• The luxury cruise ship Queen Elizabeth arrived at Kobe port in western Japan on Monday ahead of its first cruise departing from and returning to Japan. The eight-day voyage from Kobe through March 20 comes after the municipal government of Kobe asked the Cunard Line, the ship's British operator, to organize a Kobe-originating tour as it celebrates the 150th anniversary this year of the port's opening. The 90,901-ton cruise ship that went into service in 2010 is due to visit Kagoshima, South Korea's Busan, Hiroshima and Kochi in western Japan before returning to Kobe. The ship is currently on an around-the-world voyage after leaving Southampton in southern England. After Kobe, it is due to set sail for Shanghai. The first Queen Elizabeth went into service in 1940. The current vessel was built at the cost of about $500 million. ==Kyodo
    2017.03.14 | Hyogo
  • East Japan Railway Co. said Thursday that passengers on its luxury sleeper train set to begin operation in May will also be offered use of an exclusive lounge at a terminal in Tokyo. The 10-car "Train Suite Shiki-Shima" will take travelers from Ueno Station through parts of Japan, including the northernmost main island of Hokkaido and the Tohoku northeastern region. While some conventional sleeper express trains have halted services as air travel has become more popular, package tours using super-luxury trains have been attracting passengers such as retired couples and foreign tourists. Kyushu Railway Co. ventured into the new business in 2013, introducing the "Seven Stars" superliner for tours through famous destinations on the southwestern main island, while West Japan Railway Co. will start operating its "Twilight Express Mizukaze" in June. East Japan Railway offers a four-day, three-night trip through Hokkaido, Tohoku and other areas at up to 950,000 yen (around $8,300) per person, which takes passengers to such tourist spots as the Nikko Toshogu shrine, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site in Tochigi Prefecture. In the city of Hakodate, Hokkaido, passengers can visit a morning bazaar and a museum on Ainu indigenous people in the region, the operator said. Passengers who choose the two-day, one-night trip to areas in central and eastern Japan can take part in activities such as visiting wineries in Yamanashi Prefecture. The operator also prepared the exclusive lounge at Ueno Station, which was unveiled to the media on Thursday, using furniture produced by companies in prefectures the train will travel through. "It's the right place to start a luxury trip," said Kiyoki Okuyama, who designed the lounge as well as the train cars. ==Kyodo
    2017.03.10 | Tokyo
  • Wearing a ninja outfit, a junior high school student from Michigan throws a ninja star on March 2, 2017, in the central Japan city of Koka, known as a ninja land. The 20 students are from Koka's three sister cities in Michigan. (Kyodo)
    2017.03.03 | Shiga
  • The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum drew a record of nearly 1.6 million visitors in the year ending March, with visitor numbers rising in the wake of former U.S. President Barack Obama's May visit. As of Friday, the number of visitors eclipsed the previous record of 1,593,280 set in fiscal 1999, and the figure is likely to reach around 1.73 million by the end of March, the museum said. Following Obama's visit to the city as the first sitting U.S. leader in late May last year, the number of visitors to the museum rose 40 percent from a year earlier in June and July. The museum had planned to stop displaying paper cranes presented by Obama but decided to continue the popular exhibit as it attracted many to the museum. Yuri Takahashi, a 29-year-old nurse from Tokyo's Nakano Ward, who became the 1,593,281st person to visit the museum said, "I understood the horrors of atomic bombs after seeing the Atomic Bomb Dome. This is a place that marks Japan's history." Museum director Kenji Shiga attributed the rise in the number of visitors to the display of the cranes dedicated by Obama and the popularity of "Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni"(In this corner of the world), a Japanese animated film set in Hiroshima before and during World War II. The United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and a second on Nagasaki three days later. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, bringing the war to an end. ==Kyodo
    2017.02.27 | Hiroshima
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