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Where in the World

Lonely Planet Japan Map

This is my first travel post.

The odd thing is, I don’t travel that much. I used to, but that was a long time ago. With two kids at home and college tuition in the not-so-distant future, I focus on local things like the beach and visiting the grandparents on both sides of the family. So, I’m going to change it up a little. I’m going to dig into my photo archives and find places I visited years ago. I’ll give you a hint, though this is probably a given. We’re traveling to Japan. The goal of this game is to guess a specific city in Japan. The place I’m thinking of is a well-known tourist location, popular with both Japanese and non-Japanese. It’s a wonderful city. I’ve visited it twice. Unfortunately, only for one day each time.

If I may be permitted, I’d like to say a little about Japan, as Japan seems to be a mystery to many. It is composed primarily of four main islands. I lived there for four years and also met my wife there. (Japan has over 6,000 islands and over 400 of them are inhabited. However, 97% of the population is located on the four main islands.)

As someone who loves history and has a fascination with Japan, one of the things I’ve marveled at is how “awareness” of Japan remained a mystery to the west. Japan was essentially at the “edge” of the world. Ancient explorers wouldn’t have approached Japan from the east (across the Pacific Ocean). China and Korea were aware of it early. The Chinese first documented contact with Japan in the mid-first century. India had contact with Japan as early as the 6th century. The Mongols were aware of Japan. (They tried twice to invade.) The Muslim nations were aware of Japan, though they had no direct contact.

However, despite the West’s contact with much of Asia via the Silk Road (established 200 B.C.E.) and much of Asia being aware of Japan, Japan was unknown to the West until Marco Polo referenced it from conversations he had while in China. In his writings, Polo speaks of “Zipangu,” a land of gold with a temple of gold. When the Portuguese, the first Europeans to visit Japan, saw the golden temple in Kyoto (shown below- Image courtesy of num_skyman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net), they were likely struck with awe.

Kinkakuji - Free Digital Photos

They may have even assumed this was the temple Polo mentioned. Eventually, they would realize that the Golden Temple was built 100 years after Polo left China. (The Japanese are nothing if not hospitable. I can see it now. Hey, we have a message from China to expect weird-looking barbarians at some point in the future. Some high official got plastered on rice wine and told the barbarians that we have a golden temple.)

So, I leave you with two pictures. (The picture of the temple has nothing to do with the location we’re trying to guess.) The first picture is of us boarding a train that would take us toward the destination for this game, but it was only the first train we would board that day.

DSC01131

The train is the bullet train. The sign in the top right corner of the picture says the train is bound for Tokyo. (We’re in Osaka in this picture.)

The second picture is of my wife and me at the destination city. It’s not much to go on, but we have a few weeks.

DSC01191

Hope you enjoy the trip to Japan.

Note: Japan map courtesy of http://www.worldembassyinformation.com/world-maps/maps-of-japan.html

Pam Asberry - April 4, 2014 - 12:38 am

I know so little about Japan that I’m not even going to venture a guess, Walt! But il really looking forward to your travel posts this month!

Mary Preston - April 4, 2014 - 4:44 am

I’m just taking a stab, but I really could not begin to say: Kobe.

Looking forward to learning more.

Marilyn Baron - April 4, 2014 - 4:51 am

Walt,
Japan has always seemed to be a beautiful and mysterious place. I’ve never been there but would like to go one day. I’m sure I’m wrong since you already mentioned the city in your post but I’ll guess Tokyo. I can’t wait to find out more about Japan.

Walt Mussell - April 4, 2014 - 7:51 am

Pam, hope you enjoy the posts.

Walt Mussell - April 4, 2014 - 8:02 am

Mary, Kobe is a short train ride from Osaka. I love Kobe and my wife is from that area. This was a long train trip.

Walt Mussell - April 4, 2014 - 8:06 am

Marilyn, Tokyo was where we changed trains to catch another bullet train. It’s a bullet train hub. It was a long day of travel.

Piper - April 4, 2014 - 8:41 am

Walt,

I’m guessing Yokohama, because it is what it is–a guess! :)

I hear you though on the family vacations though. My guys and I will go up to D.C. for spring break, but a lot of our vacations consist of going to see family. It’s important to do visit, while they are still here.

Lovely family!

Maxine Davis - April 4, 2014 - 9:08 am

Walt, Nice pictures of the family. I haven’t a clue. Will get out my maps – I love maps – and will find where you end up. I look forward to the posts.

Susan Carlisle - April 4, 2014 - 11:16 am

Walt,
I have no idea of the town. I’ve travel a lot but outside of being on Iwo Jama for a day I’ve never been to Japan. I’m looking forward to all your posts. I’m one of those Westerners that knows so little.

Walt Mussell - April 4, 2014 - 11:40 am

Piper,

On the bullet train from Osaka to Tokyo, the final stop before Tokyo is Yokohame. Good guess, but the trip is much longer. I do love Yokohama though. A lot of history with the city.

Walt Mussell - April 4, 2014 - 11:41 am

Maxine,

Have fun looking on the maps. I’ll give clues each week.

Walt Mussell - April 4, 2014 - 11:44 am

Susan,

I have never been to Iwo Jima. (The closest I’ve been is Okinawa. Given the number of American bases on Okinawa, there are a number of American products and a 24-hour American TV station. MacGyver was on a lot.)

Debbie Kaufman - April 4, 2014 - 12:45 pm

Oh wow. No clue. But hope to see more travel posts on Japan!

Walt Mussell - April 4, 2014 - 1:07 pm

Debbie, I’m planning on a one-of-a-kind travel blog this month.

Connie Gillam - April 4, 2014 - 4:50 pm

I’ll disqualify myself from this guess. LOL

Walt Mussell - April 4, 2014 - 5:37 pm

Connie, you do have the at-home expert. :-)

Marilyn Baron - April 4, 2014 - 11:40 pm

Kyoto?

Carol Burnside - April 5, 2014 - 2:31 am

No clue here either. Nice pics of the family.

Walt Mussell - April 5, 2014 - 5:18 pm

Marilyn, the golden temple (my picture above) is located in Kyoto. However, that’s not the location of this game.

Walt Mussell - April 5, 2014 - 5:19 pm

Carol,

Thank you. The boys were much younger then. Always adorable.

Walt Mussell - April 5, 2014 - 5:19 pm

One clue to everyone. The unknown location is in the map at the top of the post.

Sandra Elzie - April 6, 2014 - 6:24 pm

Walt,
I’m already looking forward to the rest of your travel posts for this month. Japan is on my list…but I’ve never been there. Love the pictures…and I have no clue where the picture was taken.

Laura Russell - April 10, 2014 - 3:53 am

Hi Walt,
I made my first visit to Japan this summer! I did see that Golden Temple in Kyoto. My guess for the city you were visiting: Fukuoka. PFHT has great travel blogging! I look forward to seeing more of Japan.

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