Before starting TOURific Escapes Matt and I enjoyed our fair share of travel, both personal and professional. I worked on a cruise line for three years and also spent time as a travel host for a travel club. Matt headed to Japan right out of college to teach English, which turned into a bartending job instead. Right in the midst of an exciting four months there, he got a call to interview with United Airlines and moved back to the states to start his aviation career, which has taken him around the world.
When I first met Matt and we compared travel stories, he talked about his time in Japan with a twinkle in his eye. He talked about his friends who married Japanese women and still live there, he talked about the landscape, the food, the fun and the overall culture. When we recently found ourselves with the opportunity to take a trip, we debated several places that would be good to visit in February. We have friends living in the Philippines and also friends on assignment in Hong Kong. Hawaii is always a nice idea and then there’s Machu Picchu in Peru that’s been on my list for a long time. We also debated Italy, France and New York. But the more we talked, the more it seemed that Japan was the logical choice. Matt warned me that it would be cold, but we figured going in the winter, in the off-season, would be an experience not many tourists can talk about. Yes the cherry blossom season is not far away, but this was the time frame we were given so we took it.
We spent three glorious days in Kyoto, with Matt guiding us around town with his own version of a Sites and Bites tour. We took every form of public transportation available and did a lot of walking. We got a full day of snow. We took a food tour, an in-home cooking class and participated in a tea ceremony. We then took the train to Tokyo, where we spent four days with Matt’s friends Sean and Yuko. And they showed us their version of a Sites and Bites tour around Yokohama and Tokyo. The amount that we saw in that glorious week is too great to cover adequately in this one little blog, but I do have a few special highlights and discoveries that stood out, in no particular order:
Heated toilet seats!
There is no trash on the streets or in the subways, and yet there are very few trash bins to be found
It’s just as easy to follow the rules as it is to break them, thus eliciting this philosophy of community harmony
You can purchase some delicious hot or cold drinks in a vending machine, found literally on every corner
You can purchase a nice meal including drinks and dessert from the local 7-11
Mention Hollywood to the locals, and better yet give them movie star names, and you’ll be entertained all night
The sheer variety of food, from sweet to savory, is astounding. For a girl who doesn’t eat sushi, I had plenty to eat and even tried a few new dishes
Our TOURific Escape to Japan flew by quickly and we have treasured memories to last a lifetime. I’m very grateful for the shared experience with my husband and now I know why he talks about Japan with that twinkle in his eye. It was a magical adventure! If Japan is on YOUR travel list, I hope you are able to visit someday soon.