The Lynch Family (Randy, Bev, Zen, and Cousin Sofia) has just returned from our annual spring break trip to Japan. This has to rate as our best Japan trip ever! Ghibli, origami, maiko dress-up, sakura (cherry blossoms), private Geisha dinner, the best ryokans in all of Japan, and, of course, traveling with our dear friends, the Xu Family – Jay Xu, the Director of the Asia Art Museum and his lovely wife Jennifer and engaging daughter, Toni.


Our Tokyo guide Maya-san with Zen, Sofia and Toni.


  • The Peninsula Tokyo
  • Hibiya Park
  • Ghibli Museum (anime – think Spirited Away)
  • Origami!
  • Shopping!


Onsen – Hot mineral springs and east-west aesthetic at the luxurious Gora Kadan Ryokan

Zen and Sofia at Gora Kadan


We feel Kyoto represents the cultural and aesthetic essence of Japan; amazing Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, the highest quality ryokans, geisha culture, wonderful food, and in April, sakura (cherry blossoms)! And Kyoto at night, particularly in the lantern-lit streets of Gion, is magical and wondrous. There is literally no place on earth like Kyoto.


Zen, Toni and Sofia at Fushimi-Inari Shrine


We stayed at Tawaraya Ryokan last year, directly across the alleyway from our chosen ryokan this year, Hiiragiya. Two of the most famous luxury ryokans in all of Japan stand directly across from each other. A stay at either Hiiragiya or Tawaraya represents a complete 24-hour high-touch immersion with traditional Japanese culture.

A special trip highlight… Japanese Geisha

Shown Left: Zen Lynch
dressed as an authentic Japanese Maiko

For the girls… Geisha Dress-up

Today was “Geisha” day for the girls. In Kyoto, they do not use the word Geisha, but “Geiko” instead. A younger, apprentice Geik o is called a “Maiko”. A quick way to tell the difference between a Geiko and a Maiko is that the older Geiko always wears a white neck collar.

Zen, Sofia and Toni before, and after they dressed up as Maiko.

A unique experience for everyone… Private Geisha Dinner

The private Geisha dinner is among the very special highlights of our trip. This unique night included a private dinner with two Geiko and one Maiko (younger apprentice). Together they performed traditional dancing and singing, while we are served a multi-course kaiseki dinner.

Hisano-san and Mitsuna-san hosting our private kaiseki dinner

In the final analysis I feel Japan is an extraordinary family/friends travel destination. Notwithstanding my love for China, Southeast Asia, and India, I admit to a special longing for Japan. On top of its other-worldly culture and scrupulously clean, world-class infrastructure, Japan is easy to prepare for. No visas or shots required – just a valid U.S. passport and some precious time to spend with your family and friends.

Safe travels!

Randy Lynch
Kipling & Clark