KONKANCATHOLIC

Visit to The Land of the Rising Sun

Sipping a glass of green tea at the sunset and gazing at the green forest and valley, I felt at peace and rejuvenated. Wind rushed through the tree leaves but there was no sign of birds as they have already sung good bye and left to their resting places. 

Bungalows in American Colony at Yokohama

Harbor view Yokohama

One of the Weekly Flower shows

Nature was making life slow down and relax. Looking at the beautiful sight and sitting at the top of the mountains and remembering the creator I exclaimed ‘wah! What a creation of God’. 

My cousin Tony reacted “yes it’s the Japanese God”. 

We were in “Mogame” a village in central Japan. By spending a couple of days in Tokyo and Yokohama and going round the city we felt like visiting Japanese rural areas and relaxing there. From Tokyo to Kyoto the old capital, we travelled in the Bullet train ‘Shikhansen’ as they call which travels at a speed of around 300 km per hour and from there to“Magome” by bus. We just wanted to see something of rural Japan and experience the country’s way of life. We spent an hour strolling around the winding hilly roads browsing boutiques and passing smart restaurants and coffee shops. It’s a cool and luxurious weekend retreat for Tokyoites who cycle or walk the extensive trails around this area. We stayed overnight at family run “Minshuku” a Guest House. They are economical alternative to hotels, offering full-board accommodation with communal bathrooms. Walking through the main door, we removed our shoes and wore their chapels as is the custom in Japanese homes. Just inside the door was the main reception, the décor was a classic Japanese dark wood flooring.For health reasons the Japaneseare used to sleep on the floor hence we too had to forget the cot and sleep on the floor. We enjoyed the delicacies like horse sashimi,trout cooked in salt and Tofu, bambooshoot,salmon with rice and sea weeds. The local drink SAKE (rice wine) was our appetizer.Their food thali consists of number of items with same number of sauces, one for each dish. 

Demonstration of traditional defense art

One of the parks in Yokohama city

Hanging bridge in yokohama

Roads leading to Tokyo city

View from St Marks Hotel 37th floor Tokyo

food n snacks shops at Tokyo Mall

Golden Buddha Temple

From there we travelled to village TSUMAGO. A gentle stroll from the forest would have taken us a couple of hours, passing farmland, waterfalls and streams under the shady canopy of ancient trees but we preferred to travel by bus. Gazing at the mountainous backdrop,low-rise wooden houses, craft shops and narrow side streets.Most of the retired and elders reside in the country side, where as the youngsters stay in the cities. We came to NAGISHU where we saw the oldest wooden suspension bridge and to NAKASAGOWA to NAGOA where the central factory of TOYOTA is located. We later caught NOZOMI 128 bullet train to TOKYO. 

oldest temple built by Japan King

,”Mogame” Hill station in Kyoto

,”Mogame” Hill station in Kyoto

In the Tokyo fish market

View from moving “ Shikhansen” Bullet train

Usual celebrations on Sundays

A busy street in Tokyo city

Roman Catholic Church on a Sunday Morning.

NOZOMI SHINKANSEN at TOKYO station 
The quiet, clean, neat and pollution free village life which touched me more than the buzzing city life of Tokyo. I will be narrating more about their culture rather than their achievements. Some of the interesting facts: 

• Japanese Children clean their schools everyday for about fifteen minutes with teachers. That’s how the Japanese generation is modest and keen on cleanliness.
• Any Japanese Citizen who has a dog must carry special bags to pick up dog droppings. Hygiene and cleanliness is part of Japanese ethics.
• A hygiene worker in Japan is called “Health Engineer” and can command salary of US $5000 to $8000 per month, and a cleaner is subjected to written and oral tests.
• Japan does not have any natural resources, and they are exposed to hundreds of earthquakes a year, but this has not prevented the country from becoming the second largest       economy in the world. We also experienced a mild earthquake one early morning shaking the house and things but nothing fell down to ground. No one comes out of their house   during such times as the houses constructed are tremor proof and safe.
• Japan prevents Smoking as well as the use of mobile phones (Keitai) in trains, restaurants, indoors and in public places and hence there is no nuisance like we see here
• From first to sixth primary year, Japanese must learn ethics in dealing with people.
• Even though one of the richest nation in the world, the Japanese do not have maid servants or drivers. The parents are responsible for the house and children.
• There is no examination from the first to the primary level because the goal of education is to instill concepts and character building. Education is compulsory up to High school level.
• If you go to a buffet restaurant you will notice people only take and eat as much they need without any waste. If you book a table in an eatery you have to be there on time. Five        minutes early or delay accepted more than that the reservation gets cancelled
• All citizens are fully covered with Health insurance
• The rate of delayed trains in Japan as informed to us is about 7 SECONDS per YEAR! The Japanese value their time and are very punctual to minutes and seconds. For Train delays    portion of your ticket money is refunded. Train delay can never be a reason for late coming unlike it is in India.
• Although the country is the second largest producer of cars and two wheelers you hardly find them on the roads as 90% of the people use public transport like bus and trains which    is more convenient and cheaper than to own a car.The parking charges either at apartments or public places are prohibitive. There are no traffic jams or blocks at any of the signals.
• You always find people giving you way while standing in a Queue rather than rushing and pushing in front of an escalator or a lift or at train entry/exit points.
• It was a great experience to interact with the seniors who are more active and healthy and are ready to help at anytime. Although the retirement age is 65 years, after that the    people take up odd jobs like taxi drivers, postman, and delivery job or do service as guide, traffic assistants, etc. as they want to be active and useful to the society.
• There is a price tag for every item and no bargaining in the shops and no tips to be paid anywhere to anyone.
• Japanese women enjoying the highest life expectancy of any country in the world as many of them are above hundred years and Infant mortality rate being third lowest globally.

The Japanese love their country and wherever they are employed, they come back to settle down to their native places. Dignity of labor and work ethics are their great virtues.

My visit is a lifetime experience. There was a lot to learn, to follow and to implement.However there is not much importance to attract tourists and immigrants as the Japanese are more worried about the erosion of their culture and religion.

Cost of living is high but If you get an opportunity please do visit to experience the harmony, love, hospitality, cleanliness and nature beauty it is really worth the money.

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