JKT48Stuff’s Japan Raid Part 3: Pitra’s Story
This was actually my second trip to Japan. I was here last September 2013 for 8 days traveling trip. I visited four big major cities that relatively closed to one another, Tokyo – Kyoto – Osaka – Nagoya. More of these journeys can be read on my free eBook (Indonesian language) here. I came here with my other 2 friends.
Then I came back again to Japan on March 28th – April 9th 2014. This was actually a spontaneous decision. On November 2013 Air Asia announced a two days only promotion ticket. Jakarta – Nagoya back and forth for only Rp. 3,700,000.00 (Around 360.00 USD), while I had to pay Rp. 4,800,000.00 (Around 460.00 USD) for my previous trip to Japan. Both these trips require passengers to transit first in LCCT airport, Kuala Lumpur. I believe Air Asia wanted to promote Nagoya for an alternative route aside of the usual Tokyo. During this trip I only travel with one friend, one of those who also accompanied me on 2013 trip. His name is Didut.
During the 2013 trip, I traveled across Japan cities by bus only, using Willer Bus Japan. On my latest trip, since we wanted to travel to far south, we had to use train. So we purchased Japan Rail Pass. For foreigners only, you can buy 7 days trip for US$279.00. It seemed a bit pricey, right? Trust me, it’s not. The trip itself, if I buy the ticket individually would cost me more than US$600.00.
With this Japan Rail Pass I can use any JR trains, including the fast train Shinkansen (except Nozomi and Mizuho Shinkansen train). When you order it online, the booking ticket will be send to your home address (outside of Japan). Later when you arrived in Japan, you can come to the nearest JR station and redeem that booking ticket with the pass. You can also mention the starting day of the pass’s valid range date.
With this pass, you can just show it to the guard every time you enter the boarding area of JR station, and they will let you in.
There were many attractions in Japan that everyone would love to visit. Before reading the story, I must say it first that my traveling here is not for idoling or otaku-ing purpose. I came here to hunt some photos, especially since I came here at the same moment as Sakura started to blossom. Well, I do buy several small gifts for my favorite members in Team KIII, but that’s not the whole purpose of this journey.
My first day in Nagoya was to visit a friend of Didut’s house. Then we go to Oosu Kannon temple, a famous temple in Nagoya, that was really full with people that day. Then we just spend the afternoon visiting again Central Park Sakae. I’ve visited many Nagoya’s sightseeing sites on my 2013 trip, so I don’t intend to travel to the same place again. Since I personally enjoyed Central Park Sakae and Oasis 21 building, then it would be better to enjoy the visit again.
The next day we use Hikari Shinkansen train to Kokura. It was cold and windy that day. We were greeted in Kokura by another friend of Didut’s. She took us for a walk in Kokura, visiting Katsuyama Park and Kokura Jo (temple). There’s a monorail that could took you to places in the city, though we prefer to walk (even in the rain). We have a plan to see more friends of Didut in the afternoon. There was still time to visit other places before meeting them. So we went to a small city nearby called Mojiko.
Mojiko is a harbor city, complete with many old historical buildings. It was really a nice place, though I wonder why no one has mentioned this city in the any promotional tourist guide book. If you were in the southern area in Japan, please take a moment to visit Mojiko. I recommend it. After visiting Mojiko, we came back to Kokura to visit and talk with more of Didut’s friends.
On the third day, we traveled to Hakata. We met a fellow JKT48 fans named Havid who currently studying in Japan. He guided us to visit HKT48 theater. No, we didn’t see any of the girls’ show. We just wanted to see the theater’s location. In my 2013 trip, I’ve visited SKE48, NMB48, and AKB48, and this time to complete it, just the HKT48 theater.
The theater is located on the outer side of a mall and there’s a path nearby leading to the Fukuoka Stadium. I guess the girls will just have to walk when they performed in the stadium few months back. We had lunch in Canal City, before we split up with Havid. Didut and I continued our journey to Hiroshima.
Around noon we were already in Hiroshima. There were no trains inside the city here. All major transportation use bus and trams. After leaving our luggage in the hostel, we went to Hiroshima memorial monument. It was a nice day. Not too hot and not too cold. I put off my sweater and enjoy the weather. The sky was also blue. And the best moment was, there were many sakuras already blossoming on the trees along the river near the monument. Many people are having “hanami” (having picnic with friends/families under blossoming sakura trees).
On the afternoon, we walked to Hiroshima Jo (castle). It was a very long walk, but okay for both of us.
The next day we were still in Hiroshima. We travel to Miyajima, a destination island that usually people of Hiroshima go when they want to do mountain trekking. Our Japan Rail Pass entitled us for free ferry boat to the island. It was quite a big island. You could visit Itsukushima Shrine, with the shrine’s gate located on the ocean. When it is high tide, the gate’s foot will be buried under water. However when it is low tide, you can practically walk to the gate’s foot.
In Miyajima island, we walked further up the hills to Momojidani Park. There were many deer strolling outside the beach to the hills. They were friendly. You can go futher to the island’s peak by using ropeways.
After we had lunch at the island’s peak, we traveled back to the beach, rode the ferry again to travel back to the main island. From there we went to Iwakuni station, changed to bus, then went straight to Kintaikyo bridge. It was one of Japan’s famous constructions, a wide pedestrian bridge across a big river, built 100% with wood only. The weather was really nice. We again saw sakura flowers blossoming on the riverside. It seemed that ice cream is very popular during this weather. Lots of people queuing in the ice cream stalls located in the market area near the bridge.
We left Hiroshima the next day, headed to Kurashiki using Shinkansen train. It’s a transit before we went straight to Osaka. In Kurashiki, we explored Bikan historical quarter near the station. Bikan was a heritage city within the city. It’s a historical heritage complex with a river canal in its middle part. We walked around the city until noon, before continuing our journey to Osaka. We made Osaka for our home base for 3 nights, while we explored its surrounding cities.
On the sixth day we left our hotel in Osaka for Kyoto. During my 2013 trip, we have already explored the city of Kyoto. This time, we preferred to choose sightseeing places outside of Kyoto. The first place we visit was Fushimi Inari Shrine. It was practically a tracking path up to the hills. Parallel red columns guided visitors on the left and right side of the path. There were written marks on each column. If you follow the columned paths, it would take you to the top of the hill. However, we only walked half the journey, and decided to walked way down. If we continue to walk to the top, I’m not sure if I have time to visit many other exciting places nearby.
We went back to Kyoto station, had lunch, then visited Arashiyama area. The place is famous for its bamboo forest. We walked inside a path covered with bamboo trees on our left and right. Few Japanese women are seen wearing yukata here. There were also few couples having their pre-wedding photos here. Eavesdropping, I heard that few couples were actually talking in Indonesian language. Wow, they came here to Japan just for pre-wedding photo?
There’s also a lake in the Arashiyama area. You can rent a boat for two, or rent a giant boat for lots of people. There were lots of people here in the area. All were enjoying the coming of summer. Using a bus, we then went to Daikakuji Temple. The temple has a big pond nearby. We walked circling the pond, relaxing a bit in the park, before returning back to Osaka.
The next day we traveled to Nara. It’s another scenery place where deers are let loose in the area. These deers were nice. Be careful with them, though. If they knew that you have foods for them, they will ask and follow you around. Don’t tease them a lot, since I saw a kid got pushed by a deer until he cried.
There is a famous temple called Todaiji in the area. You should visit it when you’re here. We had a crazy weather in Nara. Sometimes it was sunny, then suddenly it was raining, then it was hot again, then we had cold wind, rain, and hot again. All of that events happened in just mere minutes.
The most interesting part when you stay in a hostel, you can meet interesting people from many other countries. Usually, you can just relax and sit on the common room, then you get to see fellow travelers. You can exchange experience about your traveling, giving them ideas, or getting ideas from them, to make your future traveling more exciting. Or you can even promote your own country, and offered them to be their guide the next time they came to your country.
In our stay in Osaka, we met and talked with people from Latin America, Japanese-born-US-citizen, a beautiful girl with half-Japanese and half-Dutch heritage. We even found fellow Indonesians who went traveling with the same promoted Air Asia tickets.
On the eighth day, we use Shinkansen to Tokyo. This is the final day of my Japan Rail Pass valid range data. Tomorrow, I had to pay regular amount whenever I travel using JR trains. During 2013 trip, Didut and I stayed at a friend’s house in Tokyo: Gandjar and Dina, with their two children. We also stayed in their house on our current trip. Their house is located in Kitafuchu, a suburban area outside of Tokyo. Today my friend and I go separated ways. He went with Gandjar and family, while I went to Yokohama to meet with JKT48 Japanese fans who previously came to Jakarta through Jadilah Nekad program.
I was picked up by Mt.Joss in Kitafuchu station. Then we traveled using several trains until finally arrived near the China town part of Yokohama. We were greeted by CleaningStaff. Mt.Joss took lots of pictures, while CleaningStaff always referred to his iPad for direction. We had clamshell ramen for lunch. It was really great. I gave them several JKT48 photo packs that I bought previously in Jakarta. They spread the photo packs on the table and started to choose. The rest of photos were given to other fans in Japan that could not come that day.
CleaningStaff’s oshi is Nabilah, and he has a Nabilah’s photobook (which I don’t even have). Opening the book made me realize that the photo shoots were taken in Yokohama. CleaningStaff then asked around, to find the gate that appeared on the photobook. On the gate location, Mt.Joss posed, replicating Nabilah’s pose on the book. I smiled and took his picture. We walked from the China town to the famous Yohohama harbor, watching the seagulls near the big ships docking. We traveled around the town by walking until evening.
On the afternoon, I met Mr.Yokohama (the one who gave “Natsuko” name to Natalia) and Japarta. We had dinner and talked about many things. Thanks to Japarta who mostly translate our conversation between Indonesian and Japanese language. It was quite hard for many of them to talk in English. Aside of the usual talk about traveling, they asked me about how JKT48 is today, and how Team KIII was doing.
Afterwards Mr.Yokohama asked us to come to his book store. He owned a second hand book store in Yokohama. Not just books, but gravure video also. Hahaha.. even those that still use VHS cassettes. He was really nice. Did you know that all these people that I’ve met, came here to Jakarta to attend Flying Get’s national handshake event? I went back to Tokyo with Japarta and Mt.Joss, before we went our separate ways to our home.
The next day I met a friend of mine, Ivan, who currently study in Chiba. He was in Tokyo that day. So I asked him to accompany me to buy several gifts in Ikebukuro and Akihabara. We also went to Inokashira Park. A lot of people do hanami in the park. Carpets were rolled on the grass. They were talking, laughing, eating, drinking, and having fun. I walked circling the park and loving that moment seeing sakura petals falling on the lake within the park.
On the evening, we had dinner with Gandjar’s family at the best sushi restaurant ever, Kurasushi. We had to wait for 1.5 hours before we get our seat. You can choose your own sushi plate that ran on a rail. You could also order other menu using the LCD screen, and in mere minutes the requested order came to your table using other rail.
No waitress coming to our table at all (unless you’d like to order drinks). You can put the leftover plates to the slot located beside the table. For every plate inserted, a number appear on the LCD screen, counting the plate. For every 4-5 plate inserted, an animation will play on the LCD screen, showing whether you win a prize or not. If you win, you get a small toy released from a machine on top of the LCD screen.
The next day, Didut and I said our goodbye to Gandjar’s family. We put our luggage on the Shinjuku’s station locker then went to Asakusa. The Sensoji Temple in Asakusa was full with people. We also visited the tourist information center nearby and surprised to see several Asakusa brochures with Indonesian language. There are others with Malay and Thai language as well.
We then walked from Sensoji temple to Tokyo Skytree, the highest tower in Japan. We had to queue for 45 minutes before we can finally ascend to the “tombo deck” floor. The ticket price is 2,060 yen. The lift display said that we went for 600 meters/minute. There’s a lift to the highest floor but you had to pay additional 1,030 yen to reach it. I didn’t go further up, since the “tombo deck” is already nice. You can see 360 degrees around the tower. I waited there until the sun sets, before returning back to Shinjuku, Tokyo.
On the eleventh day, our last day in Japan, we traveled back from Tokyo to Nagoya. Since we can’t use Japan Rail Pass, we had to use cheaper mode transportation, Willer Bus Express. We travel by night from Shinjuku and arrived in Nagoya station the next morning. On that day, we spent time visiting Science Museum then bought some gifts at Tokyu Hands store near Central Park Sakae. We had yakiniku for dinner with Didut’s friend, before returning back to the hostel.
The next day we already went back to Nagoya’s airport and returning home to Jakarta, via Kuala Lumpur, still using Air Asia airline.
My chosen photo picks on this travelling trip can be seen here (still many to be uploaded).