SOMETHING JAPANESE TO DECLARE

Event of the week: Yokoso!

"Yokoso" means welcome in Japanese, and the Japanese government has designated the next two weeks - to 20 February 2005, Yokoso! Japan Weeks.

The programme is extremely wide ranging. For example, restricted areas of two of the leading places of worship, Nara's Todai-ji Temple and Kyoto's Byodo-in Temple will be specially opened to foreign visitors on a number of days during the festival.

You can also look into the future with the "e-Airport Programme". The government is conducting trials of its e-NAVI service, where visitors to Japan are loaned a PDA to enhance their experience. It features an English-Japanese voice translator, plus a "Tokyo Sightseeing Planner" - you enter details about how long you have to spare and what your interests are, and it prescribes how to spend it. And for good measure you can make domestic phone calls free of charge. To apply to take part in this trial, visit: www.narita-airport.jp/e-navi.

Even if you are only in transit at Narita airport near Tokyo, you will be able to take a special low-cost tour on a variety of themes from sake tasting and Japanese gardens to tea and shopping. The idea is that participants will get a taste of national life and come back for a longer visit. Transit passengers must pay, but the cost is a nominal Y500-Y1,000 (pounds 2.60-pounds 5.20).

Warning of the week: don't drink and drive - or inhale

Japan has a strictly enforced anti-stimulant drugs law, and some over- the-counter medicines commonly used in Britain, including Vicks inhalers and some allergy and sinus medicines, are banned. "Customs officials may not be sympathetic to visitors who claim ignorance about these medicines," warns the Foreign Office.

The country also has severe penalties against drink driving - and these extend to cover people who allow someone else to drink and drive. If you are a passenger in a vehicle being driven by someone under the influence of alcohol, you may be liable for prosecution.

Bargain of the week: Osaka

Japan's prime aviation gateway is Narita, outside Tokyo, but the pressure on slots means many airlines are expanding into Kansai airport, serving Osaka.

The base fare on Japan Airlines from Heathrow non-stop to Osaka can be as low as pounds 600 if you book through discount agents. Austrian Airlines (0870 124 2625; www.austrianairlines.co.uk) is offering a special "redticket" fare of pounds 467 return from Heathrow via Vienna to Osaka, for travel completed by the end of March.

Attractive fares are also available from UK airports outside London. Air France has some good deals (around pounds 470 from Birmingham via Paris for selected dates), while KLM offers departures from a wide range of British airports via Amsterdam for around pounds 600.

Destination of the week: Okinawa (see page 10)

This sub-tropical volcanic island, dangling 100 miles southwest of the mainland, is now easier to reach from the UK. The main approaches to Okinawa involve plane changes in Tokyo or Osaka. Now, though, you can also travel from Heathrow via Shanghai on China Eastern; or via Taipei on China Airlines. The latter carrier, based in Taiwan, does not fly from Britain, but connections are available in Amsterdam or Frankfurt from a range of UK airports.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - Email Marketing Services

    £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are looking for a highly or...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultan...

    Recruitment Genius: Plumber

    £22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...

    Recruitment Genius: Corporate Account Manager

    £27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders