A dream come true! That’s how I would describe my first visit to Japan. I grew up watching anime and a fan of Japanese comics, and been looking for the day I get to visit the place where they originated. Recollecting some scenes from my all-time favorite anime, Samurai X, where Kenshin walks along rows of cherry blossom trees made me giddier to get a closer look at the pink blooms’ illustrious beauty. You can just imagine how nerdy I looked like as I was taking tons of photos the moment I deplaned from the 5-hour Manila to Nagoya flight. haha!
Visiting on the outset of spring season, geared up for my 15-day trip across six (6) prefectures in Japan expecting temperatures from 4C to 19C. Previously experienced spring in Shanghai and Hong Kong, but the coldest one I endured to date was the 1C weather in Nagano, Japan. Not complaining though, I love the cold weather – I love how it makes my skin poreless and red on the cheeks, and most of all, I get to layer without flooding myself with sweat. Teehee!
To wrap up my blog entries about my first time in Japan, I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite travel shots taken from my mobile phone from the trip. Starting with the first stop – Nagoya!
Nagoya, Achi Prefecture
Nagoya is the third largest incorporated city and the fourth most populous urban area. It is also the capital of Achi Prefecture. Places I looked in on are Nagoya Science Museum where the largest planetarium in the world is, 16th century Nagoya Castle, Metropolitan Government Building and Nagoya TV Tower. Also, visited the Osu Kannon Temple and the nearby Osu Shopping district.
Nabana No Sato, Mie Prefecture
Was lucky to have visited Nabana No Sato while the Winter Illumination show was still ongoing. The show runs for four (4) months -from late December to early May- which features a spectacular light tunnel and lit-up flower display!
How to get to Nabana No Sato from Nagoya: Took the Kintetsu Semi-rapid Train from Nagoya to Nagashima. Then from Nagashima, took the Mie Kotsu Bus to Nabana No Sato. Alternatively, one can also take the Meitetsu/ Mie Kotsu Bus from Meitetsu Bus Center in central Nagoya.
Osaka, Osaka Prefecture
Eating and a visit to Universal Studios Japan were the only two things we accomplished in Osaka. haha. Will definitely swing by Nara Deer Park and Osaka Castle on my next visit.
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture
Kyoto is located in the Kansai Region of the island of Honshu and is home to many beautiful temples and shrines!
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine is one of the most impressive with shrine gates spread across the entire mountain. Admission is free, and is about a 5-minute walk from Inari Station, JR Nara Line.
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, a walkway amidst a forest of bamboo gives you that feeling of being transported in a past era, where samurais still exist. I kinda imagined Shishio Makoto standing in the middle of the pathway, in a sword stance and ready to spawn an onslaught. haha. It’s just a 10-minute walk from Saga Arashimaya Station, JR Sagano Line. Admission is free.
Sleding, playing in the snow, strawberry picking, chilling and doing our laundry (haha!) was the planned 3-day course in Nagano. What I love about the quaint prefecture is that it’s well developed and have amenities that are similar to the big cities. Plus, the people here are even more welcoming.
Nagano holds a special place in my heart for it’s where I got to touch natural snow for the first time. <3
Even made an erstwhile entry about it which you can read about here: http://www.doyzkie.com/2015/08/12/that-winter-charm/
Two (2) Disney Themed Parks, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and the city itself were the high spots of the last leg of the jaunt.
Disney Sea and Disney World – each radiating a different atmosphere.
Felt like Disney Sea is a more mature amusement park, which includes attractions like speed thrill ride Journey to the Center of the Earth and Indiana Jones Adventure, and a fun problem-solving activity where we unlocked clues to ransom the world from destruction against Disney antagonists. Little Mermaid and Agrabah (from the movie Aladin) Castles are situated in Disney Sea as well, which gives a hint of Disney feel to the themed park.
Tokyo Disney World on the other hand is your typical Disney World, where you forget your age and act like a kid again. haha! Seriously, that’s how I feel every time I visit Hong Kong Disneyland, and I felt the same way when I stepped in at Tokyo Disney World. Do you feel the same way? Or it’s just me?
And enjoy panoramic views of Tokyo and beyond at the twin towers of The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building’s FREE observation decks; each tower houses an observatory at a height of 202 meters.
Tokyo is a fast paced city. It’s like Osaka but 3X on fastforward. But no matter how fast paced it is, people tend to be responsible and considerate. Like how people stay on the left side of the escalator if they’re not in a hurry, and how they give way to alighting train passengers before embarking. Little acts from the Japanese that’s truly inspiring. <3
It was a quick 15-day sojourn, and it wasn’t enough to explore the country we all dub as the Land of the Rising Sun. Tokyo alone will take months to explore and to get to know. But this introductory Japan trip is not the last for sure.
And if you are planning to go to Japan, first things first, secure a Japanese Visa! And gladly, getting a Japanese Visa here in Cebu is really convenient. I got mine through Friendship Tours Cebu Branch, located at Bldg. 1 Oakridge I.T. Park, Center 880 A.S. Fortuna St. Banilad Mandaue City, Cebu. You may contact them at (32) 3453459 /3444825 / 5815906 or by mobile at 09177243373.
And hey, you’ve been to Japan right? Check out the list of 18 Unique Things that makes Japan Super Awesome on my previous blog post and give me your two cents. 😉
Summary of our 15-day Japan Itinerary:
2 Days in Nagoya – Nagoya Science Museum, Osu Kannon Temple and Osu Shopping Center, Nagoya Castle, 1 day sidetrip at Nabana No Sato
3 Days in Osaka – Universal Studios Japan, 1 day sidetrip at Kyoto
3 Days in Nagano – Ski parks, strawberry picking, Matsumoto Castle
5 Days in Tokyo – 1 day Disney Sea, 1 day in Disney World, 1 day around urban Tokyo, 2 days shopping (:P)