2013 was a busy year. So much was happening that when one day in March, when I randomly scrolled through my firm’s calendar for August and saw three days of public holidays in a row, I told myself ‘that’s it. Holiday. Book. Now.’ A quick scan of Air Asia told me what I needed to know, and literally ten minutes later, I’d decided: Tokyo, baby!
I had a Japanese roommate in high school and we were really close, but I hadn’t seen her since we graduated, as she moved right back to Tokyo. I immediately emailed her and told her I was thinking of coming – and her response was beyond enthusiastic. In fact, I’ve never seen so many exclamation marks in an email before.
And then came stage 1 – the planning. My notebook looked a little something like this:
1. Tokyo Metropolitan Govt Office (TMG) – for views of Tokyo
2. Ueno Park
3. Tsukiji Market (fish smell though, ew, be prepared)
4. Oedo-Onsen-Monogatari (Need to be naked in public! But then again…its Japan, no one cares. Yes? No? Maybe?)
5. Fuji TV Odaiba (apparently nice around sunset)
6. Sumida River
7. Sensoji Temple
8. A Kabuki/Geisha show???
9. Meiji Jingu
10. Roppongi Hills (only to see the spider sculpture, otherwise not too interested)
11. Nakamise Dori (for Japanese souvenirs)
Daytrips from Tokyo:
1. Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park (not leaving Japan til I see Fuji)
2. Climbing Mt Fuji.
# of days: 8-9
Money: 4 months to save. No shopping until after August.
Then came stage 2 – excitement. I’d get a little adrenaline jolt at the most inappropriate times (in the shower, in the middle of a meeting, when I desperately need a power nap, you name it). I’d never been on a fully self-funded overseas holiday before, and that too to a country who’s most popular food I can’t even eat (I’m allergic to seafood. All kinds of it.)
Countless emails exchanged, visa applied for. If you’re lucky and have passports, which allow you to travel almost everywhere without the need for a visa, then you don’t know anything about the agonizing pain and stress that comes with visa applications at the consulates. Filling forms, getting relevant documents, endorsing the official copies, asking my friend to fill out her details (Japan is quite strict – the Japanese have to issue an official invite) and then finally obtaining an appointment (who’d have thought the embassy would be full three months in advance?!) at the consulate. I must say though, the Japanese visa looks pretty cool. Laminated effect and everything.
And before I knew it, it was August. Coming up: a more detailed blog (or blogs) on my week in Tokyo!