CULTURAL TREASURES GO ON SHOW
Japan Opens Its Doors to Foreign Visitors (February 4, 2005)
Japan is gearing up to welcome foreign tourists like never before. A series of special events is being planned throughout the country catering to visitors from abroad. Offering visitors everything from rare chances to see ancient cultural treasures to roller-coaster rides, these events are all part of Yokoso! Japan Weeks, the centerpiece of the Visit Japan Campaign actively implemented by various government agencies. Yokoso! Japan Weeks lasts from February 5 to 20, 2005. It coincides with the opening of Central Japan International Airport, located near the city of Nagoya, a development expected to draw significant numbers of Chinese and South Korean visitors to Japan.
|People wearing traditional costume at Shimogamo Shrine (PANA)
Rare Glimpses of Cultural Treasures
One of the biggest attractions during this period is the number of temples and shrines that will put on view some of their cultural assets that are normally kept out of sight.
In Nara, the Shunjyodo, a hall housing national treasures on the grounds of the Todaiji Temple, is usually open for only one day each year, on July 5. This year, however, it will also be open to the public on February 5 and 6. Despite its cloistered existence, the hall has a number of points of interest. Among the national treasures and important cultural assets housed there are a sitting figure of Shunjyo Shonin, who was instrumental in the reconstruction of the temple during the Nara period (710-794). The special admission price is ¥500 ($4.76 at ¥105 to the dollar).
Meanwhile, demonstrations of the ancient Hozoin style of spearmanship are to be held at Kofukuji Temple on the afternoons of February 12 and 19. Visitors can even have a go at handling a spear themselves. What is more, the first tier of the temple's five-storied pagoda, which is a national treasure, will be open exclusively to overseas spectators at the spear demonstrations who are carrying their passports.
Another important cultural asset is the Kannondo building at the Byodoin temple in Kyoto Prefecture, which is home to the Hoozo, a statue of a phoenix. The Kannondo will be open to the public during this period. Another special opening is of the Saito, or West Tower, of the Yakushiji Temple, which was reconstructed during the Showa period (1926-1989). At the Toshodaiji Temple, meanwhile, the Chukodo and Jizodo halls will be open to the public until March 6.
Fans of Noh drama will be able to see a performance staged at the Kasugataisha Shrine from 3 p.m. on February 12. Up to 80 spectators will be able to witness the event. Eighty is also the maximum capacity for an event on February 11 and 17 at Shimogamo Shrine, where visitors can try on the ancient juni-hitoe style of dress used in the Aoi Festival. A traditional dance called Ocho no mai will also take place. The shrine is well known for its pavilions, which are important cultural assets.
Fun, Economical, and Convenient
The slogan of Yokoso! Japan Weeks is "Fun, Economy, and Convenience." The campaign aims to create a welcoming mood throughout Japan. Part of that goal is to be achieved by minimizing travel expenses and eliminating, or at least alleviating, any concerns visitors may have regarding traveling around an unfamiliar country.
Several events with distinctively modern themes are also planned. The event to kick off the campaign is to take place at the chic Roppongi Hills complex in downtown Tokyo on February 4. Various amusement parks, including Fujikyu Highland, Huis Ten Bosch, and Sanrio Puroland, are also planning special events during the Yokoso! Japan Weeks.
Related Web Sites
Visit Japan Campaign
Copyright (c) 2005 Web Japan. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.
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