Celebrating One Million American Travelers to Japan


Lisa Niver, Chef Akira Hirose, Mike Siegel Photo by Jun Nagata

While celebrating it was an honor meeting Executive Chef Akira Hirose of Maison Akira and Patricia Schultz, author of 1000 Places to See Before You Die, at the Japan National Tourism Organization Celebration at the Japan National American Museum in Los Angeles.

What were we celebrating?

Yoshinobu Ota, Executive Director of JNTO Los Angeles office, said: “To all of our guests present tonight, I extend a warm welcome. I am grateful for your cooperation to mark the historic achievement of bringing one million visitors from the United States [to Japan.] I hope you have a great time with the special Japanese dinner [by Chef Akira Hirose] and drink with great music [by Saeko Kujiraoka on Koto and Miriam Suzuki on Harp].

Patricia Schultz shared this quote by Aldous Huxley: “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other places.”


Schultz said about travel: “With every trip I discover something something new — fascinating that for a country [Japan] that looms so large in the Western psyche, it is a small country similar in size to California.” She shared some of the special places about Japan from her book:



“Asia’s city that never sleeps,” as Schultz calls it, is where the majority of visitors first arrive to
and boasts a population of over 13 million. Throughout the sprawling streets one can find all species of restaurants, tea houses and kareoke bars mixed in with Western additions. Tokyo is home to many renowned festivals and events such as the Cherry Blossom bloom, the biennial Kanda festivals and an enormous fireworks display which attracts over one million viewers.



With a population of 1.5 million, Kyoto feels “almost cozy” after visiting Tokyo, says Schultz. Being Japan’s cultural capital, the city has everything a visitor to the island nation could want. Step into Buddhist and Shinto holy places, ancient palaces, traditional gardens and observe authentic Geisha culture which has survived the test of time. Not to mention, with its abundance of Japanese delicacies and diverse cuisine, Kyoto is a dream come true for foodies.

Fushimi Inari

The Fushimi Inari shrine is located in Fushimi-Ku, Kyoto. After visiting Inari, visitors have the opportunity to take the 2-hour walk up the mountain to see other smaller shrines. Inari is most well-known among the merchant and manufacturer community, as it is the “patron of business.”

Photo credit: Patricia Schultz


Takayama, a somewhat isolated city, was able to develop a distinct culture over the course about 300 years from the end of the 16th century. Residents here are best known for their expertise in carpentry, and are believed to have worked on the imperial palace in Kyoto. Visitors can take a rickshaw ride through the traditional streets or a stroll through the Higashiyama temple district.


Hoshinoya, an elegant ryokan inn also located in Kyoto, whisks visitors to another place with their imaginative modifications on traditional Japanese cuisine. By using seasonal ingredients with a great respect for past traditions, chefs here have perfected the dining experience. Guests can enjoy the cuisine at their leisure surrounded by tranquil nature and serene hills.

Photo credit: Patricia Schultz

Travel Agencies

There’s so much to see in Japan that a little advice is often welcome; in her book, Schultz recommends a few agencies, depending on individual taste, which can help visitors make the most of their time on the island nation. The Art of Travel organizes unique itineraries in all parts of the country highlighting crafts and traditions not normally accessible. Walk Japan offers tours for those hungry to see the diverse culture, people and history a bit closer up than usual. Asia Transpacific, located in the US, customizes experiences for visitors depending on what they want to experience most: sumo matches, private tea parties, Geisha training etc.


One million American #travelers went to #japan in 2015 @jnto #celebration

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#celebration of #japan #music #travel @jnto #video

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In #celebration of #japanese #travel with Patricia Schultz #1000placestoseebeforeyoudie @jnto

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1 #million #american #tourist in #japan in 2015. Will you be one in 2016? #bucketlist

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Arigatogozaimas Exective #chef Akira Hirose of @MaisonAkira #japanese #dinner #yoi

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Celebrating #japan #1000placestoseebeforeyoudie #author Patricia Schultz on #iwd2016 #travel

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Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.6 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.6 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

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