Travelling Japan – Ten Days In the Land of The Rising Sun
(Original article published on CAVE Magazine, July 25, 2013)
When I was given the chance to go to Japan through my school, it actually may have been one of the quickest decisions I’ve made in my 21 years of existence.
How couldn’t I, it’s an opportunity to travel.
In my article Year One the message was simple:
“Get on a plane, and get the hell out of here.”
Growing up I had an affinity for technology, anime and sushi – a trip to Japan was only logical.
The Longest Flight
After a grueling 13-hour flight on which I did not sleep during, we had arrived at Narita Airport in Tokyo – immediately I was amazed.
It’s the subtle little things that caught my attention as we, a group of 12, made our way to the hotel.
For new comers it is almost an overload on the senses with all the different things you will see and hear.
We made our way through the subway system, carrying around enough bags to make me rethink my packing methods for the future.
Finally, we arrived at our hotel, and I kid you not the name of the hotel is…
N.U.T.S. turned out to be a genius/hilarious/disturbing acronym which meant, “New Urban Space and Time,” for some reason.
Not surprisingly the hotel turned out to be a bit of a hellhole meets purgatory, keeping our stay short for only two days there.
Before even talking about anything, it’s important to talk about the people there and how insanely polite everyone is.
During the course of the trip there were many times I ended up being lost in Shinjuku, the district we were staying in Tokyo, and the help I received from locals was amazing. Store clerks were not hesitant to walk me out to the street and give me thorough directions.
Also, I didn’t speak any Japanese, which wasn’t much of a problem since everyone was accommodating and willing to try and understand me.
Plenty to do
Japan is also one of those countries with such a rich historic and cultural backdrop. It actually pains you when you aren’t able to see everything in the short time you have.
Shinjuku was just one example of how the country combines the new towering structures and advanced technology with traditional Japanese buildings and customs.
Trying to figure out what to do in Japan must be quite a difficult task; luckily our school took care of all the details.When coming to Japan, you’ll see that there is so much to do and see there.
We were able to see the Metropolitan Government Building, where we saw a 360-degree panorama of Tokyo. Shibuya was also part of our list of things to see; the high-end fashion and shopping district of Tokyo where the famous five-way pedestrian crossing exists.
Harajuku, the complete opposite of Shibuya, showed us the diverse popular culture in Japan. It’s one long alleyway which allows you to see a bit of everything.
Unfortunately due to weather conditions, we weren’t able to go up Mount Fuji, limiting us to a nature walk around the lake nearby which by any account was still a great experience.
Either way, it is pretty easy to come across something or the other to do there; one night we even ended up going to a karaoke bar and I participated in butchering a Sean Paul song.
If you’re a fan of Japanese food, well, obviously one word comes to mind, “sushi.” Strangely enough however, sushi was the ‘least’ consumed meal.
I was not expecting to eat some of the best-fried chicken I’ve ever had in my life there, especially considering I would normally give the reigns of “chicken superiority” to a southern style restaurant.
Almost every meal I had was paired with a bowl of sticky rice and miso soup, going perfectly with fried chicken, yakitori (Japanese skewers) and other delicious dishes.
All this great food aside, I can’t write about my Japanese culinary experience without mentioning the incredible rotating sushi bar we went too.
Imagine this; a rotating semi-circle of all your sushi dreams come true, ranging from 150 to 300 yen, which is about a dollar fifty to three dollars.
My time in Japan was coming to an end after an unbelievable 10 days; it’s not surprise I had mix feelings.
I was ready to come back for the obvious reasons in the form of family, friends and my own bed to sleep in.
On the other hand, Japan had been such an incredible experience for me on both a travel perspective, as well as a personal feat.
In the end, I would recommend Japan to anyone looking to get out of their comfort zone.