Lesley & Don Nadel

the antipodean adventurers

Lesley & Don Nadel

Two retired travellers continue roaming the world after our first great adventure.

Asia » Japan May 19th 2019

Time to say goodbye to Koyasan. We were scheduled to leave at 10:24 am but after being woken up too early for a 7:30 am breakfast there was no point in hanging around. To be honest we were up at 5:30 am and at 6 am there was no way of getting back to sleep as the drums were banging and this went on for half an hour. Then at 7:30 am the smiling, gregarious monks came charging in with another seven course breakfast. So we just packed up and walked across the courtyard to the main office. Don was ages checking out. He said that the head monk was writing out invoices by way of the most amazing calligraphy. Fortunately as we had paid ahead of time via the travel agent, when it came to ... read more

Asia » Japan » Wakayama » Koyasan May 18th 2019

I omitted to mention that there are no keys to the doors of the room but there is an inside lock. At 7:30 am there was a commotion in the hall as breakfast was served. This was a six or seven course meal including tea and soup. If you don’t lock the doors the boys come charging back in later, calling out their greeting as they cleared up the breakfast things. A few minutes later I had gone back to bed, they came in with clean pyjamas, and clean towels and to make the bed. They saw that I was not interested in getting up so they crept out. Wherever we stayed there were pyjamas and/or a yakuta which you can sleep in. These are changed every day. In the monastery there is a very strict ... read more

Asia » Japan May 17th 2019

We started the day in Kyoto with me complaining about two very red legs. I must have been bitten by a mosquito. We were about to embark on a very long bout of travelling to Koya-san or Mount Koya. We walked to the train station just outside the hotel and got on the JR line to Osaka. From Osaka we got onto the Osaka loop line to shin-Imamiya then we got the semi rapid train on Nankai-Koya line to Gokurabashi up in the mountains. As we had inadvertently boarded the train which was reserved seating only, the ticket inspector asked us to pay the fee for the seat. There was no penalty, no fine, no rebuke just a very pleasant exchange. We paid the fee of an additional 740 yen each which is less than $7 ... read more
train climbing to Gokurabashi
a long way down as Cable Car rises
Cable Car heading down from Koyasan passed ours

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Gion May 16th 2019

We were up early and after breakfast went down to meet our guide for the day, Hiroko Inaba. 'Hiro' had spent two years in Finchley, north London and Lesley and she swapped stories. Hiro said that she misses London. However, the friendship could have become rivalry when she said that her sons support Arsenal Football Club - great rivals to Lesley’s team Tottenham Hotspur. However, that was not the reason Hiro immediately told us that she changed our guided tour schedule. Rather it was that the Imperial Palace was closed because of the Aoi festival (see yesterday’s blog). But as we had at least seen part of the palace grounds already, we were happy to adopt Hiro's amended tour plan. We caught the local train to our first stop Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. This is the ... read more
New Car space for Safe Driving blessing
Tofukuji temple of Zen Buddhism
Zen garden of Constellation stars

Asia » Japan » Nara » Nara May 15th 2019

We went down to breakfast and were approached by a man who recognised us from Pesach in Ramot. We all introduced ourselves and after some chit-chat sat down and had our breakfast. We then made our way to the underground to go to the Imperial Palace where we had tickets for the Aoi Festival parade. The Aoi Matsuri is the most prominent of Kyoto’s three famous festivals. The parade involves over 500 people dressed in the aristocratic style of the Heian period who walk from the Imperial Palace to the Kamo shrines. Aoi means hollyhock which was the symbol of the Towagana shogun; all the parade participants wore sprigs of hollyhock, as did the animals and floats. The procession starts with the imperial messenger and his retinue. They are followed by men on horseback, giant bouquets ... read more
Maidens accompany Saio-Dai
enormous wooden Todai-ji temple
partial panorama of Todai-ji Great Eastern Temple complex

Asia » Japan » Kyoto » Kyoto » Kamigyo May 14th 2019

We said goodbye to Takayama and took the train to Nagoya, the change point for our destination Kyoto. After a while it started to rain and suddenly the train ground to a halt. The loudspeaker announcement said that due to a thunderstorm the train would not proceed for a while. We sat for about half an hour wondering about our transfer and reserved seats on the shinkansen to Kyoto. We eventually arrived at Nagoya about 30 minutes after our scheduled bullet-train had left. There was a ticket office as we got off the train and we explained about the thunderstorm and showed our tickets. With no fuss the booking clerk issued new tickets with reserved seats for the next train which was about ten minutes later. We arrived in Kyoto just eleven minutes after the time ... read more
Lady bow in back
Tea Master seriously busy
Ayako explains the Tea Ceremony

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Shirakawa-go May 13th 2019

Sleeping on the floor was not as difficult as I thought it was going to be. Our problem was that at 5.30 am the sun was streaming through the blinds and we were awake! Breakfast for us was served at 8 am in the Banquet Hall. It was off with our shoes as we padded across the tatami mats to our waiting table. Breakfast was a salad, fruit and a couple of croissants. This was a continental breakfast. The coffee was incredibly weak! Thankfully Don had made me a coffee in the room before we came down or I wouldn’t have been able to function! Then we went down to reception to get the shuttle bus to the bus station where we had tickets for the one hour drive to Shirakawa-go. Shirakawa-go is a world heritage ... read more
snow covers mountain above Shirawa-go
Shirawa-go suspension bridge
Village Concept of Shirawa-go

Asia » Japan » Gifu » Takayama May 12th 2019

We left our Tokyo hotel at 9 am and got the free shuttle to Shinagawa station where we caught the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Nagoya. The ticketing system is quite something else. You put all your tickets (in this case two) into the machine together and one gets stamped and they both get returned to you. The bullet train journey was 1 hour 37 minutes and it was exactly on time. At Nagoya we put all three tickets into the machine and it spewed out the two that we needed to continue on the scenic railway to Takayama. . The scenic railway began by following the Aichi route. On the way we passed Inuyama Castle. This is said to be the oldest castle in Japan. Building commenced in 1440 and was finished in 1537. For some ... read more
potholes in river ravine
Kosher Japanese Sake
old Takayama wooden shops

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Minato May 11th 2019

Friday 10 May 2019 - erev Shabbat Today, Friday, we decided would be our day off. So we spent the day writing up the travel blog and generally relaxing. Don was feeling athletic so he, being a good boy, went to the gym. He found the Sheraton hotel health spa to contain a good variety of facilities including a large pool. He did not swim, but worked out with the exercise equipment. This evening we walked to the Chabad for the Friday night Shabbat service. As usual they had to wait for a minyan (ten men). After the service we were all invited upstairs for a meal. As expected, many more people appeared upstairs than prayed downstairs. The rabbi and his wife had prepared for fifty people and there were at least fifty there. The rabbi ... read more

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda May 9th 2019

At 9am we were met in the lobby of the hotel by our tour guide for the day Mr Kiyoshi Mori for a sightseeing tour around Tokyo emphasising Japanese history and culture. Mr Mori sat with us for a few moments with a map of Tokyo showing us where we would be going today. We set off in a taxi for the Hama-Riku Gardens. En route we passed various parks and green family spaces. The population of Japan is 126 million of which about 13 million are within Tokyo and 36 million in its greater metropolitan area. However, the population started to decline in 2011 and this is expected to decline to 107 million by 2040. Unemployment is running at 3% and so workers are difficult to find. As a result the government recently passed a ... read more
Teahouse in Hama-rikyu Garden
Duck Blind in the Garden
Chuo-ohashi Bridge over Sumida River

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