A few weeks ago, I travelled north to check out a new Asian country – Japan! The size of the Asian continent and variety of landscapes and cultures is incredible. The crazy thing about Singapore being right on the equator is that makes for a solid eight hour flight to Tokyo (about the equivalent of travelling to Colombia or Ecuador from Toronto). In any case, I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to explore Asian countries near and far!
Claire was visiting from Canada, so we met up in Tokyo to explore the city. We had an action packed few days exploring Japan’s capital and largest city. With a population of 37 million in the metropolitan area (and 10 million in the core), it is one of the biggest and most varied cities I’ve visited. There were so many different neighbourhoods and areas to explore… in a few short days, we covered a lot of ground, yet barely scratched the surface. The transit system was incredible (although we did get caught in it over rush hour one day) and it felt like you could ride the subway endlessly and emerge in new and exciting different areas.
From Tokyo, we took the train to Kyoto, Japan’s cultural capital, which was our base for the second part of our trip. In Kyoto we explored beautiful districts like Arashiyama (nestled in the mountains), visited the famous Tofuku-ji Inari temple (featured in Memoirs of a Geisha) and took day trips to nearby Osaka (for some amazing food) and Nara (to see a park where deer run wild). Our final night we spent in a traditional Ryokan (traditional Japanese Inn where you sleep on mats on the floor) with a private onsen (bath).
Our experience in Japan was nothing short of incredible. I can truthfully say that the culture in Japan felt so different than any other country I have had the good fortune to visit. From the concept of kawaii (meaning cute), to the science of feng shui and the art of minimalism and Japanese design, the country felt efficient and effective, but still with an extremely unique culture.
After Japan, we came back to Singapore for the F1 race (which deserves a write up of its own). I have a busy few weeks coming up… I am heading for some weekend trips to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and then I will be home in Canada for two weeks at the end of November. My time in Singapore is flying by… I have many observations and ideas for blog posts, I just need to find the time to write them. Stay tuned!