Deep Japan Article

  • Untouched, Friendly and Awaiting your Arrival; Shizukuishi, Iwate Japan.

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    I planned to arrive in Shizukuishi, Iwate Prefecture while the sun was still shining, but a speech in Chiba City delayed my arrival until long after the moon rose on this village of just over 17,000 residents in Northeast Japan.It was a sweltering day with temperatures around 36 degrees Celsius (98 degrees Fahrenheit) outside and what felt like 1000 degrees inside the packed Tokyo station where I transferred from the local train to the Akita Shinkansen bullet train for the trip up north. I remember my days during the end of the “bubble economy” in Japan and how I always thought the stations were so extremely packed with bustling businesspeople.During the 20-plus years of deflation coupled with factors including a declining population, the Lehman Shock world financial crisis, natural disasters in Kobe and Tohoku, there was respite from the crowds across Japan and I could walk through a hub train station without being “GYWFED” (my term for the “get in your way factor”) at every step.
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  • Ready to Take a Three-Day Trip From Tokyo, Japan?

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    You Are you going somewhere in Japan?
    Planning to adventure anywhere outside of Tokyo? If so, you need the low-down on how to master Shinkansen Bullet Train Travel!
    Well, here I would like to use my recent trip to Shizukuishi in Iwate, Prefecture as a perfect example of the process on how to figure out your travel plan, buy your ticket and actually get there.
    The first step is to select a place to go ☺ I know that sounds easy, but since Japan is basically a treasure chest of jewel locations waiting to be discovered, you will probably have a difficult time narrowing down your selection. But, whatever you do, try not to go to a place simply because you have heard the name before. I’ve been here 30 years, travelled around all over Japan, and I can honestly say there is safety, beauty, warm welcomes, delicious tastes and one-of-a-kind sites anywhere you go.
    Why not go off the beaten track?
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  • Koiwai, the Disneyland of
    Dairy Farms in Japan.

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    A Taste of Sunshine in Shizukuishi
    Running across the open and perfectly manicured grass field, I was delighted that Koiwai Farms is not just about cows.
    We were there on a business trip trying to help the town of Shizukuishi uncover jewels of interest for visiting international guests. Let me tell you, there were plenty.
    My partner’s surprise showed blush under his ruddy skin as I slipped off my business pumps and took off running in stockinged feet over the smooth, green grass to a large tree standing solo on a knoll bordering the field’s far rim. “Just five minutes” our guide called and I knew I had to hug that tree quickly if I wanted to make it back in time to treat myself to soft vanilla ice cream made fresh from healthy milk produced on the farm each day.
    Nearing the tour bus as sweet, white cream dripped onto the stone sidewalk and my clothes, I felt a kind of warmth resonate from our guide. Her eyes twinkled as we exchanged greetings; I wiped a drop of cream from my lapel, and stepped up into the vehicle. Our guide’s traditional Shizukuishi farm girl garb told of a simpler, quieter time in Japan’s past where those in the countryside worked hard on their fields, their community bonds and to maintain their proud and unique heritage.
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