In the land of the rising sun

Travel tales

In the land of the rising sun

I have never ever dreamt of visiting Japan but it so happened that a friend of mine was going there and she asked me to accompany her. So I had the opportunity to visit this land and have a glimpse of this great country and experience its culture.

We travelled by Malaysian Airlines and after a journey of six-and-a-half hours, reached Kansai Osaka Airport, which is also known as the ‘Floating Airport’ as it is constructed in the sea. We took a Volvo bus to Nishithima in Central Osaka, which was the place we were going to stay for the next two weeks.

Our first visit was to the Central Public Hall where the ‘Ceramic Museum’ is located. About 2,000 ceramic articles from 12th to 18th century from Korea and China, apart from Japan, are exhibited there. The articles are very neatly displayed. There was also a film show about the history of the exhibited items.

By the riverside, over the underground railway lines, there is a Rose Garden running to a length of two km. There are three private trains in Osaka while the bullet train is managed by the government. Recently, the bullet train (‘Shinka Sen’) celebrated its 50th anniversary.

A visit to the ‘Osaka Castle’, a popular tourist spot, takes you back to a glorious past. The castle is centuries old and towers upto eight storeys. At the top most floor, there is a verandah all around the castle which gives a good panoramic view of the Osaka City, which is the second largest city in Japan. This castle was built by Hidoyoshi Toyotomy in 1853. Close to the castle, one can find a beautiful auditorium. In the auditorium, we saw children learning ‘Aikudo’, which is something like a mixture of yoga and karate.

Our next stop was the Umeda Railway Station, which is very crowded. At its premises is located the ‘Giant Wheel of Osaka’, which gives you a good view of the city. Also, close to the station is the twin building — the tallest building of Osaka — like the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur. After a visit to the Rocco hill station and Rocco observatory, we reached Kobe Railway Station by a ropeway car. In the Kobe Railway station, there is a very long underground shopping area. We also had a view of the Kobe port.

Going shopping at ‘The Tenjimbashi’ shopping street, which is four km long and with a covered roof all along the street, was an unforgettable experience. We also visited the big malls like ‘City Mall at Temmambashi; ‘Life Mall’, ‘Yodobashi Shopping Mall’ etc, where things are quite expensive.

Our next journey was to the Hiroshima, the place where the first atom bomb named ‘Little Boy’ was dropped by Pilot Paul Tibbits from the aircraft ‘Enola Gay’ in 1945. We too a bullet train to reach there and it was a very comfortable trip. Once we reached Hiroshima, we visited the Sukaki Park and the museum there. The park stretched over acres of land with valleys, lakes, small bridges, huts and hillocks. In the lakes, I could see huge multi-coloured fishes frolicking. The scenic beauty there was indeed breathtaking.

‘Peace Memorial Park’ was where we were headed to after the park. It was an unforgettable experience. No one would ever say that Hiroshima was once destroyed by the bombing. The city looks as normal as any other city in Japan. The place where the atom bomb was dropped is called the ‘Atomic Bomb Dome’.  From the ‘Atomic Bomb Dome’ to the museum, there is a huge park named ‘Peace Memorial Park’, where in the middle, an arch-shaped tomb was constructed in memory of the people who died in the explosion. It is estimated that about 3,50,000 people died after the bomb was dropped there. 

A girl’s statue (‘Sadako Sasahi’) and a monument are erected in the park in memory of the 10,000 children who died there. The museum has a collection of the ruins of the explosion. The items exhibited, the pictures and the statues are very touching and an eerie silence prevailed inside the museum. We left the place with a heavy heart.

We then visited another important tourist place, Kyoto, which has a well-equipped aquarium with a variety of sea animals, corals, penguins and dolphin shows. Another wonderful tourist spot in Kyoto is the ‘Kinkahu-ji’ (Golden Temple). The temple is painted in gold and fenced on all sides preventing any entry to its premises. Our last visit was to Tokyo, the capital of Japan, considered to be the most expensive city of the world. We travelled by a bullet train which covered a distance of 600 km in two-and-a-half hours.
When we came out of the very big railway station, we could see only skyscrapers. 

Travel in Tokyo, however, was uncomfortable due to the hot, sultry weather. We reached the top of the Tokyo Tower in order to have a good view of the city. The tower is 333 meters high and one can reach the top either by climbing about 600 steps or by an elevator. There is also an observatory on the top floor.

My experiences in Japan will always remain fresh in my memory. The beautiful sights, the people there, their cultural and social setup are indeed highly laudable. Also, the country’s industrial developments and the punctuality, hardworking nature, co-operative mentality, disciplined way of life and sense of cleanliness of the Japanese remain unparalleled.

How to get there

We flew from Bengaluru to Osaka via Singapore and took a Malaysian Airlines flight.

Places to stay

In Osaka, I stayed at my friend’s house and we made day trips to Hiroshima and Tokyo. The total cost of the trip was under Rs 2 lakh for one person (excluding accomodation).

Sosamma Chacko
(The author can be contacted at 9480394881)

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