Daibutsu, Kamakura

Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu in Kamakura, June 2010. There were thousands of school kids visiting that day. It was still great fun.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tochigi Bound

I am coming to Japan.

February 15th to the 28th I will be in Otawara, Tochigi. My wife and two little boys have been there for a while visiting Ojichan (Jiji) and Obachan (Baba). Now I will come out for a couple of weeks before we all return back to Los Angeles. I can't wait to see everybody.

Otawara is a small city in Northern Tochigi. There is not much to say about it but I really like it there. I love the small city atmosphere and the rice fields and the simplicity of Otawara. Here is the Wikipedia article about Otawara, which I wrote the majority of.

I will also be visiting Nikko where the rest of my wife's family lives. Nikko is my favorite place in Japan and it is about 30 or 40 minutes West of Otawara by car. I have been there so many time I know the route from Otawara to Nikko by memory. It is not like jumping on the highway or freeway in the US. There are many different small Japanese streets and roads on the way to Nikko. But I am pretty certain I could make it from Otawara to Nikko without help if I had to.

There are no specific plans for after I arrive. But one thing I will do when I get a chance that I always do everytime I visit Japan is I will go for long walks around town and exploring the neighborhoods.  By now Otawara is so familiar to me that I can walk pretty much anywhere and I know exactly where I am. 

I remember the first time I came to Japan, I went for a walk by myself but I was so worried that I would get lost so I just went to the main road near my in-laws house and walked one direction and then back the other direction.

There is one new thing that I will be doing for the first time while in Japan. Driving. I am going to get an international drivers permit so my wife and I and the boys can go places on our own. She can't drive in Japan because she did not get an international license so I will be doing the driving. I am a little nervous about the driving on the left side of the road though. If any of you are in the Tochigi area, better watch out on the roads for some foreigner driving on the wrong side. It might be me.

Maybe I will drive to Nikko.

16 comments:

  1. Dinner some time before the 22nd? Shoot me an email if you have time. My name is david and my domain is fromoz dut com. I propose Kaiseki, but we'll be up for anything. (of course that should be dot com).

    Would be fun if we could assemble some Japan bloggers for the event?

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  2. Too bad I'll just be missing you, I'm moving back to the U.S. on the 16th! Would you be coming to Tokyo though anyway?

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  3. I'll be sure to stay far away from Tochigi. It doesn't need 2 bad gaijin drivers.

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  4. Sounds like a good trip. I've never been to Nikko, but it's on my list. Maybe this year...

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  5. David. Thanks. I will keep your email.

    Jason, I am not sure if I will make it to Tokyo this time. Oh well. Good luck on your move.

    Thomas, good idea. Don't want to terrorize the local community.

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  6. Billy, Nikko is definitely a great place to visit.

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  7. Now, I've never driven in Japan. I have however been a passenger. There were many a time I slammed my 'brake' foot into the floor-boards as we made a left hand turn. I always felt like we were turning into oncoming traffic!

    Good luck.

    How does insurance work with the international driver's license?

    Matthew

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  8. I remember the first time I arrived in Japan years ago I went to get in the car at the airport and everyone laughed at me. I was getting in the driver's side.

    I got my revenge though. A couple years later when my in-laws came to to America, my father-in-law tried getting in the drivers side.

    I am not sure how the insurance works. I will have to ask my wife.

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  9. Sweet! Enjoy the dumplings up there. I remember they're very good in that part of Japan. My wife's family is partly based in Utsunomiya, so if you get around there, look for a temple in the limestone cliffs called Oyaji. It's not well-known but pretty cool since there a lot of rock carvings built into cave/temple complex. They also have the famous "Heiwa Kannon" across the street. Nice park to take the kids.

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  10. Thank you. I've heard of that temple. It would be great if I could make it there.

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  11. Great time of year to visit - there should be some snow in Nikko (although this year, so far, has been a bit lighter than usual) so it will be especially beautiful. If you get the chance, try to see the Kegon waterfall by Lake Chuzenji - it will be frozen, and quite spectacular.

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  12. It would be nice to see some snow. Hopefully there will still be some.

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  13. Driving isn't that hard at all. It's just dealing with the skinny streets with no center line.

    http://www2.tocoo.jp/?file=rentcar_inbound/main This is the cheapest car rental in Japan. It's insanely cheap, and the reservation is all in English. When you pick up your car that will be in Japanese however. I recommend getting the Mazda weekend deal.

    Bummer you're not heading down to Kansai.

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  14. Thanks for the advice but I will be driving my mother-in-laws car.

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  15. Have a fun trip! :)

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