It all started with a dream of traveling to the best places in the world, to be a Globetrotter! And what’s better for a techie to start this journey with an official trip to Japan. A city which lives on technology.
I vividly remember the exact date, 13th April 2018. I was all set and packed with a lot of enthusiasm, excitement, and thrill for the trip. I reached Mumbai airport, completed all the procedures. With some time to spare, I gazed around the very beautiful airport with thousands of people waiting, talking, shopping, reading, spending time, eating, etc. All we had in common was a smile which could lit any dingy room.
As the journey started my excitement was at the next level. Soon I reached my destination. I wasn’t tired at all. Now that I think of it, I think it was my enthusiasm that took over everything.
My excitement knew no bound as we reached Narita Airport, Japan. I quickly finished all the remaining formalities, bought a pocket Wi-Fi and checked out of the airport. My first interaction with a Japanese was with a lady who was grateful enough to help me understand the way to the nearest metro. The warmth of the country was felt as she was explaining to me the way with language as the barrier. I decided to walk towards the metro. The best way to explore any city is by walking top different places. While I was in the metro I explored some part of the city and its natural beauty.
Soon I met my 1st friend and guide for the trip in the city Thiru, my Technical counterpart. He helped me with my home for the next few days and other basic details like nearby shops, medical stores etc. I straight crashed on my bed and slept like a baby.
Next day was a Sunday, which also means a fun day. Fun ways to explore new people, in the new country, new food, new places, new experiences.
It was 16th Apr Monday the first working day. Thiru introduced me to the team members, cards were exchanged, bowing down started to become my habit by now. The 1st day at work was rather thrilling than I expected. Everything was so different yet so same.
I was waiting for the weekend to explore Tech-Savvy city. Everything from climate to metro operations was tricky, now I understand why people say Japan is 10 years ahead of the world and even before I knew this city became my home away from home.
First Week went by like the blink of the eye.
1st Weekend: I rented a cycle for myself, and I was all set to explore. Best way to visit any new place is to create a checklist for yourself and explore the place.I had planned to go to Koto, located in the Southern Tokyo connected to Tokyo Bay. A place away from the city, calm with the most beautiful sunset, there is a park near to bay. Luckily the day I went was one of those no rush days in the park. I experienced one of the most beautiful silences with sunset. I cycled for roughly 25kms across the city experiencing the nature and city feeling together.
Next day I decided to visit Kameido Shrine, it was visually amazing to witness the witress trees and the small pond which plays home to tortoise near to a very old shrine. Post that I cycled to Sky tree, which is the tallest structure in Tokyo from where we can view the entire city. The building consists of the shopping center, business organizations, aquarium etc. The aquarium plays as home to many ocean animals like penguins, sharks, and different species of fish.I was waiting for the Golden week, which is 9 days long Japanese festival!
Golden week begins
Day 1: 28th April
The first plan was to visit Tate Yama to see the wonderful and rare snow wall. I started early in the morning and decided to walk up to the bus stand. I took a bus which had all the Indians. At 4 AM we started from Kameido enjoyed the view from the window, we saw Mt.Fuji glowing all its history and welcoming us to Japan. The view of Mt.Fuji was mesmerizing, it was so spectacular that we couldn’t take our eyes off. It is the oldest and tallest peak here with the live volcano. The major traditions of Japan were derived from this mountain. We all were set for the final destination for the day. We saw snow which was amazing but also freaking cold experience. We had tea to keep ourselves warm. We saw snow in small portions, the name of the trip is also called the Alpine route travel, which includes the rope train, trolley train, buses journey to complete Tate Yama mountain. We took each one after one remained with the group most of the time. The temperature was around 3°C. We saw the awesome snow wall walked between the wall, the tallest portion measured to around 14 meters reached the other end of the mountain, ate amazing biryani and moved to other places, we travelled to next place via bus on the way we saw an awesome river resulting from the meltdown of the snow, the water was chilly, very clear and the view again was magnificent here reached Kameido late at night.
Fig 1: Tate Yama, Snow wall
Fig 2: Tate Yama, Snow wall
Day 2: 29th April
I spent this day planning and preparing myself for the rest of the trip.
Day 3: 30th April
I woke up early around 4AM started towards Tokyo station and activated my Japan rail pass for travel it was the Shinkansen Hayabusa from Tokyo to Kakunodate I had pre-booked tickets for the same, as I stepped on the platform the bullet trains were standing there I paused and looked at this beauty – a state of art, engineering miracle right in front of me.
It was awesome, I sat on my seat, the train gained its speed to 300 kmph in seconds (technically it can go up to 600 kmph but it keeps a steady pace to 280-300 kmph). The city is also known as the samurai town, the streets are filled with cherry blossom trees and samurai traditional houses converted to museums. It was filled with tourists the major attraction was the riverside area where the cherry blossom trees were planted in a particular structure. It was mesmerizing. I was witnessing the sakura and samurai culture at the same time I also got the chance to hold the samurai sword and got to know and see the samurai way of living in practical. We also trekked on the nearby small hill and got the top view of the city … the hilltop was empty; enjoy the silence and colorful sunset, I boarded the shinkansen back to Tokyo with plenty of memories…
Day 4: 1st May
I had reached Tokyo late night the previous day and was fully drained. I decided to take rest on this day. The next visit was Kyoto, the traditional city of Japan. Old capital of Japan before Tokyo, major tourist attraction
Day 5: 2nd May
Woke early in the morning at 4 AM went to Tokyo by metro, caught the Shinkansen again to Kyoto the first spot was Inari shrine. One of the most visited places in Japan. It is like trekking on the hill with the path constructed using multiple shrine gates mounted one after the other. We can meet different country tourist here. It was the overall nice experience. I quickly proceeded to my next destination of Nara Park. The interesting part here was the park had deers which bow down to you isn’t it interesting. I was awesome to experience such a gesture from animals, in addition, I saw the third tallest shrine in Japan here returned back to Kyoto and back to Tokyo and back to Kameido.
Fig 3: Inari shrine, Kyoto
Day 6: 3rd May
I decided to visit Universal Studio today. I shortlisted this place because they had the harry potter film setup here and I being a harry potter fan could not resist myself from coming here. I had to pre-book the online ticket to universal studios. I reached the place around 5 PM. I started with my favourite spot the Hogwarts castle. It was a splendid view just as shown in the movie, I choose to walk from the Chumantar Galli, visited the Oliver-wander store saw the Hogwarts express. Next, they took us to see places shown in the Jurassic movies a giant water dinosaur sparkled water on us, next was the flying dinosaur. The name itself defines the nature of the ride like we are sitting on the dinosaur and the dinosaur is giving us the tour flying around in an irregular path. Literally, it was the most adventurous and thrilling ride I had ever taken next was the Spiderman ride. It was a virtual reality-based ride very amazingly created the vehicle we sat in was like fully closed and it was moving like up down sideways everywhere I enjoyed it next was a 4d movie it showed an animated story with the shaking chairs, hot air, water sprinkling over us. Truly a technological pleasure very much liked it.
Fig 4: Itsukushima Shrine, Miyagimaguchi Island
The trip ended with a few other official works. Overall the trip was much more fun and thrilling than I expected this would be.
There is a part of me that will always belong to Japan.