And yet we'd sail through those legendary flaming swords and hurdle twice the bureaucratic barricades to see that "Garden of Eden" again. Even with three months of energetic effort, we missed many of our areas of interest. Next time, we'll sail the emerald islands of the Inland Sea, revel in Tokyo's frenetic nightlife, attend a traditional Kabuki play, participate in the stylized tea ceremony, and ski the legendary powder of Sapporo.
We approached Japan with open hearts and minds. Daily, we were confronted with and challenged by a culture as old as ours is young, as communal and controlled as ours is individual and free. The beautiful lands, the exquisite cuisine, the ancient culture, the stunning architecture, and the traditional arts of Japan transported us. But more important, we were deeply touched by the overwhelming honesty, hospitality, and generosity of the Japanese people.