Irregular Posts; Japan 4, Tokyo

Thanksgiving Tokyo Nov 27th Konichiwa, Osaka to Tokyo is about Boston to New York.  Settle in for the three hour ride.  When a train attendant or vendor appears in the door of the car, they bow to the people in the car and then proceed with their business. The train steward entered and bowed.  She proceeded to the first passenger to check their ticket/reserved seat.  It was Mr. Bean`s Japanese daughter!!.  When she smiled she drew her closed lips back towards her ears.   And two bean dimples appeared.  She bowed the quick low bows and dimpled deeply as she spoke in a high voice.  It was Mr. Bean`s intelligent daughter in charge ot the train. Later to Ginza from our hotel in Shibuya.  David had a reservation at a restaurant of high quality.  I had a tie and jacket on and good shoes as well.  Three waiters/attendants worked our chairs and seated us.  In the center of the room, 4 men were opening, decanting, inspecting the French wines. Tuna tartar with a cauliflower mousse topped with three red salmon eggs arrived as an unordered opener.  My appetizer was  pheasant in a rich veloute with a green tea chiffon foam as a float.  For David, an appetizer of foie gras ravioli with white truffles!!!.  This alone cost over $120!  White wine for the first course of course.  A fine Pouilly Fuisse [sp].  My main course, with a fine French pinot noir, was Brittany lobster with parmesan gnocchi.  That is a lot of wine.  Meg and David each had awesome choices.    Our waiters were very helpful and the presentation was impeccable. ...

Irregular Posts; Japan 5,Hakone

Tokyo ; Nov 30th Konichiwa, Back from Hakone to spend our last night in Asakuas section of the bigtown.  The weather did not allow any views of Mt Fuji. but it allowed for a lot of atmospheric images.  Last night we stayed in a 131 yr old hotel.  Our room was the Wisteria room in the Flower Palace.  Think old and fancy.  The place is spread out with buildings connected by long hall/corridors.  History on the wall in photos.  Art in the old style, flower arrangements.  lighted gardens, and the faint aroma of a patchouli or incense.  All guests are guided to their room where the baggage had already been placed in the closet.  It is good that there is a map of the corridors and buildings sections. Our dinner was a traditional Japanese 8 course experience of traditional preparations focusing on fish.  Nice cold sake with the meal.  Photos were taken of the courses because there is no way to describe the beauty of presentation.  The taste was just a amazing.  David has taught well to look for fine dining.  I can say that this was the most expensive meal that Meg and I have ever paid for.  You only go this way once. Now it is off to the room in the ryokan near the Buddhist temple.  Packing must be done.  Tomorrow we walk in the AM and then head away.  The flight is about 4PM.  We get home to Boston at 6PM.  Wow a 2 hr flight!! “Travel light and wear a smile.”    Jack...

Irregular Posts; Japan 3, Osaka

Osaka 2; Nov 25th Konichiawa, Train ride to Himedji Castle.  This dummy arrived at the JR station and instantly remember his JR pass on the luggage back in the room!! This will cost!!  JR tickets are NOT cheap.  The ride cost about $40 one way…a 35 minute express ride.  Think Boston to Worcester.  Oh yeah, the reserved seat is cheaper than the unreserved. The clouds were breaking as we blurred down the line.  It promised to be a beautiful fall day; sunny and warm.  My fleece that had proved to be almost warm enough with a sweater was stowed in the camera bag.  No problem having an expensive camera hanging on your neck and a compact camera in a front pocket.  Half of the visitors do also. A fine day`s walk up the boulevard in Himedji. It was lined with gingko trees in their autumn yellow coat.  Some leaves still had a tinge of green along the outer edge.  Wavering in the breeze, lifting and twisting on the branches.  Meg said they looked like butterflies. Many of the people on the train were on the 15 minute boulevard walk to the castle.  This is a World Heritage site.  Unbelievably impressive edifice.  On a prominent hilltop the white and towering castle dominates the area.  Fall yellow gingko and red leafed maples set it off against the blue sky with a few cumulus clouds in the back for accent. Inside the castle you must remove your shoes and carry them in a plastic shopping bag.  You may wear slippers or go stocking feet.  My large feet find it difficult in the slippers that are just too...

Irregular Posts; Japan 2, Kyoto

Kyoto; Fri Nov 20, 2009 Konichiwa, A futon on a tatami mat at a ryokan in Kyoto…A title for a couple of stories? We have settled into a small ryokan in a Kyoto neighborhood.  Our traditional room is interesting.  Table and chairs are low on the floor.  No legs on the chair; just a cushion and a covered back.  Your outstretched legs fit just under the table.  A tea pot and cups are there for you to make leaf tea. Remove the futon and bedding from the closet.  Push the table and chairs to the side.  Make up your bed.  It felt good to stretch out and drift away.  I will say that the futon is thin, so bony protrusions do feel the tatami mat.  But never fear…sleep is nice after the long day. On the first floor, there is a breakfast room.  Here patrons share a large table for breakfast of eggs, toast, and coffee or tea.  It is nice to talk with fellow travelers about what has been seen and experienced.  There is free internet available as well. Yesterday, we took trains from Narita Airport to Tokyo and then on to Kyoto.  The big train station in Tokyo is enormous.   Breakfast of pastry and tea in a small sit down shop.  We bought a couple of bento box lunches for the train ride to Kyoto.  Rice, meat, and pickled vegetables in Japanese style with chopsticks.  No forks seen! The Shinkensan express train is FAST.  Watching the scenery, you have great difficulty focusing on objects close to the train.  They blur past. The wind from a train traveling in the opposite direction softjolts...

Irregular Posts; Japan 1

Andover Tue Nov 17, 2009 Offagain Offagain Boggidty Boggidty! It must be November; the road calls again.  Pre-winter chores are as done as done will be.  I mulch-mowed fallen leaves for the second time.  Gutters have been cleaned.  Mail has been stopped.  Bags are packed.  I just finished internet airline check in.  Tonight, I’ll set back the thermostat.  At 4:40AM, Meg and I will put our carry-on baggage on our backs and hike the 1/3 mile to the airport shuttle at the Park and Ride beside the Interstate. Thursday afternoon, their time, we’ll land in Narita Japan.   We’ll be traveling for two weeks; Kyoto… our son, David joins us there Sunday…Nara…Osaka…Tokyo…Hakone [Fuji]…Narita and then home.  I hope to see a photographer friend from Hong Kong who is studying in Osaka.  Thanksgiving in Tokyo.   David said that I had to bring a jacket and tie!!!  3 Michilin stars or something like that. I thought informal travel plans would be OK but it will be high season there.  Few open rooms, so Meg scrambled to find accommodations in the places that we are to be.  It is autumn in Japan, falling leaves at the temples.  Think leaf peeping in New England.  Weather will be fall; cool and maybe a little rain. Just as long as there are no major storms that is okay. OK, what should we do for supper tonight?  Pizza?  Mexican?  Greek-Deli?  or peanut butter with nutella on toast topped with banana?  We don’t what any leftovers.  How about Greek pizza and a beer for supper and the toast for the AM...