Once I’ve gotten my Schengen visa from The Embassy of Sweden, the next thing I needed to do was applying Russian visa. When I wanted to applied it, there is a crisis in Ukraine especially in Crimea Peninsula and it is involving Russia Federation. Honestly I was quite worried at the time that this crisis will have impact on my visa application. But, I just thought, why don’t give a shot? The worst case is my visa will be rejected and I will have shorter vacation and go home early.
Last year I had a vacation in Japan. I spent 9 days and visited several cities such as Kyoto, Tokyo, Nara, and Osaka. This year, I am going to visit others countries. They are farther than Japan and they are located in Europe. Those countries are Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Russia. Europe as well as Japan is one of my dream destinations. Since I was a boy, I always pray to God that He will give me a chance to visit the continent. I love Europe because its grand architectures especially churches and museums.
To able me entering those countries, I need to obtain entry permit or visa from respective countries. Lucky, the first three countries are under Schengen agreement thus I just need to apply one visa to visit them. For Russia, as it is not part of Schengen, other visa is still needed.
The first city that I wanted to explore during my vacation in Japan is Kyoto. For more than 1000 years, Kyoto, a city in the central of Japan’s Honshu Island served as capital of Emperor of Japan before it is replaced by Tokyo. The city does not have its own airport thus to reach it, you can either take bus or JR Train from Osaka or Tokyo.
The first thing I did after I checked in was visiting Kiyomizudera Temple. It is the most celebrated temple in Kyoto. In the temple there is a wooden stage which is built above the hill side. From there you can see maple trees and cherry trees just down the hill and Kyoto City in the distance. At the base of Temple Hall, you can find the Otowa Waterfall. The waterfall has 3 streams which believed has 3 different benefits for you: longevity, success, and fortune. But I did not drink water from any streams as I do not believe in such things :D. The natural scenery around the temple is so wonderful. It is worth to spend hours just to enjoy the calmness of the surrounding.
DisneySea in Tokyo is the only DisneySea in the world. It is built in the Tokyo Disney Resort, same complex with its companion Tokyo DisneyLand. By far, it is the best theme park that I’ve ever visited. The theme park can be reached by Train from Tokyo Station. Take the JR Keiyo/Musashino Line and then get off at JR Maihama Station. From here either you take Disney Resort Monorail or walking to Tokyo DisneySea.
In the entrance plaza, you can find DisneySea Aquasphere: a water fountain with a large globe. It is one of the park’s symbols.
The park itself consists of several ports. Once you crossed the entrance gate, you can find Mediterranean Port. It is themed like the italian port city complete with the Venice’s Gondola and Canal. There are a lot of shops available around the port where you can buy gifts or souvenirs. In front of the port, there is a bay which used to perform some attractions for example the closing attraction.
Another place that I visited during my vacation in Japan was Hakone. It is a mountainous town in Kanagawa Prefecture. To reach the town, you can take JR Train from Tokyo Station to Odawara Station for 30-40 minutes and then change to bus. The bus can be found just outside the station. I recommend you to buy a Hakone Free Pass during the trip as it can be used for buses, trains, cable-cars, ropeways and sightseeing boats. The price is reasonable. The 2 day pass will cost you 3900 yen if you buy it from Odawara Station.
Hakone is renowned for its hot spring resort/onsen and ryokan. There are a lot of onsen opened there from the traditional to modern ones. One of the famous hot spring in the area is Kowadukani Yunessun. The location can be easily accessed by public transportation yet the admission fee is quite expensive compare to the other resorts.
April 2013, I had chance to visit the capital of Japan, Tokyo. Prior to my departure, I had my
only own version of Tokyo in my mind. Bombed with japanese manga and anime since I was a boy, it gave me the imagination what Tokyo would be like. Yet when I landed there and saw it with my own eyes, I was stunned, it is more beautiful than what I have imagined.
Like the most of the capital in the world, you can find the jungle of concrete in there. But what I like the most is the willingness of the government and the society to preserve the ancient building and palaces. The ancient structures are perfectly blended with modern architectures. Tokyo station is one of the example. The station has been operated for nearly 100 years and its original structure is still maintained even though there are some additional to its wings. The other station that keeps its original architecture is Harajuku station.