It is hard to pin down exactly how I feel about the trip. In terms of running according to plan, probably about 85%, but it doesn’t feel 85%. Perhaps it is the lack of a cornerstone event? But then again the most memorable things from previous trips often weren’t the cornerstone events. The stuff I remembered the most from the trip last year was that mad bike ride at Toya, the breakfast and ramen at Aomori, and the Evangelion exhibition in Takamatsu. All wholely unplanned.
Perhaps then it was the lack of memorable events that happened outside of the plans? Did everything go just too well?
Or maybe it was the huge letdown Miyajima was? Oh the whole I love Izumo Taisha way more than Miyajima, in fact I don’t think I would ever get tired of being at Izumo, the whole mystic of the place is so far beyond other touristy locations that you cannot help but be enthralled by the shrine while there.
I think what went wrong the most was booking so many nights at Comfort Hotel with its monotonous breakfast. But then business hotels with breakfast on par with Urban Hotel (won’t even compare with Color Hotel Aomori’s calibre), are few and far in between. The answer might then be to forgo breakfast altogether then where Doutors are available. It is hard to ignore the appeal of “free breakfast” when choosing hotels, but I think after this time I am more prepared to ignore hotel breakfasts, just as I’ve gotten more accustomed to paying for buses or trams after the last few trips.
Had I been by myself Okayama could have been dropped, probably would have dropped Hiroshima too, and give it all to Sanin area. There are a few other spots that I’ve seen photos of and would love to visit, such as the southern Izumo area.
On the plus side, weather was good, perhaps a little too good. Tsuwano was a great little town I wouldn’t mind revisiting someday. While my parents didn’t enjoy everything, I think I managed to show them a decent variety of what Japan offered beyond the packaged tours.
The Suitouro light up and drum parade was fantastic and was a community spirit side of Japan I’ve been keen to explore. I think I might time future trips to coincide with more events in the future. Probably not the big ones because I have no interest in fighting the crowd, but these small community events I could see myself visiting more. I do worry if the event draws enough visitors to outweigh the costs, there certainly weren’t that many visitors by the look of things, and Matsue probably also lack the hotels to accomodate more since just about every hotel in the city was fully booked out when I checked a month out. It is a shame Matsue isn’t more accessible for it to be more popular as it is such a beautiful city.
At the same time, the trip was a few days too long for my parents. It really made me realize how old they’ve gotten. In the future I think if I were to take them to Japan, it’d be just a 4 day trip with 2 days of onsen in between with light cityseeing on either end.
My Japanese has progressed much further than I realized. All those Drama CDs listening finally reaching a critical level to be able to follow general conversations and have enough phrases in memory to pull out a response on the spot, even if not grammatically correct responses.
On the costing side, spending came in right on target in terms of Y and comparable to the trip to Shirakawago, however due to the exchange rate I’m probably over by about 10% on AUD. It is hard to say what a similar trip by tour would have costed since it would be impossible to do by bus. I also do not think many tours go to Tsuwano.
Haven’t quite decided what to do next time. I really need to hit Kansai for a Kyoani anime pilgrimage binge, not sure how I could do if I had to bring my parents though, and I really would like to take them to some nice onsens before too long. Maybe I could hit Kansai a few days early, finish what I want to do then join up with them for the onsens.