F Finally, the Kimono - jeepneyjinggoy

Finally, the Kimono

THE architecture, the discipline, the simplicity, serenity, achieving the maximum in the minimal, the tradition, the culture, the cuisine, the kimono, the Zen gardens, the Ikebana, the Cherry Blossoms, the Samurai, the Geisha, the kimono, the past in the present, the list can go on.

There has been an attraction, a fascination, for me with everything Japanese, where it roots from evades me. It won't come as a surprise if I was one in my past life. Perhaps a transgression would show what I was in the Land of the Rising Sun, a geisha perhaps?

Japan has always been in my bucket list. Just like the rest of the countries, I was able to visit, visualization and believing that I will be standing on the world's busiest crosswalk and dining on their authentic cuisine, ramen, gyoza, sushi and the lot, will make a dream a reality. It will just happen.

The Universe paved the way. It happened.

Having a few miles earned from traveling here and there plus the unbelievable promotion the local airline offered to travel to a destination of your choice was just too good to be true. There were no second thoughts; I singled out Japan from the list. With the accumulated points, I could have opted for two regional destinations or choose one and travel in style. This was going to be a very special birthday treat. I rushed to the airline office and booked the flight- business class. Happy birthday!

Booked the flight sans a Japanese visa.

Honestly, worry about getting it was far from my mind. This was the same feeling I had when I applied for the US visa. I knew I was going to get one. The constant travel all over must carry some weight on my application to visit Japan. The chance to chat over Angelo A. in Facebook made the road to Japan smoother. He gladly extended his invitation.

The papers came in the mail a few days before I was to leave for the island. With the other documents required ready, it was time to drop it off it to the travel agency assisting me in the process. The transient stop in Manila gave me enough time to do so.

It didn't take long for the approval to come. After the weekend, I got the text message I was waiting for.

I have my Japanese Visa.

But a few people relayed not so welcoming thoughts about my coming destination- "Bring lots of money", "Japan is very expensive", "Communication gap", and the rest. It had me worried- for a while at least.

I am abiding by my general rule when seeing the world: Experience a new place first hand, if it's true what they say about it, then you can say it for myself. Believing hearsay will only hinder you from seeing how wonderful the world is.

It was the words of Kim and Nikki that banished the little worries I had. They just came home from their Japanese sojourn and brought home an overflowing of exciting stories- the people, the food, the place.

"You've been around Jinggoy. Food cost is subjective. Fancy restaurants = expensive. Ramen houses = very affordable. Know where to eat", "There are lots of places to stay in that will fit your budget.", "If you get lost, ask for directions. They know how to speak English in Tokyo. The Japanese are very polite and will help you."

Aaah, words of encouragement. The Universe is telling me that Japan is ready for me.

I am ready as well.

I boarded the plane.

Another adventure begins.

P.S. Yes, it was quite unfortunate what Japan has gone through recently. But isn't it amazing how in this tragic time they have shown the world how truly advance their race is? And I am not talking about technology.

Don't let the stories sway you from visiting Japan.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 26, 2011.