日本 – Beautiful Japan

Since I can remember, all the stories I heard of Japan were mystic and almost surreal. I always wanted to visit Japan, and never actually knew how it would materialize.

My geography class played an important role for me to develop an undying love for this gorgeous country. We were to memorize the 4 main islands – Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku and Kyushuu captivated my young and inquisitive mind. I read about Japan in the chapters that covered the World Wars in my history class, and then finally the Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My Irish teacher – Sr Peter explained to the class about the ramifications of the attack on these two cities and we were to explain the lesson to the class the next day and I still remember narrating the incidents without glancing at my book. Sr Peter had asked us to read the lessons once before we went to bed and re-read it in the morning before school. And i did. It had a great impact and I remember my geography class with clarity and precision even to this day.

My dad would tell me astounding stories of how the Japanese are so respectful and treat others with consideration. I wanted to see the beautiful country and it was my dream to visit Nihon.

The idea of planning my trip to Japan itself seemed unreal, as I could not really get my head around the fact that I was indeed going to Japan. I was bombarded with various opinions from family/friends on my travel, and I had fears of my own – would I be able to navigate as a solo traveller, would it be alright to manage with my Basic knowledge of the Japanese Language, would I be able to survive my solo visit in Japan? I was nervous as it was a foreign country where English is not widely spoken, I literally had butterflies in my stomach.

All my fears and apprehensions were set aside the moment I landed at the Tokyo-Haneda Airport. It is the most warm and friendly country you could visit and every single person is more than willing to help you. Buying a ticket for my ride to downtown Tokyo was a breeze and everything that followed was seamless.

Japan looked like someone has spilled liquid gold on the dark seas, as every inch of Japan glowed in the dark. It was a sight I will never forget. The rest of my stay in Japan was as splendid as my first glimpse of the gorgeous land of the rising sun.

My visit to Japan was filled with awe, admiration and jaw-dropping reaction to the surreal technologically advanced facilities in the entire nation and the vision Japan has for its citizens. In my opinion I feel that the Japanese have designed their country keeping the convenience of every individual citizen as their primary focus. This aspect of keeping the peoples comfort at heart itself is the epitome of humanity.

Japan’s holistic vision of creating a space for the comfort of its people is what makes it the IchiBan country in the entire world.

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The City Wall of Xi’An

In the ancient city of Xi’An, the huge fortifications built around the city, protected its inhabitants from invasions in the past. The Xi’An city wall is a magnificent, well preserved architecture, the pride of Shaanxi Province. It stands tall and strong, has passed the test of time and quite famous for the cycling spree. It also serves as one of the hot-spots for wedding photo shoots.

I was in this peaceful city of Xi’An exactly a year back, and I am very nostalgic about the events. I stayed at a traveler’s hostel and I met backpackers from around the world. After an evening of socializing with a few and talking about what our plans were for the next day, Luka a British traveler suggested we visit the Xi’An city wall. We decided to meet at the reception at 10am and then start our adventure. Vincent from Australia, Michael from Germany, Luka from Britain and I set out to see the magnificent city wall of Xi’An.

It was a beautiful morning, a cool wind blowing from the Huyain mountains, the weather was just pleasant. Michael was braving the cool wind with just a cotton shirt and was flaunting, with a few buttons open. He got many second looks since everyone else was wrapped in thick layers of woolen overalls to ward off the chilling wind, and a few passersby gave a friendly nod acknowledging his stunt.

We walked the sidewalks and navigated through the city with the help of Maps.me – it was a pleasant walk through the streets as Xi’An is a calm and serene city. We finally arrived at the north entrance of the wall and while we were collecting the entrance ticket we heard a roaring sound of drums and heavy footsteps. Out of curiosity Luka and I instantly ran to check what was happening, we took a turn, entered an arch, crossed a corridor and then we saw it. It was a show performed by impersonators of the actual warriors, a spectacular performance of the way the empire was run by the Shaanxi Warriors back in the days.

I was transported back in time and saw the love the warriors had for their land and the zest with which they pursued the attacks that came their way, to protect their land. They adorned heavy armor and it was just mesmerizing to hear the battle commands accompanied by heavy drum beats.

We have some nice pictures with them. The Xi’An city wall was an enigma in itself, we went there for site seeing but it was like a Pandoras box that opened up this awesome flash back to the past. I have fond memories of Xi’An and if you should find yourself in this beautiful town, do walk the roads at leisure and visit the City Wall. It will be well worth the time and effort.