Japan Travel

* * * * * * * * TERRIE’S (TOURISM) TAKE – BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A bi-weekly focused look at the tourism sector in Japan, by Terrie
Lloyd, a long-term technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

Tourism Sector Edition Sunday, Apr 08, 2018, Issue No. 939

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+++ So, Just Where in Japan Do the Last Cherry Trees Bloom?

There is no doubt about the fact that the peak time for first-time
visitors to Japan is during the blooming of the nation’s cherry
blossoms. Unfortunately, given the fact that nature has the blossoms
come when they feel like it, and not according to some traveler’s
careful scheduling, I truly feel sorry for the many thousands of people
who arrived in Japan last week, only to find that the prime spots in
Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto were already done and gone. Yup, Mother Nature
had the cherry blossoms come a full ten days earlier than average… Of
course, what’s “average” is advancing each year, as our world gets
perceptibly warmer.

So what is a romantic camera-toting tourist to do?

Well, there are a variety of cherry blossom “insurance policies” you can
practice (and tell your visiting friends about). The first is to
remember the simple fact that cherry trees bloom according to
temperature and variety. So if you go to colder climes, you get a window
in which to chase the blossoms northwards and upwards. The best way to
do this is to have your first-time visitors start off their adventure in
Tokyo or Kyoto, then travel to the Japanese Alps (Nagano in particular),
then up to Hokkaido – timing the northern part of their trip for some
time ranging from the first week of April (Niigata) through to the
middle-end of May (Hokkaido).

Right now (April 8, 2018), Niigata and Nagano cherry trees are in full
bloom, and over the next 10 days trees in Aomori and the southern part
of Hokkaido will be. If your friends miss those sites, then they will
either need to do some mountain hiking or go north east. For example,
Mount Hikarujo, near Azumino in Nagano, has a mass of cherry trees, and
because it is cooler the higher you ascend, the blossoms at the top are
still popping even while those at the base may be past their full glory.
An added bonus is a wonderful view of the beautiful snow-covered peaks

http://bit.ly/2qetNZT [Mt. Hikarujo photos, Azumino JP site]

[Continued below…]

———– Rooftop Organic Brunch – Alishan ————–

Alishan Organic X Abi’s Journal. Join us at the long table under the
blue sky on Abi’s rooftop in Yoyogi Uehara for a relaxing brunch. The
Chef from Alishan Cafe will be in charge of the kitchen for the day.
Fresh pastries, quiche, yogurt parfait topped with granola and fruit,
and kale salad, are just a few of the dishes on the menu. In addition,
Alishan’s visiting chef from London Proof’s Place will be making special
pancakes and tofu “egg” scramble. Brunch will be served with champagne,
coffee, tea and cold-pressed juice from Sunshine Juice. Please let us
know if you have any allergies.

In celebration of Alishan Organic Center’s 30th anniversary, the Rooftop
Brunch price has been reduced from JPY8,000 to JPY6,000. Jack and Fay,
founders of Alishan will be there celebrating as well!

Booking deadline: April 12th. Limited to 20 people. JPY6,000-Adults,
JPY2000-Children (under 13)
RSVP: Call Alishan Cafe: 0429-82-4811, or online at Peatix:
http://abialishanbrunch.peatix.com/. Payment at venue.
Venue: Grand Forest #303 Ooyama-cho 35-19 Shibuya-ku Tokyo 151-0065. 10
min walk from Yoyogi Uehara station.
Cancellation: Notification by April 13 through Peatix, Facebook, and phone.

Facebook event page : http://bit.do/rooftopbrunch

Then there are the late blooming cherry varieties. While the most
commonly cultivar is Somei Yoshino, the classic 5-petaled white-pink
trees that we see on tourist posters, the most popular late bloomer
variety, specifically planted to withstand the cold northern winters and
mountain winds, is the Sargent’s Cherry, otherwise known as the North
Japanese hill cherry. This is the variety of the famous pink-blooming
trees lining Lake Nakatsuna in Nagano, which will be out at the end of
this month. These trees are magnificently reflected in the waters of the
lake, making it popular for more adventurous photographers.

http://bit.ly/2Hiirv4 [Photo of blooming trees by the Nishina lakes]

The last place in Japan for cherry blossoms to bloom, sometimes as late
as the end of May, is Nemuro in eastern Hokkaido. The Seiryuji temple
there has over thirty 100-year old Chishimazakura trees that were
transplanted from Kunashiri island in what is now Russia, in the Meji
era. So these trees have a strong symbolic value for the Japanese.

http://bit.ly/2EukSHK [Nemuro cherry trees]

Spring blossoms have of course been a topic for literary composition for
thousands of years. In Japan, early poetry mostly focused on the
fragrant plum blossom, but in the Heian period (794-1185) interest
switched to cherry blossoms – perhaps because they are more delicate and
fleeting (and thus make a much better tragi-romantic metaphor). If you
want to learn about the history (pages 19-100) of the cherry tree in
Japan, you can find an excellent free book (in English) on the subject
online at:

http://bit.ly/2ICDfwW [Cool online history book on cherry blossoms]

It’s an interesting tome, and flicking through the pages, you can
discover a range of fascinating insights into the history and spread of
cherry tree varieties around the country. For example, did you know that
Ueno Park’s famous cherry blossoms have an interesting heritage? In the
1620’s, with the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate in Edo, Ueno
was an important Feng Shui (Fusui, in Japanese) point, being to the
northeast of the palace and thus being an “Outer Gate” of the spirit realm.

To protect the shogun from possible malevolent spirits emanating from
that point, the Buddhist high-priest Tenkai decided to build the Tokyo
branch of the Eizanji temple (later known as Kanei-ji temple) on the
spot, replete with a pond (Shinobazu) and cherry trees. The temple
complex became massive, taking up most of the Ueno quarter, but was
mostly destroyed in 1868 during the Battle of Ueno in the Boshin War.
The area lay fallow for a while, then in 1873 (or 1875 or 1885 –
depending on which book you read) a Dutch doctor named Anthonius Bauduin
convinced the new government to turn the Ueno battle ground into the
nation’s first public park, and thus the cherry trees there were preserved.

Convenient websites for tracking cherry blossoms both this year and in
future years include:

http://bit.ly/2GKMlXU [www.japantravel.com‘s feature page, of course!]
http://bit.ly/2qgXqZz [JR East’s very good and regularly updated
destination/bloom status page]
http://bit.ly/2qhO4g7 [Wonderfully detailed cherry viewing spot list for
Nagano – someone really went to a lot of trouble to make this…]
http://bit.ly/2IB4ec1 [JNTO’s sakura map]

…The information janitors/


— Foreign Entrepreneurs Business Plan Competition 2018 —

Tokyo Star Bank’s new initiative, the Foreign Entrepreneurs Business
Plan Competition 2018, gives foreign entrepreneurs an opportunity to
become the next star in Japan’s business scene. The Grand Prize winner
of the competition will be awarded a whopping JPY1,000,000 in funding.
Only foreign nationals living in Japan or foreign-born Japanese are
eligible to apply. In addition to judges, the final selection stage will
also be attended by venture capitalists and private equity funds looking
for new businesses in which to invest.

The deadline for applications is June 8. Applicants must submit several
documents including a business proposal in Word or PowerPoint that is up
to 20 pages long. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2HhXZul


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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd@japaninc.com)

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