Konichiwa amigos !
Just recently, Zak and I travelled to Japan for a holiday ! The flight itself felt like it was an entire holiday of its own. We caught a flight from melbourne to kuala lumpur, where we had a 7 hour layover in their airport which consisted of around 5 different eatery’s and 5 different stores, excluding the duty free store. Needless to say, we were bored, however we could not leave the airport because to travel to the closest ‘shopping district’ or anything exciting was about an hour away – we were stuck. We arrived in japan at 11:30PM after a tiring 24 hour flight all up.
Zak and I originally had sumo wrestling tickets, however silly me booked them without realising they were so damn far away and a train ticket to see the sumo wrestling, which consisted of a four hour train ride, was more expensive than the tickets itself, which cost us $137 each. So we thought we would just explore and do some sight seeing. The first few hours were a nightmare. We were so confused with their transportation system and it did not help that neither of us spoke a word of Japanese. Eventually, we found this Japanese girl at starbucks who spoke perfect english and gladly took time to explain a few things to us. When eventually we got a grasp of how their public transport system worked, it was much easier and we were able to blend in better.
Due to our asian descent, many of the Japanese folks believed we were Japanese. Every time we entered a restaurant, they would speak to us like we were locals until we had to cut in and say “ENGLISH”, then they would struggle with a few words. Sometimes, it was fun to just pretend we were Japanese and see how far we could go. We never really got too far.
Japan is famous for their temples and shrines, and needless to say, we went to a good handful of them. I think by the end of the trip the last thing I wanted to do was look at a temple.
On the third day, we decided to go to disneyland. It was absolutely beautiful. Before we had even entered the actual gates to disneyland, I felt like I had already experienced the disneyland. Did I even need to go inside? The outside design was so intricate and detailed and simply breath taking. Of course, if you go into disneyland, you have to watch the parade and go on the disney rides.
The next day, we decided to visit Harajuku and the shopping district. It was INSANE. I remember we were walking around and just being like omg look at this omg look at that. Mostly, it was the crazy makeup the girls had on their faces, or how some of them were screaming so loud to advertise their store my ear drums may have been on the verge of bursting. It was definitely an experience for sure. I also noticed there were not many mens clothing down harajuku area, which was a shame because I felt a bit bad for dragging zak to all the ladies stores.
The next day, we decided to check out shibuya. Shibuya was quite exciting and had quite a lot of things to do. I think one of the more interesting places we got to visit was in Shibuya and it was the Science museum. Maybe it is just because I am a science kid, and so I found everything a little fascinating ! Of course, if in shibuya, you have to visit the shibuya crossing. It just so happened that the day we decided to cross the crossing, election time was coming around so there were more people than usual. I was literally sardined in between people, rubbing sweat with others and being pushed along. This was one of the times I saw a bit of the aggressive side of the Japanese. They were pretty rough and I felt like a little puppet being pushed around. It didnt help that it was extremely hot as well ! When eventually we made it out, we decided to go upstairs into starbucks to take a picture of the madness. Here we met a Japanese man who used to live in Sydney. He was a photographer and he showed us some photos he had taken, told us a few stories which were interesting to hear about.
The following monday, we decided to do a mountain bike riding class. I had never been mountain bike riding before, and in my head, it was a lot simpler than it actually was. We rode into ditches and up little hills and down the stairs before we actually hit the tracks. Some of the tracks were so steep I simple walked the bike down. The paths were rocky and I was not confident, but I made it to the end. I also got my first leech experience out of that, which I kind of screamed and made Zak pull it off my ankle.
We visited the big buddha which was 11m tall. That was one of the checkpoints of the trip. We saw the buddha, however there was not much else for us there. Maybe we were just too tired to look, however what we really needed was rest. So we had an early night for a big two days ahead of us: Mt. Fuji.
We booked the sunrise tour which meant we would get up there in time to watch the sunrise. There were a lot of older people in the tour, and I don’t think a few of us were expecting that. There was a group of us, who were obviously more capable at going at a quicker speed, however we were stuck behind a group of Japanese people moving much, much slower. It didn’t help that the tour group was around 40 people either. We were not informed we were going to be joining up with another tour, which was what made it so big! And so after a lot of talk that one of the other girls in the group did, we were able to separate and climb mt. fuji on our own.
We started climbing at 12PM. After climbing for four hours, we took a rest at a mountain hut, and then started the ascent again at 10:30PM. We reached the summit at around 3AM in the morning. It was absolutely FREEZING up there. We were just standing there, huddled and trying to keep warm. Both Zak and I had around 3-4 layers of clothing on, and still we were shivering. I think we really under estimated how cold it would be. When stores opened at 4AM, we were able to sit inside and drink miso soup to keep warm until the sunrise at 4:45AM.
After the sunrise, we walked around the crater before starting the descent. At one point around the crater walk, the slope was literally around 70 degrees and many of us had to hold onto the rail built on the side to get up. Going down was a lot tougher than I expected, and I think many people see the climbing as the tough bit, often under estimating the descent, however it was horrible on the knees. It didn’t help that I already had fluid build up in my knee cap before mt. fuji, and so I really struggled here.
After reaching the bottom, we rejoined our tour and all went to an onsen. This was one of the most different experiences of my life. You walk in and the first thing you do is leave your shoes in a locker. Then the boys and girls separate and you walk into another room of lockers and you strip down to nothing. I was a little uncomfortable at first because I had never been naked infront of complete strangers, and I was also there with a group of girls that toured mt. fuji with Zak and I. At first, it was weird, but then because how comfortable everyone was, I eased up a little.
After removing your clothes, you walk into a communal shower which is in the same room as the onsens. The showers were not a standup shower, but a sitdown shower. There are a few rows of stools where you sit down and wash your body and hair. This has to be done before entering the hot spring. You also are not allowed to have your hair in the hot spring and so if you have long hair, they ask you to tie it up.
After another well deserved day of rest, we made our way to kyoto where we saw a more traditional side of Japan. Here we rented a city bike and rode around to check out more temples and a bit of the traditional Japan. Kyoto was beautiful. We stayed in a Ryokan, which is a traditional japanese housing where you sleep on tatami mats. I think this is a must do in Japan.
The next day we visited hiroshima. This day was a pretty sad day. We watched and read little short clips about people who had written about their experiences and visited the memorial and the A-bomb zone. What did surprise me was that no body was wearing face masks here. I would have expected hiroshima to be the most heavily radiated place, but I did not see anybody with a face mask, however back in tokyo, every second person wore one. That was one thing that astonished me a little.
We spent one last day in tokyo doing last minute souvenirs before catching our flight back to melbourne. The Japan experience was definitely an amazing one, however I think by the end of the trip, both Zak and I were just too tired. We did lots in one day most days and it drained the energy from us. We were both glad, on some level, to be leaving but also sad to head back to reality.
This holiday was also our first trip away together. Of course, there had still been a lot that we didn’t know about each other before this trip. After spending 14 consecutive days with Zak, 24/7, we got to see a different side to each other. He told me the things I did that irritated him and I told him the things that irritated me. It was good that even though we were telling each other, we could still laugh about it, because I guess it was things he would have found out eventually, like my impatience and his patience. He likes to be very meticulous and careful whereas I cannot wait too long and I just want to do things the quickest way.
But despite that, it was the best 14 days for me. People often say that a holiday either makes it or breaks it. You would think we would have been sick of each other after 14 days and possibly needed a few days apart, but I woke up the next morning and my bed just felt so empty without Zak. I missed him instantly, and then I get a text message from him stating how much he missed me. I guess we are both in the same boat. – it wasn’t enough.
This holiday simple showed me just how much I love him, and how every action he does makes me want to squeeze him so tight. His smile is so radiant and I believe this was a make it holiday. I love him to bits and as I am writing this, I am missing him.