Visitors read an explanatory sign about the former head office of Yawata Steel Works, visible in the background to the right, in Kita-Kyushu on April 17. (Hiroki Ito)
Public get first view of Meiji Era steel works headquarters, World Heritage candidate site
KITA-KYUSHU--Renovations worth 30.58 million yen ($257,000) are complete, giving visitors a closer look at a key piece of Japan’s history of steelmaking and part of a prospective entry in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Single women hoping to find suitable marriage partners parade through the streets in kimono and wear a traditional hairdo at a festival in Himi, Toyama Prefecture, on April 17. (Takeshi Terawaki)
PHOTO: Single women don kimono and old-fashioned hairdos to land mates
HIMI, Toyama Prefecture--Dozens of single women turned out in kimono and elaborate hairdos favored by wives in feudal times at a festival here April 17 intended to help them find suitable husbands.
Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa presents a memorial marriage certificate to Britons Stuart Roy Loakes and Emma Michelle Mulcahy after the couple's wedding at Kamigamojinja shrine in Kyoto’s Kita Ward on April 10. (Noboru Tomura)
Kyoto issues 1st commemorative marriage certificate to foreign newlyweds
KYOTO--A British couple who tied the knot at a Kyoto shrine have become the first to receive a memorial marriage certificate from the city, under a newly created program to attract more foreign visitors.
Visitors at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum on April 18 gaze upon the Standard of Ur, an artifact discovered in what is now Iraq. It is part of an exhibition titled “The British Museum Exhibition: A History of the World in 100 Objects” that is on display at the museum. (Sayaka Yamaguchi)
British Museum artifacts on human history packing crowds in Tokyo
An exhibition of artifacts representing 2 million years of history that are on loan from Britain drew a large crowd to the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum on April 18, its opening day.
A photo taken near the west exit of Shibuya Station in September 1948 show that the bronze statue of Hachiko, which was unveiled the same year, was already a gathering spot. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: Busy Shibuya crowds still stopped by Hachiko statue
The crowds are still conspicuous at the former stomping ground of Katsutaka Sekita, but the surroundings bear little resemblance to the scene he saw when he first visited Tokyo’s Shibuya district as a child.
Sightseers visit Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle Park on April 12 during this year's cherry blossom-viewing season. (Hideki Inoue)
Shinkansen extension brings brisk tourist trade to Hokuriku
Once considered off the beaten path and hard to reach, the Hokuriku region enjoyed an influx of sightseers this spring with the extension of the Shinkansen line to Kanazawa.
Nick Varney, center, the CEO of Merlin Entertainments Plc, and Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura, right, celebrate the start of construction on Japan’s first Legoland in Nagoya on April 15. (Yuta Takahashi)
Work begins on Japan's first Legoland in Nagoya
NAGOYA--Construction work began here April 15 on the world’s seventh Legoland theme park, and the second in Asia after Malaysia.
Tourists flock to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route's “Yuki no Otani,” (great gorge of snow) in Tateyama, Toyama Prefecture, on April 16. (Takeshi Terawaki)
PHOTO: Massive 'gorge of snow' greets tourists at Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
TATEYAMA, Toyama Prefecture--Snow plows finished carving a route through the famed “Yuki no Otani” (great gorge of snow) here for the April 16 start of the sightseeing season.
Gassho-zukuri thatched-roof houses in the Ogimachi district of Shirakawa (Shin Toyohira)
Historic Shirakawa hopes to build on recent surge in foreign visitors
SHIRAKAWA, Gifu Prefecture--The deeply slanted thatched-roof houses of Shirakawa have proven a popular attraction for foreign travelers as of late, with the number of such tourists hitting 212,000 last year, up 44 percent from a record-setting 2013.
The Kiyomizudera Heisei Engi Emaki dedicated to Kiyomizudera temple in Kyoto (Tomoyoshi Kubo)
65-meter scroll paintings chronicle Kiyomizudera temple's 1,200-year history
KYOTO--An epic series of scroll paintings that portray the 1,200-year history of Kiyomizudera temple, from the World Heritage site's birth to the present day, will go on display April 25.
The Class EF55 electric locomotive, known as “Moomin” for its unique streamlined body shape, arrives at the Railway Museum in Saitama on April 11. (Wataru Sekita)
‘Moomin’ train pulls in to Railway Museum in Saitama
SAITAMA--The cute "Moomin" train, nicknamed after the cartoon characters due to the unusual rounded shape of the driver's cabin, is being exhibited on a turntable at the Railway Museum here.
Comic strips on display for the “Adolf ni Tsugu” (Message to Adolf) section in the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, on March 16 (Yutaka Suzuki)
Tezuka’s war-themed works on display in Hyogo
TAKARAZUKA, Hyogo Prefecture--A museum devoted to legendary comic artist Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) is featuring a retrospective of his works on the theme of war.
Tateyama Kurobe Kanko Co.'s E-Sora Tateyama Panorama Bus runs on April 9. (Takeshi Terawaki)
Tour bus with glass roof plies famed snow wall route in Toyama
TOYAMA--Tourists hankering to view the majestic “Yuki no Otani” (great gorge of snow) have another option this season, a glass-roofed tour bus that will ply the scenic route.
The picture of a fox with eight tails that was drawn by master painter Kano Tanyu is shown in Kyoto. (Noboru Tomura)
A painting of a magical fox from a shogun’s dream is on show in Kyoto
KYOTO--A picture of a fox that appeared in a Tokugawa shogun’s dream and was painted by the famous artist Kano Tanyu (1602-1674) is on display as part of a special exhibition at the Kyoto National Museum.
A statue of protagonist Straw Hat Luffy welcomes visitors at the entrance of the Tokyo One Piece Tower indoor amusement park at Tokyo Tower in the capital's Minato Ward. (Tsubasa Setoguchi)
Tokyo One Piece Tower indoor amusement park opens in capital
An amusement park dedicated to the “One Piece” pirate manga and anime series has opened at Tokyo Tower to serve as a “pilgrimage destination” for fans of the franchise.
Godzilla's head is unveiled in Tokyo's Shinjuku ward on April 9. (Satoru Semba /The Asahi Shimbun)
Godzilla welcomed in Tokyo--to lure visitors, not to scare
Fire-breathing, building-stomping Godzilla was welcomed in part of Tokyo on April 9 as a sign of prosperity, not destruction.
Visitors look at the glass tea room "Koan" on the deck of Shorenin temple's Seiryuden hall in Kyoto on April 8. (Noboru Tomura)
PHOTO: Glass tea room lights up Kyoto temple
KYOTO--A unique tea room made of glass has been installed on an outdoor platform at a Buddhist temple here.
The Azabu-Juban Noryoh Maturi (Summer Festival) held in 2014 (Lisa Vogt)
Lisa’s Eye on Tokyo: Meet the real Azabu-Juban, a one-of-a-kind place
It’s so catchy, isn’t it? What, you ask? The name, Azabu-Juban. Once you hear it, it sticks. At one time, this area was full of marshes.
A torchbearer carries the Olympic flame near the Imperial Palace on Oct. 10, 1964, for the start of the Tokyo Olympics. Visible on the right in the background is the Palace Hotel, which opened in 1961. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
TOKYO NOW AND THEN: Historic hotel retains vintage wine from 1964 Tokyo Olympics ready to toast the next
Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series called “Tokyo Now and Then” that highlights changes in Japan’s capital over the decades and how the host city of the 1964 Olympics is now unfolding for the 2020 Summer Games.
Visitors to the Zenkoji temple in Nagano converge on the Eko-bashira pillar that is connected by a gold rope to a statue within the main hall. Touching the pillar is said to bring good luck. (Sayaka Yamaguchi)
Auspicious event begins at Nagano temple for those seeking a change of fortune
NAGANO--Visitors hoping for some good luck turned out to Zenkoji temple here on April 5 for an auspicious event held once every six years.

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