Day One, Tuesday, March 7th
All Nippon Airways preps a 777-300ER for us and 250 new friends
Elsa checks for availability of an in-flight ice-pack for her shoulder
Time since departure = 17 hours? No, only 11 hours for the whole trip
The view from our hotel room in Tokyo
Day 3, Thursday - One day lost crossing the dateline
View from the top floor dining room at breakfast time
Looking over the rainbow Bridge to the center of Tokyo
The breakfast view for our four days in Tokyo
Heading for the first stop of the day...
First stop was the Tsukiji Fish Market, the world's largest.
We don't know what they are, but there were lots of them
Lots of Smoked Eels
Too many varieties of fish to name
Crab bites Tuna on the Nose
Sushi Plate prices in Yen
Fish heads, fish heads
Walking in Tokyo
Kindergarten Class going for an Outing
When the final stage of training begins, and the students are now called maiko, rather than minarai.
Major Tourist Trinket shopping on the way to the Asakusa Kannon Temple in the background.
Advertising for the Owl Cafe
A Proud Bird
Training in Smartphone Use and Etiquette is Essential for a Maiko
If this is Tuesday, what Temple is this?
The Sensoji Kannon temple is dedicated to Guanyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy
It is Tokyo's oldest temple, and one of its most significant.
The temple is the most widely visited spiritual site in the world with over 30 million visitors annually.
Harvey, brushing up on his photobomb technique
If the smoke blows on you, you will be cured
Hey, I was cheated... my shoulder still hurts
Good Food, found using Good Luck for one of our "Lunch on Your Own" meals
What do you mean by "My GPS isn't Working?"
Cat on a Leash?
Barrels of Sake wrapped in Straw
Offered as an honor to Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken
The Wine Industry wanted into the picture, too
Entrance to the Meiji Shrine
Visitor purify themselves by scooping water and rinsing their hands
Pouring water into your own hand isn't as easy as it might seem
The Meiji Shrine
Sushi dinner in the hotel... where we discover how expensive Japan really is.
Day 4, Friday
Tokyo Tower is the first stop the next morning. It's 333 meters high in the center of Tokyo
Notice the absence of construction cranes
In spite of how closely spaced the buildings are and how many people live in Tokyo (12 million),
Walk around for a 360 degree view of Tokyo
The base of the Tokyo Tower
As close as we could get to the palace
The Imperial Palace in the center of Tokyo
Start of Sushi School
We didn't get to keep the nice jackets
Master Sushi Chef displays his technique
The sushi we made was actually pretty good
We each made six pieces of sushi on our own from a tray of fish and a bowl of rice
Elsa receives her diploma showing she graduated from Sushi School
Pedro is a Shushi Chef, too
Our honorable guide, Etsuko, dropping us off for two hours of shopping in the expensive Ginza District
We end the day at Akihabara, the center of Tokyo's electronic sales
We got only 5 minutes of free time to explore, a major disappointment.
The pitcher of beer was really $28 dollars, not the $20 we thought
Day 5, Saturday
A real cherry tree, not the park full of hundreds that Elsa hoped to see
Our bus driver while we were in Tokyo for four days
Welcome to Woodshop 101
Arrange some little wood squares and glue them together
See, this is how it's supposed to look
You don't notice the errors in placement until after the glue dries
This pirate ship will take us across Lake Ashi
Another ship going back for more tourists
to the Mount Komagatake Ropeway up to the Owakudani Valley geothermal area.
It's still winter here in Hakone
Lunch on our own, but only one restaurant around.
Food always brings a sparkle to Elsa's eyes
Geothermal Museum in Hakone
The World's Biggest Stone Easter Egg
Carrying cement in cattle?
Driving to the Mt. Fuji lookout point
It was cloudy until we arrived at the lookout
The Accidental Tourists arrive at Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji is an active volcano 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Tokyo. Itís the countryís tallest peak, at 3,776 meters (12, 389 feet).
Hello Kitty is a very Japanese Thing
It's Not New York, but it is Cold
Tokyo, from the shopping center outside our hotel
Our hotel, the Grand Nikko
Day 6, Sunday
Leaving Tokyo... waiting for the Bullet Train with all we were allowed to bring onboard for two nights
We're headed for Kanazawa
The nose cones open, allowing the trains to be coupled together
On the bullet train
Watching the countryside fly by at bullet speed
Not much yard for these houses
Still plenty of snow in the mountains
Fruit and Vegetables were very expensive
Assortment of Fruits
Elsa got ice in the market to soothe her aching shoulder
A few more cherry blossoms in the Kenroku-en Garden
One of the country's most elite gardens
R2-D2's little Brother
In Kagaosen, we find the real Japan
A full course Kaiseki Dinner awaits
Wearing our yukata, Pedro takes a little nap before dinner
Elegant is the word for it.
Does anyone know what we are eating here?
I know this one is a shrimp
Etsuko liked to be called Eko
Things are looking up...
Day 7, Monday
Breakfast at the Ryokan
Balcony overlooking the lake outside our room
Driving on the Wrong side of the road is encouraged
One of many tunnels
It looks like Switzerland with Japanese houses
The Accidental Tourists Find Snow in the Winter in Japan !
There's still plenty of snow up in the mountains
I Accept the Challenge
Thatched Roof gassho-zukuri (praying hands) Farmhouses in Shirakawa-go
Takayama's Old Town
Takayama Jinya Museum of Parade Floats
The wooden floats are brought out only for major festivals
Model Villages in the Museum
Day 8, Tuesday
Street Vendor, taking a mid-morning nap, Takayama
Takayama Sanno-machi Historic District
Chicken, beef and pork is cooked over individual small ovens
Boarding in Nagoya, bound for Kyoto
Dinner just outside the hotel... reasonably priced sushi
Day 9, Wednesday
Elsita makes a grand entrance during Kimono demonstration
This Kimono thing is serious business
Harvey, known also as Samuri-san, and his band of warriors
Instant Geisha assortment gathered from many countries
Kimono School Graduation Ceremony
Map of the Ryoanji Temple
The Kinkaku-ji Temple, the Golden Pavilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Praying for better weather at the Ryoanji Temple
We came a long way to see Cherry Blossoms
Very Popular Tourist Spot
Elsa got a little ice cream cone. I wanted the big vanilla one
The very popular Hello Kitty doll was calling to Elsa
Returning to the hotel during the evening rsuh hour
Back at our Hotel
We wander from the hotel for dinner on our own, stopping in front of the train station
Another adventure in Fine Dining on our own
The waitresses have never seen foreigners in this place
Day 10, Thursday
A cherry tree, waiting for us to leave, so it can start to bloom
Another Purification Station
The Heian Shinto Shrine Main Gate with the Main Hall in the background
The Heian Shinto Shrine is listed as an important cultural property of Japan.
You are here. How do they know that?
The Japanese-style garden takes up about half the land area and was created over a 20-year period.
Species otherwise rare in Japan such as the Yellow pond turtle and the Japanese pond turtle live around the ponds.
The Bullet Trains are visible from our hotel elevator
The lobby waiting area was dominated by a giant lamp
Introduction to the Tea Ceremony
Have a Lock that doesn't Lock or a Key that doesn't Key?
Lunch provided by the tour operator, Gate 1 Travel
The path leading up to the Fushimi Inari Shrine was crowded
The building in the background is the Romon Gate at the shrine's entrance
Please be Purified
Worship Regular Route
Fushimi Inari is the most important of several thousands of shrines dedicated to Inari, the Shinto god of rice.
Fushimi Inari Shrine is an important Shinto shrine famous for its thousands of torii gates, which straddle a network of trails behind its main buildings.
The inner shrine is reachable by a path lined with thousands of torii.
You can count on finding food vendors at busy locations.
Can you pick out the Foreigner Girl?
A Time Traveler lost in a Pachinko Palace
A small Cemetery in the middle of the city
Day 11, Friday
Deer park in Nara. Over 1000 tame deer expect food from tourists
Stop biting my pants. I have food for you
One at a time, they are tame enough. When more gather, they get aggressive
We survived the deer attack
I hope my wish comes true
The smoke treatment hasn't started working yet
Daibutsu (Great Budda) stands over 50 feet high
Budda's Right Hand Man
Budda's Left Hand Man
Wandering a side street, looking for a lunch spot
After lunch, we found an interesting self-serve food market
Japanese language lesson on the bus
After our Farewell Dinner, a Maiko (Geisha in training) Girl joined us
Can I become a Geisha, too?
Etsuko and Geisha at our Farewell Dinner
Our Merry Band at the end of the tour
Day 12, Saturday
Walking through the Kyoto train station, seeking lunch the next day
Model railroad, N guage, set up for kids in front of the train station
Back at the hotel in Kyoto, waiting for our 4:00 PM ride to the airport in Osaka
Arriving at Tokyo Haneda for our mid-night flight to Los Angeles
Our route with the number of nights we spent at each location