Tag Archives: Japan

Is is still called homesick when you long for 3 different places all at the same time?

After living abroad for over 2 years now, it is not just my home country that I miss anymore. I miss China and Japan almost every day, allthough I miss Norway the most and I also enjoy living here in the Netherlands. I guess it’s the downside of being lucky enough to have lived in multiple countries.

Japan was my first meeting with Eastern Asia, and my frist time living abroad. I was fresh out of highschool and living out my dream together with about 20 other Norwegian exchange students.

Image

Japan surprised me in many ways. There are parts of Japan that are actually not crowded, not overly modern and still really awesome. You most likely never even heard of the town I lived in, Togane. I still loved living there every day, and I learned so much from my stay there – about Japan, growing up and about myself. I have traveled back to Japan a few times already,and even met a few of the many friends I made there.I will never be able to recreate my time in Togane though, because most of the friends I made while living there are long gone by now. The Japanese students moved on to other parts of Japan, and the international students have either moved home or to somewhere else as well. There is actually absolutely no way to go back to the life I had there for a brief 5 months.

China was my second time living abroad, and the second country in Asia I ever went to. (it has pretty much been either nothing or everything for me in that part of the world hehe) At this stage I was a bit more grown up and a bit more used to traveling without my family.

Image

I realised right away that we would be a lot more left to ourselves in China than I ever was in Japan.  We arranged more or less everything except school on our own, something that I also learned a lot from. The people I went here with were awesome in a completely different way than the people I went to Japan with. It was all a little bit less organized, for better for worse.  I fell in love with Shanghai, a city almost as diverse as its country, China. Wether you want to go shopping, relax in the park, experience old Chinese buildings or extremly modern skyscrapers – Shanghai is the place to go. For those of you that followed my blog for a while, you know that my stay there was also the reason I started to blog in the first place, and I did over a hundred posts on Shanghai and China in general.

After only 3 weeks home in Oslo, I started on my next adventure – life in the Netherlands with my boyfriend Rob. We were sick of doing long distance after a whole year on opposite sides of the world, and I decided that I might as well see how I liked it in his home country. I have started to build a new life for myself here with a fulltime job, new friends, Rob of course and my first pet ever, Morgan the hamster. Moving to the Netherlands almost felt like moving back home, as I am now in Europe again and not in the far east.

I am really happy to be here of course, but I also miss the places that I left behind every now and then. My home country, Norway is still the place that I miss the most though. My friends and family in Oslo are truly amazing for still being there for me, even after I moved away from them not once, but 3 times now. I miss them all the time, and wish there was a way to experience the whole world and still stay in touch with all the people I care about. Hopefully I will be able to find a good way to do this in the future, but it is becoming hard as some of the people I care about obviously is on the other side of the world by now.

Daytrip to Hiroshima

As Rob and I had JR passes and could take the speed train wherever we wanted in Japan, we decided to do a daytrip to Hiroshima. It is about 2-3 hours with the Shinkansen from Kyoto station, so it is quite doable – especially if you do like us and watch shows on your laptop. Our fist stop when we made it to Hiroshima was the Genbakudomu, or the A-bomb dome in english. This building has been perserved so that it looks just like it did directly after Hiroshima was hit by the Atomic bomb in WW2. Going to see this building always make me rather emotional, as it obviously brings out feelings about war and weapons of mass destruction. This time the dome ws being checked for soundness though, so a lot of it was hidden.

Another nice but also sad place to visit is the peace memorial, right across the river from the actual A-dome. Here you can see messages telling the victims we wont repeat the  evil and so on as well as a torch with a fire they will keep burning until all of the atomic weapons in the world are destroyed. (This picture is from my visit to Hiroshima in 2009, with no construction work on the dome)

After going to the A-dome, we wanted to do something  a little less sad so we took the ferry out to the isle of Mijajima. This isle is located right outside of Hiroshima and it is the home of many great temples as well as quite a few semi-wild deer.  As we had to get back to Kyoto the same day we only visited the main temple and the enormous water gate a few meters away from shore. The water was low, so we could actually walk out to take a closer look. The deer were after me because I had food in my purse and a few of them actually followed me around for a bit, biting my purse and jacket. I have decided that deer are sweet, but a little scary when their hungry after my encounters with the deer of Nara and Mijajima. I still love Mijajima though and the view you have of Hiroshima from there 🙂

Osaka Castle

I am pretty sure Osaka was never a capital or anything like that, but they still have their own castle somehow.  On the inside the castle is mostly galleries and museums, but the outside is pretty impressive and it is located in the middle of a large park. Definitely worth a visit if  you’re ever in Osaka.  It is really easy to find as well as it has its own stop on the Osaka loop line 🙂

The Umeda Sky Building

One of the coolest modern buildings in Japan is the Umeda Sky Building, also known as the “floating garden”. The name “floating garden” comes from the top floor connecting the two towers.  The view from the observatory located here is pretty awesome, and it is also possible to go outside. It was pretty cold up there when Rob and I went though, due to the strong wind and it still being winter.

I really liked the observatory, and the building looks really cool from the outside and the inside as well. This was also the only observatory we went to during the day, sometimes it is nice to see cities in daylight too 🙂 I think Rob’s favorite part was the escalator ^^

Monkeys in the Mountain

One of the absolute highlights of my trip to Japan was our visit to the Arashiyama monkey park. The day we decided to go see this park it was actually snowing quite heavily and as it turned out you have to walk for about 20 minutes uphill to get to the viewing platform, where you can also meet some of the 133 Japanese monkeys that live in the area.  As we walked up the pretty steep path I started to wonder if the park would be worth the long walk, but we had already paid to enter the park and I wanted to see the monkeys so I kept on going of course. I think what really got to me was that Rob didn’t seem tired at all – just look at him waiting on me completly relaxed!

When we got to the top I forgot all about the long way up there though, the view would have been worth the hike on its own even, as it was pretty amazing. We could see all of Kyoto and the mountains surrounding the city.

While the view was an awesome bonus, the reason we came was of course the monkeys. We could see quite a few of them as we climbed the last few hills up to the top, and even more up on the viewing platform. Visitors to the park get to go into a shelter where they can rest up a bit after the climb. It is also possible to buy monkeyfood, but the only place your allowed to feed the monkeys is from inside the shelter. This way the monkeys can come get food approved by the zoo when they want to, but people won’t harass them – I think it is a great way to let people interact with the animals without  bothering them too much. Rob and I absolutely loved feeding the monkeys and we got two packages of monkeyfood – one with nuts and one with fruit.

I got a few nice pictures of the monkeys outside of the shelter as well, here are some of my personal favorites:

Nara

Nara is a city known for its temples, nature areas and deer walking around everywhere. As the city is only about an hour from Kyoto by train, Rob and I decided to make it a daytrip.  First we went to the largest wooden building in the world – Todaiji. This is in my opinion one of the most impressive buildings in the world, and on the inside there is a huge budha statue. Walking towards the temple we saw tons of deer already, and I decided it would be nice to feed them, so I got a package of deerfood. All of a sudden all of the deer on the street (which turned out to be a lot of deer!) came running towards me wanting food. Somehow I thought only a few of them would notice, but Im guessing feeding them is less scary on more crowded days.  I felt as if I was under attack, as the deer kept biting my jacket, my legs and so on.

Our next stop was Nara park, a huge area of wood with several smaller temples inside. As we entered the park, we saw this sign featuring all of the deer’s special attacks:

The biting at least, I can definitely confirm. The park was beautiful, and we saw some more peaceful deer as well as a smaller temple. The forest was nice too, and as this was a grey day it was rather empty so quiet and peaceful. When staying in Kyoto, Nara is definitely worth a visit  🙂

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan, located in Osaka, is a pretty awesome amusement park. Rob and I went there on the first grey day we had in Japan, hoping to dodge too long lines. The grey weather did indeed make the lines shorter and the longest we waited anywhere was around 30 minutes. Universal Japan has some pretty awesome rides, like Spiderman the ride, Back to the Future the ride and Space adventure. Most of the rides combine rollercoasters with visual effects to ensure a great experience. We were also lucky enough to run into several characters from the Universal movies, and as the crowd was so small we got to take pictures with most of them as well. To me the coolest picture was the one we took with the Cookie Monster: