S: World Travel Memories - Vidhy Patel 8-1
BC: I love Japan and its unique culture. I must return for another visit sometime soon! :)
FC: Japan Tour 2012
1: Pg.1- Escape Pg.2- Arrival Pg.3/4- Day 1- Tokyo Pg.5/6- Day 2- Nikko Pg.7/8- Day 3- Kyoto/Nara Pg.9/10- Day 4- Hiroshima Pg.11/12- Day 5- Fuji/Tokyo Pg.13/14- What I know Pg.15/16- What I Learned Pg.17/18- Souvenirs Pg.19- Interesting Article Pg.20- Letter Home Pg.21/22- Pictures | Contents
3: Shibuya Excel Tokyu Hotel | Japan | Haneda International Airport
4: >5 am: Arrive at Haneda International Airport >5 am-6:30 am: Get on Train to Shibuya Excel Tokyu Hotel, Tokyo city >6:30 am-7 am: Unpack; Freshen up; Get directions; Mini-snack >7 am-7:30 am: Get on Train to Yoyogi Station and Walk 1km to Meiji Shrine >7:30 am-8 am: Explore Meiji-Jingu Shrine~Located in Yoyogi Park, a 175 acre forest made up of 365 species of trees from all around Japan. Dedicated to the Meiji Emperor for his role in the country’s upliftment and houses his remains. >8 am-8:30 am: Get on Train to Otemachi Station >8:30 am-9:30 am: Find/Eat Breakfast Nearby >9:30 am-10:30 am: Explore Imperial Palace Gardens ~Located in central Tokyo’s Chiyoda district. 3.4 km of beautiful gardens surrounded by water. Home to Japan’s current Emperor Akihito and his family. Former site of the Edo castle. >10:30 am-11 am: Get on Train to Ueno Station and Walk 5 mins to National Museum >11 am-12 pm: Explore National Museum~Located in Ueno Park. Japan’s oldest and most prestigious museum with artifacts and descriptions from different eras throughout Japan’s history. >12 pm-1 pm: Find/Eat Lunch Nearby~Restaurants in the Museum >1 pm-2 pm: Explore National Museum | May 15: Tokyo | Imperial Palace
5: >2 pm-2:30 pm: Get on Train to Asakusa Station and Walk 5 mins to Senso-ji Temple >2:30 pm- 3 pm: Explore Senso-ji Temple~Located in Asakusa Park and beside the Asakusa Shrine. Tokyo’s oldest temple of Buddhism with a statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. >3 pm-3:30 pm: Get on Subway to Edo-Tokyo Museum >3:30 pm-4:30 pm: Explore Edo-Tokyo-Museum~Shows and explains the way of life and history of Edo as it was under the Shogun rule. >4:30 pm-5 pm: Walk 5 minutes over to Sumo Hall/ Get Snacks & Coffee >5 pm-5:30 pm: Explore Sumo Hall~Indoor arena hosting sumo tournaments and including a sumo museum for history of sumo wrestling. >5:30 pm-6:30 pm: Get on Subway to Ginza district >6:30 pm-7:30 pm: Explore Ginza Shopping Center~Tokyo’s downtown centre for technology, industry and entertainment >7:30 pm-8 pm: Get on Train to Shibuya Station >8 pm-9 pm: Find/Eat Dinner Nearby >9:30 pm-10:30 pm: Explore Shibuya Shopping Center and Fireworks~Famous shopping district with latest fashion fads and beautiful nightlife as well as electric fireworks >10:30 pm-11 pm: Return to Shibuya Excel Tokyu Hotel and Go to Sleep | Senso-ji Temple
6: May 16: Nikko | >5:30 am: Wake-up >5:30 am-6:30 am: Get Showered and Dressed >6:30 am-7:30 am: Find/Eat Breakfast >7:30 am-9:50 am: Get on Train to Nikko Station, Nikko city and 10 mins on Bus to Rinno-ji >9:50 am-10:20 am: Find/Eat Snacks & Coffee Nearby >10:20 am-10:50 am: Explore Rinno-ji~Complex of 15 Buddhist Temples founded by the monk Shoto. Its Sanbutsudo Hall holds three wooden statues of Amida, Senju-Kannon and Bato-Kannon, Buddhist deities. Also consists of the naturally magnificent Shoyoen Garden. >10:50 am-10:55 am: Walk 5 mins to Tosho-gu Shrine (by 10:55 am) >10:55 am-11:25 am: Explore Tosho-gu Shrine~Dedicated to the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and houses his remains. With a beautiful entrance gate, Yomeimon and elaborate carvings of the Three Wise Monkeys and Nemori-niko( sleepy cat). >11:25 am-11:30 am: Walk 5 mins to Futarasan Shrine >11:30 am-12 pm: Explore Futarasan Shrine~Dedicated to the kami spirits of the Nikko’s sacred Mount Nantai, Mount Taro and Mount Nyoho. >12 pm-1 pm: Find/Eat Lunch Nearby | Toshogu Shrine
7: >1 pm-2 pm: Get on Tobu-Nikko-Chuzenji-Yumoto Bus and Walk 10 mins to Kegon Falls >2 pm-2:30 pm: Explore Kegon Falls (by 2:30 pm)---One of Japan’s most exquisite waterfall at a height of 100 metres. >2:30 pm-2:50 pm: Walk 10 mins to Chuzenji-ko Onsen town and Board Lake Chuzenji Cruise~Takes on tour to watch scenery of Lake Chuzenji and Chuzenji Temple >2;50 pm-3 pm: Get to Chuzenji Temple by Cruise (by 3 pm) >3 pm-3:20 pm: Explore Chuzenji Temple~Located on Eastern edge of gorgeous Lake Chuzenji. Holds a tree carving of Kannon, the Buddhist deity. >3:20 pm-3:30 pm: Return on Cruise to Chuzenji-ko Onsen town >3:30 pm-4:30 pm: Get on Tobu-Nikko-Chuzenji-Yumoto Bus to Ryuzu Falls >4:30 pm-5 pm: Explore Ryuzu Falls~Located in Yumoto town. Resembling the head of a dragon and rising to a height of 60 metres. >5 pm-5:30 pm: Find/Eat Snacks & Coffee Nearby >5:30 pm-7 pm: Get on Tobu-Nikko-Chuzenji-Yumoto Bus to Nikko city >7 pm-9:30 pm: Get on Train to Shibuya Station, Tokyo city >9:30 pm-10:30 pm: Find/Eat Dinner Nearby >10:30 pm-11 pm:Walk back to Shibuya Excel Tokyu Hotel and Go to Sleep | Kegon Falls
8: May 17: Kyoto/ Nara | >5:30 am: Wake-up >5:30 am-6:30 am: Get Showered and Dressed >6:30 am-7:30 am: Find/Eat Breakfast Nearby >7:30 am-10:40 am: Get on Train to Kitaoji Station, Kyoto city and 10 mins on Bus to Kinkaku-ji Temple >10:40 am-11 am: Find/Eat Snacks & Coffee Nearby >11 am-11:30 am: Explore Kinkaku-ji Temple~Known as the Golden Pavillion as its top two floors are covered in gold. All three floors are built in different architectural styles in representation of different time periods. >11:30 am-11:35 am: Get 5 mins on Bus to Ryoanji Temple >11:35 am-12 pm: Explore Ryoanji Temple~Holds Japan’s most famous ‘rock garden’. >12 pm-1 pm: Find/Eat Lunch Nearby >1 pm-2:30 pm: Get on Train to Nara Station, Nara city and 10 mins on Bus to Todai-ji Temple (by 2:30 pm) | Ryoanji Temple | Kinkakuji Temple
9: >2:30 pm-3 pm: Explore Todai-ji Temple~The Daibutsu Den Hall is the world’s largest wooden structure and holds a grand 15 metres tall bronze statue of Buddha. >3 pm-4 pm: Get on Train and 5 mins on Bus to Horyu-ji Temple >4 pm-4:30 pm: Explore Horyu-ji Temple~Japan’s oldest temple of Buddhism dating back to the 600’s and surviving to the current day. >4:30 pm-5 pm: Find/Eat Snacks & Coffee Nearby >5 pm-7:30 pm: Get on Train to Matsuo Station, Kyoto city >7:30 pm-8:30 pm: Explore Saihoji Temple~Known as ‘Moss Garden’ due to the 120 moss varieties in its surrounding garden. Requires visitors to copy out sutras from Buddhist scriptures upon arrival. >8:30 pm-9:30 pm: Find/Eat Dinner Nearby >9:30 pm-10 pm: Get on Train to Kawaramachi Station >10 pm-11 pm: Walk to Best Western Kyoto Hotel, Watch T.V and Go to Sleep | Horyuji Temple | Saihoji Temple
10: May 18: Himeji/ Hiroshima | >5:30 am: Wake-up >5:30 am-6:30 am: Get Showered and Dressed >6:30 am-7:30 am: Find/Eat Breakfast Nearby >7:30 am-9 am: Get on Train to Himeji Station, Himeji city and 5 mins on Bus to Himeji Castle >9 am-10 am: Explore Himeji Castle~Known as the White Heron Castle and one of the three main castles of Japan. Built in Edo-style architecture and used for defense purposes. >10 am-10:30 am: Find/Eat Snacks & Coffee Nearby >10:30 am-12:30 pm: Get on Train to Genbaku Dome Mae Station, Hiroshima City >12:30 pm-1:30 pm: Find/Eat Lunch Nearby >1 pm-2 pm: Explore Atomic Bomb Dome and nearby T-shaped Aioi Bridge~ ~Originally built as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall, but became the target of the first atomic bomb in World War II. Survived the blast and currently stands as a memorial. | Hiroshima Bomb Dome
11: >2 pm-3 pm: Explore Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park~Surrounds the A-Dome. Remembers the thousands who died and promotes the importance of peace. Holds numerous structures such as the Children’s Peace Monument, Memorial Cenotaph, Peace Flame, Peace Bells and Peace Gate as tributes to the names, ashes and hopes of the killed victims. >3 pm-4 pm: Get on Boat to Miyajima Island >4 pm-4:30 pm: Explore Itsukushima Shrine~Located on Miyajima Island. Famous for its floating entrance gate known as the ‘floating torii’. >4:30 pm-5 pm: Find/Eat Snacks & Coffee Nearby >5 pm-5:30 pm: Get on Boat to Hiroshima Port >5:30 pm-10:30 pm: Get on Train to Shibuya Station, Tokyo city >10:30 pm-11:30 pm: Find/Eat Dinner Nearby >11:30 pm-12 pm: Walk back to Shibuya Excel Tokyu Hotel and Go to Sleep | Itskushima Shrine Tori Gate
12: >5:30 pm: Wake up >5:30 pm-6:30 pm: Get Showered and Dressed >6:30 pm-7:30 pm: Find/Eat Breakfast Nearby >7:30 pm-10:30 pm: Get on Fujikyu Highway Bus to Kawaguchiko Lake passing Yamanakako Lake~Each lake provides distinct and memorable views of scenery surrounding Mount Fuji. >10:30 pm-10:45 pm: Find/Eat Snacks & Coffee Nearby >10:45 pm-11 am: Get on Bus to Yuransen Ropeway Iriguchi (by >11 am-12 pm: Explore Kachi Kachi Ropeway~Connects to an observation deck 1000 meters above sea level on Mount Tenjo. Provides dazzling views of Mount Fuji itself. >12 pm-1 pm: Find/Eat Lunch Nearby | May 19: Fuji/ Tokyo | Yamanakako Lake | Kawaguchiko Lake
13: >1 pm-3 pm: Get on Bus, then Train to Sumida, Tokyo City (by 3 pm) >3 pm-3:30 pm: Find/Eat Snacks & Coffee Nearby (by 3:30 pm) >3:30 pm-4:30 pm: Explore Tokyo Sky Tree~Second-tallest freestanding structure in the world at a height of 630 m. Lower observation deck is 350m while the sloping upper deck is 450 m. >4:30 pm-4:45 pm: Get on Train to Asakusa >4:45 pm-6:45 pm: Explore Sanja Matsuri Festival~Located around Senso-ji Temple and Asakusa Shrine. Held in the third weekend of May (this year on May 18-20) and is grandest festival in all of Tokyo. Celebrates and parades kami, the Shinto spirits, around the district. >6:45 pm-7:45 pm: Find/Eat Dinner Nearby >7:45 pm-8:30 pm: Get on Train to Shibuya Station and Shibuya Excel Tokyu Hotel~Retrieve Luggage >8:30 pm-10:30 pm: Get on Train to Haneda International Airport >10:30 pm-11:30 pm: Departure to Edmonton International Airport | Tokyo Sky Tree | Sanja Matsuri
14: Geography Japan is an archipelago of 6852 islands with a total area of 377,835 square km which is equivalent to the size of Montana. It is essentially a combination of volcanic islands that formed due to conversion of the North American, Pacific, Philippine and Eurasian tectonic plates on which it lies. Thus, its considered to be in a ‘Ring of Fire’ since it is frequently prone to earthquakes, underwater earthquakes whom the Japanese call tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Due to its geographic history, its terrain is 73% mountainous with forested woodlands and the occasional level ground found in plains that border the coast and basins inland. Rivers are also prevailing, although typically short and very steep like a waterfall, since they flow from streams high up in mountain ranges. Japan is completely cornered by water with the Sea of Japan to the west, Philippine Sea in the south and Pacific Ocean eastward, thus it faces less extremes in weather. Climate does vary throughout the regions though, with winters of heavy snow in Hokkaido and contrarily, warm temperatures year round in Kyushu providing suitable conditions for growing rice. Keeping in mind factors such as a smaller land mass and of that, few habitable areas, Japan has the 10th largest population in the world and its capital Tokyo has the highest population density for a city also worldwide.
15: World War II: Earlier, during World War I, Japan had joined up with the Entente Forces knowing that it would provide an excellent opportunity to expand its borders to China and other parts of Southern Asia. During the Versailles Peace Treaty though, the Western Nations denied Japan’s proposal for racial equality, thus inflating the Japanese dislike of foreigners. The alliances had been rough from the very beginning when the nations had put pressure on Japan to open up its trade and situations worsened after the League of Nations opposed to Japan’s continuous raid of China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Therefore when World War II started, Japan sided with the Axis forces and its predominant military dictatorship aimed to capture much of Asia. Later in the war, in order to distract the U.S Navy from noticing Japan’s plan of overtaking the Pacific, it launched a surprise attack at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii on December 7,1941. Results were shocking as the wharf was home to majority of American Naval Forces and bombing killed close to 3,000 people. Immediately the U.S declared counter-war on Japan and after giving severe ultimatums to surrender receiving only negligence, it deployed two nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 of 1945, respectively.
16: Transition from Azuchi-Momoyama to Edo Era: Prior to Japan’s unification, the Sengoku Jidai was a period of constant warring amongst daimyo and their states for control over Japan while the Imperial family lost influence. Among them was warlord Oda Nobunaga who had taken over the former capital of Kyoto and was on his way to conquer the rest of the provinces until his death during a fateful battle. Thereon, his general Toyotomi Hideyoshi replaced him and continued on to attain control over the entire Japan, till he died while on a pointless journey to capture China, wherein his successor Hideyori got in charge. At that time, Tokugawa Ieyasu, a long-time supporter of Hideyoshi, backstabbed the young Hideyori and overcame other power-thirsty enemies to become a man with utmost military strength and wealth in Japan. As expected, he was made the first Tokugawa shogun by the Emperor Go-Yozei and chose Edo as his headquarters, being far from the emperor’s residence in Kyoto. In order to maintain control and order, he created a council of loyal officials whom he named the Tokugawa Shogunate and allocated the daimyo, keeping the doubtful ones scattered among the more allegiant. As well, to ensure that another uprising doesn’t occur, the daimyo were forced under strict laws regarding money and freedom such as alternating attendance from home-district to Edo every second year and sharing power.
17: Transition from Edo to Meiji Era: For centuries, the Tokugawa clan continued to exert control over Edo Japan with their clever power-maintaining strategies and feudal system, but the arrival of jesuit missionaries and foreigners with weapons caused concern. The shogun feared that converted Japanese Christians would change their loyalty from him to the Church while the greedy daimyo would take advantage of the ammunition brought by traders. Thus, he introduced exclusion laws stating that: all foreigners were to evacuate, Japanese weren’t allowed to leave the country, those Japanese outside couldn’t return, external objects and books were forbidden and large enough ships for overseas travel were destroyed. Even through this period of isolation, economy continued to expand in the stable society and advancements were made in entertainment and the arts. That couldn’t last long because there was continuous poverty among peasants, samurai were out of jobs and merchants started getting overly wealthy due to everyone being dependant on them for loans. People finally blamed the shogunate for everything and simultaneously, natural catastrophes struck Japan igniting famines everywhere. Circumstances were just as unpredictable outside, where numerous countries were eager to trade new goods and their modern ideas with Japan.
18: 1.Maneki Neko: statue of a cat that gives good omen for business and prosperity 2.Hand Fans: keeps cool in summer and have unique designs 3.Wagasa: traditonal Japanese umbrella made of bamboo and washi (Japanese paper) 4.Furin: glass or metal bell make a sweet sound at the arrival of a fresh breeze 5.Paper Lanterns: made of washi and decorated with kanji letters on its sides 6. Japanese Dolls 7.Kendama: toy game with wooden hammer attached to a ball by a string; ball must be balanced on the hammer to win 8.Koinobori: wind-shaped sock flown like banners on religious days 9. Samurai Sword Replicas 10.Japanese Porcelain | Souvenirs
19: My Beautiful Box Origami
21: Dear Mom, May 17, 2012 I feel like I'm living in a completely different world. I thought I knew so much about Japan already, but when I got here I was totally clueless. Its not something one would expect from an archipelago, but seriously like, I have no words to describe what a unique experience this. In the first two days I have seen plenty of shrines and temples, and I'm not satisfied yet. One would think what's the point of seeing the same type of structure over and over again, but they are all so distinct in their own way with each having a different story to tell. Added to the fact that Japan has the most beautiful scenery on the whole planet including snow-covered valleys and frequent hot springs. I truly regret choosing a five day trip. This place is not enough for even 1 year of traveling. I missed out on watching a Kabuki play, climbing Mount Fuji, visiting the other three main islands and much much more. I also wanted to see the location where the famous documentary Cove was filmed. One just can't get enough of the culture, traditions and way of life that has formed in such an isolated and catastrophe-torn place. I am, for sure, returning to Japan for another visit, but next time I will ensure that its longer.~ Your Adventurous Girl
22: Tokyo Dome | Tokyo Shopping
23: Himeji Castle | Sumo Wrestling | Tokyo Tower