FUN AND FROLIC OF JAPAN
JAPAN-THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN
Japan, a name synonymous with beauty and technology, tops every traveller’s list and mine was no different. So, when presented with an opportunity…I grabbed it with both the hands.
Looking forward to an enlightening experience in the Land of the Rising Sun, I boarded a direct 8 hour Japan Airlines (JAL) flight from New Delhi to Nirata. The prelude to the journey was that of comfort, with recliner seat in business class!
Upon arrival, we were whisked off in Fijukyu bus to Apa Resort, Myoko Pine Valley which is in Niigata prefecture, about 200 kms away from the airport. Japan has 47 prefectures or administrative divisions, each having a distinct feature.
It took us 5-6 hours to reach our destination which was interspersed with scenic views that were spectacular. However, our first view of the resort drove away all the fatigue that was beginning to build.
Nestled amidst refreshing greenery, the Apa Resort, beckoned us to experience its hospitality. A warm welcome with a smiling, “Konnichiwa” (greeting with a bow) assured me of a good time. We were treated to our first scrumptious Japanese dinner spread, with fine wine and a magnificent view.
Post a hearty meal, I headed to my room and was astonished by the grandeur. The room, true to Japanese hospitality was elegant and tiny but spacious also at the same time to have more than basic things in the room.
The toilet seats with temperature control, adjustable shower jets, blow dry functions, in tune with music players showed the comfort that the Japanese believe in. The detailed arrangement was definitely a “first” for me and as a traveller, I thought of sharing this “special lavatory” information with my fellow travellers.
The next day, my tour began with Mt Fuji…a majestic feature that one cannot miss, located approximately in the centre of Japan. Locally known as Fuji-san (“san” is a respectful address), this 3,776 meters above sea level mountain, stretches over Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. The area surrounding Mt. Fuji is the most attractive tourist route for all kinds of sightseeing spots in the environs such as the Five Lakes of Fuji known as ‘Fuji-go-ko’ and Hakone.
An object of awe and admiration Mt Fuji is considered a sacred mountain, with the divinity of fire. Some myths depict this supreme elevation as a deity, most frequently as a goddess.
For me witnessing Fuji San from the Yamanashi Prefecture view point, (reached by a cable car) was nothing less of a spectacle. The view of the mighty mountain playing hide and seek with clouds and the sun, totally added to the picture perfect setting. How could I leave this breathtaking view without having a memoir? With Raj and Rakesh (Our team leaders, Indians who work here) in tow, shopping, bargaining was a piece of cake
Interestingly, I befriended a few locals and their charm was contagious. I couldn’t help clicking a picture alongside a pretty girl, who graciously let me take a picture with her. It was a superb interaction in ‘English”. As majority people speak Japanese there.
Our next stop was Fujikyu Highland, which made me sure of some adventures awaiting us. There were a plethora of rides to enjoy. I loved the water rides which made us completely wet. The roller coaster rides especially, were not meant for the faint hearted (such as me), as these required an adventurous streak with an equally strong heart and mind
For me, the best and most enjoyable part was the Hippo vehicle (a bus) which took us along the greens for about 20 mins, before jumping into Yamanaka Lake. Now, that was a thrilling experience
Post the thrills, it was time to calm down and introspect on life. At the Buddhist Zen Temple (15th Century) in Fuji Stupa Peace Park, the reticent milieu ensures internal reflection, which in present scenario we seemed to have lost track of. At the temple, meditation is done in Zazen position (lotus position), wherein the priest may hit you with a bamboo stick on your shoulder, lest you lose your concentration. It was nice to see life so closely and to witness the Japanese culture so closely
Post the tea making ceremony, we had some fun by dressing into their local attire and the entire place was lush green. The view was outstanding.
While I did enjoy the Japanese cuisine, but the Indian in me was missing the Indian food. To my surprise, this wish came true as the Indian restaurants around pampered my taste buds to some lip-smacking Sambar, Rajma Chawal & Gajar ka Halwa.
For Japanese food, one should try the meals at “K.House” too. They have a chain of 40 restaurants across Japan. For Japanese food lovers, in India, a surprise with the name “Fuji Restaurant” has opened in Delhi & 2 more in Kolkatta. They are likely to come up with a few more restaurants soon in India.
I personally feel my experience dealing with the locals of Japan was fantastic. They are very friendly and courteous people who will always help you with a smile on their face. The young generation of Japan speaks English if not fully but partially which definitely helped us.I befriended with some of the locals who were very charming. My best moment staying in Japan was to doll up in their local dress and I got such opportunity twice which I did not miss even once. I was very happy to dress up and get pictures clicked.