JapanCustomTours comments

Posted in: JR East releases first-ever rail pass for international residents in Japan See in context

Actually, the title and content of this article is misleading - the Tokyo Wide pass (also three days from JREast) has been around for a very long time and can be very useful. As a resident of Tokyo I have made use of the TWP several times over the last decade.

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Posted in: Why is Japan such an unpopular tourist destination? See in context

While the original article dates from early 2014, and uses 2012 and 2013 data to demonstrate a point, it really missed the key points that have lead to the surge in tourist numbers here in Japan the last few years. Easing visa restrictions has seen Chinese visitors go from 500k to 5M in a few short years and 2016 is double 2013 (in just three years!)

Expensive things - maybe accommodation, but the country, once you are here, is very affordable and cheaper than many other places. This is partly because the actual wages of the locals is low and therefore the costs of meals and public transport are very good. Making excuses for the location of Narita ignores the distances other major cities have to their airports.

The issues now are things like limited tourism infrastructure and resistance from ordinary Japanese to the numbers of tourists. The incoming money is not always welcome, but is part of the challenge of a growing industry. This is a topic I deal with daily in my business as I assist people to visit, and it has made some of the great places and sights of Japan less attractive, but spreading the tourists to less common places is part of the challenge delivering genuine experiences for guests.

The obscure example of the Ise shrine money exchange is out of place - not too many foreigners get out that far, but I did enjoy my visit with my Canadian guests earlier this year.

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Posted in: Travelers rank Japan’s 20 best castles See in context

There are many thousands of castle sites across Japan (somewhere between 25,000 and 40,000), so only a few would ever make a top ten or top 20 list. I have been to several of the places listed, and will no doubt get around to visiting a lot more over the coming years. An important point to note with rankings like this is that many people only get the chance to visit one or two castles in Japan, so the ability to make direct comparisons is very difficult. just because Himeji is often touted as the best castle (not on this list), many visitors do not know the charms of other better examples. As for ruins, they do deserve a place in memory. The deliberate destruction of many castles in the Meiji Period is a shame, but others contribute important elements to the history of the nation.

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