Konichiwa! Two Tabets in Japan
by Gilbert Joven & Norman Bituin
Foreword: Gilbert and I decided to combine our trip journals. Gilbert is the veteran traveler in the "Land of the Rising Sun" having done it eleven times. He contributed an article on his fifth trip that's posted in our website. You may read it (again) at your leisure in Travelogue or by clicking here: "Touring Japan on JR Shinkansen Bullet Trains". This is my first time, although I had a day stopover and a night stay at Tokyo Ginza Hotel when I left RP in '73. Gilbert made his eleventh trip on the last week of Oct. 2016. Mine started on the first week of Nov. 2016.
A. Visiting Japan, Trips# 10 and #11
SAPPORO. The northern part of Japan, Hokaido, has always fascinated me. So on our tenth trip, we decided to visit Hokaido in April 2015. We flew in from Manila to Tokyo, stayed a night there and took a plane, JetAir, to Saporro. It's just a one hour flight to Saporro instead of taking a train which will take 10 hours from Tokyo. Saporro is the capital of the mountainous northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. It is famous for its beer, skiing and annual snow festival. The Saporro Beer Museum traces the city's brewing history and beer garden.
OTARU. Otaru, a port city on Hokkaido lies northwest of Saporro on Ishikari Bay. The city is known for glassworks, music boxes and sake distilleries. Nishin Goten, a former fish processing plant built in 1897 along Otaru Canal is now lined up with cafes and shops in converted old warehouses.
NISEKO. Niseko is a town on Hokkaido, near the dormant volcano of Mount Yotei. Major ski centers occupy the slopes of Mount Niseko-Amupuri. The surrounding mountains are dotted with numerous hot spring resorts, know as onsen. The area also features several golf courses against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks.
DAISETSUZAN. Daisetsuzan is Hokkaido's largest national park. It preserves a mountainous area of virtually unspoiled wilderness. A paradise for hikers, outdoor... Mount Kurodate is a 1984 - meter peak that towers over Sounkyo Onsen in central Hokkaido. Thanks to a ropeway and chair lift, the mountain is one of the most easily accessible major peaks.
ASAHIYAMA ZOO. Asahiyama Zoo is a very popular zoological garden just outside of Asahiyama City in the middle of Hokkaido. Its popularity lies in enclosures that highlights a glass tunnel through the penguin pool, small glass domes in the middle of the polar bear and wolf enclosures that gets visitors right among the animals. The zoo was one of the first to organize penguin walks during winter. Animals include native wildlife from Hokkaido including deers, eagles, wolves, polar bears, big cats and giraffes and the elusive Snow Jaquar.
NAGOYA. Our last stopover from Hokkaido is Nagoya before going back to Manila. In Nagoya we visited the INUYAMA castle which has Japan's oldest castle tower. The pride of Aichi, INUYAMA Castle has been designated as a national treasure. Constructed in 1537, the castle is Japan's oldest with an existing castle tower. The castle dominates the landscape atop a hilltop on the Kisogawa River. Viewing from the castle tower makes one feel like a landlord of the land.
FUKUOKA. In Oct 2016 during the semestral break of Julian we decided to visit Fukuoka, our 11th trip to Japan. Fukuoka City sits in the northern shore of Japan's Kyushu Island. It is the largest and one of Japan's ten most populated cities (it is closer to Seoul, Korea than Tokyo). It is known for ancient temples, beaches, modern shopping malls including Canal City. It also boasts of the Fukuoka Tower, along the beach, where one can have a 360-view of the city. Hindu deities guard the entrance of Fukuoka Tower. Fukuoka is closer to the Philippines than any other city of Japan. It only took 2 1/2 hours to fly back to Manila. The trip to Fukuoka, Japan was really a good semester break.
B. Visiting Japan, #1
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