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も一度日本にくる May 3, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Japan, Personal, Travel.
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Where I'm going, sort of, only without the forest princess, and the wolves, and the weird spirits. Ahem.

Its been almost two years since I last had a proper holiday. So having finally got some time and money, where else would I go but to the motherland. The fact that it’s also the last place I went on holiday is besides the point….

This time the itinerary is a little different. My original intention was to go north to Hokkaido, but recent events upended that plan. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know the recovery effort for the earthquake and tsunami is ongoing, with aftershocks still being felt.

(I’d like to point out, I’m not in the least bit worried about the Fukushima nuclear situation. Yes, the plant is still in danger, but there really is no danger from radiation unless you’re planning to go right to the area directly around the plant (and even then I believe they still have a 30km exclusion zone in place). It’s a conversation for another time, but the danger really has been exaggerated, or at least misunderstood. It’s largely the result of our human tendency to be alarmist and the difficulty in communicating jargon terms to the public. As someone who works with scientists and science reporters, I’m not in the least worried about visiting Japan.) 

Anyway, for me, getting to Hokkaido had become a problem. Although the Tohoku shinkansen seems to be back up and running, I’m not entirely sure how good the ferries between Aomori and Hakodate are at the moment. The night trains running through the Seikan tunnel are still running, so I did consider taking the Twilight Express from Osaka, but the 23 hour journey and my travelling companion’s concerns (however misguided) made me reconsider.

So, I’m still flying into Osaka, but will instead be heading in the opposite direction to the southern island of Kyushu. I’ve been there before, on my first trip to Japan, but only got as far as Fukuoka and Nagasaki. This time I’m planning to make use of the relatively new Kyushu shinkansen and get all the way down to Kagoshima, from where we will hydrofoil it over to the island of Yakushima, a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to some stunning forest that’s said to be Miyazaki’s inspiration for Princess Mononoke’s homeland.

The aim for this trip was always hiking and onsen, and Kyushu seems to have enough to allow for the same as we’d intended for Hokkaido (even if the scenary and climate are rather different). As well as Yakushima, I’m looking forward to seeing volcanoes around Kagoshima and Aso, as well as some lovely views around Kyushu’s national parks and relaxing in some rotenboro around Beppu or Kurokawa.

The advantages of flying into Kansai airport are:

a) it’s a change from Narita;
b) for once I won’t be making that ridiculous first day trip from Narita to Osaka (it’s a running joke that the last 3 times plans have conspired to have me doing that. Grr);
c) I can visit friends in Osaka and Nara, and hopefully catch a baseball game in Koshien! (disclosure: interest in baseball is entirely from reading Touch and Cross Game.)

And, of course, I can still do my usual otaku shopping now that I know of Den Den Town. Plus, this time I’m flying Emirates, which gives me a whole extra 10kg baggage allowance on top of the usual 30kg! I will certainly be doing my bit to ‘aid the Japanese economy’ -_^

It will be weird not going to Tokyo. Most of my friends in Japan live in the Tokyo region, so I’ll miss catching up with them. And while Den Den Town is a good patch, I still pine for Akihabara and Nakano as much as any otaku ^^; Also, the Ghibli museum seems to have a new attraction and I’m intrigued that there’s now a Hello Kittyland in Odaiba…. agh!

Still, one can’t do everything. I need a relaxing holiday as much as anything else, so I’m looking forward to getting far far away.

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1. Japan trip 2011 « Canned Memory - July 3, 2011

[…] I’d mentioned in my preview, the intention this time was to see more of Japan’s nature, due in part to the travelling […]


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