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Japan Will Soon Make Skiing an Indoor Sport

April 11, 1993|KIM UPTON

In July, Japan will open the world's largest indoor ski slope, a massive, covered ski-jump-shaped structure the height of a 25-story building at its elevated end, and the length of five soccer fields. The $320-million Ski Dome in Funabashi City, 38 miles east of Tokyo and not far from Tokyo Disneyland, will accommodate 2,000 skiers at a time, year-round. It will be kept a brisk 29 degrees by day, 21 at night for optimum snow-making, and will contain a heated swimming pool, sauna, jet bath and indoor dining areas at the base of the structure. Every day inside the ski dome, a fresh coating of man-made snow will be laid down to cover five trails ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced. Ski-wear and equipment will be available for rent, and skiers can take ski lessons on site. The Ski Dome is a 30-minute train ride on the Keiyo Line from Tokyo Station.

Travel Quiz: Greenland is the largest island in the world. What is the second-largest island and where is it located?

Florida Moves to Protect Tourists: The killing of a German visitor in Miami April 2, the sixth tourist to be slain in Florida since December, has prompted state officials to speed up several programs designed to help protect tourists--and the state's reputation as a tourist destination. Previous legislation that failed to pass would have prohibited marking rental and lease-car license plates with telltale "Y" or "Z" designations that state law enforcement officials believe have made them marks for carjackers and robbers. However, Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles has extended the executive order banning issuance of such plates and has said he will urge the Legislature to address the issue again at an upcoming special session. A program that offered discounts to car rental companies and individuals if they exchanged Y- and Z-marked license plates has resulted in almost 24,000 specially marked plates being turned in, according to a state tourism official. This leaves an estimated 600,000 still in circulation, he said. Also, in order to help tourists stay on well-traveled routes, workers will this week begin erecting international-symbol road signs directing them to major destinations in the Miami area. (The murdered German tourist had gotten lost just after leaving Miami International Airport in a rental car.)

Zoo Story: In an ordinary zoo, a hippopotamus is just a hippopotamus. But at the new Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, which reopened earlier this month in expanded quarters on the city's southern outskirts, it's the "behemoth" that "eateth grass as an ox." The citation, from Job 40:15, appears on the plaque at the hippo pond along with conventional zoological data, as befits a zoo whose emphasis is on animals mentioned in the Bible. The new zoo cost $18 million and is four times larger than the old zoo, with spacious aviaries and 62 acres of natural habitats separated by moats, waterfalls and ponds filled with swans and flamingos. Actually, only about one-tenth of the zoo's animals are biblical, but priority goes to animals that are thought to have been natives of the Holy Land.

Quick Fact: Cost to rent a Rolls-Royce for a single day: $500 and 50 cents per mile. Cost to rent a compact car: $36 per day, unlimited miles. (Source: Budget Rent a Car.)

Where Eating Doesn't Count: The Doral Arrowwood resort hotel and spa, at Rye Brook, N.Y., is offering guests a new lunch and workout combination designed to burn up calories before they are consumed. For the $25 "Zero-Calorie Lunch" at the hotel's Provare restaurant, guests select an entree, but before being served they do a workout at the resort sports center that is designed to burn off the specific calories to be consumed at lunch. Before eating a 250-calorie mixed green salad, for example, a workout of about 20 minutes on the rowing machine is required. A 400-calorie vegetarian pizza means about 45 minutes of fast walking. And think twice before ordering a 700-calorie Provare Burger topped with mozzarella cheese. That costs 1 hour and 15 minutes on the StairMaster.

Going Greek: The Carnival Cruise Lines ship Mardi Gras will get a new name and a new sailing venue in September. The ship will maintain its current schedule of three- and four-day cruises from Port Canaveral, Fla., to the Bahamas through Sept. 5. But then it will sail for Pireaus, Greece, where it will be refurbished, renamed the Olympic and deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean, probably in spring, 1994. There it will be operated by a new company formed through a partnership of Dolphin Cruise Line, Carnival and Greece-based Epirotiki Lines--which specializes in cruises around the Greek Islands.

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