Local Tour

August 15

We got to experience Japan's newest national holiday, Mountain Day, which meant most things were closed. This did not deter us, since everyone seemed to be in the mood for a low key day of local tourism.

I showed my family around the parts of Sakura I used to haunt in my bachelor days, when temperament and a lack of wheeled transportation kept me shopping in the smaller shops around Keisei Sakura station. Our first stop was Yac's, my favourite pharmacy/snack/stationery/fishing/outdoor equipment store in the world. I picked up a few personally indispensable items, but the charms of Yac's seemed largely lost on my family if their lack of spending was any indication.
Old Sakura Home
We moved on to the Sakura Ginza, the lightly ironic nickname given to the main shopping street by some of the locals. Fortunately, a gift shop specializing in area foods and teas was open. In a typical example of traditional Japanese customer service, we were all treated to cold green tea made from their finest blend as well as a few food samples. Their efforts did not go to waste either, with my Mom and I both leaving with full shopping bags and lighter wallets.
Boshuya Interior
We proceeded to what is still for my money one of the finest soba restaurants in Japan, Boshuya, where my Aikido senpai used to take me between Sunday practices. The restaurant has been smartly renovated since the last time I was there, but the open kitchen and home made noodles remain the same. If anything, the pickles and presentation is even better than I remember it when it seemed more like a mom and pop restaurant catering mostly to locals in the know.

I took my sons to the neighbouring Makata Jinja, which one member of our group refused to enter for religious reasons. To my mind, it was a wasted opportunity at a cultural travel experience, but it saved me from suggesting anymore itineraries that involved Shinto Shrines or Buddhist Temples. One can never know the opportunity cost of a missed experience, so there is really nothing more that can be said about it.

We concluded by walking the grounds of Sakura Castle Park, where also stands the National Museum of Japanese History (see Renewing Connections). Without planning or forethought, we all ended up sitting on a bench in the corner of the park, where my sons and I sat with their Japanese grandmother on a similar adventure three years before. It was hard not to savour an echo of the moment.

All in all, it was a well-timed day of local tourism which allowed us to explore yet still recharge for the days ahead.

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