Japan Autumn Diaries (#3): Mt. Fuji’s Perfect Serenity

If there’s one place in Japan that is peaceful, relaxing and worth-visiting in every season… it would be Mt. Fuji! Summer is here in the tropics.. while Spring is fast approaching in some countries like Japan and Korea. I can’t help but recall some beautiful memories of my Japan trip. I’ve been there in Autumn and I hope to go back one Spring time..

Why Mt. Fuji?

It’s World Heritage Site. It’s Japan’s highest and most prominent mountain (3,776 meters).

It is amazingly beautiful and attractive from all sides either afar or close up view. Climbing may be a bit challenging but it’s worth the climb once you reach the top. Just by simply watching the view gives you a lot of realization –Creation. Masterpiece. Beauty. Seasons. Life

 It is peaceful. The serenity it brings give you renewed energy. Relax. Stress-free.

You can build network. A friend and I went up here and there’s not too many crowd (November 2015). We met people from across the globe who are very friendly to greet us as we climb. It felt so good to meet people who have the same interests as yours even if you do not know them personally but when they started to smile and you begin to talk it feels like you’ve known each other for such a long time. 

☑ It’s picture-perfect. If you love nature and your hobby is photography, you don’t have to think twice. Pack and go.

Because you love it.

Here is a useful information about climbing Mt. Fuji.

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View from Fujinomiya

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What is essential is invisible to the eye. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly –The Little Prince

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So the next time I’d consider of detaching myself from busy life in the metropolis, Mt. Fuji is definitely on my mind.

Happy Memories at Mt. Fuji… I HOPE TO VISIT YOU AGAIN in the FUTURE! ^_^

👣 The Official Traveler

Japan Autumn Diaries (#2):🍂 Food to Love in Japan

When I think of “Japan,” aside from its people the word ‘food’ is what I automatically associated with it. I am very picky when it comes to food ever since. But surprisingly when I began to experience food in Japan, I have come to love almost every food in the country (even those which I least preferred prior to my visit). They are simply exquisite, indispensable, indescribable, and incomparable. I have tried some and I love them.

  1. Gyoza. 
    It is made from the finest quality IMG_9706.JPGingredients for mouth wateringly delicious dumplings filled with ground meat and vegetables and wrapped in thin dough. It is incredibly easy to prepare in any kitchen that has a frying pan. The popular gyoza is yaki gyoza which has typical filling consists of ground pork, nira chives, green onion, cabbage, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil, but some creative gyoza shops have also come up with a range of other fillings.oden_01
  2. Oden.
    It is a Japanese winter dish which consists of several ingredients such as boiled eggs, daikon, konjac, tofu, and processed fishcakes stewed in a light, soy-flavoured dashi broth. I had an authentic oden meal at Hiro’s (my friend) home cooked by her dear granny. Oishi! 🙂
  3. Mochi.
    One of my favourite snack is Mochi. It is a traditional Japanese round rice cake made from glutinous rice, fresh from the oven and frozen immediately. I could find various mochi products in almost every store. It can be served grilled, deep fried, in soup, or in desserts.

  4. Rice Burger.
    Instead of bread, I am happy to eat a bun made of rice mixed with barley and millet. It is called MOS Rice burger!! I tasted it in Japan for the first time and I love it. ~You got me~ feeling.rice burger.jpg
  5. Yakiniku.
    It comes from a Japanese word for “grilled meat” and originally referred to BBQ in western term.The beef or pork are cut into bites, grilled in open fire, and served with sauce and some side dishes. The Korean version is Sampgyeopsal or grilled pork. Yakiniku has lesser side dishes than sampgyeopsal.
  6. Hoto.Hoto.jpg
    It is a hearty hot pot dish (nabemono) local toYamanashi prefecture. The dish consists of thick wheat noodles in a miso based soup and is often served in an iron pot. The soup is traditionally a miso based broth with pumpkin and other seasonal vegetables added.

Soft Ice Cream.

No matter what the season would be, ice cream never losses popularity in Japan. It comes with exponential flavors. I personally like the Green tea or Matcha flavor. But there are also other flavorful ice cream you can choose from. Here are some Ice cream in Japan that will surely shock you. ^_^

Matcha Soft Ice cream.jpgDare to try some of these: Jellyfish ice cream, ice cream with oysters, egg noodles ice cream, shark’s fin ice cream, horse meat flavor, salted fish ice cream, spicy indian curry ice cream, chicken wings ice cream, cactus flavor, squid ice cream, fish ice cream, sweet potato, shrimp ice cream, coal flavoured ice cream 😀
Would you like to try some?

  1. Sushi.
    No doubt, the most popular dish inside and outside Japan. It has a lot of kinds.
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Some popular ones are:

 nigiri.jpg Nigiri
Small rice balls with fish, shellfish, etc. on top. There are countless varieties of nigirizushi, some of the most common ones being tuna, shrimp, eel, squid, octopus and fried egg.
 gunkan.jpg Gunkan
Small cups made of sushi rice and dried seaweed filled with seafood, etc. There are countless varieties of gunkanzushi, some of the most common ones being sea urchin and various kinds of fish eggs.
 norimaki.jpg Norimaki
Sushi rice and seafood, etc. rolled in dried seaweed sheets. There are countless varieties of sushi rolls differing in ingredients and thickness. Sushi rolls prepared “inside out” are very popular outside of Japan, but rarely found in Japan.
 Temaki Sushi Temaki
Temakizushi (literally: hand rolls) are cones made of nori seaweed and filled with sushi rice, seafood and vegetables.
 snow-crab-oshizushi-1.jpg Oshizushi
Oshizushi is pressed sushi, in which the fish is pressed onto the sushi rice in a wooden box. The picture shows trout oshizushi in form of a popular ekiben (train station lunch box).
 cone sushi inari sushi.jpg Inari Sushi
Inarizushi is a simple and inexpensive type of sushi, in which sushi rice is filled into aburaage (deep fried tofu) bags.
 chirashi Chirashi
Chirashizushi is a dish in which seafood, mushroom and vegetables are spread over sushi rice. It can resemble domburi with the difference being that chirashizushi uses sushi rice while domburi uses regular, unseasoned rice.

More information at: http://www.japan-guide.com

There are many other food to taste and see in each prefecture. But it requires a big stomach, time, and money to be able to eat them all. ^_^ Japanese constantly innovate.. so I am pretty sure there is always something to look forward to each time we visit.

👣 The Official Traveler/HistoryMaker

Japan Autumn Diaries (#1): 👏 Nabana No Sato

Darkness cannot drive out darkness..Only LIGHT can do that;
Similarly, anger cannot drive out anger with hate..Only LOVE can do that. ❤ From my one Little Heart, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
-👣 The Official Traveler/HistoryMaker

I am privileged to witness a winter illumination in Japan. ^_^
Special thanks to a dear friend, Nona for taking me there. I wish we had more time. Nabana no Sato (なばなの里) is a theme park on the island of Nagashima in Mie prefecture, which is located outside Nagoya. It is famous for winter illumination that runs from October to early May featuring the moving pictures of Mt. Fuji and the illuminated autumn flowers at the large park. Here are some snap shots in Autumn-Winter 2015.

Quick Tip: Visit the place in the afternoon to see the flowers during the day and illumination at night. It’s a totally different scenery!

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Location: Nabana No Sato
Travel Date:
November 2015
Season:
Autumn-Winter
Time:
5:40pm-8:40pm

HOW TO GET THERE?


 

From Nagoya

From the Meitetsu Bus Center next to Nagoya Station, take a bus bound for Nagashima Onsen and get off at either Nabana no Sato (870 yen, 30 minutes). Buses depart every 20 to 30 minutes. My friend took the Meitetsu bus.

From Kuwana (or Nagashima) Station

Kuwana Station and Nagashima Spaland are connected by 2-3 buses per hour (510 yen, 20 minutes). A different bus connects the station with Nabana no Sato (250 yen, 10 minutes, 1-3 buses/hour). During the winter illuminations from late October to early May, the bus to Nabana no Sato departs from Nagashima Station instead of Kuwana Station.

How to get to and around Nagoya


Nabana no Sato

Hours

9:00 to 21:00 (until 22:00 during winter)

Closed

Irregular closing days, typically a couple of days in July

Fees

1600 yen (spring and autumn)
1000 yen (summer)
2100 yen (winter) -the 2100 yen is inclusive of 1000 yen worth of items or food inside.(c) http://www.japan-guide.com

Visit Japan: Lesson Learned

I am privileged to have my Autumn trip successfully this year. This is one of most remarkable travel experiences I’ve had. I fell in love with Japan. I’ve discovered culture and differences, and most importantly, I’ve learned a lot from this 10-day trip.

Trip to Japan: November 2015
Duration: 10 days
Places: Nagoya, Kyoto, Shizuoka, and Tokyo
Super Likes: Food, people, transportation system, Mt. Fuji, Autumn colors, a lot more. 🙂

Little by little I will share them more of my Japan experiences in my succeeding posts.

When you travel, you will see many things. Your perspective may change. Your passion can be redirected. You will even see a clearer picture of yourself and the future you wish to have only if you sincerely search for it while you are traveling. You will begin to expand your horizon. You just have to figure out how to start and how to keep going. Don’t stop. Research. Plan. Act. Do. Outsmart it.

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It’s my first time to travel to Japan.  I cannot deny but I am quite amazed at how Japanese creatively devise mechanisms to innovate and create jobs for people not only for local citizens but also for other nationalities. I wish someday I can learn some technology, innovate my own, and create jobs for my fellowmen. I hope to share the same vision with other young Filipinos who are aspiring entrepreneurs.


 

👣 The Official Traveler/HistoryMaker

The Budget Traveler Guide (Part 1): Japan Autumn 2015 | Planning Your Trip

Traveling to Japan for the first time? There are two biggest concerns for visitors to Japan (and three for Filipinos). One, the uncertainties when in a foreign place. Two, the high cost of living. Three, the troublesome question of “Will I be granted a Visa?” (for Filipinos). 🙂 To alleviate fears and the budget barriers to fulfill that dream of visiting this beautiful country, I have outlined some guide and tips based on my personal experience. It may not be true to all and I fully understand that we have different needs, goals, and preferences so I still encourage you to do more research. ^_^ But I hope you will be more confident as you progress in planning your trip to Japan with me.

Step 1: Determine your goals clearly. Before planning everything, you should know exactly why you are traveling.  Be as specific as possible and everything follows. In this blog, I will cover tourism as purpose of travel. It is a lot easier when you know exactly what you want to do.You can determine the prefectures covered by your trip, the places you will stay, and the right kind of transportation system you will use. Eventually, this gives you an idea of the potential budget you need in order to accomplish your travel goals. Find your interests here.

In my case, I’ve wanted to experience Autumn in Japan. In short, I will visit Japan as a tourist (Yes, “will”. I am still on the process of accomplishing my Autumn travel goal at the moment of writing) 🙂 So, I mapped my own Autumn Goal 2015 according to my interests for this particular trip. I checked when is the best week to visit in Autumn. I found out that it should be around October-November (it depends on location).
Purpose: To experience Autumn Full Experience in Japan

What I want to see or do: a) Temples & Shrines, b) Theme Park, c) Life in Countryside,d) Visit a University, e) Wear Japanese Kimono, f) A glimpse of Mt. Fuji, g) Seaside Experience, h) Meet & Greet Hachiko, and i) Observe City Life.

Step 2: Invest your time doing some research. Where can you possibly see or experience such things in Japan? You don’t actually have to go to the most expensive spots if you want to avoid paying so much yen. Paying a considerable amount on transportation is unavoidable but if you want to find ways to save somehow, at least do research well and plan early. Inevitably, you can possibly have a quality experience without sacrificing your hard-earned cash on unnecessary expenses. You can surely save a lot but let me reiterate, you have to spare some time in planning for your upcoming trip.

Since I already have my goal in mind and know exactly what I want, it is easier for me to pinpoint where I can go.
For Temples & Shrines [Kyoto]; Theme Park [Tokyo/Nagoya]; Visit a University [Tokyo/Nagoya];  Life in Countryside [Nagoya];Wear Japanese Kimono [Somewhere in Japan]; A glimpse of Mt. Fuji [Shizuoka]; Seaside Experience [Kawaguchiko Lake]; Meet & Greet Hachiko [Tokyo]; and Observe the City Life [Tokyo].
Therefore, I should only focus my trip on three major points (Kyoto, Nagoya, and Tokyo) and then reconsider other side trips I can have depending on the duration of my vacation and the travel time it requires to get to each place.

Step 3: Check your social network. Do you know anyone in Japan? This is an important thing to consider since I have mentioned earlier that uncertainties in foreign place could be challenging especially if you are a first-time traveler who cannot speak or understand Japanese.Lucky you if you can at least speak and understand. But for some who don’t (just like me), using body language may not be enough.  There are some places (especially in countryside) in Japan where language exchange might be a bit challenge. Also, if you know anyone in Japan it.

Think for a while. Maybe you were an ESL Teacher who taught English to Japanese students  for many years and built some sort of camaraderie with a few of them. Maybe you could remember that Japanese classmate you helped a lot in English class for his speaking skill  or even maybe you have a relative or a friend working or studying in Japan? If there is someone you can think of, try to reconnect! Ask where they currently stay, what they do, and their contact details. You may be able to meet in Japan. Who knows, one of them can be your happy tour guide for FREE and another can offer you a place to stay for a certain period. Not only that you will be able to meet and bond with them again but also..isn’t it time and cost-effective too? Oh, please don’t forget to give a simple token from your country as a sign of gratitude (just in case you have one). ^_^

I had opportunity to meet Japanese students several years ago. We frequently chatted in the first few months but then our lives got busier through the years and I changed my job so we gradually stopped chatting. As I was planning my trip, I remembered them one by one so I thought of reconnecting. Luckily, I got positive responses. I don’t have any plan of demanding time from them during my travel because I’m pretty sure they have jobs to attend to but this gave me great confidence that I can visit finally Japan even if I travel alone from my country. At least I have someone to call for help in case of emergency. They are also very helpful in giving suggested itineraries.

If you cannot think of a single person you know who is living in Japan, do not be discouraged. 🙂 You can still visit Japan! Persuade someone to go with you. You can save money by splitting the travel and accommodation expenses.

Step 4: Obtain a Passport. Any foreign visitor who wishes to enter Japan must have a passport, which will remain valid during the period of stay. Make sure you already obtain a passport through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) nearest to you.

I got my first passport from DFA Baguio in 2010 which will expire in November 2015. Since I’ve been planning for my Autumn trip, I already renewed my passport in August instead of November. Yes, do not wait for the expiry date. Take note: all passports MUST be valid for at least 6 months prior to expiration.

In addition, DFA often delays release of passports these days due to some sort of technical issues they say. In fact, mine was delayed for almost a month. If I did not plan early and waited for the expiry date before my renewal, I might feel devastated for an invalid passport or for the late release of my new passport. Much worse result, for a cancelled flight in autumn. I never want any of these to happen to me and to you 🙂 So watch out! My friend got his flight cancelled due to the delayed release of his passport. As a result, he had to book another ticket and it costed him a lot.

Step 5: Assess yourself for the visa requirements. Nationals of many countries are eligible to enter Japan without a visa. Unfortunately, this is not just the case for Filipinos and some other nationalities. Assuming you already have a passport, you may check your eligibility here for visa-free countries.

Now that you are more confident about your decision to visit Japan, it’s time to check what kind of Visa is suitable for you. Depending on your purpose for this travel, determine the kind of visa you need. Find out more information through this link.

I will focus more on getting a Tourist Visa in this blog.

Doing a self-assessment can help you in making your travel itinerary as well as budgeting both your time and money.
Do you have a stable job? Is it easy for you to take a time off from work? How many days will you be allowed? Are you a university student? Are your parents working? Who will pay for your trip? Do you have a guarantor? Can you travel independently? Can you walk a looooooot? Can you ride a bicycle? Do you prefer fast traveling time or are you willing to take slower trains? Can you wake up early to catch up with the earliest train? Do you want to do as many things as possible in a day? These are just a few questions to consider.

It has been a dream to experience spring and autumn in other countries however, I was always held back by the word “Visa” since it requires additional documents (which I thought at first I could not provide) and sometimes personal appearance. But thanks to rigorous research and experience, I can prove that it is not really hard.

Click here for The Budget Traveler Guide (Part 2): How to Increase Your Chance of Getting a Visa for Japan?

Step 5: Be oriented. It is very important to familiarize yourself to the culture of your chosen destination. Know the norms, study the transportation system, memorize some Japanese common vocabularies and spoken words. This is better than knowing nothing at all.

If you want to know the next steps on how I did it. Follow my blog/Subscribe for Part 2. I am really happy sharing this to you as they occur.  ^_^ soon!

~© Historymaker/The Official Traveler