Amazing Japan experience
THIS time I will digress from the usual sports talk and please allow me to reminisce on my recent trip to Japan, too early for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics though but then it really was a well earned break from work for me.
More so that I had my wife Marissa, my two daughters Janis and Jemi and of course my apo Livi. Janis arranged all our itinerary and acted as our navigator otherwise we would get lost during train transfers.
The millennial that she is, Janis was very comfortable using all the apps available on her cellphone and any question asked was easily answered by her. It helped too by the fact it was her second visit to Osaka, our entry port, aside from visiting old capitals Kyoto and Nara.
It was truly an amazing experience for all of us, after all, we bought the Osaka Amazing Pass that enabled us to visit and enjoy so many places at a fraction of their actual costs had we done walk-in tours.
We stayed at an AirBNB apartment near Namba and just traveled by train throughout. Another amazing thing, no traffic for six whole days for me, unbelievable in Manila but there a reality, thanks to the very efficient and punctual railway facilities in Japan. One can schedule meetings for the day based on the arrival and departure times of trains there.
Cleanliness was the same thing, practically wherever you go, public trash cans were few except in commercial areas frequented by tourists who unfortunately do not have the same discipline and culture as the Japanese people.
Dining was another interesting experience with predominantly Japanese restaurants practically every commercial area we went to. I stuck with the more familiar sounding and tasting Japanese food namely tempura, yakisoba, ramen and gyoza but managed to sneak in a steak dinner in Dotonburi. The painful part was the paying of the bill as it is more expensive there than here. Ironically, we had a Chinese dinner there on our last night for a change, while I also took the time to eat at McDonald’s once and Subway another time.
First out-of-town destination for us was Nara and its deer park where the creatures roam freely. They are so friendly that they will bow down to people provided they are given food afterward. With Janis, we went inside one of the big temples there with supposedly the biggest Buddha statue.
Kyoto was next where I expected to see old Japan only to find out that just like the other major cities, it has been overwhelmed by progress and commercialization except for small pockets like a side street with still old types of houses. Kyoto’s gardens though are typical Japanese ones, very peaceful and relaxing, and we went to one with a bamboo grove.
The following day, we visited a big aquarium in Kaiyukan in Osaka where I saw not just one but two butandings in a giant aquarium together with all sorts of sea creatures including seals and sea lions. Visitors can even pet small sharks and mantas, would you believe?
Next in our list was the world famous Osaka Castle, a reconstructed one actually with a museum inside, which comes complete with a moat and old stone forts. We also had a look at the city from the top of the Umeda Sky Building and capped it with a night boat river ride in Dotonbori. Actually all nights were for shopping with our limited baon.
One place I enjoyed was the Museum of Housing and Living in Osaka where an old Japan street was reconstructed and visitors can wear Japanese traditional kimonos while touring the area. Of course, Livi had to enjoy the kids plaza while the women enjoyed going to different bargain stores which were found everywhere.
Just too bad that the temperature dropped to a Baguio-like one on our last two days in Japan but then I did get a five-year visa so a second trip there is part of the future.
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