Hmm. I'm not so sure about the brushed vs smooth copper pans. Ours came brushed, and the first time I polished them it seemed to remove the old brushing. they still look 'brushed' though, but I think this is because I polish it in a motion that goes along with the strokes. If I polished it in a different direction, it'd change the direction of the brushing I think.
You may use a different polish with a 'smooth' copper pan, so my assumption that they all look the same after being polished may be wrong. I definitely like the brushed metal look.
If you want to plan a trip to Japan, you should plan it with us. We know many, many things about the place and there's a lot to discover, plus we have friends there which makes it all more fun. There's a huge difference in Japan with a guide as compared to without. Plus we're absolutely dying to visit.
What is a good time of year, other than cherry-blossom season?
I know some people in Japan, but mostly air force, or businesspeople.
I want to visit Osaka and Tokyo for sure, and I'd probably like to try "extreme rural japan", way up in the north of something, just for contrast. And I must see Ainu!
I am thinking I would enjoy a trip to Japan/China/Korea more than a trip to the US, at least for now, as I have artificially high expectations of the US. e.g. Hong Kong I had basically no expectations, and it was amazing, and continues to be amazing, and I've been there 4-5 times now.
Actually, August during Obon is an excellent time! It's hot and humid, but Obon is probably the biggest national festival time of the year. You'd absolutely need to see the Daimonji fires in Kyoto and possibly the Festival of Light at the Todai-ji temple in Nara.
It's a really festive time of year, transportation is totally packed, and everything is wacky. :) Everyone is off work except for the service industries.
Taking the longish trip and seeing Ritsurin-koen would be high on the list at any time of year except for the rainy season. God that park is beautiful. Japan's food is all regional, so the area of Takamatsu where Ritsurin-koen is located has the best Udon noodles in all of Japan. They are really different :)
So much to see and do!