Yes, from now onwards, all posts will be live post, since I’m standing on Singapore ground now.
Hmm, overall I would say that this trip to Japan has broaden my horizons (yes! now that I have proven that Japan existed! Because I used to think that other countries are just myths spun by media since I never been there before haha), and of course put me to the test of independent living. And I am happy to say that I pulled through the test without much problems.
All these wont be possible, of course, if I had not learnt the basics of the Japanese language, which I owed much to my sensee, Suhama Ayari-san. Although all I took was a level 1 Japanese module in university, which is not even the entire JLPT4 course, it has proven to be sufficient for me to navigate around Japan without much problems. Of course, there are times where I realized my vocabulary in Japanese is limited, and was forced to used English, thus revealing the fact that I am indeed a foreigner.
Yes, coming to that, it is surprising that many of the people in Japan thought I was Japanese. The last time I went to Hong Kong, people thought I was Taiwanese. I guess all these boils down to the basic stereotypes of what a Japanese or Taiwanese acts or sounds like maybe … I don’t know … hmm … weird … but anyway, some of them go away still thinking I’m Japanese, that is I did not use English in my conversations.
For example, there was this time when I am not sure which side of the platforms to take, when heading for Hirosaki-shi. So I approached a platform staff and said the following:
Me: Chodo sumimasen. Eto kono densha hirosaki made desu ka? (I’m sorry, is this train going to Hirosaki?)
Staff: Hai! Hirosaki made desu. (Yes, it is to Hirosaki)
Me (pointing to the other side): Demo sono densha mo hirosaki made desu ka? (But the other train is also going to Hirosaki right?)
Staff: Hai! Sore mo Hirosaki made desu. Demo kono densha hayai desu. (pointing to the door) Hai! douzo. (Yes, that is also going to Hirosaki, but, this train is faster. Here, please.)
And then, I boarded the train with his help.
Yes, these examples are aplenty on this trip. Most commonly people asked where am I from (o kuni wa dochira desu ka?) or commented that my Japanese is good (nihongo wa sugoii desu ne!). Surprisingly, I got very used to the bowing practice in Japan as well. The most common words I used in Japan were sumimasen (sorry/excuse me) and arigatou gozaimasu (thank you very much). It makes me all the more eager to continue learning Japanese, as the next time I visit Japan, I would have more things to chat with the people over there.
Language aside, I must say that the scenery and sights in Japan are just awesome. In just 6 days, I managed to tour the northern half of Japan, commonly known as Tohoku (東北), and visited most of the most popular attractions. Some of these places are:
Ueno Kouen (上野公園), a place where the Japanese will gather and sit under the cherry blossom trees during spring.
Ryusendo Cave (龍泉洞), one the major limestone caves in the world, featuring stalactites, stalagmites and bats in a underground cave of temperature around 13 degrees C.
The beaches of Asamushionsen (浅虫温泉), the outskirts of Aomori Prefecture.
Hirosaki Castle (弘前城), a national cultural property of Japan.
Oirase River (奥入瀬川), with its lush greenery in the summer, and red foilage in the autumn is a popular attraction in Aomori, Japan. One can hike in the nature trail beside the river, and admire the flow of water and gushing sounds of the river.
Yasumiya (休屋), a small village located at the edge of Towadako (十和田湖), provides you with whole day supply of sea breeze, quiet and tranquility, and plentiful food for the eyes, as it is surrounded by water and mountains. A nice place to calm the soul and to destress.
Mount Hakkoda (八甲田山) is not just one mountain, but a full mountain range. Taking a ropeway (a.k.a. cable car) up to the 2459.7 metres tall mountain summit is itself an amazing ride. The summit provides a 30 minutes to 2 hours hike, based on your preference, and you get to enjoy the cool weather, see the wetlands and marshes, and just simply indulge in it. Clouds often flew past you and you can hold out your hand and grab them and feel the moisture and coolness of it. Simply awesome.
Kabushima Shinto Shrine (蕪島神社), located on the outskirts of a small village town Same (pronounced as “sa-meh”) in Hachinohe, Japan, is particularly famous for its population of black-tailed gulls, called uminekos. These gulls are not afraid of human passing through, and produce so much poop that umbrellas are provided at the entrance for sheltering against poop.
Kyu Shiba Rikyu Onshi Teien (旧芝離宮恩賜庭園), or Former Shiba Villa Gardens, used to be an imperial garden used to welcome visitors from abroad. The remains of this villa garden is now a park for everyone to enjoy and reminisce how it used to be in the past.
The Zojoji Temple (増上寺), a popular temple in Tokyo, is another attraction that I visited in Japan. Founded in 1393, the Zojoji Temple is the chief temple of the Jodo-Buddist sect.
The magnificence of the Tokyo Tower 東京タワー(top) and the views from the Main Observatory (bottom left, 150m) and Special Observatory (bottom right, 250m) are just equally breathtaking.
Well, that’s all for the highlights of this trip. Hopefully soon I get to go Japan again. This time, I want to visit Hokkaido, or even some of the southern prefectures like Osaka, Kyoto or Nara. 🙂