Bath-Tsugaru ~ Sample Itinerary
We will be arriving at the inn late, so the futons will already be spread out for us. If you find yourself awake in the morning (hello, jetlag!) before breakfast, nothing is more refreshing than taking a dip in the natural onsen (hot springs) just steps away from the rooms!
After enjoying a delicious washoku traditional Japanese breakfast, we will head to the City Office to make a formal visit with the Tsugaru City Mayor. After that, we will meet up with some local high schoolers to try out some club activities. In the afternoon we will have free time at Tsugaru Earth Village recreational park, followed by a welcome party!
Melons are one of Tsugaru’s most famous agricultural products. In the morning we will have a chance to try our hand at picking a few, as well as sampling some fresh fruit! Lunch will be at a kaitenzushi (sushi-go-round) restaurant, and after that we will visit a festival museum and a Buddhist Temple.
You will be spending this day with your host family. They may choose to take you to see the Rice Field Art, Mt. Iwaki or perhaps to Hirosaki to see the castle and experience the atmosphere of a Japanese castle town.
The Cheseborough Cup is a swimming race that draws participants from all over the country. This event is an opportunity to see the tangible bonds between Bath and Tsugaru that are strengthened with each passing year.
Yet another day filled with traditional cultural experiences! We will follow a visit to a beautiful Shinto shrine with a hands-on soba (buckwheat noodle) making class, after which we will get to lunch on the fruits of our labor. In the afternoon we will participate in a Tea Ceremony demonstration and then head over to the ELM shopping center to check out a Japanese arcade and pick up some souvenirs.
This day will be spent visiting Aomori City, the capital of Aomori Prefecture. After meeting with the governor in the morning we will have time to tour the city and do some shopping. In the afternoon we will visit the seaside, and then start getting ready for the evening’s festivities: the Nebuta Parade! We will have a chance to wear traditional festival outfits and participate in the parade itself.
After a refreshing night and a dip in the onsen, we are off to the local museum to learn a bit about the archeological history of Tsugaru. We will then be visiting Kizukuri Junior High School, where the students will share a traditional Japanese activity with us.
In the afternoon we will be getting a hands-on crash course in Shintoism at Iizume Hachiman Shrine complete with a dance performance. We will also be visiting the US Military communications site that operates out of Shariki.
We may or may not go to Tokyo for two days, but if we do, here’s a taste of what we might do:
We begin our whirlwind tour of Tokyo with 3 popular districts of Tokyo. You’ll see the biggest temple in Tokyo – sidelined with tons of food/souvenir vendors. Then it’s off to a more traditional shopping market @ Ameyokocho. When we need a bit of a breather and ‘personal space’ (ha!) we will head up to the top of a cool observatory tower for a night view of the Tokyo city lights.
Day 2 is a fun mix of old and new! We begin with an experience in the hustle bustle of Tokyo Station. WIth over 3000 trains moving in and out each day and over 850,000 passengers crawling around the multi-level station..it is an experience! Next, we head over for a peaceful tour of the palace where the Emperor of Japan lives. Later, we take in the lights and sights of the fashion district in Ginza and the electronics/anime world of Akihabara!
Day 3….you are probably completely exhausted, but exhilarated at this point! 🙂 The last day shows us the contrast between the stoic and introspective Meiji Shrine (largest in Tokyo) juxtaposed with the crazy, colorful energy of Harajuku fashion and entertainment!
We will close the day with about 24 hours of travel back to Maine