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Festival Season in Japan

Getting started

sunny 89 °F

I'm off to Japan again, this time in the summer to try and overdose on festival season. I'm fortunate that my son Robin is able to come with me for the first two weeks of my three week excursion.

My planning started off with typical airfare complexity. I priced a ticket from Detroit to Tokyo on Delta and others and it was running around $1800 plus - really too much! As Robin was considering joining me, he did the same and found that a Boston to Tokyo ticket on Delta was pricing at $1000! To add insult to injury, the itinerary went through Detroit. So it ended up being cheapest to buy the Boston to Tokyo ticket and then buy a Detroit to Boston ticket to join Robin there to start the trip. I guess the take home lesson for long international flights is to check every major airport in the US and if you can find a fare with substantial savings, just fly there to take advantage. Arrgh.

Our major goal was to experience a variety of Japanese festivals across the country, taking full advantage of our Japan Rail pass. It provides unlimited travel for 7, 14 or 21 consecutive days and we expect to really exploit this flexibility! The best bargain is the 21 day pass if you can manage to find the time.

My trip started out in Detroit and my first new experience occurred at the Detroit airport (DTW). Workers were installing green walls in the newly remodeled Gate A-1 area.


The pioneer in this concept is Patrick Blanc - you can learn more at his site http://www.verticalgardenpatrickblanc.com/

Another bit of a surprise was the plane I flew from DTW to Boston which was a newly remodeled A 319. It looked nice inside with kind of spacey consoles in the ceiling, made more spacey by the clouds of condensation coming in through the ventilation system. The other new feature was a video screen at each seat. This is usually not seen on shorter flights such as this and coupled with Delta's new 'free movies all the time' policy it makes a nice distraction from the rather harder seats that newer Delta jets sport.

I stayed with Robin that night and we hit an early flight from Boston to JFK then on to Narita. This is always a challenge - it's a 13+ hour flight, but going west is the easier direction. We stayed awake on the flight watching movies and otherwise distracting outselves. It was a cool discovery to find the documentary 'All Things Must Pass' which is about Tower Records, a chain that started in Sacramento, went global and then died back to only Japanese branches. Tower Records was where I learned to buy and enjoy music; they even had listening rooms back in the day - and by 'back in the day' I mean like 1963! I'm sure lots of my HS buds remember Tower and would enjoy the flashback.

We landed in the late afternoon and went to the Narita Hilton where I had a cheap room with a few Hilton points. It's a really nice hotel and so much easier than trying to drag into Tokyo the first night. We crashed without even having dinner and woke up famished. Fortunately, the hotel has an epic breakfast buffet with American, European, Japanese and Chinese sections so I made up for lost time by having a Japanese breakfast followed by a more eclectic plate of just about everything. The Japanese breakfast includes (on the right) sticky rice steamed in banana leaf and (on the left) a dish of natto which is definitely an acquired taste that I enjoy.


Rested and fed, we struck out on our quest for festivals!

Posted by tdeits 00:55 Archived in Japan

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