Impressions of Japan

March 10th - March 24th 2018

Over the course of history, Japan has stood the test of time.  After almost three thousand years, authenticity persists.

A stark contrast to the United States (my personal frame of reference), there is a rigidity to the culture and consistency of tradition to almost 98.5% of the people.

As outsiders we certainly felt welcome, but we always knew we were a curiosity.  I felt the pride in their voice, the confidence and faith in their long-view, and the desire to understand our impressions.  These are some of mine…

Tokyo - 3 Nights

March 21st - March 25th

Highlights Include

  • Last leg of trip / amazing hotel views of city from the 36th floor
  • Kareoke / crazy scene
  • Fish market tour - knives, sushi, and LOTs of people
  • Super crowded streets, markets, etc.
  • Hedgehog cafe
  • Harajuku, Ginza, crazy intersections
  • Drumming lessons, animation, and ninja stuff
  • Fish market auction tour
  • Free time (imagine that)
  • Dinners at Robata and Tepenyaki - YUM.

Hakone - 2 Nights

March 19th - March 20th

Highlights include:

  • Hotel in the woods - why we couldn't get a ride up the hill is still a mystery
  • Rainy day - cable car up the mountain, and the Black Egg
  • Pirate boat tour of Hakone Lake
  • Magic box wallet factory
  • Shrine by the water
  • Open Air museum (not nearly enough time)
  • Great breakfast buffet
  • David's Birthday celebration
  • The Great 2nd Steak Controversy
  • Woke up to lots of snow

Matsumoto- 1 Night

March 18th

Highlights include:

  • Bullet Train to Nagno
  • Monkey Park - crazy wet long climb
  • Hoto Noodle Shop - BEST noodles.
  • Ryocun Hotel - Hillary's Birthday Celebration
  • Matsumoto Castle / lots of steep steps up
  • Very formally presented dinner - some good stuff, some scary

Kanazawa - 3 Nights

March 15th -  March 18th

Highlights include:

  • A long bus ride through the mountains - this was the "wallet factory day"
  • Silk, gold leaf, bamboo (not the real bamboo forest but a decent compromise
  • First starbucks find
  • Kimono museum
  • 2nd Geisha district
  • Great breakfast buffet
  • Silk scarves painting
  • Food market / lunch at noodle counter
  • Contemporary museum (pool exhibit and more)
  • First sushi meal
  • Peninsula drive (right on the beach)
  • Laquer
  • Lunch in the farm house - complete with sword and heated electric blanket
  • Chinese food

Kyoto - 4 Nights

March 12 - March 15

Highlights include:

  • Choice of Japanese or Western breakfast - with us finally able to train the staff to what we wanted (usually a combination)
  • Market Tour
  • Cooking Class
  • Golden Temple
  • Geisha Dinner
  • Tea ceremony
  • Orange "Gates" Shrine
  • Gion Geisha District
  • LONG Italian dinner at the Ritz Carlton
  • Hiroshima (and bullet train)
  • A somewhat flexible French lunch
  • Ferry to a shrine (dry on our day, not floating)
  • Pizza and steak lunch by the side of the road