I am happy to have been able to go on this trip because the three of us in the family were all in good health and were able to survive so much walking to get from one place to another. We are fortunate that we had a safe trip and the area we were in was not hit by the earthquake at the time.
My mom and I had been wanting to visit Japan for a while now but have been apprehensive due to the fear of getting lost in a country with little English and because of the ridiculous travel prices two or three years ago. It’s a good thing that my college friend Rolf offers a tour via Madrid Travel club and we were able to get cheap plane tickets to boot (Php10,000 back and forth per head!
Discipline is a cultural norm in Japan which I think my own country needs. It is not a discipline that hinders self-expression but is a public good that results in fairness, honesty, and order that is felt even by tourists.
- No matter how much you prepare for something, life will throw you curve balls. I have been preparing for this trip for two months, exercising almost every day and doing squats to strengthen my legs only to catch a viral cold a week before going there. I had to spend the week prior recuperating and mostly just lying down on my bed and drinking meds and fluids. In essence, I’ve lost much of the gains I had by the time we were in Japan.
- Always bring lotion and moisturizer on your trips (especially if you can’t understand their language). Maybe this is only applicable because my skin is not used to the cold weather in Japan. But my goodness, DRY SKIN. This could have been easily resolved by going to the drugstore; unfortunately, I do not understand Japanese.
- Always pee if there is a pee break because train rides are long.
- Always bring tissues, wet wipes, and hand sanitizer–because you never know. 😳
For me, the highlight of the trip was visiting Todaiji—the biggest manmade wooden structure in the world. To see and touch the wooden beams of this massive temple felt surreal to me. The beams that made up this building are bigger than any tree I’ve ever seen in my life. I cannot fathom how such a grand and complex work of architecture was built at a time when mechanics and technology were very rudimentary compared to now. The brass Budha and guardians inside were equally striking in both their size and design. I’ve not seen these kinds of structures up close before. The guardians were massive whose features are meant to strike fear into anyone with the wrong intentions.
Incidentally, this trip was made more memorable because I was extremely playful with my friend and tour guide Rolf.
Prior to this trip, we weren’t very close. In fact, we had a misunderstanding the year before that cut off our communications for half the year. But the candid and blatant joke-flirting (right in front of my parents and Rolf’s aunties) broke the ice. It’s hard not to get along with someone whom you spend so much time laughing with.