North America, Asia · 11 Days · 56 Moments · March 2019

SLCS 2019 Japan Tour

5 April 2019

We have returned!
79 miles from home; the obligatory snap of the airplane wing and sky. (^_^) We will be home shortly!

5 April 2019

We are on board and ready to depart! See you soon!
Our last night in Japan: the neon-lit Shinsaibashi in Osaka with the iconic Glico running man mascot; final day visit to a local KitKat store (!); the group at the airport, just before departure; our awesome tour director, Mari.

4 April 2019

We have reached Osaka, Japan’s second largest city! We will be checking in to our hotel soon, and heading out for dinner and some final fun!
The countryside is in full bloom!
Our last full day in Japan: The stunning Himeji castle, with stunningly long lines ;-) On our way to Osaka for our last night, and flight home tomorrow...

3 April 2019

Dinner was the always delicious Okonomiyaki, served Hiroshima-style (with noodles!); Andrew gets a new job, and promptly gets all his friends hired as well. (^_^)
The Atomic Clock, which counts the days since the Hiroshima bombing, and the days since the most recent nuclear test. I have been here six times so far, and every time, the nation that last tested a nuclear weapon was... the United States of America. (u_u). Nuclear weapons threaten us all, every man, woman, and child.
Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Memorial: we met with Our guide, Mito-San, a class 3 (in-utero) survivor of the Hiroshima atomic bomb; stood at ground zero of the blast; donated paper cranes that we folded to the collection there commemorating the life of a young girl named Sadako who died of leukemia as a result of the bomb
Looking for sea critters in the tidal pools (we saw jellyfish, a puffer fish, and lots of hermit crabs!); kicked off my shoes to join Hector on a small sand bar that had emerged; the explorer’s club pauses for a pic in front of the gate
The guardian spirits of the temple (a restaging of a similar picture taken on our previous trip, included here); the massive Torii gate as the tide receded; Hector braves the waves for a picture
Hiroshima: Ferry ride to Miyajima; the Miyajima Shrine; the iconic Miyajima Torii gate

2 April 2019

Kyoto: yozakura or evening cherry blossoms, lit from below; a few brave hearts decided to check out the local haunted house. Walking totals for today: 9.02 miles!
Kyoto: Nintendo world headquarters; Arashiyama bamboo forest and the nearby river
Kasuga Shrine: fortune telling the romantic prospects of the travelers at the Love Shrine by submersing their fortunes in water and waiting for the fortunes to appear on the paper; cherry blossoms still grace the scenery
Todai Temple: the largest free standing wooden structure in the world, and home to the largest bronze Buddha statue; students crawl through a really small opening (the same size as the Buddha statue’s nostril) to obtain good luck
Nara: dabbing with the deer; the Deer Police were called when someone abused one of the deer (the animals are legally protected by Japanese law); warning sign to help tourists avoid being attacked by a deer

1 April 2019

Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto; the view from the top of the mile-long trail that wends through the mountains in Kyoto
Nijō Castle: former residence of the Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa. Photography inside is prohibited, we only took a few outside...
Kyoto Nishijin Textile Center: kimono fashion show
Sightseeing Kyoto this morning: the Golden Pavilion

31 March 2019

Dinner was Karaage (Japanese chicken nuggets); we ended the night with some Karaoke
Waiting for the bullet train to Kyoto; on our way to Kyoto!
Cable car down to the lake; waiting for our tour boat lakeside; Leo takes a wild panda; Lake Ashi afternoon cruise; the students re-enact the Titanic
Wind blown travelers; the view of Lake Ashi from the summit; Mt. Fuji emerges from the clouds
The summit of Mt. Komagatake (the temperature was around 35° and very windy)
On our way to the top of Mt. Komagatake via ropeway; Mt. Fuji in the distance, shrouded by clouds
Sunrise over the Pacific; breakfast at the resort before heading out; Owakudani crater, where thermal vents spew sulfuric steam, and the locals boil and sell eggs cooked in these vents

30 March 2019

At the Atami Hit Springs Resort: a traditional style, Kaiseki dinner, dressed in yukata
Kamakura Buddha: clear blue skies prevailed for our visit to this popular spot
We stopped at Miraikan, a science museum established by a former ISS Japanese astronaut to have a look around, and to see a demonstration of the famous Honda robot, ASIMO.
Down escalators in Japan are apparently made for going...up?
Checked out of our hotel this morning, and stopped by Odaiba for a quick look at the giant (life-sized?) statue of Gundam, a mechanized fighting suit made famous by the Anime of the same name. The tulips are in full bloom as well!

29 March 2019

Stopped by Asukayama Park to marvel at the beauty of sakura in full spring bloom
One last group picture , and then we were off to the shop to collect our handmade chopsticks — the shop teacher very kindly finished everyone’s chopsticks with walnut oil while we were of playing drums and drinking tea
Participated in some activities that allowed students to practice both English and Japanese
Made some chopsticks in the school’s wood shop under the guidance of the shop teacher. Every student made their own pair!
Next, we enjoyed a tea ceremony
We visited Ōji High School first thing in the morning. The school band played their Disney medley that they were practicing for a concert the next day; it was really beautifully played! Following that, we got some hands on experience with Japanese Taiko drums...
An incredibly busy day yesterday — sorry for the lack of updates! We started out on a very crowded train.

28 March 2019

Walking totals for today! Whew!
Dinner was the Sumo wrestlers’ favorite, “chankonabe”
Akasaka: the Sensōji Buddhist Temple; the shopping street leading up to the temple; a snapshot in front of the famous “Lightning Gate”
Harajuku: the very crowded Takeshita street; lining up for a very tasty ramen lunch; singing Karaoke for a free cookie
At the Meiji Jingu shrine; we saw a Japanese wedding procession!
Sightseeing: the Imperial Palace and palace grounds is our first stop this morning.

27 March 2019

Late dinner last night, and back to the hotel to collapse. Many of us did not sleep on the plane and were awake for 36+ hours or so.
Had a quick bite to eat at the airport (Delta’s onboard coolers malfunctioned and spoiled our breakfasts), and we are now on the bus on our way to the hotel to check in and get vertical so that we can get some rest... (^_^)
We have arrived!
Everybody’s here and we’re ready to board!