Discounts and Promotions Available in Tottori Prefecture, Japan

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In light of the article on Tottori Prefecture in the current issue of ITN, I would like to get the news out to other ITN readers about the really good discounts and other promotions currently available to foreign tourists visiting there, which I discovered during my recent trip there from November 1 to November 7. First, Tottori City is offering foreign visitors a special taxi service to visit Tottori City and the east part of Tottori Prefecture at the extremely good bargain rate of 1,000 yen for up to 3 hours (extra fee charged after this time.) (This compares to the rate for regular taxi tours for the same amount of time that are advertised for 9,000 yen to 9,500 yen at the train station tourist kiosk.) This special taxi service is being offered from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012 and taxis can depart anytime between 9:00 AM and 6:30 PM. Persons who would like to take advantage of this offer are requested to make a reservation at the Tottori Tourist Information Center inside Tottori JR Train Station by 6 PM one day in advance, but a same day reservation is possible although one may have to wait. (Note, I was able to get a taxi immediately on 2 different days.) In addition to the special taxi rate, foreign visitors who use the taxi service are given a coupon card to use on the same day to get discounts or other promotional benefits at certain sightseeing spots (including, e.g., the Uradome Coast Excursion Boat, the Jinpukaku Mansion, and the Kannon-in Garden.) To make such taxi arrangements, you should contact the Tottori City International Tourist Support Center at (0857) 36-3767 or go to their office just outside the north exit of JR Tottori Station to the right. The people there speak English and are very helpful in providing information such as pamphlets, bus and train schedules and sightseeing suggestions. A person from there will take you to the Tottori Tourist Information Center kiosk inside the station and arrange for a special taxi. This special taxi service was really great, because getting around Tottori Prefecture by public transport can be very challenging and time consuming. I was able to go on an Uradome Coast Boat Excursion, travel along the coast to see the beautiful scenery and then visit Tottori's famous sand dunes (being dropped off there)on one day, and then visit the Nagashibina Doll Museum in Mochigase, the Kaming Saji Paper Gallery (where one can see traditional washi paper made and experience making such paper) about 20 minutes away and then the Ishitani Family Residence near Chizu Station a further 30 minutes away (before being dropped off at Chizu Station) on another day. I could not have made these trips as economically either time-wise or money-wise using public transport on my own. In addition to this special taxi service and related coupon card, many attractions in Tottori Prefecture currently have special discounts for foreigners who show a passport or alien registration card. For example, I was able to get a 50% discount and pay only 500 yen instead of the regular adult ticket price of 1,000 yen (from April - November; 700 yen from December - March) at the Tottori Hanakairo Flower Park and only 250 yen instead of 500 yen at the Ishitani Family Residence in Chizu. Some places had smaller discounts. For instance, I paid 1,000 yen instead of 1,200 yen for the Uradome Coast Boat Excursion on the large boat. (Note, the small boat ride described in the ITN article runs only from April to October and lasts 50 minutes while the large boat ride runs from March to November and lasts 40 minutes. Although the large boat did not pass between as many of the rock formations as the boat company pamphlet indicates the small boat does, it did pass through many and did get pretty close to a beach in at least one spot. In addition, although most seating in the large boat was in an enclosed area, there was room to sit outside in the back of the boat which I did.) In any event, especially given the strength of the yen vis-à-vis the U.S. dollar, the discounts are very welcome. One of the major reasons for these discounts and promotions is to try to lure tourists back to Japan. The Japanese economy has been suffering for a long time, and since the triple disasters in the Tohoku region the economy has suffered more, especially in the tourist sector. Outside of that region, travelling is fine. In fact, due to fewer tourists (e.g., I saw only a couple of other non-Asian faces during my trip in Tottori), it is a really good time to travel in Japan. The people I met during my trip to Tottori, especially in the tourist and information offices as well as at the sightseeing attractions, were all really welcoming and helpful.

A P.S. to my previous posting:

Although it was not included in my previous posting because it is not a special discount or promotion, I thought ITN readers would like to know that there is a free shuttle between JR Yonago Station and Tottori Hanakairo Flower Park. It runs hourly, leaving Yonago Station on the hour and the Flower Park on the half hour. The ride takes about 25 minutes. As there are only about 20 seats in the shuttle, it is best to arrive a bit early if possible.

The Flower Park, which is described in the article in ITN, is really worth going to to see beautiful flowers with Mt. Daisen in the background.