Hello! Today, I wanted to talk about my trip to Japan. My sister’s early graduation gift for me was to take me on a magical trip this faraway land. I went in March or April 2004 (I suggest going in the spring to see the cherry blossoms bloom) so it was still a little chilly and rainy. I packed sweaters, coats, an umbrella, and an eager attitude to explore.
One of the first things you will notice is the crowds. Japan is a highly populated country so you will find people basically everywhere. I think the point is to find peace and serenity inside when you are there among the crowds rather than finding it in temples. Another point to notice is definitely the language barrier (at least at the time). I visited in 2004 so I expect there to have been more globalization since then, but you never know. At the time, it was rare to find people who spoke English or find menus or street signs in English. That being said people were very friendly and helpful. Another issue I had was with the food. I went with my sister, Hina and her friend, Usma, who were big sushi fiends. I, on the other hand, ate things (and still do!) that have touched heat. Needless to say, I had a supremely difficult time finding places to eat. So much so that I lost 10 pounds in the 10 days I was there. The only place I remember pigging out was in an Indian restaurant we found in Hiroshima. Believe me, it was a rare sight. Again this was 2004 so I am sure Japan has introduced global cuisine to its restaurant market. Lastly, I really recommend not renting a car in Japan. The public transportation is superb and a car is more of a hassle than a convenience.
Excuse my memory, but I don’t really remember the day-to-day itinerary so I will just list sights we saw in no particular order. We had ten days so we only managed to visit Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. These three cities provide an excellent overview of Japan. My only regret is not seeing Osaka. I have heard good things about it. If we had more time, we would have visited that beautiful city as well.
Anyways, here is a list of things we saw:
- Nijo Castle
- Fushimi Inari-taisha
- Meiji Shrine
- Shinjuku Gyoen
- Tokyo Imperial Palace
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
My final thoughts of Japan were that it is a friendly place for anyone to visit. I love their customs from the Japanese Tea Ceremony to meditating in a perfectly manicured zen garden. Everything is deliberate and clean. Read up on the customs of Japanese people before going there. We had a couple of mishaps that were quite embarrassing, like eating on a train platform and counting change in front of the cashier, but we were forgiven. My parting advice would be to experience the bullet train if you can. It is absolutely luxurious and so fast! Shopping is quite fun too. Being a Pakistani girl, I was quite taken by the silk fabric available for kimonos in Japan. I wanted to purchase something for a desi outfit, but it was too expensive. A silk kimono is a big deal there and can cost thousands. I had fun wearing kimonos provided by the hotels we stayed at instead, which weren’t fancy but ignited my imagination. We also went to a mall where there were all sorts of modern cute tops and accessories. Things are expensive in Japan so I would suggest having a big budget. Lodging is great, but like I said, expensive.
I promise you won’t regret visiting this beautiful, peaceful island country. Plan, plan, and you will have fun. Happy Travelling!