Saturday, April 11, 2015

nykeiko travels: Snapshots from Japan [Toyama, Hida, Gifu, Takayama and Nagoya districts]

OH my, I have neglected this blog long enough. I meant to post more about Taiwan but time flew by and I was too busy eating yummy food and hanging out with my parents.

Well, I'm already back to good ol' cold New York and memories of my trip back home (my first home) still lingering in my heart. I had the chance to visit Japan for five days. This is my second time in Japan (Well, if you do not count airport layovers or else this would be my 20th trip to Japan.) Anyway, my first trip to Japan was to the small island of Okinawa which was like an Asian Hawaii. This Japanese island is actually closer to Taiwan and the culture seems no where like the main island so I never made it count.

I spent five whirlwind days in Japan with my parents. We joined a tour that cost each of us around 26,000 NT (That's around $815 USD with the current exchange rate.) and it is all inclusive. Yup, hotel, transportation, accommodation and food in my tummy, all for just under $900. It's always nice to travel somewhere with my parents because I get to spend day and night with them. In Taiwan, they are busy with their daily routines but when we travel, we're kind of stuck with each other 24/7.

I don't know if I need to mention this but I will. I was infected with some kind of stomach flu or maybe food poisoning. Fever, aches, vomiting, diarrhea, the whole works. With all those ebola warning signs posted at each airport, I was worried I'd be quarantined if I didn't recover before returning back to Taiwan. I thought I caught something from this three year old girl who was coughing non-stop since day 1 but it was probably caused by several things like being drenched by rain (lack of umbrella) and eating some street food. 

On the first night in Japan, I woke up with aches and a mild fever. I swallowed some vitamin C and acetaminophen every 4 to 5 hours to ease my fever, aches and pains. On the second day, I kind of lost my appetite and was so sad that I couldn't taste all the delicious ice cream flavors I freely did on the first day. I still kind of ate everything that was served during our meals but I didn't enjoy it like I ought to be.  I didn't listen to my mom who advised me not to eat anything anymore so that my stomach could rest. With only a couple of days of the trip, I simply didn't want to miss out on the food (gluttony at its best). I was very thankful that I had access to a bathroom whenever it was needed and I must say that I managed my sickness pretty well. There were no emergency stops made on my part. And I was so, so thankful for toilet seats with bidets. Best invention ever!

Despite the sickness, I was still able to enjoy the trip. We traveled from Toyama all the way south to Nagoya with many stops in between. We even went to a coastline as well as up in altitude to see the Northern Alps (Hida Mountains). During the first two days, we visited many parks in Toyama to see cherry blossom but alas, we were just a few days too early (actually just 3 days away from the first blooms). So, we saw flower buds and lots of it. Like we were on some kind of 'flower bud' tour. All the beautiful parks we visited had really large old cherry blossoms and we only had our imaginations to fill in what we could be seeing. Marveling at what we are missing. Many people were slightly disappointed since they joined the tour in hopes of glamoring under lush cherry blossom trees but we were all very positive in the end. We appreciated that we were not mobbed by tourists and experienced different types of scenery in such a short amount of time. We saw the sea, the snowy alps and eventually did end up seeing a lot of cherry blossoms when we went further south into Nagoya city. It was raining quite a bit on the day we saw the blossoms but we can't have it all right?

Since this was a tour booked by my mom, I didn't do my homework and cannot remember half of the names of the cities we have visited. The tour guide spoke in mandarin and so the names were even more lost in translation (from Japanese to Mandarin to English). We visited A LOT of different places and I still need to go through all my pics.

Here are a some highlights from the trip from pictures I played around with on VSCO to share with the husband while I was away...

This charcoal infused ice cream was one of my favorite thing to try. There was a dozen ice cream shops along this street full of shops just outside a garden we visited in Toyama. The ice cream with gold flakes was what this area was known for but the black ice cream intrigued me more. What did it taste like? Vanilla! There was no charcoal taste whatsoever..however that might taste like..rock? cement?

This picture below gave the same effect as the first one above and described in a caption on instagram-  I see something like this and I'm like "Oh shit, I'm in Japan for realz!"

We visited many temples along the way...

The coastline a bit west of Toyama to see some volcanic geo formations..

A worthy tourist trap...matcha ice cream with red bean

A castle with its immortalized glory days displayed in this museum

A luxurious hot spring bath in the middle of the Northern Alps of Japan..

View of the Northern Alps aka Hida Mountains from the visitor center atop

Briefly escaping the New York city cold to find myself between two tall snow walls..

Bonus: Koi fish pond

A visit to Nagoya was where we saw a bountiful amount of cherry blossoms...Rain did not refrain us from snapping a hundred pictures.

A small tucked away village called Iwasaki in Gujo city...I wonder if they have internet access. If they do, I would like to spend a summer here exploring each and every nook and cranny of this little village.

Shirakawa-go. Another very tucked away tiny village but with much more popularity as it has been listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site.  

The traditional techniques that these roofs are made is still preserved to this day. The work that used to require 20-30 people is now replaced by machines but the results are intact.

For daddy and daughter...I didn't like my 3% sparkling thing so I drank most of my dad's beer.

A beautiful flower tree was the last stop on our trip...

One last glimpse at the Hida Mountains before take-off..

Thanks for stopping by x

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