Every January for the past few years, I’ve started off the new calendar with a list of my travel goals for the upcoming months.
I just took a glance back at the last few lists and I am pleased to say, I’ve covered a lot of what I set out to do. We did indeed make it to Tohoku – almost all of it (sorry, Iwate) – and caught at least three of the top 6 summer festivals there. I covered Kagawa in Shikoku last spring, hit Matsue on the slow drive from Kumamoto to Tokyo during our move in summer of 2015 and ventured into Fukushima just as the cherry blossoms were peaking last April.
It may seem a bit silly to set travel goals for 2017 when I’m not quite sure how much opportunity I’ll have to fulfill them. But one of the things that motivates me most about returning to Japan is seeing a list of the things I have yet to do. In eight years, we covered a TON, and no, I truthfully don’t feel the need to revisit places like Matsumoto Castle for a fifth time (though I’d never say no to a trip!) But there are still so many out of the way places, unknown corners, and areas that I never had the chance to do justice to when we lived there.
So without further ado, I’ll throw out my thoughts and hopefully by this time next year, one or more of these will be checked off.
Tohoku in Winter – Well, I saw it in summer but it’s time to bust out the winter woollies and get myself to some of northern Japan’s best onsen. You may have guessed over the years about my passion for Japan’s hot springs and some of the best baths from which to view the falling snow are located up north. My sights are currently set on an overnight to somewhere in Akita during my trip to Japan in February but I am welcome to suggestions.
Osaka – You know a city that gets the short end of the stick? Osaka. Even in my book. I spend ALL my time in either Kyoto or Nara and I just whiz through Osaka without a backward glance. I’m not lured by their “foodie status” (too many of their claims to fame are fried) but there’s some great architecture – both old and new – that I know I’ve missed and a few museums that would be worth the effort.
Okinawa – What? Come again? Was that … OKINAWA??? The place I reviled for so long due to a very rough three year residence? Well, good news. Okinawa has been rehabbed a bit in my book and – aside from a firm stance to never again visit in the summertime – I’d love the chance to revisit the islands. I never got to attend the giant tug of war, eat true longevity cuisine, snorkel in the Keramas or even drive up to the northernmost part of the Okinawan main island. My tastebuds are craving beni-imo (purple sweet potato) and pork rib soba so perhaps a trip back to the islands is in order.
Is Japan in your calendar for the upcoming year? Where are you going and why? I’d love to hear your own Japan travel goals in the comments!