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This could be your home in Tokyo for five days!
Inspired by James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon, the Shangri-La hotel group takes the name to heart and aims to deliver that sense of serenity and tranquility in their properties around the globe. Now you’ll get the chance to have the Shangri-La experience, and in Japan, no less!
What a trip to cap the year! I have been looking forward to this trip for months, and speculated endlessly about our itinerary. When I received the itinerary, I ended up having to Google every place listed, because I did not know any of them, apart from Nagoya, Takayama, and Shirakawa-go, which was actually perfect, since I’m all too happy to go off the beaten tourist path, specially in Japan.
A section of the Daio Wasabi Farm where Akira Kurosawa filmed the “Village of the Watermills” segment in his movie “Dreams”
The Chubu region shows plenty of promise, and it’s an amazing place to explore. If you love history, heritage, nature, and small towns and cities, this is the place for you. I liked Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo, but it can get too crazy and crowded there, so I take refuge in smaller, quieter places in between.
It was another early morning for all of us. The travel agents making sure to drop of their big luggage at the reception to have it sent to their hotel in Yokohama, us writers making sure we have everything packed for our trip back to Manila.
We tucked in a heavy breakfast, which proved to be a mistake, as our first stop was apple picking at Shiojiri, a town about half and hour’s drive away from Matsumoto. It was a farm that had both apples and grapes, and though the grapes are already all gone, the apple trees are laden with fruits.
It was another early morning, and we drove out of Matsumoto towards Nagano. As we got farther from the city center, we were able to see that Matsumoto lies in a basin — surrounded by mountain ranges on all sides. Green mountains with patches of reds and oranges near the lip of the basin, snow capped mountains farther on.
We arrive at at the Zenko-ji Temple, where we were met with Mr. Mikinori Komatsu, a representative of the Nagano Prefectural Government. Along with our tour guide Yoshi, he took us around the temple grounds and answered our many questions.
We felt the cold weather as we stepped off the plane unto the jetway. Stuck in the middle seat for three and a half hours, I made a beeline for the toilet as soon as I am inside the airport terminal, and was reintroduced to the wonder that is the Japanese toilet seat. Mmmmm, warm and toasty.
I am back from Japan, missing the cold weather and my daily dose of Hot Lemon. The trip was a great way to cap my year, as I turn 34 tomorrow.
The Chubu region lies in the center of Japan, with Nagoya as its main domestic and international gateway.
When I published my Japan travel expenses, most of you balked at the price of my train ticket: Php 23,000 or ¥45,100. I also had the same reaction when Ivan told me about the pass, but upon reading up on it and calculating the amount of money I’ll save vis-a-vis buying the tickets separately, I made sure to buy the pass before I left for Japan.
Rail travel in Japan is very comfortable. All the trains are in great condition, and the seats have legroom airlines can only dream of. While it’s cheaper than flying domestic, it is more expensive than taking the bus. While the bus can save you money on fares and overnight buses can save you on accommodation costs, it eats up more time to travel the same distance. Besides, this is Japan we’re talking about! I can’t pass up the chance to ride the bullet train!