23 July 2012
Back in June, Antoine, his brother, father, and nephew combined with my brother and sister-in-law took an amazing trip. We were fortunate enough to travel to Tokyo, Osaka, Nara, and Kyoto. With Antoine growing up there, I had heard stories of how amazing a place it is. I kid you not, he wasn't lying. All of this is just one girl's opinions, but I'd like to point out some high and lows! GARDENS EVERYWHERE. When I think gardens, I typically think of the kind Louis XIV would have loved. Controlled, bright, geometric. Japan is the complete opposite. Their gardens possess a naturalistic, or picturesque quality, and skirt the fine line of being cultivated and virgin. Super awesome. REALLY FUN SIGNS. Dōtonbori, Osaka has to be one of the craziest shopping streets I will ever be on. Many travel books commented on the ugliness of Osaka, but I found this to be quite opposite, and in many ways I preferred this city to Tokyo. TRAINS. I love trains. Make it a hi-speed one and I am even more excited. SO CLEAN, SO FRIENDLY. I was so impressed how such a densely populated area could remain so clean and organized. Granted, some of the architecture is unaesthetic, being a bit boxes and covered in wiring. Our merry group started taking pictures of the pieces of trash we would see, because it was that infrequent. Impeccable! BEER. I never knew that Japan was that stoked about beer! And even better with the summer temperatures! Vending machines on the street: beer. Vending machines in your hotel: beer. And, all of it was really cheap! On the flip side, when ordering non alcohol drinks in restaurants... the glasses are really small. Europe does this well, and my American thirst is just too great for such small glasses. TEMPLES/SHRINES. These buildings become so numerous, after a while you forget just how striking they are. The lights and space in and around them is so pleasing and well planned, I wish we could have lived inside them. BAMBOO. Ever since I was a child, I saw images of these forests. I've long dreamed of seeing them in person. What I didn't realize was that the color is the most amazing cool shade of green I have never seen before. Scooting along in the train, I would look at the shapes and textures of the forests. Even from a distance, these bamboo forest are amazing, with tall fern-like anatomy. A-mazing. PRESSURE. The worst part of the trip occurred on the second day. As we were headed out to Yadabashi Camera on the train, the horn started to blast in such an alarming manner as we approached a platform and every person inside the car looked forward. NOT A GOOD SIGN. My brother was just able to catch the glimpse of a man jumping in front of the train. As the train tried to stop, our car was the one in which was over the man. Trying to hide this from Antoine's younger nephew was imperative, and luckily, we were successful. While stuck in the train for a few moments, my brother and sister-in-law (each a dr. and nurse) naturally sprung into action, but alas we were locked inside. I was able to glimpse the stretcher carrying him out, and while not a horrific scene, made me sad to think why such a young, well dressed man would make this decision. We were nervous for the rest of the trip when we heard that train whistle blow. Phew well... ok. Sorry to end it on a weird note! BUT! I can honestly say, Antoine was not lying when he said Japan was one of the most amazing places on earth. Sure, it's busy, and urban, and overwhelming at times, but the hospitality, beauty, and friendliness of this ancient nation is amazing. GO THERE! Oh, and there are ridiculously cute things EVERYWHERE. It WINKED at us!