Ahhhhh… Japan.

Came back from a 56-day trip Japan a little more than a week ago, and I’ve been typing some recollections and reviews of destinations which I've also posted on this blog.

To me, Japan wasn’t foreign - it felt kind of familiar actually, probably because the geography and architecture has the same kind of ‘East Asian look’ like Korea or Taiwan and the fact that I’ve heard so much about the culture already.

But to me, Japan is a really endearing country. There have been countless moments during the trip when I just look at what’s happening before me and take a deep breath and say to myself yet again: I could live here. Those instances include: yet another touching and friendly (and occasionally wacky) encounter with a local, listening to the salespeople speak very quickly in honorific language with its very long verb endings, reading the kanji or kana or signs and advertisements and realising that I actually understand what they’re saying most of the time, hearing the Osaka soba seller shout ‘irashai!’ and ‘ookini!’ in that gruff Kansai dialect, taking in the hustle and bustle of Tokyo’s numerous busy subway stations, slurping down a tasty bowl of ramen, relaxing in a hot spring bath in winter, meeting friendly university students in Kanazawa, sitting in a JR train and looking out of the window……

Yes, I could really live here. I guess Japan has really grown on me, all its quirks, idiosyncrasies and above all, the politeness and warmth of its people.

Here’s an overview of my trip itinerary:

16 Dec Arrive in Tokyo 
17 Dec – 19 Dec Tokyo 
19 Dec Hakone 
20 Dec Kawaguchiko 
21 Dec – 23 Dec Tokyo 
24 Dec Disneysea, stay in Tokyo 
25 Dec Nikko 
26 Dec – 27 Dec Tokyo 
28 Dec Magome, Kiso Valley 
29 Dec Tsumago, Kiso Valley 
30 Dec – 6 Jan Kyoto 
7 Jan Uji 
8 Jan – 11 Jan Osaka 
12 Jan Nara 
13 Jan Takayama 
14 Jan Shirakawago, stay in Kanazawa 
15 Jan – 16 Jan Kanazawa 
17 Jan Himeji, stay in Hiroshima 
18 Jan Hiroshima 
19 Jan Miyajima, stay in Hiroshima 
20 Jan – 21 Jan Fukuoka 
22 Jan Beppu, stay in Fukuoka 
23 Jan Mt Aso and Kumamoto, stay in Fukuoka 
24 Jan Huis Ten Bosch and Nagasaki, stay in Fukuoka 
25 Jan Fukuoka 
26 Jan Sapporo 
27 Jan Otaru, stay in Sapporo 
28 Jan – 29 Jan Sapporo 
30 Jan Tomamu, stay in Kushiro 
31 Jan Kawayu Onsen 
1 Feb Abashiri, stay in Asahikawa 
2 Feb Asahiyama Zoo, stay in Sapporo 
3 Feb Toya and Onuma, stay in Hakodate 
4 Feb Hakodate 
5 Feb Tokyo 
6 Feb Yokohama, stay in Tokyo 
7 Feb Tokyo 
8 Feb Depart Tokyo