I'm going to Japan on Sunday.
It's very hard to think about anything else...I'm so gosh-darned excited. I have one more garden to put to bed tomorrow and then I'm off. It's pure vacation: I'm going to travel with my friend Cayce, who's been living in Tokyo for just over 2 years. I visited her last April (at the height of cherry blossom season!) and spent the next few months figuring out how to go back. Finally I just broke down and begged.
It's hard to explain why I love Japan SO much. There's an attention to detail, a commitment to quality in everything, from the subway ticket sellers to the tuna auctioneers at Tsukiji fish market. Mostly, it was great travelling with a woman friend who shares so many of my interests: local/ seasonal foods, hiking, people watching, soaking in steamy hot tubs looking out onto snowy rivers... And the fact that Cayce speaks such good Japanese is a huge help. She gets us into places most tourists never see.
One of the focal points of this trip is toji. The province of Yamagata, (northwest Honshu) is loaded with hot springs; traditionally, farmers would take several weeks to relax and recuperate after the harvest was in. A regime of hot baths, hiking, and simple food (that's toji!) was the reward for a season of hard work and it helped people prepare for the hard winter ahead. Cayce and I will have 4 days of toji, so tomorrow when my body is on Central Park West (in the freezing rain, getting my last terrace wrapped up for winter) my mind will be in Yamagata.