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.

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
Voices
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959
voicesWard committed no crime, and the truth is still being covered up, writes Geoffrey Robertson QC
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
Sport
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
News
i100
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: Finance Director

    £65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

    Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas