Part III: Land portion - Cruising Land of Rising Sun

Most important – the physical activity rating of this trip should be 3. There are many temples, shrines, and gardens that can only be reached by steep grade streets and long stairs, often composed of uneven rock. Even the most fit of our group would be out of breath and many just stopped going on these excursions.

Another irritant that many complained about was the number of excursions that seemed like “fillers” designed to plump out the schedule of activities in some locations, but that had little cultural value. Others were merely mistimed. The Gion walking tour provided useful information about geiko/meiko training, but occurred at 9 in the morning when all tea houses were closed, prohibiting any visualization of how these houses worked. A visit to the Tokyo Meiji Shrine found it to be under construction and covered. A visit to the famous Jagaichi fish market in Busan, South Korea, found it to be closed, forcing us to walk to a smaller, adjacent market.

Hotel accommodations in Kyoto at the Granvia were good, but the location over a train station was unusual (we heard train noises throughout the night), but it did provide numerous adjacent shopping and dining choices in addition to close subway access. The Shangri La Hotel in Tokyo was superb in room size, attention to detail, and levels of service. In hotel dining showed a high level of innovation and quality.
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