Finally I made it to Japan!! Allow me a quick moment to my favorite dance “Azonto”. Though I’ve always been fascinated by Japan and its culture, I never thought I would be able to afford to visit or even find the courage to actually travel to Japan; a country with a completely different culture from mine or even other destinations I’m used to visiting.
The profound courage to visit Japan was fueled after I successfully traveled Australia for a month about 3 years ago – an experience to share another day. When I got back from Australia and started working to resuscitate my travel savings, I added Japan to the list of “Must Visit” within the next 5 years, and started actively working towards it while going to other countries that required less wallet damage.
Japan was more than I expected it to be: the people are its biggest gem! It was a huge change coming from Nigeria to a country like Japan where everybody is so conscientious. People are so courteous about the environment. For example, you may walk miles and not see a trash can, yet there is no litter on the streets. Spending longer than 2 weeks there allowed me really understand the culture, changed my mindset and I was able to live and experience Japan as a local would: both culturally and socially.
As an “obvious foreigner”, I had to make a deliberate effort to adapt to this new way of life I was experiencing and to leave behind my “innate” Nigerian-African. Doing this made my experience and interactions with the locals more special. For example, I caught myself stopping for the traffic lights to change even when the roads were empty – something not very common in Nigeria.
The Japanese make the Germans look inefficient. They are so innovative in the way they think and this can be seen in daily living. For example, at most train doors, there are painted feet placements that indicate where you line up to get into the train. You wait for the people to come out at the middle, while people are waiting on the right and left side to get into the train. Even without the painted feet indicators, people still waited until the exit was cleared of those coming out.
By the time I returned from my trip, I realized that something in me had change: a mindset shift. Learning to respectfully communicate and show compassion to your neighbors has become a part of me now. I found myself bowing my head repeatedly and saying ‘sumi ma sen’, which means I’m sorry, if you please, or excuse me, for a week when I came back home without thinking about it. Yes, I did get some side eyes from my fellow Nigerians.
With my plan to experience as much of Japan as I could possibly afford, I drew up a detailed itinerary to experience the country from bottom to the top – Okinawa to the Alps in Hokkaido.
I’m not going to bore you with too many words, but I will share my experience in 32 days via pictures. As they say, picture do tell stories 🙂 Let me know what you think!! Would you visit Japan?
Ishigaki and Iriomote, Yaeyama Islands – Okinawa
Second day in Japan, crossing off a biggie on my bucket list, I went Scuba Diving!
A pretty deadly snake, and they were everywhere. Our instructor kept us calm. I kept chanting Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!
Hiking Trip to Iriomote’s jungle with my new buddies
Kanbire Waterfalls after a brisk hike
30 minutes nap after a full day’s hike while waiting for our ferry
My first bowl of ramen with a side of beer and orange juice
Selfie on the ferry to see Sakurajima, an active volcano
Welcome to Fukuoka, the city famous for its food culture
Cruising the streets of Fukuoka, and I met these lovelies. Tres adore!
The queue for these cheese tarts was epic. 30mins wait time! And definitely worth it.
Hakata ramen with a twist, contender for top 3 ramen dish
Food tasting session in a Yaitai food stall with Tokyo tourists
Hiroshima, Onimichi, and Miyajima
The quaint fishing village of Onimichi where everything shuts down after 8pm.
On Miyajima Island heading towards the famous floating torii. The Tide was low when I got there though
The children’s monument remembering the ones lost to Hiroshima’s atomic bomb
A bird taking flight in front of the castle left standing after the Hiroshima atomic bomb
Osaka is famous for its street food culture – Dontonbori street
Takoyaki, think of it like “puff puff” stuffed with octopus and dipped in mayo, shredded dried shrimp and ginger. Toppings vary.
Bucketlist item: I spent a day with new friends watching sumo wrestling!
We ended the night bar hopping from karaoke joints to Elvis impersonators’ bar
My room at Eko-in’s temple! How cool is this?
Went in for prayers with the monks
Experiencing the fire ritual ceremony at the temple
The path through Okunoin, the largest cemetery in Japan. And a pilgrimage path for buddhists.
A blissful morning after making the trek to the temple in Okunoin
Give me a second to take in the beauty around me
The bamboo grove, Absolutely Gorgeous!
Biking all the way to Fushimi Inari just to take a picture like this 🙂
Biking through the city of Osaka. My muscles burned the day after
A lot of light up shows at the temples in Kyoto. This vaguely reminded me of Naruto
Breakfast with new friends. We woke up uber early for some sea food
My sole focus in Kanazawa was the seafood.
Time to try some fresh sea food! Sea urchin
But first, where can I get some unagi (eel)?
My first uni- sea urchin. Love at first taste.
Day out in Kanazawa
Kanazawa is also known for its gold and this was apparent in the gold shavings in the food and accessories. Gold Ice-cream 🙂
The Japanese village life in a World Heritage site. I stayed at A Gassho Zukuri Farmhouse for 2 nights
Smoked to perfection.
You can’t go to Takayama and not try the famous “Hida beef”. This plate was done to perfection and I really wanted more but I was on a strict #budget.
These are EVERYWHERE in Japan! Slot machines EVERYWHERE.
Lucky to be in Tokyo during AnimeJapan, check out Deidara from Naruto
Gomu Gomu! Luffy from One Piece
Does he need an introduction? Gokuuuu…..
Hey, we’re matching!
My new love, Izakaya Gastro Pub, where everything is cheap and delish!
Best Ramen dish in Tokyo in my opinion
After an afternoon spent in the Onsen, a little bit of cool down snack was needed: Freshly made Ice Cream from the farm’s cows
2 Days spent in the country side of Morioka: I woke up to this every morning #view #bliss
It is a rule to try this Uni dish while in Sapporo. Finding Uni this fresh anywhere else is near impossible. Most cities ship theirs from here.
I was shocked by how alive Sapporo became at night. Got lucky enough to meet some Japanese speaking Brits that became my party guide but getting too old to keep up
Oh yeah, Sapporo is the Amsterdam of Japan. “love factories” galore
Day trips – Otaru and Yoichi
I honestly just made the trip to Otaru just for the seafood and obvious bliss
I ended up with this delicious chicken that spoke to my soul in Otaru
After my chicken grub in Otaru, I jumped on the train to Yoichi for some whiskey tasting at the Nikka Factory
Whisky time 🙂
Niseko was the last stop on my travel. It was time to conquer something new on my bucket list: Snowboarding!
Niseko was all about experiencing something new, Snowboarding. Yes I conquered the slopes by Day 1!
Conquered the slopes
Sayonara! Time to head back to Lagos after accomplishing everything I set out to.