Still not a Big City Person

Tokyo was OK, but Hakone is wonderful. the montains are stunning and taking the trains and cable cars through them is like going through the green hills of home. I bought an ice cream cone from a lady in Hakonemachiko (I think the shop was named CHAKA) and the five minutes it took to eat while looking at Lake Ashi and the mountains surrounding it were the most peaceful I’ve had for a long time. I am going to come back and spend a couple of weeks visiting the rural areas and leave the loud and flashy streets of Ginza and Shibuya to those that like them.

51 days….

51 days until I leave for .jp. Tokyo, Kamakura, Hakone, Takayama, and Kyoto over about 12 days. The trip is heavily biased toward Kyoto since the Bakumatsu is my thing. Arashiyama/Togetsukyo, Mibu, Fushimi, Sanjo ohashi here I come.

I have been trying to make a real itinerary for the three days in Tokyo but TBH I’m probably going to be content with making sure I visit Yurakucho, Ginza, Ikebukuro, Akihabara, and see at least the Sakuradamon gate. Oh and the club Rocky Top to take in some Japanese inflected bluegrass.

I’m hoping my experience using this self guided tour booking agency is a good one and I can start making semiannual trips and leave some of the work to them. As much as I enjoy Europe there is just SO much more i want to visit in Japan. I’d kind of like to do a fall camping trip around Yamanashi and the Fuji Lakes some time…not a bit influenced by YuruCamp…

A City I Couldn’t Live in But Love to Eat in

I can’t see myself ever living in Houston, but I surely don’t mind visiting.  I spend most of my time down town and there’s always someplace tasty a quick Uber away.

I recently turned several of my co-workers on to Gyu-Kaku so just about every trip involves a meat coma after several courses of grilled meat followed up with beef tongue w/ green onions.  That one is usually all mine, for some reason a lot of folks won’t try tongue….

Just down the street is Izakaya. They have a really good selection of Japanese liquor and sake (especially cup sake) and some really good small plates.  You can’t go wrong starting off with the red pepper edamame, the fried chicken (karaage), and a large Asahi draught.

If you’re in this area it’s almost impossible not to stop at Spec’s and oogle the huge selection of wine, liquor, and beer.  I can always come away with something new to smuggle back, usually from the huge gin and weird euro liqueur sections.

Heading way out East to La Porte you’ll  come across Main101 , my favorite restaurant around that area.  Their carbonara is to die for and adding the home made hot Italian sausage to the Pasta Eva is  a revelation.

A couple more worthy mentions are Phoenicia with its huge selection of deli items, fresh food, and olive bar.  If you’re after Mediterranean food and drink (including plenty of bagged teas, coffee, other drinks and treats and a killer fresh-made Turkish Delight) or just a light lunch it’s one of my favorite downtown choices.  Irma’s Original on North Chenevert is a great spot for dinner and relaxing for a while.  There’s no menu so you get to choose from just a couple of things prepared each day but you won’t miss the choice once you taste the food.