A Different Vacation–in Japan by Mona Risk

I had the unique opportunity to visit Japan a month ago. After a twenty-four hour flight from Florida to Illinois, a four-hour layover in Chicago, and an endless flight to Tokyo we finally arrived TWO days later–because of a thirteen-hour time difference–under a pouring rain.

Tokyo is a perfect example of modern capital, with more highrises than Manhattan and as many Toyotas and Hondas! Our organized tour around the huge city revealed a few surprises. Did you know that Tokyo has a Statue of Liberty offered by the US? And an Eiffel Tower taller than the original French Eiffel Tower?

The imperial palace is not open to the public, but we visited a reproduction newly inaugurated in April. Painted in bright colors on a golden background, all the walls slide open in such a way that you can have several small rooms converted into a large one. No furnitures encumber the rooms. People spread their futton mat at night and remove them in closets during the day .

The real old Japanese flavor survives in the temples boasting the vivid red colors favorite to the Japanese culture and the shrines hidden in caves overlooking the ocean or on top of mountains. To reach that particular shrine, Nichinan, we climbed down 400 steps. The problem was to climb them back up!!!

We visited gorgeous parks with incredible displays of colorful flowers. We walked around for hours, others navigated by train. Weddings are often held in these parks.

The blend of old and new is present everywhere. Every mall, airport or public place offers two types of stalls in the rest rooms, the very old style–a whole in the floor surrounded by ceramic. You don’t sit. You crouch low or stand and aim right! The other type is the expensive Toto type with a set of push buttons to spray water when you are sitting. A detailed set of instructions is affixed on the restroom door. 

 

 

In addition to all sort of suchi, we tasted new food, even new ice creams flavors: Green tea ice cream, gold or platinum ice creams: vanilla covered with a gold leaf or a platinum leaf. You pay double price for these.–$8.

 

 

 

 

Our tour guide explained that school children of all ages have one month of vacation in summer and one in winter. In addition to clearing their desks, the children must clean the class, the class restroom and the hallway in front of their classes. 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited the geisha area, fought the samurai, but didn’t ride in a pulled rickshaw.

It would take too long to relate all the highlights of this incredible journey to the other side of the world. Maybe one day I will use it as a setting for a new book.

Meanwhile let me offer you my newest book:  FOR SARAH’S SAKE

 

A broken marriage.

Second chance at love.

And a precious little girl trying to escape danger and hatred, to get herself a loving family.