Since I was small, I’ve always been fascinated with the Japanese. So it wasn’t surprising when I finally got to go to Japan in the spring of 2009. My parents had been planning this trip for a long time. Going to a new place is a big challenge then adding the fact that they speak a whole different language, it can be quite scary. My parents decided it would be better to go with a tour group. The tour took us to Kyoto, Tokyo, and Nara. There was also the option to add extra days to your trip without the tour. We added two. My whole family went, including my aunt and uncle.
We flew from Greenville, SC to Atlanta, GA then from there to Tokyo and then on to Kyoto. I didn’t know what to expect on the fifteen hour plane ride to Japan. The plane was big; the kind that has a row of five seats in the middle and three on the sides. Each seat had a TV where you could watch movies, play games, look at how much time you had to go on your trip and see a map that showed where we were. When we landed in Japan we encountered more problems at the airport, but that’s to be expected when you’re just entering a totally different country. Finally we made it to Kyoto and were greeted by our tour guide Kim. She was very nice and showed us to our rooms in the Nikko Kanzi Airport Hotel.
In Kyoto, we went to the Kiyomizu Temple where we drank water from a sacred spring and Nijo Castle. In Nara we saw the Todai-ji Temple, the largest wooden structure in the world, in which there is a 67 ft. tall Buddha statue. There are also deer that roam around that you can feed and pet. We left Kyoto and headed to Tokyo. The first night we stayed at a spa and hotel resort near Mount Fuji. The next day we rode to Tokyo. Tokyo is more industrial and high tech, while Kyoto which is more traditional. To get a full understanding of Japan you need to see both cities. While in Tokyo we stayed at the Tokyo Prince Hotel. We went to The Sen-soji temple were we learned our fortune by picking a numbered stick and opening a box with the same number as the stick. I recommend seeing all these things when you go to Japan. Spring is the best time to go because the captivating cherry blossoms are in bloom.
On our last day in Japan my family went to visit a temple near our hotel. As we walked inside we saw a group of businessmen praying before work. One of them approached us and told us about the temple in English. He told us to enjoy the rest of our vacation and then left to join the group of businessmen waiting for him. That one man talking to us some how summed up my whole trip. For him to speak to us in English was very kind. All of the people we met in Japan had been the same. The Japanese may be different and its hard to always understand their culture but they believe in respecting and helping others. We should try to respect them in return. This trip made me realize how different people can be but also how very similar we are too. I learned a lot about understanding other peoples cultures and beliefs. Japan is a magical place to visit and I’d definitely go again.
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