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.


Romancing the Japanese Language

The first memory I have associated with Japan, was when I was a small school girl trying to pronounce Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku & Kyushuu 🙂 my Geography teacher tried her best to get us to say the names of Japan’s 4 main islands. From that moment it was hook, liner, sink for me!
I was enthralled by the stories my father told me about this great country. That it was one of the best countries in the world, that it was the land of the rising sun, that the people had very strong ethics and principles.

Few stories and incidents about the kindness displayed by the Japanese to total strangers left me speechless. I would often wonder – could this be just a tale,
could a person be this kind and offer unconditional service to another?

The first real connection I had with the Japanese was during my backpacking trip to Mainland China. I met 3 Japanese tourists who displayed disproportional levels of
courtesy, manners and offered assistance. These 3 individuals sold the concept of their entire country to me, and they dint even know the impact it had on me.
They were their country’s ambassadors and they did a fine job without even knowing that they were unconsciously advertising their country’s morals, ethics , principles and culture.
They all thought they were just touring as tourists – Wrong! They were samurais in their own way, and the living epitome of the most ideal prototype of how humanity really should be like.

Several other instances finally led me to enroll for the beginners course & I have been studying the Japanese language since August 2016.
Its been a wonderful experience, learning Hiragana, Katakana & Kanji. Everyday I learn something beautiful about the culture and eve the
conversations between characters in textbooks revels how respectful they are of each other.

I have just struck upon an endless reserve of knowledge that can keep me occupied for the rest of my life. Beautiful Japanese Language – Kireina Nihongo!

Arigato :)

When I planned a cross-country trip across Mainland China, I had mentally prepared my mind to meet loads of Chinese. Little did I know that I would bump into a hoards of foreigners from the rest of the world!

My choice of staying at the Travellers Youth Hostel was indeed a brilliant idea for I met several kind-hearted Japanese. I am emphasizing on this fact, as they are indeed a bunch of humble, well-mannered souls. You cant help but fall in love with their ‘Arigataou’ – further animated with a slight bow! I love it. That looks so cool, and is very respectful. I met a bunch of Japanese, all of them were solo travellers and then they bumped into each other and exchanged pleasentaries and shared their experiences.

The way the fellow Japs helped me find the right bus or helped me find the ticket counter was admirable. While at Chengdu, in south west China – on my way to the Panda Research Base, I was finding it extreamly frustrating to converse with the driver as he dint speak any english & dint reassure me if i was in the right bus or not. A girl from the back of the bus came running to my rescue and assured me it was the right bus & that she was also headed that way & that i could join her 🙂 That my friends is an angel in disguise. She was Makky – a cool Japanese girl travelling the world all by herself!

Makky may not have realized the gravity of her actions. She was in no way obligated to come from the back of the bus to help me out, neither was I any of her concern. But she chose to help a distressed traveller who needed some help & there she was an ambassador of goodwill to her country and she attested to the fact that selfless kindhearted people still exist in our world.


My Japanese friend Makky.

I was so touched by this kind gesture, and I thanked her immensely. She said “No,No, Its nothing – hello I am Makky, from Osaka” 🙂 That was the intro my friend gave me & it’s still a vivid memory. She was congenial, a good samaritan & she definitely influenced me to enact her kindness in the days to come when I meet other travellers.

After a week – we accidentally bumped into each other on the way to a National Park at JiuZhaiGou! She was estatic to see me and said “Hey, Nam – remember me?” And I was speachless – because I knew that the rest of my 3 day trip to the National Park was going to be kickass with this Jap! And yes – we had a fantastic time, we had to travel for over 8hours by bus to reach JiuZhaiGou and then we had dinner, chilled out at the river banks & trekked the gorgeous National Park.

I still remember seeing her off at the station – with a warm hug on a chilly morning, knowing in our hearts that we would meet again. The last word I recollected telling her was “Arigatou”

Samurai Fiesta!

The most nostalgic experience I had with Japanese food was at the Suzuki Kitchen at a hutong in Andingmen. One of the most quixotic moments with delicacies was at this gourmet resturaunt in Beijing.

I was very fortunate to have my first Dinner in the Orient, at this authentic place. For this honor I am ever greatful to my friends Mauricio & Fen Peng. They chose this eatery and it was a very fine choice. I was overwhelmed with suprise and astonishment when i saw a waiting line as early as 7:00pm!  Luckily we found a table within 20 minutes. 

We ordered starters and salad. The salad was an art in itself. The vegetables were fresh, crunchy and succulent. I decided to go for a steak with mashed potatoes. 

Classic, healthy, Artistic – A japanese salad.

I was still learning to use the chopsticks and i managed to finish my meal with no major drama.😉 The steak was delicious, flavors infused in the meat, it was the most tender i’ve eaten so far. Apparently the texture of the meat helps to easily savour the steak with chopsticks. 

I have been raving about this place to every one! Suzuki Kitchen in Andingmen is THE place to visit while lazing around on a soulful evening while at Beijing.

The flavour & aroma of the gourmet  meal is cherished, the sheer pleasure of savoring this finese, takes center stage admist all the nostalgic memories I have encountered this far. 

I am definitely going back again to relish Suzuki Kitchens romance with food!