Thousands of sardines swimming in the Aqua Museum aquarium look like cherry blossoms blowing in the wind under pink illumination at the Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise. (Satoru Semba)
PHOTO: There's something 'fishy' about these cherry blossoms
YOKOHAMA--Yokohama Hakkeijima Sea Paradise is providing a new twist for sakura lovers as the cherry-blossom viewing season gets into full swing in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area.
Harappa LLC producer Tomotaka Misawa, left, holds up a flier for "Urawa no Usagi-chan," an animated TV series set to premiere in April, at the Saitama prefectural office. (Takuya Ikeda)
All-Saitama production team aims to promote Urawa Ward to anime fans
SAITAMA--To transform the city's Urawa Ward into a pilgrimage destination for anime fans, a Saitama-based studio has created an upcoming animated TV series set in the local community.
Visitors check out a reproduced anime studio at “Kuso to Art no Museum--Fukushima Sakura Yugakusha” in Miharu, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 28. (Yasuhiro Sugimoto)
'Evangelion' producer hopes anime museum will put world spotlight on rural Fukushima
MIHARU, Fukushima Prefecture--In a twist for anime fans, the production company of "Neon Genesis Evangelion" is coming to the assistance of a rural area recovering from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster with a new museum and studio here.
Shinto priests relocate deities at Kasuga Taisha shrine in Nara during a ceremony on March 27. (Noboru Tomura)
Under cover of curtains, deities transferred at Nara shrine
NARA--Shinto priests relocated enshrined deities at Kasuga Taisha shrine in a nighttime ceremony held on March 27 amid repair work on the UNESCO World Heritage site.
Oyukanjoresseki, stone remains that are a part of the Jomon Archaeological Sites in Hokkaido, northern Tohoku, and other regions, are seen in Kazuno, Akita Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Four sites recommended for World Heritage site designation
Four groups of historically important areas in Japan were recommended to the Cultural Affairs Agency for registration as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites, the agency announced.
A long line of visitors wait to enter the renovated donjon of Himeji Castle on March 27. (Tetsuro Takehana)
Donjon of famed Himeji Castle reopens to long lines after huge renovation
HIMEJI, Hyogo Prefecture--The illustrious donjon of Himeji Castle, a World Heritage site, has reopened to the public after a major five-year face-lift.
Donning life vests over celebratory kimono, Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa and Otsu Mayor Naomi Koshi take a boat tour down the Lake Biwako canal on March 27. (Kenta Sujino)
Tours down old Lake Biwako canal hoped to liven up Kyoto, Shiga
KYOTO--A canal that saw little traffic in the past six decades is headed for a makeover on March 28 when scenic boat tours start on a trial basis.
An illustration of the Expocity complex (Provided by Mitsui Fudosan Co.)
Osaka Expo site to reel in tourists with array of attractions
OSAKA--A huge complex featuring an aquarium, shopping center, Ferris wheel and an English learning center is being built on the site where the Osaka Expo was held in 1970.
New signs in front of Himeji Castle's Hishi no Mon gate come in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. (Kazuki Endo)
Himeji's World Heritage castle adds amenities for foreign visitors
HIMEJI, Hyogo Prefecture--Foreign tourists will find this city’s prized Himeji Castle significantly more accommodating with the addition of more signs, tour plans and free Wi-Fi service.
The digitally produced replica of "Unryuzu" on display at Tenryuji temple in Kyoto's Ukyo Ward (Noboru Tomura)
Digital replica of 'Dragon and Clouds' on display in Kyoto
KYOTO--A digitally produced replica of a famed 10-meter-wide ink painting of a dragon emerging from a raging sea is on display at Tenryuji temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Kyoto’s Ukyo Ward.
By holding their tablet computers or smartphone over indicated spots, visitors to Himeji Castle can see feudal life and scenery inside the castle keep. (Yoshinori Mizuno)
Renovated Himeji Castle offers virtual reality trip to the past
HIMEJI, Hyogo Prefecture--After six years and a cost of 2.4 billion yen ($19.9 million), Himeji Castle has completed major renovation work and added a modern touch that gives visitors a glimpse of life during Japan’s feudal times.
Toshio Manaka, rear left, the former president of Nikko Saru Gundan theme park, and his successor, Taro Murasaki, standing next to him, pose with trainers and monkeys from the facility’s new troupe in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, on March 18. (Ayako Okano)
Famous Nikko monkey theater to reopen in April
NIKKO, Tochigi Prefecture--A troupe of monkeys is making a return to showbiz in late April when a popular show at a theme park here reopens after a 17-month hiatus.
Participants look for tsuchinoko in the annual Tsuchinoko Fiesta held in Higashi-Shirakawa, Gifu Prefecture, on May 3, 2014. (Naoyuki Mori)
Gifu village offers jackpot in annual search for mythical reptilian creature
HIGASHI-SHIRAKAWA, Gifu Prefecture--In this village's version of the hunt for the Loch Ness monster and Sasquatch, an annual search will be held in May to capture a mythical snakelike, bottle-shaped creature known as “tsuchinoko.”
A child does an Ultraman pose after statues of characters from the "Ultraman" TV franchise were unveiled on March 1 in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture. (Naoyuki Takahashi)
Fukushima city fetes native son with Ultraman statues
SUKAGAWA, Fukushima Prefecture--This city is honoring a hometown hero with four statues of characters from the legendary "Ultraman" TV franchise.
Thousands of spectators enjoy the colorful illumination projected on to the main hall of the Tsukiji Hongwanji temple in Tokyo’s Tsukiji district on March 14. (Noriyuki Shigemasa)
PHOTO: Landmark temple in Tokyo’s Tsukiji lit up with colorful illuminations
A crowd of 5,500 visitors was captivated as the renowned Tsukiji Hongwanji temple in Tokyo was illuminated on March 14 in colorful images projected by digital technology, from scenery in Asia to a number of imaginary creatures.
Hiroyuki Saruhashi, left, introduces a guest room where Isabella Bird stayed when she visited Nikko in the 19th century. (Hajime Hattori)
Historic samurai hangout finds new life as museum
NIKKO, Tochigi Prefecture--Steeped in a rich history complete with sword-bearing warriors, a structure here that went on to become the first Western-style resort hotel in Japan is set to open this month as a museum.
A large vertical "nehanzu" scroll hangs inside the main hall of Tofukuji temple in Kyoto's Higashiyama Ward. (Noboru Tomura)
Famous scroll depicting death of Buddha on display at Kyoto temple
KYOTO--A towering early 15th century scroll depicting Buddha's death is being shown here during this year's memorial service to commemorate "the enlightened one’s" passing.
The smiling face of Monkey D. Luffy, the protagonist of the “One Piece” manga series, is seen on the outside of Tokyo Tower's observation deck on March 12. (Sayuri Ide)
'One Piece' pirate smiles down from Tokyo Tower to mark theme park opening
Sporting a big smile and his straw hat, the pirate captain from the manga-anime series “One Piece” lit up the night sky from atop Tokyo Tower on March 12 to mark the opening of a new amusement facility there.
Dogs get their paws wet in a new public dog park in Beppu, Oita Prefecture, on Feb. 28. The foot bath and park will formally open on March 14. (Katsutoshi Kato)
Dog park in 'onsen' resort offers foot baths for pets and their owners
BEPPU, Oita Prefecture--Dog owners living in or visiting this noted "onsen" hot spring resort city will soon be able to take their pets for a warm foot bath when they visit the prefecture's first public park for canines.
A varied tit eats sunflower seeds from the hand of a visitor at the Saiko Yacho no Mori Koen park in Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Jan. 14. (Hiroshi Kawai)
The Mt. Fuji park where wild birds are happy to be hand-fed
FUJIKAWAGUCHIKO, Yamanashi Prefecture--A nature park at the foot of Mount Fuji literally has the birds eating out of the palms of hands, a flock of wild birds that is--and the hands belong to park visitors.

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