• Travel

    Memories of Japan

    7 July 2014

    Bits and pieces of Japan.

    This morning I woke with an incredible desire to travel so I figured I should post about my memories of my most recent trip to Japan back in November 2013. I’ve actually blogged about this already but have deleted the post so some photos will look familiar. There are many, many details of this trip that have escaped my mind but I will try my best to recall as much as I can.

    After the HSC, our family went on an exhausting 13 hour flight to Japan (including a stop in Hong Kong in between because there was no direct flight to Osaka). We needed to be in Shinsaibashi but had trouble getting there because most shuttles had ended their services for the day. It was panicking because we couldn’t speak Japanese and had no idea where we were going to do since taxis were extremely expensive considering the distance from the airport to the hotel, but we ended up in our hotel and the first thing I noticed was the sign saying ‘free wifi’. It was basically the highlight of my day (my day only consisted of two plane trips and panic at the airport). The second thing I noticed was the amount of buttons on the toilet. We didn’t even notice the flush button was on the side of the sink because we thought one of the buttons on the toilet was the flush.

    Thinking back, the most memorable thing was the amount of bicycles in the streets. Most people rode bicycles to work and could text with one hand whilst holding the handle with another. The streets were so quiet and there was literally no one talking with a normal speaking voice. Everything was whispered and muttered; even the pedestrian crossings were silent, unlike the ones in Hong Kong where it makes an irritating buzzing beep. The skies were also one of the most appreciable things (me being a lover of clouds and just the sky in general) the clouds had a cotton candy appearance and it was not like anything I’ve seen before. Basically, what I’m saying is my trip to Japan can be summarised by the words: bicycles, quiet, polite, clean, clouds.

    At first, the train stations had us miserably lost (especially the map where there were different lines to head to different suburbs and also having to distinguish between the normal trains with the JR trains and all that fuss which to this day I am still absolutely and hopelessly clueless about). The good thing is that there was an officer standing at the ticket booth to help out foreigners. Good thing they spoke a little bit of English. It’s kind of hard to find someone who understands what you’re asking them in English.

    Shopping was the main agenda for us (mostly me, embarrassingly). I remember spending one whole day in Shinsaibashi wandering around and looking at different shops. One of them was an electronics store which was filled with all kinds of cameras, ranging from digital to film. I purchased a new polaroid there. Needless to say, the customer service in Japan is top notch. It almost makes me feel uncomfortable to walk into a shop because there is no way you can walk into a shop without a staff member bowing down and welcoming you into their shop. All of them start talking to you in Japanese and it takes them a moment to realise you can’t speak it because you just stare at them blankly and go “uh… Hai?” My mum slipped a little “ichiban” and “arigatou” every now and then, terribly though. Well, at least she tried.

    All of these fragmented recounts of our trip makes me want to travel again. I certainly do remember the exhaustion and frustration of wandering around aimlessly on some days but it weighs out with everything else that it brings. The experience and insight into a new community grants me new outlooks on life and how different cultures fit together like puzzle pieces. I think visiting another country is like reading a book, gaining insight of the different inspirations that are attached to the place itself and are so fundamental in contributing to what the place has become. Wanderlust is something I’ve never not felt and I wish there was something to rekindle that sense of satisfaction of going somewhere new and being awed by the amount of new things that await to unfold before my eyes.

    Some Suggestions