1st snow of season in Sapporo latest in history

The city of Sapporo observed its first snowfall of the season early Tuesday, on a date that matches the latest ever recorded, the Sapporo District Meteorological Observatory said.
The year 1890 was the last time Nov. 20 marked the season’s first snow in Sapporo, the largest city in Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido, the observatory said.This date is 23 days later than the first snowfall in an average year, and 28 days later than last year. The snow started to fall at around 12:50 a.m. Tuesday in Sapporo as cold air was above the city, it said.

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Osaka gets 2025 World Expo

The Japanese city of Osaka will host the 2025 World Expo. The city won a 3-way race over 2 rounds of voting at the Bureau International des Expositions in Paris on Friday.
Delegates from 156 member nations cast ballots. Baku in Azerbaijan was eliminated in the 1st round. Osaka won the largest number of votes but fell short of the required two-thirds majority to win outright.In the runoff vote, Osaka won 92 against 61 for Russia’s Ekaterinburg.

The 2025 event will be the 2nd World Expo to be staged in Osaka. The previous one was in 1970.

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More national parks and scenic areas to begin voluntary entry payment programs

An increasing number of national parks and other scenic areas in Japan are collecting voluntary entry payments from visitors for environmental protection and infrastructure improvements, including the creation of pathways and the installation of bathrooms.

Mount Fuji, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, began requesting ¥1,000 per climber in 2014 after a yearlong trial. Officials collect the payments at the start of each trail on the mountain, which straddles Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, during climbing season from July through September.

Visitors to Yakushima, an island in Kagoshima Prefecture known for its wildlife and cedar forests, are asked for payments when entering local mountain areas — ¥1,000 for a day trip and ¥2,000 if they stay overnight. Among others, Mount Ibuki, which straddles Shiga and Gifu prefectures, has a collection box near its peak for payments of ¥300.

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Downtown Tokyo set to open its most important train station in 50 years, and now it has a name

For almost the last 50 years, there have been 29 stops on the Yamanote Line, with the most recent addition being Nishi-Nippori in 1971. The Yamanote Line station family is set to grow to an even 30 soon, though, with construction currently taking place for a new station to be slotted between the existing Shinagawa and Tamachi Stations, and planners have finally announced the name of the new stop.

Set to open in 2020, the new station will be called Takanawa Gateway (or “Takanawa Geetouei,” using the local pronunciation), referencing the station’s location in the Takanawa neighborhood, roughly 900 meters (0.56 miles) north of Shinagawa Station. Some may question the need for the English “Gateway” flourish, but it’s there to help differentiate the upcoming Yamanote stop from Shirokane-Takanawa Station on the Namboku and Mita subway lines, which has been in operation since 2000.

While Takanawa Gateway will be ready to have passengers pass through in time for the opening of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, final construction of the facility won’t be completed until 2024.

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Moomin theme park in Japan to partially open

Part of a theme park based on the Moomin series of children’s books is to open near Tokyo next month.

The park is under construction in a 240,000-square-meter forest by a lake in Hanno City, Saitama Prefecture.

The park is to fully open next March as the first facility of its kind outside Finland, the home country of the books’ author Tove Jansson.

On Wednesday, local and Finnish officials gathered for a ceremony to mark the completion of the section opening on November 9th. It includes restaurants where visitors can enjoy Scandinavian cuisine with a view of the lake and forest. Shops selling Scandinavian souvenirs and food are also set to open at that time.

Hanno Mayor Masaru Okubo said the city will fully support the park, as he expects it will draw tourists from around the world.

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