Monday, August 14, 2006
2006 trip to Japan
I am back from my trip to Japan where I spent three weeks with my wife and baby visiting her family. I had a great time as I always do when I visit Japan. Her famliy lives in relatively rural Tochigi prefecture. They live in a small city called Otawara and also in famous Nikko in Nikko National Park also in Tochigi.
There is nothing remakable about Otawara where we stayed with her parents. It is just a nice and pleasent city. I took many walks around her neighborhood and to the main street. I enjoy seeing the way people live compared to America, their home and shops, etc.
We also went to a few shopping malls. Although I can go to shopping malls anytime here in LA, it is still fun to go to them in Japan because they are similar of course but they are also different. The stores are different and cleaner and the people tend to be more polite. I don't have to deal with punks and a-holes that often populate American malls. It is intersting that the stores in Japanese malls are basically wide open to the main part of the mall. They don't have narrow entrances like in America. American store entrances are set up that way for security reasons, to control the exit to help prevent shoplifters. Japan obviously does not have a large problem with shoplifters. Stores in America would be looted if they were set up like Japanese mall stores. The food courts also have places such as McDonld's but also have delicious Japanese food stands.
We also visited Kawagoe which is near Hachioji and the American Yokota Airbase in the northern Tokyo area. Kawagoe is a very historic old district in Saitama about 30 minutes from tokyo with shops along narrow busy streets. Just like all other areas in and around Tokyo, it is a busy and bustling area. It is known locally as Little Edo (Edo is the old name for Tokyo during the Tokugawa Shogunate period). A great place to visit.
Later in the trip, we visited Aizuwakamatsu area and toured the local castle there. A great place to visit if you are in that region. Aizuwakamatsu is located in Fukushima prefecture north of Tochigi. Here you will find a very interesting castle that was originally built around 1384. During the Edo period it was the seat of power of the daimyo Aizu Han and was an important stronghold of the Tokugawa Shogun in the Tohoku region of central Japan. At the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the castle was surrounded and destroyed by the Imperial Forces. The current castle was rebuilt in 1965 on the original base or foundation.