I am a retired physician who enjoys travel and photography. During our internship year, 1970-71, we were neighbors to Dr. Hironobu and Mrs. Kuniko Sugita, with whom we became friends. We had seen Nobu and Momi, their daughter, once in the last four decades, but when we learned of Tauck’s “Essence of Japan” tour, we contacted the Sugitas by phone and decided to make the trip to catch up on our lives and careers.

Both Amy and I were impressed by the Japanese culture of respect and orderliness. Every site was free of litter; indeed, Japanese schools, we were told, need no janitors as the students take all trash with them for  disposal at home. We saw no public trash disposal canisters except in the WCs.

One afternoon, we decided to walk from our luncheon venue back to our Tokyo hotel, the Mandarin Oriental. When after 20 minutes we had not arrived at the hotel as expected, I asked a gentleman on the street whether we were on the correct route, whereupon, he walked us another 10 minutes to the hotel lobby. We learned that this is common in Japan.

We spent eight hours visiting with the Sugitas. Nobu was able to take a day off work as a Pulmonologist – still working at 74. Kuni and Nobu had assembled many gifts for us to bring home. We took gifts for them, too. We’ve made tentative plans to meet next year when they visit their daughter, Momi, who is married to an American and lives in Arizona.

Tauck has rightly earned the reputation for quality excursions, and “Essence of Japan” is no exception. Both the Tour Director, Brenna Shay, and local guides are well-informed, competent and caring people. The itinerary truly delivers the essence of this unique Asian culture.

These pictures are just a few of the shots Amy and I took on this trip.   More information: http://www.tauck.com/tours/asia-travel/Japan-Tour/japan-travel-ej-2015.aspx  We hope you will find this an enjoyable learning experience. Bon Voyage!

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