Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tokyo Hour - and Why I Still Love Japan

Me wanna visit Sky Tree this time!!!! (Photo not mine)

Gasp! It has been more than half a year since I wrote a blog post, to my everlasting shame. Before I have time to finish waxing lyrical about all the wonderful things on my Hokkaido trip LAST December, I am getting ready for my next trip to Tokyo NEXT month, and then the Samurai and I are jetting off to Italy in late December for our proper year end holiday (yes you can start drooling in envy now).
 
Originally, we were supposed to go on the Italy trip only (since we have been to Japan almost every year since 2008, and our last European trip was to Greece in 2006!). But there was JUST this itch that must be scratched - we absolutely, utterly, NEEDED to get our Japan fix, so with Samurai T's birthday coming up, we used it as an excuse to celebrate his birthday (ON MY account, I might add). Although it would be a very short 5-day trip, both of us were completely jumping in anticipation once the flight and hotel were booked, and I planned the itinerary within A DAY (as opposed to taking my own sweet time reading the Rome guide book).

A planned day trip to Kawagoe (Pic from Wikipedia)

Our dinner conversation last night went something like this:

Fat Geisha: Which trip are you more excited about? Japan or Italy?
Samurai T: I dunno, but I think Japan.
Fat Geisha: I know right?!?!?! Aren't we weird?? We have been to Japan so many times! And there are so many new things to see and do in Italy!

The upcoming trip would be our FIFTH time to Japan (in almost as many years), and I can only think of Thailand (mainly Bangkok) being anywhere close/on par to that record (and maybe China but I mostly go there for work, not leisure, because seriously you need to PAY ME to go Beijing to inhale all that pollution). I have always been disturbed by friends who absolutely NEED to go on their yearly trips to Bangkok and/or Hong Kong, and I could never figure out WHY. I have nothing against Bangkok, but after the first couple of visits, the remaining trips were because our friends wanted to go (and for cheap long massages), and dragged us along. In the case of Hong Kong, you would need to PAY the Samurai to go, since he always developed respiratory problems on both his holidays there. I too, hated the bad air, the crowds (weirdly enough crowds in Japan are different, cos they are so well behaved!!!) and I was NOT at all interested in HK shopping. Disneyland? No freaking way. Food wise was the most appealing aspect (otherwise I would not be called Fat Geisha for nothing), but there is just how much dim sum you can take in one day, although the Samurai would sell a bit of his soul for roast goose. So why not pay a LITTLE bit more, sit for another 3 hours on the plane, and go Japan instead?! At this point I sound like I am from the Japan Tourism Board - and yes they should recruit me as the spokesperson! Seriously! (They probably won't since I am doing it for free anyway.)

You have to go to Japan at LEAST ONCE to appreciate the addictive charm of the country. Many people (who have yet to visit Japan) to this day still think that Japan is very expensive, and YES if you compare it to Thailand, it is obviously more expensive, but HALLO? have you been living in Singapore lately?? We now have one of the highest cost of living in the whole world, and we have long caught up to Japan (which has been suffering from deflation for the past 20 or more years - poor things). Add that to the excellent service that they give you, the top notch quality of the majority of their food, products and services, and you feel it is worth every single cent of your money. As a friend told me once, "You feel HAPPY spending money there!"

Tokyo National Museum at Ueno - another planned destination.

There is just something about Japan that makes my insides light up. I can be tired, I can be depressed, feeling stressed and crappy but the minute I disembark from the plane, all is right with the world again. There is something so relaxing (which is weird epecially in Tokyo and Osaka, which are the busiest cities in the world) that it sets my mind at ease. I don't worry about being robbed, getting lost, eating bad food, getting ill-treated, using dirty public toilets (ha!). When I am tired of the city I can take a comfy train ride to see the mountains, rivers, lakes or seas. I can eat the best tasting, freshest sushi, their innovative gorgeous looking desserts and shop for the cutest unqiue knick-knacks (which are not China knock-offs, although they have that too!). There may be the occasional unhappy incident (e.g. Samurai slipping on snow in Hokkaido and hurting his butt - hehe) but these disappeared quickly and we always, ALWAYS enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

And we would like to visit a Maid Cafe this time too, at Akihabara!

And that is why I still love Japan so much. Sigh, if only my love can help me in my Japanese learning. To think I will be taking the N4 exam immediately upon my return. Oh noes! Will I have time to study?? Methinks I gotta catch a few Japanese men to practice in my five days there. Takahiro and Takuya, where are you?