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

  • Friday, 29th April 2016
    In 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.

    Read More >

  • Thursday, 28th April 2016
    In 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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  • Wednesday, 27th April 2016
    In General Japan News, Weather In Japan, Japan Entertainment News,

    Japanese theme park to get Robot Kingdom

    The Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Japan is set to be expanded, with a section known as Robot Kingdom in which machines will act as all the staff.

    More than 200 androids will be on hand for staff to interact with, as they complete tasks such as making cocktails and preparing food.

    The theme park, which is located in Nagasaki, is expected to open the new section to guests in July.

    Hideo Sawada, president of the park's operator, told Nikkei Asian Review: “Robots will arrive in this kingdom one after another, and the time will come when those technologies will be in use worldwide.”

    Tech firms Denso, Yaskawa Electric and Sharp are all creating robots to feature at the newest section of the park.

    Robot Kingdom is the cumulative work of more than 20 companies and will act as the perfect opportunity for new developments to be trialled and tested in such an environment.

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  • Tuesday, 26th April 2016
    In General Japan News, Weather In Japan, Japan Entertainment News, General Japan News,

    Japan?s endemic turtles being forced out by alien breed

    An invasive breed of turtles that was once kept as pets in Japan now vastly outnumbers the endemic species, the Environment Ministry has announced.

    Studies suggest there are now around eight million red-ear slider turtles in the country, compared to just one million endemic to Japan.

    Red-ear slider turtles are originally from the US, but pet owners have found that they grow to a large size and many became unable to cope with them.

    This led to them being dumped in ponds and rivers, where the population of these creatures has exploded.

    Masato Morikawa, an official in charge of monitoring alien species, told The Japan Times: “The growing population of red-ear slider turtles would mean the depopulation of insects, fish and other turtles that live on water weeds.

    “The population has gradually but continuously been increasing over the years.”

    Read More >