After our mini honeymoon, it was time to make a decision for our real honeymoon. By early February we knew that we wanted to go to Japan and started making plans for our trip. We booked our tickets, hotels and planned which places we would visit. On March 11th, Northeastern Japan was hit by earthquake and tsunami. The issue with the Fukushima nuclear plant was majorly covered in the news. The disaster resulted in many people re-thinking their plans to visit Japan and we did the same. We decided to wait-and-see how everything would play out by the time we were supposed to go, exactly one month after the disaster. One thing that we knew also was geographically, the places that we would be visiting are actually quite far from the places that were affected by the earthquake and the nuclear situation. In the end, we decided to go anyway as we felt the best way to contribute to the re-building of the disaster-struck part of Japan was to actually support their tourism industry. So off we went and we had an adventure of our lives!
Our first stop in our 15-days Japan adventure was Yamanouchi in Nagano-ken. We arrived at Narita Airport in the early morning of 11th April, exactly one month after the devastating earthquake in Northeastern Japan. We were not sure if the quietness in the airport was due to the early morning or the aftermath of the earthquake as the number of incoming travelers dropped. To get to Yamanouchi, we took the Skyliner from Narita Airport to Ueno Station. We had decided to take Tokyo off the itinerary due to the aftershocks but we were there in between trains and even while we were there I did feel a slight tremor from time to time.
Even so, we decided to do a little bit of exploration around Ueno area. Our first stop was Ueno Park. Ueno Park is the famous Hanami (cherry blossom watching) spot in Tokyo. Luckily for us, when we were in Japan, it was cherry blossom season! It was a beautiful sight to see the petals “raining” down as the wind blew …
I can speak basic Japanese and I had been to Japan in 2005 but I actually found it much easier to travel in Japan this time. Most signage is now in English and we used the Lonely Planet’s Japan book and websites such as Japan-Guide.com to plan our trip. We decided to take a walk around Ameyoko, a market street located in Ueno and as you can see, despite the earthquake, life does go on in Japan.
Our sojourn through Tokyo was brief as we had to catch our 1.50pm train. From Ueno Station we had to take the Shinkansen Asama (the bullet train) to Nagano.
After a train ride on the Shinkansen Asama for about 1 hour 40 minutes, we finally arrived at Nagano where it was freezing.
From Nagano we hopped onto the Nagano Dentetsu train. We planned our train journey using Hyperdia and taking trains in Japan was certainly an interesting experience. The train network is a little complicated and there are various options to get to one place. To get to Yudunaka on the Nagano Dentetsu train, we could either choose the express train which would take about 45 minutes from Nagano to Yudanaka Station or we could take the more scenic route on the normal train which required a transfer at one of the local stations (Shinshunakano Station) and would take about an hour. We ended up taking the longer ride but the sights that we saw along the journey were beautiful. It was Japan’s country-side at its finest.
We found the Japanese people so helpful and friendly; the train attendant made sure we got into the 3pm train by stopping the train from leaving even though we got into the station at 3pm exactly and we still needed to purchase tickets! Whenever we could not find our way around, the locals were always happy to help and it made our traveling much easier.
We arrived at Yudanaka Station at Yamanouchi at about 4pm. It was a long journey to get to Yamanouchi, but it was only the beginning of our Japan adventure. I am looking forward to writing more about this beautiful place and the other places we visited in Japan!
Photos from Jennifer and Tony’s collection.
Ms Gingham says: This is a great introduction to Jennifer and Tony’s honeymoon. I can’t wait to read more! Sayonara! … (which means “goodbye” in Japanese and “thong” in Greek!).
Jennifer says: “I’m not sure how to describe myself really, as I’m interested in everything and anything. I’m currently undergoing my post-graduate studies and as a creative outlet have my own mini label me.u, where I make jewellery/accessories. Despite having the wedding done now, I still love looking at all things bridal! So I still troll around wedding sites looking for all things pretty!”
Read about Jennifer’s mini moon here.