Golden Week - that period of many holidays in Japan - is upon us! For some, the long holiday period started on April 29 (Wednesday) and will stretch through Sunday, May 10. A "hearty" few even took April 27 & 29 off, giving them 16 days of vacation time with only 6 days of actual vacation days used. This year we have 3 consecutive holidays on May 4, 5, 6 after that one day break on the 29th. Most companies are closed for at least these 3 days & many for the whole week.
We figured that Tokyo would be pretty empty, but when we headed for Shibuya on Saturday I was really surprised to see the number of people on the train - it was like rush hour during the week! Mostly young people; mainly students, but a LOT of people.
We were in Shibuya to enjoy dinner with friends at one of our old favorites, a Presto Nobematsu, where Chef Nobematsu serves some of the best Italian food you'll find in Tokyo. For info in English see a Presto on GuruNavi. If you're going definitely reserve and tell him I sent you.
Moving on from a Presto we made our way over to Suidobashi to The Tokyo Club, a small - gotta love your neighbors kinda small - jazz club to hear friend Miyake-san's group, MUJQ, play some good jazz. Miyake-san "moonlights" during the day as CEO of Allianz Life Insurance, and plays a mean jazz guitar in about half a dozen gigs a year.
Sunday morning found us on the road for a trip up to Karuizawa to visit friends. Smooth sailing till we hit the 6 km jam on the Kanetsu. Got through that & saw the next sign that said 35 km jam ahead. Ouch! We decided to get off & take the local highways. More scenic and less stressful than sitting on an "expressay" (more aptly named big parking lot when you're in a big jam). Took us about 4 1/2 hours to get here, but we enjoyed the drive. Got to Karuizawa in time for an early BBQ on the deck with friends Rick & Mico. Nothing like mountain air, BBQ, and some nice Bordeaux red (remember, wine is good for The Heart) to wind up the day.
A bit of light hiking around the base of Mt. Asama today and a bit more trekking around the cabbage fields (this part of Karuizawa is where much of Japan's cabbage is grown) helped walk off some of that BBQ. Walking is also good for The Heart!
Not really looking forward to that drive back tomorrow as predictions are that the "U-turn" (people heading back to Tokyo) is supposed to be heaviest tomorrow. But, gotta do it - haven't figured out how to make the car hover over all that traffic yet!
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