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Return to Japan, including the Far North

May 6 to May 20, 2018
( With optional extension to Kyoto-Nara-Osaka – May 20 – 24)

Base Trip Price: 
Per Person, Double Occupancy -  $6,950
Travel as a Single: $7,950
 
Kyoto-Nara 5 night 5 day extension
Per Person, Double Occupancy - $1,500
Per Person Single Occupancy = $1,750.

Bridging the Pacific

Another unique hand-crafted Lydon Mizoguchi itinerary.  For over 20 years Sandy and Kaori have been leading Japanese and Americans to explore their respective histories and cultures. We have put together a special itinerary that will help you experience an historic and contemporary Japan few foreigners ever see.  Or even know exists.

Travel with a Purpose

We embed historic and cultural themes into every itinerary. Our adventures are not just sightseeing.  We don't dabble here and there and then say that we've "done" Japan.  We work out themes that will help guide us through our travels.

Summary of Itinerary:

click to enlarge map

Depart Sunday, May 6, SFO, JAL #1, 4:05 PM
Arrive Haneda Airport, Tokyo, May 7, 7:15 PM

Island of Honshu

• Minamiboso – (4 nights) – a beautiful agricultural and fishing coast where we'll be received by our friends of many years.  This region is a geographical mirror image of the Monterey Bay Region, connected forever by pioneer Japanese immigrants in the 1890s.
• Sendai (2 nights) – we will visit locations that were decimated by the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011 and we'll explore the astonishing 1613 expedition that built a ship and set out to meet the Pope. Successfully.

Island of Hokkaido

• Hakodate (2 nights) Welcome to the wide-open spaces of Hokkaido and one of the most beautiful harbors in the world, Hakodate is filled with history including a visit by Commodore Mathew Perry.      
• Noboribetsu Hot Springs (1 night) Steam pouring out of everywhere.  You'll have a chance to sit in some.  Also, this will include our visit to the Ainu cultural and political heartland, including Nibutani.
• Sapporo (2 nights) Americans came to teach the Japanese agriculture – and, of course, they DO brew beer here.  We'll then fly back to Haneda.

Island of Honshu

• Tokyo (2 nights) Baseball, and Japan's largest and most spectacular festival.  Includes a visit to one of the best museums in the world.
      
Main Trip – Sunday, May 20
Depart Haneda, JAL #2 – 7:50 PM
Arrive SFO – Sunday, May 20 1:10 PM
 
Optional Extension (a skeleton itinerary upon which we'll help you design your schedule) 
Tokyo (1 night) remain in same hotel as previous 2 nights (Tokyo Dome Hotel)
Kyoto (3 nights) – a centrally-located hotel
Osaka (1 night) – after a full day exploring historic, quet Nara we'll travel to one of Japan's most modern and "edgy" cities where we'll have time to explore.

Fri. May 25 - Depart Osaka Airport 5:20 PM
Arrive Haneda and connect with JAL #2 – 7:50 PM
Arrive SFO – Friday, May 25 – 1:10 PM

Application to Reserve space includes:

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.

1) Read the Questions and Answers
click here to download the Q's & A's
2) Completed Application
click here to download an application
3) Deposit check for $1,500 per person
 
Submit your completed application and the check made out to
Pacific Harbor Travel and snail mail to: Sandy Lydon, PO Box 2578, Aptos, CA 95001.      
 
Other requirements include four mandatory pre-trip workshops in Aptos – on Cabrillo College campus.  One session will be a field trip to Monterey to explore the Japanese connections at Point Lobos.
#1 – January 28 – 1:00 to 6:00 PM
#2 – February 26  1:00 to 6;00 PM
#3 – March 25 – 1:00 to 7:30 – Field trip to Monterey including hosted dinner
#4 – April 22 -  1:00 to 6:00 PM
 
Trip members living over 200 miles from Aptos may make other arrangements.
 
Since a mature attention span is required by this trip, we do not accept group members under 21.

Included:

We plan to visit these rice paddies in Maniboso.

We plan to visit these rice paddies in Maniboso.

• Round Trip air fare SFO to Japan on Japan Air, Coach class
• All arrival and departure transfers
• All tips to drivers, hotel porters, etc.      
• First class hotels with Western-style bathroom facilities
• All air, bus, railroad subway and ferry when in Japan
• All sightseeing by private air conditioned motor coach
• All admissions to included sites
• Most meals, including American-style breakfasts
• English speaking guides
• Four pre-trip instructional meetings, including Japanese language
• Personally escorted by Sandy Lydon, Kaori Mizoguchi and Yoshie Morrissey.  

Not Included:

• Items of a personal nature, optional sightseeing, telephone, fax, wi-fi, Computer charges, room service, laundry, shopping, etc. 
• Transportation from home to SFO and return
• Trip cancellation insurance highly recommended.  Contact Linda at Pacific Harbor Travel – see contact information below.
• 3.5% handling fee for credit card transactions now imposed by suppliers.
• Passport fees (visas are free to U.S. citizens and are issued upon arrival)
• Anything else not specified in the "included" list.

Payment Schedule:

1) Initial payment of $1,500 to secure a space in the trip. This deposit must be made by check.  Final payment due no later than March 6, 2018.  You may make this payment with a credit card, though there will be a 3.5% service charge to do so.

Refund Schedule:

1) $500 of the $1,500 first payment is non-refundable from the date it is made
2) Once final payment is made (due by March 6) the entire amount is non-refundable, but can be protected with trip cancellation insurance.  Contact Linda Schwedock at Pacific Harbor (see below) for trip cancellation insurance details.

Note about Premium Economy Class on JAL flights.

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.

Japan Airlines may offer some seats on the SFO to Haneda and return in what they call "Premium Economy class".  The seats are more spacious and the service a tad better than Economy.  However, they do not make those seats available until closer to departure.  In May, 2017, the cost of the seats ranged from $80/person round trip to $350, and there is no predictability as to when the seats may be offered to us or the price. Most group members who availed themselves of these seats in May 2017 found them very worthwhile.  However, they could not accommodate the entire group.  So, we will offer the opportunity to upgrade to Premium Economy to group members in the order that they submitted applications. There may be other instances where the date of your application might be useful, so we urge you to apply early.

Sweat Equity Investment

After 43  years of leading groups all over the world, we believe that pre-trip preparation is essential to the richness of each traveler's experience as well as the health and welfare of the group.  We assume that you are looking for an experience in Japan beyond the one you can get watching the Discovery Channel. To get the most value for your investment, you must also invest what we call "sweat equity" – by doing some reading and preparation and attending our pre-trip sessions. We expect you to become an active member of the group, participating in group activities.  If you live less than 200 miles from Aptos, you must attend the pre-trip sessions.

Diet

If you have highly-restrictive dietary requirements, we cannot accommodate your needs on this trip. We cannot offer diet-restricted menu choices.  Part of the purpose of this trip is to expose you to a variety of Japanese regional cuisines. The menus are set weeks ahead of time. Even some breakfasts will have a set menu, though most breakfasts will be buffet with both Western and Japanese offerings. If you require a special diet (vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.) and cannot adapt to the "food of the realm" then this trip is not for you. You must adapt to Japanese cuisine, not the other way around.

Some of the 2018 Themes

Diversity of People and Landscapes

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. 

Though often described as a "homogeneous people" there are  a number of diverse "minority" people living alongside the Japanese majority.  We will highlight several of them including cultural outcasts such as the ex prostitutes (WWII "comfort women, for example), and the original inhabitants of the islands, the Ainu.  We will visit some of the most important sites in the Ainu contemporary efforts to achieve equality in Japan.

Our itinerary passes through a wide variety of landscapes, from lush terraced rice paddies, to the wide open spaces of Hokkaido (barns, tractors, COWS!) both racial and cultural.  Some of these groups of "outsiders" we'll discuss will be the World War II "comfort women" as well as the Ainu, believed to be Japan's first indigenous people. 

Regional Cuisine

There are amazing regional variations and even the basic ramen is prepared differently from prefecture to prefecture.  Kaori seeks out these regional variations, and it is one of the reasons that we cannot accommodate group members with dietary restrictions

Shrines, Temples and Gardens

During our pre-trip sessions we will teach you how to read the traditional Japanese landscape with its gardens, temples, pagodas, and shrines.  And we'll show you the historical contexts that make them unique.  

The Transpacific Connections

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. 

One major theme will be to illuminate the connections and similarities between Minamiboso and the Monterey Bay.   We share everything from a Pacific coastline with pine trees and beaches, we are both on the Pacific Ring of Fire, with the tsunamis and earthquakes that come with that fire.  We will compare and contrast how each places lives with their precarious perch.

The Great Pacific War – WWII

We are forever connected to Japan by virtue of being opponents in the war.  We will visit sites on both sides of the Pacific including a remarkable tunnel complex in Minamiboso that was only recently opened to the public.

The Abalone Connection

The direct connection between this region and Japan followed the glitter of mother-of-pearl. The early abalone industry pioneered by Japanese immigrants unified both sides of the Pacific until it all was unraveled in 1941.  Since 1995, Kaori and I have been able to weave the history back together, and we'll visit sites from which those pioneers came.

The Other side of the Japanese Character – Exuberance!

There is truth to the idea that the Japanese are a reserved and private and non-demonstrative people.  True enough, but we intentionally time this trip so that you'll be able to experience the "other side" of Japanese character.  We will attend a Japanese baseball game.  You don't need to know or care about baseball, but previous group members have rated attending the game as one of the high points of the trip.  Then, the following day we'll ease you into the largest human tsunami you've ever seen – the Sanja Matsuri.

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 2017 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 region'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 class.  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 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
       E-mail: linda@pacificharbortravel.com
 
Questions about Japan, culture and the itinerary:
Sandy Lydon salydon@aol.com (telephone 831-688-2374) – e-mail is best

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