My sister's early graduation gift for me was to take me on a magical trip in a faraway land called Japan. Now, remember I went in March or April 2004 (I suggest going in the spring to see the cherry blossoms bloom) so it was still a little chilly and rainy. I packed sweaters, coats, an umbrella, and an eager attitude to explore.
Some of the things I want you to remember is that there is definitely a language barrier. I visited in 2004 so there has been more globalization since then, but I remember that being an issue. It's rare to find people who spoke English, or find menus or street signs in English. That being aside, people were very helpful overall. Another issue I had was the food. I went with my sister, Hina and her friend, Usma, who were big sushi fiends. I on the other hand eat things that have touched heat. Needless to say, I had a supremely difficult time finding places to eat. So much so that I lost 10 pounds in 10 days I was there. The only place I remember pigging out was in an Indian restaurant we found in Hiroshima. Believe me, it was a rare sight. Again, this was 2004 so I am sure Japan has introduced global cuisine to the restaurant market. Lastly, I really recommend not renting a car in Japan. The public transportation is superb, and a car is more of a hassle than convenience.
Excuse my memory, but I don't really remember the day to day itinerary so I will just list sights we saw in no particular order. We had ten days so we only managed to visit Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima. These three cities give an excellent overview of Japan. My only regret is not seeing Osaka. I have heard good things about it. If we had more time, we would have visit that beautiful city has well.
Anyways, here is a list of things we saw:
- Nijo Castle
- Fushimi Inari-taisha
- Meiji Shrine
- Shinjuku Gyoen
- Tokyo Imperial Palace
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
My thoughts in Japan were that it is a friendly place for anyone to visit. I love their customs from the Japanese Tea Ceremony to meditation in a zen garden. Everything is deliberate and clean. I would highly suggest reading up on the customs of Japanese people before going there. We has a couple of mishaps that were quite embarrassing, but we were forgiven. My parting advice would be to experience the bullet train if you can. It is absolutely luxurious and so fast! Shopping is quite fun too.We went to a mall where there were all sorts of cute tops and accessories. Being a Pakistani girl, I was quite taken by the silk fabric there. I wanted to purchase something for a desi outfit, but it was tooo expensive. A silk kimono is a big deal there and can cost thousands. Things are expensive here so I would suggest have a big budget for this country. Lodging is great, but like I said, expensive.
I promise you won't regret visiting this beautiful, peaceful island country.