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Why your trip to Japan just got more expensive

By Lilit Marcus, CNN

(CNN) — This week in travel news: one country might ban airplane pilots from wearing perfume, the world’s most popular unfinished building edges closer to completion, and Fat Bear Week kicks off in style.

Every year, millions of tourists enjoy Japan’s high speed rail network and use trains to get around the country, zooming from Tokyo to Kyoto and Osaka. But it just got more expensive to do so.

The price of a Japan Rail (JR) Pass, which enables foreigners to buy and reserve Shinkansen tickets in advance, has gone up 65% as of October 1.

Now, the cost of a seven-day pass is ¥50,000 ($337), up from ¥29,650 ($200). Kids 6 to 11 are still eligible for half-price tickets across the train network, though.

And that’s not the only train-related news that will affect tourists. The popular Tokyo-Osaka bullet train is rolling back its on-train snack cart service, which means passengers may want to BYOR – bring your own ramen.

More on Japan

It’s not only bullet trains that just got pricier. One of Japan’s most iconic attractions began charging a visitor fee this week for the first time in its history.

The Itsukushima shrine outside of Hiroshima, whose bright orange torii gate looks like it’s floating in a lake, was one of President Joe Biden’s stops on his recent visit to Japan. Looks like he squeaked by just in time – on October 1, the island began charging fees of 100 yen (for a single visit) or 300 yen (for multiples), citing crowd control issues. 100 yen is about 67 US cents.

Overtourism is a growing concern around Japan, which only fully reopened to tourists last fall.

As CNN’s Emiko Jozuka reports, Mount Fuji has been suffering from the impact of too many visitors. See how local volunteers are helping to keep the country’s most recognizable symbol in good shape for generations to come.

Little island, big flavors

The biggest misconception about food from Sri Lanka? That it’s the same food as next-door neighbor India.

Now, a group of young Sri Lankan chefs are taking their cuisine around the world. From egg hoppers in London to creamy coconut rice in Kentucky, the diverse flavors of Sri Lanka are finally getting their due.

“I try to honor the recipes passed down to me and introduce flavors to diners that appear unexpectedly,” says Sri Lankan-American chef Sam Fore.

Sagrada finita

More than 140 years after ground broke on Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia, the end is finally in sight.

The basilica, despite being still under construction, is hugely popular with tourists and was named TripAdvisor’s top attraction in 2022.

The fifth central tower was completed this week, with the sixth due to be finished in 2026 as the last piece of a complex design by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.

Though it may seem like the church took ages to complete, the construction process is quite fast if you consider it was only granted a building permit in 2019.

Group trip planning

Believe it or not, it is possible to organize a group trip without everybody hating each other by the end.

The more you plan ahead of time, the more you’ll actually enjoy your vacation. That means talking honestly about budgets and expectations, letting everyone play to their strengths, and being cool with it when somebody needs an afternoon to themselves.

When you get home, print out some of your favorite vacation pics and turn them into gifts for the rest of the crew so you’ll all remember the good times.

In case you missed it

India is mulling a ban on pilots and flight attendants wearing perfume.

But it’s not because of the scent.

Alaska’s Fat Bear Week 2023 has officially kicked off.

It was almost a victim of a government possible shutdown.

Environmental scientists believe we should fly less.

Yet one climate researcher worries he may lose his job for refusing to travel by plane.

The French word for bedbug is “punaise.”

However, France’s health minister says talk of the country being full of punaises is greatly exaggerated.

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