Land of the Rising Sun and really long names

In a land with names of places I cannot remember which vowel to use and fumble to pronounce, I use landmarks.

Tateyama. Takayama. Kanazawa. Kanagawa. Kookaburra. Whatever. I have mapcodes to help us find our way when the landmarks have yet to surface on the horizon where one expects them to.

Driving in Japan can be daunting ….sometimes, especially when one relies on google translate. Eye-gouging sentence structures and awful grammar. It inspires me to try harder with my students in school. But traditional Chinese characters are used in Japanese, so I doubt I’d be totally lost.

[I do ramble. God bless me. But then, what do you do when stuck in an admin briefing you do not need to be at. I start writing.]

***a bit of time later***

To avoid haphazard slapping on of items into the itinerary at the last-minute as precious vacation time ticks away, the perusal of available info about the destination in order to plan ahead has always been a must.

As I was idly reading about the Edo period in Japan, I found myself wondering about the differences between a Samurai and a Ninja.

All I know:

A Samurai is a warrior of the Shogun, is well-versed in Bushido and wields a Katana. A Ninja is a secret agent of the Shogun who throws Shurikens. Just like the ones my students folded and threw around in class, much to their regret.

Harakiri, a ritualistic suicide performed by a Samurai having failed miserably in his mission, involved gutting oneself so the intestines and all the globby stuff spill out in a mess to put an end to both mortality and responsibility. A macabre way of retaining honour/dignity methinks.

Sometimes I think about that on remarkably ‘off’ days – how easy the process would be to clean after since I feel like I have been bled dry.

[Keke…there I go again. These briefings are the bane of my existence.]

Ninjas trained hard to be the sleuths they were and seemed to have evolved from a lower caste whose reputations eventually rose to challenge those of Samurai families.

And we are visiting…

There is a booby-trap-loaded temple in Kanazawa, the Ninjadera, on our to-do list that gives impressionable tourists a peek into the life of a Ninja. We’ll see how that works out for this tourist.

I am also looking forward to the myriad of transportation options as we scale the Japanese alps along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.


Also the ~250 year old Gassho-styled villages in UNESCO WHS Shirakawa-go, Tateyama and Gokayama.


We will have our first experience staying in a traditional ryokan in one of these villages too. While there, we will get to savour some Hida beef, a formidable rival to its celebrity cousin, Kobe beef.

And things like that.

Can’t wait!

I swear I do my best editing after I hit Post.

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