Himeji Castle

Adventures in Kyoto and Beyond

Japan had been a pin on the metaphoric map of desirable destinations since Anna, one of our best friends from way back when, moved there to teach English. When she fell in love and invited folks from all over to her November 2018 wedding festivities, Spousal Unit and I happily took that rationale to plan a proper vacation. Rather, we booked flights and a place to stay and noted down some potential points of interest – with more to come when we were there, but such is the joy of discovery. Especially since online friend Nicola, with whom I hit it off through common interests, had been sorting out her own trip at the same time, and thus we would be meeting for the first time halfway around the world.


From prior international travel experiences, I expected to drive to a major city to catch a nonstop flight. Pleasantly surprised to find one from a hub connected to our dinky regional airport, I poked at Delta’s reservation system until I got a hop and a nonstop both ways. It wasn’t cheap, but such is par for the transpacific flight course unless you’re on some incredible package deal like our group tour to China.

Dates of travel then determined arrangements for lodging. With much desire to keep things simple and no particular tourism plans besides temples and tasty fish and arbitrary sights and activities of appeal, I based us in Kyoto with the option of taking day trips to elsewhere within reasonable distance. A quick browse of reviews and availability – and the wish to avoid excessive fuss about optimal lodgings – landed me at Sunput Nanajo Mibu, an economical guest apartment with in-room laundry near mass transport and multiple convenience stores.

With our other friends’ work and travel schedules in mind, we booked a researched selection of must-do just-us activities for the first week and decided to call the rest as we saw it. For that rest, I pinned assorted items of interest on a virtual map and downloaded apps to respectively help with translation and navigation.