Japan, The Land of the morning Sun/Calm. Makes sense. The sober people, the subtle food. My travel to Japan was only for 10 days for a Mass Media Workshop called Jenesys-2.0 through my University’s collaboration with JICE (Japan international cooperation centre) .
I wasn’t travelling alone but I had nearly 30 students travelling along with, which should make me feel bright right? no I ran down with fever the night before my flight. I guess the anxiety, anticipation, excitement, the coordination, the instructions, the advises, suggestions, opinions all pulled me straight down to bed.. LOL.. The thing that bumped me most was that I felt uncommon among those 45 students. Though 15 of them were part of my university yet it gave me no comfort to move along. Since my closest friends weren’t among them and I had to carry their heavy bags of love deep inside my heart., rest of them seemed to be with someone close to them.
Never mind the glitches, I was up and charming the next day I had to go to Delhi to get my connecting flight. Chennai-Delhi-Japan-Delhi-Chennai was my itinerary. The thing about Japan is that they are way ahead of you in organizing and management. They had a plan and it had to go according to that scripted plan. When we had to sleep, When we had to wake up, bathe , pee, poop, breathe was all pre-planned. In fact they even emailed it to us, which made sense since they had to cover a lot of agendas at a short notice. Well but some Indians had a bit of a problem adjusting to the reality slapping on their faces.
(Note: I will not be narrating my experience with their plan sheet I would go about with the flow of my thoughts and memory to make it a bit surreal for us. )
There were three buses A,B,C and each of em had 15 students and two coordinators. Now if B was ready or say C was ready with all the students and the coordinators boarded they wouldn’t leave until until A was ready and left first and then B and then C. Although at times we had different destinations to cover yet we had to wait for all of us to be ready and start from A-B-C, Now that’s the heights of the plan. I respect that. Sometimes people live certain way and you shouldn’t judge that, just as you wouldn’t want them to judge you, it’s your plan. Students had a problem adjusting to the rules and getting in on time and maintaining the punctuality. It was fun looking about it, how the entire 45+2+2+2 would wait for one girl or one boy in laughter and mockery. Yet we had loads of fun.
The trip was in December first two weeks, so it was just the beginning of winter for them. I could not see any Sakura blossoming as my manga anime would often paint its story with its beauty. Yet it was cold enough for me to freeze my lips as i reached the Narita Airport. But i loved the sight of Tokyo, It was beautiful, proper, the yellow and green colorful roads. We were driven mostly towards the tourism heritage preserver locations. Like the NHK Museum of Broadcasting which was a cutting edge technology for Japan once upon a time which is now made into a Museum of Broadcasting which was located in Tokyo. Later we flew to Oita, to see Usuki Sekibutsu (Stone Buddha), experience historical and traditional culture like Tea ceremony and Whistling experience. Beppu Kannawa Spa, Oita Frangrance Museum, A visit to Oita University to interact with the local school students, Oita Godo Shimbun Inc., and finally a home stay, which was more or less like a resort, Lake Resort to be precise. The family that took us in in their mid 50’s and had a beautiful shack prepared for 5 of us. Their wood cabin was right opposite to a lake with pine trees all over the shore. They served us fresh caught fish and helped us cook anything we were comfy eating. A granny came over to teach us Origami, which was kind of sweet. I was more interested in the interior of the bathroom they had set up with all pebbles and sea shore ambiance. I loved their seaweed shampoo and conditioner.
Japan was pretty adorable in the nights, I instantly fell in love with their night lights, the sky scapers and beautiful roads. The drizzle winter welcome rains that would drench me enough to freeze my teeth. The people were extremely friendly and adorable. Almost everyone had a small car or a truck to commute. It is indeed a well organized state, with less noise and low pollution. Even the busiest streets seem to be well mannered, and it felt safe to walk around late in the nights. Me and my fellow travelers walked around searching for chicken at 1 a.m. since my appetite was growing low ’cause of the very subtle flavor Japanese cuisine they had on their menu.
My most memorable thing in Japan was the fun in buying toys, robotic cars, choppers. The 100 yen shop. The different kinds of bread spread that I brought home. The warm Soju (Rice Wine). The free booze all the men jumped into which was all the more reason for delaying our morning schedules. My Disney culinary-ceramic shopping.
It was quite fun. I got locked out twice from my room in Oita, and had to walk with sock and no shoes till the reception to get him to unlock my door (ROFL). It was so embarrassing yet funny now that I think about it. And in Tokyo each time we thought we lost our key card no one blamed me (not even me) cause me and others thought I was the responsible and planned one among them all. But after I reached home and unpacked my bags and suitcases I found the lost key card, for which roommates had walked on the same path they took to reach hotel to see if they dropped it somewhere at wee hours, while I slept. It’s a safe souvenir with me now (Do not judge me! u’ve been there too.. well somewhere..).
In the beginning I had a bit of a problem trying to understand their Japanese commode/restroom, with everything written in Japanese and I had to spend some time trying to view those teeny tiny pictures and gestures of what it does and how it does to confuse with hot and cold, and fast and slow and they expect us to do everything like a clock work….! Nevermind.. Each restroom had their own unique style and properties, I wish i could bring it to India. I loved their technology. There is something I like to do.. is I like to keep my Bathroom better than my bedroom and other other rooms, First Bathroom then Kitchen. I like both of them big and spacious with advanced technology, beautiful colors, great ambiance. Cause it is needed there (well according to me). I spend more time relaxing trying to cook and soak in tub to rejuvenate my senses and nerves. Well I will post about them in the Life Style section that we would launch soon with some extremely great posts.
Coming back to Japan, JICE gave us American Breakfast. I will never forget the way I relished those delicacies. It was a palace treat. I used to stuff my bags with those breads cause the restaurants we were taken were genuinely authentic and I could not relish the corky tastes, well not everyday for 10 days please! See it’s like this. I do try out new foods, In fact I’m a foodie but I’m my own way.. I do research, try to pick my food with my own instincts, that way I can eat. JICE did a lousy job on food part. so I could not enjoy the authentic Japanese Palate. I saw people next to me sit and have good chicken soup curry something in a restaurant while tofu and some green grass juice was served on my plate. I had the rice then the half boiled egg with oyster sauce.. So the only thing I enjoyed was the Breakfast and Dinner. The king’s table being spread with all kinds of breads and all kinds of spreads and the meat,exactly I needed some juicy flesh to beat the cold and stay strong while others beat on booze, and nude hot springs.. I loved the fruits and the desserts too.
I would have enjoyed more if I would have traveled there on my own, could have explored more, spent more time trying to interact with the locals. Yet when we shopped I did meet a few Japanese vendors, who were kind enough to interact and give me tips. Oh, I did make few friends at the Oita University who loved Indian food, helped me use the wending machine. There were quite a few strangers who helped me with Japanese wending machine. Cause i was delaying the line. I used a few Japanese words like arigatho, arigatho gosaimasu, sayonara, daijavu, daijavu deska, kamenosai… I forgot the rest I learnt from Manga.
The best part of the trip would be when we often flew over the Mount Fuji. It was breath taking in its own way. I could watch it for hours it gave me such peace. The pleasant passing clouds all around the Mount making it more graceful and majestic. I came home with some new friends, new memories, new bags, new accessories, new clothes, new boots :). ooo, I also got home a variety of KITKAT flavors strawberry, mint, lemon, you name it they had it, I bought it.
Until next time..