Monday, January 30, 2012

Japanese Whispers.....Cherry Blossom Dreams

     This morning I was watching the news and they mentioned a businessman from Los Angeles (where we have our own Little Tokyo, moshi moshi!) who is trying to do his part in helping Japan recover some of it's tourism since the tsunami/nuclear accident. According to the Japanese tourism board, there are many areas in eastern Japan that were and are unaffected by the tragedy, and have lost significant traffic from tourism. Mr. Shige Higashi, who owns many businesses in Japan, has decided he is going to organize some low cost group tours to do his part for his homeland. Check out the link to read the whole story and for more information on the tour.
     I really have to give some snaps to Mr. Higashi. Our country would never have been built if it weren't for people with that can-do spirit. A lady I work with is of Japanese heritage and really would like to visit. Last year I heard of a contest being run by the Japanese Tourism Board which gave away 10,000 plane tickets to foreign visitors. There were some rules, of course, mostly regarding blogging or writing about traveling to Japan. Ok, before you all start laughing and saying this is my way of trying to get one of those tickets, the ticket scheme is not in the 2012 budget for Japan.
     Japan does have a lot to offer. Beautiful Shinto and Buddhist temples, many places to hike (Mt. Fuji!), awesome food (I'm not a sushi fan but I LOOOOOOVE teppan), and interesting people. According to Mr. Higashi's site and CBS News, here are a few of the details:
Through his website,, Higashi is organizing a tourism expedition to the scenic rural area. Airfare will be about $750, bullet train and bus tickets, hotels and other costs will bring the total tab to about $2,000.
The trip promises to be very traditional, with lodgings at the Ksennuma Hotel Kanyo, near the center of the tsunami-affected coastline.
“Accommodations are in Japanese `ryokan’ style, sharing one big room,” Higashi said.
     I would love to see the cherry blossoms in bloom, drinking tea from delicate little cups, listening to a shamisen being played, or visiting a cultural center where I can learn about kimono and all the intricate ways to tie an obi. I never knew until recently how long those things really are! I'm also interested in seeing some of the Shinto temples. For a preview of some great Japenese art, readers can always visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, located next to the La Brea Tar Pits/Page Museum. They even have a fully assembled samurai costume!
     For more information on visiting Japan, click on the links below:

Japan National Tourism Organization

3-day Bullet Train tour to Mt. Fuji, Kyoto and Nara from Tokyo- $852

Cooking class, Sake Tasting and Nishiki Market tour- Kyoto- $173


  1. I lived in Japan for over a year, and it's a place many Americans never think to put on their "must see" list -- a shame! English language education is ubiquitous for the younger generations, so there isn't much of a language barrier if you're willing to speak slowly and not get frustrated by some people's shyness about their language skills. It's an absolutely amazing country, with a facinating juxtaposition between the traditional and the futuristic. The bustle and excitement of Harajuku is like a different planet from the family farms just a short train ride away. There are hot spring resorts, stunning seaside vistas and snowcapped mountains above tiny fishing villages, in addition to the amazing cultural aspects Chrystal mentioned. Put it on your list!

  2. Japan is so amazing. You will love it! You should visit my family. :)