(TMU) – If you’re currently stuck at home and facing government lockdown orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic, we won’t blame you if you’re currently fantasizing about the vacations you want to take once the world returns to relative normalcy.
While books, YouTube travel vlogs, and even open world video games offer great distractions, in many ways they also offer serious fuel to our wanderlust – inspiring us to do nothing more than get out of our current environs and delve deep into other cultures, climes, and cuisines.
And of all the most amazing tourist destinations out there, one country stands tall with its dazzling combination of ancient culture and stunning modernity – and that country is Japan.
Mount Fuji pic.twitter.com/9w3kpykoTD
— Japan 🌸 (@jxpann) May 21, 2020
And now, Japanese officials are reportedly considering a plan that would see the government potentially step up to pay half of the travel expenses of foreign travelers to the Land of the Rising Sun.
However, the plan is merely just a proposal – at least for the time being.
Since the coronavirus pandemic became a global concern earlier this year, the brakes have been hit on global travel – as well as the lucrative tourism industries of various countries.
This has been no less true in Japan, where a mere 2,900 tourists visited the country this April – a vast and precipitous drop from the 2,926,685 people who visited the country last April, according to leading Japanese newspaper The Mainichi. On a nationwide level, the country has seen a staggering 99.9 percent year-on-year drop in tourism.
No tourists in #Japan? No problem. 😎 😏
Cherry blossoms 🌸, Japanese style
🇯🇵 🗾 🏯
More than 1,000 deer 🦌 enjoying the flowers and calm at Nara Park, Osaka.
The animals even know how to bow after getting fed crackers by the visitors.
— ☪︎ 𝙋𝙨𝙮𝙘𝙝𝙤𝙡𝙤𝙜𝙞𝙨𝙩 ۞ (@PsychologyDoc) May 17, 2020
To prevent the continuation of the brutal collapse of tourism, the Japanese government is now considering giving the green light to a 1.35 trillion yen (over $12.5 billion USD) fund to lure back foreign visitors. Japanese Tourism Agency chief Hiroshi Tabata said that the scheme could begin as soon as July if COVID-19 infections continue to subside.
It remains unclear what exactly would be covered under the plan in terms of airfare or which categories of hotels and lodging.
Japan is currently facing its lowest number of visitors from abroad since 1964. Normally, spring is one of the country’s most popular tourist seasons, especially because it’s cherry blossom season, when the blossoming trees around Tokyo, Kyoto and Mt. Fuji attract thousands of sightseers. This year, however, visitors have largely been restricted to these deer – which, needless to say, doesn’t do much for the tourism industry in terms of generating revenue.
Additionally, Japan has barred entry to nationals and passenger flights from roughly 100 nations. This includes China – one of Japan’s major tourism markets, which had been hitting record highs during the winter amid warming people-to-people relations between the Chinese and Japanese people, who have been plagued by poor bilateral ties in the past.
Flowers fields, Japan 🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/ySRMQ0lrAX
— World Tourism 🌎 (@WorldTourisms) May 16, 2020
To make matters worse, Japan has also been forced to postpone the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympic Games that were due to take place in Tokyo.
The country’s other landmarks and attractions have also been temporarily closed, including Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, Universal Studios Japan, and a number of museums, festivals, and other mass events.
However, in a sign that good news may be on the horizon, only three new coronavirus infections were reported in the capital on Friday – the lowest figure since the government declared a state of emergency in April.
So while Japan is not quite out of the woods yet – as is the case in much of the rest of the world – the reported plan to slash travel expenses in half for tourists does seem tantalizing.
After all, where else can we be treated to the priceless scenery of Japan’s villages, the brilliant natural beauty of the country’s mountains and islands, or the irreplaceable flavors of genuine Japanese cuisine?
Well, this might just be the chance you’ve been waiting for.
Kaiseki-Ryori(懐石料理) can be called "Japanese Haute Cuisine". It is a refined multi-course cooking style which emphasizes seasonality, simplicity and elegance. It can be enjoyed at special kaiseki ryori restaurants or at ryotei, expensive and exclusive Japanese restaurants. pic.twitter.com/FfsqXB7iFh
— 日本の絶景～Beautiful View～ (@AmazingJapanese) May 23, 2020
Keanu Reeves Praised As Video of Him Offering Seat to Lady in Subway Resurfaces
Keanu Reeves is an actor who has long been loved by audiences —and not necessarily due to his acting skills, but due to how nice the John Wick star is.
And now, Reeves is once again earning praise as a “true gentleman” after resurfaced video footage shows Reeves giving up his seat on the subway.
The clip was shared by Instagram film fan account Cinemonkeys where it has since earned nearly 45,000 likes.
The video footage dates back to 2011, when it was shared on YouTube by a user of the video-sharing platform.
At the time, Reeves was already a superstar riding on the fame he earned from the Matrix, Speed, and a number of other blockbuster hits.
When Reeves notices a woman carrying a heavy bag, he quickly points to his seat and asks if she would like to sit. The woman accepts and Reeves gets up without hesitating to let her take his seat.
Reeves, ever the model citizen, then stands and holds onto a subway pole while carrying his bag.
The video has since been watched over 27 million times and was even cited in a 2019 Time magazine profile of the actor describing Reeves as the “soul mate” of the internet.
The resurfacing of the clip on Instagram once again impressed users of the platform.
“This human being’s soul honestly shines so bright,” wrote one user.
“OMG I love him in every single way,” another person commented.
“His kindness knows no bounds,” commented someone else.
Keanu is set to reprise his role as Neo in the upcoming fourth Matrix film directed and written by Lana Wachowski, who co-directed the earlier trilogy with her sister Lilly. He will also return to the silver screen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which will be released in 2022.
Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber
An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.
In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.
“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”
As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.
Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.
“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.
Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.
So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.
“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”
As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.
Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.
“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”
Binx the Cat, Who Survived Florida Condo Collapse, Found and Reunited With Family
Amid the tragedy of last month’s collapse of a South Florida condo building, there was a tiny bit of good news when a cat named Binx, who lived on the ninth floor of the Surfside building, was found safe and returned to his family.
“I’m glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the lives of a hurting family today and provide a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava in a Friday press conference, reports NPR.
Levine Cava explained that a volunteer who feeds street cats in the area recognized the cat near the building before bringing him to an animal shelter, where it was then identified.
Gina Nicole Vlasek, the co-founder of the The Kitty Campus rescue group, posted on Facebook that a black cat had been found near the rubble of the group before it was brought to the shelter on Thursday night.
“We are so grateful to be able to help in any small way,” Vlasek said.
“All we needed was a ray of hope in this tragedy,” she continued. “Today was one of the most amazing days.. one of the survivors came to see the cat and to determine if it was her families cat and IT WAS!”
The mayor said that animal control workers are continuing to work to recover any pets that may have survived the horrible collapse.
The 12-story Surfside condo collapsed on June 24. At least 79 people have been confirmed dead, with 61 additional residents remaining unaccounted for.