Visitor numbers climb at hillside shrine – Fukuoka
More and more people are visiting Ukiha-Inarijinja shrine in Ukiha, Fukuoka Prefecture, drawn by its striking red gates and scenic views.
The shrine is located on a hillside about 130 meters high in the Minou mountain area, from which visitors can look out over the Chikugo plain. About 90 deep-red torii gates line the approach to Ukiha-Inarijinja. Worshippers pass through the gates, which stand over about 300 steps, to reach the main shrine building.
Ukiha-Inarijinja enshrines three deities that are also enshrined at other famous shrines: a deity for success in business, rich harvests and traffic safety at Fushimi-Inarijinja shrine in Kyoto; a deity for health and longevity at Matsunoo Taisha shrine in Kyoto; and a deity for studying at Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine in Fukuoka Prefecture.
Local residents say worshipping at Ukiha-Inarijinja shrine allows visitors to receive the benefits of all three deities at once. Its popularity has been boosted partly by a tourism brochure prepared by the prefectural government, which introduces the shrine’s torii gates and views.
Visitors to mark record 28 million – Nationwide
The total number of visitors to Japan in 2017 is expected to top 28 million, marking a record high for the fifth consecutive year, Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Akihiko Tamura said Wednesday.
According to the agency, the estimated number of visitors to the country rose by 21.5 percent from a year earlier to 2,595,200 in October and by 18.3 percent to 23,791,500 in January-October. The growth is due partly to increased international flights by low-cost carriers. The agency said that last year’s total visitor number of 24,039,700 was surpassed on Nov. 4.
In January-October, visitors from mainland China topped the region-by-region list at 6.22 million, up 12.9 percent, and those from South Korea came second at 5.83 million, up 40 percent. The number of South Korean tourists has begun surging since this spring amid deteriorating relations between their country and China, people familiar with the matter said.
Government eyes farm stays for foreign tourists – Nationwide
The government plans to actively promote stays at farming villages geared toward foreign tourists. Supportive measures to begin next fiscal year will include sponsoring skilled chefs to hold cooking classes at women’s clubs to enhance local cuisine, and other steps to attract foreigners interested in Japanese food and culture.
Tourists lodging with farming families and elsewhere in farming communities will have the opportunity to experience traditional Japanese culture, such as rice planting, while enjoying local dishes and interacting with villagers. Many tourists, especially from Asia, have stayed repeatedly at Japanese farms in recent years.
The government allocated ¥5 billion in the current fiscal year budget to revitalize rural areas by promoting farm stays, and will provide subsidies to about 200 areas nationwide, including Wajima, Ishikawa Prefecture, which plans to hold experimental sightseeing tours. In its basic plan for promoting tourism approved by the Cabinet in March, the government aims for 500 areas nationwide to host farm stays by 2020. It will subsidize new projects and measures in a bid to achieve the goal, with about ¥7.5 billion allocated for such undertakings in the budget request for fiscal 2018.
The funding is expected to go toward such projects as cooking classes for local residents hosting foreigners, through which skilled chefs from across Japan will work with villagers to develop local dishes suited to foreign palates. Foreign tourists will also have the opportunity to prepare fruits and vegetables that they picked themselves, with the chefs.
Ex-marine denies intent to kill – Naha
A former U.S. marine told a Japanese court on Thursday that he did not intend to kill a woman in Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, in April 2016, but admitted that his attempt to rape the woman, then 20, resulted in her death.
Kenneth Shinzato, 33, who was a civilian worker at a U.S. military base in the prefecture at the time, pleaded not guilty to the murder charge, during the first court hearing in his trial at Naha District Court. Shinzato insisted that he had planned to take her into a hotel and release her after achieving his sexual aim, but he was panicked since she did not faint as he had expected.
The defense indicated its readiness to dispute the murder accusation, while admitting charges of attempted rape resulting in the woman’s death and abandonment of her body.