Annie and I have decided that we will probably go to Japan next spring. JOJG/ Sukiya Living Magazine has their tour scheduled for Mid to end of May 2012. This is roughly the time frame we would like to go. Does anyone have experience with the JOJG Walking Tour of Kyoto? If you are uncomfortable for posting a review here please feel free to PM me. It looks like a lot of money on the surface but does include ground transportation and hotels. The tour is mostly of Kyoto but we would probably go a bit early or stay a bit late as we would like to go to Hiroshima and Mt Fuji and they are not part of the JOJG.
I have not had the privilege to participate in one of the Sukiya Living tours. I have, however, been to many of their pruning seminars. Doug and Tamao are passionate about the garden experience, and I believe you will gain much from their informed perspective. Someday, when our children are raised and finances allow, I hope they are still visiting and can include my wife and I.
Thanks James. I have been receiving JOJG / Sukiya Living for many years so an opportunity to tour with them does seem like a good idea. They are on tour in Kyoto right now I believe. I would like to get an idea from someone on the pacing etc. of the tour. I imagine they can get us in to a few spots that we would not get in to any other way.
One of my fellow volunteers at Portland Japanese Garden is on the tour in Japan now. When he gets home I will try to get him to post his experience.
Thanks Terry. That would be super.
I second that request, Terry!
Terry, just wondering if you have had any feedback from your fellow volunteer at the Portland Japanese Garden on his tour of Kyoto with JOJG?
I have not seen him as yet, he may not be back in Oregon yet. I will talk to him as soon as he returns
Well, 6 months passes very quickly. Annie and I leave for Kyoto and the Sukiya Living Walking Tour tomorrow morning. It has been sort of surreal leading up to this point. I have been a fan of Japanese gardens and bonsai for many years so we will wake up Monday morning in the heart of it all. I would love to say that I will keep you updated on our progress but we have decided to go low tech on this tour and leave the phones behind. We want to immerse ourselves in the tour and the city and not have to worry about answering emails from relatives all evening when we get back to the hotel. Along with this loss comes our inability to make any posts here. I will have a full report when we get back. Not a wonderful day by day blog like Mary (Meiho) but I do promise a big report. I will be taking lots of pictures and hope to post them in a gallery when we get back. I am taking my iPad and have loaded Memoirs of a Geisha, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Sanjuro so the 9 hour flight should pass very quickly. If our iPad can hook up to the internet there I may send greetings and let you know how it is going.
Until we return,
I only foresee only two problems with this journey . . . you won't want to come home, and you'll want to go back often!
Hey, anybody want a bag carrier ??? :P
Ward, have a great time. Remember if it rains on you, the garden awakens. The ponds change personality in a rain too. Memorize the sounds, smells, everything you can while in the gardens. Even the birds and insect will have a new sound to you. Do not take so many pictures that you miss the views!
When you return, let me know what resources you need to post!
Well it's Friday morning here and the tour has officially ended. Annie are staying on a few extra days. If you are ever thinking about going on the Sukiya Living Walking Tour of Japan I have two simple words, do it! Douglas and Tamao are a well oiled machine when it comes to organizing the tour and the days events. You travel by subway, bus, train and taxi. You come out of a subway station and there are taxi's lined up ready for you to get in. They are experts at on the ground tour logistics. Douglas is able to get you in to places that you would never get into on a regular tour. Many of the places went had very little crowds. Annie just got here for breakfast so I will send more later.
Congrats on the accomplishment. When you have time, we'll enjoy seeing through your lens, if only vicariously at present.
I have entered some of the photos of our trip over in the Gallery in an album Don created for me. This is only about the first half of the trip. I took around 1800 photos but only a small portion will end up in the gallery. If you ever get the chance to go on a tour with Doug and Tomao I would suggest you do it. I would go back again next week. In fact, had we not had things to come back for we could easily have stayed another two weeks or more. Kyoto is a beautiful place and I think we only scratched the surface of what can be seen there.
Enjoyed your photos Ward, so happy for you and Annie to have enjoyed such a wonderful vacation.
Looking forward to more photos when you have time.
I am really looking forward to my Sukiya Living tour in mid October. It seems ideal for a garden and art lover.
I am just wondering if anyone has any tips on what to bring aside from excellent walking shoes, and I understand you need to bring a small towel to wipe your hands with, etc. Also, what gifts for the hosts do you suggest. Did anyone bring an ipad, or cell phone, would it work with verizon 3g in the gardens, or dont bother? I know you can use them in the hotel lobby.
My experience is from a few years ago (five) so some things may have changed.
Yes, I was advised to take small packets of Kleenex, a small bottle of hand sanitizer and a handkerchief. I found many beautiful handkerchiefs for sale the moment I landed in Kyoto, used one throughout the journey and brought back some unused ones for friends at home -- beautiful colorful maple leaves with an occasional outline in gold, a cat pattern, a rabbit pattern -- and all were gratefully received.
I made use of the Kleenex and the hand sanitizer and was grateful for the suggestion.
By the way, if you find yourself seeking a Western toilet, look for the handicapped sign. That was a great boon for my aged mother.
As for gifts, I brought local products: pounds, half-pounds and sampler packets (four kinds on one box) of Hawaii coffee; a couple of boxes of fine Hawaii chocolate; and about two dozen small sampler packages of macadamia nuts.
The latter went to a person who did a small favor, a small child who walked by (with his mother's permission first), a policeman who went out of his way with directions, etc. The larger items were for hosts in several cities. At the end of the trip, I remember wrapping up my small pastel fleece blanket (very useful on air conditioned buses and trains) to our tour guide for his granddaughter (in addition to the tip collected from our entire group).
I utilized computers at hotels to check and send e-mail. Be sure to have your passwords with you and clear the machine before you step away. If I were to go today, I would take my iPad if only for the photo and note taking capability. I am not certain, but I believe I recently heard something about Verizon Wireless having a plan for international use that didn't cost a beloved limb.
Have a wonderful time and post photos when you come home!
Marilyn, I would say leave the electronics at the hotel and enjoy the gardens. Take a good camera and take photos if you wish but other than that I wouldn't bother. Annie and I took the tour this spring. We are both very attached to our cell phones for texting etc. We found it very nice to not have to carry them around and constantly be in contact with people. We took our iPad and used it in the hotel lobby in the mornings and at night but never turned on the phones for communication.
We took a hand towel with us on the trip, the small quick drying kind. I cant remember if we ever needed to use them. Hand sanitizer may be useful. None of the locations we found ourselves in ever felt "dirty" or unsanitary. Most of the places we went on the tour had western style toilets and washrooms. We actually commented to each other afterwards about how we would be in a seemingly remote end of a garden and there would be a washroom there with a western style toilet as well as a Toto Washlet. Often timers there was a "squat toilet" in the stall beside a stall with a Toto Washlet toilet. In case anyone is wondering, a Toto Washlet toilet is the built in bidet, which will be found in all of the hotel rooms.
Kyoto is an extremely clean city. No garbage on the ground, no graffiti. The people were very polite. Annie and I cannot wait to go back and take Douglas' reunion tour whenever that happens. As far as gifts, as was mentioned take some larger gifts for special places you visit but be sure to take many small packets of candy etc to give to kids as well as anyone who does something special for you.