25 Sep 2017
Let me ask you to close your eyes for a moment and try to picture a land that has no litter, no graffiti, no talking on mobile phones on the trains, no smoking in the streets, no buskers in the subways, no people sleeping on the streets, no jaywalking, where the streets are safe to walk at night… this is Japan.
I have been busy out here with my colleague, Jamie Smith, doing a recce ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Over my many years with ITC, I have been fortunate to have visited many countries and to have hosted tours to those countries, and my experiences so far in Japan have exposed me to a beautiful people and lovely country that is right up there with the best that I have visited. I am continually amazed by the respect that the Japanese have for each other. In fact, I joked with Jamie the other evening that Japan should be renamed Respect. And that respect is not reserved just for the locals but is afforded to visitors as well.
My travels so far have taken me to Tokyo, a bustling city and although teeming with people I found it strangely quiet with hardly any noise pollution. For example, in my first three days in the city I didn’t once hear a car horn! The train service is outstanding: very clean and of course punctual, and because the train and bus services are so good everyone makes use of them with the result being an uncontested road network. Oh, if that were only the case in home country South Africa!
Having explored the various hotel options and a variety of eating options in Tokyo (not all sushi!) it was time to head to Shinjuku, to experience much of the same, in case we want to attend any of the matches that might be played nearby.
From Shinjuku, we set off on a day trip to Mount Fuji. It was hazy on the day we visited so we did not manage a "Kodak moment” of the famous mountain, but we did experience a cable car ride to a beautiful lake, and then a boat ride to a stunning view point of the mountain. It's a long day but one does get to experience the Japanese countryside, which is enjoyable.
We also visited the wonderful city of Kyoto, and what a lovely stay we had! The southern part of the city has a river running from East to West, which gives the city a nice easy feel. There are loads of small restaurants with hundreds of tempting dishes; the food is all very healthy and freshly made so one of the benefits of eating here is that, at the end of your stay, one is able to pull one’s belt in a notch, as opposed to letting it out a notch! Places that are a must-see in Kyoto are the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine and the Kinkakuji Temple (or Golden Temple). Kyoto is a special place and I have no doubt that everyone will love the experience.
Yesterday we visited the Island of Miyajima, three miles off the coast of Hiroshima, and enjoyed a light lunch of tempura conger eel, rice and pickled apricot before returning to the mainland for a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Museum. Visiting this extraordinary museum was one of the most moving experiences of my life. It is impossible for me to describe in words what I felt during my visit, but when you come to this lovely country, a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Museum must be at the top of your "to do" list.
Today is Monday the 25th September and we are back on the bullet train to Tokyo. (An amazing ride!)
So, until the next time, keep safe and Sayonara.
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2017