Monday, February 28, 2011

Spring Training in Okinawa

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Tokyo’s Yomiura Giants play at Onoyama Stadium in Naha

It’s baseball season in Okinawa!

The Yomiuri Giants, one of Japan’s most popular teams, spends spring training at it’s new home stadium in Naha City. The Giants, along with 9 other Japanese professional teams and four Korean teams, call Okinawa home each year as they fine-tune their games for the 2011 season. Only the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and the Seibu Lions will not train in an Okinawa location.

Baseball was introduced to Japan in 1872 by Horace Wilson, and professional leagues were begun in 1934. The professional circuit is divided into two six-team leagues, the Central League with the Yomiuri Giants, Hiroshima Carp, Hanshin Tigers, Chunichi Dragons, Yokohama Bay Stars and Tokyo Yakult Swallows. The Pacific League is comprised of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, the Orix Buffaloes, Chiba Lotte Marines, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Saitama Seibu Lions and Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.

The new Onoyama Staidium will also host this year’s 5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival, when Okinawan’s from all over the world return to the islands to reconnect with their heritage and culture and to redevelop linkages to their motherland.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Okinawa International Movie Festival - Laughter and Peace

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Okinawa film festival promotes laughter and peace

The 3rd annual Okinawa International Movie Festival has announced this year’s lineup for the 10-day event, with 12 films from around the world competing in the “Laugh” category and a further 13 titles vying for the top award in the “Peace” section.

The festival was was first held in 2009 to promote the twin concepts of laughter and peace, with around 110,000 people attending the first four-day event. More than 400,000 people are expected to travel to Japan’s most southerly prefecture for the third edition of the event, to be held March 18-27 2011 in Naha, Okinawa.

The Okinawa International Movie Festival is the creation of Yoshimoto Kogyo, the Osaka-based talent agency-cum-media empire whose specialty is comedy: primarily the manzai (comedy duo) acts from the Kansai area who have been making TV audiences laugh for decades.

Yoshimoto is said to be almost single-handedly responsible for the development of Japanese manzai after World War II and, in fact, the kanji that are now used for the word manzai were introduced by Yoshimoto in 1933, spelling a new era for the comedy style.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Japan National Tourism Organization Restaurant Search Site

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A recent survey of overseas visitors to Japan showed FOOD as the number one category they expect in Japan. The famous Michelin Restaurant Guide awarded more stars to restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto then Paris and New York. You will also find quality yet affordable restaurants, and local specialty foods throughout Japan with this new multilingual restaurant search engine that enables you to find restaurants to match your tastes:

http://www.jnto.go.jp/restaurant-search/eng/

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pandas Return to Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo

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Bili and Xiannu, two 5-year-old pandas, arrived at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo late Monday February 21st. They’ll be the zoo’s first since the 2008 death of its beloved giant panda Ling Ling.

Ueno Zoo manager Teruyuki Komiya is already hoping for a newborn by summer. The pair are primed to reproduce, and Xiannu may get pregnant as early as March, a hopeful Komiya said. If that happens, a cub will be born as early as June, he said.

The Ueno area has been gearing up for the pandas’ arrival for weeks, with banners carrying panda cartoons and shops selling novelty goods. Japanese media crews were camped at the zoo. The metropolitan government will pay $950,000 (around 90 million yen) each year to China in lease charges that go to fund wild animal protection.

The endangered giant panda is considered a national treasure in China and the international conservation group WWF estimates that there are around 1,600 pandas in the wild, with about 980 under protection in China’s panda reserves.

The Ueno Zoo is a zoo, managed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and located in Taitō, Tokyo, Japan. It is Japan’s oldest and most famous zoo, opened on March 20, 1882. It is a five-minute walk from the Park Exit of Ueno Station, with convenient access from Tokyo’s public-transportation network. The Ueno Zoo Monorail, the first monorail in the country, connects the eastern and western parts of the grounds.
The zoo is located within Ueno Park, a large urban park that is home to several museums, a small amusement park, and other attractions.

It has grown over the years, expanded its area to 35.2 acres and been the flagship of the Japanese zoo world. Now it’s home to over 2600 animals from 464 different species. In its long history, Ueno Zoo has received numerous animals from abroad. In 1972, the first giant pandas arrived from China. Ueno Zoo has been cooperating with Beijing Zoo (China), San Diego Zoo (US) and Chapultepec Zoo (Mexico) for conservation and breeding of wild giant pandas. Ling Ling the last giant panda at the zoo died on April 30, 2008.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

McDonald’s Japan - the Miami Burger

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Looking for a taste of home during your travels in Japan? Try McDonalds Japan’s new Miami Burger - but it might be a little bit different than what you would expect.

The Miami Burger features cheese, tortilla chips, shredded lettuce, and taco meat with a spicy tomato chili sauce - you heard it right, ground beef topped with ground beef!

The burger will be available from mid-February to mid-March across Japan and is part of McDonalds Japan’s “Big America” campaign, which will also feature burgers named after Idaho, Manhattan, and Texas.

The Texas Burger 2 features tantalizing chili beans, bacon and onions over a central Big Mac style bun. Next comes a quarter-pound beef burger resting on a slice of American Cheese and old-fashioned grainy mustard relish.

Then we have the Idaho Burger, with a special ‘tater topping. Lift off the top half of an onion bun and you’ll find grainy mustard sauce with bacon and onions topping a circular fried hash-brown potato patty. The crispy fried potato rests upon a quarter-pound beef burger, which in turn tops a slice of cheese and peppery sauce.

Last and not least, the Manhattan Burger – meant to capture the taste of old-fashioned Big Apple deli sandwiches. Inside the artisan bun you’ll find a slice of mozzarella cheese, fresh lettuce, onions, and a slice of pastrami. Both top and bottom buns are slathered with sour cream sauce for a “modern, airy, refined taste”.