The Land of the Rising Sun

Well, Squiders, I am back from two weeks in Japan! If all went well you got regular updates and didn’t notice anything weird (aside from the posts being on time).

Japan was very nice and not as much of a culture shock as I thought it might be. (There was a bit. We went to a maid cafe. That was…not honestly something I needed to experience, in retrospect.) And most signs in airports and train stations (and even street names) are labeled in English, so it was pretty easy to get around.

We did kind of a whirlwind tour of the main island of Honshu, hitting Tokyo, Matsumoto, Tsumago/Magome (and the Nakasendo), Kyoto, Kanazawa, Osaka, and Koyasan. I don’t really recommend stuffing all that into 13 days, but we got a little overambitious. We also averaged 8 miles a day walking, with our easiest day having only five and a half miles and our longest day being almost 12 miles. By the end of the trip, I was looking forward to sitting on a plane for twelve hours.

(But then it was only nine and a half hours back. And we flew on dreamliners both ways which are lovely planes and I would like to fly them all the time. And they came with amazing built-in entertainment options so I didn’t really need the video games or movies I’d prepared.)

(I also don’t really recommend Kanazawa. The ninja temple–or Myoryu-ji, as it’s really called–was pretty cool, but not exactly worth the trip out of the way.)

The Japanese have a very interesting mix of Buddhism and Shintoism, which I shall talk about on Thursday–some very interesting mythology there. I find Shintoism especially fascinating. More on that later.

Also, it is surprisingly hard to find sushi. But if I ever have to eat soba noodles again, I may hit someone. Soooo many noodles. Noodles all the time! Noooodles.

*clears throat*

We saw a lot of temples and shrines, and poked our heads into a handful of castles. It’s very interesting because very few of the buildings are the original buildings–the Japanese build everything out of wood, so it apparently used to burn down all the time. Matsumoto Castle is one of–of not the–oldest castle in Japan, and it was only built in 1597 or something like that. Osaka Castle, for example, was rebuilt in the 1930s. And Kanazawa Castle is in the process of being rebuilt as we speak. Same with the temples.

If there’s interest, I could probably do a series of posts about various aspects of the trip. Let me know. Otherwise I shall probably do the mythology on Thursday and call it good.

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