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October 19, 2012

Christine Johnson’s guide for a week in Japan

by Rylan Stewart

[We interviewed newest Morro Bay City Councilwoman for our SLO Locals Blog. This is an "extra" from the interview - Christine discussing her recommendations for a week in Japan. For the full interview, click HERE].

Start in Tokyo and take the Shinkansen Bullet Train from Tokyo to Kyoto to Hiroshima.  (I flew back to Seoul via Fukuoka.)  We traveled without renting a car and it was a breeze to use the taxis/trains/subways even with luggage on wheels as the Japanese have anticipated people traveling with stuff.

Tokyo is a world-class city, great museums, packed with people, and incredible ingenuity to manage all those people.  Get up early to be at the Tsukiji Fish Market by 6am and have sushi for breakfast after wandering through the market.  You can walk around and around for hours in Tokyo taking in the sights, window-shopping, picking up street food—and that’s an inexpensive way to see the city because Tokyo is wildly expensive.  On the way out of Tokyo to Kyoto, you might see Mt. Fuji from the train if it’s a clear day.

Kyoto’s famous Philosophers Walk connects several ancient temples and is not to be missed as it’s an extraordinary experience. Nanzen-Ji Buddhist Temple was my favorite.  And, again, a free  (or donation suggested) activity.  Stay in a ryokan where you sleep on a futon on the floor and there is no western style furniture.  Kyoto is endlessly interesting.

As an American our last stop on the tour, Hiroshima, was unforgettable.  You may be the only non-Japanese in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum when you visit. We were. The overriding message from the museum is the hope that peace will prevail in the future.  I found myself wishing for the same.  Hiroshima is a lovely city and extremely livable.  There is a special savory pancake unique to the region that you have to try called a okonomiyaki.

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