More cultural aftershocks in Japan...


Possible safety risks put Japan tours by Met Opera and ABT in jeopardy

The New York Times, 3/30/11

The Metropolitan Opera is debating whether to proceed with its scheduled Japanese tour in June, an ambitious trip that was several years in the planning and would be the Met's first to that country since 2006.  Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager, issued a statement that the tour [is] "in jeopardy at this time." The violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and American Ballet Theater are also scheduled to perform in Japan in the coming months at events organized by Japan Arts. The U.S. State Department's travel advisory on Wednesday "strongly urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Japan at this time and those in Japan should consider departing."  Alan Gordon, national executive director of the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union representing many in the opera company, said: "Singers are concerned about going and taking their families. We'll have to wait and see what happens. I'm assuming some people will simply decide they can't personally go."  A spokeswoman for the Japanese Consulate in New York, Naoko Kawaguchi, said she was unaware of any cultural group cancelling a visit to Japan. Areas away from the reactors are safe, she said, and "life in Tokyo is as it was before."   Kelly Ryan, a spokeswoman for American Ballet Theater, which is scheduled to perform in Tokyo in July, said the company was monitoring the situation: "At this time we feel it's premature to make a decision either way."


Nuclear scare halts major French art exhibition in Hiroshima

The Art Newspaper, 3/30/11

An exhibition of 84 impressionist masterpieces due to open at the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum on April 5, with around 50 works loaned from French museums, has been abruptly postponed.   A spokeswoman for the Japanese museum said that the show had been halted by the French ministry of culture, but declined to give a reason -- as did the ministry in Paris.  The museum's website blames "the impact of the nuclear power plant disaster", while the Japanese newspaper Chunichi Shimbun confirms that the postponement was a result of "fears over the effects of the nuclear power plant accident" at Fukushima. It is unclear if the French were concerned about the impact of radiation on the works or any staff travelling with them, although Hiroshima is more than 500 miles south west of Fukushima.


Southern California braces for drop in high-spending Japanese tourists

The Los Angeles Times, 3/25/11

As Japan struggles to rebuild from the devastating earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. travel industry is bracing for a drop in high-spending tourists from that country.  Dozens of tour groups from Japan have already canceled reservations for hotels and sightseeing trips in Southern California.  "The impact from the international-business-travel side could be significant," said Charles Ahlers, president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau. "They stay a long time and spend a lot, and that's why everyone loves the Japanese market."  In Los Angeles, Japanese tourists represent the third-largest source of overseas visitors, behind Australia and Britain. In Orange and San Diego counties, Japanese are second only to the British as the top overseas visitors.  Last year 305,000 Japanese visitors traveled to Los Angeles, spending $279 million. 


NYC tourism takes hit from Japan quake

Fox 5 News [New York], 3/17/11

The Big Apple's tourism industry faces as much as a $1 billion shortfall this spring due to cancellations by Japanese tourists, the fourth-largest group of foreign visitors to the city.  Hotels and tour operators said about half of their seasonal bookings from Japan have been canceled as a result of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.  "It is making a huge impact on our business," said Yasu Kambe, a New York representative at All Nippon Airways, Asia's biggest carrier.  "Depending on the nuclear situation, cancellations can easily reach 50 percent."


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Video: Japan's earthquake & tsunami: how they happened, 3/31/11

On March 11th, Japan suffered a 9.0 earthquake, followed by a massive tsunami. Just weeks later, NOVA has produced a 47 minute documentary that does an impressive job of explaining the science behind these twin geologic catastrophes. The program follows Roger Bilham, a seismologist at the University of Colorado, who arrived in Japan two days after the quake. And what you get is a blow-by-blow account of the unfolding events, coupled with some sound analysis and stunning footage (like the ground splitting open and pushing water to the surface.) This is by far the most substantive treatment of Japan's quake/tsunami that we've encountered to date.

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