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.
The government of Japan has bestowed one of that nation's highest honors on a Japanese-American, a former U.S. Soldier and World War II veteran, for his work furthering relationships between the Japanese and Americans. (army.mil )
This Monday, members of the seminal metal band X Japan were in Odaiba rubbing shoulders with the likes of Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga and AKB48′s Yuko Oshima. The catch? They were all made out of wax. (Japan Times )