Preparation for travel to Japan

Traveling involves a whole series of steps and none are more important than understanding the people and places we will visit. We are guests in Japan and as such need to be attentive and mindful of the culture and practices of folks in the country. Our goal, over the next few weeks, is to become familiar with the history and culture of Japan, as much as possible, and to focus on learning some language and the best ways to interact with people. Yes, it’s true that a global culture is emerging in the world and, respectfully, it’s important to be aware of ways to be both compassionate and kind to those we meet.

In our first meeting this year, we discussed some of the history of the country, focusing on the complexities of life in Japan before World War II. The transformation of Japan between about 1868 and the present has been profound. It’s not to say that countries like the U.S. have not also seen these changes, and, in many ways, Japan is unique in the world in both what changed and what happened in the country. Attached and available is the presentation from the last meeting with some general information about changes in Japan. The presentation is meant as a very brief description of some of these changes. Keep in mind that the way Japanese people see their own history is quite different from the presentation provided. My advice is to search that information and learn about what Japanese folks think about their own past. For our group, we will present on recent Japanese society, post-WWI in March.

One of my favorite places in Japan is Ginkaku-ji not far from the Path of Philosophy. The temple grounds are a wonderful spot to enjoy the landscape design and the intentional ways in which temple grounds guide a pilgrim to contemplation.

The Path of Philosophy in the northern Higashiyama part of Kyoto immerses you in this contemplation as you walk past shrines and temples. Dotted along the path are vendors selling everything from stationary to snacks, and cats perched on walls and stairs.

The more technical side of preparation involves learning some language! Posted are the various pieces of information we talked about in the past. We will begin a more intensive language journey next meeting (February 8th) with some videos, images, and practice! We’ve recommended a few apps for building vocabulary and we’ve found one of the best to be Duolingo. It’s not great at creating context and providing a good understanding of sentence structure; however, it does do a good job of helping you build some vocabulary for the trip!

A few things to make sure YOU have before time gets away from us!

  1. Your Passport! You have to have at least six months left before expiration to travel. Please renew the passport NOW if you need to.
  2. COVID Vaccinations. Be up to date on the COVID vaccines. You must have had all boosters. Have a vaccination card with the updated information available for travel. It is not possible to arrive in Japan without all vaccinations.
  3. Carry-On Bag. I’m a BIG believer in using a carry-on bag verses a checked bag going to Japan. Yes, it’s limited in size AND you always know you have your stuff with you. We’ll discuss this detail in the next meeting. Check out THIS great web site about how to pack a carry-on for extended travel: One Bag Travel. I personally use the EBAG which is a minimalist bag with lots of possible features….you can see that bag here: EBAGs.

I will post more information, more regularly on this site to get ready for travel! In the meantime, check out any and all information about Japan including my favorite band Bump of Chicken.

May you be happy, may you be well!

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