By: Angelica Hernandez
A couple of months ago my family and I started planning our vacations in Asia taking advantage of our temporary residence in Hong Kong, the decision was easy: Japan! especially considering that we traveled with a teenager who loves anime and video games.
We only had one week available so it was necessary to make a very rigorous itinerary to get to know as much as possible. At the beginning we thought we would go to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, but we had to sacrifice Kyoto because in Osaka we assigned a whole day to the amusement park , there was too much to see in Tokyo, and we realized that the transfers took up a lot of our time.
The 1st stop was precisely Osaka and the amusement park, we didn’t start very well since it rained all day, which caused some of the attractions to be closed, although I must confess that for me that was not so bad since those attractions were the roller coasters and, to tell the truth, I’m not a big fan.
Even with the rain, we managed to make it a great day, we entered all the attractions we could and although the one from the Mario Bros video game is what is in fashion, what I loved was the castle with the Hogwarts wizard, so that, with everything and rain, I left the park more than satisfied.
The next day, a small tour of Osaka to see something traditional and the Osaka Castle was the choice, with a sunny day and a wonderful blue sky. It really caught my attention that inside the castle is a museum and it’s completely renovated, so it’s beautiful inside and especially outside.
The next day we were already in Tokyo, there was a lot to see there and we had to start the tour very early, so we just left our bags at the hotel and we got ready to start with the tourist following the itinerary we had done, taking into account where The places were located to take advantage of the time as much as possible.
We always used the subway trains, but honestly, being used to the HK MTR, which is very simple and with perfect signage, the Japan subway was very complicated and of course, it doesn’t help that we don’t understand Japanese at all, even so , we succeeded and although we were wrong a couple of times, we managed to pick up and reach our destination working as a team, with Google Maps being the main member.
We got to know all the places on the itinerary, the Meiji Shrine, the famous Shibuya Crossing, the Tokyo Tower, the gardens of the Imperial Palace, the Senso Ji Temple, the Sky Tree Tower, the Akihabara neighborhood (pleasing the teenage fan from the Anime), the Ueno Zoo, the Gotokuji Temple, the Harajuko District, the Yoyogi Park and obviously Mount Fuji, which was definitely the best of the whole trip!
All the places are beautiful, but I will tell you a little more about my three favorites.
1.- The Meiji Shrine, there, apart from the magical place that it is and the beautiful garden that it has, I liked the power of being grateful, that is something that I value very much and it was the 1st place in Japan where I was able to do it by writing in a small table that I appreciate and leaving it there with the good vibes of that place, it was great.
2.- The Senso Ji Temple, I learned that it is a Buddhist temple, the oldest in Tokyo and I saw that it is the busiest, there were many people and it is not for less, it is beautiful, the red color that you can see in its halls and pagoda, the rituals of incense smoke, the people dressed in their kimonos of all colors and those traditional two-wheeled carts pulled by a man, it is something that must be appreciated even with so many people around, in addition, it has a small souvenir market which happens to be one of the largest in Tokyo, for all that and more this temple, yes or yes, should be on the itinerary of everyone who visits this incredible city.
3.- And, finally, Mount Fuji, the fabulous Mount Fuji!… is a couple of hours from Tokyo and I think the option of taking a guided tour is the best. They called us at 7.45am to start the tour at 8am, and since we began to see the mountain inside the bus, the magic began, we made 4 stops, all with beautiful landscapes, Mount Fuji being the attraction main but each one had something very special.
The 1st stop was “Lake Kawaguchiko”, this place is ideal to start with the photos of Mount Fuji because you can take it from the front without anyone covering you. What I liked the most was its lavender garden and the tranquility that is breathed there is something indescribable.
The 2nd stop was “Sengen Shrine”, that’s where the traditional photo of the pagoda is taken with Mount Fuji in the background, I loved it since you start the tour to go up to where that incredible pagoda is for the photos, and although I almost arrived dead because of all the stairs there are, the effort was well worth it because the view from there is wonderful! In that part of the route there are a lot of people, all trying to get the best of the photos and although not all of them are achieved, the view from the top is truly brutal.
The 3rd stop was “Oshino Hakkai”, the guide explained to us that there are ponds that receive the water that filters from the snow of Mount Fuji, for me it is like a very traditional “Village” and with a beautiful landscape, I wanted to take it! A photo of everything! The houses and their gardens, the ponds, the fish, the trees, in short, everything! Of course, always with the spectacular background of Fuji.
And the 4th. and last stop was “Mount Fuji 5th Station” which is practically at the foot of the mountain, it is the closest place that mere mortals like us can get to Mount Fuji, the guide told us that this stop is only open a few months a year since it is too cold, there is a meeting point and start for those who dare to climb Mount Fuji, which, by the way, can only be between July and August of each year. There is a restaurant, souvenir shop and, in addition, there is a beautiful sanctuary and it is full of “Torii Gate” that, according to what our guide told us, once the hikers pass through one of those Torii, a tribute begins. to the mountain and it is the beginning of the spiritual route of gratitude, requests and reflection, for which they make the place more beautiful and the vibe is one of total peace.
I had high expectations about this tour to Fuji, but what I saw far exceeded them, it turns out to be an incredible place no matter how you look at it, unforgivable for anyone who goes to Tokyo not to allocate a whole day to see this spectacular place.
As a curious fact, we met a “Café de Gatos”, something that caught my attention because the joke is to live with the local cats, I had never seen that before, I think there are none in Mexico and the truth is that I find it super weird, but worth the experience.
And the other curious thing is that one day at 4.16am it trembled, the alarm on my cell phone began to sound with a shocking “it’s shaking! It’s shaking!” What woke us up and we didn’t know what to do, fortunately it was a slight tremor that passed very quickly, and although it wasn’t something new for us because in Mexico we’ve been touched by several, for now we were scared because we didn’t know how to react in a country where their protocols may be different than what we are used to.
So far my story of an unforgettable family trip to a spectacular country. And I conclude by confirming that what they say “traveling changes your life” is true, it gives you anecdotes, experiences, moments, culture, and many more things, so I hope to continue doing it, and without a doubt, I invite you to travel, it is not necessary Even if it is an international trip, getting to know any place other than where you live will always give you additional and special motivation.
Don’t stop traveling, smiling, thanking and dreaming!
Greetings from HK! ѡѢѣѤ