was this one:

The photo reminded me of this scene in Godzilla Raids Again (1955) (known in the U.S. as Gigantis, The Fire Monster) of a distance shot of burning Osaka:

I can't say that they both show the same coastline and the same mountains, but the views are quite similar.

ANA's Boeing 787s Return To Service

All Nippon Airways (ANA) has resumed service with Boeing 787 Dreamliners today.

The first flight was a domestic flight to Tokyo International Airport at Haneda from Chitose Airport near Sapporo in Hokkaido.

This marks the end of four months of grounding of the aircraft for the airline due to lithium ion battery problems of the Dreamliner. The time was needed to determine the cause of the problems and fix them.  During the time of the grounding, ANA was named 2013 "Airline of the Year" by Air Transport World (ATW), the leading monthly magazine covering the global airline industry.

Back in January, I tried out ANA's economy and business class seating at their display at the Los Angeles Travel & Adventure Show in Long Beach (below).

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Fare Compare Picks Up Monster Japan Presentation News

Above, Miki Hayashi with "The Monster Movie
Fan's Guide To Japan."  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Farecompare.com picked up the news release on my slideshow presentation set for June 17 at Distant Lands in Pasadena.

Here's their blurb:

One quibble, the 30-foot-tall statue of Godzilla is not in Tokyo, but in Yokosuka.

What is Fare Compare?  Here's what they say:
We're not here to sell you a ticket. We're here to make sure you're getting the best deal on your flight. That's why we've compiled raw, real-time fare data from over 500 airlines - every day since 2004. It all adds up to (drum roll please) The World's Largest Database of Historic and Current Airfares. 

To view the site, go here.

Nagoya Castle Structures Restored

Above, Godzilla (photo signed by Haruo Nakajima) approaches Nagoya Castle in 1964. Photo: Toho Co., Ltd.
and part of collection of Armand Vaquer.

Structures at Nagoya Castle have been restored for the first time in 70 years and a ceremony was held Thursday with Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura in attendance.

The restored structures included the entrance and reception room of the main residential building.

According to News On Japan:
The Honmaru Palace was built in the early Edo Period in the early 17th century as a residence and office of Tokugawa Yoshinao, the first feudal lord of the Owari Domain. 
The building was designated a national treasure in 1930, but was destroyed in the 1945 air raids by the US air force.

Nagoya Castle was destroyed by Godzilla in 1964's Mothra vs. Godzilla (known in the U.S. as Godzilla vs. The Thing).  It is covered in The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan on page 40.

To read more (a video is included), go here

Friday, May 24, 2013

Seikouen Bonsai Japanese Directory Picks Up Monster Slideshow Presentation News

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

Seikouen Bonsai Japanese Directory has picked up the news release on the June 17 slideshow presentation on Japanese monster movie locations at Distant Lands in Pasadena, California.  The presentation is based on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan.

The site covers a number of topics including bonsai books, Japanese food, Japanese news and has a Japanese translator, dictionary and other features.

To view the site, go here.

Democrats' 2016 Dream Ticket?

Japan Monster Locations Presentation News At Anime News Network

The news release of my slideshow presentation of monster movie locations and landmarks at Distant Lands in Pasadena on June 17 is meandering its way though the Internet.  The latest being from the good folks at the Anime News Network.

Hopefully, we'll get a good turnout of fans who also want to visit Japan and "follow in Godzilla's footsteps."

Here's a snip of the Anime News Network's posting:

Source: Anime News Network.
To view the site, go here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Congratulations To Metropolis Magazine!

A little over two years ago, a question & answer article was published in an English-language magazine published in Tokyo, Japan.  Above, is the cover of the issue the article appeared in.

The name of the magazine: Metropolis.  Issue no. 876.

No, it is not some sort of Superman-related magazine.  It is Japan's number one English-language magazine for expats residing in Tokyo (or anywhere else they can pick up a copy).

The aforementioned Q & A article was on a little travel guide on Japanese monster movie locations and I was the person questioned. The article shared page space with an American singer, Christina Aguilera (photo above).  [Here's the online version of the article.]

Above, the publishing date happened to be on
my daughter's birthday!

This week, Metropolis hits issue number 1,000.  Here's a salute to Metropolis and a hearty congratulations on issue number 1,000!

For more on Metropolis magazine's milestone, go here.

Hold The IRS Accountable

Peggy Noonan hit the nail on the head in her Wall Street Journal article today on the current IRS scandal:

"I don't know." "I don't remember." "I'm not familiar with that detail." "It's not my precise area." "I'm not familiar with that letter." 
These are quotes from the Internal Revenue Service officials who testified this week before the House and Senate. That is the authentic sound of stonewalling, and from the kind of people who run Washington in the modern age—smooth, highly credentialed and unaccountable. They're surrounded by legal and employment protections, they know how to parse a careful response, they know how to blur the essential point of a question in a blizzard of unconnected factoids. They came across as people arrogant enough to target Americans for abuse and harassment and think they'd get away with it.
Hopefully, they won't get away with it.  They still may.  What is needed is what Noonan later wrote in her article:
A dead serious investigation is needed. The IRS has colorfully demonstrated that it cannot investigate itself. The Obama administration wants the FBI—which answers to Eric Holder's Justice Department—to investigate, but that would not be credible. The investigators of the IRS must be independent of the administration, or their conclusions will not be trustworthy. 
An independent counsel, with all the powers of that office, is what we need.
To read Noonan's full article, go here

Final Royalty Check From ComiXpress

My account with the late, great ComiXpress has been settled.  The final royalty check for sales of The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan arrived in today's mail.  My experience with ComiXpress has been a pleasant one and the fast arrival of the check is indicative of that.

As far as my future plans are concerned, I am still thinking about whether to re-publish the current edition of the guide (with some necessary modifications to the back cover and the inside back cover) with a different publisher or wait to publish an updated "second edition."  I am in no hurry on either as I have plenty of copies in stock that should last to the end of the year.  Either way, I still have to settle on finding a comparable (to the terms and costs I had with ComiXpress) publisher.

May is rapidly approaching the end of the month and the guide is still available at a 20% pre-vacation season discount (see below) through Saturday, June 8.  It is also available as an ebook through Amazon.com's Kindle Store (it is also available in the Kindle Stores of Brazil, Germany, France, Canada, United Kingdom, Japan, Spain and Italy).

Source: Anime News Network.

Monster Japan Slideshow News Beginning To Post

Above, Miki Hayashi with "The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan."
Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The news release on my slideshow presentation based on The Monster Movie Fan's Guide To Japan on June 17 at Distant Lands in Pasadena is starting to be picked up and posted by different travel websites.

Best Traveller.net is one of them, but somehow the text got a little garbled or "lost in translation."

To view it, go here.

News Release on June 17 Presentation Distributed

The news release on my June 17 kaiju locations presentation at Distant Lands in Pasadena is now out and being distributed.

It is being sent out to travel-industry related news organizations.

To view it, go here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Travelpulse: Strong Dollar Impacting Japanese and European Travel

Above, Sensoji in Asakusa, Tokyo.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

The strong dollar is impacting Japanese and European travel, according to an article posted at Travelpulse.com.

They wrote:
As new first quarter figures come into the Japan National Tourist Office in New York, it appears to be the strongest March in a decade. The dollar has emerged as a powerhouse against the Yen as it has gone in just a few months’ time from being able to purchase 78 Yen to what it purchases today—102 Yen. Inside Japan, it is being speculated that it could hit 120—a 20 percent increase in purchasing power. 
The dollar is also on the rise against the Euro. Thanks to the Yen’s descent beginning in late 2012, the number of visitors to Japan has risen 18 percent in the first three months of 2013 to 2.3 million. The Japanese government has set an ambitious goal of attracting 25 million visitors by 2020.
To read the full article, go here

Japan Tourism Hits Record For April

Above, Nagasaki's waterfront.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Japan's tourism industry has definitely rebound.

According to The Japan Times:
The number of foreign visitors to Japan grew 18.1 percent in April from a year earlier to reach a record high 923,000, thanks to a weakening yen and the popularity of low-cost carriers, a government body said Wednesday.

The figure eclipsed the previous high of 879,000 set in July 2010, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.
The Japan Tourism Agency has set a goal of ten million visitors for 2013.  While the April totals are good, they said that "more needs to be done" to reach that goal.

To read the full article, go here.

News Release On Distant Lands Presentation

Above, yours truly at the 2011 Monsterpalooza.  

My press release service will be distributing the following press release tomorrow morning:
Armand Vaquer, author of “The Monster Movie Fan’s Guide To Japan” will give a slide presentation on visiting landmarks and locations used in Japanese monster movies at Distant Lands at 20 Raymond Ave., Pasadena, California on Monday, June 17 at 7:30 PM. 
He will discuss the locations and landmarks in Japan that were demolished by Godzilla, Rodan, Gamera and others and how to reach them. He will also discuss other monster-related sites in Japan, including the Godzilla statue in the Hibiya section of Tokyo and the 9 meter tall (about 30 feet) Godzilla slide in Yokosuka. 
Admission is free. 
Distant Lands is a travel bookstore and travel outfitter founded in 1989 by Adrian Kalvinskas. He created the Distant Lands bookstore to equip travelers with information and skills to make travel easier and more enjoyable. He also started the Distant Lands outfitters to provide the best travel accessories, clothing, luggage and travel packs available. 
For more information or to R.S.V.P., contact Distant Lands at (626) 449-3220.

This Seems Very Familiar...

Here's a poster for the upcoming Hangover Part III movie:

Here's the cover to Crisis On Infinite Earths number 7:

Kyoto Tour Package Discounted 10%

Above, the steps to the Kiyomizu-dera pagoda.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Backyard Travel has announced a special tour of Kyoto and Nara at a 10% discount.

According to their press release:
The four-day, three-night tour investigates the sublime elements of Japan’s capital of culture and is now available with a 10% discount when the trip is taken before 30 September 2013. 
Led by a local Backyard Travel guide, travelers on the tour will explore some of Kyoto’s numerous World Heritage Sites, starting with Nijo Castle and its stunning surrounding gardens. 
The tour also includes a visit to Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavilion Temple, and the Daitoku-ji Zen temple complex which features one of Japan’s most famous rock gardens. 
The Kyoto tour also includes a tour of a local sake brewery to learn all about Japan’s iconic alcohol and enjoy a taste testing session.
I've been to Kyoto and visited Kinkakuji and Nijo Castle along with Kiyomizu-dera (threatened by Godzilla in 1993's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II), Kyoto Station (the site of the final battle between Gamera and Irys in Gamera 3 (1999)) and saw Kyoto Tower (blasted by Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II). A discounted package tour of Kyoto should be of interest to kaiju fans.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/business/prweb/article/Backyard-Travel-Release-News-of-Promotion-for-4536700.php#ixzz2U2F4iJRg

Forbes.com Interview With Japan National Tourism Organization's Executive Director

Above, my room at the Bansuitei Ikoiso Ryokan in Sendai.
Photo by Armand Vaquer.

Forbes.com has posted an interview with the executive director of the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) that potential tourists to Japan will find interesting.  It is titled, "Japan Basks In Its New Position As An Affordable Travel Destination."

It starts with:
The difference a year can make: When I spoke with Yuki Tanaka, the Executive Director of the Japan National Tourism Organization in the U.S., last May, travel to Japan was just recovering from the a drastic decline following the March 11, 2011 Sendai earthquake and a close call with disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. What’s more, tourism to Japan was also facing a structural challenge due to a chronically strong yen. Fast-forward to the present, and Japan lives up to its name as the land of the rising sun: in terms of traveler numbers, the earthquake is a thing of the past. And thanks to a weaker yen (102 per USD as of this writing, down from an average of 79.97 in 2011), Japan suddenly finds itself in the unfamiliar but enviable position of being an affordable destination.

To read the interview, go here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Japan Inviting "Tourism Class Warfare" With Proposal?

Above, the wealthy would have more time to spend their money in Ginza, Tokyo
under a proposal by a Japanese government panel.  Photo by Armand Vaquer.

A Japanese government panel has been looking into ways to boost tourism.  The latest idea that has been hatched is to allow long says for wealthy foreign tourists.

According to Jiji Press:
A government panel discussing measures to boost tourism on Monday drew up an interim report proposing creating a new type of entry qualification that would allow wealthy foreigners to stay in Japan for several years.
Currently, Japan allows foreigners to stay in the country for long periods only for the purposes of study and business.  Otherwise, such as in the case of U.S. visitors, tourist visas are only 90-days long.

If enacted, this sounds to me like the beginnings of tourism class warfare and resentment.  Money talks, it seems. I know of a number of "non-rich" foreign tourists who find the 90-day tourist visa period a bit confining, although it has never been a problem for me personally. Is it really fair to allow more time for people with fatter wallets?

The panel will present its report to a ministerial forum in June.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kaiju Locations Presentation On Distant Lands Calendar

Distant Lands Travel Bookstore and Outfitters has my kaiju slideshow presentation listed on their calendar page.

My presentation takes place on Monday, June 17 at 7:30 PM at 20 Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, California. Admission is free.

To view Distant Lands calendar page, go here.

Doors' Ray Manzarek Dies At 74

Before I discovered the Jimi Hendrix Experience, my favorite rock band was The Doors.

Today, sad news came in from Germany.

Music Mix reported:

Ray Manzarek, the founding keyboardist for the Doors, passed away this morning in Germany, according to a statement from his publicist. The cause was bile duct cancer.

Manzarek was the band's keyboardist.  In 1998, he wrote a memoir about his experiences, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors, a copy resides in my bookshelf.

To read the full article, go here.

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