Since a few people have asked what my favourite thing was, what I didn’t like, what I would have done differently, here is the inevitable wrap up posting. Also it will end the Japan trip nicely before I go on to blog about all my Kit Kats (yes, you will get detailed posts about each flavour), and also before I sporadically blog about other things.
I will try not to create definitive lists or anything like that… just my thoughts now a few days home have passed.
My list of highlights will probably be easy to guess from my postings and those of you that I have spoken to. So, in sort of an order but not really…
Mt Fuji Climb – This is obvious. Most of you know it was my big goal for the trip, and to have such a smooth climb with a good bunch and great weather was almost too good to be true. The climb was tough but manageable, and the fact that I avoided altitude sickness I was very chuffed. But to see the sunrise on top of a mountain? That is truly something I may never do again. Magic.
Himeji Castle – This is a combo of being something I dreamed about seeing, and also that the renovation work I knew was happening was not as far along as expected, meaning I saw the castle in its glory. Add my own guide leading me through the twists and turns and it was an amazing historical visit.
Ghibli Museum – As mentioned I am a fan of Ghibli, but not a full on devotee, but this museum was gorgeous. I wandered for hours soaking up the magical detail provided by Miyazaki and was awestruck, even though I couldn’t jump in the big Neko-Bus. It has made me want to go back and revisit those films I only thought were OK.
Nara / Southern Higashiyama walk in Kyoto – It is impossible to split these two, since they both consisted of long walks through beautiful temples. Nara would have the edge with Todaiji, however the long walk through temples in Kyoto was breathtaking.
Peace Memorial Museum, Hiroshima – It is just such an amazing and haunting place to visit. You know the enormity of what happened, but until you see the actual consequences of it in your face, I am not sure it can ever be appreciated.
Baseball in Tokyo – I am not the biggest baseball fan in the world, but I am a sports nut, so to go to see a sport where the folks are so crazy was fantastic. Yes, many of you have commented I was hypnotised by the beer girls, and yes I was, but it was the atmosphere overall that was great fun.
What Will I Miss?
There are the little things I will miss…
The People – I know I didn’t understand what people were saying 99.9% of the time, but everyone was just so freakin’ nice!
A Train System and Travel Card that works – It astounds me that our train system can be so crappy, and Myki does not work, when I have just used a system in Tokyo that handles millions of people a day without a hitch. Oh, I know problems probably happen, but I never noticed.
Getting good cheap food anywhere – That means good noodles from small stores, wildly different okonomyaki, fresh sushi, all pretty cheap. I now have to try and perfect an awesome ramen. Oh, and of course… Kit Kats.
Wandering parks – I think a default thing to do everywhere I went was to just to wander a park, even in a megalopolis like Tokyo. Usually a temple would poke its head up, or a deer would stick its nose in your pocket.
What didn’t I like?
Someone said to me “You couldn’t have liked everything!”. Well, almost everything sorry, yeah. I won’t say I was disappointed by anything, but some things were not as I expected maybe.
The main thing is probably Tokyo itself. Now let me clarify, I really dug Tokyo. Ghibli! Record Stores! Akihabara! But Tokyo probably didn’t “wow” me as much as I thought it might. It was probably the place I just expected to be picking my jaw up off the ground from either the craziness, the awesomeness, the confusion, or just the sheer scale of it all. But I didn’t really get it.
Sure the train network was overwhelming for a couple days, but then you work it out. Yep, the trains and stations are packed, but you get used to it. There are strange folk, but not the volume of them as I expected. Maybe I was expecting Blade Runner, but I just got another cool city. But would I go back and hang out there? Of course!
I did get Blade Runner’s relentless rain though. But I knew that was coming. Given with work these were the only weeks I could visit this time of year, it was always going to happen. As you can no doubt tell, it didn’t stop me doing anything though. Plus it just makes me want to go back in winter.
What would I have done differently?
I gotta say, for a first trip to Japan, I wouldn’t have done much differently at all. I checked all the big things off my list, and did heaps of things I dreamed about doing. I would maybe have taken a day or two off Tokyo, and popped them on to Kyoto so that I could catch some things I missed and also visit Osaka. But next time hey?
Time to start learning Japanese.