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Festive Kyoto – Day 5

Festive Kyoto – Day 5

Today was an unusual confluence of festival events, with the annual Aoi Matsuri and the Mifune Matsuri both falling on the same day.   Matsuri is basically the Japanese word for Festival and Kyoto’s festivals are some of the most elaborate in Japan, with spectacular costumes, floats, horses, drums, and more.   They’re not festivals in the sense of all day eating. carnival booths, fireworks, etc.   The festival activities are, like much of Japan, quite structured and predictable.  We took in both in a whirlwind day. Starting at promptly 10:30, the first...
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Taking it Back – Day 4

Taking it Back – Day 4

OK, so I have to take some of yesterday’s observations back.  Today we explored Kanazawa and the further we get from Tokyo, the more we are finding things as we’d left them.   In Kanazawa, we ran into our first experience of the busloads of tourists we’d come to expect in Japan at some tourist stops. Our day started off with Kenroku-en garden, a famed strolling garden in the center of the city.   We always advise our clients to go early to avoid the bus crowds.  I tried to take our advice, although I’m admittedly not a morning person.  But...
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Dining Alone – Day 3

Dining Alone – Day 3

So I vowed to be frank and honest about what I was finding on my tour to Japan and this report is a little more difficult to write than others.   The most distressing part about this trip has been the noticeable lack of tourists everywhere we go.   In Tokyo we noticed it in the train station, when we only saw one other couple that appeared to be foreigners. Actually, they looked Japanese, but were clearly of Japanese descent – the shorts, crocs and the fact that the man was videoing the Shinkansen pulling out gave them away as not native Japanese! On the train to...
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Falling Backwards into Love – Day 2

Falling Backwards into Love – Day ...

I fell back in love with Japan yesterday – on the 20 minute ride from Nagoya to Gifu, sitting backwards… Perhaps it’s the same way that you fall in love again with a spouse or a child when you almost lose them or they are going through great challenges.  Their vulnerabilities seem more tender—their idiosyncrasies seem more dear. On my last couple of trips to Japan I’d been feeling a little bit of the “I’ve seen this before” or “ok, it’s another temple”.   The delightful tile roof houses and the ubiquitous rice fields had lost their charm.  What was quintessentially...
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Return to Japan – Day 1

Return to Japan – Day 1

Note to self:  Do NOT plan to do 30 things upon arrival into Tokyo when you are leaving early the next morning… sometimes there are air delays.   After sitting in LAX for an unexpected 3 hours (making the 11 hr flight into a 14 hr sit in the seat flight…), we arrived into Tokyo Narita a little after 6P.   Customs was extraordinarily quick – probably because there were so few “other passports” deplaning – only about 15% of the 2/3 full flight were actually going to Japan – the rest were transiting to other parts of Asia.  For this time of year, that’s a little unusual and...
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Off to Japan Again

I’m going to be going to Japan next week.  It’s a trip that was planned a while ago and we decided to still go after getting all the information from our friends and contacts in the places we are visiting.  It will also give me a good chance to see exactly what is going on in areas that tourists frequent – to find out if reports of power outages, food shortages, despondent natives and all the other things that rumor mills are circulating have any truth in them.  I will be traveling as the average traveler to areas unaffected by the...