They say that LPC experience is like a dream. When you have finished your term and go back home for holidays, the experience is analogous to waking up from your sleep. Every moment which happened in Hong Kong suddenly evaporates from reality and you begin to wonder even if it has happened.
However, I happened to wake up in another dream in my case. Term one has finished in LPC and I am very glad that I had a well-balanced lifestyle with nice overall results. Now, it is time for the winter break holidays and I am visiting my uncle in Japan before going back to Myanmar.
Yes, you read it right - Japan! I have always wanted to visit this wonderful place since I was young and now my dream is fulfilled. I had a bucket list of my own for this trip and my Japanese friends from LPC also suggested me the places to visit. In Japan, I explored the places below.
I have always been fascinated by samurai stories since very young. My interest in ancient Japan was so intense that it leads me to make a short animation in my free times in 2015 (you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/Y0zB6_bPo5w ). I have as always wanted to step into a Japanese castle and see the samurai armors with my own eyes. In this trip, I visited the Odawara castle.
The fortified castle is well built and the way they arranged the stones for the castle foundation is impressive.
However, the things that caught my attention were red Japanese maple trees. The leaves are so mesmerizing and I ended up gazing at them for a long time.
Inside the castle, they displayed the ancient items used in the castle. They are mostly ceramics and ancient writings. Moreover, I saw the samurai armors and even became one myself, for a moment.
Next, I also visited the Great Buddha in Kamakura. This massive bronze statue is over 750 years old and the way it was cast is impressive. It was done by casting each individual pieces first and joining them together later. Also, the visitors can go inside the Great Buddha, so I went in. I could not even believe myself that I was actually there. Afterward, I walked around the temple. The environment was so tranquil and beautiful.
Even if you do not know them by name, you may be familiar with Japanese "Torii" gates - the iconic red wooden gates which can be found in Japanese Shinto Shrines. I am obsessed with those and I wanted to see them. Nezu Shrine in Tokyo has them, so I decided to give it a visit. When I arrived there, I was greeted by an endless line of red Torii gates, which I had to walk through. I really enjoyed this experience.
Two of my Japanese second years recommended that Asakusa is a must. Asakusa is a major tourist attraction in Tokyo. There are many shops for buying souvenirs, giant red lanterns at the gates and the famous ancient Senso-Ji shrine.
Unexpectedly, I got a phone call from my Japanese friend co-year, Araki, at the moment and he says he is near Asakusa. So, we decided to meet and look around together. It was a memorable experience and I bought so many souvenirs.
This place is my uncle's recommendation. He wanted to show me some areas around Chiba - mainly the Great Buddha statue. Visiting these places required a boat ride, a cable car ride, and a long hike, but it was worth it. I saw the giant statue of Guan Yin curved on the side of the mountain and the giant Great Buddha.
Also, I was very fortunate enough to see a cherry blossom there. It seems odd because this is not the season for them to bloom, but there was one on the branches. I guess it must have been waiting for me.
Along the hike, I observed so many types of trees and vegetation with colorful leaves. There were more Japanese maple trees. The forest was stunning and I felt that I was in another world. Indeed, Japan is a very unique and special place.
After all of these, we returned to the pier to wait for the boat. While waiting for the boat, I spent half an hour gazing at the reflected golden sunbeams from the sea, angry sea waves and feeling the strong wind against me. Since no one else was there, I played one of my favorite song, "The Path of the wind" - a soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi from my favorite movie, My Neighbor Totoro. My mind was blank and clear. Perhaps, I was unconsciously doing a mindfulness session.
This was my trip to Japan and it will be one of the best memories I have apart from LPC. I will write soon when I get back to college. Keep in touch.