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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Kyoto tops rankings of major Japanese cities in think tank survey; Fukuoka second and Osaka third

Kyoto has topped a ranking of major Japanese cities as measured by criteria such as livability and economy, according to a survey by a think tank affiliated with major real estate developer Mori Building Co.

The Institute for Urban Strategies on Wednesday released its first edition of the ranking, which covered 72 cities excluding Tokyo.

The cities were rated using a total of 83 indicators across six categories — economy and business, transport and accessibility, environment, life and residence, culture and interchange, and research and development — based on statistical results and hearings with local residents.
Kyoto was highly rated for its universities and abundant tourism properties, including historical and cultural assets, the think tank said.
Fukuoka came in second on the back of its powerful economy. A number of special deregulation zones are located in the southwestern hub.
Despite scoring poorly when it came to crime, Osaka ranked third thanks to robust private consumption and investment, and its convenient transportation network.
Nagoya came fourth, with many companies in the city having high global market shares, while Yokohama ranked fifth.

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