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Showing posts from January, 2014

Dreamy Tunnel Vision: The Road Less Travelled

Through my mind’s eye I can see in tunnel vision.   I knew I had to go up again this time, to my snow kingdom filled with hot spring spas and tasty little treats.  I know I could imbibe with the Gods up there and revel in their many bountiful pleasures.   A cold snow country with warm charms is what Tohoku is about for me.   After leaving Nikko behind I knew my eyes would be blessed with this view.   You see, it didn't snow the whole way up from Tokyo until I got through this last tunnel.

I love how from Tokyo, when the commuter train is full of vacationers, and I can tell where most of the people are headed to, just by guessing their ages.  Maybe they are  on their way somewhere to some gorgeous holiday that they saw on a T.V. program.  Japan is notorious for package holiday tours.   There’s a package for everything in this country by travel agencies that promote all the same stuff about where to eat, sleep, and sightsee.   As the train pulled up to Nikko Station the train emptied…

Winter Solstice in Japan: Yuzu? Well... Not Really.

"Would you "yuzu" yuzu?" says the Japanese guy.   So it's not news that the Japanese enjoy their hot spring baths.  They enjoy them all year round, and then some almost like its a religious event.   The hot spring spa or "onsen" as it's called in Japanese is like partaking in the baptism of life itself.   The changing seasons compliment the bathing experience whether it be outdoors, indoor, or even in a mountain valley.  The scenery is endless.

December 22nd is the start of the winter solstice in Japan.  On this day bathers like adding yuzu, a type of citrus, to their bath water.  It's not uncommon for Japanese to add fruit to their hot water, even onsen powders, but never bubble bath agents!  

Yuzu baths are often enjoyed by young women, and very seldom by old-timers.   There's also different traditions in different prefectures as well, but I will only cover one.   The purpose of this post is to show you a correlation between differences…

Sea of Tea Plantations: Ringing in the New Year in 2014

I have rang in the new year in Japan in many different settings.  The first new year celebration was in the snowy coastlands of Hokkaido in a cozy cottage in a warm dining room next to a kotatsu ( a low table that warms your feet) snowy hot natural hot spas with huge snow clad pines surrounding it.   I rang in 2014 in a green tea plantation in Shizuoka, the tea capital of Japan and one of the most premium tea regions in the world.  Unlike my Hokkaido experience, it doesn’t snow in Shizuoka instead the view is replaced with majestic views of Mount Fujii and the beautiful coastline.      

I think it’s worth noting that in order to really experience Japan you need to experience a new year celebration in the countryside.    Sure, Tokyo has always been the go-to destination for new year celebration, but this is a strictly “Tokyo” experience, and I mean that.  You could experience the same wild excitement in any major city in the world.    New Year celebration in Japan is about being with …