Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The rest of the story...

It wasn't all fun and games in Japan....

When we arrived in Osaka, we were greeted by three of our four hiking companions. The fourth person, Sheila, we learned was in the hospital. Just after passing through immigration, she dropped to the floor unconscious and was not breathing. Fortunately she was with her sister, an emergency room nurse, who was just about to begin CPR when Sheila began breathing again. Emergency people descended on them immediately and whisked them both to a nearby hospital emergency room where Sheila experienced cardiac arrest several times. There is a very long story behind the event that I won't tell here: the bottom line was that she spent 4 days in the hospital and a pacemaker was installed. The medical care she received was excellent and people were very kind to her....few people spoke English and working through the logistics was difficult. Sheila and her sister did not join us on the Nakasendo Way as Sheila was too fragile - they did stay in Japan for a week and a half, seeing sights around Osaka and then they joined us in Tokyo for the last part of our tour.

These two women are really troopers, making the best out of a horrible situation. We all learned a few things about health and travel. Richard and I have been very nonchalant about this subject but now will add travel insurance to our list of musts before we embark on another adventure (Tibet - in August). Sheila had plenty of medical coverage but the tour itself was non-refundable as were several hotel rooms and touring charges in Kyoto. Being careful about who is notified in case of emergency was another wake-up call. If your bank, lawyer or financial advisor is notified, in these days, the first thought is that a scam is underway. Another bit of advice is to notify the American Embassy via the STEP program (you can do it online) when you're traveling out of the country.

"The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens/nationals who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.
STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency.
STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate."

There are many things to be thankful for regarding this situation. Had Sheila experienced cardiac arrest in her own home, as she lives alone, she might have died. Her medical care was so good in Japan, that she declared that if she had to pick a place for this experience, she'd pick Osaka airport again. 

Happy ending....

Happy sisters with cherry blossoms

Monday, April 28, 2014

Last day in Tokyo.

Fried vermicelli. Low food cost, low flavor.
Tsukiji fis market.
Cats doing things. A favorite Japanese theme.
Tuna at Tsukiji. Richard's photo.

Fish market is a wild sort of place...fork lifts traveling at high speed through the aisles. I'm sure they take out the occasional tourist. 

Hydrangea at department store.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tokyo today.

Train in Tokyo.
Rubbing Sumo wrestler's bums brings good luck.
Glorious azaleas.
Koi in Imperial Palace park.
Dave, Japanese historian and food historian led us for the day.
Kabuki theatre tableau in Edo museum.
Susan and Vasso enjoying a speedy ride on the Shinkhasen.
Waygu beef.
Blowfish appetizer.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Last day of Walking tour. Tokyo.

Japanese cat liked my lap. He relieved a little of my cat home sickness.
More fabulous food.
Last night of our walk. View from the Park Royal Hotel Shiodome.
Peonies in the middle of skyscrapers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

24k day.

Flags for boy's day flying.

Ferns unfurling.
Mt. Ontake
Picnic lunch on the trail.
Convenience store stop.. white fench dressing is popular.
Same breed of dog it seems at every farm we pass. They howl and bark.
Cherry blossoms raining on our heads. 
Straw horse by Japanese farm house.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Making our beds.
My patient fellow hikers have been great about waiting for me to catch up. 
The path is speckled so you can select the correct way.
Mountain vegetable, in season. Delicious.

Bamboo drooping in the rain.

Flailing away. 
Little coffee in these old inns but tomorrow morning we'll all be lined up for the "morning shot", hot out of the vending machine.
None of the guys were interested in the "face" pants.
And another great meal. Oddest dish for us was a horseradish cake with melted cheese on top. Couldn't give it away. Tomorrow is the hardest day...up and down, but mostly up for 24 km. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

More walking

Yo, our guide, helping the cooks....
Easter dinner at Shinchaya our inn for the night.

David, 6'6" and Zuzu, not quite 5', hike at the same speed.

Richard trying to keep everything closed properly..our kimonos were stiffly starched and the overcoats hard to tie.
Closer look at our meal which included wild boar shot with bow and arrow by our chef. Also fried grasshoppers, more "mountain vegetable" and fresh trout.
No mistaking where you wear these.