Today I took the train to Little Tokyo, had a nice lunch at Mako Sushi, then purchased my plane tickets at H.I.S. Travel. I opted for the most expensive itinerary on United Airlines flying directly into Kansai on June 19 and back home again from Tokyo Narita on July 29. I say “most expensive”, but it was only $133 more than the Northwest itinerary I was thinking of purchasing that would have brought me to Nagoya. I figured an overnight stay and train trip would work out to be about the same, so chickened out and took the no-hassle option.
Now I’m going to put my trip planning into full swing. The KSU portion is, of course, pretty much all set except for the free weekends—but I’ll probably leave those for spur-of-the-moment trips, though I already have a few ideas like a definite day trip to Osaka and one to the Sekigahara battlefield that I never got to in ’06. I’m sure there are other nearby things I will want to see and will be researching that shortly. There’s also plenty to see in Kyoto itself and I’ll certainly want to make another pilgrimage to Kurama—one of the most beautiful, peaceful and spiritual places I’ve ever been.
So the real work is my 10 day post-school vacation, beginning when I depart the I-house dorms on Saturday, July 19. Right now, believe it or not, I’ve been thinking very seriously of taking the first three days, hopping the “Beetle” hydrofoil from Hakata to Busan and spending three days in South Korea. It’s so close—and will add to the collection of “Red Dots” on my world map! It seems less expensive than Japan and quite interesting in its own right. A 3-day train pass is only about $75, and will get me all around the country. I’d definitely visit Seoul and as many interesting places as I can.
Of course, there seems to have been a recent outbreak of Bird Flu there, and a strain that easily transfers to humans to boot—so the whole trip may be a “no thanks”. If that happens, another option would be a night train from Osaka to Hokkaido for a few days in Japan’s unspoiled wilds with visits to Sapporo and Hakodate. I don’t actually need to confirm any of this until I’m already there, so we’ll see how it goes. Just in case, I’ve bought a book/CD on Korean for Beginners (!!!) and a couple of guidebooks.
Finally, I’ll once again rent that same apartment in Tokyo like I did in ’06 and use it as my secret base from which to explore the city and day trip to other places for the final week of my stay. I definitely have Hakone and Nikko on the itinerary and would also like to see Matsumoto and its castle and probably also spend more time in Nagano—maybe even get to the Kawanakajima battlefield which I unwittingly passed right through last time. So many places, so little time…
This is gonna be GREAT and I can’t wait!