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  • Thursday, 4th February 2016
    In Japan Travel News,

    Smartphone app for underground areas around Tokyo Station being tested

    Tests are now being carried out by the land ministry on a smartphone app to help travellers navigate the underground areas around Tokyo Station.

    Smart Navi has been developed due to the problems with navigational tools below ground where GPS signal cannot reach, reports the Japan Times.

    Android phone users can download the free app until March 6th, as it is tested with the view to roll it out to the general public.

    The current test takes in areas around Tokyo Station, such as the Marunouchi, Yurakucho, Ginza and Yaesu districts.

    It has set up 300 beacons that allow mapping of the indoor facilities to take place and provide an accurate picture of layouts.

    Users can discover the best routes to get to their destination and how long it will take, as well as where ticket gates and coin lockers can be found.

    On top of this, information about the closest restaurants and other businesses will also be presented to the visitor.

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  • Wednesday, 3rd February 2016
    In Japan Travel News, Japan Travel News,

    Yamaguchi Prefecture claims to be the new Australia

    If you look at a map of Japan very carefully you may spot a prefecture that has a somewhat familiar shape.

    Yamaguchi Prefecture is taking advantage of the fact that its outline is reminiscent of Japan and can therefore be compared to the antipodean country.

    In a fairly tongue-in-cheek campaign, the region is hoping to entice visitors to this part of the world instead of travelling Down Under, reports ABC Online.

    There are some 1.5 million people who call Yamaguchi home and some of the sights featuring in promotional materials will be all too familiar to them.

    For example, the 300-year-old Kintai Bridge, which stretches across the Nishiki River, has been compared to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

    Unlike Australia, which can only be described as gigantic in size, it only takes around an hour to drive from one side of Yamaguchi to the other.

    The marketing department for the prefecture is choosing to see this in a positive light, however, as precious time can be saved without the need to sit in a vehicle for hours on end.

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  • Tuesday, 2nd February 2016
    In Japan Travel News, Japan Travel News, General Japan News,

    Hamamatsu takes gyoza dumpling crown again

    The coastal city of Hamamatsu in Honshu has been crowned Japan’s number one gyoza dumpling centre for the second year in a row.

    It beat arch-rival Utsunomiya in the sheer volume of the pork and cabbage dumplings consumed by households throughout 2015.

    Despite missing out on the top spot, Utsunomiya is still considered an important place for gyoza and is the perfect destination for those wishing to try the delicacy.

    There are around 80 restaurants in the city that specialise in the dumplings, making it one of the must-do activities for those travelling to this part of Japan.

    An annual festival in honour of gyoza is held in Utsunomiya and will go ahead as usual in May, bringing together regional varieties of the dumpling from across the country.

    Akihiro Suzuki, secretary general of Utsunomiya Gyoza kai, a group that represents the city’s gyoza restaurants, told Japan Today: “We will join hands with other regions to further gyoza culture.”

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  • Monday, 1st February 2016
    In Japan Travel News, Japan Travel News, General Japan News, General Japan News,

    First bottles of Yamazaki whisky leave the distillery today

    It is a hotly anticipated event, but the first bottles of this year’s Yamazaki whisky are set to leave the Kyoto distillery today (February 1st).

    For anyone who thought the best whisky in the world comes from Scotland, the Japanese would like you to think again.

    Their own version of the single malt has become world-renowned after the last batch scored 97.7 out of 100 in The Whisky Bible.

    The Suntory Whisky House, which produces the malt, is the oldest distiller of whisky in Japan and has obviously found a formula that works.

    As such, the 2016 version is being awaited with much expectation and those experts that have sampled it claim it can meet the hype head on.

    “Highly fragrant,” was how one expert described it when talking to The Independent, adding that “the sherry influence [it is aged in sherry casks] spreading outwards from a tight core of cocoa nibs, cardamom, barks and spices with just a tiny bite of iodine.”

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