A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
It’s been two months since I visited Japan, the wonderland (wonder-islands) located in the west bit of the Pacific Ocean. Japan, or Nihon as Japanese people call their country, totally amazed me with a unique blend of traditional customs and modern development in its culture. I have to make a bold statement that this is the most disciplined and most organized society in the world. Wherever I went, the neatness and orderliness simply made me speechless. People were extremely friendly; I didn’t experience any ice-cold barriers between strangers (although the Japanese themselves joke about their ‘fake’ friendliness). Oh the Japanese food… Please forgive me for being a foodie, but every single dish I tried was superb. OK, let me stop saying these empty words and I’ll explain my trip to Japan to you with the following amazing pictures.
During the flight from Shanghai to Nagoya, my mom found something really cool on an advertisement brochure. They have stroopwafels in Japan! And the price is really not high. Look at the close friendship between the Netherlands and Japan. Hashtag jealous.
The first bus ride from Nagoya to Osaka took us 3 hours. I was too excited that I wanted to see everything literally on my way. This picture is an amusement park in Nagoya. If we had time to chill a bit in there that would be really awesome!
To be honest, my first impression of Osaka is that it’s a bit boring. It is a historical city, so I guess it should not be blamed for being old and … dull. Still, it’s a must-go if you are into Japanese history and relevant subjects like that.
I changed my mind when I visited the city center of Osaka. Do you know the feeling when you look into the mirror after putting on make up and fancy clothes? I think the city center of Osaka is like crucial decorations. My mom and I were overwhelmed by the ‘iroiro’ (in Japanese it means ‘a variety of’) shops. I even thought about getting some weird ‘cosplay’ costumes!
Though tired from walking around Osaka city center, we still saved some enthusiasm for Nara, a lovely little town near Osaka. The nostalgia at Nara immediately brought me to the ancient times. Traditional architectures like the Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines all share a deeply rooted sense of authenticity. There are a lot of deer in Nara. It’s said that deer are the gods of Nara. These deer gods are so cute though!
The next day, we went to Kyoto. This is totally my favorite Japanese city! It’s bright, young, also old, colorful, vivid, dynamic, alive, cultural, prosperous and well, let’s just say it’s perfect! I visited a Buddhist temple on the mountain which is called the Kiyomizu (Clear Water) Temple. This is the most amazing temple I’ve ever visited! And guess what! I was guaranteed for getting my Mr. Right from the ‘love stone’! I got it with the help from my mom though… It was my dad’s birthday on that day; in China we usually have noodles for birthday dinner, which means having a long and healthy life. Luckily, we had ramen/noodles for dinner for celebration. It was totally oishii (which means, yummy)!
By the way, the blankets in Japanese hotels are pretty weird and uncomfortable… But the rooms are all super clean.
And then we climbed up the Mount Fuji. Haha nope I’m kidding, our bus took us uphills and brought us downhills. Sorry, but we were lazy tourists who only wanted to take pictures. It was foggy in the mountain; it was actually super lucky for us that we could see a bit the shy Mount Fuji under her mysterious veil. We also went to lavender parks at the foot of Mount Fuji. What attracted me was not actually the beautiful landscape, but local products there. Peaches, cherries, and grapes there were like divine. Words cannot describe how delicious they were. My mouth is flooding right now when I’m typing. I’ll just move on to the next part to stop the flood.
How can you not visit one of those ‘onsen ryokan’s when you go to Japan? My mom and I totally took the privilege of looking Asian (and a bit alike to Japanese people). We were wearing Yukata! This was so awesome.
The last two days of my trip in Japan were spent in Tokyo. I had mixed feelings about this crowded metropolitan because it’s not entirely different from other Asian megacities. And, forgive me for my complaints, I had so many requests about Japanese merchandise from my family that I had no time to fully explore this city. Tokyo seemed very fast-paced; but it’s also a happy city. We witnessed the whole filming of a new Japanese idol group in front of Meiji Shrine. What a coincidence!
I miss this place so much, so so much. Right after I came back, I decided to learn Japanese really hard. I started a Japanese course online and I’m still doing it now. I am preparing for my next visit, which should happen very soon. I made a crazy wish in Tokyo, and if it comes true, I will have an absolutely legitimate reason to go back and say ‘thank you’ to Tokyo, and also Japan for making my dream come true. My dear readers… will you come with me? 🙂
——————by Xueyan Xing, coming all the way from China, studying at Leiden University College The Hague