People come from all over the world to get a short glimpse of Japan's blooming cherry blossoms. Google is taking advantage of this worldwide sakura passion to show off their virtual-tour map feature with Street View Sakura Edition, which shows cherry blossom scenes not only in normal pictures but also as 360-degree panoramas. The Blossom Edition features sites from Kyushu all the way up to Aomori, including about 50 different spots, and gives information such as the number of cherry blossom trees, the area they cover and, in some cases, the history of the locations.
All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan's leading airline, has launched "Let's Do Japan", a site that lets visitors create their own Japanese manga personality and learn helpful tips about Japanese culture and trends. In this first-ever campaign by ANA targeting U.S. consumers, visitors to the site create their own characters through Manganizer, which uses the popular Japanese manga style of comics and features five distinct Japanophile travelers that embody the characteristics of ANA and Japan. Visitors choose to be either Executive, Fashionista, Gourmand, Designer or Aficionado to create their original manga hero and manga stories with their own pictures.
Rikuzentakata, like many towns on Japan’s rugged north-east Pacific coast, was in decline even before last year’s tsunami killed 1 700 of its 24 000 inhabitants and destroyed most of its downtown buildings. With two-thirds of the remaining residents homeless, mayor Futoshi Toba questioned whether the town could recover. Damage to infrastructure and the local economy, he said, would force people to move away to find jobs.
The Justice Ministry has decided to station about 50 foreign-language interpreters next fiscal year at immigration clearance counters of 18 airports and seaports across the country, a move apparently designed to cope with the increase in visitors from other Asian countries. It is estimated hiring such interpreters from the private sector will cost 300 million yen, the ministry said.
Tokyo's Haneda airport unveiled a new passenger terminal Monday that will handle international flights once its fourth runway becomes operational Oct. 21. The new five-story terminal will open the same day. The airport currently handles a limited number of international flights to Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Hong Kong, but once the new facility and runway are up and running, flights farther afield, including to Hawaii, San Francisco, Paris, Bangkok and Singapore, will be added.