Everywhere I turned, there were flashing strobe lights, advertisements for the newest designer fashions, and women carrying Gucci bags. The only noise came from the street venders shrieking in high-pitched voices, selling their latest gizmos, even though it seemed like there were a million of us standing huddled together in the meandering alleyway. Every two blocks I would catch a glimpse of a Pachinko station where many sat mesmerized in front of slot machines luminous with bizarre-looking cartoon characters. I was standing in the most technologically savvy city in the world, Tokyo. As we walked through a crowded avenue in the heart of Tokyo, Ginza, we saw ultramodern vending machines, glowing billboards, and teens dressed in wacky outfits. This was a typical scene during the night in this avant-garde city. The main mode of transportation for a Japanese resident was the metro. In the most populous subway station in the world, we could find every designer shop and other local favorite stores. This intricately woven subway whose map looked like a bowl of Ramen noodles took us to all of the most visited tourist spots and from the east to the west coasts of Japan too.
To escape the over-stimulating city, we hopped onto one of the trains of the Shinkansen (bullet train), the fastest train in the world, traveling at speeds over 200 miles an hour! First, we stopped in Kyoto, which unlike Tokyo was rich in culture and history. Here the flashing strobe lights were replaced with cherry blossom trees and winding creeks and gardens. The nation’s old capital was home to the former Imperial Palace and numerous monasteries and temples. The most memorable shrine was one in the heart of Kyoto called Chion-in where we saw the largest bell in Japan and a typical Japanese burial ground. A sight that will stay with me forever is the image of an austere saffron robed monk at the monastery, typing into the latest model of the new Sony notebook. Here, we also saw a geisha riding a rickshaw to a teahouse and witnessed a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony.
After two enriching days in Kyoto, we took a day trip to Hiroshima. This destination was approached with a more somber mood as we had arrived the day before the anniversary of the nuclear bombing during World War II. We visited the Peace Memorial, which was a tragic reminder of the bombing that obliterated the city. Outside the memorial, there were schoolchildren rehearsing music, monks banging on drums protesting the use of nuclear weapons, people from peace organizations handing out flyers, and ordinary civilians lined by the A-bomb dome singing solemnly.
After our visit to
For more information, visit the following websites:
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.