Asian Adventures

Where to go, especially in Japan and Bhutan

As jubilados (Spanish for retirees) many cultural and political factors influence our choice of travel destinations


I thought nothing of it. The menu looked incredible, yet all I felt like ordering was tomato soup and mint tea. “Are you okay?” Magellan asked. “Yeah, I think it’s just all those cashews I ate with that cucumber martini when we got back.”

Read more

Isolated for 350 years, the mountainous Iya Valley is often called the Tibet of Japan. They share an ancient allure. With time for only one hike in the Iya, we chose Mount Tsurugi, one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains. On a clear day the view from its  summit reaches to the Pacific Ocean, the Seto Inland Sea and mainland Japan. A yinyang (inyo in Japanese) mountain, Mount Tsurugi is Japan’s “most dangerous mountain climbable.“ But it’s also Iya’s most popular hiking destination when you approach it like we did from the western side and take the Yuhodoh, the “promenade” hike from Minokoshi Station, even easier when you ride the ancient chairlift.

Read more

O-sa-KA! O(h) we’d like to return. A realization we came to while there. Japan’s culinary capital, the country’s rebel, Osaka is an exclamation of colour, a city calling out, “Stay longer! Come Back!”

Read more

Pumpkins. Mushrooms. Persimmons. Mmmm…

Late autumn ripens my memories of Japan.

To the night Lynn, Ward, Magellan and I, dressed in kimonos, ate kaiseki at Ryokan Kurashiki. “Dishes of October, The feast to do the sight of autumn colors,” served by a kindly Japanese woman in the autumn of her life who Ward nicknamed “Ryokan Mommy.”

Read more

Cherry blossoms in Japan

More than three decades ago when we lived in Calgary, Magellan and I thought we’d go to Japan in the spring for the sakura (桜), the Japanese word for cherry blossoms derived from saku , which means to bloom. I even studied Japanese in anticipation. For some reason that I don’t recall, we didn’t go. How foolish we were to even think we had to travel that far for hanami—viewing cherry blossoms—you only need to go as far west as Vancouver, which now has its own Sakura Festival every April. Since April is also National Poetry Month, we’ve curated a collection of our favourite sakura haikus, adding Spice’s own attempt as well.

Read more

“You’ve got to come hear this,” I said, phoning Magellan and asking him to meet me at the Power Plant to hear Forty Part Motet as soon as his meeting was over. I was happy to spend an extra hour listening to the art (yes, listening) until he arrived.

It was in Toronto in 2004, the first time we experienced the work of Janet Cardiff and her partner in life and art, Georges Bures Miller—I’ll tell you more about our jubilado experience with their art in a minute.

Read more