JAPAN: Several hot-spots are located in Japan that treat guests with their traditional way-of-life. Hakone, a town in Kanagawa prefecture, has been one of the best international holiday resorts for centuries.
Hakone-Yumoto is known for its hot spring water, bathing areas and accommodation. Since the beginning of the Edo period some 400-years ago, Hakone has always been a favorite tourist destination for both Japanese and foreign visitors.
More than a dozen springs here provide hot spring water to many bath houses. It also offers Ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, that originated in the Edo period.
Ichinoyu, is one of the historical Ryokan, founded in 1630 as a pioneer in Hakone, and still attracts many travelers from all over Japan and the world.
“This picture of Hakone was painted by the famous ‘Ukiyoe’ painter, Ando Hiroshige in the Edo period. You can see Ichinoyu in this Ukiyoe picture here,” said Akinori Fukuoka, sales manager, Ichinoyu.
Visitors can enjoy a Japanese Ryokan culture in a traditional atmosphere. When guests first enter their room, they usually find a table and some supplies for making tea. As all rooms face Hayakawa river, visitors can have a view at each season in Hakone.
For the visitors new to Japanese traditional Ryokan, Ichinoyu has English guide in every room that illustrates instructions such as how to wear Yukata, a casual “Kimono” bath robe provided to the guests. Visitors may wear Yukata for communal hot spring baths and other public areas in Ryokan.
“Ichinoyu is a Ryokan which was registered as a tangible cultural property of Japan. We had more than 30,000 international guests in 2015, mainly from South and East Asia. I think our traditional Japanese atmosphere and experience are well received by international customers,” said Akinori Fukuoka, sales manager, Ichinoyu.
“We don’t really have the same sort of thing in England. So it’s very different, interesting experience. We had the private Onsen in our room, we have a nice view of the river from the Onsen, and it’s very nice and warm for the cold weather. It was very relaxing,” said Andrew Sibley and Yee Yen Goh, the visitors from England and Malaysia.
Located to the south of Tokyo, the Yokohama Zoological Gardens, “Zoorasia” is one of Japan's newest and largest zoo.
Established in 1999, Zoorasia has been operating under the themes of ‘Natural habitat’ exhibition. This modern, animal-friendly zoo shows off its residents in spacious habitats that mimic their natural environments collectively, that is not usually seen in other zoos in Japan.
Since the ‘African Savanna’ area was fully opened In April 2015, Zoorasia has become one of the largest zoos in Japan with approximately 53.3 hectares.
The animal exhibitions are divided into eight ecological zones of different climate areas such as Asian Tropical Forest, Subarctic Forest, Oceanian Grassland, Central Asian Highland, Japanese Countryside, Amazon Jungle, African Tropical Rainforest and Savanna. Visitors can experience the zoological trip around the world.
Among the zoo's highlights are endangered species such as the Okapi and the Bali Mynah.
Zoorasia also includes a research institution - Yokohama City Breeding Center, which was founded for the purpose of researching wildlife and contributing to the preservation of rare species.
“In order to breed and help increase the endangered species, this facility was established for a research of animals in the genetic level and the hormone level. The reproductive cells, such as sperm and eggs from zoo animals in Japan, are being stored eternally at our frozen zoo institution. Zoological park plays an important role to contribute to the conservation of endangered species worldwide, as well as to provide recreation to the citizens,” said Koichi Murata, Ph.D.,D.V.M, director, Yokohama Zoological Gardens.
The Yokohama Zoological Gardens have been jointly working with the Republic of Indonesia and the Bali Barat National Park for raising “Bali Myna”, an extremely rare bird endemic to Bali, Indonesia.
“The wild “Bali Myna” were are illegally poached and now they are in destruction. Their wild individuals are decreased it’s number to less than 100. Here, we have succeed to breed in Yokohama, and have been contributing to release more than 100 individuals into the wild,” Murata added.
The Yokohama Zoological Gardens places their initiative of breeding and exhibition of the precious animals as part of the international contribution activities, and expects that these activities will provide an opportunity for the visitors to start thinking about environmental conservation on a global scale.