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Japanese Torii Gate

Japanese Torii Gate

by: Brian Leonard, Executive Producer

In July, I was lucky enough to travel to Hiroshima, Japan, from the Washington, DC, area for a shoot. I was working on an exciting new pilot for Travel Channel that looks at places where something big once occurred — either manmade or natural — that changed the place forever, and we find out what makes it different today. It’s a very inspiring project, and I wanted to feature cities that are not the “normal” vacation and tourist destinations. So Hiroshima was a great place to start. READ MORE

Often times there’s rarely a real connection between an athlete and a specific sports travel destination. More than any other player on the US Women’s National team competing at the 2011 FIFA World Cup, Ali Krieger feels quite at home in Germany, the host country for the tournament.

Krieger for three of the past four seasons has played for a German professional club, FFC Frankfurt. The World Cup championship match on Sunday between the US and Japan will be played in Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt. FFC Frankfurt, with Krieger on the roster, plays their home matches at the stadium and won the women’s European club tournament there in 2008.

Krieger admits she endured a challenging transitional period adjusting to the German culture when she first joined FFC Frankfurt in 2007. In a recent USA Today story, she lamented the Germans’ blatant honesty.

“In the U.S.,” she says, “if you make a mistake, we say, ‘Nice try.’ In Germany, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, you (stink).’”

She elaborated on that thought at a teleconference from Frankfurt on Thursday.  “They tell it like it is,” she says. “I would take things too personally, but I’ve grown used to it and I like it. I had to find a happy medium and grow some thick skin.”

Krieger hopes to show her US teammates around Frankfurt before the game on Sunday. And she hopes her familiarity of the country and its culture will improve her comfort level as the Americans try to win the tournament for the first time since 1999.

Krieger famously converted the penalty kick that clinched a shootout win for the Americans over Brazil last weekend in a quarterfinal match. It will tough for her to match those heroics in the final on Sunday.

Krieger can certainly claim one triumph off the soccer field. She has grown comfortable with the German culture and has learned things about the Germans that can help any traveler who plans a trip to the country. “The people in general are nice, punctual people,” she says. “They know what they want and how to achieve it. They’re very competitive. That’s similar to our culture.  If they can’t do one thing perfectly, they won’t do it at all. They’ve very organized, and I like that.”

Japan was rocked by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake today, near the same location of the 9.0-magnitude temblor on March 11. Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a tsunami warning for places on the coast. Miyagi is the primary area that will be affected.

NPR’s Greg Dixon reports that Japan’s NHK is urging anyone along the coast in the region near the epicenter to head for higher ground. Lesser tsunami advisories cover Aomori, Iwate, Fukushima and Ibaraki.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says workers have evacuated the Fikushima Daiichi nuclear plant despite no signs of new problems after the strong aftershock. Officials say the quake hit 25 miles underwater off the coast of Miyagi prefecture. Buildings as far as Tokyo shook for a minute, according to Associated Press.

Japan’s last quake, in March, set off a tsunami that struck the country’s North Central coast, leaving 1000s dead or missing.

Luxury Hotels Pull Japanese Food Off Menu

Luxury hotels in Hong Kong are taking Japanese fish, beef and other foods off their menus due to Japan’s nuclear crisis, according to Bloomberg.

The concern is that food may have been contaminated after radiation was released from the deteriorating nuclear power plant.Shangri-La, Mandarin Oriental and Four Seasons hotels in Hong Kong have all stopped buying fresh foods from Japan even though no clear risk has been confirmed yet.

At the Four Seasons in Hong Kong, chefs are no longer cooking up Wagyu beef, sea scallops and abalone from Japan. The hotel is using products from New Zealand and Australia, according to hotel publicist Claire Blackshaw.

Hotel officials say they won’t add Japanese food back on the menu until the situation stabilizes.

An earthquake and resulting tsunami hit Japan on Friday causing at least hundreds of deaths and affecting travel plans around the globe. Reuters reports that most US airlines canceled most of their flights to and from Japan on Friday. American Airlines canceled all of its flights.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Japanese air carriers canceled hundreds of flights and that airlines throughout Asia and Europe diverted or suspended flights to Tokyo Friday.

In Japan, All Nippon Airways reports that it canceled some flights to Tokyo Narita Airport, and its midnight flights from Tokyo Haneda on March 12 have been canceled.  Japan Airlines says it’s flights are experiencing “irregular operations and that Sendai Airport has been closed.

British Airways reports that flights to Narita and Haneda “have been disrupted.”

States along the U.S. west coast have issued warnings to residents to stay away from beaches as the tsunami approaches the region. It was expected to reach California shortly after 11 a.m.

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