Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Japan

Girl with Umbrella :
(Not that it rained all the time but just couple days and liked the phrase, hence the name)
Japan, the first impression of the city was engraved in the memory since childhood after watching TV serial “Oshin”. That cute little girl and the family struggle, villages, people, dressing styles, their houses, hardships, ancient culture everything very different. 

Journey was not bad, direct flight and then took bus from Narita airport to the Hotel in Tokyo. This time didn't take language book although I was travelling alone. One buys the bus ticket inside the airport. The bus boarding was way to systematic and seats were pre-assigned. I was fortunate to get a seat next to local Japanese girl. This was first encounter with someone from Japan. Her name: - Kiko – meaning got from her as ‘joyful girl’ and seriously she was. Upon meeting we just hit it together in no time. She was working as a translator, lived in small apartment in Tokyo, weekend pass time was to visit parks with kids and husband had long work hours. Even met her friend from Thailand. On the way in one and half hour journey she pointed out many famous places, parks and areas. The Country is preparing for the 2020 Olympics and encouraging English speaking for people and constructions for the Olympics. Got a chance to learn some basic Japanese from her.
 
Had really nice time with her and shared some Indian knowledge and USA information. She had been to USA and watched Hindi movies too on regular basis. She told me to taste local fruits as it was season for Pears and Grapes. Besides told me to visit temples what time of the day and see what all spots. When asked about Oshin serial she mentioned there came movie in 2013 about the same TV serial and it was popular TV serial there too. Well, time just flew by and I reached the hotel. It was supposed to drizzle for next day or two. Tomorrow starts the day for exploring Tokyo alone. 

Next morning after breakfast, checked out for map at the information booth, since it was drizzling borrowed an umbrella from the reception and went out to explore the place. The tourist map had all the famous places marked hence decided to follow them. Tokyo, just like Bombay overly crowded and still felt much safe place, the place where U can roam alone pretty late in the night also. Walking through small alleys one can find some Japanese style restaurants, very small cozy, with just bar style table and people eating sushi, ramen noodles. The city has many vending machines, just put coins and get what u want. Seemed like people just don’t want to depend on anyone for anything. After these small alleys decided to explore the tourist spots on map.  Me with my umbrella, small cup of coffee and walking through the streets.

If you have ever noticed, most rather all Japanese men wear suits, they all look the same. While boarding train or anywhere U will see 'I robot' movie style gang of people walking in and out. It’s really a thing to watch entering bullet train, crossing busy streets. If u have travelled in bombay  the trains in Japan are sometimes equally crowded but really clean. Cleanliness was the foremost priority and one could notice that with the set of facilities provided everywhere.

Shibuya station and crossing:
Shibuya, very hustle bustle place. Popular for its famous Shibuya crossing, Hachiko monument( the loyal dog , very touching story), all brand stores especially popular with youngsters, tall buildings, bill boards, video displays, too much crowd and all this just outside Shibuya station. Seems like this place never sleeps. There are special enclosures for smokers everywhere. Many healthy fruit smoothie options, fruits and vegetables are pretty expensive ( they do taste good ), till this time had never heard a melon is for 200$ and it can be given as a corporate gift in fancy wrap, same with grapes. Halloween seemed to be celebrated more here mostly for partying and wearing those special costumes. There are lots of guitar stores and to my surprise karaoke places (tall buildings with many private rooms for singing)
Japanese people greet each other with bending, there are 3 levels: one for just general people, other for higher authorities and one for god. The more superior the level more bending. It turned out to be quite a day walking around, talking to people and getting some general knowledge.Next day happened to explore some far out places near Tokyo Meiji Jingu Shrine, Sensoji Temple, Palace/ gardens, well didn't have time to sit and watch but did manage to get a glimpse of Japanese puppet show Bunraku ( really nice thing to watch).

Kyoto day exploring:-
Kyoto is the ancient capital of Japan in Edo era, with lots of temples, gardens, remaining of the old city. Remarkable was the Sanjusanjen-do ( hall of the lotus king )temple which is a Buddhist temple that hosts 1000 statues with one big statue in the middle, photography inside is prohibited.These are wooden statues covered in gold leaf with some 124 original saved from the fire and remaining re- constructed in 13th century.
Kiyomizudera: It is UNESCO world heritage temple. The famous wooden gallery and premises are just beautiful. People can rent kimono's and dress up in old style and roam around just like ancient times.
There are many Shrines, mostly shrines are dedicated after nature elements 'Heian shrine', it has large premises and ranks top among Shinto shrines.Traditional Japanese wedding ceremonies are held here

For me it was too sudden a trip to Japan with some days to spend alone in the country (it was nice), usually I am against joining on these kind of trips if they are meant for work reasons and from my POV they are not fair for anyone. Further extended trip wasn't normal (if then or else kind), well in 2015 October it was way weirder. To sum it up extension wasn't right :) .

It was kind of late season to climb Mt. Fuji and not much time to do other things, it mostly turned out to be just exploring trip, did do some small things here and there. Even later didn't get chance to climb Sinhgadh or anything, even my other half seemed least interested in doing these kind of things (this year nothing much compared to the last year, not sure why), maybe sometime later. 



Sunday, October 2, 2016

Scaling different heights

There are different kinds of elevations / heights to conquer. Some people can find climbing mountains easier that doing stair climbs in enclosed buildings or walking on tree tops hard or some may find every possible thing associated with elevation equally difficult or easy.
 
Growing up in Bombay, our home was on 4th floor and no lift, so there was no option other than climbing stairs. First reaction after learning about this kind of event was why it is a competitive type event ? Later to discover, for many people its a kind of sport over time to try and beat their earlier record or someone else's record and they really scale these in 4 /5 minutes its amazing. Not a bad thing just for fun and most of the times these events are meant for fundraising for something. 

In USA those walkways are most of the time emergency exits and meant for something special hence they are open only during those cases or for some organized event of stair climbing

Those tall buildings with 60 / 70  floors or more, some thousand plus stairs and everyone lines up to tackle the challenge to climb them. Not easy for those with fear of heights, actually going inside enclosed buildings u can never see anything outside but still people who come with intention to conquer their fears freeze. Have seen that happening many times at many places. Its nice thing to raise funds for good cause if one likes doing it.

After climbing / scaling these kind of enclosed stair climbing events did recently Space needle climb ( later on did some other tower climbs too), its open, means one can see the views around as u climb high up, feel the wind, rain all weather conditions and also the elevators passing by you. Nice experience and happy could scale in not so bad time also a fundraising event for good cause.

Another higher climbing thing is  Canopy walks, they come under adventure sport category, where you just walk on tree tops on rope bridges swinging around. On same lines zip lines, just crossing from one tree to another hanging on some rope crossing over rivers, valleys and what not. Fun things to explore.