An Intimate and Personal
Journey into Japan including
Sat. April 4, 2020 to Sun. April 26, 2020
Base Trip Price
$9,650 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.)
A Limited number of Single Supplements available At $1,500
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 $1,200 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 and the JAL VIP departure lounge at Haneda Airport..
Group size limited to 34. Sells out every year.
Our 25th Anniversary of the Lydon-Mizoguchi Team Bridging the Pacific
A unique hand-crafted itinerary fashioned by Sandy Lydon and Kaori Mizoguchi who have been collaborating to re-connect America and Japan for 25 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
April 4 – Depart SFO – JAL #1
April 5 – 9 Tateyama (5 nights)
April 10 – 11 Sendai (2 nights))
April 12 – 14 Kyoto-Nara (3 nights)
April 15 – 16 Osaka (2 nights)
April 17 – 19 Nagasaki (3 nights)
April 20 – Kumamoto (1 night, onsen)
April 21-23 Okinawa (3 nights)
April 24 – 25 Tokyo (2 nights)
April 26 – Haneda to SFO – JAL #2
Arrive c. 1:00 PM on Sunday, April 26
Applications have two required parts
Our Japan adventures are not for everyone. We are selecting 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.
#1 – Sunday, January 12, 2020
#2 –Sunday – February 2, 2020
#3 – Sunday – March 1, 2020
#4 – Sunday – March 22, 2020
Requirement #2 – Completed Application
We require that you complete an application. 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.
If we feel that your application is incomplete we may ask to arrange an in-person interview with you before making a final decision.
Included in the Fee
• 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 air: private motorcoach, subways, railroads, Bullet Trains,
• 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.
• 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
$1,500 due (by check) at application
Balance due by February 6, 2020
• Entire Deposit refundable up to January 1, 2020
• Entire $1,500 deposit non-refundable after January 1, 2020
• Entire fee non-refundable after final payment (due February 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.
75th Anniversary of the last Year of the Great Pacific War
The events of 1945 will follow us throughout the trip, from the wartime sites in Minamiboso where the Japanese were preparing for an invasion that was rumored to be coming to Tokyo which was literally burned to the ground in the spring B-29 firebombings. We will visit the city of Nagasaki which suffered the second (and last) atomic bomb through a sequence of bad luck in August. But, the most devastating fighting and loss of life was in the Battle of Okinawa which began in April, 1945. The Great Pacific War is fading from memory in the United States, but it is not in Japan where the country struggles with the decision to keep or amend Article 9 of their constitution.
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 recovering from natural calamities.
Japan is riding through time atop volcanoes and visited annually by earthquakes and typhoons. 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
Diversity – and the edges of Japanese society
The Japanese often describe themselves as a “homogeneous society.” Both to themselves and outsiders. However, many who have studied Japan (including the History Dude) soon discover that this is really not true. Anthropologists describe it as the “myth of homogeneity.” We will explore this myth and how it evolved. And we will also explore the mosaic that is Japanese society. The ethnic and cultural groups most often listed as being on the edges of Japanese society are the Buraku (sometimes referred to as untouchables), Koreans, Ainu, and Okinawans.
We will put particular attention on this trip to the Okinawans both in mainland Japan (Osaka has a large, established Okinawan community) and in Okinawa. The story of the Okinawans is interwoven with the United States, and we will explore this relationship – that goes all the way back to the visit of Commodore Perry’s first visit in 1853. The story of Okinawan emigration is one of the least-known parts of Japanese history for most Japanese and Americans.
Diversity of landscape and cuisine
Springtime is a favorite time for Japanese, as the harsh chill of winter recedes and new growth abounds. Our metaphor for our trip will be the cherry blossoms. They are not only a harbinger of a new growing season but also a bittersweet one as the blossoms are a reminder of the fleeting nature of life. They revel in the blossoms, picnic beneath them day and night. We shall as well, and we will have some lesser-crowded opportunities in Minamiboso – the blossoms willing, of course.
Also, the extremely wide scope of the trip will afford us an opportunity to experience springtime Japan where spring might be a bit delayed all the way to subtropical Okinawa with its ferns and banyan trees. And, as the landscape varies so will the cuisines of each area. We will savor the regional cuisines along with their cultures.
The Abalone Connection: The mollusk that bound and still binds the Pacific. – 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.
We will also complete a regular pilgrimage to the Buddhist temple of Choshoji where one of the main architects of the abalone diving industry is buried. Gennosuke Kodani was the United States anchor at Point Lobos while his brother Nakajiro took care of business in Minamiboso. We will pay our respects to Nakajiro. His ihai (memorial tablet) is on the altar of the temple, and Reverend Takanashi will be expecting us. The connection we feel with this place is powerful.
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.
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. 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
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 25 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.
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.)
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.
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 ten 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
Note: This trip is neither approved nor sponsored by Cabrillo College.