Landing in Japan
As we looked at the weather forecast on our mobile phones, we did not see much (or any) sunshine in the days to come during our journey to Japan. In fact a typhoon was on a track from the southern Pacific. Tokyo and Kyoto were in its projected path – that’s a challenging start to any journey.
Still our stylish contemporary hotel with its focus on art lifted our spirits. Shortly after our last guests arrived, we sat together for cocktails and then walked through a spotless underground passageway to one of the neighboring buildings for a welcoming briefing and a delightful Japanese dinner in an adjacent building high above the city lights far below.
The next day we began with an overview of the city from the tallest tower in Asia known as the Tokyo Skytree. Though mostly surrounded by clouds, gaps in the cloud cover allowed us to see the vast city. Next we visited the Asakusa Buddhist temple, the oldest temple in the city. Unfortunately the weather prevented us from a visit to one of the country’s most beautiful gardens. Instead we explored one of the country’s leading department stores, Mitsukoshi. We didn’t bother with men’s suits or ladies’ sweaters. Rather we explore the basement, home to an amazing food hall that tops the offerings at Herrods in London. Whether you wanted exquisite French patisserie, Italian pastas or Japan’s prized fruits, vegetables or prepared foods, it was there for you. (A platinum American Express card seemed appropriate.)
Next we took an elevator to the top of the store to explore the kimono department. We examined the fine silks used in the kimono robes and the elaborate fabrics used for the obi sash. The exquisite fabrics and designs are indescribable. We even saw special underwear designed to be worn underneath a kimono (including a waist pad that hid any hourglass figures) and watched a sandal maker adjust the straps on exquisite sandals.
The price tags for some of the kimonos approached $20,000 while others were offered for less than half that amount.
Quite a day.
The following day we boarded one of Japan’s famed ‘bullet’ trains to travel some 300 miles south to Kyoto at speeds approach 200 mph. Just two hours later, we arrived in Japan’s ancient capital (for 1,000 years) and still Japan’s cultural capital.
We’ll tell you all about our time in a few days (including our evening with a geisha and an apprentice known as a “maiko”). For now, we’re all in good spirits and enjoying every moment. The brunt of the typhoon missed us in Kyoto (the rains did not) and hit Japan with full force around Tokyo. Today the clouds lingered but the rain stopped and the forecast for our next several days looks much more promising.
Paul and Christine