Japan, part one.
Konnichi wa! As promised, here’s a look at the first leg of our Japanese adventure. Some background: Jesse turned forty! Ahead of this, I asked him where in the world he’d want to go and his answer, without hesitation, was Japan. After a bit of research and reflecting on our other vacations, I decided we should do a tour. You might remember I recounted a similar trip here. Well, one of the benefits of this approach is a 5 percent off code for future travel. Armed with this discount, I selected the G Adventures Discover Japan option.
Booking direct flights to and from Tokyo, we left Newark Airport around 11 a.m. on Jesse’s actual birthday. Some 13 hours later we landed in Japan, breezed through customs and learned very quickly that cabs are ridiculously expensive despite being priced by zone. Oh well, all that mattered was we arrived. The hotel, dingy. The city, overwhelming. Time to get acclimated. But, look, 7-Eleven. That’s familiar. And, in Japan, fabulous. Seriously, the highlight of the day. After a quick intro meeting and meal at a local spot with an English menu and ice cold Asahi, we hit the hay.
On our first full day, we hit up the hotel breakfast, repacked the few items we’d unpacked and headed for the train station (more on Tokyo later). Holy moly. Besides being crazy busy, my jaw almost hit the floor when our guide instructed us to buy lunch. You couldn’t pay me to eat at some of our train stations, but here we were. After a few trains, including our first bullet ride, we disembarked at Kanazawa, dropped our bags and started walking. Definitely an upscale city, we strolled by a number of high-end stores before exploring the market. From there it was off to the Geisha district, a gold leaf demonstration and more. It was a very long day, capped off by a traditional dinner that included locking up our shoes.
The second day in Kanazawa we saw where the samurais lived, a ninja temple (so-called for its ingenious protective measures), Kenroku-En Garden and Kanazawa Castle. Somewhere in the midst of that, we stopped for a full tempura lunch. That night we had some free time and ended up going to the mall and eating pizza. I guess you can take us out of America but…you know how the saying goes. Already totally astounded, we packed up again and got ready for Takayama. I’ll pick up there in part two (might be my favorite place we went!).
Images above: Kanazawa Station x 2, market, architecture, Geisha district, gold leaf ice cream, the ninja temple and view from Kanazawa Castle