Explore Japan : The Land of the Rising Sun
So, finally.. Japan.
It has been a while since I made a plan to come to this country. However, there were always some other places that just seemed more attractive to me, and so i ditched this plan for so many times.
Many fellow travellers told me that this country has a little bit everything for everyone. But, obviously as an Indonesia, people always highlighting the shopping and foods. Not too many things about the culture and nature. So that's probably the reason why I always ditched my plan to come here.
Finally though, at the end of 2017, KANO made a decision to make Japan as the last KANO project of the year. So i made my way to Tokyo, and tried to figure out the best way to explore this country.
So, 8 hours flight took me to Tokyo Haneda Airport where I started the journey. It was late and cold, as it was in the middle of the winter. Despite not too many people speak English, I found it surprisingly easy to navigate around the city. I made my way from the airport to my hotel with no problem at all. Even on the way I stopped for dinner in a restaurant with staffs that speak absolutely no english, but it was just all good.
I spent a couple of days in Tokyo, visiting Shibuya, with that famous crossing and a crazy shopping scene all around. Ueno was also a great place where they have a really beautiful park with a couple shrines, a zoo and museums in it. Ueno is probably my favourite area in Tokyo, here I went to a museum where there are so many information about the culture of Japan, and since it was the Christmas day, it was free admission. There's also a gift shop inside the museum, a very cool one. It looks just like a library with so many epic collections for sale. And there was also a small concert inside the museum on the way in. What a way to celebrate Christmas!
Since everyone who have travelled to Japan told me that foods in Japan are really good, i had high expectation for this particular thing. And boy they were right! I'm probably the biggest sucker when it comes to food, especially when I'm travelling. But this time is different. Every food that I tried there never disappoint. Even those fast food in Seven Eleven were just awesome. I now understand why people always told me about the quality of foods in Japan.
After Tokyo, I decided to take a day trip to Mt.Fuji and Hakone. It was quite a short bus ride, just about 2 hours from Tokyo to reach the base of Mt.Fuji. The way to the mountain was just beautiful and quite hectic in the same time. The traffic in Tokyo is just so similar with Jakarta. Which is not surprising since it is one of the most populated cities in the world. But when we saw the mountain, it was just a bliss. So in Mt.Fuji, we supposedly can go up pretty high using the bus. However, the winter storm just hit the mountain and we couldn't really get up. The road was closed due to heavy snowfall the day before. So we just enjoy a little stop in the 1st post and went to the information centre to get some photos. Luckily I got my tele lens with me, so I took some close up photos of the mountain. It was quite a good experience actually, even though it was from afar. Hakone was my next stop, from there we took a short boat ride and gondola to the top of Mt.Hakone. It was a clear sky that day, so I saw Mt.Fuji from afar, and got some pretty epic shots. The weather started to turned into a storm at the top, so we had to make our way down. It was really cold and windy but it was all worth it.
Next stop, Nagoya. The only reason I came to this city was to catch a bus to Shirakawa-go. I did not do any research on the destinations within Nagoya. However, I finally decided to do a little bit walking around, asking for some info in the tourist centre. Eventually I ended up going to Toyota Museum. An industrial museum about how Toyota evolved into such a giant. It may sounds boring, but actually there are so many interesting things inside. They are showing how Japan becoming one of the leaders in today's industrial world and all that automotive stuffs as well. Overall a pretty nice experience in town.
From Nagoya, I took another bus ride, this time about 3 hours into the alps. The way into Shirakawa-go is probably one of the most scenic road I've ever been to. Just endless mountains covered with metres of snow and traditional villages all around. And once we arrived in Shirakawa-go it was just a mind blowing sceneries. Despite being so crowded with tourist, I found this place to be so peaceful and pure. The houses are there for hundreds of years and from the outside it appeared that there has only been little changes. Most of the village were covered in snow, and by that I mean real deep snow. The village is located in a valley of mountains, and apparently during the winter, the snow are falling non stop. I also tried to climb up to the top of the village, which by the way was not encouraged during the winter but I kept going anyway. Though, I went back down just after a few hundreds metres. The snow was real deep and it was so slippery. But the view from there was already very good anyway. I think this place is now my 2nd favourite in the world!
Going back to Nagoya for 1 night after an epic day in Shirakawa. I took another early morning ride to Osaka. It's a short 1 hour ride with the shinkansen. It was fast. Travelling with this train alone was quite an experience. There was nothing much in Osaka that I particularly like to photograph. However, the vibe of the city is just so good. I found the shopping scene is much better than Tokyo. If you like street culture and stuffs, this is the place for you.
A trip to Japan wouldn't be complete without a visit to Kyoto. When you think about the old Japan, where there are big castles with shrines and pagoda, with people wearing traditional kimono while drinking some green teas. This is the place. Some mandatory destinations to visit would be Fushimi-Inari shrine and Bamboo Forest. Fushimi-Inari is that temple where there are thousands of red shrines that you can walk through to the top of the mountain. It's really crowded then but the trick is to go as high as you can where there will be less and less people and you can get that perfect shot and feel the serenity of this temple. There was nothing much in Bamboo Forest to be honest, but it's quite a good place to get some creative shots. If you're up for it, you can walk into a residential area after the bamboo forest, and there are small castles and temples you can get in to and there is less crowd. Overall awesome time in Kyoto.
Japan has been great. I always knew it's gonna be great, but honestly I didn't expect I'm gonna like it too much. But well, it is now my 2nd favourite country after NZ and it just has a little bit of everything. Long history, beautiful nature, unique culture and just great modern things.
So, should we make a trip to Japan?