Here are a few insights worth noting when visiting the cultural and historical heart of Japan — the Kansai region. It lies in the south central part of the Land the Rising Sun and is home to famous destinations like Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and Kobe.
1. Sharing is caring.
You may have traveled Indochina or elsewhere on your own, but traveling to Japan is quite pricey and you may want to share expenses with your travel buddies. Almost everything —from food to train tickets — is five to six times costlier than they are in the Philippines. So once you have already booked your holiday getaway, do some research on how not to burn your hard-earned money through discounted subway and local train tickets good for a day or two, with free passes to attractions and discount coupons.
2. Each bowl of ramen is unique.
There is no single ramen broth flavor. Ramen pubs in Osaka and Kyoto are like convenience stores that can be found practically everywhere. Ichiran, though, left a mark in our hearts and tummies, as it cooks up the best ramen experience! It is situated along Dotonbori river. You certainly won’t miss it because of the long queues in front of the diner.
3. Nothing beats an old-school map.
GPS and Google Maps are of no use in the absence of wi-fi connection, and when you hardly understand a word in a foreign country. A regular MRT or LRT rider in Manila will surely be taken aback by the number of train lines that await him in Japan’s underworld! So I would be happy to repeat, be kind to yourself and keep a map handy.
4. Deer are dear creatures.
You probably never thought a deer can be charmingly friendly. At Nara Park, hundreds of deer roam around — some sleepy, others camera-ready. And yes, feel free to feed the hungry ones with crackers especially made for your deer-est.
5. Matcha is Japan. Japan is Matcha.
The Japanese take their matcha (processed green tea in powder form) seriously. Interestingly enough, you’ll find it in almost every store: parks, tourist spots, subways, convenience stores, etc. From rice cakes to chocolates, to ice cream and drinks, name it, they offer this flavor that is uniquely Japan’s.
6. Indeed, there’s always room for dessert.
If you are a big fan of our local ‘minatamis‘ and other sweet delicacies, Japan is a wonderland for you! Go drooling with these mouthwatering concoctions:
7. Japanese culture is love.
Pokemon. Voltes Five. Doraemon. Fushigi Yugi. Ghost Fighter. Sailor Moon. Naruto. Totoro. The list goes on. What’s not to love about Japan? The Japanese may appear to be serious, but hey, look around and find posters and ads that are a testament to their playfulness and creativity. It’s no surprise that arcades and gaming centers in Osaka are open 24 hours as entertainment for cartoon lovers and thrill seekers.
Everywhere you go in Kansai almost everything is in Japanese, even the shows in the Universal Studios — including the 4D ride in the Hogwarts Castle, one of the main attractions of the park.
8. A polite and respectful society is possible in this day and age.
One will marvel at the Japanese way of living. From the streets to restaurants down to the subways, you will notice the locals are well-disciplined and respectful of others. You will even wonder how these people were raised. Almost none of the drivers use their horns when plying the streets. Commuters properly line up on their way in and out of buses and trains. Japan is certainly an epitome of an advanced society where everyone can be both dutiful and regardful of others.
Footnote: Kansai in Photos
Feast for the Eyes and Soul
[Entry 199, The SubSelfie Blog]
About the Author:
Toni Tiemsin is the Editor-in-Chief of SubSelfie.com. He is also a Media Relations Manager in a 360-communications agency in Makati. Previously, he was the Media and Communications Officer for international aid group Save the Children. Before his work in the development sector, Toni was an Executive Producer for the hourly and breaking news spot of GMA News and Public Affairds, News Producer for the primetime newscast 24 Oras, and formerly the Supervising and Associate Producer of the Special Assignments Team, the investigative and features unit Of GMA News. Journalism 2009, UP Diliman. Read more of his articles here.