Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Japan, Post Two

Aug. 19-21, 2007--Part One

Japan blog posts begin here.

In early June of 2007 I had major surgery, but I was determined to go to Japan in August, and I did. I bought a walking stick, expecting that medieval monuments in Japan would be like medieval monuments in Europe: not handicap friendly. I was right. But with my stick I was able to go anywhere I wanted.

I didn't buy an orthopedic cane for the trip, because I needed something lightweight, collapsible, and versatile. My solution was a monopod intended as a camera support:

Davis & Sanford TRAILBLAZRV Trailblazer Monopod

I recommend this monopod for any traveler who needs support climbing stairs, walking over uneven ground, or hiking outdoors. It collapses to go through the airport security scanner (I called the airline for instructions and was told to carry it on the plane, not put it in checked baggage), is lightweight but sturdy, and is cheap. It expands to staff length, which is great for climbing hills and long shallow steps, or to regular cane length for city streets and buildings. Add a loop handle (I found that a leather shoelace made a perfect one), and you can hang it from your wrist when you need to use both hands for something. And, of course, if you need to steady your camera, unscrew the top of the handle and there is the screw that fits into the bottom of your camera.

My flight to Japan was the longest trip I had made up to that point. By the time we changed planes in Tokyo, I was exhausted. I met Linda, my roommate for the trip, at the Tokyo airport, and we were on the same flight to Osaka. The travel gods blessed us, for on the plane from Tokyo to Osaka we were put in business class. Each seat was a separate pod that reclined. There was the usual little TV screen, a desktop for food tray or computer, etc., but I didn't have time to play with them. The seat fully reclined, like a recliner, and hardly had I stretched out on it than I was sound asleep.

We were met at the Osaka airport and taken to our hotel, where we met out tour guide, a lovely older Japanese woman. She took us to dinner at a yakatori restaurant (grilled food), which was very good. The only problem for me was one I had not anticipated: it was a strictly sit-on-the-floor place, something I just cannot do--it plain hurts. After trying every possible position, and having my hips still screaming in agony, I was forced to stand for the last third of the meal. But the food was excellent--I really had very little trouble finding excellent food in Japan.

But the experience worried me--was I going to have this problem of not being able to sit on the floor every time we went to a Japanese restaurant? As it turned out, it never happened again. Most Japanese restaurants have a choice between eastern and western style seating, while western restaurants--which are everywhere--have only western style seating. Also, I am now amazed that that first restaurant did not have a low chair available for people who can't kneel or sit cross-legged. After that I was offered such chairs several times, including in a private home.

Back at the hotel we met up for the first time with Japanese customs even in western-style hotels. We always had two single beds and a bedstand with clock-radio just as in American hotels. Of course there was a TV. But there were no dressers, nothing with drawers. Instead there was a closet with built-in shelves. AND, every hotel provided either pajamas or sleeping robe, as well as slippers! It was summer, so they were lightweight cotton, but they were all very nice, and it meant that I at least didn't have to worry about clean nightwear for the trip.

I'll tell you more next week.

How to import a car from Japan. Click here.

Click here for Seven Reasons to Visit India.

This series of posts on my trip to Japan begins here.

The journal of my trip to India and Nepal begins here.

The series of posts on my trip to Italy begins here.

Geezer-Chick's guest blog on York, England is here.

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