How I Became Hooked

My first trip to Japan

By Elena Lisina    - 4 min read

My first trip to Japan was in 2011 and to be honest, I didn't really plan it all that well. My itinerary was all over the place and my guided tour could have been better guided... Yet despite this, my curiosity about Japan never wavered. I fell in love with the country and became hooked!

Most of that first trip was spent in Tokyo visiting the usual famous spots, including Asakusa and Senso-ji temple with an English-speaking volunteer guide. At the time, the volunteer guides I used were based in Shinjuku at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building where I also visited. From the free observation deck I was stunned by Tokyo's grand panoramic view. The city seemed endless

Senso-ji temple, Asakusa
Senso-ji temple, Asakusa

Next up was Harajuku and the popular youth fashion street, Takeshita. I also visited Meiji Jingu and the spacious Yoyogi Park. It took the whole day to see these places. In Meiji Jingu I was excited to catch a wedding procession and witness people wearing kimono on the streets. To see the stream of Tokyo’s evening life I went to the busy districts of Shibuya and Akihabara. To be honest, those places were too crowded for me. I like my space.

Some of the more quieter places included Ueno Park and Hama Rikyu Garden which I visited on a boat cruise. The aquarium at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro was crowded, but as I enjoy aquariums I didn't mind. My long-awaited visit to Odaiba turned out strange as it occurred right before a typhoon that hit as I was returning to my hotel...

Meiji Jingu
Meiji Jingu

Outside of Tokyo, I took a guided tour to Kamakura where we visited Hasedera temple, the large bronze statue of Kamakura Daibutsu, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine and the beach. Though we didn't spend much time there, I saw the ocean which made me very happy as I love the ocean!

Sagami Bay facing the Pacific Ocean
Sagami Bay facing the Pacific Ocean

My bus trip to Fuji-san turned out to be a disaster as we had no chance at all to see Fuji-san beneath the thick grey clouds. Despite my love for Japan, I regret that that part of the trip was a waste of time and money. Oh well. A good lesson about the importance of the weather when when deciding on whether or not to visit Fuji-san.

Hakone as part of my trip to Fuji-san
Hakone as part of my trip to Fuji-san

After that failure I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Shiroishi-Zao in Miyagi where I got myself a good series of kokeshi dolls. I visited the free Kokeshi Museum right by the station, and then went to Kokeshi-mura where I met with a doll master and bought about ten dolls. I ended that visit with a trip to the Doll Museum and received two 1950s Hakata dolls as gifts from the owner!

Kokeshi dolls on display
Kokeshi dolls on display

The last day of my trip was spent in Yokohama where I visited the gorgeous Doll Museum, Yamashita Park, Osanbashi Pier and the amusement park, Cosmo World. The view from its ferris wheel was simply grand.

A view of Yokohama
A view of Yokohama

Along with everything else, I also managed to attend the musical 'Dream Boys' with Kazuya Kamenashi in the lead role, a taiko drum show and a concert by the popular American band, 30 Seconds to Mars who happened to touring Japan at the time.

As you can imagine, I also met many people, made friends, tried all kinds of Japanese food and, bit by bit, found myself hooked on Japan...

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo! My photos from Japan I also place here: https://gurushots.com/f10384/photos Matane!

Join the discussion

Kim B a month ago
I can relate! Japan is easy to get hooked on!
Kim B a month ago
Haha, very much so! And I hope we're getting other people hooked too!