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More Japanese Women Head To England To Try To See Gary Beckham

TOKYO (dpa) – Just six weeks ago, thousands of Japanese women bid farewell to England’s World Cup star David Beckham after his team fell to Brazil in the quarterfinals. Now those women are heading to England to see him.

“The number of Japanese tourists going to England has been rising thanks to the popularity of Beckham,” said Norie Kamiwatari, spokeswoman at Japan’s largest travel agency, JTB Corp.

Trips to England organized by JTB have more than tripled in the April-June period compared to the same period a year ago.

“The rise was particularly large among women in their 20s and 30s, thanks to the Beckham fever. We plan to add new tours to England due to the popularity,” Kamiwatari said.

Beckham, who plays for Manchester United, is known as much for his distinctive haircuts as for his football skills. Thousands of Japanese men copied his hairdo, while Japanese women’s magazines extensively covered the star’s every move during the World Cup in June.

Beckham still regularly scores with cover page photos in many of these magazines, more than a month after he has left the Land of the Rising Sun.

Frau, a weekly fashion and cosmetics magazine for women, had a six-page spread about Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria, in its latest edition.

Frau also offered several package tours to England to see the “real” Beckham in action for Manchester United.

One of these tours is put together by Nittsu Travel in Osaka. The seven-day tour costs 305,000 yen (2,500 dollars) and includes watching two Manchester United games in England’s Premier League. The first group will leave Japan on August 30.

“We had expected men in their 20s and 30s would be the main participants for such package tours, but actually, we have been getting inquiries from young women about the tour,” said a Nittsu spokesman.

Tokyo-based World Event Tours offers similar tours.

“We decided to offer the tour because of Beckham’s popularity among Japanese women in their 20s and 30s. The first group will leave Tokyo on September 10,” said a World Event Tours official.

The three-night tour to Manchester will set fans back 1,700 dollars and includes a visit to Beckham’s home stadium, Old Trafford, and tickets for a Manchester United game.

That’s still not enough for some Beckham maniacs. JTB’s Kamiwatari said the travel agency has received requests by Japanese fans for a more specific Beckham tour that would include a trip to see his mansion, known as Beckingham palace, in suburban London, and his beauty salon.

“Due to privacy reasons, we cannot offer such tours,” said the JTB official.

JTB is known in Japan for its Beatles and Princess Diana tours.

The Beatles tour takes participants to birth places, schools and churches in Liverpool as well as a meeting with the group’s first manager, Alan Williams, at the Jacaranda Club, where the Beatles used to play before they became worldwide stars.

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