A Reflection from Japan Trip

This probably will be my last writing about my latest trip to Japan, before an already planned hiatus due to my final assignment (plus upcoming thesis defences and a one big, final exhibition by the end of the year) in order to graduate. I probably will still write something in this space of mine, but I just can't tell when since I doubt if I really have that reserved time to do so (I usually write every weekend, but since it's my final assignment, I'm supposed to do that EVERYDAY, even on the weekends). 

I dedicate this entire special post to my fellow family members during our trip to Japan. It was a extraordinary experience I had with you all, since I don't really travel often with a larger group (even though it's only for 4 or 5 or 6 people). So here it is, my kind of long, personal reflection...

I Sent My Hello to Fuji-san

On top of the mountain, look at the clouds below 
There's no higher peak than up here 
The thunder rolls far away from my feet,
Mt. Fuji is the highest peak in Japan.

The blue sky in the background, standing nobly 
Wearing a white crown on her head 
Flowing, her purple skirt trails far away,
Mt. Fuji is a treasure of the world.

Fuji no Yama, a Japanese children song about the greatness of Mount Fuji.

My curiosity tingled the very first time I saw Mount Fuji from the Shinkansen's window back then in 2014. The mountain was beautifully showered with thick, white snow, quickly becoming an eye catching centre of attention for anyone. "I swear that I will be back to Japan to witness the beauty of Mount Fuji," I promised myself. 2 years later, I had this very lucky endeavour to spend a day to visit my old acquaintance Fuji-san, with a help of a one day tour service in Japan. 

The service let us having a sightseeing tour of Mount Fuji via several places: Mount Fuji's 5th Station, Lake Kawaguchi, and Hakone National Park. The journey started so early in the morning on 5 AM. The bus that will take us to the main terminal and then the whole journey will arrive at Shinjuku station to pick us up. 

By the way, we arrived so much earlier than we expected and it's extremely difficult to find an open restaurant at 7 AM here in Shinjuku. Shinjuku was a mess, complete with sleep-walking drunk people who dropped his/her beer cans everywhere (it was Sunday, people must be partying hard yesterday). Luckily, we found a Lotteria after scrutinising (almost) half of Shinjuku.

After spending some quite time in Shinjuku (we visited some open shops like drugstores and the famous Don Quijote), the bus arrived and it took us to a bigger bus terminal where people were sorted into big groups based on the places they'll go. By the way, the tour guide for the trip was a friendly looking woman who told us loads of fun facts about Japan; from its tradition, culture, landmarks, and so many other things! 

The first destination for the trip is Mount Fuji's 5th Station, located inside the Fuji National Park. It is  a place where people could do some sightseeing around Mount Fuji, complete with several souvenir shops, restaurants, and even shrines in it. This is not my favourite part of the day's trip. It was super crowded due to its popularity, and I didn't even see Mount Fuji in this station caused by thick clouds covering the mountain. But anyway, I still had a chance to look at lots of cute souvenirs of Mount Fuji, and a chance to take a photo in front of a shrine after a long queue (the photo turned out to be... You'll see).

The next place we'd seen was Lake Kawaguchi, where we would have some nice lunch and short sightseeing around the lake. Japanese traditional food was, um, good; despite the abundance of seafoods that I ate in a meal, which I didn't really savour. The sightseeing was relatively a short one due to the amount of time left that we had. At least we got ourselves a nice ice cream, hehe (Note: peach ice cream is so good!).

The next and final place we'd visited was a part of Hakone National Park, where we took a boat ride to the rope station and took an aerial line ride to the top of Mount Komagatake, of course, for the sake of enjoying the view of Mount Fuji in the late afternoon. It was one of the most beautiful scene I saw while travelling in Japan. Truly breathtaking!

There is this shrine named Hakone Shrine Mototsumiya and it was located on the summit of Mount Komagatake. The view of Mount Komagatake's summit with the shrine on top of it was so whimsical I feel like I'm in a Studio Ghibli feature length film!

Finally, in a view minutes walk to the other side of Hakone Shrine Mototsumiya, I finally saw Mount Fuji, Fuji-San, in a really, really, splendid side. Thankfully, it was a one fine day to see the mountain so there was absolutely no difficulty for us in walking and such other things. I'm so thankful for this view! It was so beautiful!

The tour ended as we got home via the bullet train to Tokyo Station from Odawara Station near the National Park. Got ourselves some take away dinner before going back to our basecamp in Shibuya area. We slept right after we finish our dinner (we should for the sake of discovering new places in the next morning!).

So far, tour service in Japan is somehow different from other that I ever experienced in the other country. Somehow, it was so much disciplined (judging on how they always being on time and so on) and... I got a lot of new information from the tour guide! The tour guide never stop telling us a lot of things about Japan and its culture and so many other places we could also visit around the area that we are currently visiting.

I can conclude that even though I'm not really a big fan of tour and travel service, I can always rely on them when it comes to discovering some new places. They open some opportunity for us, making a brand new experience for us to feel. In this case, they made me accomplish my long time wish: saying hello to my big old friend Fuji-san. Until we meet again!

Can you guess this song which I came across some moment ago?

Seeing Dotonbori Beyond My Phone Screen

I lost my phone in Osaka's largest shopping district.

Which means, I was having such a hard time trying to track down my phone, searching in places I went to before its unfortunate loss. The search ended after we went to the police and then called it a day. It was such a tragedy. How come I was so clumsy I drop my phone or left it somewhere I couldn't even remember it?

This is so far my very first experience and encounter with the police department in Japan. All I could say about them: they are truly helpful. People told me to go to the nearest police box near the Dotonbori bridge and I did. There was no one inside the police box (I guess they were currently patrolling) so we searched around the area and met an officer (perhaps he is some kind of security officer), and he helped us making a phone call to the patrolling police officer. It took us some quite time before the police officer to came, and she (a policewoman! All I can remember about her is she's as cool as Judy Hopps from Zootopia!) quickly made us report about the loss. I never thought reporting a lost phone will be this easy.

She asked, perhaps, the other police boxes within the area and district if they found any lost phone with the same characteristics as I told them. There were none. It was an hour since I realise I lost my phone, and I wasn't giving up. I decided to turn on the Find My Phone application in my mother's phone and enter my account there. My phone is still in the area and not moving. This means two: Someone found my phone and he/she haven't leave the Dotonbori area, or, I dropped my phone somewhere and someone haven't find them.

Two hours passed and I finally learn to let go my phone. It was a long day already, I shouldn't be thinking about it too much. Letting go something and be patient could mean something better will come, my parents often said.

Walking around Dotonbori without my eyes attached to the phone screen, was indeed, beautiful. When I was in the police box, a Japanese man came to report a phone that he found left in the ATM. He stayed longer that I did, even though he was only there to report a stranger's phone. Then, I saw two high school girls giving a homeless man lunches. This is the first time ever I watch the city lights and the city signs illuminates so beautifully. This is the first time I counted there were lots more Koreans I met in Dotonbori rather than Japanese. This is the first time I laugh louder than I should. This is the first time ever I played in the rain, after all this time thinking it 'too childish'. I realised to see things closer.

If this event regarded as a memory ball like the one in Inside Out, it will be a blue ball, that slowly turned yellow. This will never be a part of bad travelling experience. I am, still, grateful for this to happened. Thank God, thank God, for letting this happened I could learn something from it.

Saturday, 16th July 2016

Claudia Novreica, 2 days without her phone, contemplating about her life.

Note (18/07/2016): My apartment host in Osaka found my phone after she searched it all the way to Dotonbori. She called a gaming arcade I was in the day I lost my phone. I knew someone's taking a good care of my phone since I don't lose it tracks when I lost it. Thank you Hiromi, and whoever take a really great care of my phone. I am so grateful for your presence.