Venturing to the island of Hokkaido via a train underground from Aomori to Hakodate. Once in Hakodate, we are on a day adventure to see the area which is highlighted by the sunny day, pops of color, and onsens. (the original post of this was in three parts) Day 7.1: I heart trains. Why do I love trains so much? This leg takes us from Aomori on northern tip of Japan to Hokkaido and the city of Hakodate. The weather really has been our friend so far - even the rain, snow, wind
Day 5: Merchants and Samurai. An ironic juxtaposition of the old and new. The cherry blossoms will be in full bloom late April in this historic town - Kakunodate - nestled in mountains between Akita and Morioka so we were all alone as tourists in the winter chill.
Those samurai really knew how to live the good life and the wide ambling boulevard lined with wooden fence says it all. Attempts to imagine an unpaved road and walking slowly and intentionally in kimono met with s
The art of accidental adventure and immersion into train travel culture of Japan. Sometimes you never know what you are going to encounter. The item on the agenda today (in 2015) is to transport via JR from Sendai to Morioka in order to have a day trip to Kakunodate. We left the extreme hospitality of the hostel - Guest House Umebachi (see this blog post for more info) and took the short walk to the train station. I really love walking in new places so you can observe and tak
Day 4: mystical and magical. Who needs Disney when you can board a train and escape to a magical world in reality? The scenery from the train window helps the transformation from urban to this snowy wonderland in the mountains. Yamadera has 1100 steps and they so graciously tell you how far you have gotten.
The wind and snow were howling at us at the bottom, but determination helped us reach the top. Peaceful silence broken by screams - a traveler embarked with inadequate
Food is the quintessential way to experience a place and culture, but also a way to act like a local. Urban life in Japan allows travelers to immerse easily with a phenomenal array of options for dining. Tonight (in 2015 on day 4) we are on our way back from a day trip using the rail system to get to Yamadera and Ginzan-Onsen from Yamagata station. It is only natural to return to the train station hub near our accommodation to find our evening meal. In most cities in Japan, t
Day 3: rainy days and Sundays.... a transportation day with a short hour peaceful diversion through Utsunomiya before Shinkansen to next pitstop in Sendai. A peaceful morning at the shrine and found the Buddha with three beans standing strong from the encroachment of urbanism. We are on our way from Kanuma to Sendai catching the Shinkansen in Utsonomiya. This little map shows the Nikko line from that main hub. It's a rainy day with damp glistening streets. One of the things t
Why staying in a hostel while traveling at any age is a really great experience. I love trains even more than I ever did once I was able to experience traveling with the JR Pass in Japan and most especially the Shinkansen. There are several tips you must follow including not lining up until almost the precise time that the train will arrive otherwise you'll likely get on the wrong train. The timing and efficiency of this system is notorious. You also must stand away from the
A short jaunt north of Tokyo on the Shinkansen from the Ueno JR station was the perfect pitstop to wander main streets of two small charming towns. Nikko: antiques and wabi sabi When you depart the Nikko train station to head to the Toshogu shrine you can choose the public transit bus or to walk a slowly sloping main street with a decent sidewalk. Sometimes there are so many people waiting for the bus, that the walk is worth it. I also prefer the art of accidental adventure t
Day 2: I would walk 500 miles…. ahem…. I would climb 12 steps.. 20 steps.. 41 steps.. 147 steps to be with you… departed Tokyo on the Shinkansen to Utsunomiya to Nikko. For 600 yen, we stowed our packs for the trek uphill then downhill to explore the Toshogu shrine. A multi-sensory experience in the day. Hum and low whistle of Shinkansen. Gravel crunching. A bird whistle toy clear and distinct through the rustle of wind in cedars. Water dripping from bamboo faucet and splat
TOKYO = plum blossoms in Ueno, selfie sticks in Asakusa, sake barrels lining gravel path to Meiji shrine
(tumblr blog 2015) The beckoning cat – Maneki-neko (招き猫) – is a common image or figurine that signifies good luck to the owner. The left paw raised is for businesses to get more customers and the other paw is holding the coin, but when that paw is raised it is intended to bring fortune. This is a common site everywhere in Japan. ONE DAY IN TOKYO? How can you see Tokyo in
I love to invite people to travel with me even though I'm a solo traveler on most occasions. Across the miles and over time, friendships can endure. In a random series of circumstances, another of my best college pals happened to be traveling months prior to this trip through the city where I was living and we had a chance to reconnect which we try to do when we are in the same place at the same time. In that conversation, I talked to her about my sabbatical trip to Japan. Sh
35 Days in Japan by rail, plane, car, and most importantly feet. I earned my MFA in Graphic Design in 1999. During my thesis research, I found Lucy Lippard's book "The Lure of the Local" and began a journey grounded in Identity with Place which came from her writings and my musings of my past. Sabbaticals are intended to provide opportunity for intensive research in one's discipline after achieving the goal of tenure which is a very enduring and trying time for people in the