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travelgirl2 Jun 29th, 2006 05:24 PM

Stu T. - You've brought me to tears. Picturing all those young kids, just a few years older than my own children, makes my heart break. Thank you for your service to our country. - Travelgirl2

gomiki Jun 29th, 2006 06:03 PM

travgirl, I love following your report. What an amazing adventure for you and your family.

And Stu T...thank you for your post. It adds so much to the picture. And I thank you for your service.

LCBoniti Jun 30th, 2006 07:05 AM

Thank you, Stu T - That's all I can say.

GirlTravel Jun 30th, 2006 07:13 AM

TravGirl2-I've been to Japan many times, love it-but Hiroshima only once-spent 1 night and then, couldn't wait to get out of there-the vibe there is so-well, unsettling, is I guess one way to describe it, I'm not sure I'd even recommend it as a destination to travelers to Japan, but Americans, in particular, feel they need to make a pilgrimage there.

tower Jun 30th, 2006 09:47 AM

For all the kind words above, thank you. But let's get back to this great Trip Report...TravGirl...keep it humming and coming!
Stu T.

hawaiiantraveler Jun 30th, 2006 10:15 AM


Enjoying your report. We stayed at the Kyoto Granvia in March. So many options(eating, transportation) are available from that hotels location. Glad you chose it. Loved it and all of Kyoto! Looking forward to your next post


jm0754 Jun 30th, 2006 10:46 AM


jspowell Jun 30th, 2006 05:40 PM

I can't wait for the nest installment....!!!

massagediva Jun 30th, 2006 07:40 PM

I'm planning to go to Japan in '07,so I'm soaking up all of the great information.
You're giving your children(and yourself) a real treasure in this trip.
How old are your DS's?

girlonthego Jun 30th, 2006 07:53 PM

Great report!! I am finding your trip so far so interesting. You are really getting something so much more than most. The cooking lesson sounded so neat. My girls are close to your kids ages (12 and 13) so I can relate. It is a really great age to travel with them. I am envious!! Keep telling your story!!

massagediva Jun 30th, 2006 07:59 PM

Oh,I see.Your sons are 11 and 13. Lucky kids!

SandyBrit Jul 1st, 2006 04:14 PM

travelgirl2 - I am still with you and so enjoying your wonderful and informative report.

I am also in awe of the planning it must have taken to pull this off.

You shared how expensive the fruit was that you purchased. Is this true of most food and drink items? How much for a bottle of water?


Meredith Jul 1st, 2006 07:14 PM

Wow, what a great trip report!!

Travelgirl, where are you? I want to hear more!

StLSusan Jul 1st, 2006 08:19 PM

How exciting to travel along this way!
Kudos for you finding time to do this but how memorable the journal will be to all for the rest of your lives!
Nothing like your initial for all of us too!
Also I am SO impressed with how well this is organized...
Now next.....?

redhead119 Jul 1st, 2006 11:03 PM

Hi travelgirl2,

We just returned from a 2-week vacation to Japan last Monday. (6/26) We also had our kids DS 11, and DD 9, as well as grandma who grew up in Tokyo. Looks like we were in Tokyo at the same time as you.
Anyhow, we also went to Kyoto, stayed two nights. My daughter discovered a couple of toilets there and in Tokyo that not only have the phony flushing sound button, but also one that plays music! She's never spent so much time taking care of business. My husband was also so impressed with the potties, that he now wants to import three of these for our home...Also, in search of napkins at restaurants, I found them at the end of the table in a cup. I went a meal or two with only the "wet nap", and was relieved to find napkins in front of me.
Had to laugh about the taxis. Until I read your post, I didn't realize the doors closed on their own. It took two days for me to realize they opened on their own...I bet the drivers will try to avoid gaijin for awhile...sorry all!

We too went to Hiroshima, but stayed two nights. We were there just before you, from 6/18 to 6/20. We spent the whole afternoon at the Peace Park, and were as moved as you. It was so sad, but also important to see what really happened that day. I learned so little about it when I was in school. My husband's aunt who has lived in Japan all her life, came along with us to Kyoto and Hiroshima, for her first time. She simply wept when she watched the videos of the survivors, now older people, talking about their experiences that day. I couldn't understand a word they were saying, but my husband and I were teary eyed anyway, just watching her reaction. All of us, including our kids, read the accounts of the survivors in the Memorial Museum, and looked up my husband's family name in the archives. After 1 1/2 hours, we were asked to leave, as they had closed. My 9 and 11 year old, were moved and fascinated by the whole experience that afternoon. I'm so glad they were able to see it.

While at the Children's Memorial,I picked up forms and tags for their schools, so if their teachers are interested, they can send in folded cranes representing their schools and community.
You must be in China by now. Looking forward to more of your adventure....

travelgirl2 Jul 2nd, 2006 08:23 AM

Day 9 Ė Kyoto Ė Walking Tour

Oooh - musical toilets. I wish I'd seen those. Yes, Hiroshima is quite an experience, isn't it?

Regarding prices: I mentioned the cost of the perfect fruit, which was about $22, because it was such an anomaly. While in Japan, I think you can spend very little or quite a lot on meals. Our simpler meals usually cost around $25 for the 4 of us (pastry/yogurt/sandwich breakfast with juice and coffee at the French bakery, soba lunch). Our larger or fancier meals are usually around $45-60. We donít visit anywhere very upscale for meals while in Japan. We often have our biggest meal at lunchtime, which is much more economical. I canít remember the price of a water bottle exactly, but I think it was maybe $1.50 or so?? I found the conversion a little difficult in Japan. I just divided the price by 100 and figured it would be a little less than that.


This morning, we relaxed in the hotel lobby with a continental breakfast consisting of a soy yogurt drink, pastry and tea. This really is a beautiful hotel, with lovely views over the modernistic train station. The service is impeccable. Everyone is very polite and accommodating. There is no problem with any request we make.

At 10:00 am, we go outside to meet up with Johnnie Hillwalker (also known as Hajime Hirooka). He leads a walking tour of Kyoto. I heard about him on Fodorís and we also picked up a brochure at WAK Japan. The tour is 5+ hours long and costs 2000 yen for the adults, 1000 yen for DS1 (13 years old) and is free for DS2 (11 years old).

I highly recommend this tour. It is given Mon, Wed and Fri, March through November. No reservation is required. The website is:

Johnny takes us to the Higashi-Honganji Temple, a large Buddhist center. We sit on tatami mats while he tells us about Buddhism. As we leave, a group of people dressed in black enter for a funeral. We move on to the Sho-Seien Garden, where he tells us a bit of history. We see a couple of Shinto shrines along the way and learn about the Shinto religion. We pass a Geisha area, and actually see a Geisha.

We also stop and look into several peoplesí home workshops: prayer beads, tatami mats, pottery, etc. We make a stop at a fan shop and see the workers in the back room painstakingly assembling the fans. Some people on the tour purchase fans, but there is absolutely no pressure to buy. Along the way, we have a brief stop at a teahouse for tea and a pastry. We taste a piece of vegetarian inari sushi (itís good). I am very surprised when DS2 has a second piece of inari sushi. We do not stop for lunch. The tour ends at 3:30 pm. Amazingly, all 30 or so people continue for the entire tour Ė no one drops out.

The tour is very enjoyable. We all think Johnnie is cute. He has picked places to speak to us where he is easily visible and easily heard, even with 30 people along. The walking pace is slow and there are often places to sit and rest at the various stops. He has an engaging and humorous way of telling stories.

He tells us that the Buddha to which the Japanese people pray is the one who will take the dead to paradise. Therefore, Buddhism in Japan is focused on death. Shinto-ism is the religion for the living. That is why many Japanese are both Buddhist and Shinto.

He explains that many of the large religious places that tourists visit are maintained by the Japanese government for tourism. No people actually belong to the large tourist sites. The places he is taking us are actively supported by the people who belong to that religion. He takes us to his Shinto shrine. We also go to a cemetery, which is very interesting, but full of mosquitoes. DS2 and I get at least a dozen bites on the ankles.

The handicraft stops were interesting. People were very diligently working on very precise crafts, often while sitting on the floor all day. Johnnie said that most of the young people do not want to continue this lifestyle and are moving away from Kyoto.

Johnnie gave us a detailed map, so we could continue the walk, going into what he said were even more interesting areas of Kyoto. After the tour, we stopped at Azalea for a very late lunch. The setting was okay, but the food was disappointing. DS1 amuses us, though, when he requests the traditional Japanese lunch, while the rest of us order meat or pasta or Thai curry. After lunch, DH decides to continue the walk, using Johnnieís map. The rest of us take a taxi back to the hotel where we read, work on our Fodorís postings, etc. In total, we still managed to walk another 10 miles today.

kmkrnn Jul 2nd, 2006 01:38 PM

I am really enjoying the on going travellog. What a great variety of oppotunities you are giving the boys. I am making sure Bob reads this to spur him on to Japan for our next trip maybe.. thanks for a great report

paula1470 Jul 2nd, 2006 01:40 PM

travelgirl-I am loving your reports. What an amazing opportunity for your family especially your 2 sons. I am impressed with how great your boys travel and adjust.

I haven't been on the European forum for awhile mostly US but I have book marked this and look forward to your next installment.

Ibaketoo Jul 2nd, 2006 05:37 PM

What a wonderful travel diary!!! May I ask if you are dragging around a laptop the whole time?

ShaeC Jul 2nd, 2006 07:03 PM

marking so I can keep following! excellent

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