Category Archive: Japan

Getaway to Nara, Japan

Nara, located in the Kansai region of Japan, was formerly known as Heijo and in 710 was established as Japan’s first permanent capital. The capital was moved in 784, in large part due to the growing power and ambition of the many Buddhist monasteries located there. The historical treasures of the area remain, however, including some of the oldest and largest temples in Japan. Like most other cities in Japan, there is folklore around the name of Nara. A variety of theories exist, but the most widely accepted one says that the name came from words and phrases that meant “flat land” or “gentle slope” which described the area’s topography. Today Nara is the capital city of Nara Prefecture and is an active center of both government and commerce. Like Awaji, It makes an easy getaway destination from Kyoto and […]

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Getaway to Awaji Island

Whether Japan’s Kansai region is your primary destination, or an add-on while visiting the rest of the country, planning for a getaway to Awaji Island rates high on my recommendation list. Folklore says that Awaji Island is the birthplace of Japan, created when the gods Izanagi and Izanami mixed up the sea with a spear. When they lifted the spear, a small drop of brine fell off the blade, hardening on top of the waves. That hardened drop became Awaji Island. Things to Do Take a boat trip through the Naruta Whirlpools – The Inland Seto Sea meets the Kii Channel  in the Naruta Straits, creating dramatic whirlpools the likes of which are seen in only a couple of other places in the world (Sicily and Vancouver, British Columbia). The whirlpools can reach a diameter of 65 feet. You can […]

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Hotel Review: Yokohama Royal Park Hotel

Yokohama Royal Park Hotel Address:  2-2-1-3 Minatomirai, Nishi-Ku, Yokohama, Japan Value Luxury Rating:  Features:  The Yokohama Royal Park Hotel is situated in the Minato Mirai 21 area, a cosmopolitan development area of Yokohama which combines a variety if sights and attractions, including an amusement park and the Cosmo 21 Ferris Wheel, shopping, over 200 restaurants, museums, theaters and entertainment venues, and more. The lobby and other public areas of the hotel are lovely – inviting, filled with beautiful floral displays, and offering seating and gathering areas that are well placed and don’t clutter things up. I’d call it an elegant Zen vibe, with a nice dash of upscale luxury. Hotel features and amenities include:  fitness center, indoor pool, 9 restaurants, spa, business center, tea ceremony room, gift shop, and concierge service. Located on floors 52-67 of the building, every one of the Royal […]

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Yoshida Udon: A Meal Fit for Mt. Fuji

It was hot and filling, and best of all – it wasn’t fish! I slurped up that bowl of Yoshida Udon like there was no tomorrow. I had been in Japan for a couple of days and had been treated to gourmet meals aplenty. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were beautiful works of art, masterpieces of flavor, and were eagerly devoured by my traveling companions. I, alone, appeared to be the one person who couldn’t face fish, often uncooked, for three meals a day. I felt badly as I pushed things around my plate, trying to be polite and look like I was both eating and enjoying this impressive presentation. This was beautiful food; it was expertly prepared and presented, but I just couldn’t face it. In that fleeting moment I realized that I was more gourmand than gourmet. What I […]

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Sayonara: I’m Off to 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 […]

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Tokyo: 12 Things I Didn’t Know Until I Got There

I love researching travel.  I love reading guide books, checking out travel blogs, looking at photos on Pinterest, and pretty much everything about the process of learning about a destination.  From the massaging of flight schedules to selecting accommodations and tours, from reading restaurant reviews and learning about food trends to learning about which sights are worth visiting, it’s all a delightful challenge to me. But no matter how much you prepare yourself, there are things you will encounter that you just didn’t know before you got to your destination. When it comes to travel to Tokyo, here are the things I just didn’t know till I got there: Tokyo goes right.  In Tokyo they drive on the right hand side of the road, the vehicles are right hand drive, and in crowded spaces you stand to the left and […]

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Postcard: From the Wedding

In my touring around Tokyo, I was fortunate to happen upon a number of traditional weddings, giving me an opportunity to learn more about the customs and traditions involved.  In this post-wedding reception, a helpful mom assists with her daughter’s wedding kimono.

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Postcard from the Air: ANA Dreamliner at 40,000 Feet

I flew from Seattle to Tokyo on ANA’s inaugural Dreamliner flight.  There was plenty of mood lighting, during boarding as well as this peaceful post-dinner evening lighting.  This aircraft, and ANA’s business class service, has me spoiled about luxury flying.  See more pictures in my Tokyo flickr stream.

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I’m Going to Tokyo #ANASEA

Yes, I’m going to Tokyo and I’m very excited about it. But I jumped to the end of the story before telling you about how this came to be, why it’s important to me, and how you can help make sure my trip is everything I want it to be.  So let’s rewind just a little bit. . . . All Nippon Airways (ANA) is launching a new service between Seattle and Tokyo on July 25th, 2012.  The daily flight departs Seattle at 1:15 pm and ten and a half hours later arrive at Narita at 3:45 pm (the next day).  For visitors interested in traveling on to other cities within Japan, or making connections to other destinations in Asia, this arrival neatly coincides with outbound flights. The outbound flight leaves Tokyo at 5:25 pm and arrives in Seattle at […]

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