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  • Wednesday, 7th October 2015
    In Japan Entertainment News,

    Tottori Dunes to feature Star Wars sand sculpture

    It is safe to say that Star Wars fever is sweeping across Japan, ahead of the new film in the franchise, which is due to be released in December.

    But there's one place in the country where you might not have expected to see the likes of C-3PO and R2-D2, but they seem quite at home - the Tottori Dunes.

    The sand hills, which stretch out for 16 kilometres in length and are two kilometres wide, have been adorned with a huge sculpture licensed by LucasFilm Ltd, reports The Wall Street Journal.

    Tottori Prefecture's unique landscape was chosen for the depiction of the characters that destroyed the Death Star, due to its similarities to the desert planet of Jakku, as seen in the new film.

    Katsuhiko Chaen has been commissioned to make the sculpture, which is 3.4 metres tall and 7.4 metres wide and utilised 160 tons of sand.

    Visitors will be able to see the sculpture from tomorrow (October 8th) until the end of December, although Japan's changeable weather may mean it could close early.

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  • Tuesday, 6th October 2015
    In Japan Entertainment News, Japan Travel News,

    Hakodate is ranked Japan's most attractive tourist site

    The city of Hakodate in Hokkaido Prefecture has been voted the most attractive tourist destination in Japan for a second year running.

    A recent survey by the private think tank Brand Research Institute, which is based in Tokyo, ranked cities according to their appeal, reports The Japan Times.

    It found that many destinations throughout Hokkaido did well, with the prefecture having the most picturesque locations.

    Sapporo came in at second place, but Otaru and Furano also made it into the top ten in the annual research.

    For the tenth year, the survey asked each voter to rank destinations based on no fewer than 77 criteria, ranging from attractiveness and recognisability to information access and a desire to visit.

    Some 29,046 responses were collected from people across Japan, ranging in age from 20 to their late 60s.

    The results showed Kyoto and Yokohama followed Sapporo in the city ranking, while Kyoto, Tokyo and Okinawa trailed Hokkaido when looking at prefectures.

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  • Monday, 5th October 2015
    In Japan Entertainment News, Japan Travel News, Japan Travel News,

    Robot translators could be future of tourism in Japan

    Japan is well-known for its innovative use of robots and is now looking to use them to break down the language barrier between visitors and locals.

    From the beginning of 2016, a partnership between Kinki Nippon Tourist and FueTrek will look to provide small robots, tablets and wearable devices to act as translators, reports TTG Asia.

    Several languages will be able to be interpreted simultaneously using the new technology, meaning international groups will all be able to communicate freely.

    Small businesses that regularly come into contact with tourists, including hotels, restaurants and other attractions, are expected to be the key market for the new services.

    A large proportion of firms in Japan's travel sector have admitted that finding a sufficient number of staff with good language skills is proving a problem.

    Robots equipped with language recognition software could help to overcome this, although there is no substitute for the human touch.

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  • Friday, 2nd October 2015
    In Japan Entertainment News, Japan Travel News, Japan Travel News, Japan Travel News,

    Japan to test self-driving taxis on public roads next year

    Self-driving taxis could become a common sight on the roads of Japan, as tests are being given the go-ahead for next year.

    The country is keen to show off its technological capabilities when it hosts the Olympic Games in 2020 and it is thought the vehicles could help with transport issues in Tokyo.

    Tests will initially be carried out in the city of Fujisawa, not far from the capital, and the social media and gaming company DeNA Co is looking for around 50 people to take rides in the taxis for trial purposes.

    The firm is not the only one to be developing driverless technology, with Uber and Google also working on such projects.

    Hurdles to overcome in putting such vehicles on the road include the Road Traffic Act, which states there must be a person in the driver's seat of moving cars.

    As the government is backing the testing, it may seek to overturn this legislation in order to show the world how Japan is leading the way in such areas.

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