What a joy to be using a keyboard I know, and a web site that won't suddenly replace the words on each button with something completely incomprehensible.
Takayama --> Kanazawa --> Tokyo --> HOME!
From Takayama (yes, we had both a feast and Hida beef -- 2 different meals) we went to Kanazawa, which was another larger city. Never _quite_ figured them out, but we managed to get around on the buses pretty well. While there, we visited one of the great gardens in Japan -- twice.
On the 15th we headed back to Tokyo, where we did some shopping, ate some burgers (dinner was in a divy diner -- featuring "American Burgers" made with Australian beef -- pretty good -- we left before dessert, though, because someone at the table behind us started smoking; breakfast was at Freshness Burger (a Japanese chain) -- where we got hamburgers & I got an iced chai), and I got to see an aspect of Japanese plumbing I'd been told about but never seen -- the water being used to flush the toilet spouting out into a place for you to rinse your hands. (Before it goes into the tank, thank you!) Other than the fact that it had a Western style toilet, this hotel was pretty Japanese.
I really like the sliding paper doors. You can change the shape of the rooms, or open the place up completely by removing them -- they're lighter than wood -- but they do NOTHING for noise dampening. M or G padding quietly to the potty during the night had me looking around my room to see if someone was in it.
All in all, the two things I was most concerned with were non-issues. I was always able to find a Western toilet when I needed one (although they were in the minority when not in hotels -- and the hotel/ryokan toilets often had a bunch of odd features ... I hated the "run the water to mask other sounds" feature which I often couldn't turn off, but kind of liked the heated seats that a couple of them had -- I'd never turn them on myself, but when someone else did I liked it), and the Cigarette Smoke was nowhere near as bad as I had been led to fear -- and indeed not as bad as walking down the street in downtown Royal Oak -- although there were times and places when it was most unpleasant.
On the 16th we checked out of the hotel, took a cab to the rail station (on my insistence -- the handle on my luggage had broken and I was not up to all the Tokyo subway stairs and a transfer before we got to Tokyo station), made it to the airport with about 2 hours to spare, and made it to our gate as they were boarding.
We landed Sunday afternoon (about an hour and a half before we took off), and I got home (about 7pm) and fell right back into my standard routine. (Did my skiing at about 8, was in bed about 9 -- and slept until... well, 3:30 am, but not getting back to sleep after that (until the alarm started ringing) I do not blame on travel or jet-lag.)
It's good to be home. I expected 2000 e-mails, but only had 1515 new ones. Haven't yet figured out what my "skip" will need to be in lj. **shudder**