Are you a windshield tourist? That’s what they call the many visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park who simply traverse the park’s famous 30-plus mile Newfound Gap Road through the park and don’t get out of the car much, if at all.
There’s shop after shop of kitchen wares—ceramic sake cups, wooden bowls for miso soup, colorful bowls for rice, all varieties of chop sticks and of course hand-made Japanese knives that will be engraved on the spot with your name in Japanese. And everything is a bargain!
If you think a 14-course dinner might be a little much to handle, come sample Chef Kenichiro Ooe’s fare at Kozue on the 40th floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo with stellar views of the city.
The Honkawa Elementary School is in the heart of Hiroshima and when the Atomic Bomb was dropped on August 6, 1945, all but one of the 420 students and teachers perished. Today is a again a bustling school and a memorial to those who died.
I know a lot of kids don’t even read “real” books anymore. Everyone is all about interactive books kids can read on tablets with all sorts of fun features. But there’s still something to be said for stopping in at a local bookstore — or a national park visitor center — and browsing their collection of children’s books.
These aren’t just any comics. These are the enormously popular and traditional Manga, the basis for Anime, at the Kyoto International Manga Museum which is run by Kyoto Seika University and the Kyoto City Government. The University teaches aspiring Manga artists and writers in its design and fine arts department.
Welcome to the traditional Japanese Riokan. There are these hotels all around Japan, some in the mountains, which offer the chance to try the Japanese hot springs baths called onseng
Kyoto is famous for its Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. This morning, we’re cycling a 14-mile loop with Kyoto Cycling Tour Project with stops at the Golden Pavilion and Ryoanji Temple with its world-famous rock garden – two of the city’s and Japan’s top tourist attractions.
All in all it was a great cruise on the Diamond Princess, stopping in ports we had never heard of in northern Japan and even in Russia, thanks to somebody named Jones (more on that later). But no cruise is complete without its follies and unexpected discoveries.
Listen up parents -- if you thought the educational part of cruising was only seeing historic and cultural sites, you were wrong. It seems much more cultural exchange happens right on board at the kids’ and teen club, kids say.