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Destination Travel Log

     Travel is about expectations. You anticipate what to pack, what foods will be offered, what you will see
that’s the same or different from home. When going to a place that has recently had a disaster, there is an
extra sense of anxiety or perhaps even hesitation. Life can be just as perilous at home; the unexpected is
with us every day, but who concentrates on the bad things every day? So, in Japan now, life goes on, perhaps
with an added layer of concern for the safety of residents and visitors, but basically with an expectation of
moving forward and experiencing the best life has each day, wherever you are. 
    Our pleasure trip to Japan in June, three months after the disaster, was marked with the same hospitality
and service that we have come to expect of the Japanese people. The only noticeable effect was the smaller
crowds at the tourist spots, which was better for us Californians who like our “space”, but took a little away
from our “authentic” expected experience of the crush of people for which Japanese cities are known. 
     One way to help the people of Japan is to contribute to their overall economy through tourism. It’s a
beautiful place that is very different from our American culture and offers a wealth of experiences to add
to our appreciation of the world in general.
-Joanne Mikuni Hong
    When I was in Japan in June, I had an amazing time. There was no talk of food shortages, earthquakes,
radiation, or all the other negative things people in the world have been concerned about. Instead, we were
greatly welcomed by all the hotel staff with a warm smile and amazing service. Everyone seemed so positive
and happy to serve us. One of the most reassuring parts about this trip is that I felt safe, probably safer than
when I am at home in California. If I ever needed directions, there was someone always willing to help.
If there was something I wanted to know, I could ask and get a knowledgeable answer. 
     Everyone should be able to experience the wonderful culture of Japan. The only way to truly do this is to
go have a look for yourself in this amazing country. Japan is definitely safe, and now is the perfect time to go!
-Naomi Hong

    Our Yamato Summer Tour to Japan was very pleasurable for me because I was accompanied by my
daughter, Joanne Mikuni Hong, as well as my 15-year-old granddaughter, Naomi Hong.  I have asked both
of them to give their comments and they are above.  From a travel agents’ perspective, I found Japan not to
be different in any way except that the welcomes everywhere were very warm and appreciative.  With numbers
as low as 20% occupancy in the earlier days after the disasters, we could understand why the hotels were so
happy to see us.  Perhaps there were some signs of electricity conservation, as posted signs indicated.  
But they  certainly didn’t detract from guest services.  
    Our group of 15 visited Tokyo, Takayama, Hiroshima, Miyajima, and Kyoto and enjoyed every city, although
several indicated Takayama was one of their favorites because of its countryside flavor, as opposed to the big
cities.  Bicycle-riding was a big hit with our younger members in Takayama in spite of the warm and humid
weather.  This followed by a soak in the onsen was an added treat!  
    Crossing the Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni and enjoying one of the 100 flavors of ice cream (“ramune”) was a
delicious sweet.  Then to Miyajima, one of the three scenic places in Japan, where the huge torii gate was at
low tide.  A little muddy to walk onto  because of slight rain, but wonderful to see!  A small favorite restaurant
to eat “okonomiyaki” was the end to a wonderful morning after which we returned to Hiroshima.  
    Sightseeing in Kyoto was the impressive Sanjusangendo, then Nijo Castle with its “nightingale floor,” and
finally the Golden Pavilion in all her golden glory!  A side trip to Nara was enjoyed by some of our members. 
The Nara highlight is the huge Buddha, but to our guests who went, it was seeing all the deer roaming around
and being able to feed them the deer cookies!
    We want to thank our friends at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo, the Hida Plaza Hotel in Takayama, the Rihga Royal
Hotel Hiroshima, and the Granvia Kyoto for all the courtesies extended to us on this, our first trip after the
fateful 3-11 disasters.  
    Our next visit to Japan, the Yamato Deluxe Autumn Tour, will leave on October 17 directly to Fukuoka
where we will start our tour.  Please visit our website:  www.yamatotravel.com for the itinerary.  Join us and
help us support our suppliers as they try to show the world that Japan, outside of the Tohoku area, is safe to
visit   We look forward to showing you Japan in our traditional Yamato way. 
-Peggy T. Mikuni, Yamato Travel Bureau, Los Angeles