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  • Wednesday, 4th March 2015
    In Business In Japan,

    Japanese stores offering tourists tax-free shopping rise by 60%

    It has emerged that the number of Japanese stores offering tax-free products to tourists has risen by 60 per cent over the last months, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

    Since October 1st, duty-free products sold to travellers have expanded from the previous limitation of clothing and electronics to food and cosmetics, meaning that the government has its target of 10,000 tax-free shops by 2020 five years early. While cosmetic sales have seen a major boost in recent months, most of the stores are also concentrated in Tokyo and Osaka.

    Over the last six months, a record 13.41 million tourists visited Japan, practically guaranteeing the Japanese government's aim to attract 20 million visitors annually by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympics in 2020. Retailers are sure to take advantage of these positive figures by offering tax-free shopping and abolishing the eight per cent consumption tax.

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  • Wednesday, 4th March 2015
    In Business In Japan, General Japan News, Japan Travel News,

    Tourists flocking to 'cat island' in Japan

    A remote island off the coast of southern Japan has become a hotspot for tourists, after it has emerged that the number of cats there outnumber humans six to one.

    The island of Aoshima, which can be accessed via a 30-minute ferry from the Ehime coast, is home to just 20 humans aged between 50 and 80, but also hosts a staggering 120 cats. Residents first migrated here 380 years ago, forming for themselves a fishing village - the cats came when fishermen needed a way to deal with the mice that plagued their boats.

    By 1945, the population stood at 900, but as this figure decreased after the second world war, no one was there to check the breeding habits of the felines, and hence their numbers shot up. Today, vast crowds of tourists are seeking to check out what they dub 'cat island', many of which feed the cats rice balls, potatoes and even energy bars. The majority of tourists come from Tokyo, a city known for its obsession with Hello Kitty and cat cafes.

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  • Wednesday, 4th March 2015
    In Business In Japan, General Japan News, Japan Travel News, Events In Japan,

    Tokyo gears itself for cherry blossom festivals

    Regardless of what time of year you go, Tokyo never fails to surprise with its beauty and elegance, but nothing really comes close to the cherry blossom season. And local officials are preparing for a series of special events across the country that will mark this special occasion when the landscape becomes a technicolour explosion of pink hues.

    Sakura Festival, Chiyoda

    Taking place at the Imperial Palace, this festival will enable you to stroll around the picturesque landscape, while the Chidorigafuchi boating area will be open for the only time in the year until late, enabling you to view the illuminated cherry blossoms in the evening.

    Ueno Sakura Matsuri

    Ueno Park is undoubtedly one of the best places to see the blossom as it is lined endlessly with these cherry trees. At this time, 1,000 lanterns will illuminate the area at night, a protocol that was once used to increase security in the park at night. With over 600 Yoshino cherry trees to be enjoyed here, the park will also be hosting various special events and an antique market, ensuring there is something here to suit all tastes.

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  • Tuesday, 3rd March 2015
    In Business In Japan, General Japan News, Japan Travel News, Events In Japan, General Japan News,

    Japan gearing itself for 5G ahead of 2020 Olympics

    A series of mobile operators have announced that they will be collaborating with one another to develop 5G wireless so that networks can run at high frequencies at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

    The largest operator in Japan, DoCoMo, and Nokia have already started to demonstrate technical progress on 5G radio equipment, achieving data transmission speeds of higher than two gigabits a second - this is in contrast to the download speeds of 300 megabits per second that is achieved through 4G. It is hoped that an outdoor 70 GHz trial will take place later this year, on the airwave spectrum that ranges from 10 to 100 GHz.

    The two companies said in a joint statement: “This development underscores [DoCoMo’s] readiness to deliver a state-of-the-art 5G network in 2020 and beyond."

    5G technology was a big talking point at Barcelona's recent Mobile World Congress, as there is no point to invest in new network equipment unless there is major improvement in speed or functions. It is expected that a final standard for 5G will be set in 2019, a year before the Olympics.

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