Subject: Re: last minute trip to Osaka
Hi Al,

Congrats! You're going to my favourite country in Asia. Unfortunately, Osaka isn't a place I've spent much time in but there are some wonderful places around and about it - especially Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji...

USUALLY the cheapest way to travel around Japan is by rail pass (only available outside of Japan) so....I'm afraid I'm probably not getting back to you in sufficient time to get one of those ticketed before you leave. But...just in case I would check out: and then, if you have a good travel agent - ask them Sat. morning.

Otherwise - train travel is rather expensive but it is incredibly efficient and fast. However - there are also a lot of more 'local' (and slower) trains that you can take that are not as expensive and might just give you a more relaxed view of the countryside.

IF you want to experience the countryside of Japan - I know a wonderful lady just outside of Kyoto who owns an old farmhouse (been in her family for years). She's actually a travel agent but also runs a bed and breakfast in her home and takes her guests on very personal tours of the countryside (on foot and/or by bicycle). You can visit a tatami maker, bamboo fence maker, sweet shop/factory, local temples, hotsprings, etc - whatever suits the individual. Her English is impeccable and she just loves to show visitors her world. Again - I may be too late but I think that Fukiko would take you at the last minute if she has a vacancy. Send me a personal note and I'll get her info out and ready.

Send a note and tell me if you got the deal and then I'll put some more suggestions together for places to stay etc. Unfortunately, am at my office (Sat's a work day in HK) and don't have my Japan file here but....can find some of the places on the net for you.

Cheers! Judy in HK