*This is my first travelog. All the pictures I took were either using my sister’s Nikon 1 series or my phone, Huawei P9 (in Panorama mode). Kindly excuse my poor photo-taking skills.
So, I’ve been aching to write this as soon as the plane landed in KLIA2 but yeah. I guess I’ve been postponing as my heart felt heavy somehow. Because I know I’ll be missing Japan. I knew it right away on my last day there. And I’m still missing Japan now.
Writing this while listening to Radwimps make it worse though. But I cant help it.
Basically, I joined the company trip to Japan, specifically Osaka & Kyoto, spanning for 5 days, starting on the 30th of November to 5th of December. Our flight was at 2.00am and we reached Kansai International Airport around 8.00am in the morning. From there on, we rode the bus, who was driven by a Japanese Ojii-san called Yoneda-san (or something that sounded similar, I really forget about his name though), who was apparently around 66-years old but looked 40. He was our dedicated bus driver for the whole 5 days we were there.
Anyways, from the airport we went straight to Nara Deer Park, which is one of the main attractions to tourists. I honestly thought that the deers would have antlers, but somehow they did not have any, at least not at the area I went to. Anyways, I did not buy any biscuits to feed them but I did get to pat them on the heads (I’m not sure if they were supposed to be patted on the heads like cats) and they were really really tame.
From Nara, we went to the Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple in Eastern Kyoto. We had to walk up a hilly street surrounded by shops on the sides. Apparently, the Kiyomizu-dera was undergoing some sort of a renovation so the view was quite ‘scarred’ there. Our guide bought us tickets so we could walk in, which was really nothing special as it was pretty dark we could barely see anything and like major parts of the temple was closed for renovation works.
After walking around and taking photos like nobody’s business, we walked back down. And it was around 5.00pm but it gets dark fast in Japan, so it felt like it was 7.00pm. As I walked down, I heard this Japanese promoter speaking in Malay, ‘mari mari, cuba cuba‘ (come and try) while holding a tray of Mochi. And I was quite shocked so I went to him and asked if I could try any, worrying that it might not be Halal and he was like ‘yes, yes, daijoubu’ which I knew meant ‘it’s okay’. So, I tried some but did not buy any lol.
Instead, at like 10 degrees celcius, I bought a Matcha Vanilla mixed sundae, which cost me 300 yen. My hands were almost frozen by then. Bad idea, but the taste was totally worth it.
We spent the night at Vessel Hotel Campana Kyoto Gojo.
We had to pack our things in the morning and went to Kinkaku-ji, another Buddhist temple in Kyoto. Got our tickets and took photos. The scenery was amazing and it would definitely be a great place for wedding photo shoots. Since we went there in the morning, it was super cold I had to wear my gloves but eventually took it off to take pictures.
Next, we went to Arashiyama, a bamboo forest. Another beautiful venue for wedding photo shoots. Anyways, we were pretty much scattered here, as some of us decided that it was boring and walked back to the restaurant we’ll have our lunch in and some of us was really into taking hundreds of photos. This is where I decided to walk by myself, back to the our supposedly meeting place at the restaurant. Bored of waiting on the others who were busy taking shots, I decided to walked ahead of them, thinking that they saw me (they did not and ended up wondering where the heck I went to). So I walked through the bustling street, amongst a group of Japanese school boys, which really put me out of place. As the directions to the restaurant were obvious enough, I reached there, bumping into my boss who were slightly angry that I walked alone, worrying that I might get lost.
We spent the night at Kanazawa Tokyu Hotel, which was located somewhere within the vicinity of the Kanazawa city. Hence, after checking in, we took a stroll along the streets clad in our jackets as it was 8 degrees celcius. It was here that I saw a man who looked like a street beggar, holding a guitar with a cardboard on the pavement and some coins scattered on it. He saw us and spoke in Japanese, of course in words we could not comprehend. And he raised his palm to me, like trying to get a ‘high-five’ or something but I ignored it. And I felt bad but oh well.
We were honestly pretty excited for this day as we were about to go to Shirakawa-go and from our research it was supposed to snow there.
Before travelling to Shirakawa-go, we went to to the Omicho market in Kanazawa in the morning. It was 4 degrees celcius, the coldest temperature we experienced from all 5 days we were in Japan. Basically, it was a seafood market, with lots of fishes and crabs and squids etc. We did not buy any of those, so we just strolled through in the cold.
From Omicho market, we went to Kenroku-en Garden. We did not get to fully explore the whole place as it was huge. We get to take pictures with breath-taking backgrounds though.
Next stop was Shirakawa-go. It took like 3 to 4 hours to reach there from Kanazawa. I used those hours to start reading The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and successfully reached half of the book.
Anyways, Shirakawa-go was super awesome. It did not snow like we had gleefully expected, which made it quite disappointing to most of us who wanted to enjoy the snow. Regardless, it was still cold. Somehow, the snow just decided to melt when we reached, and we could see like bunches of snow by the roads. Funny thing was, it began snowing again the day after we left, which made it far more disappointing. Well, luck was not really in our favor I guess.
We get to climb up the hill to get a better view of the village. It was tiring but the view was perfect. And looking at some couples who were taking pictures together up top, I could not help but to fell a tinge of loneliness in my heart. But you know what, someday in the future I might just be taking pictures at the same spot, with someone really special by my side.
From Shirakawa-go, we had a brief stop at Takayama and went for some speed shopping at the Old Town. A group of us Muslims was just enjoying the architecture and the view of the old shops as most of the shops were famous for sake.
We spent the night at Gifu Miyako hotel, overlooking the Nagaragawa River.
We travelled back to Osaka in the morning, that took us 3 hours plus.
We went to the Osaka Castle, which was full of people. Well, honestly, it was full of Santa Claus because all our eyes could see were probably hundreds of people in Santa Claus’s costume. They probably held a Santa Claus marathon thingy or something as they each wore their numbers on the costumes.
We went to Shinsaibashi and spent almost 4 hours there, just for shopping. Being in Shinsaibashi somehow reminded me of our Malaysia’s own Petaling Street and maybe Bukit Bintang. It was super hectic with foreigners and Japanese alike, we could barely walk without bumping into each other’s shoulders. Anyways, I could really say that 4 hours was super insufficient to thoroughly explore the shops. With the 4 hours, I only had time to explore one side of the two major shopping section. My leg was protesting like mad by the the time the 4 hour mark was up.
I bought some chocolates (Kit Kat, Meiji), a couple of collectible Takara Tomy toy cars to add to my mom’s collection of toy cars at home and some bookmark for myself as well as a book jacket for my sister. The paper store, where I bought the bookmarks sold a wide range of Japanese postcards and papers that I had a hard time controlling myself from spending a huge amount of yen on them. The bookmarks were so beautiful and exquisite as well. I did not jot down the name of the shop though. But it was very near to 3COINS.
We spent the night at Osaka Tokyu Rei hotel.
It was our last day in Japan. We get some free time before our departure to Kansai International Airport for our flight back to Malaysia.
We used the remaining time in the morning for last-minute shopping around the hotel area. We spent some time walking through the streets while waiting for the shops to open. Some of us went to Uniqlo to shop (apparently some items were cheaper than those sold in Malaysia), while others was scattered everywhere nearby. We had to find ourselves lunch before our departure so us Muslims ended up going into Lawson and munched on some Onigiri.
We depart to Kansai International Airport at 1.00pm. I had some luck finding some mochi at the duty free airport shop, with the help of Japanese promoter who could speak English. She helped me inspect the ingredients of the mochi before recommending them to me, which was really kind of her to do.
We boarded our flight at around 4.00pm and reached KLIA2 at 10.30pm.
All in all, it was an amazing trip. It was definitely my first time to Japan and it felt like home. I was very impressed with the politeness of the people with their never-ending greetings, the cleanliness of the streets, the fact that their toilets have water with deodorizer and warm toilet seats during winter, the small amount of traffic on roads, the efficiency of the traffic lights and availability of convenient pedestrian crossing AND cycling routes. The scenery on the other hand, was to die for, literally. Who would not love Japan, really?
I used to dream to travel to Japan. Back when I was consistently and religiously catching up on Naruto, Bleach, Detective Conan and all the other Japanese mangas, animes and J-dramas, my biggest wish was to go to Japan.
Flash forward 8 years later, dreams do come true.
I wish I could stay in Japan forever. Like leave everything behind and start fresh. But yeah, reality check. Maybe someday, I’ll have the courage to do so.
Or, I’ll just went back and enjoy my time once again, like I did the first time.
Till next time, Japan. Otsukaresama deshita.