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Taste for things Japanese attracting more U.S. tourists

JIJI

For the first time in nine years, Japan will see a record number of American visitors, thanks to the yen’s depreciation and a growing interest in things Japanese, such as sake and anime.

According to the Japan National Tourism Organization, 87,900 visitors from the United States visited the country in June, a record high for a one-month period. The number of U.S. tourists traveling to Japan is on track to surpass the annual high of 822,000 set in 2005.

Timothy Sullivan, who promotes sake in the United States, will launch a tour of sake breweries in Niigata and Ishikawa prefectures as well as Kyoto this fall.

Sullivan, 44, established Sake Journeys with Japanese partners to connect Americans hoping to tour sake breweries with makers hoping to expand sales networks.

“We feel it is a great chance to promote both the travel and sake industry in Japan,” Sullivan said.

At Artisans of Leisure, a U.S. tourism company, tours to Japan have increased sharply since 2011.

“Many of the family vacations they request are coming with children to Japan,” said Ashley Ganz, president of the company. “Sometimes they are older kids like teenagers. They are very interested in Japan” through movies and anime, she added.

Japan is also making efforts in the United States to boost demand for tourism.

Tokyo, which is gearing up for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, plans to hold a seminar in New York in October.

The JNTO will also give a briefing in New York around November on the launch of the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line between Nagano and Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture.

“Americans tend to spend a large amount of money and many of them buy traditional crafts,” said Yuki Tanaka, head of the JNTO’s office in New York.