As Japan struggles to get its groove back, the capital beckons as a bright bargain. Lee Hannon visits.
The bright neon lights of Tokyo may dim this year, but the flicker of hope that Japan will remain a top tourist destination still glimmers.
It's been more than a year since the land of the rising sun faced its darkest days after World War II, after a massive earthquake and deadly tsunami killed tens of thousands of people as it washed away entire towns and villages. Tourists in Japan left as quickly as multinational corporations evacuated their workers.
Latest statistics show Chinese tourists are returning in record numbers to Japan. Some 138,400 visited in January alone, up 39.6 percent from the same period last year pre-quake.
The numbers went into freefall following the March earthquake and only began to stabilize last September. Japanese businesses and tour operators say the rapid increase in visitors from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan is offering some much needed optimism in a country still struggling to get back on its feet.
It is a mathematical algorithm, not just common sense, that Japan's nearest neighbor would return first and there's no wonder.
The country still has a lot to offer: shopping for electronics, a visit to Mount Fuji or the ancient temples in Kyoto, or - for the more adventurous - the ski slopes in the north.
Fewer than 40 pct of residents and commuters in Tokyo take specific measures to prepare for a possible huge earthquake beneath the Japanese capital, despite high awareness on disaster prevention, a Metropolitan Police Department survey showed Friday. (Jiji Press )
The man under arrest for fatally stabbing one man and wounding three others during a 10-minute rampage in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, on Monday night, told police on Thursday that he wanted to hijack a plane at Haneda airport and fly it into Tokyo Skytree to take revenge on society. (Japan Today )
The man lauded as "Japan's Beethoven," who has admitted he never wrote his compositions, appeared before cameras for the first time since the scandal surfaced - clean-shaven and minus his trademark sunglasses. (abcnews.go.com )
The 24-year-old suspect in the murder of a man on a street in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, on Monday is believed to have posted a profile online in which he identified himself as a "celeb NEET," meaning a celebrity without a job, according to local online news site J-Cast News. (Japan Times )
The proportion of single nonregular Japanese male workers in their 20s who have girlfriends stood at 18.7 pct in 2012, against 30.7 pct for regular employees, a government survey revealed Thursday. (Jiji Press )