Japanese payphoneUneventful is the best way to best my twenty-two hours (or thirty-three, depending upon how you look at it) of planes and automobile travel (sorry, no trains) to Zushi City, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan – just south of Tokyo.

I flew from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Los Angeles, California; leaving Minnesota just after sundown.  As you travel and chase the sun, you seem to time travel.  The four hour flight to L.A., by the clock, only took two hours.  I could deal with this sort of time travel, then I realized I would be crossing the International Date Line.  My twenty-two hours of travel would time travel out to thirty-three hours and in the process, I would lose Saturday.

On the long-haul flight from L.A. to Tokyo, I sat next to a fascinating U.S. Marine named Leland.  He had been in the Marines since he was about twenty.  He was a chef in the corp; he and his family live on a base on one of the southern islands of the Japanese chain of islands.  Leland’s passion lay in chocolate carving and ice carving (in addition to feeding large numbers of hungry Marines).  He was flying from Richmond, Virginia, where he had had training and ice carving competitions.  He never did say how the competitions went.

From the bit of travel I have done in my life, it is always fascinating to find out what other people do; what makes them get up eat morning.  What exactly is their story_._

Now that I have been in Japan for a day, and it would appear that I have missed most of the bad parts of travel (upset stomach, severe jet lag, etc), I can get down to business, err, leisure.  Thus far, Meghann (my sister) and I have visited Tsurugaoka Hachimangu-shrine where, in the Shinto tradition, we washed our hands and mouth before entering the temple grounds.  We also made a small offering of a couple coins to the spirits.  The shrines are beautiful and co-exist wonderfully with the natural hills, trees and ponds.

Blossoms We also visited a district of small shops (I was excited to find a My Neighbor Totoro – となりのトトロ shop where you could buy all sorts of things related to the fantastic Japanese children’s cartoon), ate at a small ramen noodle shop where you took your shoes off and sat on the floor.  We also visited a honey shop which had dozens and dozens of different varieties of honey.

But, last but not least – the cherry and ume (plum) blossoms are just starting to bloom.  It should be a wonderful sight to see the many, many trees scattered throughout this land that will soon be in bloom.