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Japan to be Featured by World-Renowned Guide Series (August 15, 2005)

Foreign tourists visiting Tsukiji Fish Market (Jiji)
A Japan edition of the Michelin Guides, travel books famous all over the world for their ratings of hotels and restaurants, will be published in February 2007. In addition to introducing hotels and restaurants throughout Japan, the guide will be packed with information on the history, culture, art, and architecture of famous locations. This will be the first time since the guides' inception in 1900 that the series has featured a guidebook on Japan.

No Star Ratings
The publication of a Japan edition of the Michelin Guide is the result of negotiations begun last winter between the Paris office of the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), an independent administrative agency, and French tire manufacturer Michelin, which produces the guides. This initiative is part of the Japanese government's Visit Japan Campaign, which aims to increase the number of foreign tourists. This autumn, Michelin will dispatch a team to Japan, which will gather data over the course of half a year and then return to Paris to spend a year or so drafting and editing the guide.

In France, many restaurant owners and chefs purportedly begin to develop ulcers when new Michelin guides hit the bookshops every March. This is because the number of stars awarded to them by the book has a major impact on how many customers will patronize their businesses. Japanese restauranteurs need not worry, however. "What we are planning will basically be a travel guide. It will be different from a book that ranks restaurants," explained a JNTO representative.

Michelin produces two basic types of guidebooks. The red-covered Michelin Guide is known for its ratings of hotels and restaurants. This guide comprehensively judges each restaurant based on such criteria as selection of ingredients, balance of taste, and the chef's imagination, awarding stars to those that the guide's authors recommend. In the 2005 France guide, 26 restaurants were awarded three stars, 70 earned two stars, and 402 received one star; many others earned no stars. Michelin's other guidebook is called the Green Guide. This guide introduces places like historical landmarks and art galleries and recommends spots by awarding up to three stars. The Japan guide will be a composite containing content from both types of guide.

A Chance to Attract Foreign Visitors
Perhaps no one is anticipating Michelin's Japan guide more than municipalities hoping to attract overseas tourists. Among the most confident is the city of Kyoto, which in 2004 welcomed a record 45.5 million domestic and international tourists. Already, established restaurants serving traditional Japanese cuisine are getting requests from overseas media and travel companies eager to report on their offerings. And officials from localities nationwide are inundating the JNTO with requests to have their local attractions reviewed for inclusion in the Michelin guide.

The JNTO has high hopes for the new guidebook. "France is an individualistic country where people make their own travel plans, stay where they like, and eat the foods they enjoy eating. The Michelin Japan guide should cater to this style of traveler." The initial guide will target French tourists traveling to Japan, and 5,000 French-language copies are scheduled to be printed. English and German translations are also planned.

The publication of such a prestigious guide is sure to further stimulate interest among overseas travelers eager to sample Japan's many cultural and culinary attractions.

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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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