Japan Trip (22 Feb – 03 Mar 2014)

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And off we go ~~~

For this one week plus Japan Trip. Can Sensei, Ling-san and I travelled to 4 places in Japan, namely Osaka, Tokyo, Nagoya and Himeji.

Setting off from Changi Airport at around 12 noon on the 22nd Feb, the plane ride took close to 9 hours, in which we arrived at the Kansai International Airport at close to 10pm SG Time (11pm JP Time). The temperature was freezingly cold at about 3 degrees Celsius, as we make our way towards the subway station, which is conveniently located next to the Airport itself.

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After figuring out the directions, we boarded the train which took close to 45 minutes, and arrived at our hotel close to midnight. We had to get as much rest as we can, as we needed to rush for an early flight to Tokyo the following morning.

The internal flight to Tokyo took roughly about 2 hours, and upon arrival, we made our way to Tawaramachi via the Tokyo subway. Speaking of the Tokyo subway, it is one of the most complicated subway lines in the world, with 13 lines, and 290 stations in total. You could very easily get lost by alighting at the wrong station, or switching of the wrong trains, as simply hopping on the train going the opposite direction does not necessarily bring you back to the previous station, so careful research and attentiveness is key to getting to where you want to go 🙂

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We spent the next 3 days in Tokyo roaming around, meeting friends, and soaking in the atmosphere of this metropolitan city. Unlike Osaka, the pace of life in Tokyo is at a faster pace, where people seem to rushing from place to place, and making almost no eye contact with each other. However, the bright lights and constant buzz of the city is what sets it aside from most other places in the world.

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One of the places we visited in Tokyo was the Sensoji Temple. Even on a weekday, the place was filled with tourists and locals alike, looking to explore intrigues of the temple and its surroundings, as well as to pray for luck, peace and fortune. Rows and rows of shops selling everything from memorabilia, snacks to clothing and books. Some of the rickshaw drivers, whom brings tourists around, can speak English as well,  so don`t hesitate to approach them, and see how much it costs for a ride if you happen to visit the temple.

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Another place that we managed to visit in Tokyo was the Cup Noodles Museum. Located in Yokohama‘s Minato Mirai District, the museum showcases the history of instant ramen noodles using a combination of whimsical exhibits and hands on workshops. It was opened by the Nissin Food company, whose founder invented instant ramen noodles in 1958 as a fast and convenient food. It is the second cup noodles museum to open in Japan; the first is the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka.

When we were there, we also gotten to change to create our very own cup noodles. We were given the options to decorate our cup noodles with colour pens, and also decide on the ingredients of the noodles. After creating our noodles, we kept our noodles sealed in an air inflated bag, so as to protect it from the bumps on the flight back to Singapore.

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After leaving Tokyo, we took a 3 hour bus ride south, to Nagoya.

Nagoya, with over two million inhabitants, is Japan’s fourth most populated city. The city is less urbanized as compared to Tokyo and Osaka, but we still found several interesting stuff to do in Nagoya.

Amongst those, was our visit to the Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium. Divided into two buildings, it exhibits and educates about marine mammals including dolphins, orca and beluga whales and other marine creatures from five aquatic regions between Japan and the Antarctic Ocean. We also managed to catch one of their dolphin shows, in which their highly trained dolphins perform tricks like jumping across hops, attempting to hit a target hanging 30 metres in the air, and peforming synchronized actions as instructed by the trainers.

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Our last stop was Himeji,  a city located in the Hyōgo Prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. When were there, we met with one of Can Sensei’s friend, whom was local, and showed us around the 500,000 + populated city. Among the places we visited, was the renowned Himeji Castle.

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Actually, we did not got the chance to visit the castle itself, as it is under renovation till March 2015. We did, however, able to visit an exhibition that features the castle’s heritage and history. Sadly, the exhibition staff did not allow photography in most areas , so we did not manage to get much photos to show you guys 😦

After leaving the castle area, we proceeded to the Hello Kitty Cafe (Cafe de Miki with Hello Kitty), located just 10 mins away. The cafe was a corporation between Sanrio and eyewear brand ‘Paris Miki’. The cafe serves coffee, tea and confectionery, and is also facilitated with a salon and Paris Miki glasses store. This serves as a great pit stop for us to take a break, and strike up casual conversations, as we admire the carefully designed interiors of the cafe.

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In conclusion, above are just some of the highlights of our fulfilling trip to Japan. It is both a learning and enjoyable trip for me as I have been learning Japanese for close to 3 months, and can better understand the words and meanings when in Japan, as opposed to my first trip in September last year, when I have not started learning Japanese yet. This trip sparked my interest even more in the Japanese Language, and will spur me on to continue to excel in my Japanese Language 😉

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