Cherry Blossom Forecast Predicts Early Season

Anticipation is in the air as Japan anxiously awaits the beginning of the cherry blossom season, that extraordinary time of year when trees across the country explode into a flurry of pink and white blossoms. Cherry blossoms, or 'sakura', are an important symbol of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. The soft, fluffy blossoms are often associated with beauty, the Japanese people's connection to nature or transience. They transform Japan's already scenic landscapes into a wonderland of whirling flower petals for a week, and then are gone as suddenly as
they arrived. The dramatic nature of the cherry blossom season makes the experience of 'hanami', the Japanese tradition of having a picnic beneath the cherry blossom trees, even more important. The brevity and unpredictable timing of cherry blossom season means the cherry blossom forecast is essential.

Launch of French Version of the Japan Travel Specialist (JTS) Online Certification Program

JNTO Toronto is thrilled to announce the launch of its French language Japan Travel Specialist online certification program.  The English version of the program was successfully launched in August 2008.  The new French version will allow francophone travel agents working in Quebec and other parts of Canada to get the most important information on Japan efficiently and effectively.

The course consists of three thirty-minute lessons and will give travel agents who may not have had the opportunity to travel in Japan the essential facts.  Participants will no doubt find the course interesting, too, since it includes many images and a video.  Users can customize the course according to their needs by clicking on specific regions of Japan for more detailed information.

Japan Travel Specialists who successfully complete the course will be eligible to enter the JTS contest to receive one of four grand prizes of a return airline ticket to Tokyo or eight special prizes of Japanese lacquer boxes or ceramic plates.  Winners will be selected by random draws on June 1, 2010, September 1, 2010, December 1, 2010, and March 1, 2011.  Further, JTS graduate benefits include an exclusive Japan Travel Specialist certificate, access to promotional tools necessary for selling Japanese travel destinations, and priority invitation to JNTO events.

To find out more about the Japan Travel Specialist Online Certification Program:

Katherine Govier's New Book, The Ghost Brush, Inspired by Japanese Artist

Award-winning Canadian author Katherine Govier's passion for the country has inspired her to visit, study, and write her latest novel about Japan.

Katherine and Japan:

Katherine loves Japan - she has been there four times since 1992.  She has driven a car in Amakusa, hiked a section of the Nakasendo, and been to the famous gardens in Kanazawa and near Mitsue.  On her most recent trip she stayed at the Hiragiya Ryokan in Kyoto and fell in love with Kaiseki cuisine.  In the course of her research for this novel, she visited Tokyo, Yokohama, and Obuse in Nagano, all places where Hokusai and his daughter spent time.

About The Book:

The Ghost Brush is a novel that combines international research, scholarly detective work, and imagination to bring Oei, the great, lost woman artist, to life.  Oei's drive to paint led her through the barriers of tyranny, political upheaval and famine.  But when her strength was pitted against her father, the iconic artist Hokusai, she could only submit.

About Katherine Govier:

Katherine Govier has published 8 novels and 3 collections of short stories.  Her last novel, Three Views of Crystal Water told the story of a Canadian girl who dove with the ama divers of Japan.  Her previous novel, Creation, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2003.  Her work has been published in Dutch, Italian, Serbian and Chinese.  Katherine loves to write about her travels.  She divides her time between Toronto and the Rocky Mountains.

Her website at lists her published works.

Be sure to visit the website for Ghost Brush:

The Hiroshima 2010 International Animation Festival Celebrates Two Milestones

The annual Hiroshima International Animation Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year.  In addition to celebrating the Festival's 25 years, it will also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the creation of the International Animated Film Association, commonly known by its French acronym, ASIFA.  The Festival was founded through the vision and support of Hiroshima City.  It showcases both the continued development and great potential of animation art culture.  This year's festival, "Hiroshima 2010," will take place 7-11 August 2010, at Aster Plaza.

For more detailed information on the Festival, visit:

For more detailed information on the ASIFA, visit:

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