My fourth country visit was to Tokyo, Japan in the month of December. The first different thing I noticed as I landed in Narita International airport was at the Immigration check. The Japanese used the retina scan technique to authenticate everyone. I had seen this for the first time then. I checked in my hotel and relaxed for a while. The temperature out was around 4-5deg C and I could view the Mt. Fuji from the window of my room in Hotel Pacific. It was covered with snow to few kilometers which was just giving a breath taking view.
The first weekend I did visit to the famous Tokyo Tower (333m) on my own. It was great to see its architecture. I went to the top of the tower through a lift and came down via steps (around 600-700 steps).
I also paid a visit to the Zozoji Temple which had an elaborate golden alter, one of its own kind. This temple is a 1974 re-construction. Its just behind the Tokyo Tower.
My next weekend comprised of visits to Asakusa (The famous Kannon Temple) and the Tokyo Disneyland. In Asakusa, there was this small place in between where smoke (holy smoke) was generated through incense sticks and it is believed that the smoke is so holy that if you take it in your hand and smear it to any place where you have an ailment, your pain just vanishes. All is in belief…
Then was time to become kids – my visit to Disney Land. It was drizzling the whole time on the way and imagine in December if it is drizzling, it makes the temperature soaring to even less than the actual. Disneyland is a delight for kids and elders too. All the cartoon characters were like coming alive over there.
To my surprise, there was a Christmas carnival going to happen in the evening. So all had reserved places in the front row over the footpath. The worst part was that we couldn’t play in any of the games there as all had huge queues and we literally didn’t have much time. Suddenly we hear the jingles of Christmas songs and we ran and joined the crowd on the roadside (Road here is the road which leads to the Cinderella’s Castle). It was so beautiful to watch all the Disney characters in the carnival dancing over the Christmas jingles. We were there till 6pm in the evening and by then it started to pour and we made our mind to leave. Disneyland is the place where you literally require 4-5 days to enjoy every ride and explore the whole place. By the time we reached hotel it was around 7pm and we decided to have our dinner out in an Indian Restaurant called DEVI’s, which was around a kilometer from our hotel.
The next day I went to the Tokyo Tower again along with my friend in the evening. It was great to see the lighted up Tower. From the top, the view of entire Tokyo was magnificent with all the city lights sparkling.
That day we were full charged up for the next day’s plan – to go to Mt. Fuji. Mt. Fuji, the volcano, though a sleeping one from past 150 years is one of the most talked about volcanos in Japan. We left at 8am from the hotel for Fuji. It took almost 2.5 hours and 3 railway line changes for us to reach the Fuji Station. There is of course another fast and the furious way to reach here and that is thru the famous Bullet train which will make you reach in half of the time but definitely it is costlier. In Fuji station, I saw snow for the first time in my life. Snowfall had happened the previous night and it was quite more I guess as inches of snow was evident everywhere.
I took snow in both my hands and it was such an awesome experience. We did have plans of climbing till the base of Fuji but due to the snowfall, highways were closed. So we enjoyed every bit of our visits to the lake surrounding the Fuji. Mt. Fuji is surrounded by 5 lakes and they are Lake Kawaguchiko, Lake Motosuko, Lake Saiko, Lake Shojiko and Lake Yamanakako. We could visit only one of the lakes that day, (the Lake Kawaguchiko) as the lakes are spread in vast areas and of course in all directions. There is a provision of Cable car which takes you up to get a top and mesmerizing view of the Lake.
The last weekend was short and sweet in Japan as had only 3 working days and I had to fly down to Bangalore on the 4th day. Japan is a place which is extremely prone to natural disasters for it to be a Tsunami or a volcanic eruption or even say an earthquake. There are so many sky scrapers built there and all are quake proofs. As I heard from locals there, that when an earthquake hits a place with a higher magnitude, you literally see the buildings shake like a pack of cards but they are built to sustain such stress. Japan is the only country I guess which is being targeted by nature again and again and humans (referring the Hiroshima Nagasaki incident) and they still bounce back with such great sense of positivity each time. It’s amazing!!!
At that time there were no smart phones and Google maps to figure out places and it being one of the reasons for making these trips more adventurous. My special mention here goes to Aginesh Srinivasan in accompanying me while we explored the place. Thank you dude.