Prior to my arrival in Japan, doubts arose in my over-imaginative creative mind. It might sound crazy but the paranoid self who couldn’t find much information on the organisation that I will be liaising with led me to some wild thoughts. The main culprit was a recent article about a broadcaster who uncovered a human smuggling syndicate at the opposite end of the world.
Fortunately, those wild thoughts of mine are fictitious and of course, JapanTravel is most legitimate. In fact, it is an up-&-coming tourism and travel website (relating to all things Japan) that includes an official collection of maps and guides. The reason that I couldn’t find much information on them was mainly due to their relatively recent entry to the World Wide Web.
2014 marks their 2nd year of internship offers to individuals who are interested in photojournalism. I was most fortunate and honoured to be accepted into the program. 39 winks in Japan passed in a flash. I have been asked numerous times: ‘Did you enjoy Japan?’ I hesitated to reply, not because I didn’t have fun. It was a different form of enjoyment. I was trying to grasp the concept of mixing work with leisure – something that requires immense skills and great discipline.
Far from being a bed of roses (like most would assumed), travel writing has its moments. Yet, one often gets the opportunity to explore different perspectives and gain a deeper understanding beyond the usual travel insights. This, of course, leads to greater personal growth and wisdom.
The following entries will include some personal stories and travel tips in Japan. For a great laugh, read on.
1. Learning the Art of Discarding Rubbish
Travelling in other countries and getting acquainted with new cultures never fail to make me appreciate how spoilt we are in our home country. In Singapore, one can find a rubbish bin within every few steps. In Japan, discarding rubbish is an art.
I love the notion of being environmental-friendly but to put that into action has its challenges. Spotting those elusive rubbish bins became a personal triumph, and I was constantly on guard to spot the next friendly bin. In certain cities, the intricate separation of rubbish according to different categories right down to their allocated colorful bags boggled my simple mind such that I (abashedly) took to sneaking rubbish out of the house to friendlier bins that were parked outside of convenience stores. A fellow comrade dealt with the same problem more positively by ‘reducing the creation’ of rubbish.
#tip# To learn the art of discarding rubbish, start by trading tissue papers for handkerchief (ps: this is something that I have yet to master).
2. Walking to a New Fabulous Body
Being a photojournalist intern means that accommodations and transport costs are being covered. The pros include reduced travel costs and… plenty of exercise (physically and mentally). Instead of staying in the heart of the city or making visits to overcrowded popular attractions, one may be residing in urban neighbourhood and exploring the path less trodden, all of which oozes local charms.
There’s just one point to note; beyond the endless stairs lies paths that go on forever! Travelling in Japan led me to walk so much (thanks god I love walking!) that I almost walked to my new fabulous body! Almost.
#tip# Investment in good walking shoes is recommended unless you can be like the fashion-forward Japanese ladies who go hiking in platform shoes and stiletto heels.
3. Eating Without Inhibitions
Eating without inhibitions was made possible due to #point 2. Enough said.
Ps: Those sponsored meals were especially satisfying too.
4. Befriending Technology (Useful websites for travel in Japan)
At the risk of inciting jealousy and the wrath of my BFF, I’ve acquired a few new best friends in order to survive travelling in Japan. Technology became my trusted aide (most of the time) and came in the form of the following:
– Google Map ~ this helps to bring you (almost) everywhere
– Google Translate ~ this helps ease awkward confusion during conversations whereby people do not speak the same language
– AccuWeather Forecast ~ this helps to plan the itinerary for the day
– Instagram ~ recommendations from local and foreign travellers
– LINE ~ communication tool that keeps one connected
– XE Currency ~ for those who are bad in Maths like me, this shall help you to keep to your budget
5. When Materialism and Vanity Strike!
Travel light for the ease of exploring different destinations… right. But summertime in Japan meant SALE, SALE and more SALE! It is hard to resist temptations when it hits you in your face upon every corner that you turn. Unfortunately, I could hardly quell materialism or vanity. I was surrounded by beautiful people and I wanted to be beautiful too. (There, I said it!) Anyway, toiletries, beauty products and cosmetics are soooooo reasonably-priced that I totally regretted bringing mine from home. At the end of my trip, I almost lose the wrestling battle with the luggage and have to resort to getting additional travel bags!
#tip# Travel with an empty luggage or bring only the necessities. All else can be purchased at a good price. It might also be a good idea to bring extra foldable travel bags.
6. Have Faith for Smooth Travel
My tendency to allow self-doubt to lure me from the right spots to wrong places was driving me nuts. I hopped on and off right buses and trains to wrong ones so often that I stopped myself one day. I told myself: “it is time to trust your own judgment and if you were to lose your way again, then come what may!” Surprisingly, having greater faith helped me to find my way more easily.
Conclusion? Self-belief is an important component that can lead to smoother progress in one’s life.
39 Winks in Japan: Random Pictures
That’s not all. Stay tuned for more random stories about my 39 winks in Japan. Meantime, for more destination information, do check out my articles at JapanTravel.
The above information has been compiled based on various sources, including my own experience and should only be used as a reference. For more information, please check out: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/