What to Do with Your $600 Tax Rebate

May 28, 2008 at 10:42 am

During these shaky times when airline companies are folding by the minute, travel companies have to really think of enticing reasons to get you packing. One of my friends just signed up for a hiking tour through Croatia. For two weeks, she’ll be scaling mountains and inhaling nature in the company of strangers. Another friend just got a ticket to Italy where he’s dishing out $100 to sit in on a family dinner. At that price I’m sure they’ll tell him to stay for dessert.

If Japan is your preferred destination, a pop culture tour is the way to go. I found one called Intermixi that takes you to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo for $2,300. Hotel and airfare are included in this seven-day excursion. And aside from the traditional temple sightseeing they take you to cool hangouts like Harajuku (as in Gwen Stefani’s Mecca) and Akihabara, where geeks go to shower in electronics and anime.

I read on their site that they also visit some of Japan’s vast collection of odd-themed restaurants. The one I’ve been to was inspired by purgatory. Customers dine within the confines of a jail cell and must walk through dark corridors to get relieve themselves in hell (the bathroom). There’s also a J-Pop cafe, a ninja restaurant, and one where the waiters look like mortuary attendants and you eat your dinner in silence. Believe me, it got awkward quickly. Not recommended for first-dates.

If I were to go on one of these Japan tours I’d ruin it for everyone by unloading too much of my better judgment. My friend who went to Japan recently for the first time decided to try different rice balls at the convenience store. When she bit into one stuffed with a sour pickled plum (ume), she gasped and patooeyed it in her hand. I’m sure she’ll always remember that day. Imagine what a party pooper I’d be if I was there to warn her.

But if you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan and hoped for more than just temple-hopping I recommend one of these alternative tours. They seem like a lot of fun and, heck, it’ll help stimulate our staggering world economy.

Himawari

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Entry filed under: Japanese Culture, Japanese Entertainment, Japanese Foods. Tags: , , , , , .

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