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 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)
Jul 17
U.S. investment firm Blackstone Group will spend over 100 billion yen ($926 million) to buy distribution centers in Japan, seeing room for growth in the country's relatively small e-commerce market, Nikkei has learned. (Nikkei)
Jul 16
The Tokyo metropolitan region experienced another cloudy and rainy day on Monday, marking the 18th straight day in which the country’s capital has seen less than three hours of sunshine per day. (Japan Today)
Jul 16
The sounds of chanting men carrying huge, decorated floats signaled the climax of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival. Each float weighs more than one ton. (NHK)
Jul 16
A couple in Tokyo was arrested Monday on suspicion of pouring scalding water four years ago over an 11-year-old boy who was living with them at the time, police said. (Japan Today)
Jul 15
Five years ago, residents of Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture, believed that the registration of a local historical landmark as a World Heritage site would reinvigorate the typical Japanese regional city facing a constant decline in population. (Japan Times)
Jul 15
A supermarket has opened in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, which was devastated by the nuclear disaster in 2011. It is the first supermarket to operate in the town since the accident. Evacuation orders were partially lifted two years ago. (NHK)