Written by Shirley T
Monday, 22 March 2010 17:09
Hey! I am back after two weeks of silence. Away on a long vacation, traveling back to my home country - Malaysia and caught a couple of short holidays in Taipei and Tokyo with my Significant Other.
Talking about Japan, I had transited more than a few times yet never explored the country of 'The Rising Sun' until recently. Firstly, I somehow perceived Japan as a planet of itself. What I used to have in mind was the locals only speak Japanese, read Japanese and write Japanese. They practically live in their own world. For a self-explorer like me, I might face huge obstacle to survive and getting around. My second verdict was the high cost which is much of my concern since I survived on shoes string budget.
After spending 4 days in Tokyo, I guess my hypothesis were no longer true. This is indeed the beauty of 'experience'. Yes, no doubt some of the locals do speak to me in Japanese (since I look like one of them!), but when I probed them in English, they understood and managed to help. Ignored the grammar and every point they gave me was flawless. The next thing I like about Tokyo is safe, clean, the "plastic food" or fake food samples display (this is cool, will share about this soon!) and clear self-explanatory sign post/leaflet. Transportation and food wise, the cost is similar to United States. For a decent meal in Ueno neighborhood, it may cost between 350 to 800 yen. Needless to say, I enjoyed the authentic Japanese cuisine in Tokyo. The only drawback was the hotel room's size. Tiny and the semi-double bed is smaller than the standard queen size bed. For a petite couple, it was not really a hassle. Guess I was being pampered too much with the luxurious of space, so this is pretty hard to accept and became the downside relatively.
The bonus of our trip was the inspiring sight of cherry blossom or what the Japanese called 'Sakura'! In Japanese culture, cherry blossom is an omen of good fortune. As an emblem of love and affection, it also represents spring. Cherry blossoms are an enduring metaphor for the fleeting nature of life and often depicted in art, manga, anime, film, performance, souvenirs and consumer goods.
We were greeted by a pair of flowering cherry trees as soon as we arrived at Ueno Kensei Station from Narita Airport. Ueno Park is one of the most crowded public parks in Tokyo for hanami or cherry blossom viewing. It is the home to 1000 cherry trees. Beginning of last week, there were easily more than two dozens of flowering cherry trees; mainly single petal pink and dark pink. Lanterns have been put up to welcome the hanami party during cherry blossom season.
Sumida Park that stretches along Sumida River was the next destination we spotted the awesome sight of cherry blossom. Light pink flowering cherry trees along the river bank, it is located a stone throw away from Asakusa subway station.
Our stroll at East Garden of Imperial Palace also did not let us left empty handed. There are about 30 varieties of cherry trees here. More than a dozen of them from various species colored the sight of this royal garden in the heart of Tokyo.
All the above places we visited are free (no entrance fee). To find out more places for hanami and best viewing season of cherry blossom in Japan, do check out here.
These pictures are only the appetizers to provide a sneak preview of our Japan trip. I hope to cover our complete journey in Tokyo soon. Stay tuned!
How to get to Ueno Park?
Board subway to Ueno Station (by Ginza Line, Hibiya Line or JR Yamanote Line), walk 100 m to Ueno Kensei Station (Narita Airport) which is adjacent to the entrance to Ueno Park.
How to get to Sumida-gawa Park?
Board subway to Asakusa Station (by Ginza Line or Asakusa Line), walk 100 m towards river bank.
How to get to Imperial Palace?
Board subway to Tokyo Station (by JR Yamanote Line) or Otemachi (Mita Line, Chiyoda Line, Tozai Line, Marunouchi Line or Hanzomon Line) or Nijubashimae Station (Chiyoda Line) or Hibiya Station (Mita Line, Chiyoda Line, Hibiya Line). The nearest station is Nijubashimae and Hibiya which takes about 5-8 minutes. The walk from Tokyo station is the longest, takes about 15 minutes or more.
Japan survival tips:
Konichiwa = Hello or Greeting
Sumi masen = Excuse me or Sorry
Arigato gozaimas = Thank you
Wakaranai or Wakari masen = I do not understand
Did not find what you are looking for? Do a search...
(Type what you are looking for in the textbox below)
Flower Arrangement Series
Like flowers, want to get creative? Step by step with images on how to design what you always wanted.
Need itinerary of a week? Attractions in Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Floating Market, Kanchanaburi...
Big Bend US National Park (Texas)
From canyons, rivers, basins to mountains, a journey into wilderness!
Spring in Tokyo
Hanami and Sakura at Ueno, Akibahara, Imperial Palace, Sensoji Temple, Ameyoko Shopping Street...
The Best of Taipei
Our stories at Yangmingshan, Yehliu, Keelung, Jinshan, Danshui, Taipei...
Live, Do, Eat, Sleep in Texas
4 Seasons experience in The Lone Star state; hopping Austin, Blanco, Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fredericksberg, Houston, New Braunfels, San Antonio, Terlingua, Vanderpool, Waco & more