delete

Lost in Translation

Everyone has their own little personal quirks and one of mine is that I habitually misplace things. Traveling only exacerbates the issue, since being on the move means that it’s even more difficult to track everything. On my most recent trip to Japan I lost not fewer than five separate items – and I’ve got four back! Japan is amazing that way – three of the lost items were rather simple for this efficient and incredibly honest society – a blanket left at a ryokan was takybbined to my final hotel, a sheaf of papers dropped (yes, I was so tired...
delete

“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...
delete

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...
delete
Floor B1

Floor B1

Sometimes you hear about this stuff, sometimes you don’t.   Many guidebooks suggest that you stop in a department store to explore the food offering there.   What they aren’t always clear about is HOW to explore and, interestingly enough, how standardized all the offerings are in Japan. First of all, there are usually three main places to find food in the department stores – the first floor has lots of fancy gift food (all boxed up, very pretty and sometimes very expensive), the top floor usually has restaurants (sometimes the top two floors) and many of...
delete
Getting Off the Bus

Getting Off the Bus

Who knew that it would be so hard to get OFF the bus?  We’ve all heard about how crowded the trains and buses are in Japan.  And they ARE!  And we’ve seen those videos of transit workers PUSHING more riders onto crowded trains.   But we found ourselves with a very different, and interesting dilemma. When taking crowded buses we were surprised to find that while getting on was difficult, getting off was almost impossible.  In the US, when you press the “next stop” button and stand up, people move out of the way so you can get off the bus (or...