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Robot Travel / Tech Travel / Japan Travel / Airports / Airport News / HND / → All Tags
Expect a warm, pre-programmed welcome on your next trip through Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, which recently acquired some futuristic new workers to pitch in with airport operations.
As Airport-Technology.com reports, airport officials are about to release robots into the terminals and concourse. Don’t worry, they’re friendly. (Or at least, that's the plan — until their laser-shooting eyes are installed. Kidding.) Japan Airport Terminal, which manages operations in the country's airports, will introduce 11 robots that will be utilized to carry baggage, clean up messes and, most likely, generally freak out passengers.
Some of the robot magic — provided in part by developer Cyberdyne (no, not that Cyberdyne) —will even be used to enhance, um, human workers. Certain employees will be equipped with special robot-like suits boasting so-called Hybrid Assistive Limbs, which imbue the ability to carry heavier loads.
Right now this is all just a test, but there are plans to increase the robot ranks if things go well. We can’t wait to see these out in the airport wild, we just hope that they remain friendly. We’ll definitely be tipping them well, just in case.
What’s your favorite karaoke song? “Don’t Stop Believin’”? “Love Shack”? Absolutely anything from “Grease”?
Well grab a beer and starting practicing “Leaving on a Jet Plane.” Cause you might be.
This week Japanese brand Sapporo, the top-selling Asian beer in America, launched its “Sapporo Karaoke Legend” contest — one of the goofiest (and greatest) little competitions we’ve caught in a while. Here’s how it works: Have someone snap a photo or video of you striking your best karaoke-performing pose (ooh, “Vogue”!) and upload it through this website entry form or via Instagram, using hashtag #KaraokeLegend. You can enter once per day through August 26, though each photo must be different.
If your X factor compels the judges, you’ll win one of 12 weekly prizes — a branded karaoke machine — or the grand prize: a six-day, five-night vacation to Japan, inclusive of round-trip airfare, and with $1000 for meals and fun. (Which you’ll probably wind up dropping at a karaoke bar.) It’s a pretty impressive prize, and totally vindicating for those of us who have been dreaming of the spotlight in every sticky-floored Downtown vibe with cheap beer and a microphone.
We knew it would finally happen: Our own world tour!
[Image: Sapporo contest website]
How far can the ramen craze go?
Ramen seems to be in the midst of a Renaissance in the States, and its popularity stretches far beyond the fifty-cent packs devoured by college students. The noodle dish has been transformed into everything from luxury cuisine to worm-like looking burgers. But the US obsession pales in comparison to Japan, where ramen is so loved that, evidently, some people want to bathe in it and scrub it into their pores.
Livery / Movie Travel / Star Wars / ANA / All Nippon Airways / 787 / Boeing / Japan Travel / → All Tags
The latest installment in the Star Wars franchise is still months away from its debut, but the marketing and other fun stuff has already started. All Nippon Airways is teaming up with the film franchise, as they’re planning a special Star Wars livery—think giant R2-D2.
Thankfully ANA is using one of their latest and greatest planes for the paint job, as it sounds like it will be a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner scoring the Star Wars treatment. Things were announced alongside all the hoopla during the Star Wars Celebration over in Anaheim, California—this is in addition to the latest trailer featuring an appearance from Chewbacca and Han Solo.
The plan is to get the R2-D2 plane high into the skies by the fall of this year, as the airline looks to connect travelers and their love for the movie all across the globe. This is the first time a character or critter from the series has made an appearance on the side of a plane, so definitely keep an eye out for this one when heading to or from the airport.
[Photo: All Nippon Airways]
Benihana / Tokyo Travel / Japan Travel / Contest / Sushi / → All Tags
How can one score a free trip to Tokyo? The answer is simple: just eat at all 72 Benihana Restaurants across America and enter the restaurant chain's "Passport Challenge" contest as part of their 50th Anniversary celebration (the contest is now, sadly, closed.)
Apparently, an astounding 11 people ate at all the 72 Benihana restaurants in the U.S. in 2014, but only one Lee Potter was selected to win the grand prize trip for four people to Tokyo. (Where he is going to eat authentic Japanese food that pretty much looks nothing like Benihana food. But that's another story.)
Other winners won lesser prizes like gift cards to Benihana, including those for visiting one Benihana restaurant as many times as possible during the year. (The top distinction goes to Jack King who visited the Benihana in Salt Lake City more than any other participant.) In total, Benihana said that 19,000 people participated in the contest, submitting 26,000 photos too. Yes, that's a lot of pictures of onion volcano towers and chefs flipping shrimp tails into their hats. #sofull
But back to Lee. If this is your first time to Tokyo, then we've got some suggestions for you. If it's not, well, we still think our Tokyo travel guide will serve you well. Sorry, fried rice is not included. But Okonomiyaki is!
And we're sure Benihana has your hotel stay covered but if you're looking to extend the trip, HotelChatter has some good suggestions too.
The Minami-za Theater in Kyoto, Japan
Seeing a show while you're in town is a must, but to fully appreciate it, you'll want to understand the roots and significance of Kabuki before you go. Below, we've put together a brief history to give you some perspective:
As is the case with all local specialties, who makes the “best” version is always up for debate. Ask five people on the streets of Philly who makes the best cheesesteaks, for example, and you’ll probably get five different responses. The trick to finding the top places is to ask enough people and hope you get a few repeat answers. Then, at least, you know where to start.
On our recent trip to Kyoto, we spent the first few days asking around about a good place to get a Ramen bowl. Multiple people had mentioned a place called Tenkaippin across from the Kabuki Theater as one of their favorites. When I found myself in the neighborhood later in the trip, I decided to give it a try for lunch.
Kyoto Travel / Japan Travel / Getting Around Kyoto / Taxis in Kyoto / Yasaka Taxi / Taxis / → All Tags
Kyoto has an extensive public transportation system, but cabs are also a major player when it comes to getting around the city. Unlike the yellow cabs we're used to riding in U.S. cities, the taxis are a little more magical in Kyoto, with the rearview mirrors uniquely placed on the hood of the car.
One small tidbit that's fun to have in your brain as you make your way around town revolves around the Yasaka Taxi Company, recognizable for its "clover logo" on the top and sides of the car. The company has about 1,400 taxis operating in Kyoto, with almost all of them sporting a 3-leaf clover. But four of them have something special: A 4-leaf clover.
This has been a problem for quite some time, and earlier this year, the country announced that it was going to officially tackle the problem. The Japan Times reported that the Japan Tourism Agency was "urging" the country's banks to accept international cards going forward, perhaps as early as 2015.
Japan has a reputation for being pricey, especially when it comes to transportation costs. But a number of "foreigner-only" discounts can help save you some cash as you scoot around the country.
Travel Contests / Free Stuff / Lists / Travel Contest Roundup / France Travel / Denmark Travel / Japan Travel / Fiji Travel / → All Tags
We realize travel budgets may be limited, but it’s free to dream. This is where contests come into the picture, and there's always the chance that you could be the big winner—just don't forget to tell us if you are!
Here are four vacation contests to enter right now that will help you score another stamp in your passport:
Denmark is a pricey place to visit, but winning a trip will get you there for free. Check out the design—and the Danish—with this trip. The grand prize winner scores a trip for two, but be sure to enter today—things close on December 12.
Tokyo Travel / Japan Travel / Tourism / Videos / → All Tags
There's no denying that Tokyo is cool, despite the many thousands of tourists walking around with guidebooks open. For a first-timer to the city, the hustle and bustle can be overwhelming, but there's nothing better than to be thrown in to the middle of the action with a visit to the hectic, yet quintessentially Tokyo, Shibuya Crossing intersection.
The neighborhood of Shibuya is considered one of the hottest fashion districts in town, not to mention that it's home to a massive JR train station and neon nightlife. While most people come to shop, socialize, or grab a bite to eat, keen observers will note that there's a whole subsection of Shibuya visitors who come simply to watch others cross the street.