Subject: Fascinating Japan Trip
Konichiwa, Ziners,

My husband and I just got back from a fabulous travel experience. We joined the 15th Japan-America Manjiro Grassroots Summit, a group dedicated to the exchange of ideas and culture between the two countries. For 17 days we explored Tokyo, Kyoto, Nagoya, Takayama, and Nikko (10 days as part of the Summit and 7 days on our own).

The best part was our homestays with two Japanese families, who hosted us for a total of five nights. Instead of the usual isolation from citizens of the country we're visiting, we got to know these lovely people, ranging from age 2 to 88. They cooked traditional Japanese meals for us and we slept on futons in shoji-screened, tatami-matted rooms. During the day we toured the areas with our group and/or our host families. At least one member of each family spoke a moderate amount of English, and we were able to communicate with everyone quite well. I can't tell you how many wonderful moments we shared, including lots of laughs and a tremendous insight into how we lived our lives. We've made new friends and will treasure our memories of this beautiful country.

When we weren't with hosts, the Summit provided 4-star hotels. The trip was affordable because of the homestays, so those of you who hesitate to travel to Japan for fear of the expense will be pleasantly surprised. Because we saved money on the first part of the trip, we were able to extend our stay the other 7 days on our own, even springing for a luxurious traditional inn in Kyoto.

In 2006, Japanese visitors will come to Colorado. The next trip to Japan will take place in 2007. If you'd like more details, please ask.

Debbie, back in mundane Boca Raton, Florida