Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Japan (Part 1)

Brian's brother often travels to Japan.  And he has often invited us to join him.  There is a great advantage to visiting a place with someone who is familiar with such things as public transportation and local etiquette and who has a smattering of the language. So, right before Christmas, the three of us went to Japan.

Japan at Christmas is a wonderful place.  It seems that the Japanese have embraced the concept of Christmas decorations.  Everywhere we went, we saw Christmas lights, decorated Christmas trees and Santas.  It was magical!
Christmas tree in Hida-Furakawa
We stayed at the Metropolitan Hotel near Ikebukuro station in Tokyo.  The view outside our hotel window was pretty magnificent.  
The view
Public transportation in Tokyo was amazingly convenient.  We could hop on a train, subway or trolley and end up a block or two from our destination.  The first day in Tokyo, we did a lot of the "touristy" things.  First up, a stop at the Imperial Palace.  But we were disappointed -- when we arrived, we found that police had cordoned off the Palace grounds and we couldn't get in.  Twenty minutes later we found out why:  the emperor was on the move.
The emperor's coach
We then headed to the Meiji Shrine.   Along with hundreds of other tourists, we walked around the grounds and enjoyed the crisp, clear weather.  And ogled their sake supply.
Sake barrels at the Meiji Shrine
Our second day, we boarded the shinkansen (bullet train) and headed to Hida-Furukawa.  Hida-Furukawa is a very small town way up in the mountains north of Nagoya.  The shinkansen was fun -- we zoomed through the Japanese countryside at 170 mph.  We had purchased first class rail passes, so we traveled in style.
The shinkansen moves fast -- hard to get a good picture!
The countryside was beautiful, especially near Mount Fuji.  A mix of industrial areas and fields of rice and tea.
Mt Fuji
We were traveling to Hida-Furukawa to stay the night at a Ryokan, a traditional inn.  Bruce had stayed there several times.  It was cold and snowy, and thoroughly charming.
Yatsusankan Ryokan
Our room had tatami on the floor, and a Japanese table.  Our sleeping futons were not laid out until bedtime.

 That evening, we were served a traditional meal in 8 courses.  This is the first course.  It was all beautifully presented and very tasty -- even the fugu (puffer fish).

The three of us in front of the Ryokan
Back in Tokyo that next evening, we wandered around Sunshine City.

 There were a few (thousand) people around......


Maria Shell said...

What a great journey! Love the photo essay.

Teresa Duryea Wong said...

Looks like a wonderful trip! I was there in Jan/Feb earlier this year... I think you'll be interested in my new book when if comes out this summer on Japanese quilts! Can't wait to share it - and can't wait to go back to Japan again in 2015!

Heather Pregger said...

Thanks, Maria! It was a wonderful trip!

Heather Pregger said...

Teresa, I am looking forward to your book!

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