JAPAN
23 january - 5 february 2004
23 ja
nuary - 5 february 16 (japanese year)

 


 

Japan was a destination that sooner or later I wanted to visit, but I didn't have really in mind to go there this time; accomplice a special rate with Finnair in 2 days I decided to depart for the country of the Rising Sun. 

 

23 january

The things start badly, the airline canceled the flight and so afterwards some discussions they embark me on a Lufthansa flight; at the end things has gone well, I flew on a new and comfortable Airbus A340-600 and I also arrived before the expectation.

 

24 january

Gone out from the airport I went to the railway station to withdraw my Japan Rail Pass jrp_front.jpg (157113 byte) and then I catch the train to Kyoto, first positive impression: the extreme efficiency of the transports system. 
Gone down by the train I remained immediately impressed by the enormous structure of the futuristic Kyoto station
kyoto_stazione_int.jpg (70609 byte); fortunately my hostel was found 10 minutes of walk from the station, after having left the baggage to the reception I went out to walk around the city and to start to dip me in the japanese reality. While I was walking I had the impression that there was something strange but I didn't understand what, then I started to realize noticing the extreme calm and the silence, also being a crowded and trafficked city; other strange thing the fact that a lot of persons walk with a  mask on the mouth (later they explained me that it is for the fear to take colds or infections). 
I visited the temple of Nishi Hogan-ji and then to the city market to discover food and smells never seen. Very funny the culture of plastic food: all the restaurants have in showcase perfect plastic reproductions of the dishes they serve; other Japanese use: the vending machine, every 50 meters you find one, they sell everything from warm and cold drinks to the paper underclothes; has been esteemed that in the whole country finds more than 4 million of it!!! 
In the evening just to dip me in the local reality I went with two friends I met into the hostel in a typical ... English pub. Decidedly the darts game isn't for me and so I devoted to something less complicated: to drink a glass of japanese beer. Before returning in the hostel I had the of opportunity to notice another japanese use: the diffused mini supermarkets open 24 hours a day. 

 

25 january 

Due to the jet lag, I waked up quite late, I had the intention to visit the Arashiyama zone that I reached with some difficulties considering that the signs are almost exclusively in japanese and that practically anybody (even young people) speaks english. I knew before departing of these problems, but the difficulty of comprehension has been a constant of the whole trip that and sometimes has frustrated a little bit me. 
Decidedly a cold day and so afterwards some time passed walking, I decided to start to live like japanese: first lunch to base of soba noodle (japanese spaghetti) and then baths (thermal) to the onsen; for the japanese the bath is really a rite, after being washed under the shower it bathes in a series of tubs with hot water (sometimes very hot!!!), alternating with standstills in the tub with cold water and sauna; the experience is really relaxing and surely to try. 

 

26 january

Day devoted to the visit of the temples, I walked really a lot, the temples are interesting above all by the architectural point of view for the decidedly different style to which we are accustomed, from the artistic point of view instead I have not remained very enthusiastic considering that there is not a lot to see.

27 january 

Visit of Nara, also being certain that the train platform was that correct I tried to ask to an employee, the poor guy has become crazy to take out schedules, charts and anything else to give me the answer, for this reason I was missing the the train. 
Gone out the train station, the tourist office responsible call me and when she has discovered my nationality was really happy, speaking in Italian and saying me that she had been 4 times in Italy. With the map the lady gave me I visited the the temples zone on the hills of the city, very beautiful the big bronze Buddha inside the Todai-ji temple. Coming back the train station I found a restaurant  where I have eaten some very good soba noodle with mushrooms and japanese herbs. 
For the afternoon I went to Osaka; interesting the very frantic center, with a japanese atmosphere similar to idea that I had made before departing. Between the varied shops I noticed the 100 shop where for this sum (around 0,75 ) all kinds of articles are sold, even the pachinko, the passion of the japanese, it concerns a kind of vertical flipper and the purpose it is that to pick up the greatest number of little balls, coming back again after quite a lot times, I saw again the same persons in front of the same pachinko. 
To came back to Kyoto I took my first Shinkansen
shinkansen1.jpg (61106 byte), I can say only that the service is practically perfect.

 

28 january 

Visits to the Himeji castle considered one of the most beautiful castles of Japan himeji1.jpg (52892 byte); the building is indeed beautiful even if the inside that I visited was anything special. 
In the afternoon I returned to Osaka to visit the Umeda Palace
osaka_umeda.jpg (73322 byte), characteristics the mobile staircases suspended that connect the summits of the building from which a beautiful view of the city is enjoyed, I noticed particularly a building crossed by the highway osaka_vista.jpg (64119 byte)!!! 
Returned to Kyoto I took another bath to the onsen to relax my muscles tired by the long walk; for dinner I wanted to try a yakitori: small restaurant where the yakitoris are eaten: small skewers of meat or fish dipped with sauce of soy and barbecued accompanied with beer or sake; the japanese usually frequent these places after work, a little bit like our appetizer. 

29 january 

Transfer to Hiroshima, after putting my bags in my ryokan (japanese pension), I immediately went to Miyajima, temple island where varied temples and pagodas are found, the surrounding landscape is considered one of the most beautiful of Japan but did not seem anything special. The zone is also famous for the cultivations of sea-food and so I tried barbecued oysters; I tried also something that had an inviting aspect, really it concerned a dessert from the repugnant taste that I have not succeeded to eat. 
Returned to Hiroshima I visited the Peace Memorial Park where finds the A-bomb Dome
hiroshima_abomb1.jpg (38738 byte), the symbol of the destruction where the first atomic bomb used against the human exploded almost directly above it; really impressing the visit of the museum that speaks the history of the atomic bomb, in the middle of the park it is found the Flame of Peace that will be extinguished when the last atomic bomb will be destroyed. 

 

30 january 

With some advance on the "timetable" I moved to Tokyo that I reached in 5 hours of train; also having a certain appetite I have chosen to go first to the hostel for the check-in, naturally then considering that I didn't know the place I had to walk quite a lot before finding an open restaurant, in the only one opened the owner spoke only japanese and so with not a few difficulties I choose the dish of the day that was not badly. 
Rests and then for the evening I went in the Roppongi district (famous for nightlife) and Ginza. 

31 january 

Very interesting visit to the national Museum where besides I bought a beautiful paint for my new house. 
I went then in the famous district of Ahikibara where all kinds of electronic articles can be found with the last news not yet present in the rest of the world; the prices were only slightly lower than from us and so I have not bought anything. 
Following Shinjuku
tokio_shinjuku3.jpg (63035 byte) the district that represents Tokyo in the collective imaginary: commercial centers, skyscrapers covered by neon and mega televisions; from its station every days pass 2 million persons!!!

 

1 February 

Also knowing that can be visited only 2 days a year I went to the Imperial Palace just to take a look to the immense park that surrounds it and to one of the gates of entry; with a long walk I reached Ginza, other famous district, my guide said that in the proximities was found the statue of Godzilla, after having walked quite a lot  to find it, I was a little bit disappointed considering that it is really small!!! In the proximities it is also found the Sony building that exposes his products even those not yet in commerce. 
Crossing the bay on the Rainbow Bridge I reached the new district of Odaiba that is developing quickly with various fun centers and where finds the Fuji television building, from the walk it is enjoyed a beautiful sight of the city and a copy of the Miss Liberty Statue can be admired
tokio_rainbowb_slib.jpg (82664 byte)
In the late afternoon I went to Shibuja, the district of the young people and again to Shinjuku. 

 

2 February 

To escape a little bit from the city atmospheres I have thought to make a jump to Hakone, famous for the hot spring and because can be enjoyed a beautiful sight of the mount Fuji, unfortunately was raining really a lot :-(((. Despite all I tried to make a stroll with cable car to reach the Ashino-Ko lake but the bad weather and the fog have ruined the atmosphere and the view. I have taken comfort with a bath in a open air onsen really beautiful. 

 

3 February 

Wake up to the dawn to visit the Tsukiji fish market, interesting experience, from the auction of the tunas tokio_tsukiji_tonni2.jpg (41700 byte) to the banquets where are sold all kinds of fishes and shellfishes, have me really impressed some enormous mussels tokio_tsukiji_cozze.jpg (52342 byte)
Subsequently I have gone to Kamakura to admire the big bronze Buddha and other temples of which the city abounds. For the lunch inspired me a small restaurant managed by an old man, the dish that I choose was the worst one rather it is better to say repugnant I have eaten in Japan: crisp noodles covered with a glaze with vegetables; don't make bad figure I tried to eat some but I didn't succeeded to arrive to half dish. 
In the afternoon I had appointment with my friend Suko
io_suko.jpg (76538 byte), together we walked for the city to the search (fruitless) of a gift for my nephew chatting a little bit about the japanese experience. 
In evening to Roppongi I tried a sushi bar where the skilled cookers prepared me some good sushi but to a high price, besides either the personnel that the other customers of the restaurant were very enjoyed by the fact I took photos of the dishes!!! 

 

4 February 

Transfer in the morning to Kyoto, a few before arriving the train crossed a zone where it raged a snow storm and this worried me a little bit considering that was my last day in Japan, fortunately to Kyoto was a beautiful day. The guy of the hostel still remembered me and gave the same room; I devoted the rest of the day to make shopping even if I have not found anything special walking for the commercial zone of Osaka. I wanted to retry the experience of the sushi but this time in a kaiten-zushi where the dishes are served on a conveyor belt that runs along the counter cibo3.jpg (62879 byte).

 

5 February 

Transfer to the Kansai airport for coming back home :-(((

 

I can define the japanese experience interesting, I found a really respectful society with a "different" way of life, with services and efficient infrastructures.

 

 

Copyright 2004 Giuseppe Ruperto. All rights reserved.