Official Website for the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Year has been launched

The year 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Vietnam. In its commemoration, an official website for the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Year has been launched, ready to transmit information on various commemorative events including The Commemorative Enterprise for the Japan-Vietnam Friendship Year.
Let us build a momentum for a memorable year deepening the tie between the two countries.


Japanese shopping information

We have selected popular fashion buildings and shops which are must-see in Japan including commercial facilities which emphasize attracting foreign tourists. We also introduce websites which help you enjoy more shopping with many benefits.

Outlet Malls

●Premium Outlets Japan (Mitsubishi Estate-Simon, Co., Ltd.)

Japan’s most popular outlet shopping centers including Gotemba Premium Outlets (Shizuoka) in front of which soars Mt. Fuji, and Rinku Premium Outlets (Osaka) facing Kansai Airport across the sea. You can enjoy shopping daily at discounted prices including Japanese brand items and the world’s famous luxury brand goods.

On April 19, 2013, Shisui Premium Outlets will be opened in Shisui-Cho, Chiba Prefecture. It will have 121 shops and stores and will be 10 minutes from Narita Airport and 50 minutes from Tokyo by car. There will be such services as currency exchange, flight information guide, and free Wi-Fi access. The food court will have spaces for exclusive use by groups, which allow group tour participants to enjoy eating together.
There are also outlets in Sano (Tochigi), Tosu (Saga), Toki (Gifu), Kobe-Sanda (Hyogo), Sendai-Izumi (Miyagi), and Ami (Ibaraki).
●LaLaport Management

It manages Mitsui Shopping Park LaLaport, a large-size commercial facility where you can enjoy shopping and gourmets, and Mitsui Outlet Park, where you can purchase popular brand items at outlet prices, as well as restaurants and commercial buildings at Ginza in Tokyo.

Diver City Tokyo Plaza located in Odaiba, Tokyo, concentrates entertainment facilities where you can enjoy a variety of experiences with domestic and international popular casual brands and high-grade brand shops as well as food courts by famous eating places in Tokyo. It receives a great deal of attention as a ‘new point of interest in Tokyo.’ In February, Mitsui Shopping Park LaLaport Yokohama will start opening new or renovated 133 shops and stores out of a projected total of 279, including 5 brand shops which appear for the first time in Japan.
●Chitose Outlet Mall Rera

One of Hokkaido’s largest outdoor type outlet shopping malls, located in Chitose City. It is a 10-minute ride by a free shuttle bus (run every 30 minutes) from the international airport terminal, a 3-minute walk from Minami-Chitose Station, which is one station away from the airport. Shoppers can purchase from over 400 brand items at outlet prices. It also makes an excellent souvenir shopping spot.

While visitors can make free access to the internet at Free Wi-Fi Spots, it emphasizes providing hospitality to tourists of multi-national backgrounds.

Department Stores, Shopping Centers, etc.

This is a shopping mall consisting of one mall and two cores of general retailers and various specialized stores. It has more than 60 extensions both in Japan and overseas, and the number amounts to no less than 120 if it includes AEON MALLS run by the same group business.
●Mitsukoshi Isetan

In 2011, Mitsukoshi and Isetan, which are long-established department stores and Japan’s pride, were merged in management and gave a birth to Mitsukoshi Isetan Holdings. Both are continuing their unique styles at the Shinjuku Head Store for Isetan and the Nihonbashi Head Store for Mitsukoshi as their respective flagships.

Services geared towards foreign travelers are reinforced at the following stores. Isetan Shinjuku Head Store, Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi Head Store and Mitsukoshi Ginza Store provide speedy procedures for duty exemption refunds via the IT system. Isetan Shinjuku Head Store, moreover, is equipped with foreign currency exchange machines corresponding to 6 currencies and 4 languages while Mitsukoshi Ginza Store has set up an information desk for foreign travellers to distribute maps and pamphlets in foreign languages and also to introduce points of interest in the area.
●Tokyo Midtown
A spacious complex fused with the local town, including no less than 130 commercial facilities, hotels, art museums, live houses, business offices, residential homes, and parks. Despite being located at an urban city of Roppongi, it enjoys a peaceful space surrounded by green. It is another pastime to be able to enjoy Japanese art and culture.
●Shibuya PARCO
It is a pioneer fashion building which made Shibuya grow into a town for youth. It not only deals with fashion but also offers a rich repertoire of entertainment such as museums, galleries, and pop culture zones as well as restaurants and other eating places. Currently, with Shibuya PARCO as the flagship store, it extends its branches to 20 other locations including Ikebukuro, Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Hiroshima and Fukuoka.
●Laforet Harajuku
It is a fashion building representative of Harajuku, Tokyo. It concentrates the young’s popular shops dealing with fashion items, accessories and other general merchandizes, transmitting to outside the leading trends. You cannot miss the coordinates recommended by the staff of the various shops and the items exclusively offered by Laforet Harajuku.

Specialty Stores, etc.

It is a website which helps your shopping at duty free stores at airports on the way back from Japan. It enables you to enjoy shopping conveniently. It allows you to reserve purchases in advance and to check out the latest information on campaigns and others. The accessible shops are the duty free shops at Narita International Airport and the international terminal at Haneda Airport. It also offers presents specific for reservations made online.
●Sony Store Ginza

It is a store directly managed by Sony, where you can experience and purchase Sony’s latest merchandizes and the store’s original models. It is located on the fourth floor of Ginza Sony Building in Tokyo. Products with overseas specifications can be purchased duty-free. It is staffed with resident English- and Chinese-speaking personnel.
●Don Quijote
It is a general discount store open till late hours. All kinds of merchandizes are lined up including clothing, jewelries, electronics, food, and interior items, which can be purchased at super-discounted prices. Shinjuku Higashi Head Store, Ikebukuro Higashi Store, and Dotonbori Store (Osaka) attract many foreign visitors and are therefore equipped with floor maps of the stores, service and merchandize guide signs by categories, and merchandize descriptions in English. The group includes Don Quijote and MEGA Don Quijote and encompasses the total of 251 stores. Of these, 226 (as of March 6) provide duty exemption services.
●Yodobashi Camera
One of the leading household electronics stores in Japan. Currently, its specialty is not limited to such electronics as cameras, appliances, and PCs but also covers a wide variety of goods including toys, watches, and games.
It has extended itself to 21 stores with a focus on areas near terminal stations in large cities
KIDDY LAND is a toy store which expresses a world view filled with fun and dream through fancy and character goods and a variety of toy items. It is also full of a playful soul where new discoveries are made.
Its flagship shop, KIDDY LAND Harajuku, is virtually a landmark of Harajuku and Omotesando and is an originating place of new fashions where one make a new discovery every time they visit.
It has set up specialized stores for popular characters such as SNOOPY Townshop, Rilakkuma store, and Hello Kitty Shop. It also has a thorough inventory of goods and sells limited items, offering a special space only possible in Harajuku.


Special benefits given by using the Visa Card.
A ‘Visit Japan with Visa’ campaign is being implemented.
If you pay for your purchases using the Visa Card by presenting the campaign coupons, you can receive special benefits such as special gifts and discounts applicable to the specified department stores and shops. This campaign will be in operation till October 31, 2013. You can download coupons from the website shown below. Contents and conditions are subject to change in accordance with facilities, so please check beforehand.

<Applicable facilities>
  • Tokyo (Big Camera, Don Quijote, Yodobashi Camera, Onitsuka Tiger, Isetan Shinjuku, Mitsukoshi, and Takashimaya)
  • Osaka & Kyoto (Big Camera, Don Quijote, Yodobashi Camera, Onitsuka Tiger, Tokyu Hands Shinsaibashi, Takashimaya, JR Osaka Mitsukoshi Isetan, and JR Kyoto Isetan)
  • Fukuoka (Big Camera, Don Quijote, Yodobashi Camera, Onitsuka Tiger, Mitsukoshi, and IWATAYA)
  • Sapporo (Big Camera, Don Quijote, Yodobashi Camera, Mitsukoshi, and Marui Imai Sapporo)
※They furthermore provide free Wi-Fi access and other special benefits at the premium outlets throughout Japan, 4 famous restaurants in Tokyo, and 54 facilities in Okinawa Prefecture.

News & Topics

Seven Bank’s ATMs allow you to use cards issued overseas

You can withdraw Japanese yen at day or night at the Seven Eleven stores, which is one of the largest convenience store franchises, as well as at 17,000 Seven Bank’s ATMs at airports and elsewhere by using debit and credit cards issued overseas. ATMs’ transaction screen and receipts can be displayed in four languages: English, Korean, Chinese and Portuguese, which makes the use safe and easy.


Bus and taxi companies with useful services


Runs popular highway buses with a variety of seat types. 110 cities including Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Sendai, Hiroshima and Fukuoka, are connected daily by 250 routes.

*Japan Bus Pass
This pass allows you to have free access to any highway bus run by WILLER EXPRESS within 2 months from the purchase. There are 3 types: 3-, 4- or 5-day passes; however, the days need not be consecutive as long as they fall within the 2-month period. It can be used only by foreign travelers and can be purchased at a specialized website only accessible from overseas.

3-DAY PASS ¥10,000, 4-DAY PASS ¥12,000, 5-DAY PASS ¥14,000.
●Hato Bus

It offers a variety of bus tours to famous sights in Tokyo, including a half-day tour to Tokyo’s 3 famous sights of Tokyo Tower, Imperial Palace and Asakusa, and a day-tour to major sightseeing spots with walks in Japanese gardens and Japanese-style barbecue lunch. Both tours are provided with English speaking guides.

【A price example】
Tokyo Morning Tour: ¥5,000 (half day)
Dynamic Tokyo: ¥12,000 (one day)
●Hinomaru Limousine

It offers two bus services: Sky Bus Tokyo (reservation preferred) provides window sightseeing with no getting off the bus and Sky Hop Bus (no reservation required) comes with one-day or two-day passes and allows an access to/from every bus stop along the route. All routes provide a guide system in English, Chinese and Korean. They use 2-story buses with an open top.

Sky Bus Tokyo: Imperial Palace-Ginza-Marunouchi route: ¥1,500 (approx. 50 min.)
Sky Hop Bus: a one-day pass ¥1,800 and a two-day pass ¥2,500.
●Tokyo MK
A well-reputed taxi company with high-quality services and high-grade vehicles. They provide lower starting fares and discounts for late-night rides and services for pick-ups/drop-offs to/from Haneda and Narita Airports with fixed fares. Furthermore, they offer a ¥1,000 discount campaign for reservations using SKY WEB Online Service (off the Narita service fare).

Haneda Airport fixed fare from ¥6,000 (one way)
Narita Airport fixed fare from ¥13,000 (one way).

* Additional costs required for expressway tolls and parking fees as well as meeting service charges for pickups at airports (Haneda ¥2,000 and Narita ¥3,000 including parking fees). Also possible to arrange for an English speaking driver (¥1,000/hour).

Notable Events & Festivals

Let’s enjoy flower-viewing at famous cherry blossom spots

©Fujiyoshida City/© JNTO
Cherry blossoms which tell the arrival of spring. They start to bloom in as early as late March in Kyushu, followed by Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto and their environs), Kanto (Tokyo and its surroundings) and Tohoku in the north and ending in Hokkaido in early May. Cherry blossoms die away only in 10 days after their blossoming, which therefore symbolizes a noble yet evanescent life to many Japanese. Hanami is an event where people gather under a cherry tree, celebrate full bloom and enjoy eating and drinking. This banquet scenery is a seasonal tradition of Japan’s springtime. There are a number of famous cherry blossom sights throughout Japan, out of which we will introduce some of the most popular ones. JNTO’s website also shares the recommended spots along with their blooming times.


●Ueno Onshi Koen Park [Taito Ward]
Blooming time: Late March to mid April
This is Japan’s first park built in Meiji Era 6 (1873). The cherry trees are said to originate from the Edo Era, when a Buddhist monk Tenkai Sojo planted them at the time of founding Kan-eiji Temple. Ever since then, the place has been known as a famous cherry blossom spot. As of now, there are approximately 1,000 cherry trees, which bury the entire park when in full bloom, presenting a breath-taking sight. Ueno Cherry Festival is held in mid March to mid April, attracting over 1.5 million visitors, filled with lively groups of people who enjoy their banquets on sunny days.
●Chidorigafuchi & environs [Chiyoda Ward]
Blooming time: Late March to early April

Photos/Chiyoda Ward Tourism Association
Chidorigafuchi is a moat located in northwest of the Imperial Palace. In this area, approximately 260 cherry trees bloom, and the view is particularly beautiful when seen from the 700-meter promenade, called Chidorigafuchi-Ryokudo, along the route extending from the cemetery entrance to Kudan Branch of Koji-Machi Fire Station. One can even ride a boat and enjoy viewing blossoms. Cherry trees are lit up at night during the blooming season, and the fascinating beauty of their reflections on the water is a must-see. Since banqueting is prohibited in this area, many go all the way up to Chidorigafuchi Park, which extends from the Hanzomon intersection to Chidorigafuchi Intersection along Hanzo-Bori moat.


●Osaka Castle Park [Osaka City]
Blooming time: Late March to early April
This is a park located in roughly the center of Osaka with an area of 105.6 ha.

Nishinomaru Garden has about 300 cherry trees and during the blooming season every year they offer a night-time bloom viewing event titled ‘Osaka Castle Nishinomaru Cherry Blossom Viewing Night’. Many people flock to the park, where cherry blossoms are in full bloom with the castle tower in the background, which incorporates Momoyama Era’s architectural style.


●Arashiyama [Kyoto City]
Blooming time: Mid March to early April
Located in the west of Kyoto’s urban district, Arashiyama extends from Togetsukyo Bridge in the center over Ooi River (Katsura River). There are about 1,500 cherry trees including Yamazakura and Somei-yoshino. If the Sagano area is included, the number presumably goes up to no less than 5,000. The mountains become covered with contrasting colors of green and light rouge, presenting an astonishing beauty. Visitors can also ride Japanese style boats steered by boatmen and enjoy bloom viewing from there.
●Tetsugaku no Michi (Philosophers’ Path) [Kyoto City]
Blooming time: Late March to early April
Philosopher’s Path is a 1.5 km long small trail extending from Nyakuouji Shrine in Sakyo Ward of Kyoto City to Ginkakuji Temple along Biwako Sosui Channel. In spring, no less than 500 cherry tress standing on either side of the path bloom, creating a sort of a ‘tunnel’, an attractive walk in which is quite enjoyable.

Setouchi International Art Festival will be held on March 20, 2013

Osamu Nakamura
Setouchi International Art Festival was first held in 2010 and this will be the second one; the title is ‘Setouchi’s Four Seasons with Visits to Its Arts and Islands.’ It is a contemporary art festival whose stage is the islands located in the eastern part of Setonaikai Inland Sea between Honshu and Shikoku Islands. It will be held on 3 occasions over a total of 108 days: March 20 to April 21 (spring), July 20 to September 1 (summer), and October 5 to November 4 (fall). Visitors enjoy arts while feeling the four seasons.

Approximately 80 minutes from Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport by plane; 30 minutes from Okayama Airport to Okayama Station by limousine bus; 45 minutes by train from Okayama Station to Uno Station via Chayamachi Station; 5 minutes from Uno Port on foot; the islands can be accessed by boat from Uno Port.

Enjoy More!

Recommended applications useful for travel in Japan

Kokosil Ginza

【Tokyo Metropolitan Government】
[free downloading] compatible with iPhone and Android
It is an application and portal website where you can do searching on shops and points of interest in Ginza as well as find out maps and information through word of mouth. Within the service area, you can enjoy ‘Tour Guide’ which lets you visit the sightseeing spots in town and ‘Audio Guide’ where you can listen to audio contents suited for various locations. Available in English, Chinese (traditional or simplified characters) and Korean.

Multilingual tourist guide application: ‘Furatto Traveller: A Multilingual Osaka Tourist Guide’

【Osaka Prefecture】
This lists up all kinds of information from Osaka’s famous tourist spots to Wi-Fi access spots and hospitals, navigating you to your destination suited to your purposes by using GPS. Useful features include ranking of popular spots and areas and recommended tourist courses in each area. Available in English, Korean and Chinese (traditional or simplified characters).

TraveloMap “YOKOHAMA Travel Guide”

【Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture】
[Free downloading]
It shows major points of interest such as sightseeing places, restaurants and shopping centers in the environs of where travellers are and guides them through prices, reservations, and how to go from where they are to their destinations.

Sapporo Info

【Sapporo City, Hokkaido Prefecture】
[Free downloading ] compatible with iPhone、iPad、Android
Sapporo City’s first official smart phone application, which collects information for enjoying Sapporo’s sightseeing places. It allows you to view, within the application, electronic maps and pamphlets useful for sightseeing and introduces major sightseeing spots in movies. It also delivers, as needed, information on the newest events and other recommendations. Moreover, it comes with beneficial coupons exclusively for the application, is equipped with off-line cache functions and allows you to view maps and others regardless of the communication environment.


【Hiroshima Prefecture】
[Free downloading]
It is filled with sightseeing information of Hiroshima and allows you to do searching by names of sightseeing facilities, the distance from where you are, and themes. It is also possible to save favorite places and information as your own customized guidebook.

Ishikawa Travel Guide

【Ishikawa Prefecture】
[Free downloading]
It covers all the sightseeing spots’ information within Ishikawa Prefecture. It displays sightseeing spots near where you are and guides you to the destination.

Other useful websites