Japan … T-Minus 10 Days!

I can’t believe it – in less than two weeks I’ll be in Japan! I still have a lot of work to do to feel ready for the trip, but I’m kind of expecting that I won’t feel ready at all.
Matt found this great travelogue of someone who took a similar route to ours. We’ll be there a few days longer, but will be going to most of the same cities. Rather than go with a packaged tour, we planned the trip ourselves – I’ll let you know how that works out.
We’ve decided to spend a good portion of our time in Japan staying in traditional Japanese Ryokan Inns, interspersed with western-style hotels.
We’re starting off with a few days in Tokyo and then traveling along the west coast of Honshu for a few days in the country. We want to experience Tokyo’s famous nightlife and some of the more famous sites, like the Imperial Palace and the national Diet.
We’re staying in a traditional grass hut style inn Shirakawa-go, then a night in Kanazawa. By Japanese standards, Kanazawa is considered small, but it’s actually not much smaller than DC!
From there, we’re spending a few days in each Kyoto and Osaka. I’m looking forward to seeing the ancient Imperial Palace in Kyoto (we’ll see the main palace in Tokyo) and we’ll also be there for the Gozan no Okuribi, which features giant bonfires on the hills surrounding the city. Osaka is considered the gourmet food capital of Japan, so I’m hoping we find some great regional cuisine there.
After Osaka we’re going to go to Hiroshima for a few days. There was some debate as to whether that would be worth it – apparently there’s not much there above and beyond the World Heritage Site and the Peace Memorial. It’s a bit out of the way, but we decided it was worth it.
We’ll spend a night in Nara before returning to Tokyo for a few days. In Nara, we’re apparently staying at one of the nicest Ryokan Inns around, which should be fantastic. Ryokans are known for their gourmet food, gardens, hot springs, and luxurious accommodations. I’m looking forward to seeing that all in Nara, as well as the apparently enormous deer population that wanders around the city.
Finally, we’re spending three days at the Intercontinental in Tokyo, just basically relaxing and enjoying our final few days in Japan before the ridiculously long flight back to the States.

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