After many sleepless nights before the trip, I finally found myself at Narita Airport in Tokyo. What struck me the moment I stepped out of the airport was the extreme sense of discipline.Even the trees along the road had been neatly pruned to the exact
We first visited the Meji Shrine, right in the heart of bustling Tokyo city. Built in the traditional style with Japanese cypress and copper, the shrine commemorates Emperor Meji, who is credited with having abolished the feudal order and established a democratic government in Japan.
Our next stop was the Asakusa Sensouji Temple located in the centre
of the shitamachi (or low town). This temple was completed in 645 BC, making it Tokyo's oldest temple.
The lane leading to it, called Nakamise, is one of the oldest shopping centres in Japan. Besides typically Japanese souvenirs such as yukata (or summer kimonos) and folding fans, these shops also sell
local snacks from the Asakusa region. Mix of old and new
The ancient and the modern sometimes result in a baffling mix in
Tokyo. For instance, I was amazed to see trendy young men toting iPhones and GPRS devices pulling hand rickshaws. They were so far removed from the impoverished rickshaw pullers I had encountered in Kolkata.
The next day, we visited Mt Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan. The
12,388 ft-tall dormant volcano is considered one of Japan's 'Three Holy Mountains'. The volcano last erupted in 1707. We caught our first glimpse of Fuji-san (san is a Japanese mark of
respect) from Lake Yamanaka, the biggest of the five lakes around Mt
Fuji. We also visited the two other lakes around Fuji san Lake
Kawaguchi that has the biggest shoreline alongside Fuji and Lake
Motosu, which is a popular destination for adventure sports such as
wind surfing and scuba diving.
I got a taste of Japanese hospitality at the Gokayama village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The village withinthe city of Nanto remains untouched by modernity. Its traditional gassho-style homes are over 300 years old, and guests are treated with a great amount of courtesy.
I was treated to this courtesy elsewhere in Japan too. We didn't face
any inconveniences as tourists. I came back impressed with Japanese
culture, warmth and above all, the discipline that makes the country
tick like clockwork.
Kaushik Chakravorty is a professional
photographer based in Bombay
Most major airlines including Air India, Singapore Airlines, Sri Lankan Airways and Japan Airlines offer r
egular non-stop as well as connecting flights to Tokyo.