So I’m finally in Japan yay!! Those of you who know me or follow me on twitter know how much I’ve been looking forward to this trip, and so far so good! It’s only been the first weekend, but a long and eventful one it has been.
Coming to Japan I decided to fly with Lufthansa, with a change over at Frankfurt, where I took ANA all the way to Haneda, Tokyo. And I have to say ANA’s planes are really nice. Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised to see the plane lit up like a rainbow.
There was also a lot of entertainment, in terms of movies (english or japanese), t.v shows, music and also games. There was so much to watch, that out of the whole 9 hour flight, I think I probably only slept about 3 hours! (My excitement probably played a big role in this though 😉 ) However, because I didn’t sleep more than half the night, as well as watching movies, I also spent my time eating. People are often surprised at how much I eat despite being (apparently) “really small”. And I think the ANA flight attendants were just as surprised every time I went to get a snack.
But the service on the flight was excellent and I really enjoyed myself. However, upon landing, I discovered my bag had not landed with me :s And honestly deep down, I KNEW this was going to happen, because…well…it’s the kind of thing that just happens to me lol. So I spent an extra half hour answering and filling out a paper at the airport all in Japanese! 本当に大変だった!! A real test of my Japanese straight out of the plane. でも、I managed to make myself understood, which to be honest, I’m quite proud of (^^)b My bag finally arrived today, but because of that, unfortunately I’ve had to change my travel plans a bit. See, I wasn’t kidding when I talked about getting lost in Japan 😉
But aside from that, I had a great first weekend. At the moment I’m staying in Shizuoka with my friend and her family. Shizuoka is just south of Tokyo, and is most famous for its green tea production. There are fields and fields of green tea (お茶畑 ocha batake). We drove all the way from the airport to Shizuoka. On the way home we stopped at a near by shrine, where I was lucky enough to see a young couple’s お宮参り (omiyamairi): a shrine visit for good fortune. Omiyamairi are often done for newborns as well. My friend’s dad explained to me how a newborn is brought to the local shrine, and the shinto priest says a prayer while waving a tamagushi (a branch of a sacred tree) around to bring good fortune for the child. It was quite interesting to see this in action, and I really wanted to take pictures, but I felt it might be rude, so didn’t. So instead I took lots of pictures of carp and a turtle 😀
Later on in the day we also went to the sea side.
And after grabbing some food at Moss Burger, we went to an onsen! My very first onsen experience actually. Why not get the 恥ずかしい 感じout of the way でしょう 😉 I think as a foreigner, going to an onsen is a terrifying experience. Yes, more terrifying than eating natto, eating with chopsticks or sitting in seiza. Which is weird, because all you have to do is get naked and sit in a tub. But that’s the problem…you have to get naked. Which to be honest, I personally am okay with, but seeing as I get stared at just walking down the street, I was afraid this experience might be a little bit uncomfortable.
Before going, I made sure to go over all the correct etiquette and steps in an onsen with my friend. Onsens are communal baths, so first and foremost, before entering the bath, it’s very important to wash yourself in the shower properly. Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner are provided in the showers, but of course you can also bring your own. Once you’ve showered, you can enter the onsen, but if you have long hair, you must tie it up. Also towels are not allowed in the water (most people walk around with a tiny towel that is just big enough to cover your front). This onsen we went to was really nice, because it had outside and inside baths. Each bath had different temperatures. The coldest one was about 25 degrees, and the hottest 41. So you can spend your time going from one bath to the next depending on how hot or cold you feel. The outside baths were amazing. Honestly, there’s nothing nicer than sitting in a warm bath out in the mountains (however strange that may sound). Unfortunately because it had been cloudy that day (and it was night time), we couldn’t see Mount Fuji (or the stars even), but it was still really nice. As for people staring at me while I was in the bath? Well the kids did (I think mostly just because they were children and would have been staring at me fully clothed or not), but the adults kind of could’t care less. So I definitely recommend foreigners to not be shy, and go to an onsen, because otherwise you’d be missing out.
On Sunday we went to Fuji-Q Highland, one of Japan’s most famous amusement parks. The rides were amazing! We managed to ride the 4 main attractions, Fujiyama, Takabisha, eejanaika and dodonpa.
Fujiyama holds the Guiness World record for the tallest roller coaster at a height of 79m and features a drop of 70m! That slow ride to the top where you see the number of meters you’re rising is really scary, but if you stop looking at the numbers, you’ll also see that the view is amazing. But again, unfortunately for me, Mount Fuji was still hiding! 😥 Dodonpa is another roller coaster that holds the Guiness World record for the fastest ride at 172km/h 1.8 seconds into the ride. Finally, you have Takabisha, which features an impressive 121 degree free fall drop! Even the ascent was crazy scary as you’re completely vertical, and once you get to the top, there’s a slight break before you’re suddenly dropped…best ride ever! We also went on a water roller coaster. They were selling rain coats for 100 yen a piece, but since it was hot, we thought we wouldn’t need the rain coats. Plus surely we wouldn’t get THAT wet…we were wrong. Landing in the pool, all of sudden everything just seemed to slow down and happen in slow motion, as a I watched this MASSIVE wave of water rise and fall back onto our naive selves and completely soak us from top to bottom.
But was it worth it? Of course 😉 When we got off people were actually giving us high fives for having been the only crazy people to go on the ride without a rain coat.
On the way back from Fuji-Q, we stopped by in Fujinomiya where they were having a small neighborhood matsuri.
Today I’m travelling to Miyagi for the Tanabata festival, which I’m really looking forward to, so till then またね ^^