Jess and Jer's Trip to Japan, April 2006

A Travel Journal with Photos

In the fall of 2005, we were contemplating a spring 2006 vacation in the Bahamas, when Jess stumbled upon a special fare to inaugurate United Airlines' new flights to Kansai International Airport in Japan. We couldn't turn down such a great opportunity, so we quickly bought the tickets and started planning. After a bit of research, we decide to limit ourselves to central Honshu, Japan's main island, due to time constraints and the relatively high cost of travel in Japan. Tokyo was a must-see, of course, as were Kyoto (especially after Jess heard about the Golden Temple) and Osaka (once Jer heard about the aquarium). A friend living in Tokyo suggested that we take a day trip to Himeji, which houses one of Japan's most famous castles, and another friend recommended a day trip to Nara, another historic capital and home of the Giant Buddha.

Japan was amazing, with juxtapositions of ancient and modern, Eastern and Western, everywhere we looked. It was a little disorienting and humbling to be unable to read street signs, food labels in convenience stores or pretty much anything (even things written in English were often somewhat garbled), but everyone seemed very willing to help us as best they could. Generally, the people we encountered were friendly but reserved, though Jess's hair and the small stuffed corgi peeking out of her bag were great icebreakers. We saw many beautiful sights, ate much tasty food (and a few things best described as acquired tastes) and generally had a great adventure.

2006-03-31, Day 1
Wherein we get dicked over by our airline, and fail to go to Japan
2006-04-01 & 2, Day 2
Wherein we go to Japan and manage to find food and shelter, despite the ill effects of trans-Pacific travel
2006-04-03, Day 3
Wherein we view aquatic monks and drink a strange green liquid
2006-04-04, Day 4
Wherein we visit a castle that wasn't recently burned down
2006-04-05, Day 5
Wherein we encounter Mr. Donut, lose ourselves in the Tokyo National Museum, and visit the spiritual home of Jess' camera
2006-04-06, Day 6
Wherein we visit a commercial/religious mecca, and attempt to order strange pizza
2006-04-07, Day 7
Wherein we are welcomed to the point of intimidation, meet a fish that costs about as much as an average compact car, and encounter a blond Japanese-speaker
2006-04-08, Day 8
Wherein we go to Denny's, the plastic food mecca (not Denny's), and also a Korean noodle shop
2006-04-09, Day 9
Wherein we learn the meaning of paper-thin walls and visit a temple known for its cliff, and another one known for its metal content
2006-04-10, Day 10
Wherein we eat a very complicated lunch, stumble upon the corporate nerve center of ¥100 shops, and ride a high-tech bus.
2006-04-11, Day 11
Wherein we are mugged by deer and meet a large, waxy Buddha
2006-04-12, Day 12
Wherein we meet 1001 bodhisattvas (except for the ones on vacation) and nearly as many miniature actors