The “Sun” exhibition room of the Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art in Nagi, Okayama Prefecture (Shunji Matsuo)
Okayama museum in the spotlight at home and abroad
NAGI, Okayama Prefecture--When it opened 20 years ago, operators of the Nagi Museum of Contemporary Art (Nagi-MOCA) never expected it to rank among the country's top scenic views.
A Japan Tourism Agency official explains the current situation of foreign travelers at a seminar in the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Nakagyo Ward. (Satoru Sunouchi)
Kyoto looks to duty-free shops for tourism boost
KYOTO--This ancient capital has relatively few duty-free shops compared with Tokyo and Osaka, despite the ancient capital's reputation among foreign visitors as a must-see destination. Now it wants to change that.
Female cosplay fans dressed in traditional Japanese clothes take photographs at a building in the Konoike-Shinden Kaisho facility in Higashi-Osaka. The building is designated by the government as an important cultural property. (Satoshi Daiguji)
Cultural properties serve as backdrops for cosplay fans in Osaka
HIGASHI-OSAKA, Osaka Prefecture--In late May, cosplayers clad in traditional Japanese clothes were striking poses here in the city's historical Konoike-Shinden Kaisho facility in the Konoike-Motomachi district.
The symbolic whale used to celebrate the Kujira-bune Gyoji festival in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, on Aug. 15 (Susumu Sakamoto)
PHOTO: Revelers celebrate symbolic capturing of whale at Mie festival
YOKKAICHI, Mie Prefecture--Onlookers cheered as a little boy riding an elaborately decorated ship float harpooned his target, a representation of a whale, at the annual Kujira-bune Gyoji festival here on Aug. 15.
A “yokai” goblin puts a scare into a child on an Arashiyama Line train on Aug. 13 in Kyoto. (Noboru Tomura)
PHOTO: ‘Yokai’ goblins invade Arashiyama Line in Kyoto
KYOTO--Performers in “yokai” goblins costumes entertained passengers--and terrified a few youngsters--on a train connecting Kyoto’s urban center and Arashiyama Station on Aug. 13.
The "grassland slide" that instills fear at the Mother Farm in Futtsu, Chiba Prefecture, on Aug. 13 (Kyota Tsutsumi)
Thrill seekers head to Chiba for slide of their lives
FUTTSU, Chiba Prefecture--Just looking at the 45-meter-long balloon slide at a dude ranch here makes even adults tremble, its operator says.
Computer-generated image of the launching ceremony of Battleship Yamato (Provided by the Kure Maritime Museum)
Museum creates CG reproduction of launching ceremonies for iconic battleships
KURE, Hiroshima Prefecture--Using cutting-edge shipbuilding technologies, the Imperial Japanese Navy battleships Yamato and Musashi were the heaviest and most powerfully armed battleships ever constructed.
The Tower of Sun at Expo '70 Commemorative Park is illuminated after dusk during the “Illuminight Banpaku” event, which runs through Aug. 17. (Noboru Tomura)
PHOTO: Glowing Tower of Sun illuminates Osaka nights
SUITA, Osaka Prefecture--Sightseers and local residents enjoyed the cool evening breeze on Aug. 8 while checking out the opening of summertime's “Illuminight Banpaku” event at Expo '70 Commemorative Park.
Accompanied by a guide, second from right, trekkers hike one of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, in June. (Haruhiro Hirahata)
Localities hosting pilgrim trail still hope to cash in on World Heritage status
TANABE, Wakayama Prefecture--Ten years have passed since a portion of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Routes gained UNESCO World Heritage status, but the site is still struggling to significantly increase the number of visitors.
Colorful “fukinagashi” streamers adorn the city of Sendai during the Sendai Tanabata Festival on Aug. 6. (Kengo Hiyoshi)
PHOTO: Sendai ablaze in color as famed festival begins
SENDAI--The quake-hit downtown area of this northeastern city turned into a rainbow paradise as the annual Sendai Festival kicked off Aug. 6.
A new W7 Series Shinkansen train makes a test run on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line tracks along the Sea of Japan coast in Itoigawa, Niigata Prefecture, on Aug. 5. (Yosuke Fukudome)
Hokuriku Shinkansen line's new bullet train goes for a test run
ITOIGAWA, Niigata Prefecture--Excited train fans gathered atop a hill here for their first view of West Japan Railway Co.'s latest bullet train as it zoomed along the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, set to start operations in spring 2015.
Women visit Imamiyajinja shrine in Kyoto's Kita Ward. (Mizuo Watanabe)
Wish for 'Prince Charming' draws women to Kyoto's Imamiyajinja shrine
KYOTO--Seeking romance worthy of a fairy tale, young women from across Japan visit Imamiyajinja shrine here in Kyoto’s Nishijin district to buy a lucky amulet that might help them snag a rich husband.
Drummers march through the streets of downtown Morioka in the Sansa Odori dance festival Aug. 1. (Kengo Hiyoshi)
PHOTO: Joyous parade opens Morioka's Sansa dance festival
MORIOKA--Dancers and drummers decked out in vibrant costumes marked the beginning of the Sansa Odori dance festival as they marched along the downtown streets here Aug. 1.
Kyoto’s traditional “geiko” and apprentice “maiko” serve guests at a special party on July 31 to celebrate the opening of a new beer garden next to the Miyagawa-cho district’s Kaburenjo theater in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward. (Tomoyoshi Kubo)
New geisha beer garden toasts Kyoto's cultural heritage
KYOTO--Geisha and their "maiko" apprentices were on hand to serve up cold glasses of beer on a hot summer’s night on July 31 to celebrate the opening of a new beer garden in the ancient capital's Higashiyama Ward.
A computer generated image of what the exhibition space for the reconstructed version of the lost face of the "Tower of the Sun" by Taro Okamoto will look like. (Provided by the Osaka prefectural government)
Lost face of Expo '70's iconic 'Tower of the Sun' to rise again
SUITA, Osaka Prefecture--A giant face that mysteriously vanished decades ago from the famed "Tower of the Sun" designed by the late contemporary artist Taro Okamoto will be reconstructed for a permanent exhibition.
A giant balloon featuring a character from “Attack on Titan” is seen at the Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair in September 2013. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Universal Studios to showcase attraction themed on 'Attack on Titan'
OSAKA--The Universal Studios Japan theme park is set to open a new attraction featuring Japan's popular world of manga, anime and fantasy.
A lesser panda at the Ikeda Zoo in Okayama’s Kita Ward enjoys the cooling mist from showers set up over the panda enclosure on July 20. (Takuya Nishie)
PHOTO: Lesser pandas the really cool exhibits at Okayama zoo
OKAYAMA--It's not gorillas in the mist at the Ikeda Zoo in Okayama's Kita Ward, but lesser pandas escaping high temperatures with a new shower device in their enclosure.
Tourists crouch as they explore the lava cave called "Saiko Komori Ana" (Saiko lake bat cave) in Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture, on July 26. (Hiroshi Kawai)
Tourists beating the heat in cool lava cave at the foot of Mount Fuji
FUJIKAWAGUCHIKO, Yamanashi Prefecture--Wearing helmets, vacationers are taking a respite from the sweltering heat here, venturing into a cool, narrow cave that is designated a national natural treasure.
The view toward Owase from JR Hadasu Station in the Hadasucho district of Kumano, Mie Prefecture, nearly matches a scene from the anime "Nagi no Asu Kara" (Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea). (Tomoaki Hosaka)
Internet sleuth believes Kumano Kodo trails area inspiration for popular anime
KUMANO, Mie Prefecture--The Internet is abuzz with speculation that a seaside neighborhood with a spectacular ocean view here could be the setting for episodes of a popular anime.
Spectators marvel at a float featuring lit lanterns and listen to musical accompaniment during the Gion Festival in Kyoto’s Nakagyo Ward on July 21. (Noboru Tomura)
Kyoto’s month-long Gion Festival approaches climactic finale
KYOTO--Excitement is building as the month-long Gion Festival, one of the nation’s most celebrated festivals, prepares over the next few days to revive a tradition for the first time in 49 years.

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