Monday, January 18, 2010

Travel - A place you probably have not seen, but you should - The Land of the Rising Sun..

When Monty and I decided to go to Japan we were met with skepticism and downright opposition from our friends. “Why do you want to go to Japan?” You would think we were going to Siberia; but then, I would not mind going there either.

Japanese travelers usually appear to be aloof, iconoclastic and humorless, but, in their own country, they are the friendliest to tourists that we have seen. You are surprised aren’t you?

Before leaving we purchased a two week train pass. It was a necessity, because trains are the only feasible means of travel. After selecting our itinerary, we made a list of every train and departure time that we anticipated using for the entire trip. Shortly after reaching Tokyo we made all of our reservations with the precise dates and times for each trip. Only in Japan is such precision so easy.

I can recall at least five sites which were breathtakingly exciting and unique to Japan. They are:

1. Ryokans, the traditional hostel. It is hard to believe that sleeping in a spare room on palettes and eating meals while sitting on the floor can be one the most luxurious experiences imaginable, but it is true.

2. The Kabuki and Noh theaters. This traditional drama has a pace and eeriness unmatched in our experience.

3. The Kyoto National Museum. There are only a handful of museums in its class in the world, but it stands number one as a reflection of the nation it serves. I was particularly taken to see the early Buddhist art which was much finer than what was being produced in the West at the time.

4. Kyoto again - the vaunted tea ceremony. It is a thing of beauty and good taste and is unforgettable.

5. And of course there the trains. The Japanese idea of a late train is one that arrives two minutes after the scheduled time. All passengers line up in the premarked spots where their car will stop and it takes less than five minutes to load and unload the cars. The ride is exquisite. The most famous trains are the Shinkansen. We took one from Hiroshima to Tokyo. There were five stops and covered 850 miles in five hours.

There is not much downside to a trip to Japan. My only warning is to travel light. There are no red caps in the train stations although most of them are equipped with escolators making the walk easy

I am sorry I wrote this blog. As I think of it, I wish I were in Japan again.

No comments: