Cherry Blossom Viewing...More than just Flowers

Spring is here!  Well, here in Canada we may need to wait a little bit longer.  However in Japan the much-awaited cherry blossom season is definitely around the corner.  Starting in the south and spreading north, the wave of trees exploding in fluffy petals and transforming the landscape into a soft, dreamy world of pink and white is truly magical. 

The cherry blossoms, or "sakura", are an important symbol for Japanese people and frequently appear in art, music and pop culture.  For many Japanese people, the blooming of the cherry trees symbolizes human life, transience and nobleness. They celebrate and cherish their beauty while it lasts, usually about one week.    

How can you enjoy cherry blossoms?  Why not join the locals by heading for a park or a mountain and having a party beneath them.  The Japanese enjoy food, drink and each other's company while sitting beneath the cherry blossom trees in the afternoon or at night, when many parks are lit up for the occasion.  This is called Ohanami, which means cherry blossom viewing, but the boisterous atmosphere and festivities is definitely more than just's a celebration.  Although many people bring their own food and drink and have a picnic, in popular areas there are also food stands with traditional fair food such as fried noodles, fried octopus, and okonomiyaki

To find out when to schedule your trip, consult the cherry blossom forecast here:

For recommendations on hot spots to view cherry blossoms click here:

JAL to Inaugurate New BOEING 767-300ER Equipment on Vancouver - Tokyo Route

Effective March 27, 2011, Japan Airlines will introduce the new B767-300ER aircraft on its daily Vancouver - Tokyo route.

The aircraft will be configured with 30 new JAL Skyrecliner seats in Executive Class, and 193 Recaro seats in economy class, all equipped with 10.6 inch TV monitors and the latest Magic V Audio- Visual on Demand entertainment system.

The JAL Skyrecliner seat will have 51 inches of pitch, and will recline to an angle of 132 degrees.  The wingback styling of the seat, equipped with central dividers, will give an extra feeling of privacy and comfort.  USB plug, component video input, and power outlet for a laptop will ensure a productive and entertaining flight, whether traveling for business or pleasure.   

In economy class, the stylish seats are designed by world-renowned seat maker Recaro, and are configured in a 2-3-2 layout, ensuring that no passenger will be more than one seat away from an aisle.  The Magic V entertainment system is JAL's finest, with picture-in-picture display, and a great selection of 3D games and popular arcade classics.

JAL Group Re-establishes Identity with Corporate Policy and Logo Change

~ To reflect the commitment and determination of a New JAL ~

The JAL Group (JAL) has announced it will adopt a new corporate policy and change its logo from April 1, 2011, symbolizing a fresh start for the airline group with its strengthened commitment to society and reinvigorated determination of the management and all employees.

The motif that will be used is of a soaring Japanese red-crown crane with its wings extended in full flight - an auspicious icon of Japan representing the high spirits of the Japanese people and their sensitive attention to detail. First registered as a trademark of Japan Airlines in August 1959, the circular crane mark was painted on the entire fleet during the period of JAL's international network expansion. It stayed a main feature of the JAL livery for more than 40 years and became an unmistakable image representing Japan Airlines and the country it connected the world with. Bearing this mark on its aircraft, JAL displayed the uniqueness and progress of Japan to the world and it often invoked a sense of pride and familiarity in many Japanese as well as its loyal overseas customers.

The symbol of the crane has come to be associated with the nation's distinct hallmarks of pristine quality and reliability. For customers, JAL is determined to safeguard these values of the Japanese culture and to continue reflecting its quintessential hospitality from the heart in the airline's authentic services - a promise that is now embodied in the Group's new corporate policy unveiled today.

The first aircraft to be painted with the new logo will be a Boeing 767-300ER for international flights. With the exception of staff uniforms which will remain unchanged, corporate items bearing the current logo such as signage, name tags and stationery will gradually be phased out over the next few years.

Renewal of Japan Hotel Association Website

The Japan Hotel Association is composed of leading hotels representing every part of Japan.

All Association member hotels have been approved by the Ministry of Transportation under the Law for the Improvement of International Tourist Hotel Facilities.  The Association has recently renewed its website, so now finding a high quality hotel is easier than ever.  The renewed website features beautiful images, useful information and a variety of different search features to allow you to find the hotel that best suits your needs. 

For more information:

Free Guided Tours and Free Rentals of Audio Guides in Foreign Languages are Available at Museums!

Want to learn more about Japanese art and culture but don't know where to start?  How about with a free guided tour of a museum? The Japan Tourism Agency is helping international visitors to learn more about Japanese culture.  As part of these activities, free rentals of audio guides of the exhibits using iPhones and iPods as well as free guided tours by interpreters are available for international visitors at the museums listed below. (Languages: English, Chinese, Korean)

Free rentals of audio guides using iPhones and iPods

  1. Kyoto National Museum (Kyoto-City)
       January 25, 2011 - February 20, 2011 (Closed Mondays)
       10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Excludes 12 noon - 1 p.m.)
  2. Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History (Odawara-City, Kanagawa Prefecture (near Hakone))
       February 8, 2011 - February 27, 2011 (Closed Mondays)
       10 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Excludes 12 noon - 1 p.m.)
  3. 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (Kanazawa-City, Ishikawa Prefecture)
       February 8, 2011 - February 27, 2011 (Closed Mondays)
       10 a.m. - 6 p.m. (Excludes 12 noon - 1 p.m.) [Tue. - Thu. / Sun.]
       10 a.m. - 7 p.m. (Excludes 12 noon - 1 p.m.) [Fri. / Sat.]

Free guided tours

  1. The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, Saitama (Saitama-City, Saitama Prefecture)
       February 11 (Fri.), 12 (Sat.), 13 (Sun.), 19 (Sat.), and 20 (Sun.), 2011
       Start times: 11:00 am and 2:00 pm
  2. Okinawa Prefectural Museum & Art Museum (Naha-City, Okinawa Prefecture)
       February 1 (Tue.) - 6 (Sun.), February 11 (Fri.) to 13 (Sun.) 2011.
       Start times: 11:00 am and 2:00 pm

*Admission fees for each facility are required.
*Advance reservations are not required.

Where in Japan?

In this section you will find a photo of some location in Japan. Please enjoy guessing where you think it might be. Watch for the answer in our next newsletter to see if you were right and learn more about travel destinations in Japan!

January Newsletter Answer

The answer to January's Where in Japan? photo is posted on our Facebook page now!

Don't have a Facebook account?  Don't worry, you can still see our page and the answer:

(Please note that this is not a contest. It is not necessary to contact the JNTO Toronto Office with your guesses.)

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Japan National Tourism Organization
481 University Avenue, Suite 306 Toronto, Ontario M5G 2E9
Tel: 416-366-7140
Fax: 416-366-4530

Tel: 416-366-7140
Fax: 416-366-4530