The Gates to Heaven are

Now Open

Thursday, April 6, 2023

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.

It's officially Friday and Day 2.  Nine and a half hours after leaving Honolulu all 3 flights arrive in Japan. We grab our luggage, get through Customs and meet up with tour director Bobby Chinen in the lobby area.  Load up and bus it to our hotel, Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba.

Just like we never left home, we got stuck in traffic.

We head to nearby Aqua City commence for shopping and eating. The mall is across a 2nd level open walkway from our hotel.  

We’ll finish up our tour back at this same hotel for the last 2 nights.

Our nod-to-Facebook picture.

First meal in Japan.

What else...ramen.

A large part of visiting Japan is - waiting.

Wait for breakfast at the hotel in the morning.

Get breakfast.

Then wait for the bus afterwards to head out for our first adventure.

Today, rummaging Japan begins! We're headed to the Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum. Kamaboko is a traditional Japanese seafood whose history dates back to the 12th century.

But first we eat.

How you holding up? Let's check the dictionary.

There you are.

Make way, the man needs food.

It's Thursday...sort of.

Flying from Hawaii to Japan is not a quick trip. Because of time zones and other weirdness, it actually is two days becase we cross the International Date Line.

You get it back when you return but it really messes up trying to figure out where you are and when. It's okay because it's worth it.

Full of more food and well-trained in Kamaboko we head for our new hotel for the night.

It's a long drive but that's okay because they'll be lots of highway rest stop food places to see and buy things.

We'll end up at the Tateshina Spa for onsen and then check in to the Tateshina Grand Hotel Taki-No-Yu.

This is a marvelous honor, we think.

We're still trying to see what she won. If anything.

Natural hot springs (温泉, onsen) are very popular across Japan. Every region of the country has its share of hot springs and resort towns, which come with them.

Hot spring baths come in many varieties, indoors and outdoors, traditional and modern. Men and women use separate baths and everyone is...naked. The group has one tonight for those that wish to participate. No cameras allowed.

These guys are not part of the Tomodachi group.

Here we are at the Suzuhiro Kamaboko Museum. What is kamaboko you might ask? It’s a type of Japanese fish cake made from surimi.

Yes, it’s a fish cake museum.

These things below are artwork done on discarded pieces of wood that the kamaboku is made on.

Tomodachi 2023 is a joint tour with the Combined Class of '69: Roosevent, Kalani, McKinley and Kaimuki.

Tomodachi is very popular and sells out every time and this was no exception, taking three airlines to get everyone there. This one celebrates the Year of the Rabbit.