Chasing Cherry Blossoms
I've always dreamed of seeing the cherry blossoms in Japan ever since reading about them and seeing them in a travel publication a while back.
When I found out I was moving to India, one of the first things I did was planning a list of destinations that I would like to visit in Asia and Japan was my cherry on top! I added Japan for the month of April when I was set to return home as my en route trip. Cherry blossom season in Japan is around the end of March to the beginning of May and the time varies in different areas of the country. Although my plan to come home this April was canceled, I kept my original plans of seeing the cherry blossoms right in their season.
Japan in this season was truly a sight to behold. I completely and quickly fell in love with the country and all it offers. Let me preface by informing you that it is the most expensive country I've traveled to thus far; beating out Singapore, Sydney as well as Aruba for me. This was also my least favorite aspect of Japan.
I spent 10 days between, Kyoto, Hakone and Tokyo. Each were special in their own way, but what they all had in common was that every corner I visited, to my surprise, was unbelievably clean. There were no trash or dirt lingering on the sidewalks, street alleys, public restrooms; all were meticulously maintained.
Surely, I think the government plays a big role in the country's sparkly state; however, I don't believe it would be possible without the care of those residing there. Japanese are extremely disciplined, downright militant about how they function. I didn't find anything out of order. Busses and train are on the clock. Folks always stay on one side of the stairway going up or down. When you arrive at a train station, everyone automatically queues up. The most fascinating is that even on the tiniest one-way streets, in the middle of the night, with no cars around, everyone still waits for the pedestrian crossing signs to cross over. Yes! Unheard of! All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by such a great display of discipline and patriotism. So please don't be a “gaijin” (a term Japanese use for foreigners. Lol) and go mess up their order of things.
I also loved how easy it was to navigate the cities of Japan. Everything is accessible. At first, the subway maps and lines seemed challenging to navigate because it is extensive. New York anyone? However, once you start, and with the help of Google map it all gets easier. At the end, I was able to get to some places on my own. This came in handy considering that I had decided to roam around on my own instead of doing planned tours. Once you realize the tour prices as well as taxis, you will want to do the same as well, I promise.
On top of it being insanely scenic and clean, the food was also great, which is an important aspect of my travels. I won't reiterate how expensive it was but I did have a two-hundred dollars Kobe beef dinner. Yes, $200! Crazy! Look out for more details on the Kyoto blog to follow. I went out a couple of nights in Japan and the nightlife was great and readily available. In Kyoto (my favorite city) it was all mostly free for women.
With all this positive, brown girls and boys you would be happy to know that this is actually the first Asian country I have been to I wasn't starred at like an alien. I don't believe it's because they are not intrigued, but more so because of their mannerisms! It was interesting that foreigners, whites and of course, the Chinese were the ones doing the most when they saw me.
Japan has something to offer to any type of traveler; The winter sport fan the history buff, the nature lover, the beach bummer and they even have one of the best Disney parks. Japan is not only a destination; it’s an experience! I am still in awe and so satisfied with my trip and look forward to telling you more about it in details later in location-specific posts.
Steph & Vannie