Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Informatio​n for Australian​s in Japan from Dept of Foreign Affairs

Email from Jon.Willacy@dfat.gov.au - Department of Foreign Affairs

details 12:54 am 16 March 2011

The travel advice for Japan has been reviewed and reissued. It contains the latest advice from the Australians Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety

Agency on exposure to radiation arising from nuclear incidents in Japan.
The text is repeated below. You can also access the travel advice at www.smartraveller.gov.au

The Department of Health and Ageing and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) has issued the following advice on exposure to radiation arising from nuclear incidents in Japan, based on information from Japanese authorities:

The recent earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday 11 March has caused major damage to a number of nuclear reactors on the east coast of Japan. The Japanese Government has established an evacuation zone around the affected reactors.

ARPANSA has been closely monitoring the situation, in particular the potential exposure to radiation of Australians in Japan.

ARPANSA advises that there is a small chance of contamination at very low levels for Australians who were in the Fukushima area at the time of the incident. The risk of health effects from exposure at these low levels is considered very low to negligible. Australians who were in the affected area at the time of the incident should continue to follow the advice of Japanese authorities.

For those Australians in Japan but outside the affected areas, based on current information, ARPANSA advises that they are extremely unlikely to be contaminated and the health risks are negligible. As the situation
develops, all Australians in Japan are strongly encouraged to continue to follow the protective measures recommended by the Japanese Government.

Given the very low risk of exposure, ARPANSA advises that people should have no physical symptoms. If there is any doubt about contamination this contamination is easily removed by washing your body and clothes.

Australians returning home from Japan are highly unlikely to be contaminated or exposed to significant radiation and will not require checks for radioactivity. However, if people wish to seek medical advice
they should contact their local GP.

Meetings are being held with GP representatives, the Department of Health and Ageing, and ARPANSA to discuss the provision of consistent advice to those who present with inquiries about radiation exposure.

Discussions are ongoing between jurisdictions. Further information will be provided as the situation develops.

*Current as at 2200 hours (AEDST) on 15 March 2011. This information will be updated every six hours or more frequently as required.*

If you require consular assistance you can contact the Australian Embassy in Tokyo on 03 5323 4144 and you will be transferred to the Crisis Centre.

DFAT Crisis Centre

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Take a side trip to Korea - Seoul Best 100 Guide: The Best of Seoul in Your Pocket

Usually when I travel to Japan, I make a side trip to Korea and I just love Seoul. Here is some great news from Jenny at Korea Tourism Organisation Sydney Office.
Seoul Best 100 Guide: The Best of Seoul in Your Pocket

The latest edition of Seoul Best 100, a pocket guide of Seoul’s top one hundred must see sights has just been released. The guide gives a great introduction to the best sights of the capital city of Korea and is freely available from Korea Tourism Organization Sydney office.

The pocket zone by zone guide gives detailed information about major tourist attractions such as Seoul’s beautiful royal palaces and shrines like Changdeok and the Secret Garden, Deoksu Palace and the Jongmyo Royal Shrine are all in Zone 1. Also in this zone are sights such as Seoul City Square and top tourist attractions like Insadong, the famous cultural street loved by visitors for its art galleries, handicraft shops, excellent restaurants and famous tea-houses. The popular street of Samcheongdong with its many cafes and designer shops and galleries is the latest trendy place to be seen in Seoul.

In the centre of the capital is Cheonggyecheon, the 5.8 kilometre stream that runs through the centre of Seoul with its unique bridges and fountains and is a spectacular sight during the Seoul lantern festival. Also, in Zone 1 for those who love shopping Seoul’s south gate (Namdaemun) is a great place to search for a bargain. Selling a wide range of items from clothing to jewellery to Korean handicrafts, foodstuffs, homewares and more the market is a very popular place with shoppers to Seoul. Nearby is trendy Myeong-dong which is especially lively at night with all its bright lights, designer boutiques and is a place where Seoul’s lively young people hang out at night.

Zone 2 of the guide takes you to World Cup Park where Korea reached the semi final of the FIFA World Cup 2002 semi-final match against Germany. The Hongik University area of Seoul with its trendy nightclubs and markets is a great place to mix with Seoul’s youth and see all the latest trends and fashion.

Zone 3 can take you further out of the city for some fresh mountain air. Visit Mt. Bukhansan or Seoul Forest for a refreshing breath of nature. Dongdaemun Fashion Town in the eastern part of the city is popular for all night shopping, the shops here close at 5.30am in the morning. If visiting with children Seoul’s Chrildren’s Grand Park is a great place to take them to see the huge aviary with over 800 parrots and an aquarium as well as enjoy musical water fountains and fun park rides.

Zone 4 is the southern side of the river with Olympic Park and Lotte World, a massive shopping complex as well as theme park which is great fun for families with young children. It includes the Seoul Arts Centre, the Kimchi Museum and the famous fashion streets of Apgujeong (Rodeo Street) and Cheongdam-dong Fashion Street.

Zone 5 covers the best of nature with Yeouido Ecological Park and Seoul Grand Park and Zoo. Get the best view over Seoul city from the 63 Building on Yeouido Island or visit Times Square, the new urban entertainment cultural space with department stores, cinemas, E-Mart, bookstores and more.

Get your FREE Seoul’s Best 100 pocket guide today from the Korea Tourism Organization Sydney office by email: visitkorea@knto.org.au or phone: 02 9251-1717

Dated: 10 March, 2011

Further information: Jennifer Doherty, PR/Marketing Manager, KTO Sydney

Email: jenny@knto.org.au

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Carole in North Kyoto

Carole in North Kyoto in the countryside. Photo Copyright Carole Goldsmith 2011

Peaceful Hattoji - traditional rural Japan.

By Carole Ann Goldsmith Copyright ©2011 All Rights Reserved

Hattoji is the only place that I have been to in Japan, where I rarely saw another person when walking for about two hours along the roadway, surrounded by lush greenery. Very occasionally, a sole car would pass me and the driver would wave with a friendly smile. I discovered a little friend to chat to while I was walking on one track. A small green frog that sat on a rock croaking and it was happy to be photographed from front and back.

Located in Okayama prefecture, Hattoji is an historical city in traditional rural Japan. I stayed at the Hattoji International Villa, an absolutely delightful place to reside while I explored the surrounding countryside. According to the Hattoji International Villa website, http://www.harenet.ne.jp/villa/villa/hatto.htm the villa was originally built over 120 years ago, as a kayabuki thatched-roof farm house. When I was there a Japanese lady with her American husband and baby were also staying there. All four rooms are Japanese traditional style, with tatami mats and futons to sleep on. There is a fully equipped modern kitchen, for guests to cook to their heart’s content. We also enjoyed our meal sitting around the traditional Japanese fireplace and sharing travel tales.

To add to the total rural experience, bathing in the very deep goemonburo (traditional Japanese bath) that resembles a caldron is a real treat and oh- so relaxing. You can of course have the water at the temperature you choose and traditional showers are available too.

Hattoji thrived over 1200 years ago as a center of Sangaku mountain Buddhism and followers lead an ascetic life in an effort to purify themselves of society's excesses. Dating from 728, monks gathered here at the base of Mt. Hattoji (elevation 539m) and built an impressive complex of temples, monasteries and accompanying buildings. Because Hattoji has retained its traditional appearance, it was the setting for the black and white movie, Black Rain by Shohei Imamura. Source: http://www.harenet.ne.jp/villa/villa/hatto.htm

 The rustic village of Hattoji is surrounded by the mountainous forests, I saw the traditional thatched roof farmhouses. The happy frogs croaking night and day from the rice paddies and birds chirping from the trees were often the only sounds I heard during my stay at the villa.
One tip for Hattoji,  you need to buy your food in the village of Yoshinaga, which is where you catch your bus to Hattoji. Although there are a couple of great restaurants in Hattoji, Cowboy Joes plus the restaurant with the cow statue out the front, there are no supermarkets or places to buy food supplies. There are really friendly folks at the Supermarket near the Yoshinaga station to stock up on food supplies. The bus to Hattoji, leaves from the stop opposite Yoshinaga Station.

For bookings of rooms at the Hattoji villa http://www.coinn.org/XXvilla_vacancy/cld.php

Details of transport and tourist attractions see http://www.harenet.ne.jp/villa/villa/hatto.htm

Korea’s ONE STOP Medical Tourism Service Centers - A Great Success

By Carole Ann Goldsmith Copyright © 2011 - All Rights Reserved

Going on a trip across the sea from Japan to sparkling Korea then check out the the ‘ONE STOP’ medical tourism service centers.  

Following article Written December 2009 and first published then in Official Beauty Report USA.

The ‘ONE STOP’ medical tourism service centers (MTSC) opened by the Korean Tourism Organization (KTO) last July (in 2008), have proven to be a great success. An average of 261 people are visiting the centers every day.

Located at both Korea’s Lncheon International airport, Seoul and at the KTO tourist information center (TIC) in downtown Seoul, the MTSC staff assists travelers with everything from visa processing to making appointments at medical clinics. Center staff also arranges link-ups with highly professional medical services including herbal medicine, dental and fertility practices, eye and skin clinics, cardiovascular surgeons and aesthetic surgery. The center’s brochure suggests that surgery fees in Korea are only a third, sometimes even a tenth of those in the U.S.A.

Ms. Sunwoo Lee from KTO’s Strategic Tourism Product Team said that as of 31 December 2008, there were 50,456 visitors to the one-stop service centers, or 261 people per day.

The KTO’s TIC ONE STOP center has medical equipment for visitors to check their health including a BMI (body mass index) machine, a stress measurement device, a blood pressure meter and a machine to detect skin aging. Visitors can discuss their results with professionals at the center. According to Ms. Lee, all medical devices are very popular especially the BMI machine used to analyze body composition (fat mass, muscle mass) by using a micro-current. Center staff then advise participants on a suitable exercise and diet plan.

The airport MTSC has a lounge especially for medical travelers, a refrigerator to store drugs and free internet connection, so travelers can browse for information on medical service providers and travel agents. Both centers including the medical testing equipment, are free of charge to use.

For on-line information on Korean Medical Tourism see: