Sayonara: I’m Off to Japan

Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan
Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan

Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan

Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be taking to the skies and heading back to Japan.

My first trip to Japan was in October when I was privileged to be a passenger on ANA’s inaugural flight of the Dreamliner (Boeing 787). I spent a week in Tokyo, enjoying some organized tours as well as enjoying a little independent exploration. The city captivated my interest; it was not at all what I was expecting Japan to be. So when the opportunity came up to make a return trip, this time getting out of Tokyo into some of the other areas, I was enthusiastic to make the trip.

Here are a few of the activities on the itinerary:

Culinary experiences, always a favorite when I’m traveling, figure prominently on the trip, including such specialties as sukiyaki, udon, noodles, eel, Japanese grill, and other local dining experiences. We’ll also be making a stop at a Michelin starred vegetarian restaurant and visiting a couple of sake breweries.

Cultural highlights include visits to Hokokuji Temple (the Temple of Bamboo), a traditional tea ceremony, Meditation temple, Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Jinja (shrine), among other cultural spots.

This trip is full of outdoor experiences, too. I’ll be climbing Mt. Fuji, recently inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, and fortunately at a much lower altitude that when I was climbing Mt. Etna on Sicily. There are a variety of hikes associated with my stay at Mt. Fuji, along with a sightseeing cruise on Lake Ashi, sightseeing at Lake Yamanaka, and visiting Narusawa Ice Cave.

And I’m sure there will be lots of serendipitous moments of the kind that can never be planned.

While I’m on the road for the next week, I’ll be using the hashtag #mjJapan on my various social networks (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). This is not a sponsored hashtag; it’s one I’ve created so those who are particularly interested in learning more about Japan can focus in on the experiences of this second trip. I’ll be sharing real time experiences, photos, and personal commentary .Feel free to tune it out if you wish, but if you’re at all interested in visiting Japan, I think you might find it interesting.

The trip is sponsored by JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) and its partners. I have not been asked to to write about anything other than my personal experiences and opinions, nor have I been asked to share anything on social media. What you’ll be hearing about my trip is all me.

Do you have a particular interest in Japan? Are you ready to have your myth about the country challenged? What do you most want to see and do in this exotic country?

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Mary Jo Manzanares is a traveler, travel blogger, and podcaster. In addition to her blog, Traveling with MJ, she hosts the Where Else to Go podcast, and is the founder and the editor-in-chief of The Traveler’s Way, an online travel magazine. Her travel ethos is value luxury - luxury for real people - and her goal is to help travelers know when to splurge and when to save. Mary Jo has been a speaker at various industry events around the world. When she’s not traveling, Mary Jo likes lingering over a cup of coffee, wandering in a museum, sipping wine at a cafe, and sharing it all with friends and readers. Her most recent travels were to Israel, Stockholm, and a Baltic cruise.

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