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Soggy Shoes and Samurai Warriors

Audley traveler Anastasia visited Japan in 2014 and fell so in love with the country that she returned with Audley in 2016.

Story by Audley Travel April 27th, 2016

I have held a fascination with the Far East since my childhood. I read all I could on China and Japan, especially myths, legends, and history. I finally got the opportunity to travel to Japan in 2014, and never looked back. I was nervous, but excited and my first Country Specialist Layla was patient with a first-timer like me. That trip was incredible, and got me hooked on using Audley. Then Jessica planned my 2016 sakura (cherry blossom) season trip, and it was literally perfect! I couldn’t have asked for it to have been better!

the remote beauty of sendai

As a female history nerd, or rekijo in Japanese, I have always enjoyed visiting museums and historical sites. There is a sense of awe I associate with standing where those who carved their places in history once stood or fought. I had reservations in the beginning about asking for such a remote location as Sendai, because I wasn’t sure Audley serviced the Tohoku region. However, my studies of various samurai warlords from the Muromachi Era (Warring States Period) indicated that Sendai was established by a well-known warlord of his day, who had an underdog biography. Intrigued by this, I headed northwards to visit Sendai. It‘s a beautiful, picturesque port city, with pine-carpeted mountains to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. From the castle site, one can see across the city. On a clear day, the Pacific Ocean is visible in the distance too.

Panoramic of Sendai city from Sendai Castle site

exploring kyoto

Kyoto has long been one of my favorite cities, so full of culture, art, and history. I couldn’t pass up a chance to spend more time in such a unique and beautiful city! My half-day tour started with a visit to a master kimono painter and my first experience with the Japanese indigo dyeing industry. Jessica already knew that I was not so much into the popular tourist areas, so my wonderful guide Angela took me to a hidden shrine complex in a grove of incredibly beautiful red pines and full bloom sakura trees. In that instant, I didn’t care anymore that it had been raining all day and that my woefully inadequate shoes were soaked through. The serene stillness of the shrine, the warmth of the matcha tea, the soft patter of rain dripping from bamboo, pine, and sakura alike was an experience I will remember always.

Zuihoden Mausoleum
Enjoying a Kimono Rental Okamoto
Surrounded by sakura blossoms at Kiyomizu-dera temple complex
Daitoku-ji Buddhist temple, known for its gardens.

Jessica was the best! I can‘t say enough how well she understood my travel ideas, and she came up with incredible out-of-the-way things/places that I found absolutely fascinating. Since Jessica shares my love of Japan, she spared no effort in making this vacation amazing. Even my last minute request for an onsen day-trip in Sendai came together seamlessly, and I had such a fabulous stay! All the accommodations were astounding, and I always keep track of them as preferred accommodations when I return to Japan. The attention to detail, and the utmost care that Audley has always given to my travel has left an indelible impression on me and my family!

Sakura blossoms in Kyoto
Natori River, outside Hotel Sakan in Akiu, Sendai; view from the onsen porch.

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