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LA Businessman Organizes Tour Of Areas Undamaged By Quake And Tsunami In Japan

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(Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A Los Angeles businessman was so touched by a plea for American tourists to visit undamaged sections of Japan near the earthquake and tsunami zone that he is organizing a low-cost tour for fellow Angelenos .

Shige Higashi runs several businesses in Little Tokyo and publishes an internet newsletter, culturalnews.com . He said rural eastern Japan is begging for tourists to return to the scenic area — which is outside the Fukushima radioactivity zone.

Higashi was in the audience at a Japanese-American civic group meeting recently when a volunteer from the area visited and made the plea for tourists to visit empty hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions northeast of Tokyo. That area was rocked in the disastrous quakes, and suffered tsunami damage near the ocean, but most of the area was not damaged and did not get a large dose of radioactivity.

“You do not have to do any volunteer works,” implored Hirokazu Tsunoda in his speech, according to Higashi. “Local businesses need more customers,” Tsunoda said.

“Visiting disaster areas, staying at hotels or bed and breakfasts, and buying souvenirs really help people in Tohuka.”

Through his website, culturalnews.com, Higashi is organizing a tourism expedition to the scenic rural area. Airfare will be about $750, bullet train and bus tickets, hotels and other costs will bring the total tab to about $2,000.

The trip promises to be very traditional, with lodgings at the Ksennuma Hotel Kanyo, near the center of the tsunami-affected coastline.

“Accommodations are in Japanese `ryokan’ style, sharing one big room,” Higashi said.

More information on the Feb. 27-March 4 trip is available at culturalnews.com .

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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