Article by: Jeffrey Legaspi
“I have to take LOTS of videos of snow”, I said to myself as I plan my 11-day trip to Japan never knowing how stunning it really is. Clearly, there are a lot more to Japan than its ski areas. After I land in Narita, I took another flight to Osaka where I met with my friend and her relatives. We went to Universal Studios Japan to let out my being a “Potterhead”. We spent the entire day at USJ where I bought the elder wand and a mug for JPY 6,000. We ended the day with a night show in the center of USJ where graceful dancers entertained us below a huge fireworks display.
Next, we went to Kyoto. The shrines at Kyoto are breathtaking as the sunrise illuminates on the vibrant colors of its walls. Like Fushimi Inari Shrine which is a proof of purchase in Kyoto; a stone’s throw away from a train station. As we head over to the shrines of Fushimi Inari, people are looking at the shots they took with smiles on their faces which thrilled us even more. We faced a giant torii that welcomed us from the station and a twin torii gate paths that is perfect for taking pictures. When we’re on the big torii shrines, we saw a couple posing for what looked like a wedding announcement photos.they looked amazing on those vermilion-colored torii. Our next destination is Mt. Fuji who needs no introduction.
We took a bus from Kyoto to Lake Kawaguchiko that took 8 hours to save us for a day of accommodation and to ensure that we get there early in the morning as we read on the internet that it would more like to show itself around 7AM. It is 2PM when the mountain decided to show its magnificence to us and it left our jaw dropped. We panicked as we give justice to its beauty through our photos and videos. We then went back to Tokyo as my friend will leave the next day to Manila. We decided to take videos on Starbucks across Shibuya Crossing where we met two English travel bloggers who got amazed of us being Filipinos. They told us that our country is already rich in culture and we need not to travel to other countries; we did not argue with that truth. Since I’m all alone, I decided to proceed to Nagano earlier and experience the ski areas of Shiga Kogen a day earlier.
I went to Snow Monkey Park where one of the monkeys decided to grab the case of my Osmo and people started laughing at monkey (or at me, whatever). Good thing I had it strapped in my backpack. I ended that day with a nice Ramen with chicken wings, fries and a mug of chocolate. The next day, I went to Komanoyu in Shiga Kogen just to video the ski area. It’s my first time to see a snow fall and I was completely overwhelmed. It’s like a childhood dream you knew that wouldn’t come true, but there I was on the bus smiling and accomplished. When I got to the ski area, I looked like a child that tasted ice cream for the first time. There are people who were completely geared-up with skis, yellow jackets and pants, helmets, goggles, boots, and poles. The instructors wore pink followed by the yellow line of students who looked indifferent to snow or the hike. Had a good laugh as they stumbled down and shouted like they’re about to crash.
My day ends with a quick stay at the Onsen where we’re required to be butt-naked. I met Vladmir (Vlad for short) from Czech Republic and he shared to me his life about his marriage, his work, and what’s he doing in Japan. The next day, I went to Tokyo through a Shinkansen. Trains in Japan are not only timely and clean, it’s also really fast but steady. My last day is planned to be in a capsule hotel. To be completely honest, I am quite scared as it looked like you’re staying in a coffin but it’s not as bad as it looks.
On my flight to Manila, I decided I will come back to Japan soon. I wanted to go there to see the snow but there are many things Japan can offer aside from snow like them being courteous (I once saw two men in suit and tie, exchanged vows five times), the train and bus systems that are always reliable, their excellent public service (a road in front of my hotel was being excavated when I went out but looked like nothing happened when I got back the same day), the shrines that define their respect for their culture, and famous landmarks where you’ll inevitably leave a part of your soul.