• KYOTO, Japan - Wearing formal attire, maiko, or apprentice geigi, exchange New Year's greetings during a ceremony in Kyoto to mark the first business day of the year on Jan. 7, 2019. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2019.01.10 | Kyoto
  • KUMAMOTO, Japan - The main tower of Kumamoto Castle is revealed to the press in the southwestern Japan prefecture on Dec. 27, 2018 following the completion of repair work to its stone wall, heavily damaged by a pair of earthquakes in April 2016. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2018.12.28 | Kumamoto
  • IGA, Japan - Photo taken March 21, 2018, shows people taking a selfie beside an Iga Tetsudo Co. train painted with a ninja face pattern at Igaueno station in Iga, Mie Prefecture. The central Japan city is known as home to one of the most famous ninja clans. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2018.12.26 | Mie
  • HIMEJI, Japan - Ground Self-Defense Force members clean UNESCO World Heritage-listed Himeji Castle in Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, on Dec. 21, 2018 ahead of the coming year. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2018.12.21 | Hyogo
  • A famous hot spa resort is offering an online map showing "onsen" spots available for tattooed tourists traveling to the region for next year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.   Tattoos are typically frowned-upon in Japan due to their association with gangsters, meaning people who wish to bathe in onsens, public pools or public baths usually find it difficult due to strict rules banning body art.   But the city office of Beppu in the World Cup host prefecture of Oita, has prepared the map on the webpage titled "100 tattoo-allowed hot springs" based on the understanding that tattoos are part of traditional culture in countries like New Zealand, whose national rugby team, the All Blacks, will play in Oita during the tournament.   "We don't want to disappoint people who come all the way (from overseas)" as the operators of many public baths refuse guests with tattoos, a city official said, explaining why the city created Google Maps-based guide.   On the map, icons marking hot springs come in three colors -- blue for 50 facilities, orange for 40 others and dark blue for the remaining 10.   Blue means the facility allows visitors with tattoos in large baths, while orange-marked facilities ask guests only to use private baths. At facilities indicated with a dark blue icon, people who have tattoos can only soak their hands and feet in onsen tubs.   Beppu has more than 2,000 hot springs, according to the city's website. But roughly 70 percent of inns and hotels in the city bar guests with tattoos from using their baths out of concern tattoos could displease other guests or even scare them.   "There are a lot of foreign tourists who look forward to visiting onsen hot springs at inns and hotels," said Tatsuya Kawamura who works for B-biz Link, an affiliate organization of the city which created the digital map.   Kawamura, 34, said he will encourage the operators of inns and hotels which currently ban tattoos in Beppu to take measures such as designating a "tattoo OK" time so more visitors can enjoy onsen.   ==Kyodo
    2018.12.18 | Oita
  • TOKYO, Japan - File Photo taken in February 2014 shows an E7 series Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train at JR Nagano Station in Nagano, Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2018.12.13 | 
  • TOKYO, Japan - Lightly dressed people walk under ginkgo trees with yellow leaves in Tokyo's Meiji Jingu Gaien area during an unseasonably warm weather on Dec. 4, 2018. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2018.12.06 | Tokyo
  • KYOTO, Japan - Photo taken Nov. 21, 2018, shows Sagano Romantic Train being pulled by a diesel locomotive in Kyoto, western Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2018.11.29 | Kyoto
  • FUKUOKA, Japan - Photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter shows hot-air balloons taking off in Saga, southwestern Japan, on Oct. 31, 2018, as the Saga International Balloon Fiesta begins. The 39th event, in which 109 hot-air balloons from 17 countries and regions participate, will be held through Nov. 4. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo
    2018.11.02 | Fukuoka
  • Floats are lined up in front of Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine in Takayama in the central Japan prefecture of Gifu on Oct. 9, 2018, for the annual two-day Autumn Takayama Festival. (Kyodo)
    2018.10.10 | Gifu
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