So it’s decided, we’ll be returning to Japan this coming November. In fact, I intend to return to Japan every year so long as my mother is healthy enough to travel. Although she’s about to turn 84 years old next month, she is still full of vim and vigor and shows no signs of slowing down. I hope for and predict a good number of annual trips to Japan in the years to come.
So why November? Our last trip was in April, and we were blessed to witness the peak of Sakura (cherry blossoms). Mom suggested we time our next trip to see the beautiful fall colors, particularly those of the maple leaves (Momiji). A bit of research revealed that the best time to see the maple leaves turning would be in November. So November it is.
We had such a good experience flying award-winning Singapore Airlines, we will use that airline again — though it will force us to fly via the much-loathed LAX airport and despite the fact there are direct flights from my home city to Tokyo on other carriers. Singapore Airlines is just that good, and purchasing our tickets as far in advance as we did, we actually save money.
Where are we hoping to go on this trip? Of course we hope to spend more time with relatives and friends we missed or with whom we did not get much time on our last visit. But in addition to the familial visits, here is a short list of places we hope to see on this trip:
1. Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture: city southwest of Tokyo, former seat of Shogunate and de facto capital of Japan, site of the enormous bronze Amida Buddha
2. Shizuoka, Shizuoka Prefecture: coastal town where my mother taught English on a Fulbright scholarship 60 years ago
3. Yaotsu, Gifu Prefecture: birthplace of Chiune Sugihara, Vice-Consul of Japan in Lithuania, credited with defying direct orders and saving thousands of Jews fleeing persecution and genocide during WWII
I wrote about the tech I took last time. I was rather surprised how infrequently I was able to find free, open WiFi, so I intend to invest in some sort of smart phone/WiFi hotspot on this trip. My main goal is to be able to use Google Maps better to track my progress and bookmark locations this time around. I’ll certainly document my research, my eventual solution, and how well (or poorly) that solution works out.