Sunday, 18 October 2015

Spectacular Hakuba.

The following post is the epilogue of my travel to Hakuba, Japan. It should have been written two weeks ago right after my arrival back in Malaysia. Anyways, it is always excellent to think again on my latest travel when the fine details are still vivid and fresh in mind.



"Good afternoon, is this Miss Liyana binti Yamin?"

"Yes, speaking." 

*Adrenaline spikes up.*

"Good then, Miss Liyana. I am glad to tell you that you are selected for the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youth (JENESYS) 2015. Do confirm with me whether you are going or not after I emailed to you the details. Kindly follow the instructions given if you are keen to join the programme."

Who knew? 
Alhamdulillah, all praises to the Almighty I was given another chance to visit Japan F.O.C (Free of charge) after five years. Some may know and some may not know. I have also went to Nagoya, Japan five years ago for a week of homestay programme N.F.O.C (Not free of course) which makes this another sweet memory created. To make it brief, I was called by the Ministry of Youth and Sports two weeks before the departure date. Without realising, by September 21 I was already on board to Tokyo with thirty-nine other Malaysian delegates.

Forty Malaysian delegates altogether that participated this particular programme. Walking from diverse background, we all get along quite well unexpectedly. My particular experience varied enormously from other Malaysian delegates where I will soon share by the end of this post. On the first day, after seven long hours of flight we set off to western Tokyo, Shinjuku. Shinjuku are known to its large entertainment, business and shopping area. A summary of places that I was able to visit when I was in Shinjuku were the central park, Omoide Yakocho (small network of alleys) and Tokyo Metropolitan office (where I witnessed the view of the whole Tokyo on the observatory decks for free; Famous landmarks of Japan like Tokyo tower and Mount Fuji were visible from the deck). One thing about Shinjuku that I will never forget is the experience to be in Shinjuku station, one of the busiest railway station where it handles more than two million passengers everyday. Mind blown. 


Day one

The next day,we reached the long awaited place were were heading to. Six hours by bus to the Hakuba's pristine alpine environment in Nagano prefecture was worthwhile. Hakuba is located at one of the largest winter skiing and mountain recreation areas in Japan (Ironically, it was autumn when we arrived - nevertheless we still enjoyed the trip). Hakuba history went back almost two decades ago where it hosted the Nagano winter Olympics in the year 1998.  Progressing from the bus journey, as we reached there, we were introduced to our Japanese host family - The Kikumoto family. Four to five Malaysian delegates were divided equally to the Japanese families. Our host family welcomed us warmly to their guesthouse which was nestled at the foot of the magnificent Hakuba Japan Alps. I had two days with the host family and the experience were unforgettable. I went hiking to the mountain, witnessed the Onsen festival, enjoyed the delicious home-cooked Japanese dinner, changed into yukata, relaxed in the guesthouse onsen (hot spring bath) and felt harmony with the nature. After two days, the Malaysian delegates were supposed to gather back together and head to other places. I was overwhelmed to sleep on the traditional Japanese tatami rooms in Mont Blanc hotel. Somehow, I felt like I was in one of the Doraemon series. It was exciting. 



Day two

Day three

The following days in Hakuba, we were brought to visit Tokyo University of Science, Suwa (located at Suwa city) and listened to two lectures on the cutting edge technology of Japan. Had a short socialising session with the Japanese students, mochi making experience plus a tour of the university. Other than that, I also went to Seiko Epson corporation, apple sorting center, waste center and Hakuba Goryu jumping stadium. Another unforgettable experience in Hakuba was the opportunity to speak in front of the mayor of Hakuba representing the Malaysian delegates. I was shaken and almost teared up because it was beyond expectation. The speech was not like any speech; I was supposed to face the mayor and give the speech. Anyways, I truly enjoyed giving the short speech half in Japanese language and another half in English. A memory to be treasured forever.

Day four

Day five

Day six

Day six in Japan. I felt dizzy and unstable. I had my temperature taken and was shocked to see the forty degrees digit on the thermometer. Being checked with three different thermometer was not fun at all.  It gets more alarming when the Japanese conductor told me I had to be taken to the local clinic and no longer join other Malaysian delegates for the programme. I had to be quarantined. I felt hot tears rolling down my eyes. I was asking myself, why on earth do I get sick on the sixth day? Being diagnosed with influenza A, the doctor told me that I will be okay within five days. I was feeling extremely weak and as soon I came back from the clinic I was out of energy. The outcome was spending the next two days in bed. The devastating fact that I was unable to do anything else, restless and lacking of energy I just told myself to calm down. I believed that after hardship there will be ease. Everything will be okay. I had to get well soon to get back to Tokyo. After two days, I managed to build up my energy and I was able to get back to Tokyo by Shinkansen assisted by Mrs. Yamaki, one of the Japanese representative. My flight back to Malaysia were postponed for another three days. Once again, who knew? I had three additional days in Tokyo compared to other Malaysian delegates. Though with my weak body condition plus restriction from Mrs. Yamaki (who was too concerned over my health), I was not able to travel around that much.

Day eight
Somehow I was thankful, with my persistence to at least see around Tokyo for the final two days, Mrs. Yamaki allowed me to travel to Shibuya (provided that I pay my own travelling expenses). I was content to visit the nearest mosque in Shibuya district. A mosque given by the Turkish government to the Japanese government - Tokyo Camii and Turkish Culture center. The architecture was fascinating. Later on, we strolled around the Shibuya streets where I was told by Mrs Yamaki that Shibuya is the center of youth fashion and culture.  We visited the famous Shibuya 109, Zojoji temple, Hachiko statue and observed dozens of department stores along the way.


Day nine

Day ten
By the end of my trip in Japan, I reflected a lot from what I gained and gave despite my unforeseen catastrophe. I spent eleven days in Japan unexpectedly. For sure, I was blessed to be chosen as one of the delegates. Alhamdulillah. Below - I summed up my personal gain from the trip which I hope may enlightened your curiosity (if you were) :D

  • Public transport is convenient and their food are affordable.
  • The hospitality from the Hakuba people were very accommodating, warm and pleasant.
  • The pipe water is drinkable; especially the one in Hakuba (Scrumptious)!!
  • Technology is very advanced; as expected to Japan leading innovations.
  • I found out about the Muslim friendly project - A project committed to fulfill the concern and requirements of Muslim travelers.
  • Cleanliness encompasses of the environment and well being of the people in Japan.
  • I polished my Japanese language and added several new vocabularies.
  • Their manners in daily life needs to be absorbed to our Malaysian society. Saying please and thank you is inevitable. 
  • Punctuality is one serious matter.
  • Japanese people work hard and play hard.
In a nutshell, I believe that each one of us have different potentials that could bring up Malaysia. Malaysian youth should move forward, polish up your good traits and be confident for the upbringing of Malaysia. Bear in mind that god have given provision to everyone only with different forms. Have faith and stay positive!  (Forgive me for my sudden formality) I have wrote enough. I wish to end it here. I hoped you enjoyed my lengthy post. Have a great week ahead people! :)



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