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First Steps – A Japan Travelogue [ Guestpost ]

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First Steps – A Japan Travelogue


My first international trip was actually a short term assignment as a part of my role in an international investment bank. I was a rookie chartered accountant just 2 months into my first job when I was assigned to travel to Japan for 2.5 months. This was daunting in so many different ways – as the second and the last child of my parents; I had never travelled alone earlier. I was unused to taking control of the various practicalities of life when Mom and Dad were always around to help me out with the tiniest of details. My married big sis was still a huge looming protective shadow in my life, who was used to dispensing with worldly wisdom on everything from eating roadside pani pooris to how to tackle my corporate responsibilities head on.

I was just getting used to the big shift from Chennai to Bangalore for my new job when I received my visa and flight tickets to Tokyo.

To say I was bedazzled by the lights and the skyscrapers on first setting foot in the land of rising sun would be an understatement. I was too busy taking in the clean and well laid out expressways on the way from Narita airport to the heart of Tokyo in Roppongi Hills to realize I had finally arrived at my destination. I took some time to count out the wad of yen stuffed in my wallet and pay the cab the right amount. I had arrived in the middle of the night and took some time waking up to the alarm the next day morning. I had to rush to the office building located a short walk without any breakfast.

On the way, I was distracted by huge digital advertisements for Asahi Group on my way and landed in the office reception a quarter of an hour later. Thankfully, I was able to get some instructions on going around the city and later on to visit other parts of Japan from my colleagues.

My first weekend was spent roaming the streets of Ginza, Tokyo’s ensemble shopping district and doing quite a bit of window shopping before venturing to buy a branded tote bag to carry my essentials around. I realized that I had committed hara-kiri by not bringing a good camera with me – How was I to capture the sights and sounds of my travels? I quickly rectified that mistake by rushing to Akihibara to buy a good quality digital camera as my electronic companion.

I signed up on a guided tour of the city to Tokyo Tower & also visited the Asakusa Shrine and the National Museum of Emerging Science and innovation in Odaiba. The highlight of the tour was the participation in a traditional Japanese tea drinking ceremony hosted by Kimono-clad ethnic Japanese.

Keyakizaka dori, the street where I lived in during those short months was lined with trees lit up in regular intervals as a part of christmas decorations. It became my daily routine to stare entranced at the beautiful sight from my balcony before going to sleep.

I also got used to riding the Tokyo metro and frequently visited Shibuya and Shinjiku on shopping trips and to visit the Meiji Shrine. Of course, I also visited the famous statue of Hachiko near the Shibuya station which I had read about in school days. When my sis mentioned the famed Japanese pearls, I went to scout Okachimachi and landed in a shop owned by a friendly NRI Indian who showed me various varieties of pearls and offered me fragrant tea (authentic Indian Chai!)

Tokyo Disneyland is the stuff of dreams. The artwork in each ride is intricate and literally gives you the feeling of stepping into the character’s homes, be it Winnie the Pooh or Aladdin.

A month later, I started the usual touristy round to Mt.Fuji, the snow capped and attractive volcanic cone. I was disappointed when I heard tourists weren’t allowed to the peak due to weather conditions. I traipsed around in the foothills taking scenic photographs and posing in the breathtaking background. Part of the same bus tour, I also visited the scenic Nikko and Oka-nikko peaks where I saw solid ice bordering the mountain roads for the first time in my life. I also visited and posed in the ice-skating rings on the way.

I decided to take off for the last week of the year for multi day sight seeing outside of Tokyo and began my multi city tour of Osaka, Kyoto and Hiroshima. I took the famed Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train) to Osaka. I made a Osaka hotel my base of operations and decided to travel first to Kyoto.

Upon landing in Kyoto, I was instantly charmed by the neat layouts and the extensive trees in every corner of the city. Must see locations include the Golden Temple of Kinkaku-ji, Shimagamo Shrine and Gingaku-ii (The temple of Shining mercy) for their beautiful and exotic greenery as well as being sites of historic and religious significance

The Umeda Sky building as well as Universal studios were my top preferences for sightseeing in Osaka. The Universal studios theme contains huge replicas of box office hits such as King Kong, Dinosaurs (sorry not sure which one) and various other knick- knacks. The Osaka castle is also a great place to visit. Tourists can rent kimonos and a sword for a photo snap inside the castle.

The last city on my agenda was Hiroshima where the only notable place of interest I found was the remnants of the building which survived the atomic bombing in WWII. The trams running around the city are quaint and definitely worth a ride.

Japan train stations and other public places are very tourist friendly and give out city maps, train routes, tram routes for free. The people are extremely friendly and polite. In fact when I lost my way in Hiroshima and asked a young woman for directions, she accompanied me all the way to the Hiroshima train station for 1 km as she couldn’t speak good English to give me directions.

Howdy folks! This december starts with a bang on my blog as I run a unique bloghop with 28 bloggers to write guestposts for me and each other all this month. I hope my readers will catch all the action and support this drive with their comments and feedback to encourage the writing. To know more about this blog hop in detail, you could catch this post here.

About Lavanya

Lavanya is a 30 something chartered accountant with a love for the written word. An international banking professional by day, Lavanya dabbles in sci-fi, short fiction and humour pieces in her blog,
Lavanya has also authored the fantasy thriller “Maya & the Mind Mystics” and is a crazy fan of the Wodehouse universe of dry humour.
A post she would like some more traffic on is here


Creating posters for blog/book.


Comments on my self published novella:or my blog layout
Linking up for #wordsante with Namysaysso for every post deserves some love
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40 thoughts on “First Steps – A Japan Travelogue [ Guestpost ]

    1. Hi Anagha, thanks for your kind comments. Yes, I did participate in a traditional tea ceremony there besides drinking it in hotels. Needless to say, for someone so addicted to Indian Masala Chai, it was definitely not an experience to be repeated! I used to watch in wonder while some of my colleagues drank a flask full of hot water flavoured by a single English breakfast tea bag. As the only Indian there, my preference was obviously for the strongly brewed, heavily flavoured, ginger or cardomom chai!

  1. Japan has always intrigued me thanks to thr stories shared by Lavanya; in fact she is the adventurous one who went about exploring the country while the guys I know visited alone sat holed up in the apartment binge watching Tv: way to go gal

    1. Haha. This feels like Columbus calling the native villagers adventurous! Your swiss diaries are fantastic! I particularly enjoyed your paragliding experience though I am still awestruck by your daring. #Globetrotter gurl!

  2. I’ve heard Japan is beautiful and this post affirms that knowledge for me. Thanks for sharing Lavanya and i would love to travel to the country some day!
    Good luck, Shalini on this blog hop!

  3. Loved this travel story! Travelling alone for the first time is always memorable 🙂 The narrative was very detailed and took me to a imaginary ride but would love to see clicks of your travel as well…

  4. Woww Japan sounds so awesome. I absolutely loved the way Lavanya described her journey. I could visualize the streets and the christmas decorations and can imagine how exciting it must be to explore such a fabulous country.

  5. Wow, this must be so exciting for you Lavanya. New job and this trip you would cherish the memories forever I am sure. Makes me want to share mine now.

  6. I loved how you took charge and didn’t let the initial overwhelming feeling take over. Exploring a new place on your own makes you learn a thing or two about yourself too. Loved reading about your experiences.

  7. That was an extremely beautiful account of your Japan stay, Lavanya! I felt I was there, enjoying every sight and beauty of the country that hosted you for those couple of months!

  8. Japan has moved up on my wishlist! I am so happy to read how nice this place is. Lovely article. Coincidentally, i just got Lavanya’s book from Amazon ☺️

  9. WOW! What a fantastic two months you had in Japan. I would so love to visit one day. Your write up was such a delight to read and inspired me once more that I need to go on a solo trip.

  10. I have always felt apprehension of travelling to Japan or china , one being the language Japanese and Chinese are very difficult to learn and not a lot of people in these countries speak English. You have helped me change that perception. I am looking to visit Thailand or Bhutan soon, the Buddhist monasteries are calling me. Loved your post 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comments Shruti. Feel free to DM me if you need any more tips. Japan is a country where you ll find a lot of friendly faces around wherever you travel.

  11. I always felt that going to Japan would be a task due to language but after reading your account, it seems like a lovely and nice place to visit. You’ve changed my perceptions about it with your beautiful post on it 🙂

  12. Japan has been on my list for sure, and today after reading this post the conviction to visit once in Life has become all the more strong. Would love to see the beauty of land of rising Sun. Thanks for bringing this beautiful land to us.

  13. Thanks for a virtual trip to Japan. I have read and heard so much about it. I so hope to travel to this country sometimes soon.

  14. This was like a virtual tour of Japan without any pictures which is lovely because now we live in media savvy world and hardly use our imagination. I like your expressions about the city and its people!!

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