As briefly mentioned in my Japan Travel Preparation Checklist post, I went to Japan with my brother for 2 weeks where we visited Tokyo, Kamakura, Yokohama, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, and Okayama. Both of us have taken a keen interest in many-things-Japanese throughout our lives. We grew up reading manga, watching anime, and playing Japanese video games, so we’re somewhat semi-otakus.
As for myself, I took several semesters of Japanese classes in the past. I’m a huge fan of Japanese TV shows Iron Chef, TV Champion, and Takeshi’s Castle. I’ve always been impressed with Japanese culture, specially their politeness and sense of collectivism. To me, visiting Japan was a lifelong dream.
My brother and me, near Kaizoji Temple, Kamakura.
What impressed me the most was that their trains were always on time. I was there for 2 weeks and not even once my train was late. That’s amazing compared to our local train operator in Melbourne, Connex, the symbol of incompetence. I can’t remember the last time a Connex train arrived and left on time.
I was also impressed by a number of smart things I saw in Japan, things that made me stop and think “Hmm, we should have that.” Things like foldable wooden rubbish bin, blood donation bus parked near busy stations, maps with orientation to where you’re standing, stackable bicycle parkings… just to name a few.
The top 5 favourite places I visited…
- Jufukuji Temple, Kamakura – the most peaceful place I’ve ever been.
- Korakuen Garden, Okayama – it was very relaxing to walk around the garden.
- Kaiyukan, Osaka – where else would you see 2 whale sharks?
- Meiji Jingu, Tokyo – a nice shrine in a busy city.
- Umeda Sky Building, Osaka – see Osaka at night from 173m high.
And the most memorable experiences?
- Looking at mount Fuji during our Shinkansen ride from Osaka to Tokyo.
I was amazed for several minutes, mount Fuji was majestic. I wondered if someday I could ever return to Japan and climb the mountain to watch the sunrise from up there.
- Exploring Kamakura.
I felt very much at peace while walking around Kamakura, a nice little town with many temples. I couldn’t help thinking that it would be a nice place to live a retired life (in reality, I have to stick with Perth though).
- Walking from Bentencho Station to Kaiyukan.
It looked quite close on the map but it turned out to be a very long walk. We had to rely on the sun to tell the direction since all signs were in Japanese and the buildings looked similar on each side of the station. It was such a huge relief when we saw the Kaiyukan building from afar.
For more pictures from the trip, check out my Japan Trip 2009 album on Picasa.