The river near the in-laws is called Gojogawa. Very cool river. After tokugawa became Shogun he liked to hang out here a bit in winter. He had Gojogawa lined with 10's of thousands of cherry blossom trees because they move along it on theIr way to the ocean to head over to Tokyo in Spring. Quite the sight those trees in full bloom.
I *MUST* visit Japan...
In fact, struggling right now to think of another country I'd prioritise a visit to.
Definitely want to get to China... But Japan has the advantage of being that much more compact. Could concentrate more into a couple of weeks than I'd manage in China.
HW's keen too... Will have to see what I can organize...
Well man if you do, let me know...I've been all over and would be happy help with what I know. Time of year is key. Summer is brutally hot and humid but August is full of festivals, there are fire works and parties going like mad. That being said if you're bringing the kids it's summer vacation and fuck me you don't want to be doing anything "kidcentric" during summer vacation here...fucking thousands of screaming unsupervised kids moving like a flock of hornets everywhere. They're still in school now which is why we come for July. The 2 best times are coincidentally the most affordable, Spring for the cherry blossoms (stunning stunning stuff...you'll walk around with your jaw permanently dropped) and cherry blossom parties. Autumn for the fall leaves. Not as well known but autumn here is amazing, especially in Kyoto which is definitely where you'd want to spend a good chunk of time.
If you like the history stuff a day or 2 around Nagoya (I'll be going to the Tokugawa museum next week) ... you could maybe even get in a visit at the original toyota factory and write it off as a business trip. You can also day trip to Gifu and spend a small fortune on a real katana...actually ... not a small fortune...a large one.
I definitely have the travel bug to hit China too. My wife went to university for a bit there and speaks Mandarin ...trying to convince her to do a stop over one year and fart around for a week or so...