Rays of Splendour

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Not a walk through the park

Walking in a park has never been an activity I considered whenever I make plans for recreation. I perceive it to be one of the most disengaging activity ever. In Singapore, parks are a common feature in almost every residential area however I always deemed that there is really not much for one to see save for trees, more trees, trees and even more trees which I felt look almost the same. Further unless there is an intended destination for which a walk through the park is required, I find the act of strolling through one rather meaningless.

Hence for the longest time ever, the only reason why anyone would ever see me ambling through one would be if I were:

  1. To gather data for research back when I was in school
  2. To dispense a work responsibility should the activity be held in a park
  3. To accompany a friend/friends. In this instance, it would really take a lot out of me to socialise in an environment and an activity I find to be right up the list of the least comfortable things to do in life

And yet when I was in Osaka some time back, I did the exact opposite of what I’ve never liked doing –  to take a walk through the park outside Osaka Castle. And what surprised me was that I actually enjoyed the jaunt I had at Osaka Castle Park.

Perhaps it’s the beauty of the place; perhaps it’s also the weather – temperatures were cool and nice at that time (basically, it’s heaven to my body). Regardless, for the first time ever in my life, I enjoyed it and actually derived a sense of calmness from it.

So tonight as I sit here trying to fight off the exhaustion from work and thoughts of flying back to Japan entered my mind, I suddenly recalled the time when I was at Osaka Castle Park and started missing it terribly. If only the place was accessible within a short bus or train ride away!

IMAG0400View of the Osaka Castle

IMAG0398From one of the bridges that separates the Osaka Castle and the Osaka Castle Park


IMAG0392Along one of the park trails

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Summer Vacation 2012: Japan

I went on my second trip to Japan during this summer vacation. It was supposed to be summer in Japan and hence imagine how taken aback I was when I realized that the temperatures were relatively cooler than I had expected (and I had packed solely light clothes in anticipation of warm temperatures). The irony is that I’m a geographer and hence climatic facts like summer temperature and rainfall patterns of temperate countries should be at the back of my mind. However all thoughts about Japan’s climatic patterns were completely forgotten in the excitement to get away from work for more than a week and to bring the whole family to a country where they have never been before. Regardless, the cool summer there was such a welcome respite from the warm tropical climate here that it makes me seriously think about moving to and working in a country with a temperate climate.

The climate and weather in Japan aside, I find that it’s good to be back in Japan again. It’s really heart warming to be in a society that respects and appreciates nature. Everywhere I turn, I see that nature has been preserved and conserved in one way or another as much as possible despite the process of development that Japan underwent to be the developed country it is today. Additionally, the beautiful scenery of mountains, rivers and greenery that I encounter was certainly a feast to the eyes. Though we stayed in highly-urbanized Tokyo most of the time, the overnight trips we took to nearby Hakone and Nikko had allowed us to immerse ourselves into nature and appreciate the miracles of God’s creations. The following are what little photo I managed to take with my S2.

20120612_093339Above: View of the lush verdant vegetation from the ropeway

20120611_170653 Above: Morning view from the ryokan we stayed in. Unfortunately, the view of Mt Fuji was obscured by the thick clouds.

20120611_180141Above: Lake Ashi

20120613_165341Above: We (actually only Dad) drove the long-winding narrow road to a height of 1276m above sea level in Nikko. The plan was to drive even further up to check out the springs however the heavy fog due to the rain which had developed made driving pretty unsafe. Hence after taking a photo at this signboard, we headed back to our inn which was located beside JR Tobu Station.

Our time in Nikko was dotted with rain which made going around a challenge even with a car at our disposal. We had planned to visit the spring (I’ve forgotten its name) and the Tokugawa shrine as soon as we arrived in Nikko but had to give it a miss due to the rain. The rain continued till the next day so we decided to head back to Tokyo in the morning as planned.

During our last two days in Tokyo, we checked ourselves into one of the Disney hotels in the Tokyo Bay area. The initial plan was to spend our last two days in Disneyland. However upon our arrival there, all of us realized that there were still places in Tokyo we wanted to go to. Younger brother 1 wanted to explore Shibuya and Asakusa further; Younger brother 2 wanted to explore Shibuya and Shinjuku even further (even though we had stayed in Shinjuku for the past few days, it apparently still wasn’t enough); I wanted to make my way to Saitama to check out the Saitama Super Arena. The parents were the only one who didn’t desire to check out anymore places and were content to follow anyone of us wherever we go. Hence technically, our stay in a Disney Hotel had nothing to do with Disneyland.

20120617_062045 Above: Disney Resort rail tickets which gave us unlimited rides around the Disney area to the JR Maihama Station. JR Maihama Station is an important station which allowed us to travel to JR Tokyo Station and thereafter Shibuya/Shinjuku/Asakasa/Saitama

20120617_055600Above: The view of the bay from our room. Unfortunately, my S2 didn’t do justice to the otherwise magnificent view of the bay.

This was the first trip to a place so far away from home and for an extended period of time that the five of us went to together as a family. I’m glad that I urged the family to go on this trip and truly hope that they have enjoyed and learned from it as much as I did! This Japan trip was such an awesome one! 🙂 Alhamdulillah. I am looking forward to my next trip which will take place at the end of the year, insyaAllah.

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Should I?

This place is currently on my mind as I plough through my essay which is due tomorrow.

Source: http://photography2011-kawahara.blogspot.com/2011/07/hokkaido-japan.html

Source: http://photography2011-kawahara.blogspot.com/2011/07/hokkaido-japan.html

Both photos illustrate Hokkaido in different seasons. I’ve been looking for a place to go to for months and nothing surfaced until today.

So… Is this it? Another trip to Japan?