Monday, December 3, 2012

Comings and Goings

Between babymoons and business trips, we’ve barely caught our breath in recent weeks. Jason has just left for Okinawa for the week, so I’m catching up on the blog.

We went to Guam over the Thanksgiving weekend for a babymoon. Thursday was the American holiday, Friday was the equivalent of Japanese Labor/Thanksgiving day (Kinryou Kansha no Hi), so we had our last long weekend before I get too far along. We wanted to go to Kyushu for the grand sumo tournament in Fukuoka, but had trouble with bookings. Travelling on holiday weekends is always hard in the US, but Japan seems to be even more challenging. We’ve had a few weekend plans foiled when we simply haven’t been able to book hotel rooms because so many people travel on the three-day weekends. 

So with my doctor’s permission, we set off on a four-hour flight from Tokyo to a small tropical American territory reliant on Japanese tourism and the American military. Of the many places we considered for a babymoon (Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Kyushu, Hokkaido, etc.), Guam never crossed my mind. But it was exactly what we needed. Easy, relaxing, and we stocked up on baby stuff at Macy’s and Kmart. We even managed to get caught in the Black Friday madness that has started on Thanksgiving evening. We decided to walk up to Kmart for some beach things and scope out the baby aisles, and realized we had unwittingly walked into madness. After some scouting, we left the bargain shoppers to their long lines and super bargains and headed back to the hotel.

I usually prepare for our trips by reading lots of restaurant reviews and strategically planning out my top picks. This time, I spent my time looking up “what you need at a bare minimum for a newborn” and strategically planning our luggage requirements. 

About half of our baby purchases, but it all fit.
We still found time to enjoy a nice dinner and a mocktail.

We considered renting a car to see the island a bit. As it turned out, we slept in late every morning, enjoyed the beach in front of our hotel every day, and went shopping in the evenings. And it was perfect. Guam is quite small and there isn't much beyond diving and snorkeling, but white sand beaches and crystal clear water are perfectly sufficient diversions, especially with great weather. On our first day, the forecast for the following week was sunny with a high of 89 and a low of 76. Every day for seven days straight.

This is about all we saw of Guam.

Shortly after our return, I had a 3-night Mansfield trip to Osaka and Kobe. We had meetings with a variety of government officials, toured the Japanese mint, customs, the Great Hanshin Earthquake memorial and disaster preparedness institutes, along with more tourist-oriented sites like Osaka castle.  But the real highlight was the Kobe beef luncheon before we returned to Tokyo. Kobe beef is so tender and buttery that I’ve described it elsewhere as “delicious meat-flavored butter.” And I mean that in the absolute best way possible. I thought I’d had Kobe beef before, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t. There’s no mistaking meat-flavored butter.  

No tricks necessary at this teppanyaki restaurant in Kobe.

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