THURSDAY 

I left LAX at 12:50 AM on Wednesday, March 30, flew for approximately 11 hours and landed in Tokyo at 4:00 AM on Thursday.

Wait. What happened to Wednesday?

With the sixteen hour time difference between L.A. and Tokyo, I lost an entire day! I have been confused ever since! ha! ha! The good news is, when I return home, I will get to repeat a day. How’s that for do-overs?

Upon my arrival in Tokyo, I successfully navigated customs, baggage claim, more security, a terminal transfer and a connecting flight to Osaka ALL BY MYSELF! (My friend Stan flew to Tokyo the day before I left, so he was waiting for me in Osaka when I arrived.) I admit I was nervous about finding my way around, but Stan provided fool-proof instructions (complete with video links) so all-in-all it was relatively simple. Yay me!

And now, a quick word about bathrooms . . .

This is going to sound crazy, but I love the bathrooms at the ANA terminal.

Seriously! 

Everything is so high tech. The private water closet comes complete with a Toto toilet, heated seat, a sound system that plays soothing sounds of rushing water to camouflage other noises (!), a complete bidet system with options to choose from, an automatic air freshener, and lighting that makes you look good even after 11 hours on a red-eye! Now that’s impressive! 

Okay, moving on. 

One of the things I love about traveling with Stan is that I have no idea what the plan is.  I don’t know where we’re staying, what we’re seeing, how long we’ll be there, who we’re meeting, or where we’re going next. My only responsibility is to pack, show up, bring my camera, and write a check at the end. It’s perfect. (And no, girls, I won’t introduce you to Stan! Forget about it.) 

As soon as I arrived in Osaka, the first order of business was Starbucks.  The second order of business was a hot shower and a relaxing 75 minute massage! Oh, yeah baby! It was a perfect way to ease into vacation mode and work the kinks out after a frenzied few days prior to leaving L.A.  My massage therapist was AMAZING! 

The rest of the day (which felt like the-middle-of-the-night to us) consisted of a little shopping, dinner, a blog post and early lights out. 

FRIDAY 

Today was a move day. Moving day means I have to pack up all my stuff, schlep it, and transfer to a new city / hotel. I’m usually not ready to switch locations but I always look forward to seeing what’s next. (BTW, that’s the cool thing about a cruise – there’s no packing and no moving. Every morning, a new city is waiting for you right outside your door.) 

After breakfast we checked out of our hotel and joined the herd at the train station. We took a train to a transfer point and then hopped on the Bullet Train for the rest of the journey to Hiroshima. I love traveling by train because I get to see more of the country . . . well, as much as I could see as it was whizzing past me at 200 miles per hour! (It’s kinda like riding in the car with Jerry Piani!) 

Japan is all about how many sardines they can squeeze in a can. In other words, it’s crowded. Multi-family high rises are sandwiched together and every possible square foot of space is utilized as efficiently as possible. The streets are narrow; the parking spaces are narrower. What impresses me is that in spite of how densely populated Japan is, everything seems to run smoothly and orderly. (I contrast it to the chaos I have witnessed in New York, Italy, France, etc.) It’s very impressive. 

Upon our arrival in Hiroshima, we were met at the station by Stan’s cousins. They are sweet people who I had the privilege of meeting in 2013. I used the translator app on my iPhone to communicate with them over afternoon tea as we mapped out our itinerary for the weekend, which of course includes cherry blossom viewing. It’s going to be fun hanging out with them.



Afternoon Tea with Cousins
Selfie on the Bullet Train

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