Tuesday, 10 February 2015

NJM's Magical Winter in the Land of Rising Sun

Q1. Has your image of Japan changed since travelling in Japan?


Though sometimes it gets really cold (especially when the wind blows!), I think my first winter experience in Japan has been a heart-warming one, despite the freezing cold weather that I had imagined. I did not even have to use the heat-pads that i brought to Japan.

Aside from the hearty meals, superb scenery and soothing hotspring bath, what really made this trip exceptionally warm is the hospitality of the people I have met throughout the journey. They are always there to help you, sometimes even before you approached them for help.

There was once a passenger sat next to me on a flight asked, "What makes someone goes to a country again, and again?" I think it is the kizuna(bond) between people that makes us want to re-visit a place.

I wish Japan is nearer to Malaysia. もっと日本がマレーシアの近くにあればなと思います。

界·川治 早餐
界·川治 烤地瓜撒豆粉

界·日光 葡萄甘酒

裏磐梯酒店 冰屋

Q2. What was your image of Japan before your trip?

This is not my first trip to Japan but my very first winter experience. I spoke to a few Japanese friends and almost all of them told me: Winter in Japan can be very cold! I ended up being quite worried about the weather.

Another image that I had for Japan is Japanese people always try to make it convenient for others, sometimes even at his or her own expense, be it service line staff or just someone who stands in the same line waiting for train with you. We, as the travellers in the country, should not take this for granted.

Q3. Please share with us some memorable incidents or experiences.

I went to Nikko Edomura Wonderland where i had a great time strolling in an Edo period town, having conversation with ninja, samurai and other chonins from the Edo period. 

I also had the chance to attend crash-course on samurai sword wielding and Japanese archery, which were both fun and eye-opening. Ninja action show was really amazing as well but too bad no photography was allowed. The day ended with the mesmerising Oiran procession before i got onto my journey towards Kai Kawaji.
侍が持っていた日本刀の振り方や日本の弓道の体験講座にも参加することができました。どちらも面白くびっくりするような体験でした。忍者ショーも本当に凄かったですが、写真撮影禁止だったのが残念です。その日は界 川治に到着する前に、見る者を魅了させる花魁の行列で締めくくられました。

侍 武士道

Q4. What experience from your trip will stick with you the most?

The experience of doing a constantly moving solo trip is new to me and there is limited amount of time to spend before I had to move to the next location. I have realised the best plan for this type of journey is to plan nothing, and let the weather to help on the decision. Sometimes, we might get outcome that exceeds our initial expectation.

I think this applies to many other things in life as well and will stick with me the most.

Q5. Please tell us a little about one of the local Japanese people that you met on your trip.

I took the liberty to kick-start my Japan trip three weeks earlier before the adventure with Hoshino Resort by doing WWOOF with Yamano family in Kisarazu. WWOOF is a system to help in organic farms in exchange for meals and lodging.

In Yamano's place, I helped out in bamboo work for stove and the construction of Tanbo Cafe (田んぼカフェ). I was also involved in the community's New Year Festival which I experienced Japanese mochi-making and bamboo horse. In that three weeks, we had birthday celebration, DIY takoyaki, miso-yeast making gathering, played music, watched Elementary School Rope Skipping Contest and baseball practice.

I also learnt how to make a backpack solar-charging device which I am now taking with me on-the-go, transforming my backpack to be a mobile charger!

It was great experience to meet and to live with them in Japan. 日本で彼らに出会え、共に過ごせたことはとても素晴らしい体験でした。

Q6. Please tell us some of the things that you liked about the trip.

[Left Chopsticks 左利き用の箸]
In Kai Kawaji, I was touched to see that chopsticks were placed such that it is easy for me (a lefthanded person) to use during breakfast. I guess the staff noticed it during dinner and went the extra mile to make it convenient for me.
界 川治では、そのようなお箸が置かれていたのを見て感動し、朝食中、左利きの私にとって、とても使い勝手が良かったことにも感動しました。恐らく、スタッフがディナーの最中に気付き、私の使い勝手の良さを考えて、さらなる努力をしてくれたのだと思います。

[Private Nikko-Geta Lesson 日光下駄のプライベートレッスン ]
I was the only one who turned up for Kai Nikko's Geta Lesson. But the staffs-on-duty still did their best to explain to me, speaking slowly in Japanese so that I could understand. They also taught me simple steps of tap-dancing wearing Nikko-Geta.
界 日光の下駄のレッスンに現れたのは私一人でした。ですが、それでも担当のスタッフの方々は、私が理解できるようにゆっくりとした日本語で説明をしてくれて、最善を尽くしてくれました。彼らは、日光下駄を履いての簡単なタンプダンスのステップも教えてくれました。

[Buffet Briefing 手軽なビュッフェ式料理]
Though having a really busy dining hall, the staff in Urabandai Hotel gave me a short briefing, checking on my dietary preference and let me know specifically which dish contains beef, the only thing that I cannot eat ... besides Natto.

Last but not least, sunshine over my stay in Japan, albeit short, has made the days here warm and comfortable. 大事なことを言い忘れていましたが、冬の日差しは短いですが、私の旅行を温かく快適なものにしてくれました。

Q7. Please tell us some of the things that you disliked about the trip.

Solo trip has its advantage as we have more flexibility in planning and I have had enjoyed many solo trips so far. 

However, during my trip this time, sometimes it was quite painful to enjoy the great meals alone, taking selfie by myself and moreover having no one to talk to while other resort guests are mostly families or couples. Perhaps it would be great if report writers could meet on certain days to share our experience with one another!

I was glad that the resort staff chatted with me while on-duty, giving me opportunities to share stories about my country and my Japan trip. It also helped a lot having internet connection to share my joy and travelling experience via social media.

Q8. Please share with us a photo from your travels.

Did most of my travelling with JR trains including Nikko No.1 and Tohoku Shinkansen. JR Pass is really convenient for travellers. The trains are always on time! 私の旅行のほとんどは、特急日光1号と東北新幹線などを含め、JR東日本の列車で行いました。JR EAST PASSは旅行者にとって本当に便利です。列車はいつも定刻です!

Having wifi router on-the-go is AWESOME for travellers who use smartphone to find the best route and to do 'live' updates on SNS. TelecomSquare provided very fast 4G LTE connection! スマホを使う旅行者にとって、旅行中にwi-fiルーターを携帯していることは、とても最高なことで、最適なルート検索や、SNSで「生の」更新を行うことができます。テレコムスクエアがとても早い4G LTE接続を提供しています!


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