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Visit to Meiji Shrine

Visit to Meiji Shrine

I’ve started working on videoing many of the special places in Japan. Our first outings with video gave us quite a bit of shaky cam material, so this past trip we dragged along a tripod and definitely got better result. Visiting Meiji Shrine is a standard tourist activity, but few westerners know about the sacred Kagura dance that you can attend, since everything about it is in Japanese. We were lucky enough to have along one of Esprit’s guides who took us to this very special event. Unfortunately, no video is permitted, so all I can say is the 1/2 hour...
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“Spring” Trip to Japan

This year I decided to travel to Japan during a different season to get some personal experience of the weather during late April. Most of my trips, of necessity, have been at the end of November, after the season is over. So mid-April seemed like a good middle ground – not early cherry blossom time and before Golden Week.  We landed in Tokyo on April 14th and by the 16th we had snow – after two days of cold, rainy weather. This “Spring” thing isn’t working out all that well. Last year in mid-November we were in t-shirts in Kyushu, which goes...
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Samurai, Swords and San Francisco

While you can travel through Japan with any number of themes in mind (traditional arts, manga, ceramics, contemporary arts, nature and hiking, etc), getting ready for a themed trip from the US can have its challenges. This weekend, however, I had the opportunity to travel to San Francisco to attend a Samurai Symposium put on by the Society of Asian Arts at the Asian Art Museum. This was in conjunction with their visiting exhibition called Lords of the Samurai, featuring a wide variety of works from the Hosakawa collection. The symposium was great – with a lot of...
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Cheap Hotels in Japan

Cheap Hotels in Japan

In the current environment, we’re constantly asked by people to aquire hotel rooms in Japan for lower prices than in the past.    The media is constantly going on about how there are all these great travel deals out there – and so now they’ve managed expectations down to zero… and that’s exactly how many cheap hotel rooms you’ll find in Japan. There are a number of factors affecting prices in Japan, and most of those have an impact on the US Traveler.  First, the Japanese travel a lot within the country and they are traveling on their...
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Yes, they really DO run after you

I’ve heard the stories for years about how a traveler or guide in Japan will leave an item somewhere and be chased down by a staff member of the establishment they’ve left in order to return the item.  So I thought if it ever happened to me, it wouldn’t be a big surprise.  And yet, when it does, there’s something innately startling about being the recipient of this level of caring. On my last trip to Tokyo (a VERY large and maybe impersonal city), I’d left the hotel meeting with instructions for getting to the subway station and on to the...