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Rediscover Japan from a historic Gassho home in World Heritage Site Gokayama, now on Airbnb

This summer, Airbnb is offering guests the opportunity to experience this World Heritage Site in a way no one else has in over 20 years – with an overnight stay in one of its historic homes.

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Situated on the shores of the Sho River and surrounded by high, rugged mountains, the nine-home village of Suganuma is one of the most beautiful and charming places in Japan. It is also one of the country’s best kept secrets.

This summer, Airbnb is offering guests the opportunity to experience this World Heritage Site in a way no one else has in over 20 years – with an overnight stay in one of its historic homes.

With great support from Nanto City and the Nakashima family – fifth generation locals – are listing their centuries-old, thatched-roof house on the platform, Airbnb will enable guests to explore Suganuma village in an incredibly authentic way.

Following three years of travel restrictions, lockdowns and isolation, locals and travelers alike are seeking connection with the world around them. In a recent survey[1], over 60 percent of respondents said they felt traveling on Airbnb provided a closer connection to the local culture than staying in a hotel or resort. Often regarded as a “hidden village” because it is without tourist accommodations (and typically, only residents are permitted to enter after dusk), Suganuma is a cultural time capsule. This unique Airbnb stay offers guests the opportunity to experience the village in a way that upholds its traditions and preserves its heritage for generations to come. 

The village’s Gassho-zukuri style farmhouses, like the Nakashimas’ family home, are particular to the region, with their pitched, thatched roof structures enabling these homes to withstand heavy winter snowfall and the test of time. The thatching technique is a local tradition that requires a great deal of time and effort, so locals work together based on the system of yui, the spirit of mutual support, in which Suganuma and its preservation are rooted.

“We are honored to offer a truly unique experience in Suganuma village, a World Heritage Site, through our collaboration with Airbnb. The rich history and vibrant culture of this charming small town, coupled with the warm hearts of the people who live there, will make for a fascinating and restorative stay. We hope this campaign brings attention to this beautiful destination for both Japanese residents and guests from around the world,” stated Mr. Mikio Tanaka, Mayor of Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture.

“I am delighted to open my family’s home for a unique stay that will enable guests to enjoy the traditional life of our beautiful village of Suganuma. Through our collaboration with Airbnb, my family and I look forward to providing guests with unique experiences that have been part of our village for centuries,” commented Mr. Shinichi Nakashima, Airbnb Host.

About the stay

A beautiful example of living in harmony with nature, Suganuma is a feast for both the eyes and the soul. The Nakashima family are proud to invite one group of two guests* to see their peaceful valley for themselves for a two-night stay from July 17 – 19, 2023 for $0** – a nod to the priceless nature of the experience.

During their stay, guests will:

  • Enjoy a traditional welcome tea and local dishes prepared by Mr. Nakashima including Gokayama tofu, mountain vegetables and freshly-caught river fish.
  • Learn about local traditions that have been sustained for centuries, such as the making of washi, a paper made of local fiber, and the creation of sasara, a traditional instrument featured in one of the region’s oldest folk songs.
  • Enjoy a magical evening light show and folk song experience, where locals illuminate their traditional homes and local song and dance is showcased.
  • Participate in a hands-on workshop crafting thatched roofs emblematic of local Gassho-zukuri building techniques.
  • Explore the sanctity of the village’s lush surroundings with a relaxing guided bike ride.

To facilitate disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature while on site, guests will receive a “Disconnect to Connect” kit that includes a  stationary set made of traditional washi paper, an instant camera and local aromatherapy kit. 

How to book

Those interested in exploring one of Japan’s hidden gems like a local can request to book this stay beginning Friday, June 30 at 9 a.m JST (Thursday, June 29 at 8 p.m. ET) at airbnb.com/gassho.

Guests are responsible for their own travel to and from Suganuma village, and should note that this stay’s rules require following applicable local rules and guidelines as well as Airbnb’s COVID-19 Safety Practices, which will include wearing a mask and practicing social distancing when required by local laws or guidelines. On-site staff will also comply with local rules and guidelines while on-site, and will abide by our five-step enhanced cleaning process.

Interested in becoming an Airbnb Host? Learn more at airbnb.com/host.

*This two-night stay is available for one participant and their fellow guest and is not a contest.

**Inclusive of taxes and fees

Airbnb is closely monitoring Japanese COVID-19 infection rates and government policies. Airbnb will determine if it is necessary to cancel the stay.


[1] Airbnb users surveyed between December 2022 and March 2023. From over 19,000 respondents.

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Destinations

Singapore Cable Car launches world’s first Skyorb Cabins

Exclusively designed for the Singapore Cable Car, the SkyOrb Cabin is the world’s first chrome-finished spherical cable car cabin. Unlike conventional cabins, the spherical design of the SkyOrb Cabins breaks the boundaries of traditional cable car aesthetics, offering a futuristic and captivating look.

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Mount Faber Leisure Group officially launched the new futuristic SkyOrb Cabins on the Singapore Cable Car – Mount Faber Line. The launch of the SkyOrb Cabins took place at Mount Faber Peak, as part of the Singapore Cable Car’s 50th anniversary celebrations. The event was attended by Bob Tan, Chairman of Sentosa Development Corporation and Thien Kwee Eng, Chief Executive Officer of Sentosa Development Corporation, as well as Michael Syn, Chairman of Mount Faber Leisure Group and Buhdy Bok, Managing Director of Mount Faber Leisure Group.

SkyOrb Cabins – A cabin like no other in the world

Exclusively designed for the Singapore Cable Car, the SkyOrb Cabin is the world’s first chrome-finished spherical cable car cabin. Unlike conventional cabins, the spherical design of the SkyOrb Cabins breaks the boundaries of traditional cable car aesthetics, offering a futuristic and captivating look.

The SkyOrb cabin boasts a spectacular view through its glass-bottomed floor

Fitted with glass-bottomed floors to allow guests to view the scenery below their feet, the new cabins offer guests an elevated journey with a stunning panoramic view of the skyline. As night falls, a captivating ring of lights surrounds the cabin windows, casting an illuminating glow that imparts a distinctly futuristic ambience. 

The SkyOrb Cabins have been thoughtfully designed with double window louvres at the front and triple window louvres at the rear, providing enhanced air ventilation for guests on board. To offer an exclusive experience, only seven SkyOrb Cabins will join the existing fleet, enriching the vibrancy of the Sentosa skyline. 

SkyOrb Cabin on the Mount Faber Line

“Each SkyOrb cabin, a gleaming chrome orb soaring through the sky, embodies modern design. These cabins offer guests a one-of-a-kind experience, taking them on a discovery between Mount Faber Peak and Sentosa, unveiling breathtaking views along the way,” said Mr Buhdy Bok, Managing Director of Mount Faber Leisure Group.

Collaboratively designed between Mount Faber Leisure Group and renowned cable car cabin manufacturer CWA, the SkyOrb Cabins showcase product innovation and commitment to creating new unique experiences for guests. Based in Olten, Switzerland, CWA has enjoyed a long partnership with Mount Faber Leisure Group since the first generation of the Singapore Cable Car cabins was launched in 1974.

The SkyOrb Cabins will be open for guests to experience from 20 March 2024 and tickets will be available for sale at the Singapore Cable Car Mount Faber and Sentosa Station ticketing counters from the same day. Mount Faber Line and Cable Car Sky Pass ticket holders have the privilege of upgrading one-way of their round trip (between Mount Faber and Sentosa Cable Car Stations) to a SkyOrb Cabin experience. This upgrade costs $15 per person on weekdays, and $20 per person on weekends and Public Holidays.

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Destinations

Japan ranks as top leisure travel destination for Filipino travellers: Visa study

According to the data, 24% of surveyed Filipino respondents have traveled overseas for leisure or business purposes in the past year. This trend aligns with a broader travel resurgence across Asia Pacific, with 37% of those surveyed reporting overseas travels within the same period.

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Visa, a global player in digital payments, has published its most recent Green Shoots Radar study[1]. This quarterly report analyzes consumer sentiments across various sectors, such as financial services, commerce, and travel.

The study reveals a surge in travel frequency among Filipino travelers. According to the data, 24% of surveyed Filipino respondents have traveled overseas for leisure or business purposes in the past year. This trend aligns with a broader travel resurgence across Asia Pacific, with 37% of those surveyed reporting overseas travels within the same period.

Japan emerged as the top leisure destination for Filipino travelers, with 32% visiting in the past year. Singapore (22%) followed by Hong Kong (21%) and Thailand (18%) were the next most popular destinations. For business trips, Singapore led the list with 25%, followed by Japan (23%), and the United States tied with Hong Kong at 18%.

Filipino travelers prefer to book flight tickets directly from the provider’s website (44%). Among those respondents who booked their accommodations through Online Travel Agencies and paid the full amount upon booking, using credit cards is the most popular payment mode (41%), followed by mobile/e-wallets (28%).

Jeff Navarro, Country Manager for Visa Philippines, said, “As cross-border travel gains momentum in the Philippines and the region, we have a significant opportunity to maintain visibility throughout travelers’ journeys. This involves being present during destination searches and bookings, using Visa cards on travel apps for smoother transactions, and engaging consumers with authentic travel and shopping content to create a secure and seamless digital payments experience for everyone, everywhere.”

The future of travel remains promising, with 65% of Filipino respondents planning overseas leisure travel in the next 12 months. The top three leisure destinations intended in the next 12 months are Japan (38%), followed by South Korea (29%) and Singapore (16%). For business travel, Japan (19%), Canada (13%), and South Korea (12%) are the most likely destinations.

According to Visa’s Global Travel Intentions 2023 study[2], majority (89%) of Filipino travelers used credit (44%) and debit (39%) cards when travelling, for the benefits of cards’ wide acceptance (56%), accepted at ATMs (49%), and ability to be used both online and within apps (43%).

Visa’s most recent Consumer Payment Attitudes 2023 study[3] data also reflect cards as the preferred mode of payment when travelling, where 25% of surveyed Filipinos use credit or debit cards online and 21% use via swipe or insert when traveling overseas.


[1] The Green Shoots Radar survey was conducted online in 14 markets covering more than 8,000 respondents, including 500 consumers in the Philippines in January 2024, towards male and female respondents aged 18-65 with a minimum household income of PHP 12,000.

[2] The Global Travel Intentions Study is the largest and longest running global consumer insights program from Visa, which surveys travelers across continents on their travel journey and payment behavior. The study was conducted across April-June 2023 to more than 1,000 Filipino respondents.

[3] The Visa Consumer Payment Attitudes Study was conducted in Oct-Nov 2023 via online interviews with 1.000 Filipino consumers across the country with a demographic mix of ages (18-65), genders and income levels.

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Travel

Tips to prep your motorcycle for safe road trips

Here are key steps to ensure your motorcycle is in top condition and ready for a safe and enjoyable riding season.

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With longer days and sunny weather, the open road beckons to two-wheel owners.  Preparing a motorcycle after it’s been in storage involves several key steps to ensure it’s ready for the road after the winter months. CTEK, the global player in vehicle charging solutions, provides recommendations for riders to prep their vehicles for peak performance and peace of mind on the open road.

“Life on two wheels epitomizes freedom and exhilaration, but unforeseen challenges can arise at any turn,” shared Bobbie DuMelle, President of CTEK North America. ‘With proper preparation, riders can bid farewell to battery woes and enjoy their ride.”

CTEK recommends some key steps to ensure your motorcycle is in top condition and ready for a safe and enjoyable riding season:

Vehicle Inspection

Give the entire motorcycle a thorough visual inspection, checking for any loose bolts, leaks, or damage. Pay attention to areas such as the frame, exhaust system, and bodywork. Do a thorough inspection of your motorcycle including fluids, tires, brakes, lights and electrics, chain and sprockets, fuel system, air filter and suspension.

Battery Test

Ensure the battery terminals are clean and free of corrosion. Charge the battery if it’s been sitting idle. CTEK recommends using the CTEK CS FREE, which features Adaptive Boost technology to ensure precise delivery of power and swiftly charge any 12V lead acid or lithium battery, resurrecting a dormant motorcycle battery within 15 minutes without the need for a power outlet. With intuitive LED indicators, the CS FREE keeps riders informed, signaling when their battery is primed for ignition. Moreover, it offers sustained maintenance charging, whether via conventional grid power, solar panels, or a 12V service battery, effectively extending battery lifespan by up to threefold during idle seasons.

Maintenance Tasks

If the motorcycle has been sitting for an extended period, drain and replace the fuel. Check fuel lines and filters for any signs of damage. Clean and lubricate the chain, and check for proper tension. Inspect sprockets for wear and replace if necessary. Inspect and clean or replace the air filter to ensure optimal engine performance. Check suspension components for any signs of wear or leaks. Inspect fork seals and adjust suspension settings as needed. Test the throttle, clutch, and brakes to ensure they are functioning smoothly. Lubricate cables if necessary.

Test Ride

After completing all maintenance tasks, take the motorcycle for a short test ride to ensure everything is functioning properly. When you’re on the road, take your CTEK CS FREE with you. With a built-in rechargeable battery fueled by rapid USB-C input, the CS FREE retains its charge for up to a year, rendering it a steadfast companion for on-the-go storage. Equipped with versatile USB-A and USB-C ports, it ensures seamless connectivity for charging smartphones, PCs, tablets, cameras, and an array of devices, ensuring uninterrupted adventures.

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