Stay in an authentic Japanese castle -- if you can spare $9,000
Nikkei -- Jul 12
Japan has a new way to attract foreign tourists -- overnight castle stays.

Ozu Castle in Ehime Prefecture next April will begin allowing tourists to stay a night for 1 million yen ($9,250) per couple.

The Castle is on the Japan Castle Foundation's top 100 list, and the government lists it as an important cultural asset. First built in 1331, it has been repaired and reconstructed over the centuries, including by noted castle builder and Daimyo Takatora Todo, who died in 1630.

Japan's tourism ministry included accommodation services in historical heritage sites in its latest tourism vision realization program, drawing inspiration from Europe, where castle stays are already offered.

The Ozu municipal government is partnering with Value Management, a company that focuses on utilizing historical resources.

The tenshu, the castle's core four-story tower, about 19 meters high, will accept guests for 30 days a year, when rooms will be equipped with mats and furniture. Bathroom facilities will also be provided in ways that do not disturb the setting.

Overnight stays will include a "lord experience" service, which will allow guests to feel how daimyo lived centuries ago. Visitors will be served meals made of local ingredients and be given boat rides in the moat.

The Ozu municipal government in May set up a committee to discuss how to utilize the city's heritage sites. Political leaders want to "prepare for the population decline," one official said, "and creatively find new revenue sources."

Plans call for allowing daily tourists to visit when the castle is not acting as a hotel.

Ozu is not Japan's only castle that is moving into the lodging business. Hirado Castle in Nagasaki Prefecture is planning to do likewise next July. It is partnering with Japan Airlines and Hyakusenrenma, an Airbnb-type marketplace.

News source: Nikkei
Jul 18
Ornately decorated floats paraded through Japan's ancient capital Kyoto on Wednesday at the climax of the annual Gion Festival. (NHK)
Jul 18
Japan is struggling to cope with hundreds of thousands of middle-aged social recluses across the country, with municipalities reporting they are critically short of social workers and other personnel needed to help them return to society. (Japan Times)
Jul 18
Johnny & Associates Inc., one of the most powerful talent agencies in Japan, is suspected of having pressured commercial broadcasting television stations to stop inviting three former members of popular boy band SMAP on their shows after they left the office in 2017, sources familiar with the matter said Wednesday. (Kyodo)
Jul 18
A Japanese policeman stabbed another officer by mistake during training when he used a real knife instead of a replica. (NHK)
Jul 18
Tokyo DisneySea will launch a new flight simulator attraction Tuesday that promises to make visitors feel as if they are soaring over famous landmarks such as the Great Wall of China and the Egyptian pyramids. (Japan Times)
Jul 18
Police in Tokyo disclosed Wednesday they are looking for a man who poked another man in the eye with what is believed to be an umbrella tip after an argument outside JR Meguro Station earlier this month. (Japan Today)
Jul 17
School-related matters led to more suicides last year among youth aged between 10 and 19 than any other issue, the government said Tuesday in its annual paper on the topic. (Japan Times)
Jul 17
Over two weeks of cloudy and rainy days in Tokyo and nearby areas has resulted in higher vegetable prices and sluggish sales of summer clothing. (Japan Times)
Jul 17
Former Emperor Akihito briefly suffered from cerebral anemia last week, forcing him to postpone his regular health checkup, the Imperial Household Agency said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Jul 17
Toyota Motor Corp. and Japan's space exploration agency said Tuesday they have signed a three-year agreement to jointly research and develop a rover to be sent to the Moon in 2029. (Kyodo)