Celebs Flock to Japan, Improve Economy?
Photo: Philip-Lorca di Corcia
for Condé Nast Traveler
Just like our side of the ocean, Japan is plodding through a massive economic slowdown. So it's no surprise that record numbers of New Year's pilgrims journeyed to temples all over the country to offer Hatsumoude prayers for . . . you guessed it, prosperity. The beautiful Meiji Jingu shrine in central Tokyo saw some 3 million visitors in the first days of 2009.
Always the philanthropist, Hollywood is doing its part to help out the struggling Japanese economy. Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens (Zacnessa?), the handsomely wholesome leading couple of Disney's High School Musical juggernaut, brought their considerable star power to Tokyo this week. But the tween stars are small potatoes compared to the frenzy caused by the arrival of the biggest superstar couple in the entire universe. We speak, of course, of Brangelina, who recently took the Benjamin Button train to the technicolor city. Check out this video--fans nearly expire at the sight of the Jolie-Pitt clan arriving at Narita airport. Swoon!
Even if you don't have a film to promote, this is a great time to explore the land of the rising sun, especially if you time your trip to coincide with the annual cherry blossom festival in the middle/end of March (check here for dates all over the country). Kayak has nonstop flights on multiple carriers from the northeast for just $1,000 (I paid double that two years ago). ANA's Eco Value fares can get you there for even less, depending on departure city. Konichiwa!