Non-Stop: SFO-KIK

A friend drops me at the airport shuttle stop, it is just $20 and one hour ride to SFO.  From there, an 11 hour flight that departs at 11 a.m., and arrives at 4 p.m.  Tokyo and all of Japan is 17 hours ahead of me.

I glance at my ticket. United Flight 35, total paid: $48, plus 70,000 miles.  My plane is almost free.  Bonus: I have Silver status, which allows a gratis upgrade to the 34″ seat from the 31″ seat.

The Japan Plan Continue reading “Non-Stop: SFO-KIK”

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Hiking Through 17th Century Japan

It’s a romantic notion, to be immersed in Japan:

It’s a romantic notion, to be immersed in Japan:

  • Thousand year old paths that wander through hills and small villages.
  • One of the most stable democracies in the world,
  • Crime is almost nonexistent,
  • Chefs want to die there…best food in the world,
  • Yamato Culture: 2500 Years

Continue reading “Hiking Through 17th Century Japan”

Forest Hiking: Makes You Healthy and Happy

Forest therapy uses the medically proven effects of walking in a forest and observing the environment to promote feelings of relaxation and improve both physical and mental health.

I make it a point to hike when I travel.  It’s one way I keep my body fit.  One body, one life.  Moreover, I’ve always had a preference to forest walks. Desert, open ridges, beaches, and other places without trees, they are fine.  Still, forests always felt better.  There is science behind it!  Let’s explore the mental and physical benefits of forest hiking. Continue reading “Forest Hiking: Makes You Healthy and Happy”

Packing Books

I have so many friends that are interested in hiking in Japan, but they are a bit timid, because of the language barrier.

So, I will find out what it’s all about. That’s my plan, and I’ll tell you here.

What to take for three weeks in Japan?

Traveling involves a lot of waiting on planes, trains and busses.  For reading material, I have:

Obtaining Japanese Pilgrimage was an adventure in itself.  Long out of print, it was available in downtown San Francisco.  I made the trip to a charity re-seller, and paid $15 in person.  Also a long list of books on Kindle and iBooks that ensure I cannot run out of good times for the mind.

There isn’t really a good amount of current hiking information about Japan, as opposed to the plethora of information on Camino Santiago, or Machu Pichu, and of course the Pacific Crest Trail.

I have so many friends that are interested in hiking in Japan, but they are a bit timid, because of the language barrier.

So, I will find out what it’s all about.  That’s my plan, and I’ll tell you here.

What? Hiking in Japan in the middle of Winter? Am I nuts?

Ten days to Go.

Pick up my passport today. Woo hoo.

Looking at the 10 day forecast for Japan for the first time now, it looks like there’s gonna be a lot of rain.  I’m starting to wonder: “Why am I taking my first trip hiking in Japan, in the dead of winter?”

I envision slogging down slippery trails, soaked, tired, miserable.

Now the rationalization starts, a dialogue between my anxious self and my practical self:

I can delay until March Spring time when it’s wonderful and the flowers are starting to come out and everything is lovely.  As an experienced hiker, I know that hiking alone in bad weather is dangerous.  So…maybe I should delay until, March, just a 2 month delay.

However, as an experienced hiker, I know that as long as I stick to well-traveled routes, I should be okay.  Still, I have bought all this cold weather gear end and I have my tickets so.. why not go?  I think the good news is that except for New Year’s Eve I shouldn’t have any problem finding accommodations as this is low season.  

I stick with my plan, if it rains too much, I’ll have books.  Plenty of books.

Japan: Land of Shrines

To understand Japan, know the shrines.  Japan is a land of shrines… There are so many shrines a number of books are dedicated to them.  In particular, Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods is on my reading list.  An excerpt from the first page:

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Shinto Shrines and Buddhist temples remain the mainstay of Japan’s cultural, historical and devotional spaces.  For example, there are over 4000 shrines and temples in the Shinto Sect of the Buddhist religion alone.

Some of the odder few shrines that are off the beaten path:

  • The Breast Shrine — The kami here is Chichigamisama, the kami of breasts and women come here to pray for plenty of breastmilk and safe delivery of children.
  • The Hemorrhoid Shrine  — According to ancient Japanese tradition, anyone who visits the shrine and carries out the complete ritual will be cured of the condition of hemorrhoids.  The ritual involves first bathing naked in a local river.  Then visit the Kunigami shrine where an altar with a holy stone egg stands. They hover their backside over the egg while saying a special prayer. They then must consume a meal of boiled eggs at a nearby temple.  This will prevent or cure the affliction.
  • The Divorce Temple — Until the end of the Edo Period, the temple served as a shelter for women who suffered abuse by their husbands and sought a divorce. An official divorce could be attained by staying at the temple for three years.

The great variety of temples is only surpassed by the apparent wealth of temples in Japan.  Most are surrounded by plush gardens, delightful expressions of stone, water, wood and greenery.  It’s sometimes impossible to tell where the temple grounds end and nature begins.  

The temples and shrines fit an intimate part of the Japanese culture, along with the food, the language and the land.  If you take time to learn the Japanese attitudes towards them, it will enhance your visiting pleasure.  

References:

 

Passport Anxiety

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I bought my plane ticket inside the 4-6 week window for passport renewal.  So, I opted to wait to the 2 week mark to make an appointment, per the Department of State instructions.  Mistake.  The next appointment is only four days before I leave.  Now, I am faced with paying an extra $150 to a passport agency to handle my passport application.

Since my tickets were paid for with frequent flyer miles (Thank you United) I can delay my trip.  But, I don’t want to!  Life is short.  I’ll go again in the Spring, anyways.  This is an exploratory trip.