“We are going to Japan for Easter!” he said.
“I’m packing my bags now,” said I.
Packing was at bay as my excitement levels had touched the moon. Imagining myself eating sleeping Ramen, Udon, Tempura and feasting my eyes on one of the world’s biggest spring festivals; all this with my partner was going to be one adventure!
It is rightly said that people make a country great. That’s exactly what we absorbed on our 8 night voyage across the epic corners of Japan. Worry not about language barriers when the promising Japanese tribe will go out of their way to drop you to your destination; with a smile!
Be it cruising on the Shinkasen (bullet train), be it being one of the most technologically sound countries in Asia, be it high rises and acres of green in the same neighbourhood, Japan is here to impress.
Entry into the Samurai land was full of cyclones and delays due to our Hong Kong transit though the exit pleaded for delays. Just 1 more night, just 1 more moment in Japan would bring sunshine into our lives!
Our first night in Tokyo was in an old, beautiful suburb Asakusa that is home to Tokyo’s oldest temple, Sensoji. A colourful delight, this open orange expanse is welcoming, and is next to Asakusa train station and a 200 meter shopping street. We went there at night and walked like happy tourists!
A temporary goodbye to Tokyo to meet Kyoto was day two’s agenda.
Tejas* is made of good taste. Not only because he chose me but also because of his accommodation choice in Kyoto! Wow! Right in the middle of the hustle bustle, next to mega towers and a quaint river flowing, Glansit Kyoto Kawaramachi was home.
The best part? It was Capsule accommodation! We stayed in a single capsule with each unit having AC, TV along with spotlessly clean-shared bathrooms. I was surprised to find an olive oil based make up remover! They gave us nightwear and slippers for 3 days straight!
Our friendly taxi driver recommended visiting Nannaji temple to admire the cherry blossoms. We had arrived at the decline of the festival and were prepared to see mere traces. Nannaji temple changed traces to tunnels of cherry blossom! Pink flowers were spread across acres of the complex. Nature’s elegant painting left us awestruck.
Alluring Arashiyama has to be on your bucket list! Straight out of a movie, we lived our fairytale amidst green mountains, bamboo forests, cute ice-creams, boating with birds; slightly on the outskirts of Kyoto. Romantic weather beckoned us with rows of bamboo at a zero admission fee! Fancy a temple visit? Arashiyama’s got you covered!
A visit to Kyoto is incomplete without immersing yourself in Osaka.
See it and breathe it to believe it. An economic powerhouse, the second largest hub after Tokyo, promising sky lines and ecstatic architecture along with its shrines is Osaka’s USP. Without further adieu, pack your bags or encash all you can to spend it in Dotonbori, the most popular street of Osaka.
“Omg. Is it even real?” I kept murmuring in Dotonbori. From flashy 3d signs to a giant Ferris Wheel overlooking a canal, to skyscrapers with popular brands to unlimited shopping and eating options, this one street is magical. You can also see yourself on one of the big screens there! It is the liveliest street we witnessed in Japan. Believe me; it was worth having herds of people bumping into us while we barely sustained our eyes on the camera.
Meet Japan’s highest mountain and active volcano, Mt. Fuji. I’d recommend spending at least 3 nights here. We stayed close to Lake Kawaguchiko, one of the Fuji Five Lakes. Lucky becomes an understatement when you have Mt Fuji as your room view before fog takes charge the next day!
Bicycling to the lake and the lake was serendipity. We climbed ice and wind caves, captivated all the blossoming flowers whilst getting drenched in the Fuji Shibazakura Festival which boasted over 8,000,000 varieties of Shiba sakura, soaked in an onsen (hot spring) and savoured paradise like views for 2 nights in chilly Mt Fuji.
“You will never be completely at home again because part of your heart will always be elsewhere.” said Miriam Adeney. Rightly so, we are virtually in Japan and definitely visiting again. And again. And again!
My taste buds still crave the Japanese ramen.
What do you call a series of surreal moments? We call it Japan!
Tejas* – Niyati’s partner.