Living in Colorado has its benefits: Great weather, great outdoor recreation, great people and a central location for traveling to either coast. But it’s not the most convenient place if you want to travel to, say, Europe or to Asia. In my case, it’s a huge undertaking to plan a trip to Japan.
That’s because there’s no direct flight from Denver to Japan, and we always have to juggle connecting flights to the West Coast — LAX, SFO or SEA — and have to rush to the international terminal or wait a few hours for the flight over the Pacific. It’s not horrible, but it is a pain, and a time- and energy-suck.
Or it has been, until now. Earlier this year, the City of Denver and United Airlines announced a new direct route on United from Denver International Airport to Tokyo’s Narita Airport, flying Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner, the “limousine of the skies.” The inaugural flight departs DIA on March 31, 2013 and the first direct flight from Japan will arrive the next day, April 1. Expect a lot of hoopla and fanfare both those days — it’ll be a big deal. Continue reading →
I recently returned from a fantastic trip to Japan, with my wife Erin Yoshimura and my mom. We flew first to Sapporo in the northern island of Hokkaido, where one of my uncles lives, and then traveled to Nemuro, my mom’s hometown on the easternmost tip of Hokkaido, where another uncle lives. Then we flew down to Tokyo for a few days, then Hiroshima, then Kyoto before flying home from Osaka’s Kansai Airport. It was grueling at times — two weeks is a long trip, especially with your mom! — but I really had a great time and it’s given me a lot to think about… and write about.
I’m still sorting out notes from the trip and organizing the zillions of photos. But I did finally finish editing and titling the many videos I shot with my Lumix LX5 camera. Here are 34 short videos with brief descriptions. Feel free to graze through them, or watch them all (they’re on my YouTube channel).
NOTE: I’ve signed up to include ads on some of my videos, including these ones of Japan. If you feel inclined to click on the ads that show up, I get a little bit of coin in return. If you want to get rid of them, just click the “x” in the upper right of each banner ad.
As I write blog posts, I’ll also embed these videos within them. So think of these vids as previews of some of the topics I’ll be covering. Continue reading →
Help out a brother and sister, everyone. Lori Fujikawa-Choy and Jackson Choy are newlyweds from Long Beach, California. She’s Japanese American; he’s Chinese American, and they both love Thailand. They first went to Thailand as “college sweethearts” (awww, aren’t they cute!) to do some volunteer work there and fell in love with the country and its culture. They’ve traveled there several times since then, but now they need your help to go again… as guests of the Thai government.
They’ve entered the Ultimate Thailand Explorers contest, which sounds a little like a reality TV show and in fact would probably make a pretty interesting one. The contest is sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and it works like this: Couples from all over the world (not just spouses, but friends too) submitted applications and a video saying why they should win a trip to one of five destinations in Thailand. A panel of judges sifted through the applicants and chose five semifinalists for each destination.
Our intrepid AAPI couple are semifinalists for Phuket, Thailand’s largest island in the southern part of the country, and the site of terrible devastation from the 2004 tsunami. To get to the Finalist stage, Lori and Jackson need your help: the couples are judged this round by public votes on the contest website. As of this moment, the two Californians are third behind a French couple and a couple from Oshkosh.
A Chicago institution since 1949, Garrett Popcorn Shops make incredibly tasty cheese popcorn and incredibly crunchy-sweet caramel corn. And, they sell the two flavors as a “Mix” (the first mashup??) that’s a bagful of heaven. OK, somewhat expensive heaven, but hey, did you think the pearly gates would come cheap? Continue reading →
I just had a great meal at our favorite restaurant in San Francisco’s Japantown, Iroha. It’s a noodle house that serves up a great deal: A lunch combination special of ramen topped with a couple slices of pork, and gyoza dumplings on the side.
The restaurant is more crowded than usual, and filled with lots of non-Japanese who are here for the first time. That’s because J-Town in general is hopping this weekend. It’s the second weekend of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, or Sakura Matsuri. There are vendors with booths selling everything from junky trinkets to high-class jewelry, lots of food and stages of performers and martial arts demonstrations, all with a Japanese focus.
But there’s also a Japanese American undercurrent, with young people flocking to stores that specialize in anime and Jpop music. It’s a cool mix of traditional and contemporary — much like J-Town itself. Continue reading →