In three weeks, and about 5 days, Super Sake Boy and I are heading back to Japan. This trip is going to be a little different. We are going without children, and only for a week. Our intention is to make it a week of memorable sake and food, lots of historical stuff and quite a lot of onsen visiting.
Our starting point for planning was the Jidai Matsuri. The Jidai Matsuri, or Festival of the Ages, happens on the 22nd October, every year (except last year due to inclement weather), in Kyoto. It is a two and half hour procession of people dressed in historical clothing and armour, and all my favourite Daimyo (samurai lords), princesses and other historic favourites, like Murasaki Shikibu, who wrote The Tales of Genji, are in the parade. (Well, people dressed as them, anyways). This festival has been a yearly event since 1895. I am so excited about seeing this that every time I think about it my heart beats a little faster…… dokidoki. An link to an awesome video of the parade is here.
So, with that date being our guide, we booked our tickets, in and out of Tokyo. We decided to stay just one night in Tokyo, as we have both spent quite a lot of time there. I was toying with a few hotels, when, miraculously, and unexpectedly, Super Sake Boy was able to bag a double room (pod) at Book and Bed in Shinjuku. Book and Bed is a bookshop that has rooms, like pods or capsules, built into the bookshelves. It’s a bit of an Instagram celebrity, and being an avid booklover, sleeping surrounded by the sweet smell of printed pages is incredibly alluring. Book and Bed Shinjuku link is here. We also want to explore Kabukicho, Shinjuku’s “red light” district. Izakayas, bars, love hotels, shops, restaurants and nightclubs, all down neon lit laneways….. which, as we have always been in Japan with kids, has been a no go zone…..
Three nights in Kyoto to follow. One day at the festival, one day in Fushimi, the sake brewery hotspot in Kyoto. And a hankering to experience a shiatsu in Japan, which is generally practiced by blind practioners, as they have a better sense of touch. Sounds amazing. We may also be able to squeeze in a little Teramachi shopping, definitely some Ponto-cho sake bar action, and, of course, time with our friends at Guesthouse Soi.
Following Kyoto, Super Sake Boy graciously agreed that we should book 3 nights in Nikko. Nikko has been on my most wanted list for some time now. My trip last year that I cancelled (as I met a certain special sake super hero) was going to incorporate Nikko. Nikko is a couple of hours north of Tokyo, and is the resting place of many of the Tokugawa shoguns. There is a number of Shrines, and Nikko is quite often referred to as a mini-Kyoto. I am super excited to see this area. BUT, the big draw card for me is Edo Wonderland…. an Edo Period theme park, where you can dress up and experience what life was like in the Edo Period (1603-1868). This theme park appears in many period tv shows and movies from Japan, and I discovered it while watching Nobunaga Concerto, a drama based on a manga, that I loved. Everything is in Japanese, which will test our abilities, and I have a solid promise from Super Sake Boy that he will join me in dressing up…. the only issue I have with that is choosing what to dress as? A ronin, a samurai, a princess, a shinsengumi (Shogun’s police force)….. I am seriously overwhelmed with the choice. Edo Wonderland webpage is here.
Finally, the place we are staying in Nikko. We decided to go full traditional ryokan. No Western food, geta and yukata wearing at mealtimes, and onsen within the hotel. We have toyed with the idea of trying not to speak any English while we are within the walls of the ryokan. Our limited Japanese may make for either very boring and stilted conversations or some very Zen relaxation and silence 😂 Either way, we are both very excited by our room over looking the lake, and Hoshino Resort Kai Nikko looks like an amazing experience.