Japan 2019, Part One

When I was telling people that I would visit Japan this August, their reaction was “Wow, this is a lifetime journey”. This is my second time in Japan. However this time I stayed longer and I had the chance to visit some places outside Tokyo and Tachikawa. Tachikawa was the city that hosted me for the second time.

Tama River
A view of Tama River, Tachikawa

I took an Air China flight to Beijing (11 hours) and from there a direct flight to the Haneda airport (4 hours). I had visited Japan back in 2012 and yet I couldn’t remember how I bought a ticket for the train or which trains I used. In Japan, to buy train tickets from automatic machines, you need to know in advance how many zones you will change since the ticket price changes accordingly. However, people in the stations are really helpful and you will not have a problem to buy a ticket. Once you arrive in Tachikawa station you have to take the monorail that goes above the ground to get closer to the Institute of Statistical Mathematics and the Akaike guest house.

Tachikawa

Tachikawa is a big, flat, city with very high buildings, wide streets and a river.

Fishermen in Tama river, Tachikawa

I enjoyed riding a bike in Tachikawa. However, it was a disappointment that we could not use bikes inside the parks even though there were paved tracks inside the parks, not just narrow paths. During my stay in Tachikawa, I was lucky to bump into a Japanese festival honouring the spirits of ancestors. During the festival, carnival rides, dances, Taiko drumming (Japanese drum) and street food are part of the celebrations.

Taiko drumming

During the Japanese festival, we had the chance to eat chocolate-covered banana pops. We were a bit disappointed by the fact that the taste of chocolate was not very strong. In general, sweets in Japan do not contain much sugar and the taste is gentle. I can’t say I was excited with sweets. I found food more interesting. Even though there is no cheese or yogurt in traditional Japanese dishes, I liked ramen and fried chicken. I made the mistake to try spicy ramen. It was so hot that I could hardly eat it.


Spicy Ramen

Around Tachikawa station, there are many restaurants and shops. We also had dinner in a Chinese restaurant twice. Most of the dishes were quite spicy. More spicy than the typical Chinese food you find in Greece. In Japanese supermarkets, you don’t have many options regarding granola or cereal bars. In most supermarkets except food, you can also find beauty products, clothes, electric machines, toys and many more things than the ones you would expect to find in a supermarket. The food packaging was amazing. We had a very nice lunch box. Seems like Japanese lunch boxes are like works of art.

Kathy

Traveling mostly for work nowadays, I fondly remember the time when we would randomly decide where we'd go next.

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