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Japan holds a special place for the Lydons. It seems that everywhere one looks, there's a treat for the eyes. This was taken at the Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto.


Return to Japan – Focus on Western Japan
May 7 - 21, 2017

Our hand-crafted, artisanal unique itinerary
We always travel in Japan with a purpose, the primary one being to explore the diverse cultures and landscapes that are encompassed by the word "Japanese."
The basic themes of this itinerary include:
Rural and urban – From Japan's countryside to its Tokyo core and explore how the Japanese find balance in their everyday lives
Regional cuisine – The phrase "Japanese food" covers an amazing variety of regional cuisines, and you'll learn that it's more than just fish and rice.
World War II – We'll explore the legacy of the Pacific War in Japan and how the Japanese are dealing with that history 70 years later.  We will visit both Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as rarely-visited defensive positions, kamikaze bunkers and see how those pilots are commemorated today.
Temples and Gardens – We include many of the iconic sites in Western Japan
Transpacific Connections – We will introduce you to the communities from which some of the earliest immigrants came to the Monterey Bay Region
Foreign Influences – We will visit Japan's historic Asian "front door" which brought Chinese culture philosophies but also was where the Mongols came close to dragging (unsuccessfully)  Japan into their incredible empire.  It's also where European influences were the strongest and where Christianity was introduced and ultimately crushed.
Heroes and heroines – We'll be tracing the paths of some of Japan's most respected and revered historical figures including Miyamoto Musashi, Minamoto Yoshitsune, and Oh Sadaharu.  We believe that Japan's heroes and heroines provide wonderful windows into contemporary Japanese character, real or imagined.
Time for wandering and reflection

Nara temple

Dates Sunday, May 7 to Sunday, May 21, 2016

Tentative Itinerary, subject to change
Day #1  (Sun. May 7) Depart SFO to Tokyo (Haneda Airport)
JAL - #1 – SFO to Tokyo (Haneda) Depart SFO 3:55 PM

Day #2 (Mon. May 8)  – Arrive Haneda 7:20 PM
Private motorcoach to Tateyama, Minamiboso, check into resort hotel Begin relaxing stay in rural Japan. – Tomiura Hotel
Day #3 & 4 (Tue. May 9, Wed., May 10) – Welcomed by our Minamiboso friends, with extensive touring and personal experiences.  This is the area from which came the early Japanese immigrants to the Monterey Peninsula. – Continue Tomiura Hotel
Day #5 (Thur. May 11) – Travel day by ferry to Kamakura and then on the Bullet Train to Kyoto – arrive early afternoon – some Kyoto touring before check into Kyoto hotel
Day #6 & 7 (Fri. May 12, Saturday May 13) – Kyoto-Nara – Exploring Japan's historic heart. Temples and gardens. Continue stay in Kyoto hotel.
Day #8 (Sun. May 14 ) Kyoto to Himeji to Hiroshima – Day includes Atomic Bomb Memorial and Peace Park – Overnight Hiroshima
Day #9 (Mon. May 15) Hiroshima to Shimonoseki to Fukuoka – Day includes Itsukushima Shrine, Dannoura site – Overnight Fukuoka
Day #10 (Tue. May 16) Fukuoka to Nagasaki – Including Mongol Battle site, Peace Park and Deshima Island – Overnight Nagasaki
Day #11 (Wed. May 17) Nagasaki to Kirishima – Including Kumamoto Earthquake Zone Overnight country style hotsprings resort in Kirishima
Day #12  (Thur. May 18) Kirishima to Kagoshima – Including tokkotai (kamikaze) Peace Museum – Overnight Kagoshima
Day #13 –(Fri. May 19) Kagoshima to Tokyo (air) JAL
Day #14 –(Sat. May 20) Tokyo – Sanja Matsuri - This is the most exuberant and amazing annual festival in all Japan!
Day #15 – (Sun. May 21) Tokyo – more Tokyo AM - PM – then to Haneda to SFO
         JAL #02 – Depart Tokyo  7:45 PM – Arrive SFO 1:05 PM, Same day

Pre-trip instruction. One of the elements that makes our transpacific adventures different from others is that we schedule a series of required group sessions during the months leading up to the trip. During these sessions we cover such topics as language, culture, history, protocol, etiquette, packing, and travel tricks that we've learned by going to Japan for over 50 years. If group members live over 200 miles away from Aptos, those sessions are not required, but for everyone else, they are. We believe that every minute you spend in preparation pays off a thousand fold dividends during the trip. And, because we'll be visiting and interacting with our friends in Japan, we want to insure that we are prepared.

Dates of Mandatory Pre-trip Workshops
Four Sunday afternoons in Aptos or nearby – Locations TBA
#1 – Sunday, January 22 – 1:00 – 6:00
#2 – Sunday, February 26 – 1:00 – 6:00
#3 –Sunday, March 26 – 1:00 – 6:00
#4 –Sunday, April 23 – 1:00 – 6:00

Trip Cost
is $7,350 per person, based on double occupancy.

Reduced Early-bird price: $6,950 before Dec. 31

Trip Cost for traveling as a single – add $1,000

Application to Reserve space includes:

1) Completed Application
2) Deposit check for $1,500 per person

Mature Attention Spans Required: We do not accept group members under 21 years of age.

· Round Trip air fare SFO to Japan on an IATA Carrier, Coach Class
· All arrival and departure transfers, baggage handling and tips to porters
· First class hotels with Western-style bathroom facilities
· All air, bus, 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 – though it is strongly recommended
· 3.5% handling fee for credit card transactions now imposed by suppliers.
· Passport fees
· Anything else not specified in the "included" list.

Payment Schedule:
1) $1,500/person at application ($500 not refundable)
2) March 8, 2017 – Remainder due

An Artisanal Itinerary – This is not an off-the-shelf "standard" itinerary for traveling in Japan. This trip was put together by Sandy Lydon (with his 50 years of experience as a student of Japanese history and traveling in Japan) and Kaori Mizoguchi, a Japanese national, both of whom are interested in helping Americans experience some of the "gotta-dos" in Japanese travel with many lesser-known locations rarely visited by foreign travelers.

Also, by eliminating some of the travel wholesalers and working directly with hotels and transportation companies, we are able to keep the price manageable despite the strengthening yen.

Rice paddies in Minamibo

Stone Scream, stone commemorating the Memory of the comfort women, Kanita Village, near Tateyama

Sculptures showing the famous duel Between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro in 1612. We will visit the site.

The Silver Pavilion, Kyoto

Hokkaido cuisine, Noboribetsu.

Sometimes he just can't resist.

Kaori translating at Symposium in Tateyama Discussing with Governor Domoto of Chiba Prefecture

Yoshie Morrissey as captain of the ship.
Rural Personal Japan – The trip begins with an immersion into rural, coastal Japan – the Minamiboso Peninsula. It is a peaceful beginning to the trip where the Minamiboso catches the warm Kuroshio current and spring comes early. We have many friends in this part of Japan, all eager to show us even more new stuff. The shore of Tokyo Bay is a short walk down through a bamboo grove from our hotel.

World War II – The echoes of the Pacific War continue to reverberate throughout the country, and we will explore not only the war itself, passing through tunnels that were dug to defend against an anticipated Allied invasion but discussing some of the more sensitive issues still unresolved such as the "comfort women." We will stand on the exact spot where American GIs first set foot in September, 1945. And, the itinerary will take us through the two locations where nuclear bombs were dropped in August of 1945. We also intend to visit a remarkable and poignant museum in Kyushu that commemorates the kamikaze pilots who flew away and never returned.

Japanese Historical Sites – Besides the more obvious and well-known places in Kyoto and Nara, we will be visiting several of the more powerful sites including the shrine to the Battle of Dan-no-ura (1185), and the island, Ganryu-jima where the most famous single sword fight in Japanese history occurred between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro in 1612. These are events that are known by every Japanese, and Musashi has become famous throughout the world. By visiting the southwestern area of Japan we will be seeing the historical "front door" of Japan through which came Chinese and Korean cultural influences. This is where the Mongols unsuccessfully attempted to invade Japan in 1274 and 1281.

Gardens and Temples – Of course we'll also be visiting Japan's quieter traditional art forms such as the Zen gardens in Kyoto and even possibly experience the tea ceremony conducted by Kaori's mother, who is a master tea ceremony practitioner. Our list of must-see temples include the Daibutsu in Nara and the Sanjusangendo in Kyoto.

Cuisine – Japanese cuisine varies widely from province to province, and Kaori is committed to see that we experience the cuisine of the realm wherever we stay. Your vision of "Japanese food" will expand beyond imagining throughout the trip. The only caveat would be that you leave your dietary restrictions home. If you have rigid dietary requirements, you should not take this trip.

Hotsprings – Most of our hotels will have at least one hot bath, but when we venture into Kyushu the number of hotsprings increases. Yoshie-sensei will teach the group about Japanese bath protocols.

Sandy Lydon is Historian Emeritus at Cabrillo College, Aptos, where he taught Asian and Asian American history beginning in 1968. He made his first visit to Japan in 1966 on a U.S. State Department special tour while a scholarship student at the East-West Center, Honolulu. He led his first study-travel group to Japan in 1974, and since then has led groups to China, Japan, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Korea, Siberia, Mongolia, Tibet and Western China.
Beginning in 1995 while doing research on the Japanese immigrant abalone divers on the Monterey Peninsula, he began developing a special relationship with the people and history of the Minamiboso Peninsula, resulting in numerous reciprocal trips, the Abalone Festival in Monterey in 2006, and research discoveries on both sides of the Pacific.
He has written widely on the history of Asians in the Monterey Bay Region, including the award-winning Chinese Gold: The Chinese in the Monterey Bay Region (now translated into Chinese), and The Japanese in the Monterey Bay Region: A Brief History. He is an active member of the Japanese American Citizens League and has received several awards from that organization including the JACL Creed award for his efforts toward helping the Japanese community efforts toward Redress.

Kaori Mizoguchi – A native of Tateyama, on the Minamiboso Peninsula, Kaori had an early interest in international travel, eventually enrolling at the University of Pittsburgh where she studied linguistics. After graduating she returned to Tateyama where she opened an English language school which she owns and operates. In 1995, she was asked to be a translator for Sandy Lydon and some local historians in Tateyama, and very quickly Sandy and Kaori developed a partnership that has grown and flourished. They both now have many friends on both sides of the Pacific, and generally alternate years bringing groups across the Pacific. Earlier this year, Kaori brought a group of her adult students to the Monterey Bay Region for a week of intense and personal experiences. During that week, she and Sandy fine-tuned the May 2017 itinerary.

Yoshie Morrissey - Yoshie-sensei as she is known to many of us in Santa Cruz County is a native of Tokyo, having come to the United States thirty years ago. She is a teacher of Japanese language and culture, and we came into contact with her when we enrolled for her Japanese class through Capitola Parks and Rec. Over the past decade, Yoshie-sensei has been our go-between on numerous occasions, and in 2015 she acted as our cultural attaché for our trip to Japan. She also was instrumental in assisting us with Kaori's group earlier this year. She has become an important window for us as we continue to study Japanese culture, Having both Kaori and Yoshie working together is a delight to behold. Both are superb translators and committed to helping our group get the most out of our visit, before we depart, while we're there, and after we return. Yoshie-sensei will be guiding the group in some basic Japanese language and protocol demonstrations during our pre-trip workshops.

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

We have been working with Pacific Harbor Travel for the past five years and they have helped arrange recent trips to Mongolia, Siberia, China (both Silk Road, Western China, 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

If you wish to get an idea about how we travel in Japan, you should visit the blog written during our 2015 trip: HERE

For further Questions and Answers, download this file:

For an Application to join the Japan 2017 group, download this file:

Mail the completed application and a check for $1,500 to: Sandy Lydon, PO Box 2578, Aptos, CA 95001.

This trip is neither endorsed nor sponsored by Cabrillo College.