© Tokyo Convention &
Visitors Bureau
プレミアムフライデー (puremiamu furaidē; Premium Friday) is a government-backed campaign aimed at boosting Japan’s consumer spending. Launched on 24 February 2017, the initiative encourages companies to let their employees leave work at 3 pm on the last Friday of each month and invites 消費者 (shōhisya; comsumers) to spend more on their “long” weekend.  

小売業 (kourigyō; retailers)  and サービス業 (sābisugyō; service-sector) companies are joining the movement. For example,レストラン (resutoran; restaurants), デパート (depāto; departments stores), ホテル (hoteru; hotels), and 旅行会社 (ryokōgaisha; travel agents) have started offering special rates and discounts on Premium Friday.

The 政府 (seifu; government) is also spearheading the campaign as a part of the 働き方改革 (hatarakikata kaikaku; ”work style reform”) to reduce Japan’s long working hours. However, it will take time for プレミアムフライデー campaign to take root. Travellers to Japan should keep an eye out for good deals on the last Friday of each month.  

FEBRUARY 2017  聖地巡礼 Pilgrimage
 
 
Photo by 風子戦記 @mo_om921 (Twitter)

The word 聖地巡礼 (seichi junrei) means pilgrimage. In particular, it is 巡礼 (junrei; pilgrimage) to some kind of 聖地 (seichi; holy ground).  However, this word has also come to refer to a kind of holy ground that you may not expect.

The settings of many of Japan’s anime series and films are based on real world locations, which fans sometimes seek out and visit. This alternative 聖地巡礼 involves travelling to the ロケ地 (rokechi; location of filming) to experience a piece of one’s favourite show. Many visitors try to recreate shots from the show in their own photos.

Photo by Nao Iizuka (CC BY 2.0) (Flickr)

One very recent addition is the hit movie 君の名は (kimi no na wa; Your Name), released in 2016. The film brought a large number of visitors to the regional town of 飛騨市 (hida shi; Hida), in Gifu prefecture, in addition to other locations like the stairs in the photo, a spot in Tokyo not far from 四ッ谷駅 (yotsuya eki; Yotsuya station). An older example is the animeらき☆すた (raki suta; Lucky Star). One of the main ロケ地 for this show is 鷲宮神社(washinomiya jinja; Washinomiya Shrine) in Saitama prefecture. Due to the popularity of the show, this place has now become a hub for all things Lucky Star. Even the 絵馬 (ema; wooden plaque marked with a wish) left by visitors are adorned with cute drawings from the show.

 
 
JANUARY 2017  雪 Snow
 
 
Image Credit:
Miki Yoshihito, 2016 [CC BY 2.0] (Flickr)

Here’s one sure way to beat the heat this summer; head to Hokkaido! Just imagine that you’re cooling off in the winter climate, surrounded by all that 雪 (yuki; snow). While you’re there, you go racing down the slopes on your skis, churning up the 粉雪 (kona yuki; powdered snow) as you fly past, enjoying the cool air. You stop at the bottom of the hill and bend to pick up a handful of snow, watching as the fine powder trickles through your fingers. That is さらさら(sara sara), the fine texture of the powdered snow on the ski slopes.

Image Credit:
Mark Resch, 2006 [CC BY 2.0] (Flickr)

If you’d rather slow things down, why not try building your own 雪だるま(yuki daruma; snowman)? If you head to a slightly warmer area, you’ll find ぼたん雪(botan yuki). This kind of snow is made up of larger flakes, and clumps together better than 粉雪(kona yuki). Better yet, you can 丸める(marumeru; make round) this snow into a 雪玉(yuki dama; snowball). Just be careful, or you might get caught up in a 雪合戦(yuki gassen; snowball fight)!

 


 
   
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