Culture

Traveling With the Oscars

by Matthew Link

The Flicks: Letters From Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers (2006)

Oscar Nods: Letters: Winner for Best Sound Editing; four nominations total. Flags: Two nominations, for Best Sound Editing and Sound Mixing

The Setting: Iwo Jima island, 650 miles south of Tokyo

Sands of Time: Eight square miles of bombed-out volcanic dust for vacation? Well, it ain't exactly paradise, but for history buffs, Iwo Jima is an essential pilgrimage—and the location for Clint Eastwood's masterful pair of films (one in English, one Japanese) about the seminal World War II battle. There's still a Japanese naval base on Iwo Jima but nary a civilian—and you can't visit without special permission from the government. Unless, that is, you're traveling with Virginia-based Military Historical Tours, whose annual Reunion of Honor trip visits important battle sites from the Pacific Theater (it also stops in Guam, Saipan, Palau, and Hawaii). On Iwo Jima, you'll crawl around General Kuribayashi's underground cave HQ, walk the black-sand landing beaches, and climb to the top of Mount Suribachi (sorry, no iconic flag-hoisting permitted). If you're more a nature-loving pacifist than a History Channel addict, you might still consider a trip to the area: Iwo Jima is one of the 30-plus Ogasawara Islands, a remote archipelago often referred to as the Galápagos of the Orient for its abundance of animal and plant species found nowhere else on earth. RAO Adventure Tours, based on the main island of Chichijima, offers dolphin swims, kayaking, night treks in the jungle, snorkeling at World War II wrecks, even surf lessons. Just be warned: It's a 25-plus-hour boat ride there from Tokyo. At least you're not sleeping in a Navy bunk!

Military Historical Tours
Tel: 703 212 0695
Reunion of Honor Tour $3,795 per person, all-inclusive

RAO Adventure Tours
Tel: 81 4998 22081

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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