My husband and I returned from an 8 day stay with our friends in Hachioji. We were originally scheduled to stay 3 nights at the New Otani Hotel, Tokyo, but we decided to stay longer with our friends, Shizuko and Tsunehiko Ikeda, at their home. We called the hotel early in the week and canceled 2 night reservations keeping only the last night. Our friends booked a room also, so we could all spend the last night together before they took us to the airport the next day. This hotel was absolutely wonderful. The staff was warm and friendly, and the view of the Japanese Gardens was beautiful.

While in Japan we had the opportunity to visit Takao Sanguchi and take the chair lift to the top of Mt. Takao. We have never seen such huge trees as those on the mountain. We sampled food and drinks new to us but very delicious. We enjoyed seeing the temples and shrines, and observing the spiritual rituals surrounding both. The temples were built with such intricate details and gold inlays and carvings.

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I truly loved Asakusa, a very festive and quaint place. The Sensoji Temple, the Five Storied Pagoda and the Nakamise shopping area was like a huge amusement park, without the rides. Once again, we sampled various snacks and visited shops all along the way. The citizens were participating in a celebration that day and many were in kimonos. There were balancing acts in the streets and music, and it was a real treat to be a part of it all.

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Our friends also took us to tour the Edo-Tokyo Museum. Here we were able to view exhibitions of the history and culture of Tokyo. As we entered the museum we crossed over the life-size replica of the bridge, Nihonbashi, which was once used to lead into Edo. The Nakamuraza theatre had a scheduled performance, and even though my husband and I did not understand a word spoken, it was intriguing just to watch the performers and the faces of the audience.

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Also in the museum were scale models of town; and buildings from the Edo, Meiji and Shōwa periods. It was wonderful to see what life must have been like during those times. It is amazing how little we knew about this country on the other side of the globe. One week is not enough time to learn all there is to know about Japan, however, we feel very privileged and blessed to have been able to visit.

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Our friends have already made plans to come and visit us next year, and we are planning to go back and visit them, again, also.

Once again, I want to thank the Japan National Tourism Organization for opening so many doors for us all.

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