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An Intimate and Personal

Journey into Japan including

Hokkaido.

Sun. May 5, 2019 to Sun. May 19, 2019

Base Trip Price

$7,450 per person double occupancy

Price includes round trip air fare SFO to Tokyo, All internal transportation, hotels, most meals (See list of “Included” farther down.) Group members who have submitted all materials and completed interview before December 1 will have their fee reduced to $6,950.

A Limited number of Single Supplements available At $1,500 for a total fee of $8,450 if accepted before December 1.

JAL – Premier Economy Class – We also have a limited number of seats available in what JAL calls Premium Economy.  The seats are roomier and have more leg-room than Economy, but they are not as cushy as Business Class.  The fee for Premium Economy is $1,150 per person for round trip added to the trip cost.  There will be a place on the application where you can indicate your interest to have a little more comfort.  Premium Economy also comes with access to the VIP Sakura Lounge at SFO. 

Group size limited to 34.  Sells out every year.

Bridging the Pacific

click to enlarge map

A unique hand-crafted itinerary fashioned by Sandy Lydon and Kaori Mizoguchi who have been collaborating to re-connect America and Japan for 23 years.  This collaboration has grown organically following in the footsteps of the Japanese immigrant pioneers who came to the Monterey Bay Region in the late 1890s. 

Travel with a Purpose

Once a year we assemble a group of dedicated, well-prepared and mature adults, (we don’t accept group members under 25) prepare them in the intricacies of Japanese history and culture and take them to Japan for an intimate and personal experience.  This adventure is not for the dilettante wishing to go “sightseeing” a la the Discovery Channel. We will spend the months leading up to the trip escorting you through exercise for the mind and body. 

Summary of Itinerary

Depart Sunday afternoon, May 5, 2019 – JAL Flight 001
Arrive Monday evening May 6, 2019 – Haneda Airport Tokyo.

Minamiboso (4 nights) 
We whisk you away from the Big Japan of Tokyo to the Small Japan of Tateyama on the opposite shore of Tokyo Bay.  We will introduce you to the region that provided many immigrants to the Monterey Bay Region.  The pace here is gentle and personal.

Tohoku – Matsushima (2 nights)
We will then take the Bullet Train north to the area around Sendai where we will visit the area still recovering from the 2011 tsunami.

 We plan to visit these rice paddies in Maniboso.

We plan to visit these rice paddies in Maniboso.

Hokkaido – Japan’s “Far North”
We have become enamored and intrigued by Hokkaido, its landscape and culture, and we continue to explore its nooks and crannies,  discovering new places, and cuisine each visit.  The 6.7 magnitude earthquake on September 6, 2018 further convinced us to return next May as they NEED us to visit, not turn away. Kaori will be visiting Hokkaido at the end of October to see for herself how they are faring.   

Hakodate (2 nights)
A fascinating seaport city, forever connected to the United States by the 1854 (?) visit of Matthew Galbraith Perry.  A delightful city dominated by Mt. Hakodate that affords a stunning nighttime view of the city. 

Noboribetsu – (1 night)
A city built atop and adjacent to volcanic fissures.  One of the great Hot-Spring resorts in all of Japan. 

Biratori and Nibutani – Ainu Land
We will visit and explore the historic Heartland of the Ainu, Hokkaido’s’ original inhabitants. The group will have historical readings during our pre-trip sessions, including a comparison of the California Indian story with that of the Ainu.

Sapporo – More than Beer (2 nights)
Sapporo is Hokkaido’s provincial capital and known world-wide for its namesake beer. (Yes, we’ll visit the brewery.)  Compared to Japanese cities such as Nara and Kyoto, Sapporo is relatively young, and also connected to the United States by a group of agriculturalists who the Japanese invited in the late 19th century to help understand the very different land and climate of Hokkaido.

Tokyo – Big, Boisterous Japan (2 nights)
We will fly from Sapporo back to Haneda Airport and spend our last 2 nights in the Tokyo Dome Hotel where we will experience two examples of the exuberant side of Japanese culture – baseball, and the country’s largest festival – the Sanja Matsuri.  We will show you that even in one of the world’s most populous and crowded cities, there are oases of peace and quiet. 

Return to USA – Sunday, May 19, 2019
After squeezing as much Japaneseness out of our last day, we will return to Haneda Airport and board JAL Flight #02 at 7:50 PM and arrive at SFO, at 1:00 PM the same calendar day.  

Applications have three required parts

 Japanese food is not just “little things in little dishes.” This dish, sometimes called a Japanese pancake, and actually named okonomiyaki was a huge hit in May 2017 and we will be seeking regional variations of this dish.

Japanese food is not just “little things in little dishes.” This dish, sometimes called a Japanese pancake, and actually named okonomiyaki was a huge hit in May 2017 and we will be seeking regional variations of this dish.

Our Japan adventures are not for everyone. We are seeding members who wish to go beyond checking off Japan from their bucket list. We pride ourselves in bringing respectful and Informed groups to meet our friends in Japan.

To achieve that end, we expect our group member to commit to investing some “sweat equity” during the months prior to departure. That sweat equity will involve some directed reading, language lessons conducted by our own resident Japanese “sensei” Yoshie Morrissey.

Requirement #1 – Four Pre-trip Sessions
We have scheduled four Sunday afternoon sessions that begin at 1:00 PM and may at times go into the evenings (and include dinner.)  Unless you live 200 miles or more from Aptos, you are expected to attend these sessions.  Your agreement to attend is part of the application process, and if you cannot assure us of your attendance, you should not make application.

Dates:
#1 – Sunday, January 27, 2019
#2 –Sunday – February 24, 2019
#3 – Sunday – March 24, 2019
#4 – Sunday – April 28, 2019

Requirement #2 – Completed Application
We require that you complete an application (link to PDF). You should take the time to provide thoughtful and complete answers to the questions asked.  The application is one indicator we have to determine your level of commitment to the trip and the group you are attempting to join.

The application must include a check for $1,500 for each applicant, and the check should be made out to Pacific Harbor Travel.  You may use a credit card to pay for the Balance of the trip, but the deposit must be paid by check. There is a 4% charge added to the fee for using a credit card.

We will hold the check (s) uncashed until you have completed the interview requirement.

Requirement #3 – An in-person Interview
Your application is not complete until we have a chance to meet and make certain that you understand what our groups are all about and we have had a chance to ask follow-up questions based on your application.  We will schedule the interviews at your convenience, and you should figure that we’ll spend at least an hour together. If, after the interview it appears that you are a good match for the group we are assembling (and the group for you), we will deposit your check and officially welcome you aboard.

There is a financial incentive for you to complete the interview portion of the application as all applicants who are accepted before December 1 will have their trip fee reduced by $500 per person.

To download accpliation click here
To download Questions and Ansewrs
click here

Included in the Fee

 It is customary to remove one’s shoes not only in private homes, but also in museums, temples and shrines. This photo was taken outside a restaurant, and we advise group members to find some slip-on shoes that do not have laces, because it can get very tiresome to untie and tie your shoes a dozen times a day.

It is customary to remove one’s shoes not only in private homes, but also in museums, temples and shrines. This photo was taken outside a restaurant, and we advise group members to find some slip-on shoes that do not have laces, because it can get very tiresome to untie and tie your shoes a dozen times a day.

• Round trip air fare, Economy Class, SFO to Haneda and return Japan Airlines (Premium Economy fare is extra)
• All arrival and departure transfers
• Good and Best Hotels including at least one Japanese-style (futons)
• All tips and gratuities
• All transportation in Japan, including private motorcoach, subways, railroads, Bullet Trains,
• Air Fare from Sapporo back to Tokyo
• All admissions to included sites
• Most Meals, including all breakfasts, most lunches and dinners
• English-speaking guides and translations where they aren’t available
• Comprehensive booklets outlining the day’s events with supplemental historical and cultural information
• Extensive pre-trip instruction including films, visiting experts, special dinners
• Personally escorted by Sandy Lydon, Kaori Mizoguchi, and Yoshie Morrissey with local contacts too numerous to list.

Not Included

•  Items of a personal nature, computer and wireless fees (most hotels have free wi-fi), laundry service.
•  Fees for overweight luggage.
• Transportation from home to SFO and return.
• 4% service charge for using credit cards to pay fee balance
• Passport fees – (there are no visa fees to visit Japan)
• Trip cancellation insurance – strongly advised and available through Pacific Harbor Travel, Santa Cruz – see below.
• Anything else not specified in the”included” list

Payment Schedule

$1,500 due (by check) at application
Balance due by March 6, 2019

Refund Schedule

• Entire Deposit refundable up to January 15, 2019
• Entire $1,500 deposit non-refundable after January 15
• Entire fee non-refundable after final payment (due March 6)

 A Note About Diet

We are traveling to places rarely visited by Americans, and chefs in these areas are not familiar with dietary restrictions such as gluten-free, non GMO, vegan, etc.  If you have strict dietary requirements, we cannot accommodate them, and you should not consider this trip. 

A Note About Luggage

We will be traveling on conveyances that have limited luggage capabilities.  There are few baggage handlers in Japan, and you will be expected to move your own luggage.  We will limit you to one (1) check-in suitcase not to exceed 44 pounds.  We will assist you in packing techniques during our pre-trip sessions.

Themes

 Sanja Matsuri, Tokyo, May 2017. We plan our trips to conclude with Japan’s largest annual festival. Groups carry Shinto altars through the streets and they work hard. And EVERYBODY is out to see it. An amazing, exuberant, exciting event.

Sanja Matsuri, Tokyo, May 2017. We plan our trips to conclude with Japan’s largest annual festival. Groups carry Shinto altars through the streets and they work hard. And EVERYBODY is out to see it. An amazing, exuberant, exciting event.

Each year we develop and focus on different themes to help guide our pre-trip sessions, readings, and adventure in Japan.  Besides the obvious and basic elements of Japanese history, culture, language and protocols, this year offers some intriguing opportunities.

Preparing, enduring and revering from natural calamities.

Japan is riding atop through time on volcanoes and earthquake faults.  The Japanese are the best-prepared people for natural disaster.  But, even the Japanese get slammed by natural disasters beyond even their planning and comprehension. All throughout itinerary, we will be highlighting how the Japanese prepare.  We share a place with them at the Pacific Ring of Fire table, and we very well might learn something.  We will focus on two events – the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011, and each group member will be expected to read the remarkable book, The Ghosts of the Tsunami by Richard Lloyd Parry (2017).  We have multiple copies to loan.  The main story is that of the Okawa Elementary School in Ishinomaki.  We will visit the school site, and see how this area of Japan is doing

We will also visit parts of Hokkaido that were hit by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake on September 6th of 2018.  The epicenter was in a lightly-populated farming area, and Hokkaido is now vying for recovery funds alongside the still-overwhelming 2011 earthquake and tsunami.  Hokkaido has always been something of a poor stepchild in the over-all Japanese scheme of things, but Hokkaidans pride themselves as being tougher and more resourceful than their “mainland” Japanese brothers and sisters to the south.  How are they doing?

Diversity – and the edges of Japanese society

We will continue to work on the story of the Ainu, this time doing some cross-cultural and transpacific comparisons with the California Indians and we have invited Kumiko Uyeda, an ethnomusicologist specializing in Ainu music and culture, and Linda Yamane, a descendant from the Rumsian people who originally occupied the Monterey Peninsula. 

Also, the Japanese have recently been having – yet again- a conversation about who – exactly – is Japanese.  This time it was triggered by the victory of Naomi Osaka, a mixed-race tennis star, the child of a Japanese mother and a Haitian father. (The Japanese use the term “halfu” for mixed-race children; in the US the term most often used is based on the Hawai’ian term “happa”. ) She represents Japan in tournaments.  Born in Japan her family moved to Florida when she was three, and she is now a dual-citizen of Japan and the US.  The Japanese are deeply divided over Naomi Osaka, being very proud that she won the US Open, but not sure whether or not she is truly Japanese.

The Emperor will have abdicated a week before we arrive.

 Sanja Matsuri participant. The Sanja Matsuri also provides a great opportunity to take some very personal photographs, always with permission. Annie got the little girl’s mother’s permission to take the photograph.

Sanja Matsuri participant. The Sanja Matsuri also provides a great opportunity to take some very personal photographs, always with permission. Annie got the little girl’s mother’s permission to take the photograph.

The Japanese Emperor usually dies while occupying the Chrysanthemum Throne, but the present Emperor Akihito has asked for, and received permission to resign the throne while still alive. (He’s 83 years old).  He will abdicate on April 30 and the new Emperor (his eldest son, Crown Prince Natuhito) will assume the throne on May 1.  For the Japanese, this is not a simple thing as it involves everything from a new calendar to on-going discussion about whether or not women should be considered as eligible for the throne.  We will explore the historical position of the Emperor, and in particular the heated discussion held by the US leadership about the role that the Emperor should play in postwar Japan. There were many who argued that the wartime Emperor Hirohito should be tried and executed as a war criminal while others, including General Douglas MacArthur, took the position that the Emperor would be an important player in establishing democracy in postwar Japan.

Other Themes:

The Olympics in 2020 – The Olympic preparations will be at a fever pitch with little more than a year to go before the Games open in Japan.  How are they doing?

Diversity of landscape and cuisine – We will continue to explore regional cuisine, and Kaori has found some new and wonderful restaurants. 

The Transpacific Connection – abalone – This connection with Minamiboso all began while Sandy was doing research on the abalone divers who came to the Monterey Peninsula.  We will be meeting historians, family members and visit historic locations that connect this area with the Monterey Bay Region.

The Japanese View of Events – In our continuing quest to understand the Japanese, we think that is useful to explore their perspectives on issues we have in common, including the Great Pacific War.  We will visit the Yasakuni Shrine which contains a very different interpretation for the war than we believe.  One key figure that we will develop during the trip will be Commodore Matthew Galbraith Perry, whose “opening” of Japan many Japanese still resent.  We will follow Perry from Tokyo Bay to Hokkaido, and visit a park commemorating his visit to Hakodate. 

The Exuberant side of the Japanese Character – And just when you become accustomed to Japanese reservation and reticence, we will see their other side – at a baseball game, and at the Sanja Matsuri, Japan’s biggest festival.  We will be the guests of a party in Tateyama where will will sing and dance with our friends – and maybe this year we’ll practice the “Coal Minter’s Dance” ahead of time.You will learn to sing some Japanese songs, and recite some important Japanese phrases. 

Sandy Lydon aka The History Dude

 The Leadership team - with Tokyo Tower behind: Left, Yoshie-sensei, Middle Kaori Mizoguchi, and right The History Dude.

The Leadership team - with Tokyo Tower behind: Left, Yoshie-sensei, Middle Kaori Mizoguchi, and right The History Dude.

Sandy is Historian Emeritus at Cabrillo College  where he taught Asian and Asian American History beginning in 1968. He was a Fulbright scholar at the East-West Center, Honolulu where he studied East Asian History and Japanese.  He made his first visit to Japan in 1966 on a State Department scholarship, and led his first group to Japan in 1974.  Since then he has led groups to China, Mongolia, Siberia, Southeast Asia, Tibet, Ireland and the United Kingdom. In 1995 while doing research in Japan on the history of the Japanese abalone divers on the Monterey Peninsula he met Kaori Mizoguchi and they developed a partnership that resulted in An Abalone Festival in Monterey and an Abalone Symposium in Tateyama.  Over the 20+ years they have co-led groups from Japan to California and the reverse. 

He has written widely on the history of Asian immigrants to the Monterey Bay Region including the award-winning Chinese Gold, and the Japanese in the Monterey Bay Region. He is an active member of the Japanese American Citizens League Chapters in the region.  He and his wife Annie live in Aptos, and she travels with us to keep his exuberance in check.

Kaori Mizoguchi

A native of Minamiboso, her early interest in international travel found her enrolling at the University of Pittsburgh where she graduated with a degree in linguistics.  She returned to Tateyama where she opened an English language school, and it was when she was asked to help Sandy translate on his 1995 trip in Tateyama that they began their collaboration. They now have many friends on both sides of the Pacific as a result of their trans-Pacific collaborations.  Kaori's father, Kazuo is an accomplished and famed painter and her mother is a tea ceremony practitioner and teacher.  Kaori and her husband Kazuo Sasho have a college-age daughter, Sakura, who is currently studying ballet in one of the most prestigious dance universities in Tokyo.   Kaori is without a doubt the most organized and energetic human on the earth and she takes our breath away each time we get to work with her. Figuratively and literally.  (Note: All of our 2018 group members urge you to "get in shape!" because when Kaori says, "We'll walk from here to the temple" the word "walk" does not do it justice.)

Yoshie Morrissey

We usually refer to her as "Yoshie-sensei" because she is one of Santa Cruz County's premier Japanese language teachers.  She is a native of Tokyo ("Tokyo Girl" is another of her titles, tennis champion is another) coming to the United States over thirty years ago with her former husband, she has two adult children and was recently presented with her first grandson. Add proud grandma to her resume.   We first met Yoshie-sensei when Annie and I enrolled in one of her Japanese language classes.  One thing led to another and she soon was acting as our cultural attaché on both sides of the Pacific and is now an integral part of our team.  Kaori and Yoshie add a rare personal dimension to our adventures.  They are our windows into Japan, its culture and history, and the reviews they receive from group members usually conclude with the word "priceless."  We are so very fortunate that they are willing to share their insights and energies with us.   

To download accpliation click here
To download Questions and Ansewrs
click here

Travel Arrangements and Coordination in the United States – Pacific Harbor Travel, Santa Cruz

You may arrange travel protection insurance, and Japan extensions with Linda Schwedock, the owner of Pacific Harbor Travel. We have been working with Pacific Harbor Travel for the past seven years and they have helped arrange recent trips to Mongolia, Siberia, China (Silk Road, Western China, and Tibet), Scotland, Isle of Man and Ireland.  They are the best. 
 
       Linda Schwedock, owner
       Pacific Harbor Travel         (CST#1014242-10)
       519 Seabright Ave. –Suite 201 (upstairs from the Seabright Brewery)
       Santa Cruz, California 95062
       Telephone: 831-427-5000

Note:  This trip is neither approved nor sponsored by Cabrillo College.