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Google unveils virtual tour of Buckingham Palace

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

LONDON – Web surfers will be able to peek into the gilded interiors of Queen Elizabeth II’s home in a new virtual reality tour launched by Google on Wednesday.

Buckingham Palace, the queen’s primary residence, has opened its doors to Google for 360-degree photos of some of its richly-decorated rooms.

Buckingham Palace, the queen’s primary residence, has opened its doors to the tech giant for 360-degree photos of some of its richly-decorated rooms.

The tour can be viewed on a computer or in 3D on a mobile phone through the official British Monarchy YouTube channel — one of several digital initiatives adopted by the royal household in recent years.

Visitors are welcomed by a virtual Master of the Household and then guided by curator Anna Reynolds through lavish chambers including the Throne Room.

At the end of the video, which lasts aroundಊ minutes, virtual visitors are also shown a secret door through which the queen arrives at receptions.

The programme is intended for schoolchildren and was created under Google’s Expedition programme.

Instead of having a virtual guide, teachers dictate the tour and highlight interesting topics for pupils.

“For schoolchildren, Buckingham Palace is one of the most iconic, magical buildings in the world,” said Jemima Rellie, director of content at the Royal Collection Trust which worked together with Google.

Jennifer Holland, Expedition’s programme manager, launched the tour at an event in London with pupils from a school in east London.

“We asked them, if you could go anywhere in the world where would you want to go and they replied — Buckingham Palace,” she said.

The photos for the tour were taken last week with a 16-camera rig placed in a circle.

The virtual tour will also be available through the official British Monarchy YouTube channel.

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Palace Fair in Lop Buri

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

From Feb 13-21, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s Lop Buri office invites locals and tourists to wear traditional Thai costumes to the “Land of King Narai The Great Fair 2016″, which will be held at Phra Narai Ratchaniwet Palace, Muang district of Lop Buri.

Phra Narai Ratchaniwet Palace.

Visitors will be able to watch cultural and art performances and traditional games, enjoy lucky draws and shop for food and handicrafts using old-style coins called phod duang at a retro market in the fair compound.

On the first day, a parade under a historical theme will take to the streets from Sa Kaew Roundabout to the palace starting at 3pm, followed by the opening ceremony at 7pm.

Throughout the fair, the retro-style market will be open from 10am-9pm with cooking and handicraft-making demonstrations from 1pm-11pm.

The hourly change of guards at the palace’s Phayakkha Gate is from 10am-11pm and the display of traditional houses, ways of life and cultural performances is from 6pm-10.30pm.

Highlights will be a nightly light and sound show depicting the history of Lop Buri and a nightly dinner reception in front of Phiman Mongkut Royal Mansion and two cultural performances a day at the palace’s Sipsong Thong Phra Khlang, Foreign Guests’ and Phra Chao Hao buildings.

On Feb 16, almsgiving and religious ceremonies as well as ceremonies to pay respect to the spirits of King Narai the Great and King Rama IV, who loved to spend time in the region, will take place from 7pm-10pm.

Visit www.tat7.com or contact the TAT’s Lop Buri office on 036-770-096/7.

Elephant polo in Bangkok

Anantara Hotels, Resorts Spas will host theಎth King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament on March 10-13 at VR Sports Club, about 15 minutes drive south of Suvarnabhumi airport.

Ten teams will compete in the event with a total of 40 players including professional horse polo players, New Zealand All Blacks rugby players, Thai celebrities and a Miss Tiffany cabaret team. A total of 18 elephants will take part in the festival.

The four day festival will feature the Opening Parade, Children’s Educational Day, Ladies Day and elephant-related activities for visitors with children.

According to Anantara, the event has raised nearly US$1 million (36.4 million baht) since it was launched in Hua Hin in 2001. The proceeds have been donated to projects relating to elephants in Thailand and neighbouring countries such as the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Lampang, the Government Elephant Hospital in Krabi, funding farmer/elephant conflict mitigation projects in the western part of Thailand and funding the protected forest in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains.

Anantara has its own elephant conservation project which it launched in 2005. The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation is located in Chiang Rai and has raised and looks after 40 elephants which were rescued off the streets.

Visit anantaraelephantpolo.com.

Two fests in Bali

From tomorrow to Saturday, the Bali Barong Festival will be held at the Art Centre in Denpasar, featuring various kinds of Barong, including Barong Ket, Barong Buntut and Makendang.

A Barong is a lion-like creature and character in the mythology of Bali, Indonesia. He is the king of the spirits, leader of the hosts of good and enemy of Rangda, the demon queen and mother of all spirit guarders in the mythological traditions of Bali.

On Janಚ, the Besakih Temple, also known as the “Mother Temple” in Bali, will celebrate its biannual Piodalan temple anniversary.

Located at the foot of Mount Agung, the island’s highest peak, this day is set for a unique and exhilarating religious tradition when pilgrims from all over the island head to the temple for prayers.

Visit www.balitourismboard.org.


Email pichayas@bangkokpost.co.th
if you have any news to share.

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The two-coloured Rivers city

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

Widely known as Pak Nam Pho, Nakhon Sawan is a gateway to the North of Thailand. It holds significance in terms of history and culture aside from also being a hub of transportation and trade in the past. Besides its famous Chinese New Year celebrations, this province has hidden treasures, including local museums, a river island and the small town of Chum Saeng for visitors to explore.

“Nakhon Sawan is a legendary city. In the past, many Chinese migrants settled down here because Nakhon Sawan has rivers and abundant resources. This year, we celebrate the centenary of our Chinese New Year parades. You will be able to see old things and places here,” Supaporn Taengnara, chairwoman of the Nakhon Sawan Tourism Association, noted.

According to the Thai Tourism Society, a community tourism advocacy group, the other name of Nakhon Sawan was probably derived from the words, Pak Nam Phlo, meaning “the mouth of a river emerges”, as the Chao Phraya River begins here. The 740km-long Nan River, originating in the Pua district of Nan, flows south and meets the Ping and Wang rivers in tambon Kwai Yai, Muang Nakhon Sawan. The 550km-long Yom River, which originates in Phayao, flows south through Phrae, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok and Phichit, meeting the Nan River at Wat Koeichai Nua in Chum Saeng district, Nakhon Sawan. The Ping-Wang rivers and the Yom-Nan merge to form the Chao Phraya River at Pak Nam Pho. Another old name of Nakhon Sawan, given by the visiting King Rama V, is muang chon tawan, meaning a city that faces the Sun in the morning.

The history of this city dates back to prehistoric times – the late Iron Age or about 2,000-3,000 years ago. This is confirmed by the discovery of human skeletons, fragments of pottery, stone axes and iron tools on Khao Chong Khae Hill in tambon Chan Sen and at Ban Mai Chaimongkol Village in Ta Khli district. Aerial photos show traces of more than 20 ancient cities of the Dvaravati Period around the 11th-16th centuries scattered in Nakhon Sawan while archaeological excavations found pottery, ruins of pagodas, bases of Buddha statues, Wheel of Dhamma statues, Buddha amulets and jewellery at Chan Sen Ancient City.

During the Sukhothai Period about 600-700 years ago, this town was called Muang Phra Bang, a “muang na dan” border town south of Sukhothai, as mentioned in King Ramkhamhaeng’s First Inscription Stone. During the early Ayutthaya Period, it was a buffer zone. In the reign of the Ayutthaya Kingdom’s King Borommatrailokkanat (1448-1488), the king renamed Muang Phra Bang as Nakhon Sawan which then became a trading hub and a centre for troops to gather for war.

During the Thonburi Period in 1775, King Taksin the Great led his army to await and fight Burmese invaders here. During the early Rattanakosin Period, Nakhon Sawan was a major town for military logistics for northern towns. Goods from the North were transported by boat past this city, especially rice, via the Nan River and teak logs via the Ping River. The city grew and many Chinese migrants settled down there after the construction of the railway in the reign of King Rama V. The glory of this city reached its peak in the reign of King Rama VI and continually declined after the extension of the railway to Chiang Mai and the Great Depression during the 1930s, which affected the whole world. Nakhon Sawan has become less important and has acted as just a gateway for goods since the opening of the Bangkok-Chiang Mai highway and the Dechatiwong Bridge over the Chao Phraya River in 1950.

Must-sees in Nakhon Sawan are the History of Muang Pak Nam Pho Museum, Yom Island, the centuries-old Chao Phor-Chao Mae Pak Nam Pho Shrine, the Walking Street and the old commercial town of Chum Saeng, about 40km north of Muang Nakhon Sawan.

During our recent Thai Tourism Society study trip for Bangkok’s community tourism networks, we visited the museum and shrine. While travelling by boat on the Nan River to Yom Island, we spotted a few raft houses with people still living there. On the island, we visited a fish sauce factory-turned-farm, an old shipbuilding yard, a soy bean preserving house and a candle making house. After returning to the city centre, we strolled down the riverside Walking Street which is open every Saturday evening. There we found a wide array of goods, ranging from clothes, handbags, accessories, toys, small trees and puppies to local and foreign food on sale from dusk until around 9.30pm.

The next morning, our group headed to Muang Chum Saeng Municipality. Prior to the construction of the northern railway in 1915, Chum Saeng Market had been a hub of commerce and log trading and a stopover for merchants who had travelled by boat between the northern towns and Bangkok. It remained popular until the construction of roads in 1950. Today, the atmosphere there is peaceful as always. Amid a lot of rundown shophouses, a number of old-style shops remain open. Fortunately, there is a ray of hope since local people and the municipality have joined hands to promote local tourism for people who yearn to reminisce about the good old days.

Santi Kunawong, managing director of Fairy Land Department Store who initiated and operates the History of Muang Pak Nam Pho Museum in this mall by borrowing the most displayed objects from local people, said that “the population of Nakhon Sawan comprise six groups of people – Thai, Chinese, Mon, Vietnamese, Laotian and descendants of migrants from the Indian subcontinent. All the groups live in harmony without conflict and conserve their cultures. Nakhon Sawan is full of delicious food due to its multiculturalism”.

Located 240km from Bangkok, Nakhon Sawan is easily accessible by train, bus and car as well as by public van from Victory Monument.

To get to Chum Saeng, you can travel from Muang Nakhon Sawan either by train or by car or bus using Highway 3600.

Riding a ferry across the Chao Phraya River costs 20 baht per person per return trip. Hiring a boat to tour any of the rivers costs 400 baht per hour and 700 baht per two hours per boat. Each boat can accommodate up to eight passengers.

The southern end of Yom Island is where the green-coloured Ping- Wang rivers and the brown-coloured Yom-Nan rivers meet to merge as the Chao Phraya River. In the past, many raft houses lined the river. There were at least three markets and even a school on rafts. Big shops on rafts were mostly owned by the Chinese. Most raft residents moved to live on the river banks after the Great Depression and the construction of roads.


Wat Koeichai Nua in tambon Koei Chai, Chum Saeng district, is believed to have been built over 600 years ago. The assumption is based on the fact that the principal pagoda, Phra Boromthat Chedi, is in an inverted bell style (Lanka style) with an octagonal base and sema (boundary) stones made of slate stones — the Sukhothai style. Other must-sees are Phra Buddha Srisanphet, the principal Buddha of the old ordination hall, the statue of the late former abbot Phra Khru Niraphaivithet, the statues of the infamous crocodile Dang Koeichai, the confluence of the Yom and Nan rivers, the Local Art Exhibition and two museums on the templeâ��s antiques and books. Admission is free.

In Chum Saeng, must-sees include Chum Saeng Railway Station, Srisuwan Drugstore, two printing houses, Chum Saeng Gallery, Kaewchai Hotel, Chaiwan Grocery Store, Mae Yuan goldshop and Chum Saeng’s first bookstore Kiatying. Visitors should pay respect to the statue of King Taksin the Great who led his army to suppress the rebellious ruler of Phitsanulok and was shot in one of his legs in Chum Saeng. The king had also led his troops to Nakhon Sawan to await and fight Burmese invaders several times.


Chao Phor-Chao Mae Chum Saeng Shrine has been a spiritual pillar for local people and boat travellers for almost a century. Every February, locals celebrate the birthdays of both deities. Every December, they take the statues to the streets around Chum Saeng Market in a parade for blessings. This tradition has continued for over 80 years.



Tang Seng Ha fish sauce factory is now the Tanwisuth Farm. As the numbers of small fish in the river have decreased and vanished in the past 40 years, the factory had to stop producing fish sauce and started raising fish, pigs and crocodiles for sale. At present, the farm, owned by Pong Tanwisuth, has over 60 fish ponds, 400 pigs, almost 100 crocodiles and numerous fighting cocks.

Chao Phor-Chao Mae Pak Nam Pho Shrine is located in tambon Khwae Yai by the Chao Phraya River opposite Pak Nam Pho Market. This Hainanese shrine must be older than 145 years because a Chinese man presented a bronze bell to the shrine in 1870. The shrine has the statues of Chinese deities Poon Thao Kong, Guan Yu and Chao Mae Tubtim, who protects seafarers. During the Chinese New Year Festivities around February, locals take all the statues in a procession around Pak Nam Pho Market with big celebrations as well as lion and dragon dances. This tradition has continued for a century.

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Cable car plan to get OK?

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

Phu Kradueng is a scenic destination and tourists fear the cable car development would ruin the national park.

The cable car project to the mountaintop of Phu Kradueng National Park has entered its final stage. In December, all feasibility studies, environmental impact assessments, public hearing sessions and opinions from various parties were submitted to the cabinet for approval.

Phu Kradueng is a famous destination in Loei province. The cable car idea was initiated in 1982 by Phu Kradueng National Park, and Kasetsart University was assigned to conduct a feasibility study and environmental impact assessment two years later. More studies have been conducted in the past decades, with mixed opinions. While conservative groups opposed the plan with high concerns about natural deterioration, locals supported the idea.

No progress was made till 2012, when Loei revived the project and officially submitted it to the cabinet. The cabinet then assigned Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Dasta), a public organisation, to conduct studies and public hearing sessions.

Dasta suggested that, if approved, a ropeway should be built at the southeastern corner of the national park. Seven poles will support the cable, a length of 4.40km. The mountain station will be situated 600m west of Lang Pae, the point where trekkers reach the park’s plateau, which elevates a bit over 1,200m above sea level.

According to the plan, the cable car would neither ruin the scenery nor bother trekkers. It will climb up and fly over a mixed deciduous forest, dry evergreen forest, hill evergreen forest and pine forest, respectively. It requires 5,700m² for two stations and poles. The study insists that no big trees would be felled. It will be aerial ropeways with a mono cable detachable gondola to accommodate eight passengers at a time. The gondola would be able to carry 4,000 passengers per hour. It is estimated that the new mode of transport could serve 20,000 passengers per day, or 7 million passengers a year.

The project investment is estimated to be 6Ȃ million baht. Dasta sees it is worthwhile as the cable car will attract more tourists during low season and generate more income for local businesses. Rainy season is the low season for Phu Kradueng as the conventional trail is slippery and dangerous.

Easy access via cable car allows the national park to limit overnight tourists at 5,000 people a day, according to the park’s capacity. Those beyond the carrying capacity can make day trips.

The cable car will reduce trekkers, ease a garbage problem in the park and help with first-aid problems. Trekking to the plateau of Phu Kradueng requires an overnight trip up a 9km trail, which is impossible in a day.

More than 30 workshops with local people were organised, along with three public hearing sessions. More than 70% of community leaders in Loei, Phu Kradueng and porters, which make a living by carrying tourists luggage, agreed with the project. However, more than 60% of trekkers disagreed with the project, according to Dasta’s report.

Loei governor Viroj Jivarangsan hopes that the cable car would be a new magnet attracting tourists from nearby Asean countries to the province. Growing tourism would also benefit nearby attractions like Phu Rua, Chiang Khan, Dan Sai and Na Haew, as well.

In 2013, the province welcomed 1.5 million tourists, however only 60,000 visited Phu Kradueng, partly due to its difficult access.

A porter carries tourists’ luggage to the top of Phu Kradueng.

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The travel barometer

Posted on 21 January 2016 by admin

Seeking new experiences is the top reason why people want to travel, according to the TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer study.

Taste of Hong Kong.

The research is based on an online survey conducted between Oct 15-29 last year by Ipsos, a global research firm. A total of 44,782 people participated in the survey. They are 34,026 consumers who are TripAdvisor website users and Ipsos online panellists and 10,756 representatives from accommodation properties who use TripAdvisor’s free marketing services.

The study found that people want to seek new experiences with 69% of participants wanting to try something new in 2016. About 20% of them want to try a cruise for the first time this year while 17% plan to travel solo. About 15% will try adventure travel for the first time.

People tend to choose destinations based on culture and the people of the specific country ࿏%), special offers of hotels or tour packages (21%) and TV tourism programmes (20%).

When choosing a place to stay, the top factors on the list are having air conditioning (63%), followed by free in-room Wi-Fi (46%), breakfast (40%) and a swimming pool (26%).

The study also found that 33% of travellers are open to spending more this year than they have in the past. Almost half of those who plan to increase their travel budget give the reason that it is “because I or my family deserve it” and 31% agreed that it will be because “it’s important for my health and well-being”.

In addition, about 47% of hoteliers globally plan to increase room rates in 2016 as they want to compensate for increased overhead costs (65%), recently completed renovations (37%) and because of increased demand (35%).

Hotels will invest more on their online reputation as 93% of hoteliers said that online traveller reviews are important for the future of their business.  

A taste of Hong Kong

Taste Festivals will be hosted for the first time in Asia starting with “Taste of Hong Kong” between March 10-13 on the Central Harbourfront in Hong Kong.

The food festival was launched in 2004 with the first Taste of London before expanding to other cities throughout Europe, the Middle East, South Africa and Australia.

Taste of Hong Kong will include the participation of 12 of Hong Kong’s Michelin-star restaurants and Hong Kong’s top chefs serving more than 40 signature dishes and iconic one-off festival creations. The four-day event will also provide exclusive Champagne masterclasses, local artisanal produce to buy and interactive food and wine attractions.

Visit www.DiscoverHongKong.com.

Airlines update

Lufthansa has opened its first family check-in service at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Bangkok is the first airport in the Asia Pacific region that offers this unique service, said Dirk Grossmann, the Lufthansa general manager for Thailand and the Mekong Region.

At the counter, children can climb a few steps so they can watch the check-in procedure, receive their boarding pass and also a special boarding pass for their “Best Friend” such as a teddy or cuddly toy accompanying them on their flight. Lufthansa also has mascots Lu and Cosmo to welcome children at the airport. “Even prior to take off our young passengers should have a memorable experience with Lufthansa. We are therefore delighted that we are now also able to offer this new family-friendly service in Bangkok,” he said.

In the past year the crews welcomed more than 750,000 children and adolescents on board.

Visit www.lufthansa.com.

Bangkok Airways has launched an additional daily flight between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, increasing the number to six flights a day.

The new flight is in the early morning. It departs Suvarnabhumi airport at 6.20am and the return leg from Phnom Penh airport is 8.20am. The travel time is one hour and 10 minutes.

The airline uses Airbus A319, featuring 12 business class seats and 108 economy class seats.

Visit www.bangkokair.com or call centre at 1771.

Hotels update

X2 will open its first hotel in Buri Ram. X2 Vibe Buriram will offer 68 rooms including one suite in its five-storey building. On the rooftop will be a bar and lounge where guests can see the city view. Also provided are a swimming pool, 24-hour fitness centre, a meeting room which can accommodate up to 80 people and a restaurant.

“The X2 Vibe Buriram is just one of the many exciting openings that we have lined up for 2016,” said Anthony McDonald, CEO of Bespoke Hospitality management based in Bangkok and founder of the CrossTo brand.

The hotel is a short drive to Buriram United International Circuit and the Buriram United football stadium. 

X2 Vibe Buriram is open for reservations and will be launched in the second quarter of this year.

Visit www.x2vibe.com/x2-vibe-buriram.


Email karnjanak@bangkokpost.co.th
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Consumers bought at least 27,000 cutlets that should have been discarded

Posted on 18 January 2016 by admin

They are believed to be part of some 63,000 frozen beef cutlets that Ichibanya Co., a curry restaurant operator based in Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture, asked the waste disposal company Daiko to dump the meat last August and October.

Daiko, based in Inazawa, Aichi Prefecture, sold at least some of the products to one or more parties instead of disposing of them, it has been learned.

The Aichi Prefectural Government and other authorities are investigating the incident while also calling on consumers who purchased the cutlets to return them to the shops where they were purchased.

SMAP, one of the most popular and longest-lived Japanese pop groups, pledged to continue as a group Monday, days after media reports that they were on the verge of breaking up, as grieving of fans in Japan and other Asian countries apparently moved them. (Kyodo) The number of foreign passengers on international flights using Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture topped 10 million in 2015 for the first time since it opened in 1994. (Japan Times) Heavy snow fell in parts of eastern and northeastern Japan early Monday, with snowfall reaching 6 centimeters in downtown Tokyo, resulting in injuries to more than 100 people and disruptions to transport. (Japan Today) A key index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dipped below 17,000 points on Monday for the first time since last September. (NHK) About 7,500 lit bamboo lanterns form the date “1.17″ and the kanji characters for “mirai” (future) at the Higashi Yuenchi amusument park in Chuo Ward, Kobe, early Sunday morning, the 21st anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. (the-japan-news.com)
A minimum of 27,000 beef cutlets that should have been disposed out of fear they could include foreign objects were apparently sold to consumers. (Japan Times) Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said Monday that Japan’s economy is recovering moderately, though its exports and production have been affected by the slowing of emerging economies including China. (Kyodo) As much as we love the hustle and bustle of big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, it’s the secret, secluded sites in Japan that truly blow us away. One of the most stunning locations you’ll find off the beaten track is Motonosumi Inari Shrine in Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, where 123 red torii shrine gates wind down along a mountain towards a cliff overlooking the Sea of Japan. (rocketnews24.com) Tokyo police have conducted an anti-terrorism drill, including the seizure of a suspicious drone by using an interceptor drone, ahead of the Tokyo Marathon next month. (Japan Times) Young kimono-clad women fired arrows in a New Year’s archery event at a Buddhist temple in Japan’s old capital of Kyoto on Sunday. (NHK)


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Toward a brighter future

Posted on 18 January 2016 by admin

SMAP, one of the most popular and longest-lived Japanese pop groups, pledged to continue as a group Monday, days after media reports that they were on the verge of breaking up, as grieving of fans in Japan and other Asian countries apparently moved them. (Kyodo) The number of foreign passengers on international flights using Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture topped 10 million in 2015 for the first time since it opened in 1994. (Japan Times) Heavy snow fell in parts of eastern and northeastern Japan early Monday, with snowfall reaching 6 centimeters in downtown Tokyo, resulting in injuries to more than 100 people and disruptions to transport. (Japan Today) A key index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dipped below 17,000 points on Monday for the first time since last September. (NHK) About 7,500 lit bamboo lanterns form the date “1.17″ and the kanji characters for “mirai” (future) at the Higashi Yuenchi amusument park in Chuo Ward, Kobe, early Sunday morning, the 21st anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. (the-japan-news.com)
A minimum of 27,000 beef cutlets that should have been disposed out of fear they could include foreign objects were apparently sold to consumers. (Japan Times) Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said Monday that Japan’s economy is recovering moderately, though its exports and production have been affected by the slowing of emerging economies including China. (Kyodo) As much as we love the hustle and bustle of big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, it’s the secret, secluded sites in Japan that truly blow us away. One of the most stunning locations you’ll find off the beaten track is Motonosumi Inari Shrine in Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, where 123 red torii shrine gates wind down along a mountain towards a cliff overlooking the Sea of Japan. (rocketnewⴄ.com) Tokyo police have conducted an anti-terrorism drill, including the seizure of a suspicious drone by using an interceptor drone, ahead of the Tokyo Marathon next month. (Japan Times) Young kimono-clad women fired arrows in a New Year’s archery event at a Buddhist temple in Japan’s old capital of Kyoto on Sunday. (NHK)


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Tokyo shares close at below 17,000

Posted on 18 January 2016 by admin

Shares were sold across the board immediately after the Tokyo market opened on Monday. The move came after share prices plunged in US and European markets on Friday.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues fell more than 480 points at one point.

Later, there were moves to buy back the shares that had fallen, but the Nikkei index ended the day’s trading at 16,955, down 191 points from Friday’s close.

The Nikkei index has dropped by more than 2,000 points this year.

A key index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dipped below 17,000 points on Monday for the first time since last September. (NHK) Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said Monday that Japan’s economy is recovering moderately, though its exports and production have been affected by the slowing of emerging economies including China. (Kyodo) With few positive signs of recovery for Japan’s slumping economy, foreign tourism remains a sole ray of hope, and tourism authorities, local governments, industry players as well as retailers are eagerly awaiting another possibly record-breaking surge in Chinese tourists during next month’s Chinese New Year holiday. (Japan Times) China’s sagging economy sent the yuan falling more than 1.4% against the dollar in the first two weeks of 2016. This has pummeled stock prices and commodity currencies around the globe. Tokyo stocks have been jolted, too. Yet for Japan, the weak yuan means more than just angst in the capital’s financial district. (Nikkei) Foreign investors sold more shares than they bought in the Tokyo market last week, triggering 5 consecutive days of decline in the key stock index. (NHK)
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will launch a probe to identify companies neglecting their obligation to have employees join the appropriate public pension scheme, officials have said. (the-japan-news.com) Cheap oil basically benefits Japan, which primarily relies on imports for natural resources. (Jiji Press) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday denied that he and Finance Minister Taro Aso are divided over how to finance the planned lower consumption tax rate chiefly for foods. (Jiji Press) Bosses hold back on pay raises for workers, creating a major stumbling block for Japan’s ‘Abenomics’ strategy for economic growth (wsj.com) There has been a lot of discussion recently about allowing more foreign workers into Japan to make up for severe labor shortages in some fields. As of the end of 2014, the labor ministry estimated there were 790,000 foreign nationals working in Japan legally, which is more than the number of national civil servants (640,000). (Japan Times)


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120 injured as heavy snow falls on eastern, northeastern Japan

Posted on 18 January 2016 by admin

Snowfall caused around 120 injuries, according to a Kyodo News tally. In Tokyo alone, over 40 people were taken to hospitals.

The snow temporarily brought bullet train services on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line to a crawl and caused suspensions of limited express trains connecting Tokyo and Nagano, and cancellations of more than 160 domestic flights. The Chuo Expressway was closed in some areas of Nagano and Yamanashi prefectures.

SMAP, one of the most popular and longest-lived Japanese pop groups, pledged to continue as a group Monday, days after media reports that they were on the verge of breaking up, as grieving of fans in Japan and other Asian countries apparently moved them. (Kyodo) The number of foreign passengers on international flights using Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture topped 10 million in 2015 for the first time since it opened in 1994. (Japan Times) Heavy snow fell in parts of eastern and northeastern Japan early Monday, with snowfall reaching 6 centimeters in downtown Tokyo, resulting in injuries to more than 100 people and disruptions to transport. (Japan Today) A key index on the Tokyo Stock Exchange dipped below 17,0Ǡ points on Monday for the first time since last September. (NHK) About 7,500 lit bamboo lanterns form the date “1.17″ and the kanji characters for “mirai” (future) at the Higashi Yuenchi amusument park in Chuo Ward, Kobe, early Sunday morning, the 21st anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. (the-japan-news.com)
A minimum of 27,000 beef cutlets that should have been disposed out of fear they could include foreign objects were apparently sold to consumers. (Japan Times) Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said Monday that Japan’s economy is recovering moderately, though its exports and production have been affected by the slowing of emerging economies including China. (Kyodo) As much as we love the hustle and bustle of big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, it’s the secret, secluded sites in Japan that truly blow us away. One of the most stunning locations you’ll find off the beaten track is Motonosumi Inari Shrine in Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, where 123 red torii shrine gates wind down along a mountain towards a cliff overlooking the Sea of Japan. (rocketnews24.com) Tokyo police have conducted an anti-terrorism drill, including the seizure of a suspicious drone by using an interceptor drone, ahead of the Tokyo Marathon next month. (Japan Times) Young kimono-clad women fired arrows in a New Year’s archery event at a Buddhist temple in Japan’s old capital of Kyoto on Sunday. (NHK)


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10 million foreign passengers used Kansai International Airport in 2015

Posted on 18 January 2016 by admin

The figure surged 59 percent from the previous year to 10.01 million, exceeding the number of Japanese users for the first time, which stood at 6.07 million, down 6.0 percent, New Kansai International Airport Co. said Monday.

The total number of passengers at the airport marked a record 23.21 million. The number of people on international flight jumped 24 percent toಐ.25 million, also a record high.

The number of foreign passengers on international flights using Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture topped 10 million in 2015 for the first time since it opened in 1994. (Japan Times) As much as we love the hustle and bustle of big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, it’s the secret, secluded sites in Japan that truly blow us away. One of the most stunning locations you’ll find off the beaten track is Motonosumi Inari Shrine in Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, where 123 red torii shrine gates wind down along a mountain towards a cliff overlooking the Sea of Japan. (rocketnews24.com) Young kimono-clad women fired arrows in a New Year’s archery event at a Buddhist temple in Japan’s old capital of Kyoto on Sunday. (NHK) It’s a world of physical and virtual twirls, sudden drops, aggressive giants, roaring monsters and persistent zombies. It’s a world of “kawaii” and pop, bubbling colors. It’s a story of fighting spirits and game, anime and manga-inspired stories, wrapped up in a cutting-edge technology and J-pop fashion. Welcome to Universal Studios Japan (USJ)’s “Universal Cool Japan 2016.” (Japan Today) Travel agency JTB will offer farm stays in Japan’s Tochigi Prefecture starting Friday in a bid to attract foreigners looking for an experience off the beaten trail. (Nikkei)
The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) has decided to design new map symbols that are easier for foreigners to understand in preparation for the 2ዔ Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. (the-japan-news.com) The Great Buddha of Kamakura is undergoing its first major “health checkup” in more than half a century. (Asahi) More and more foreigners are coming to Japan to enjoy skiing and snowboarding.
(NHK) A panel of experts set up by the health ministry and the tourism agency agreed Tuesday to ease regulations regarding paid accommodation in private homes in Japan, amid a growing number of foreign visitors to Japan. (Japan Today) The transport ministry has decided to set up body scanners, which can detect dangerous objects by seeing through the clothing of passengers, at all airports with international flights by 2020, according to sources. (the-japan-news.com)


Article source: http://newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/114999.php

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