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Welcome to the July edition of Japan Agent Update. Summer in Japan means festivals, known locally as matsuri, with the majority taking place during July and August. Many festivals feature stunning fireworks displays (known as hanabi taikai), which can last 60 to 90 minutes! Festivals are also a great place to experience street food and children's games.

Be sure to check out the JNTO Head Office Calendar of Upcoming Events to see what festivals are coming up next month!

Summer in Japan also happens to be a low period for international travel, so many attractions such as gardens, castles and even museums tend to be quieter, and - as a bonus for your clients - accommodation tends to be a bit cheaper. (Note that times around major festivals are an exception to this, as with any other major event.)

It has been a record-breakingly hot summer, as you may have already heard, so take the opportunity to try all the various chilled drinks from vending machines and convenience stores (conbini); taste each one of the unique flavours of soft serve ice cream and enjoy shaved ice (kakigori); and explore indoor attractions like aquariums and museums, which are aplenty in cities large and small.
Insider Tip #14: Yukata vs Kimono

To the uninitiated, a yukata looks just like a kimono, but it’s actually fairly easy to tell the difference. Technically, a yukata is a type of kimono, but the words are never used interchangeably in Japan. Here are some key differences:

Kimono are made from fine materials, typically silk, whereas yukata are made from cheaper materials, typically cotton. Kimono have multiple layers, and learning how to wear one properly takes years of practice and professional lessons; yukata are single-layer garments and fairly easy to put on while watching a YouTube tutorial or reading an instruction guide sheet. The obi (sash) worn with a kimono is usually folded elegantly at the back, whereas the obi worn with a yukata is usually tied into a bow.

You can buy yukata from Japanese clothing stores and souvenir shops, although they may be hard to find outside of summer, as they’re a popular garment for summer festivals. The yukata provided in Japanese ryokan and some hotels are the easiest to wear as they don’t require any folding at the waist. Just wrap it around yourself, tie the obi snugly, and you’re set to stroll around the property!
Featured blog: Favourite things to do for families in Tokyo
Featured blog: Favourite things to do for families in Tokyo
Follow Evie Farrell of Mumpack Travel as she takes her family around Tokyo to experience what is on offer that is fun and enjoyable for both kids and adults.
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Featured wholesale tour: Trails of Japan (Wendy Wu Tours)
Featured wholesale tour: Trails of Japan (Wendy Wu Tours)
Wendy Wu Tours' exhilarating Trails of Japan tour encompasses Japan’s rich history, covering robot restaurants to tranquil temples to potent sake. 2019 Early Bird Specials with savings of $1800 now available.
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Heavy rains and flooding
As you may have heard, several areas in Japan have recently experienced extremely heavy downpour and subsequently been affected by flooding and landslides. If you have clients travelling in Japan over the next few weeks please note all warnings for the areas.
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Top 10 Unique Flavours to Explore in Japan
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Check out our list of the top ten seasonings and flavours that are unique to Japan. From sweet to savoury, there is something for everyone.
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Trade News
Free Wi-Fi service begins on Shinkansen bullet trains
Free Wi-Fi service begins on Shinkansen bullet trains
The service is being gradually rolled out on the Tokaido, Sanyo and Kyushu Shinkansen starting from 25 July 2018.
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Sawara Festival Participation Tour
Sawara Festival Participation Tour
The only thing better than attending an authentic Japanese village festival is actively joining in the dancing, songs and celebrations with the residents. Next tour Oct 11th-14th, 2018.
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Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair 2018
Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair 2018
This year's Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair will be held on over the weekend of 15-16 September 2018!
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Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2018 (29 July - 17 Sept)
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2018 (29 July - 17 Sept)
Held once every three years, this international art festival features exhibitions of contemporary artworks at locations in the Echigo Tsumari area of Niigata Prefecture. Tickets for the festival and guided tours in English now on sale.
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The 8 Most Popular Sports in Japan (All About Japan)
The 8 Most Popular Sports in Japan (All About Japan)
With the Tokyo Olympics and Rugby World Cup coming up, Japan is becoming a major destination for sports events! 
Find out what the most popular local sports are.

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Vegetarian-friendly Cafés You Must Try in Tokyo (Taiken)
This article introduces vegetarian-friendly restaurants, offering Japanese, western or fusion menus foodies shouldn’t miss out on. Some shops serve full vegetarian menus, while others are healthy restaurants which have decent vegetarian/vegan or even gluten-free options. 
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