Adventure Time

Kumano Sanzan

The purpose of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage is to visit each of the three Grand Shrines which make up the Kumano Sanzan.  There are several routes to accomplish this.  Back in ancient times the Japanese imperial family traveled from west to east on the popular Nakahechi Route.  Some pilgrims came from north to south, down the coastal Iseji Route, after worshipping at the famous Ise Grand Shrine.  Others took the mountainous inland road from the Buddhist temple called Koyasan along the Kohechi route which is also north to south.  I was thrilled that we made it to all three of the Kumano Grand Taisha, but we didn’t hike all of it. I realized our limitations, six kids between ages 10…

Hiking Kumano Kodo

Day one, Thursday, November 23 (Thanksgiving in America!) of our Kumano Kodo adventure. On our first full day we slept in.  The caretaker of the house, Jun, couldn’t believe we weren’t ready to open the wooden doors and let the light in by 9 am.  We said maybe 10 am would be good.  We made breakfast with fresh, organic eggs that they sell at the house, along with bread and fruit.  By 11 am we were finally ready to get going.  We hopped in the car and drove to the coastal town of Shingu, where the Kumano Hayatama Taisha is located.  I was eager to start hiking on the Kumano Kodo trail, but the town of Shingu is very developed….

Omoya – Kumano Kodo

For at least 20 years now, one of the top items on my bucket list is to travel on El Camino de Santiago, to Santiago de Compostela, in the very northwest corner of Spain.  This is a pilgrimage with a thousand year history and such a pilgrimage still exists today.  I have books about it and I’ve studied it.  In the early 90s I met two people who were from Santiago de Compostela and it’s probably where this dream was born. Some history from www.americanpilgrims.org/history: “El Camino de Santiago, in English “The Way of Saint James,” is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where legend has it that the remains of Jesus’s apostle Saint…

Eikando Temple, Koyo Season

My friend Mari, my Kokedera partner, sent me a text message telling me she was at Eikando temple and that the autumn leaves there are incredible now.  The autumn transformation of leaves into brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow is called “koyo” in Japanese.  Since we are here for a bonus second year we’re really trying to see all the best koyo that this season has to offer.  We live about 45 minutes away from Kyoto, thus we have easy access to some of the best koyo sights in Japan. The day after Mari texted me, Monday, November 20, John and I set out for Kyoto, to find Eikando and the trees with fire, gold and green.  Eikando Temple,…

Kokedera, the Moss Temple

Our scheduled time is Saturday, November 11 at 1pm.  My confirmation postcard says, “Please never fail to bring this card on Nov. 11th at 1:00 pm when you are going to visit this temple.”  My Japanese friend and I had a good a laugh over this wording. I found out about Kokedera while surfing the internet.  The real name of this temple is Saiho-ji but it is also known as Kokedera which translates koke = moss and dera = temple, so it’s the moss temple.  It is located in Western Kyoto, not far from the popular town Arashiyama.  This temple is a bit off the beaten path, not because it is not known, but because it takes some effort to…

Nagashima Spa Land

Saturday and Sunday, November 4 & 5 is birthday weekend.  It’s Halyard’s 16th birthday (and Avalon’s 11th and my 40-something).  To celebrate Halyard’s 16th we decided to go on a little weekend getaway.  Nagashima Spa Land is an amusement park that he had asked to go many months ago.  It’s actually just one part of the larger Nagashima Resort which encompasses the amusement park and a water park, a hot springs onsen, an outlet shopping mall and a large flower garden called Nabana no Sato.  Nagashima Spa Land reminded me of a mini Six Flags from the US. It’s about 2 hours away near the city of Nagoya so we rented a car the night before.  We rented a large…

Return to Shirahama

We rented a car on Saturday, September 9 and made the 2.5 hour drive south to Shirahama Beach to meet up with our friends.  We were able to make our reservation in advance by phone in English.  But we’ve never rented a car before so we had to ask the rental agent a lot of questions.  He set up the GPS for us.  When we went to pick up the car, check out what was stuck on the back trunk by the license plate!  Hilarious.  It’s a big magnet so it peels right off.  This is the same beach that we went to last year, the one with the beautiful soft white sand that was brought over from Australia.  This…

Going home

Our tickets back to Orange County, California are booked for August 13, 2017.  This will be a year to the day that we flew out on our big move across the Pacific Ocean.  It’s unbelievable how fast the year flew by.  We decided to stay another year in Japan (an agonizing decision that I might post about later) so before we fly out we have to pack up our belongings, move to another house, clean our old house thoroughly before the owners come home, and host more guests from the US.  We have about 12 days to do all of this. It is not as stressful as when we moved from California to Japan, but it feels overwhelming at times. …

Summer Guests Part 2

Now we’re back from our 2-week adventure through Southeast Asia and immediately we must get ready for our next round of US guests. First is meeting up with the son (Sean) of another of John’s cousins (Peggy).  John often likes to talk about how as a kid he would spend his entire summers at Peggy and her sisters’ house in a Chicago suburb.  So we’re looking forward to meeting Peggy’s son Sean since it’s been about 15 years since we last saw him.  He’s here on an internship with Mizuno, a famous Japanese sports apparel company.  We’re going to show him some local sights since he said he’s mostly done only touristy things so far. Last night, Saturday, July 29,…

Summer Guests Part 1

We’re in the full swing of summer guests now.  It’s Tuesday, June 27 and our Newport Beach friends are on their way home today.  Good-bye Luke, Tom and Sheridan.  We will see you again soon.  Thanks for letting us go temple hopping with you in Kyoto, coming to dinner at our house and going to USJ and the arcade with us!Our Long Beach friends arrive tonight.  Later on in July, two more sets of friends from Costa Mesa will arrive in Osaka at the same time.  I’m getting off work early today so I’m planning to go straight to Itami Airport to hook up with John and Avalon.  I want to be on time to see our friends when they…