In February 2010 we visited Japan and checked out Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. The main goal (aside from some business stuff) was to enjoy the food and drink and try some new stuff. The highlights of the trip were the feeding of deer in Nara and monkeys at the Arashiyama Monkey Park.
The night before we went to the monkey park, there was a news story on TV that showed monkeys-gone-wild in another monkey park in Japan as they brazenly attacked and stole food from kids and vendors. Pretty scary stuff. So as we hiked up to the monkey area in Arashiyama, I was in Maximus mode, ready to unleash hell on any aggressors if necessary. Luckily (for me) the monkeys were very tame. Besides, there were so many of them that they could have easily overwhelmed us. As long as you don’t look them in the eye (yes, they actually warn you about this in writing), you should be okay. The monkeys seemed happy playing with rocks, dirt, and each other (in ways we can’t show you in the video).
But I guess the funnest part of the trip was going to all the different bars and restaurants. If you love sake, nihonshu in particular (my favorite beverage), you owe it to yourself to find some of the many sake bars. Even the sake that is available in Hawaii (and the US) seemed better in Japan, possibly because of the freshness. Even the cheap sake (1000 yen per bottle retail) was really good. You can’t find sake that good at anywhere near that price in the US. At least, I haven’t.
The other thing I observed was the popularity of Hawaii products in Japan. This is no surprise, of course, but it was interesting to see vendors selling apparel and hula skirts in the middle of winter. Hula is actually huge in Japan with far more people practicing the art than in Hawaii.
Anyways, the trip was a success. It was fun and productive. This was my 5th trip there since 2003 and I never get tired of it. Hopefully we’ll get to go there again sooner rather than later.