Author Archives: The Wife of Bath

Japanese toilets: so much to go on

This symbol is all over Japan: Yes, that is the international symbol for “spray your butt.” And for the ladies: Spray your ladyparts while wearing a bike helmet. This button is either the dry cycle or a close up of ramen noodles. Toilet shy?  No problem—your Japanese toilet also provides a soundtrack to cover embarrassing […]

Kyoto’s Moss Temple: nature’s social contract

In 48 hours: one flight from Chicago to Tokyo, one bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, nine subway rides, one bus and one frantic taxi ride after a different bus didn’t show up as scheduled.  We arrived at the Moss Temple just in time for the admission slot which our hotel managed to reserve for […]

How to watch Noh theater in Tokyo

Show up at the last second and buy two tickets to something you don’t know the name of and receive a program you can’t read. Have 5 minutes to eat convenience store food while watching women in gorgeous kimono pour into the hall. Feel bad about wearing clothes you haven’t washed since you walked around […]

How to use the onsen in Japan

Hey, you’re in Japan—-want to get naked with 126.8 million new friends?  You got this! Do you have tattoos?  No onsen for you.  There are about 20 different signs saying “No tattoos in the onsen.”  Well, maybe if you just have that one lame butterfly tattoo from high school you could put and bandaid over […]

Bowing to the deer of Nara in a typhoon

Arriving in Nara last night, we went in search of udon,  While slurping up our noodles in a random noodle joint, I looked up at at the TV and said to HOB “look at that weather forecast—looks like there’s a typhoon over Japan.” Oops!  There was a typhoon bearing down on us, projected to be […]

The dress code is linen at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple

HOB and I used to take a staycation every spring.  We’d run around Chicago, visiting far away neighborhoods, going to concerts and plays, and walking around with an architecture book doing self-guided tours.  On several of these vacations we took the train out to Oak Park, our visits always seeming to coincide with an event […]

Chicago vernacular

This time every summer I usually go to a conference.  This year that conference is in Chicago.  While I’m kind of bummed not to be visiting a new city, I’m thinking of this as an opportunity to see Chicago with my traveler’s eyes.  After all, travel is more than seeing sights—it is the experience of […]

How I research travel online

For years my best travel advice came from a retired doctor named Howard who I “met” on the now-defunct website VirtualTourist.  Howard—in his mid 80’s at the time–was exceptionally cranky, no doubt because he was no longer able to travel (for the record, this would make me cranky too.)  Howard put his pent-up traveling energy […]

You can have the Viking art, I’ll be over here with the stave church

Vikings are popular these days, but please don’t invite me to that party.  As far as I’m concerned, being a fan of Vikings is akin to being a fan of Isis.  Like Isis, Vikings destroyed priceless works of cultural heritage (and yeah, they killed a lot of people too).  I’m taking the side of the […]

How we ate cheap in Norway

When we got back from Norway several people asked me “How was the food?” and I answered “I don’t know.”  That’s because, instead of seeking out local specialties and eating in restaurants, we just bought basic groceries from supermarkets and prepared the food ourselves.  That’s not a romantic way to eat and it doesn’t make […]