Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sweet Dreams Tokyo!

Most of my free time is spent planning our upcoming summer vacation to Japan. It’s the last thought in my head as I drift off to sleep, and the first thing I think about when I wake up. Just this week, I announced to the Tea Drinker, “You will never believe the dream I had last night!”. He yawned, “Let me guess, was it about Japan?" As I dragged myself to the shower I explained, "I know, I know, here I go again. But in last night’s dream we were at the finale of American Idol, in Tokyo! We had front row seats--how cool is that?" The Tea Drinker sighed (and I think he was rolling his eyes, but I was heading to the bathroom). “And," I continued with a touch of petulance, "Simon winked at me.” The Tea Drinker’s response: “How about we cut back on your caffeine and laptop intake?”

I love planning and I love to travel. This trip will bring all the best elements together: an exotic, faraway place; amazing cuisine; tasty libations; world-renowned tea regions; culture; and rich history. Each night I arm myself with The Lonely Planet, DK Eyewitness and my laptop. I am the ultimate hot date. I've learned so much about Japan by reading various travel blogs (beginning with how to navigate Narita Airport) and cruising my favorite travel portal:, which has provided me with a wealth of scintillating information (such as how to use the loo). I can’t imagine planning our itinerary without the use of these tools. I am officially my own travel agent. Two years ago, I spent hours and hours poring over Trip Advisor, planning our excursion to China. I found our oasis getaway in the Hangzhou tea region by reading someone else’s travel blog. There is so much information to be had, and I am ready to tap into it. Whether you are traveling to Los Angeles or Laos, you will not be disappointed if you utilize the Internet, and the power and vibrancy of someone else’s personal account.

In June we will be heading to Japan for twelve days. I have read over and over that that the early summer months mark the rainy season and that it will be hot and humid. Sounds like perfect traveling conditions to me. This is where Japanese beer will come into the picture. Rain or shine, we'll have loads of fun and a rich and rewarding experience. As of my last sign off from the Internet, our itinerary is as follows: Tokyo, Hakone, Shizuoka, Kyoto, Uji, Hiroshima, Miyajima, and then back to Tokyo before we head home. Many cultural sites are on the agenda; countless noodle and sushi restaurants are staked out; and we'll enjoy two separate field trips to Japan’s most well-known tea regions (featuring gyokuro and sencha). All will be accomplished with various train rides in between. If you have been to Japan or know someone who has, feel free to pipe in and leave a comment on this blog. We would love to hear your recommendations or suggestions on the “must see, must do, must eat, must drink” features of this fabulous and intriguing country.


Michael said...


Great to see you will be going to Japan! I've been three times myself, so I may be of some use to you.

Having visited all of the same areas as you(with the exception of Shizuoka), I can say that you are in for a real treat. I feel Hakone is actually the weakest part of your trip. I found it to be extremely touristy, and yet quite boring at the same time. I think it would be much better to go check out the fuji-goko area, more enjoyable if you like the outdoors, in my opinion. if you really want the onsen experience, check out Kusatsu Onsen

(I've never been but heard good things)
In Shizuoka, check out the hotel named Tsuribashi-so. They grow their own tea onsite, and you can help harvest tea, and even take a green tea bath!

I recommend you check out the Marukyu Koyamaen tea factory in Uji, Kyoto. They give free tours of their processing facilities..very neat! Make sure you pick up some of their award winning matcha. I've just been enjoying some of their tenju matcha- by far the finest I've ever had!

Make sure you spend enough time in Kyoto/Uji...very special places especially for tea drinkers! I've stayed at Hanakiya inn, its run by a nice Japanese lady right at the foot of Kyomizudera, the famous water temple. Lodging is extremely inexpensive there as well! 3 days in Kyoto would not be too long at all. The pleasant river district of Arashiyama provides a nice contrast to the slightly busier city.

In Uji, Seizanso is the ryokan to stay at. As a student, I couldn't afford it, but I can only imagine what it would be like to wake up to an early morning dawn on the Uji river!

Also check out Iyemon in Kyoto for some tea with your meal

(if you haven't seen this yet)

In Tokyo, stop by cha-ginza in the ginza shopping little upscale tea shop.

Feel free to drop me a line if you have any more questions or want to pick my brain. If this is your first/only time to Japan, it will be good to really plan out each spot in advance!


Michael Wood

Anonymous said...

Loved the name of you blog! Also saw that you rae, ahem, preocupied with your trip to Japan - let me share my favourite place in all the world to stay - Hiirigiya ryokan in Kyoto -
Tea with Mary Kate Travels to – Hiiragiya Ryokan Kyoto, Japan « Tea With Mary Kate – Inspiration for Tea and Living

It is so amazing, when we are lucky enough to go back, I will definatley stay again. Hope you have a free slot in your journey to experience it,k

Tree said...

Hello Michael & Mary Kate- Thank you for posting your comments in regards to our upcoming Japan trip. I will definitely delve into researching your recommendations. Love it! Stay tuned for our final itinerary, and we will be sure to post a final trip recap afterwards. Best, Wife of Tea Drinker

Jurgen Mollers said...

Hi Teresa, there's a wonderful little essay by a Japanese poet, Junichiro Tanizaki, originally written, I believe, in the early 30ies. It's quirky, warm, insightful and poetic - and it has taught me more about the traditional vanishing Japan than anything I have ever read. In my memory one of the most outstanding essays I have ever read. - I hope you'll enjoy!