Celebrate: 100 Days (Hyakunichikinnen)

In the past, when an infant lived beyond the first three months, it was cause for celebration in many cultures. In Japan, families celebrated with a ceremony called okuizome, a symbolic weaning of the infant. The mother or mother-in-law of the family typically prepared a feast for the family and a piece of food or small grain of rice was offered to the infant. (Never fear – it wasn’t actually forced upon the milk-guzzling baby. An adult usually surreptiously ate it.) Often, the baby was also offered the chance to gum a small round stone, said to promote the development of strong teeth. While today the okuizome tradition is dying out, it’s still a part of Japanese culture … so I decided to throw my own okuizome.

The baby I’m celebrating today is this blog – Uncovering Japan has hit 100 posts! In honor of this milestone, I’m listing the top 100 experiences I’ve had to date during my time in Japan *gulp*. Beyond the first ten, there’s no particular order – that first grouping, on the other hand … those are the ones that stay with me. I hope some of them inspire you to seek out your own perfect Japan experience. You’ll never be sorry you did.

  1. Watching the sun set and the lights of the city glow from the picture windows of my Tokyo apartment
  2. Trying to capture wily noodles shooting out of bamboo tubes in Kibune near Kyoto
  3. Laughing at the oh-so-humanlike expressions of the Nagano snow monkeys
  4. Eating an affordable and delicious 9 course kaiseki meal (my first, really) at Grotto in Kyoto
  5. Hearing the story of a hibakusha (Atomic bomb survivor) in Hiroshima
  6. Eating AMAZING beef cooked in hoba miso in a little ryokan in Takayama
  7. Standing on top of Mt Fuji with frozen hands waiting for the sun to rise
  8. Catching my first glimpse of a traditional wedding at Meiji Shrine in Tokyo
  9. Soaking in an onsen at the base of a waterfall in Kawazu on the Izu Peninsula
  10. Relishing an amazing French-Japanese fusion lunch at L’Effervescence
  11. Relaxing on my “local” beach in Okinawa
  12. Learning to cook Japanese comfort food in Kyoto
  13. Witnessing the hydrangea in bloom in Kamakura
  14. Riding a steam railway into the mountains of Shizuoka Prefecture
  15. Puzzling over how to tie my yukata at my first ryokan stay in Nagano
  16. Catching sight of a snow-covered Mt Fuji from the ropeway in Hakone
  17. Chowing down on the best tonkotsu ramen in Fukuoka
  18. Attempting to make my own soba noodles in Togakushi
  19. Watching the fireworks over Tokyo Bay surrounded by girls in yukata
  20. Cheering on the home team at a Tokyo Giants game
  21. Eating my way through a ten course crab dinner in Sapporo
  22. Gazing down into the steaming caldera of Aso Volcano near Kumamoto
  23. Catching sight of two geisha getting into a taxi in Kyoto
  24. Marveling over the massive whale sharks in Okinawa’s Churaumi Aquarium
  25. Feeding the deer in Nara, Japan’s oldest capital
  26. Riding the ropeway to the top of Mt Misen on Miyajima Island
  27. Tasting my first basashi (horsemeat) in Kumamoto
  28. Watching the gardens of Kyoto get coated in a dusting of snow
  29. Shooting the rapids in Nagatoro
  30. Suriving my first earthquake (Okinawa) and typhoon (Okinawa)
  31. Rising with the sun for a Tsukiji market breakfast
  32. Catching site of Mt Fuji from the Hakone Ropeway
  33. Walking the old Nakasendo Road
  34. Eating an all tofu lunch in Kyoto
  35. Joining the rest of the neighborhood for a New Year’s shrine visit
  36. Catching the first cherry blossoms in all of Japan at Nakajin Castle
  37. Savoring the aroma of a fresh brewed “cuppa joe” at Hiro’s coffee farm
  38. Scaling the progressivly steeper steps of Matsumoto Castle
  39. Watching my toddler walk the five-humped Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni
  40. Enjoying a multi-course shippoku dinner in Nagasaki
  41. Riding the ferry over the East China Sea’s blue waters to Ie Island
  42. Swimming with the dolphins off the coast of Miyakojima
  43. Wandering through a 1000+ tree orchard of plum blossoms outside Tokyo
  44. Fishing for my own dinner at Zauo in Tokyo
  45. Picking (and eating) strawberries in Shizuoka
  46. Strolling the snowy banks of the canals in Otaru
  47. Witnessing a morning sumo practice in Ryogoku
  48. Chatting with an 80 year old ama-san (free-diver)
  49. Bumbling through the ninja fun house in Togakushi
  50. Visiting a real ninja house in Iga
  51. Enjoying a department store bento box on my first shinkansen trip
  52. Gorging on goodies in one of Kyoto’s chocolate cafes
  53. Redefining my perception of Japanese castles in Kikuchi
  54. Catching a traditional dance performance at Shuri Castle in Okinawa
  55. Freezing through two days of Sapporo’s Yuki Matsuri
  56. Warming up with a beer and a taste of home (deep dish pizza) at Devilcraft
  57. Discovering the garden of the Nezu Art Museum
  58. Stumbling upon an impromptu festivel at Asakusa
  59. Exploring the Hida Folk Village in Takayama
  60. Dining with a splendid garden view at Senri in Kumamoto
  61. Participating in a tea ceremony
  62. Attending a New Year’s feast with new friends in Kumamoto
  63. Soaking in the fall color in Kamikochi
  64. Eating steamed ume (plum) buns in Daizafu
  65. Taking a canal ride in Yanagawa
  66. Watching dancers sway amongst the flowers at the Itako Iris Festival
  67. Making (and eating) my first monjayaki at a bonenkai (end of year party)
  68. Pondering our shared history at Okinawa’s Peace Prayer Park
  69. Watching cranes soar over the fields of Izumi
  70. Snuggling under a thick futon comforter in Nagano
  71. Touring Yokohama’s century-old Western homes at Christmastime
  72. Dining with a bird’s eye view of the city in Ebisu (Tokyo)
  73. Learning how bashofu (banana fiber) kimono are made in Okinawa
  74. Paying my respects at Ise Shrine
  75. Delighting in the gardens next to Himeji Castle
  76. Introducing visitors to the pleasure of kaiten-zushi dining
  77. Watching the new panda play at Ueno Zoo
  78. Having a hanami party under the cherry trees in Shizuoka
  79. Admiring the thundering beauty of Shiraito Falls in Kumamoto
  80. Scouring the shrines and temples of Nikko for sightings of the three monkeys
  81. Enjoying fine French dining with a view of the ocean in Okinawa
  82. Walking between the massive snow walls of Tateyama
  83. Shopping at futuristic Canal City in Fukuoka
  84. Learning to relove pork thanks to Okinawa soba
  85. Sensing history at the first US consulate in Shimoda
  86. Creating my own ukiyo-e at the Kyoto Traditional Craft Center
  87. Successfully getting the key to Asakusa’s “secret” garden, Dembo-in
  88. Picking tea in Shizuoka
  89. Walking the Philosopher’s Path in Kyoto during cherry blossom season
  90. Tasting the goods from Tokyo’s oldest wagashi maker
  91. Warming our hands around the irori in Takayama
  92. Riding the rattling streetcars of Nagasaki
  93. Tasting fresh oysters on Miyajima
  94. Spotting the first koi-no-bori (fish kites) for Children’s Day over our local river
  95. Climbing the hill to the forested grounds of Kurama-dera
  96. Marveling over Kegon Falls near Nikko
  97. Attending a yosakoi dance festival in Harajuku
  98. Eating entirely too much beni-imo (purple sweet potato) in Okinawa
  99. Following the photogenic path of orange torii gates at Fushimi Inari
  100. Catching sight of Mt Fuji in the clouds every time I fly over Tokyo

Whew … what a list! Looking back, it’s amazing to see how much I have done in my 4+ years here, and yet sometimes I feel I have barely scratched the surface of this intoxicating country. Well, no time to waste. On to making the next 100 memories!

See something on this list that you want to do too? I can help you make it happen. Check out Uncover Japan for more information on my personalized itineraries.

Do you have a top memory from your time in Japan? Or a suggestion of where I should explore next? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

This view never gets old ...
This view never gets old …

9 thoughts on “Celebrate: 100 Days (Hyakunichikinnen)

Add yours

    1. I feel incredibly fortunate to have seen so much, but there are still some regions that I’ve barely touched, like northern Honshu and the Sea of Japan coast. Hopefully, I’ll remedy that soon!

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