The Konnichiwa Kid
Some boys are mad for soccer or skateboards. But writer Dorothy Kalins's son, Lincoln, has always been a sushi-rolling, Pokémon-watching kind of kid. At 13, he asked for Japanese language lessons. At 14, he spent two weeks at Japan camp in Minnesota. And at 15, he finally got to go to the country he'd always loved from afar.
Lincoln lobbied for a return to Tokyo, but I wanted us to have the experience, though a splurge, of a night in an authentic ryokan, Monjuso, where dinner and breakfast are served in the room. (Plus, I yearned to visit Iio-Jozo, an artisanal vinegar brewery.) So we climbed on the train again, north to Amanohashidate, on the Sea of Japan. (photo) Nearby Ine is a fishing village that looked just like we wanted it to.
One of the marvelous things about Japan, for our family anyway, was that, indeed, we could all get what we wanted. For Roger and me, that meant temples, gardens, and museums—intrinsically Japanese places whose very ancientness is their charm. Most of what made Lincoln's top 10 list, including the shinkansen (bullet train) we took back to Tokyo, didn't make Roger's or my list. But for Lincoln, Japan wasn't so much a foreign country as a place from his childhood that he knew was there all along.
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, 011-81/3-3344-0111, keioplaza.com, double from $163
4-6-16 Ginza, Chuo-ku, 011-81/3-3562-1111, mitsukoshi.co.jp
3-31-8 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku (22 Tokyo branches), 011-81/3-3352-1012, tsunahachi.com, lunch from $12
5-2-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, 011-81/3-3544-1755, arp-nt.co.jp/iwasa, nigiri selection from $20, 5:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
1-15 Kanda Sudacho, Chiyoda-ku, 011-81/3-3251-0577, dinner $64 (cash only)
2-10 Kanda Awajicho, 011-81/3-3251-0287, yabusoba.net, lunch from $7
1-1-83 Shimorenjaku-ku, Mitaka-shi, 011-81/422-40-2233, ghibli-museum.jp/en, $10, kids $1–$7
Alteka Plaza, 1-13-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 011-81/3-6406-0711, mb.softbank.jp
6-1-9 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, 011-81/3-3409-3431, kiddyland.co.jp
011-81/736-6-2514, firstname.lastname@example.org, $95 per person, with dinner and breakfast
011-81/75-352-0211, kyoto-machiya.com, from $240
3-260-4 Bukko-ji Agaru, Nishi-kiyamachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku, 011-81/75-342-4430, kiwa-group.co.jp/restaurant/i100063.html, dinner from $38
420-7 Nanban-cho, Matsubara Sagaru, Nishikiya-machi, Shimogyo-ku, 011-81/75-343-7070, dinner $35 (photo)
Kitano Tenmangu Shrine market
The 25th of every month, kitanotenmangu.or.jp
Request admission weeks in advance. Search "saiho-ji" at japan-guide.com for what and where to write
Nishi-iru, Gokomachi, Nishikoji-dori, Nakagyo-ku, 011-81/120-38-5599, aritsugu.com
011-81/772-22-7111, japaneseguesthouses.com, $182 per person for a group of two
373 Odashukuno, Miyazu-shi, 011-81/772-25-0015, iio-jozo.co.jp