EMD's Japan Trip Report, 3/05

Old Mar 31st, 2005, 08:49 AM
  #41  
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DAY 8, Sun, 3/10

We have the club level breakfast (gratis w/the rm). Very good. An egg dish, meats, salads, yogurts, fruit, pastries, breads, and Japanese breakfast of fish, miso, pickled you-name-its, and rice. One glitch is that it is all in a small area and the club is just small. The club staff gets harried when the club gets busy. A good secret is the “library” rm down the hall. Once we find out about that we start taking our food down there, where they have CNN and a computer w/internet so I can talk to my buddies on fodors.

Cloudy and cold. We decide to go back to Higashiyama, inside a few temples. It’s busy by time we get there at 9 a.m. I read that Shoren’in, the first temple you come to, is bypassed by tour groups, so we go. It is so quiet. There are only three other visitors. I really like this temple. Nice antique kimono exhibit. Ponds w/huge koi that stuck their entire heads out of the water when my son went up to them (looking for food?) We joked that if they were snakehead fish they would have followed us back to the hotel. There are bamboo forests. I’ve never seen bamboo this huge, 8 to 10” around, bright green, 60-70 ft high. The 800 yr. old camphor trees are beyond huge. I sit for a long time on the “back porch” trying to imagine what it was like here in the 1400s when this temple was an imperial temple. Son enjoys banging the bell w/the wooden clanger. When he does this, and old woman pops up out of the ground (where she was on her hands and knees in high grass pulling weeds). I thought, “ut oh, we boobooed” but instead she starts clapping and smiling, as if to congratulate my son.

We moved on to Chion’in. It is beautiful and the long sets of stairs at the entrance beckon, but it was crowded and we decided to pass it by, thinking we would go back. We walk down by the park and there are vendors. We try little pancakes filled w/the red bean paste, yakitori, etc. Pass Kodaiji, and we start winding through the narrow shopping streets, sampling more goodies and filling up the backpack. We get to Kiyomizudera, and son says, “look mom, geishas!” I am surprised to see about a dozen of them in the daytime at a temple. They are gracious and pose for pics. They must be part of the festival, which is going on 2 more nights. My son snapped a pic of 2 from behind, and when we zoomed in on the picture we could see a website ad on a little wooden placard on the back of their kimono! Son loves to slide down the long handrails to the stairs here. Although it was crowded, we loved this place. The bright orange of the gate in contrast to the weathered main hall, and of course the sweeping views. But the most fun was the Jishu matchmaking shrine. If you don’t read up on this before you go it’s ok, they give you an Eng. handout. Be sure to walk the stones. I was able to do it, as was my son, and we both got applause from the Japanese. We watched many people veer from the mark. The lucky charms are fun. I get that says “safe travels” and son buys one to wish for his girlfriend. I notice that these are only 500 yen, but the charm for “happy marriage” is 1000 yen, which I understand completely.

We have- you guessed it- noodles at the platform restaurant inside the temple grounds. As we are leaving the temple we look back and see that the table where we ate is perched precariously over a very steep ledge Apparently it was just rebuilt because it slid off in the rains! I can’t believe I was sitting there eating, not knowing that.

We shop some more and go to the hotel in the dark, once again enjoying the lit temples. The Miyako has a nice indoor lap pool and jacuzzi and that is where I head. But I didn’t realize that there is a shoe locker outside the locker rm and I walk into the locker rm w/shoes. A lady pointed to my feet and gently guides me over to the shoe lockers and bows. Oh, ok. But then she sees me go into the bathroom part of the locker room barefooted and she runs over w/slippers. I’m having a hard time keeping this straight, but it isn’t the worst foot-related booboo I will have.
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Old Mar 31st, 2005, 08:58 AM
  #42  
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ttt

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Old Mar 31st, 2005, 09:11 AM
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Emd, your son seems to be a great traveling companion and I am glad he is enjoying Japan this much. On our trip next year my son will be 11 and I hope he will be as interested in things japanese as your son seems to be, not only fun things like Bandai and Akihabara, etc., but also cultural sites like the temples and castles of Kyoto as well.

This is a great read and full of useful information. Thanks again.
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Old Mar 31st, 2005, 11:30 AM
  #44  
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DAY 9, Mon., 3/21 Equinox Holiday in Japan

Sunny and warm! We got up early and took the Miyako bus to Kyoto station, got yen at the post office ATM outside the station, and headed for the market at Toji temple which happens on the 21st of each month. We walk a few blocks, following the crowd once we got closer. Monks outside the gate, and the market was teaming activity. I immediately start buying beautiful carved wooden spoons. Not too far along the used kimono and other Japanese dress booths started. I came out of that area w/two really great robes for my husband ($40 apiece) and several fine silk short robe/jackets for myself (some $10 to $20, really good quality ones to $50). Then I started decorative items for the living rm. which I am decorating. I found a man with some very nice Chinese, Korean, and Japanese antiques. I got some wonderful antique perfume bottles, some ivory w/carvings on them, some carved from other stones. Wooden carvings, antique pottery, a very cool old Japanese lock . I was surprised to find some kiyomiso ware pottery and porcelain, which I recognized because I had researched it while planning the trip.

You can get dishes, jewelry, gifts, have your fortune told, get a foot massage, just about anything, and bargaining is encouraged. I had a pad and paper and asked how much things were, and then started bargaining w/the pencil. Only one vendor said no to bargaining. My son really enjoys this. We split up and he finds an okonomiyaki stand. He calls me and tells me I have to have this, it’s great. It looks a bit jumbled, but the sauce is good and it is filling. I find out later that everyone makes their oko. differently, so you can’t expect any set of ingredients or specific taste when you order it. I bought a make-it-yourself-okonomiyaki kit w/Eng. Instructions at Hiroshima sta. and brought it home- we’ll see. The food stalls are wonderful at the market- plan on eating lunch here if you go. I wouldn’t miss this market if you are in Kyoto on the 21st of any month. Even if you are not buying, it is colorful and fun. Plus Toji is a great temple and has the highest wooden pagoda in Japan. The other market is at Kitano shrine on the 25th of each month, but we didn’t make it there.

We had planned to go to Nijo but it was already 2 p.m. when we tore ourselves away from Toji and it would be too rushed to try to see Nijo before 4 p.m. closing So we dropped our stuff in a locker at Kyoto Sta. and headed to Toei Uzamasa Movieland in western Kyoto, past Nijo-jo on the JR line, between Uzamasa stop and the one before it. We walked about 15 min., arriving at 3 p.m. This is a working film studio where samurai and other films are made. It contains several streets of Edo-era, ninja, etc. It felt somewhat strange as in “art imitating life” since we had been walking around and seeing much of this same atmosphere in Higashiyama and at the Edo-Tokyo museum. We stayed til they closed at 5 p.m. and watched a ninja show, a samurai show (and had some fun pics taken w/them) and my son got some ninja throwing stars which he really had been wanting to find. We ran into a Middle Eastern man on a bike on the way back to the station and talked w/him. He said it was a good thing we did not go to Arashiyama that as it was extremely crowded Sun. and Mon. due to the nice weather and so many people in town for the Illumination festival and holiday. This made me feel better as I had hoped to make it to that area but we just didn’t.

Back to Kyoto sta. We had overrun our locker time, but just deposited the amt. shown and it opens. Back to the Westin on the last 6 p.m. hotel bus. Made dinner out of the appetizers in the club. Quiet night swimming, reading, down time.
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Old Mar 31st, 2005, 12:39 PM
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DAY 10, Tues, 3/22

Raining and chilly. We were supposed to go to Osaka on Wed. for the opening ceremony and game of the Koshien High School Baseball Champioships, but the forecast is for rain Wed. also. So we decide we will just go to Osaka today to see a 1 p.m. baseball game at the Dome, then the grand sumo tournament which heats up in late afternoon. and see what happens tomorrow w/the rain and Koshien tournament.

We took the rapid local train to Osaka station, 30 min., then switched to the JR loop line to Taisho; the Dome was an easy 5 min. walk. Hanshin Tigers (“our” team) and the newly formed Orix Buffaloes. It was an absolute blast. We got tickets in the outfield fan cheering section for $10 and wore all our Tigers stuff (jacket, plastic bats around the neck) from the Tokyo game, plus I got son a hat and I got a scarf thing to tie around my head and these weird tiger tail earrings. We were the only gaijin there. It was unbelievable- the Tigers fans were so much louder in the Osaka Dome than in Tokyo. Every seat in the fan section was taken. We chanted for the batters, banged our bats, and the guy across the aisle was praying w/prayer beads- these are serious fans. At one point everyone started blowing up these long big colored balloons (we had bought some but didn’t realize the ritual that would be coming) and when the cheerleader motioned, everyone let them go and they made incredible noise and flew everywhere. At the stretch (I think it is 6th inning instead of 7th) the woman in front of us tapped me and pointed up to the big video screen in the Dome and there were Casey and emd!! They put us up on the screen. I looked at myself and thought, “no one will ever believe this, and I look like a fool!” And so we got our 15 seconds of fame in Osaka Dome. The beloved Tigers lost, even though the Buffaloes had barely any fans in their cheering section. We had to leave after the 7th in order to get to sumo.

Getting to the sumo venue, Osaka Municipal Gym, was a challenge. I was helped by a poster on another Japan forum who translated the map from the sumo site for me. It was easy to take the JR loop one more stop past Taiso to Imamiya and switch to the JR line that goes one stop to JR Namba station. Finding the gym was a bigger deal. It was pouring. I don’t even know if I could do it again right now. No one seemed to know where the gym was- the only thing that saved us was that I had the mapquest map in Japanese for the area and had marked on it where the gym was, plus I had the words for the gym (Osaka Furitsa Taikukan), but it was still a bit of an ordeal. Finally a police officer pointed down the street and as we started walking we saw sumo wrestlers in their robes outside. The outside of the gym was so colorful, lots of sumo flags and lanterns. We got tickets, not cheap, 5400 yen a seat, and a woman escorts us all the way from the door to the seats. The seats are not as nice as the ones mrwunrfl photographed in Tokyo, they are not padded and are cramped, and I am not sorry that we are only there for the highlights of the late afternoon. But it is spectacular. We had doen some reading on the pageantry, rituals and the sumo moves, but they also gave us a little Eng. Booklet. Son took many pics for school report. The guys are so big and impressive, esp. when they stamp the ground before the match. Binoculars helped a lot, although we were not that far away it is nice to see the moves and looks on their faces. It was hard to tell who we were watching in each bout, but I think that Asahoryu won the last bout w/Hakuho. I wonder how much he won?

We left sumo at 6 p.m. and went to Namba Mall close to the gym. There was a cool American nostalgia store. Save your Pyrex and Fireking bowls (5000) , USA state souveneir spoons (16 for 15000 yen), plain old Barbies (15000), Schlitz beer cans (1000), old Coke items, tacky ceramic ash trays from the 70s (7000), and princess phones (22000), because if you can get it to this shop it is fetching good amt. of yen at this place. The old basic florescent desk lamp I threw out when we moved is selling for 14000 yen!
See www.retro-base.com

We get back to the hotel at 10 p.m. and I am in trouble. I have had swollen right ft. the last week but now it is throbbing and really big. I call my Dr. in the U.S. and he says go to the hospital. I have no intention of doing that as I have no other symptoms and I am afraid to go without an interpreter, it is late, my son is here and this is my dream trip. I sleep w/it elevated for the 4th night and hope for the best. But I was not able to wear my shoes tonight and was walking around the train stations in my socks, which is a big no no in Japan, I really felt awkward.
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Old Mar 31st, 2005, 02:56 PM
  #46  
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DAY 11, Wed. 3/23

Pouring rain. We were scheduled to go to Osaka but it is clear the Koshien tournmant won’t be played. I am glad we went for proball and sumo yesterday. Still having foot problems, so son goes out by himself for the morning (which really kills me, I want to go). He goes around (I still don’t know where) and comes back at noon. We go out to the Teramachi area as it is mostly covered shopping and the temples and shrines will only be a short run in the rain from the covered st. We took the subway. It’s hard to find Teramachi when we exit. I realized the next day that taxis are NOT expensive in Kyoto like in Tokyo, and sometimes it pays to take them, esp. if your foot hurts.. I learned this the hard way and really had a hard time on Wed.

We started at Shijo Dori and walked all the way up Teramachi til the covering ended, shopping away. There is a good 100 yen store in there where I bought chopsticks, bamboo placemats, wooden miso bowls. My son finds a Gamers store and is happy. There is an REI store, which surprised me, and would be good to kow about if you are hking in the area. A good pastry store also. We look for the Nishiki Market, which branches off of Teramachi and we miss it. You have to look up to see the sign for it. Nishiki is low key but nice, and I find a few food items I have been looking for. We walk go by several of the small shrines and temples in the area, which coexist right there w/the shopping and hub-bub .

We are going to a fabric workshop at place named Yuzen Textile Center. I read about this place and the concierge called them for us. We had to be there by 3 pm. We left Teramachi at 2, plenty of time.

We should have taken a cab. Instead, we take the subway, not realizing two things- how far it really was to walk after we would get out of the subway, and how hard it would be to find the place. It is 3 p.m. and we are wandering w/the map in the rain. Son is dancing in the rain ala Gene Kelly and singing the song. I call the Westin concierge and ask her to call Yunzen and help us find it and ask if they will take us late. She calls back and leads us foot after foot on how to get there and says they will stay open. There is no English sign on the bldg. so it is good I have the name of Yunzen written in Japanese. We go in and it is worth it. We each do a fabric workshop and make a silkscreen of sorts (using layers of heavy cardboard and different colors of paints and layering these for the design). The picture we choose is Kinkajuki, ironic as we did not visit there. They come out fantastic and son and I both agree that it was well worth finding this place. You can make a Tshirt, handkerchief, table cover (me), carry bag (son), tie, etc. The gift shop has fantastic fabric items, purses, pillows, all made of fabric made at this center. We also get to see two workers working on wooden racks, handpainting designs on silk which will be made into kimonos. Kyoto Handicraft Center has workshops like this (although I don’t think they do a fabric one) and we will do woodblock printing there next time.

We head back to Teramachi and split up. Son spends time at a store selling capsules and miniatures (close to Shijo-dori, where kappa got his samurai!) and wins two favorite Neon Evangelion characters in a game. I go to Takashiyama Dept. store to the food area, which is beyond belief. My foot hurts so I sit down for coffee and a Japanese man offers in English to buy me a cup. We talk for 40 min. He’s a linguistics prof. and taught for a few years at Georgetown University in D.C., so we have the D.C. area in common. He is very nice and ends up buying me a pastry also.

Back at the hotel. we watch a show on a JP station on Kyoto temples and how they are designed to withstand earthquakes (featured Toji). My son tells me he knows all about this, how the temples are built with a pole in the middle and one at each of the corners, so that they have room to move and nothing actually completely touches btwn. floors. Is that right? We packed up our bags, which have to be sent by the hotel to Narita tomorrow to be sure they are there Sat. a.m. for us.
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Old Mar 31st, 2005, 06:36 PM
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one of the best of the recent reports...i am really enjoying it...i've forgotten how old your son is??

bob
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 01:24 AM
  #48  
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Thanks, Bob. i just hope it helps others in the future as they are pouring over trip reports, which I found one of the best ways to glean things we might be interested in and how to avoid the pitfalls. He is 14, a smart and mature 14. I felt comfortable letting him go by himself and he knew how far he was willing to go comfortably, because we had the cell phones (which had reception everywhere, not once did we lose reception). We called each other and kept up, telling each other what we were finding, etc. I think this did two things- it really increased his confidence and made him rely on himself, and it showed him I trusted him. He does not have a cell at home yet so this was a "cool" thing for him too, esp. w/all those cell phone charms that Japanese (even men) have! We decorated our phones w/them. And the cell is his favorite souvenier, since you get to keep the Enjourno prepaid model.
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 01:42 AM
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I hope "can I buy you a cup of coffee " was not the pick-up line of the professor

You son sounds great too but frankly I'm rather impressed by you. You seem to like many things that your son's generation do, those manga's themes things, etc though for figurines you (tastefully) chose samurais rather than robots. I read you had your moments with him too but otherwise, you seem like a dream mother to his generation.
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 02:06 AM
  #50  
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kappa, I am going to have my son call you when he has his bad moments and thinks I'm a dud, or maybe I'll just have him read your post. Seriously, I like pop culture and Japan is the greatest place for it. It lets you into the sociology and psyche of the people and I find it fascinating. Foremost I am a parent, not a buddy (he has his buddies- he needs a parent at this age) but this trip let me lay aside the constant parenting and have fun and discovery w/him be foremost. It has formed a major bond btwn us, we have unique memories together.

And the professor was in his late 60s! Although he did say he likes to talk to blondes. My son stood out as he is 6'3" and I stood out as I am blond. I expected to see more gaijin. There were more in Kyoto but most were European. None to speak of in Tokyo, except business people at the hotel.

On to Hiroshima and Miyajima...
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 05:47 AM
  #51  
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DAY 12, Thurs. 3/24

Sunny, cool. 7:44 a.m. shinkansen to Hiroshima. First I deal w/sending luggage to Narita. Hotel fella is flustered, doesn’t speak great English. I get nervous as he is trying to figure out what I need, “I send luggage to U.S. airport?” “No, Narita”, 3 times we go thru this. No choice at this point, I have to trust him, I can’t haul anything w/foot.

Cab it to station. Can’t get used to the self-closing back doors on the cab. I keep closing it and driver grimaces but he does it graciously and nicely instructs me again not to close it. Cab is only $15 for 20 min. drive! I am shocked. Why did I think it would be so $$$? Realize that people are talking about Tokyo cabs being $$$, not Kyoto.

Shinkansen is not nearly as smooth as one from Tokyo; it is also Hikari. We go right by Himeji castle, great view, would be easy to hop off and see it. Arrive Hiro. 9:35. Straight to info counter for map of streetcars. Streetcar to Peace Park 35 min. as we got on wrong one w/many stops, but it gets us there. Clouds forming. Tragedy starts right as you exit. After seeing A Bomb Dome we go over the next bridge as I know there is a TIC right across it on left. Great TIC- gives us timetable of Miyajima ferries and JR trains to get there and back to Hiro. station. Also they have Carp stuff so I add to the baseball collection. We see the outdoor memorials. Heavy rain. In museum at 11 am. Lockers to right of ticket counter. They are free, insert 100 y and get it back when leave. Some big enough for a 21” suitcase or big pack. We stash our stuff, except camera- you can take pics but no flash. I am amazed it took only 3 yrs to develop the bomb. I am curious about the part that says “To justify the cost of the bomb to the American public, the U.S. hurried to use the bomb.” I am moved to tears as is my son. Exhibits are graphic. The woman whose kimono burned to her skin really gets to me, as do the accounts of the personal info on children who perished. I wonder what it is like to be a hibukusha, survivor. It doesn’t sound like they got the support they needed. My son is very affected and stays in the museum an hr. longer than me. Sheets of rain coming down now. I go to the café and strike up a conversation in Eng. w/a Japanese man who is also here for 1st time. I ask about his attitude towards the U.S. after seeing the museum and he says, “It was tragic that we both did what we did.” Like him, the museum does not really lay blame on the U.S., it is more interested in being a testament to not letting this happen again anywhere.

2p.m., took streetcar to JR line, JR line to JR ferry (we could done this at 1pm but son wanted extra hr at museum and I needed ft. rest). Arrive Miyajima 3 p.m. Rain has let up some but it is windy, wicked cold. I have fleece ziptop since it was nice in Kyoto. We’re freezing. Miyajima is lovely, even in this weather. Cable car not running, bad weather. We walk and shop to the shrine. I see exotic wood tea canisters and wonder if mrw has one from here. Japanese are clamming in low tide. The deer follow us, want our bags. Buy food items on way back to ferry if you don’t want nuzzling and nipping at the bags. Rain stops; shrine and tori are lovely. Lots of hammering, many wood beams supporting front of shrine. Tide is out so we can see how much of tori is covered by H20 when tide is in. We head down a side street and duck in for tea and noodles and good rice cakes grilled on a strick (taste like meat) . The owner motions outside and it is snowing hard! We buy rice paddles and maple leaf treats. Everything closes at 5 pm, so we get the ferry then JR train (right there) to Hiro. Sta.. A woman motions to me to sit next to her. She works at the marine base and speaks perfect Eng. She lived in D.C. She knows L.A. so we have a lot to talk about. She confirms my suspicion that many Japanese know some Eng. but are afraid to use it. She is very sweet and touches my arm several times. This surprises me because the Japanese have never touched me, they bow and are polite but seem to have their physical boundaries, but she worked in the U.S. and works w/Americans now.

We shop in Hiro. sta.; I find great soft candy that tastes like lychee nuts and I buy too many packs of it to confess to, and kit to make okonomiaki. We find a little okonom, stand at the sta. for dinner have a very different style from the Toji one. I give the chef the thumbs up and he laughs. Last shin. to Kyoto, back at hotel at 10 pm. I read in the Shimbun paper that the architect of Peace Park has died, and that the Koshien tournament was cancelled due to rain when we were to go, sumo and baseball results.

Great day.
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 10:05 AM
  #52  
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DAY 13, Fri., 3/25

Our last day. Cold but clear. I really want to go to Kibune/Kurama and hike for a 1/2 day and then to Ohara in afternoon, but my foot says no to hiking. Ohara it is, and if I am up to it we will try to walk the Path of Philosophy temples later in the day (close to the hotel). Hit the ATM at post office for last yen, across from hotel, 5 min. walk.

From the hotel, board subway at Keage (or walk up to Higashiyama sta. like we did after ATM) to Sanjo-Keihan, walk over to the bus stop outside of Keihan-Sanjo station and catch bus 16 or 17 (I wonder who decided to have two stations next to each other, sharing a station passageway, on different subway lines, with the same name but words inverted?) The bus ride is about 30 min. and climbs out of the city into the mountains. It starts to snow. I am bundled up w/every piece of under and outer wear I brought, but son went w/Tshirt and jean jacket even after I nudged him. We get out at Ohara and it is not snowing, not sleeting, but these hard round ice pellets are falling. Son asks “what are we doing here” and I sense trouble as we have discussed this. We cross the st., bear left, and turn right to catch the path up to Sanzen’in. It is lovely right away, the rushing stream, Ohara Kyodokan w/the waterwheel, the little path w/the shops and foods. I like it already. And there are few people here, just us and a few Japanese. We go through Sanzen’in and son is smirking w/attitude. I tell him for 3rd time that it is perfectly fine if he gets on the bus and goes somewhere, anywhere he wants to go in Kyoto, but this is my last day too and I'm staying. I hand him a lot of yen and tell him to go back to the bus and call me in 2 hours, and he waves goodbye.

Alone in Ohara, it is a beautiful afternoon. I liked Sanzen’in, but Shorin’in is really nice. The roof is so impressive, and the bell is fantastic. Wonderful wood carvings above the door. I walk around the back and down a path and there is a phenomenal old growth forest. I feel like I am in Lord of the Rings. I walk pretty far and come across a shrine w/the rocks and aprons, and I realize I have come to an area I should not be in, it is a baby cemetery. I turn around to leave and a gardener/caretaker comes up, I think “oh gosh, I’ve really blown it now.” Instead of yelling at me, she bows and signals to me to go back up the path. I bow and apologize. I wish they’d had the path roped off. The lady at the gate lets me use the bathrm. at Hosen’in temple next door. It is the tiniest bathrm. I’ve ever been in. The toilet has a built in sink on the tank top- very smart.

I walked back down the path and shop, find fantastic embroidered fabric from the sash part of fine kimonos. I buy some to frame. Crossed over the main rd. and behind the bus stop is a path that I think leads to Jakkoin. As I walk I am going through a fine neighborhood. The sun is sinking low and the light is incredible, there is orange moss, yellow moss, and all shades of bright green moss all over. People have big gardens planted and many of them are out working in them. The architecture of these houses blows me away and I decide I'm going to find a Japanese architecture class. The beauty of this little village is remarkable. I fall in love w/it. I ask a few people about Jakkoin and find it. It is closed already, and I can see the large construction drapes around the bldgs. that burned down. I read that it was arson and I have the japanese word for arson written down but no one seems to know. I walk slowly back through the village and take lots of pics of the houses, roofs, gardens and sun setting. Saw some minshuku and think I will stay a night when I return.

Caught the 5:45 bus, it’s not the express 16 or 17 ( I think it was 27) but driver says it goes to Sanjo-Keihan and away we go. Son spent his day at the “Book-Off” discount store and has several books in Japanese to show for it, won’t share where else he went except I think part of it involves noodles.
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 10:12 AM
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what a great son but also the mother and lets not forget the mr emd....let him know we are proud of him too....

i fear the story is about to come to a close....can't wait for your next trip...try bangkok, or south LA....i think you are from CA??? or is it DC...then make it alexandria, if that is the case.......
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 10:20 AM
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Bob, you are sweet. Mr. emd was indeed very supportive during the planning and execution phase. Now he is ready for me to "put the trip behind me" and move on... I think he would have fun getting into the planning of an internatl. trip himself, and I am encouraging him to do that.
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 10:29 AM
  #55  
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I am going to do a last report about departure because it was just so bizarre. But before that I want to talk about some of what we missed in the week in Kyoto. We missed Nara, Kurama/Kibune, we never made it to the Path of Philosohpy (right outside the hotel), Nijo, Kitano market, Arashiyama, biking, and so many other things in Kyoto. I think I'll adopt Florence's attitude and make it a repeat destination with all the things there are to do and see and experience there. Next trip: fly into Nagoya or Kansai and spend a week in Kyoto area and a wk. in other smaller towns.
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 10:47 AM
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emd:
You have written a page-turner ... I keep waiting for the next chapter to appear! As I read, I see so many "Lost In Translation" moments, which I think are moments that make Japan such a fascinating place to visit. Thank you for a great report!
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 11:13 AM
  #57  
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Hi,

emd,

Thanks so much for the wonderful report. It seems you didn't rush around doing alot of the guide book must sees. I don't feel so bad about what we are planning to see after reading your post. Sounds like you really experienced the personal part of Japan. There is so much to do and see, I am having a hard time picking the things that will interest us most and get a feel for the country and people, but still see some of the important sites.

When you said things close at 5 on Miyajima, does that include food plces. Can you eat dinner on the Island? How late does the ferry and train run from the island back to Hiroshima Station? Your time frame for that day really hepls, thanks!

Your trip with your son will impack both of you for the better for years to come. When our second son was 14 (he is now 36), it worked out that his sibblings and father were doing other things away from home at the same time for a few summer weeks. So he and I took a driving trip to the East coast, to see the world's fair in TN , Washington DC, NYC, Williamsburg, and alot of other historic and neat places he was interested in seeing. It formed a bond(understanding and respect for each other) that is very special. The older I get, the more I realize the possitive effect it had on both of us.
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 11:20 AM
  #58  
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Day 14, 3/26, departure day

Up early and grab our stuff. Glad we sent the suitcases ahead to Narita. I gave the club staff each a bar of Ghiradelli chocolate, they hand me a big bag of pastries & juices to take w/us & they all bow as we get on the elevator. On the shinkansen to Shinagawa my foot is hurting so I take off my shoe, and the man sitting next to me puts newspaper down on the floor. I mistakenly place my shoes on the paper, and he waves “no” and places my shoes on the floor and motions for my socked feet to go on the paper. Oops. It probably freaked people out on the trains back from Osaka on Tues. night when I was walking all over the trains and stations in my socks.

If you want to see Fuji then get reservations in seats w/ “D” or “E” on both the way to Kyoto and way back to Tokyo. And on the shinaknsens the whole set of seats swivel (there is a peddle on the end of the row to do this) so if you are 4 people traveling together you can face each other.

We get the NEX at Shinagawa. Narita is a madhouse. We arrive at noon and easily get our luggage from “Black Cat” service. We get in a l-o-n-g line for baggage screening in order to get into the airline ticket area. This area is so incredibly cramped I can’t believe it. All the airline counters are cramped up together. There is so little rm. btwn the e-ticket kiosks and the place to check luggage, and everyone has so much luggage, it is nuts. We get to luggage check and I ask about checking two extra duffel bags. 230 apiece! No thanks, and we now have to drag these duffels plus our carry ons onto the plane.

We finally get out of that area and go through regular carry-on preboarding screening. My bag sets off alarms, and of course it is because I was going to check it and have my swiss knife in it. We get to the gate at 2:15 and the flight is at 2:45, so I grab food and we attempt to board, but again it is nutso, everyone crammed up at the boarding area and no one can tell who is supposed to board. We get on the plane and trudge back to row 64, I put some of my stuff in that great area on the floor btwn the seat and window (just til I can get organized) and I hear the woman behind me say “You can’t put that there!” I ignore her and she escalates and screams at me, “YOU CAN’T PUT THAT THERE!” and I ignore her more. She gets the flight attendant (mind you I’ve been in my seat 2 min.) and he tells me I can’t put that there during take-off. Ok, I say, just let me get organized. The space nazi lady behind me is humphing and upset and keeps talking for the 1st hr. to her husband about me, and continues to tell me that I can’t use that space, it isn’t mine. I decide not to get into it w/her, she is too crazy. I sadly think “I am not in Japan anymore.” This woman is definitely not Japanese.

The guy in front of us has some kind of sleep disorder- he falls asleep at the drop of a hat and then flails all over, hitting the guy next to him, moaning, and he sounds like a gorilla in heat. He does this the entire 14 hrs. People from 6 rows away are coming by to watch him and shake their heads. I spent most of the flight sitting in the flight attendant’s jump seat so I could put my foot up on the exit door (and get away from the space nazi lady). This is against the rules but I was hurting and one of the flight attendants was kind.

I really notice at Milwaukee airport how LOUD Americans are. People are just screaming in normal conversation, as if they think everyone needs to or wants to hear them. I am still having some trouble w/this, it’s a big readjustment. I miss the quiet tones in Japan, and the civility.
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 11:35 AM
  #59  
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You are so very welcome, I had fun writing it. I was helped so much by so many here from trip reports and answers to my questions, I owe it to the forum to do a report but I also wanted to. Now I don't have to write it up in the trip journal, I can just print it out.

cwn, we did not eat on the island, we had okonomiaki at the Hiroshima train station (yum). But I think most people eat dinner at their hotels, w/a package deal where dinner is included. I have seen posts from people who opted out of the hotel's dinner and then had a hard time getting dinner. But someone who has stayed on Miyajima should answer you directly. I want to go back and hike there and stay overnight too.

I wouldn't worry too much about what you don't see, there will be alot you don't see. Decide what you want to see and experience and go at a good pace and be open. I figure it will all be there when I go back (hopefully it will all be there).
Most of all, I realized how easy it is to travel in Japan on your own. You really don't need a tour, unless you have a very short time, not enough time to get your bearings.

cwn, this weekend I am organizing all the piles of paper from the trip and when I find the ferry schedule that the TIC in Hiroshima gave me I will tel you about the last ferry.
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Old Apr 1st, 2005, 11:36 AM
  #60  
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well, we did eat on the island, but not dinner, we just had tea and a snack. Great places for that, but they closed at 5, at least the ones around the shrine and ferry.
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