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Trip Report Nywoman single older woman goes to Japan

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I visited Tokyo, Matsumoto, Kanazawa, Gero Onsen, Takayama, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima for 3 weeks in October.

To say that getting to Tokyo from New York is a long journey is an understatement. The whole trip door to door 27 hours. Traveling in first class made a huge difference, I also had a charming travel companion. He is an ice skating coach to Olympians and National Champions, who was going to Tokyo for a promo film. It was most enlightening learning about the competitions and how the rules have changed.

Am staying in a very residential area off a shopping street with many many small shops and feeding places. It’s quite charming, yesterday morning as I was walking to the train a woman stopped me and told me her name was Yushi and if I needed anything to ring her bell.

The night I arrived, could not find my accommodations am staying in an AirBnB and true to reputation people literally walked me to where I needed to be.

First impressions Tokyo is the cleanest city that I have ever been to, not a scrap of trash anywhere despite no trashcans to be found.
The trains have upholstered seats, purple for the infirm and pregnant women, red for everyone else. There is a cleaning crew that gets on at the end stop and goes through each compartment.

A large amount of impressions have been gleaned riding the trains.
Rush hour puts New Yorkers to shame. You think the train is at capacity and all of a sudden you are pushed even further back. When people get off, not a word is spoken but somehow people move out of the way. Nobody offers a seat and I have never seen so many people sleep on a train on a regular basis as here.

At the JR statins there is a barrier that moves away when it’s time to board.
People line up in a most orderly way, the fact that you then gets pushed has nothing to do with lining up. There is an innate gentleness and politeness that I find very appealing. Everything seems to be so orderly. There is a junior high school nearby, I walked by yesterday as the school was starting. Everybody was in uniform and once they got to school removed their white sneakers and put on some kind of slippers.

Today I was in the park after having been to Tokyo National museum. It was totally unbelievable, There must have been at least 50 food carts, at a food festival, and no trash cans. Instead there were two small, that I could see, recycling stations and again not a piece of paper on the ground. Then I walked by a high school class sitting outside one of the museums having their lunch. Quiet orderly and seemingly content.

It makes me wonder, what creates a seemingly environmentally conscious society. So far have not seen any graffiti or any of the other urban ills.

Last night I went for probably one of the best meals I have ever had. It was at a place called Shirosaka, the chef used to work for the Japanese ambassador to the UN. Two years ago he opened this restaurant. There are 8 seats at the counter and 6 in a small room. The maitre d’/waiter used to work at Union Square Tokyo, and did a stint at USC in NYC as well.

I totally left it up to the chef who sent out the most exquisite and delicious plates. It started with one perfect oyster, followed by 8 or 10 courses one was more spectacular in a very understated manner than the next.
I will post pictures when I am able to. Apart from the fact that the food was so extraordinary
The evening turned out that way as well. One couple to my right ended up giving me their number in case I needed anything at all. A chef and his wife from Singapore, they were here for a hotel promotion with David Beckham, had brought a bottle of private label pink Champagne, that was shared by everyone. Tomorrow night I am going out for dinner with another woman who was there.
It became a very intimate evening. and a lot of fun.

The weather has been hot humid and grey,

What I omitted because I was too embarrassed to tell you was that I managed to have my tablet either stolen or lost in United’s lounge at Newark. It was so very early in the morning, I left it on the table with my newspaper etc. while I went to the bathroom. Everything was cleaned up and I forgot that the tablet had been on the table and not put back in the bag, like a normal person would do. Didn’t discover it until I was airborne.

First thing in the morning after I arrived in Tokyo I went to Tsukiji fish market. That was not exactly a waste of time but almost because tourists are not allowed in until after 11 am when all the merchants are basically gone. For the Tuna auction, they only permit 150 per morning, with a waiting list. There was still lots to see and of course I had to have sushi at Sushi Zanmay, very well known place. My advice don’t bother it was good but not great.
My first day was spent getting my railroad pass authenticated and going to the technology mecca of Tokyo, Akihabara. This is heaven on earth for a tech nerd as well as anyone who is also into Manga and Anime.

i had read about renting a Wi-Fi for the duration but it seemed very pricey, especially since there is Wi-Fi at all my lodgings. With a little bit of help I bought a 30-day Sim card for $30 which connects me to the net when Wi-Fi is unavailable.

Then onto tablets the store I went into is the size of a city block and 6 stories high. After having looked at tablets and laptops I realized that I don’t read Japanese (big surprise) and the keyboards were useless to me. I then proceeded to the second floor where keyboards were sold.
Found this terrific small and light folding one for $20 which converts to a stand for my phone am writing all my missives this way..
Who knew how easy it could be solved.

The weather has been very humid low 80’s and grey until today Sunday, when I decided to go to Kamakura, known for its shrines and temples, it’s an hour south of Tokyo. Sunny, clear blue sky and around 95 I saw the Buddha who was gigantic and very beautiful and one more shrine. Just could not muster up the energy to walk around. Justified my inertia that I will be seeing a lot in and around Kyoto. The humidity is really getting to me, apparently there are a lot of typhoons around.

Had a really great Sushi lunch at a place where the plates of food were on a conveyor belt you could also order from the Sushi chef. The line was long, to get a seat, with all Japanese waiting.
The food was really good and it only set me back
$12.50 for 8 pieces plus a bowl of baby clams.
Have discovered why so many people sleep on the train, it’s almost impossible to stay awake. The seats are soft and the ride is smooth.

We went to a Soba restaurant which was a new experience for me. First you order a lot of small dishes, with sake. usual each dish was delicious and a first for me. Hot Ginko nuts dipped in salt, sweet sour small fish and many others.
we finished the meal with cold Soba (buckwheat) noodles that you dip in soy sauce. The sous chef who is in charge of making the noodles gave me a demonstration. Totally fascinating to see how the noodles are cut by hand to exact likeness.

There are so many things in this country that are very admirable. Nobody jay walks even when the street is empty. When the light changes to green a sort of tune plays for the duration. As cars exit from a garage there is an alarm to alert the pedestrians. Many of the individual public bathrooms, of which there are a plethora, have a folding chair for a small child hanging on the wall they also have disinfectant dsipensers to clean the seat..

Monday was a very mixed bag. I started by walking Omotesando. A shopping street that is a combination of Madison and Fifth Avenues. Every luxurious brand that you have ever heard of plus some. I was not there to shop but to look at the architecture. Some of the buildings are stunning
I would have enjoyed it even better if the weather wasn’t so miserable. Hot, humid and intermittent rain. The museum I wanted to visit was closed, it’s Monday. Being my last day I wanted to visit Takashimaya, which I did. Had a Caesar Salad and a coke on the top floor. Basement was all sweets. It was hard to decide between all the different restaurants. The elevator took forever so I started on the downstairs elevator, and there was a whole floor celebrating the food of Kyushu. Very fascinating, there were dried fish the size of pins and other kinds of seafood. In one corner was a sushi bar, after observing for a bit decided to sit down. This was yet another new experience. The chef made each piece individually and placed it in my hand to eat. I had abalone, sea urchin with caviar, tuna belly, bonito and some fish I didn’t know, all this washed down with sake. Most of the other people at the counter did a wine pairing.
It was such a pleasant unexpected experience.After having spent a rather boring day walking around.

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