Japan welcomes record 30m international travellers for first time

The Japan National Tourism Organisation has announced that more than 30 million overseas travellers visited Japan in 2018, an all-time record and an 8.7 per cent increase over 2017 (the previous record year).

“Tourism to Japan from the United States – about five per cent of the total – soared 11 per cent,” said Naohito Ise, executive director of the Japan National Tourism Organisation in New York, “with more and more Americans seeking beyond the classic tourism destinations of Tokyo and Kyoto to discover lesser-known parts of the country.”

“American tourism to Japan is expected to continue to rise in 2019 as the country builds up to host major international sporting events,” continued Ise, “with a host of prestigious American media including Japan in their much-valued annual lists of the most recommended places to visit in the coming year.”

 

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Tokyo DisneySea begins expansion project

Tokyo DisneySea has begun its largest expansion project ever.
The operator, Oriental Land, started construction on a 100,000-square meter parking lot for the 2.3 billion dollar project.The new area will be called Fantasy Springs and consist of three areas inspired by the Disney films “Frozen,” “Tangled,” and “Peter Pan.”

It will include four attractions, a hotel, and restaurants, and is scheduled to open by March 2023.

At a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, Oriental Land Chairman and CEO Toshio Kagami said he aims to make the resort the only one of its kind.

Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Robert Iger also attended the event and expressed support for the project.

A record of more than 32 million people visited the Tokyo Disney Resort in fiscal 2018. But it continues to face tough competition from Universal Studios Japan and others.

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Direct flights between Japan and Israel to start

Israeli airliner El Al has announced that it will launch its first ever direct flights between Narita Airport near Tokyo and Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport.

El Al Israel Airlines says it will operate three round trips a week from March 2020 connecting the two cities. The flight time will be about 12.5 hours.

The announcement comes as the two countries increase exchange of goods and services.

Bilateral trade rose 30 percent over the past five years to about 3.7 billion dollars.

More than 20,000 people in Japan visited Israel last year as the country has grown to become a hub for high tech companies.

40,000, mainly tourists, came to Japan from Israel during the same period.

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How to climb Mount Fuji: A comprehensive guide

Mount Fuji. At 3,776 meters high, it’s Japan’s tallest mountain: standalone, vast and beautiful. A little over 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, and well connected by public transport to the capital, it is also one of the world’s most popular climbs — in 2018 alone, almost 300,000 people attempted the climb in the summer season.

Despite the numbers, and the infrastructure that has been built to serve them, the mountain is not without its challenges. Altitude is one of the most significant; there is little chance to acclimatize on the hike and, approaching 4,000 meters in height, the mountain is easily tall enough to induce altitude sickness in even the fittest of climbers. Another is exposure: Above the treeline there is very little shelter, Fuji is so prominent that nothing blocks incoming weather, and conditions can change very quickly.
However, to summit Mount Fuji is a great challenge, one that should be relished. The view of Japan from the top is unparalleled, especially when sunrise is thrown into the mix. With this guide, you should have an idea of what to expect from the mountain, and what is needed to make a successful summit.

When to climb
The climbing window for Mount Fuji begins July 1 each year, when the Yoshida Trail opens, and lasts till Sept. 10. The other three trails open July 10. During this time, all trails are well serviced by public transport, mountain huts are open and emergency services and first aid are more readily available. Bear in mind that weekends are much busier than weekdays, with Saturdays the most crowded.

It is possible to do an off-season climb of Mount Fuji — and even ski the mountain during the snowy months — but that requires specialist equipment and knowledge that is beyond the scope of this guide. In the off-season, huts are closed and there is no available public transport. Multiple fatalities occur each year among people trying to summit the mountain in the off-season.

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Cheap Air Seoul ticket allows unlimited flights between S Korea and destinations in Japan

If you are ever in South Korea and fancy a leisurely trip to Japan, then hopping onto a ferry might be one of the cheapest options available. But if speed and cost are more important factors for you, then South Korean budget carrier Air Seoul’s newest deal may be a lot more enticing.

At an amazing low cost of 299,000 won (U.S.$250), holders of the Mint Pass J19 will be entitled to unlimited round trip flights from Incheon International Airport in Seoul to 11 destinations in Japan, valid between June 1 and July 19.

Considering that a return trip between Incheon and Narita ($190 at the cheapest) costs nearly the price of a Mint Pass J19, two trips are all that is needed to recover your money’s worth and more.

A few caveats must be kept in mind to fully utilize this incredible deal, the first being that all flights must be round trips originating from Incheon. It seems then that the Mint Pass J19 is most suitable for tourists already in Korea who wish to add Japan into their itinerary.

The second is that the ticket cannot be used on arriving and departing flights on June 6 and July 15. Flights arriving in Seoul on Sundays are also off limits.

Last is that the Mint Pass J19 does not cover fuel surcharges or airport fees, which can amount to an additional $30 to $40 per trip, a nominal price to pay for quick visits to many parts of Japan.

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