As we remain at home during these crazy times, I find myself looking back on so many wonderful travel memories. The yearning to “hit the road” hangs over me while I cook, hike, and do my daily yoga in beautiful Marin, California. I feel blessed and lucky to be able to dream of future adventures. That dream keeps me alive and full of a sense of yearning. I had been scheduled to lead a fabulous trip to Japan this year and it made me think back to some highlights of my trip there last year (and it’s bringing on a ramen craving).
Japan is a land of contrasts and beauty. It is a blend of aesthetically-pleasing traditions and advanced technology. It is steeped in history and gentle formalities. It is full of beauty everywhere. Gardens, cherry blossoms galore, sushi, style, craftsmanship, and exquisite taste. I am both fascinated and thrilled to be going back again next year.
I have always craved and searched for the most delicious ramen. It is the soothing taste of the slow-cooked broth, the juxtaposition of crisp fresh vegetables and those tender noodles. It’s just like a fabulous symphony performing at peak. It’s the very essence of Japan. When I think of arriving in Tokyo, I start mapping out my ramen search. With my prior research and my pleasant interrogation of the concierge, I figure out how to include some top ramen stops in every place I visit. There are 50,000 famous ramen spots in Tokyo. The best I discovered was Ichiran Ramen, located in a train station. You sit in a little booth and the ramen is prepared by a machine. It was local, delicious, and memorable. Of course, Zegrahm's Imperial Japan is so much more than a trip to sample ramen, it's also a cultural and aesthetic trip to delve into the amazing beauty and global interest in Japan.
Arriving in April is a huge treat. We will hit the peak time for the spectacular cherry blossom show. The blossoms are everywhere and we will see some of the best areas, featuring the most famous gardens. We will see the best shrines, museums, sculptures, and architecture.
But most of all, we will get to know the people of Japan. Discovering Japan is a very different experience. The ceremonial greeting of a bow is a beautiful custom. People are amazingly polite, a bit shy, extremely punctual, and aesthetically advanced. They are amazing craftsmen and fabulous cooks. Everything is perfection and you can literally eat off the floor.
From bustling Tokyo, with over nine million people, we will take a bullet train to some of the most beautiful and interesting spots. Takayama is always a real favorite. The town is set in the past, and all the low-slung wooden buildings are put together by craftsmen. No nail guns or glue to be found anywhere. Every building is a piece of art. Mountains surround the town, and it couldn’t be any more charming. We visit the Festival Float Museum filled with extraordinary floats from the Takayama Festival, which is held every year. Takayama is also known for its amazing cuisine, like the outstanding prime Hida beef, sake, and of course, it is known for some of the best ramen in Japan. The last time I was there with a group of guests, we ate at Jingoroh Ramen and everyone was in heaven. This was old-world charm, loving preparation, and a sensational treat!
Kanazawa and Hiroshima are the next stops. Kanazawa is full of gorgeous gardens and the Japanese are arguably the world’s best at gardening. Our visit to Hiroshima will give you goosebumps when we visit the Peace Museum. It is a moving memorial to the victims of the 1945 bombing. Wrapping up this amazing tour is Kyoto. Some of Japan’s most beautiful Shinto shrines and temples are in Kyoto, and we will visit many of them. There are authentic Japanese hot springs and traditional geisha entertainers performing just for us in private tea ceremonies. It is old-world charm in a modern city with amazing cuisine and brings out the real soul of Japan.
I just can’t wait to get back to Japan next April, and I plan to add unique new experiences for the ever-curious group of guests that will be traveling with me.
The highlight for me is the excited feeling I get every time I go anywhere. Even if I have been there already, it always feels like the first time. I can’t wait to have you join me next April for a bowl of delicious ramen. We will discover breathtaking Japan and all its delicate and intriguing wonders!