I awoke the Monday after Fathers Day to this Facebook message from one of our Tokyo karate instructors: Did you feel the earthquake? Are you okay? My nightmare from our first night in Japan had come true.
Luckily, we’d missed it by a day, as it occurred near Osaka, and we were in Miyajima. However, our trip’s longest Shinkansen ride–from Hiroshima to Tokyo–was supposed to occur that day and give us an early enough arrival time to see the Samurai Museum and have several hours to enjoy the Park Hyatt hotel (made famous by the film “Lost in Translation”).
Instead, we spent half the day at the Hiroshima train station waiting on service to resume after all tracks running through the areas hit could be inspected. It was 8:45pm when we finally arrived at our hotel. Luckily, the New York Bar was still serving, so we sat down for dinner at 9pm, exhausted from a day of standing, waiting, and finally riding.
It was the greatest meal I’ve ever had anywhere.
I had Kobe beef, Suntory Hibiki 17 whisky, a flight of other delicious whiskys called the “Japanese Whisky Experience” consisting of Yoichi, Yamazaki, and Miyagikyo, and some other awesome food I can’t recall now, but I know I had a flight of desserts that I didn’t share, and the bill was like $850, but I loved loved loved it, and I miss it every hour of every day since coming home.
After like 2 hours of dinner, we retreated to our 2-bedroom suite 55 floors above Tokyo that my bride negotiated for us so we could have a luxurious final night before the long flight home, and it is now my favorite hotel I’ve ever visited.
We woke up to this view:
I took the children to the fitness center and pool (which also had giant windows looking down on the city like the photo from our hotel room’s bathroom posted above) for a couple hours while my bride generously stayed behind to pack all our souvenirs (we had to buy a giant duffel bag for them) and the kids’ bags. Then we boarded the plane for the trip back home.
This was the greatest trip I have ever taken. Every day was planned with just the right amount of activity and travel time between them (we learned to allow more margin in between activities last summer in Paris). Our lodging was mostly affordable AirBnBs in good locations, but with 3 “splurge” nights at 2 Japanese inns plus the final night at the Park Hyatt. The meals we had were amazing. The people were kind. Every day went exactly as planned, other than our penultimate day (because of the earthquake), but it still ended well.
I am extraordinarily grateful to my bride for spending hours reading guidebooks and blogs to plan each of the 14 days. Of the nearly 10 books she checked out or bought, she says the most helpful were the Lonely Planet, DK Eyewitness Travel, Cool Japan, and A Geek in Japan books.
I highly recommend taking a family trip to Japan if you can spare the time and money (though it’s way more affordable than I thought it’d be once you arrive) to go! In short, go west, young man. So west you hit the Far East.