5 years on from the tsunami

On March 11th 2016, it was exactly five years since the earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's northern coast. To mark this anniversary, this March at Inside Japan Tours is all about Tohoku: looking back on its troubles, celebrating its charms, and taking stock of how far the region has come in the past five years.

To read all about this beautiful region, including first-hand accounts of the disaster and recovery, visit our dedicated tsunami page:

The Japan Tsunami 5 Years On

Latest News

  • Wednesday, 4th May 2016
    In General Japan News,

    Japanese island neuters cats to protect native rabbits

    Officials on the island of Tokunoshima in Kagoshima Prefecture have decided to neuter its population of cats in a bid to protect the native rabbits.

    The island in south-western Japan is home to some 3,000 felines, which pose a threat to the Amami rabbits that also live there.

    It is estimated that there are just 200 of this breed of rabbit on Tokunoshima and they are considered a special national treasure.

    Harutaka Watanabe at the Environment Ministry’s nature conservation office on Tokunoshima Island, said: “Domestic cats have a hunting instinct, and they hunt when they become feral.

    “There are no carnivorous mammals on the island, so native rabbits are not so vigilant [of being preyed upon].”

    Tokunoshima is part of the Amami and Ryukyu island group, which is hoping to be recognised as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

    Read More >

  • Tuesday, 3rd May 2016
    In General Japan News, General Japan News,

    Japan?s constitution turns 69

    Japan marked 69 years since its constitution was adopted today (May 3rd), but it looks like there could be changes ahead for the historic document.

    Prime minister Shinzo Abe has plans to amend the constitution, but whether or not such moves will go through depends on the outcome of the summer’s Upper House elections.

    The proposed changes centre around Article 9, which outlaws war as a way to deal with international disputes and could greatly affect Japan’s foreign policy abroad.

    At present, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in conjunction with its coalition partner Komeito hold a two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives.

    It would take a victory in the House of Councillors election, however, to allow them to change the constitution.

    No amendments have been made to the Japanese constitution since it was made public on November 3rd 1946 and then put into effect on May 3rd 1947.

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  • Friday, 29th April 2016
    In General Japan News, General Japan News, General Japan News,

    Japan looks to overhaul tour guide exams

    In light of increased numbers of visitors travelling to Japan, the government is overhauling many of the regulations that rule the tourism sector.

    Among those who will be affected by the changes are tour guides, who, at present are subjected to vigorous exams in order to take up places.

    The Japan Tourism Agency has made the move to deregulate the tour guide industry so it will be able to cope with an influx of visitors.

    Since 1949, only guides holding official licenses have been allowed to earn money from escorting foreigners are Japan’s top sights.

    Those who flouted the rule have been subject to fines of 500,000 yen (£3,200) up until now.

    Not everyone has welcomed the change, however, with Yoshie Matsumoto, an experienced foreign language guide, suggesting it is the quality of the guides and not the quantity that needs to be addressed.

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  • Thursday, 28th April 2016
    In General Japan News, General Japan News, General Japan News, Weather In Japan,

    Japanese monks have kept climate change records for 700 years

    Records kept by Shinto monks in Japan are among the oldest continuous chronicles of climate change to be found anywhere in the world.

    A group of priests living at the shrine on the edge of Lake Suwa have kept note of a large change in the environment around them every year since 1443, National Geographic reports.

    This change has much wider repercussions for the world than just the small patch of it that the monks inhabited.

    Lake Suwa can be found in the Japanese Alps in the central region of the country and freezes over nearly every year.

    As temperatures change on a daily basis, the ice expands and cracks, forcing it up into a ridge and it is this phenomenon that the monks have kept track of, marking down the date that it appears annually.

    While scientists often use indirect evidence, such as changes to tree rings, ice-core layers or pollen deposits, these records show exactly how the climate was experienced by our ancestors.

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