An illustration of the corner in the Currency Museum where commemorative photos can be taken (Provided by the Bank of Japan)
Follow the money ... all the way to the renovated Currency Museum
The Currency Museum in Tokyo has splashed the cash on major changes to lure visitors who still don't have to pay a penny to get in.
Anne Marie Buemann, Danish CEO of the design company OeO, third from left, participates in the fifth installment of the "Genius Table in Kyoto" event, held April 24 at the Genhoin inn in Kyoto's Sakyo Ward. (Provided by the Genius Table in Kyoto secretariat)
Kyoto students organize 'brown bag lunches' for exchanges with foreign creators
KYOTO--While Kyoto is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, Kyoto University students felt that their city had failed to offer opportunities and venues for visiting foreign creators and local residents to interact.
The folding screen featuring Mario, left, and his brother, Luigi, done in the style of the acclaimed Rimpa school of Japanese painting (Provided by Nintendo Co.)
Mario Bros. morph into deities to celebrate 400th anniversary of Rimpa painting school
KYOTO--Fresh from battling creatures in the sewers, the iconic Mario Bros. appear as deities on a folding screen to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Rimpa school of Japanese painting.
Men sing and dance with “Hanagasa” lanterns decorated with artificial flowers at a shrine on the night of Aug. 24 in Kyoto. (Noboru Tomura)
‘Yukata’-clad men perform traditional elegant dance in Kyoto
KYOTO--Men wearing “yukata” (summer kimono) slowly swayed from side to side with lanterns decorated with flowers on the evening of Aug. 24 as they participated in the age-old Kuta no Hanagasa Odori dance.
Toshihiko Hosaka, the creator of the Godzilla sand statue, at Shinjuku Chuo Park in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on Aug. 19 (Taeko Hiraoka)
PHOTO: Fierce-looking sand Godzilla statue rules over Tokyo park
Godzilla is rearing his destructive head in Tokyo again, this time as a lifelike sand statue as part of an art event currently being held at venues around Shinjuku Station.
The Doraemon Tram in Imizu, Toyama Prefecture, in May (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Doraemon train gets a new three-year lease of life
TAKAOKA, Toyama Prefecture--The Doraemon Tram, a cute train wrapped in the livery of the famous cartoon cat's familiar colors running between Takaoka and Imizu on the Manyo Line in Toyama Prefecture, has received a three-year extension.
Steam engines form an impressive lineup in the roundhouse at the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum in Kyoto. (Noboru Tomura)
An awesome display from the age of steam at Kyoto museum
KYOTO--Visitors are whisked back in time at the Umekoji Steam Locomotive Museum here by a phalanx of vintage trains that impressively demonstrate the power of the steam age.
A crowd attends the Jigiri ceremony to see the raising of the Hirosaki castle keep on Aug. 16 at Hirosaki park in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture. (Seiki Suda)
Hirosaki castle keep lifted as 6-year repair work of stone walls begins
HIROSAKI, Aomori Prefecture--The massive tower of Hirosaki castle was slowly lifted off its base as the first large-scale renovation in about a century of the stone walls below got under way.
About 1,000 women dance with lanterns on their heads during the Yamaga lantern festival in Yamaga, Kumamoto Prefecture, on Aug. 16. (Shinichi Murakami)
PHOTO: Centuries-old Kumamoto lantern festival evokes dreamlike world
YAMAGA, Kumamoto Prefecture--About 1,000 women dancing with glowing lanterns on their heads mesmerized crowds here in a performance during the Yamaga lantern festival.
Zuto in Nara's Takabatake-cho district (Shotaro Hamada)
8th-century stepped pyramid in Nara now easier to visit
NARA--A stepped pyramid of earth and stone created more than 1,200 years ago can now be visited without the hassle of making a reservation, Nara prefectural authorities announced.
A TV crew led by a reporter stops by a fruit and vegetable shop for a feature on its affordable prices.(Photo by Lisa Vogt)
Lisa’s Eye on Tokyo: Sunamachi Ginza--A tale of two Ginzas
I was looking through a famous user-generated travel website that advises visitors on where to go, stay and eat. I typed in Sunamachi Ginza and cringed when I read: “fine area for tourists,” “traffic closed off for a ‘pedestrian heaven’ " … "leading brand names" … "illustrious stores in the Mitsukoshi building,” “upscale wine bars,” “very expensive.”
A child dons a cockroach costume at Tokuyama Zoo in Shunan, Yamaguchi Prefecture. (Minoru Ito)
Cockroach exhibit attracts, rather than repels, visitors at Yamaguchi zoo
SHUNAN, Yamaguchi Prefecture--Although eliciting screams and revulsion in the home, cockroaches are proving a more popular guest at a zoo here, attracting up to 1,000 visitors a day.
A bronze statuette of "Tama" the stationmaster cat placed in front of Tama Jinja shrine, and "Nitama," who became the second-generation "Tama stationmaster," on Aug. 11 at Kishi Station in Kinokawa, Wakayama Prefecture (Kenta Sujino)
'Tama' the famous stationmaster cat awarded own shrine
KINOKAWA, Wakayama Prefecture--"Tama" the female stationmaster cat has been given her own shrine--at the train station where she served so diligently for many years.
A family explores the interior of Narusawa Hyoketsu Ice Cave in Narusawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, which maintains an average internal temperature of 3 degrees. (Hiroshi Kawai)
PHOTO: Tourists cool down inside chilly ice cave near Mt. Fuji
NARUSAWA, Yamanashi Prefecture--An ice cave at the foot of Mount Fuji here has become a popular place for tourists looking to escape this summer's sweltering heat wave.
A section for the Shinkalion robot set up at the Railway Museum is popular with small children. (Shigeo Hirai)
Railway Museum hopes to boost attendance with Shinkansen-inspired robot characters
SAITAMA--At a huge, secret underground base at the Railway Museum here lies an advanced research center for Shinkansen-inspired super robots designed to fight mysterious enemies. Or, at least, so the story goes.
Lines of hikers aiming for the summit of Mount Fuji to see the sunrise are held up near the ninth station of the Yoshidaguchi trail in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Aug. 9. (Hiroshi Kawai)
Climbers eager to see sunrise from summit create traffic jam on Mt. Fuji
FUJIYOSHIDA, Yamanashi Prefecture--A trail on Mount Fuji became backed up with hikers on Aug. 9 as crowds of holiday vacationers were aiming for the 3,776-meter summit to catch a glimpse of the picturesque morning sunrise.
Expocity is seen under construction on the former site of Expoland at the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, on Aug. 3. (Kazunori Takahashi)
Launch of Expocity that seeks to recreate buzz of Expo '70 set for November in Osaka
SUITA, Osaka Prefecture--A giant complex sporting Japan’s tallest Ferris wheel, a museum and a commercial facility will open Nov. 19 on the site of the 1970 Osaka Expo.
Rows of lanterns on giant bamboo poles illuminate the streets of Akita in the Kanto Festival on Aug. 3. (Yosuke Fukudome)
PHOTO: Akita moves into pole position for Kanto Festival
AKITA--Thousands of paper lanterns illuminated city streets here on Aug. 3 to kick off one of the Tohoku region's most renowned festivals.
Members of the Ainu community offer prayer to their gods at the "Porotokotan" Ainu culture village in the town of Shiraoi, Hokkaido, in May. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Ainu museum planned for 2020 to promote understanding of indigenous people
A national museum dedicated to Ainu culture will open in southwestern Hokkaido in 2020 to coincide with the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The head of the iconic titan from "Attack on Titan" watches over the entrance of Oita Station on July 29. (Chihaya Inagaki)
PHOTO: Monstrous manga titan looks down on commuters and visitors at Oita Station
OITA--The huge head of the iconic titan from the popular manga series "Attack on Titan" is glaring down at pedestrians from above Oita Station.

More AJW