I've begun the long and arduous (but enjoyable) task of planning the honeymoon that Caroline and I will be taking. I've vacillated between several locations for the honeymoon. Much of it was concern over cost, time, and comfort traveling. Japan was the first real contender and after much thought it remained our best option. Other frontrunners included Turkey which has recently lost its shit and Montreal which takes just as long to get to as Japan from Seattle because there are no direct flights.
We'll be traveling during the latter half of October of this year so as to enjoy the fall chill rather than the humid summers that most of the Land of the Rising Sun suffers under. Most people consulted that are "in the know" regarding Japan say to visit either in October (fall colors) or in April (cherry blossoms). Additionally, the fall means fewer tourists so we can be all the more obvious as the crude Gaijin that we are.
"Dreamliner", our tube of pain
Our flying tube of pain of choice shall be a Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" now that the FAA and Japan's transportation agency have cleared the 787 for flight again. Boeing has redesigned the batteries which so inconveniently caught fire in the original designs. I figure six or seven months of the plane being in flight will demonstrate whether or not they've fixed the problem sufficiently. The plane's unique design is supposed to:
- lower cabin pressure
- better humidity so that passengers are not "dried out"
- other stuff I can't remember because effort
The fine purveyor of flying tube of pain services is All Nippon Airways (ANA) which consistently ranks as one of the best airlines. In fact, if you look at the top rated airlines, all but one of the 5/5 star airlines are Asian. I've wanted to fly on ANA for a long time now and went through great pains to be sure that we did not get put on a code-share United flight to Tokyo.
Once we arrive in Tokyo, we'll be staying on the edge of the lovely bustling insanity that is Shinjuku Ward (think burrough if it were NYC). I spent a bit of time looking at the possibility of staying in hostels but the price savings to be had there are better if you're a guy traveling alone. Girls staying in hostels complicates things as most of the time bathrooms are shared. While I like to think ourselves adventurous and open-minded, I don't think either of us want Caroline to share a co-ed bathroom with mostly male strangers. Since shared bathrooms are out, this means looking for hostels that have private suites/rooms which ultimately end up being $10 cheaper than an actual hotel with 75% more hassle (hassle comes from things like curfews and lack of quiet). Since we're not necessarily looking for travel companions (the main benefit of staying in a hostel), we don't gain much for the trouble of trying to stay at one comfortably.
What we'll do in Tokyo, who knows? You can spend a month there and barely scratch the surface. We'll do some touristy things, wander through the madness of the city, try to eat at Jiro's restaurant, and perhaps hit the fish market. Fortunately, I've got a nice big guide book to point us in the right direction as well as the internet to suggest destinations.
After four glorious days in Tokyo, we'll pack up, hop on a Shinkansen (bullet train for you uncultured swine), and head to Osaka. Osaka is the other major business center in Japan with a couple of notable surrounding cities:
- Kyoto - the former capital of Japan and home to roughly one brazillion temples
- Kobe - a luxury town with nice restaurants and delicious cow meat
Similar to Tokyo, we've got no specific plans. We're simply going to get a little lost and see what we find. The word on the street is that the food in Osaka is unique in several ways and we do love to eat so we'll probably just stuff ourselves with delicious and roll around in a swollen rice coma state.
The aforementioned plans only cover roughly 7-8 days of the 15 we'll be in Glorious Nippon. We'll need to find some other things to do to flesh out the rest of the trip. I'm almost certain Onsen (Japanese hot springs) will play a part as well as a visit to Hakone, a resort town outside of Tokyo near Mt. Fuji. Perhaps we'll also squeeze in a trip to Kanazawa where there's a rather large garden to stare at.