The Gates to Heaven are

Now Open


The man who produced the now famous video "Missing Japan" has been released from his prison.

No, they haven't caught him for ...you know...yet. We're talking about the long drought of Tomodachi Tours to his favorite land because of covid.

The walls are down, Japan is inviting folks again and

Bobby Imoto is back in his

happy place.

Another busy day ahead that begins with waiting for breakfast. That's just how it is.

Then leave by bus for Nagoya to visit Magome, an old post town on the Nakasendo Trail along the way.

At Nagoya there's lunch and omiyage shopping at one of the many Service Area centers along the highway.  This is a favorite for the group … restrooms, gifts and packaged food, hot meals … different at each service area.

Once in Nagoya, a stop at Nagoya Castle.

Then we continue to our hotel, Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel.  Will probably spend time browsing, shopping, and eating dinner at the shopping mall at Nagoya station.

The Nakasendo trail is an old mountain route that connects Tokyo and Kyoto during the Edo Period (1603-1867). Travelers moving between Tokyo and Kyoto took several days to travel the Nakasendo which stretches about 381 miles.

Because of the restrictions by the shogunate, travelers had to make their trips on foot. As a result, “post towns” or “juku” developed every mile or so to provide travelers with places to rest and eat during their journey.

How it looks much of the time.

How it looked when we were there. It has rained all day.

Page 2

Killing time on those long bus rides.

Seki Cutlery Museum and store. Sword demonstration, museum and then shopping.  Knives, nail clippers, scissors and a lot more sharp objects.

RHS'69 alumni love sharp objects so they bought a lot of stuff.


At the entrance of most Japan restaurants, and some in Hawaii, they have examples of what's on the menu. They look real. Nope. They are called shokuhin sampuru (サンプル) — derived from the word "sample" — and they are basically real-looking fake food displays.

Once made of wax, they are plastic or PVC that are more long-lasting and more life-like.

Gujo Hachiman is where 80% of Japan’s food samples are made and this is where the Tomodachi group finds itself.

Let's learn to make fake food.

It reminds one of herding cats - each going in their different direction. Check-in is always chaotic and we always survive without losing anyone.

So far.

Arriving at the Nagoya Westin Associsa Hotel. This place is big and busy.

Wrapping up the day we find ourselves in Wakura for our hotel tonight, Aenokaze – Higashi No Kaze.  

We all get dressed up in Yukata’s for dinner and enjoy onsen bath.

Dinner is an authentic, multi-dish, Kaiseki dinner with lots of social distancing and special Taiki entertainment with a later touch of karaoke.

Kaiseki cuisine features a set course meal chosen by the chef to highlight a specific seasonal theme. There are a number of different courses to kaiseki meals, and the exact execution of the meal depends on the chef as well as the availability of seasonal ingredients. However, the kaiseki dining experience typically begins with appetizers, followed by sashimi, cooked dishes, a rice course, and finally, dessert.

Japanese kaiseki dining, the very top of the country’s formal dining experience, is characterized by a calm atmosphere featuring subdued lighting and elegant tableware. Something missing here because of the number of people and distancing requirements.

kaiseki began as a simple meal meant to accompany Japanese cuisine. Kaiseki is a traditional Japanese tasting course comprised of many small, tea ceremonies, but over the centuries this culinary tradition has become the pinnacle of Japanese haute cuisine.

We suppose you're wondering about the rabbit ears. It's celebrating the Year of the Rabbit.

If you crawl through the hole, all your dreams will come true.

If the wind blows, your luck will get better.

When people back home see this picture, they will think you're crazy.

Breakfast at the Nagoya hotel - after waiting in line. The plan for today is bus to Seki City and the Seki Cutlery Museum. We're shopping for knives.

Then, armed to the teeth we continue to Gujo Hachiman City to participate in Food Sample making. What's that? Fake food!

From there we head to Wakura looking for some real food for lunch.

We'll check into our new hotel for the night and get ready for a big evening wearing Yukata’s for dinner and enjoy onsen bath.  Everyone will have an authentic, multi-dish, Kaiseki dinner.

Nagoya Castle was Japan’s first castle to be designated a National Treasure. Heavily damaged in WWII, it is slowly being completely restored returning it to its original condition.

Look what we have!

We spent some time walking the grounds with the Cherry Blossoms in full bloom.

And then...the rain stopped for a litte while.

If it's early and there's a line...it's breakfast.


Thursday, April 6, 2023

This reminds me of the little school house on the prairie, not that I've been there.

Regardless, everything on the black board is in Japanese which should make the outcome quite interesting.

I vote this the first place winner of the fake food class.

I'm not too sure of that stuff in the bowl, but the beer coaster is exquisite.