Japan: New Era and October 2019 Enthronement Ceremony

The new Japanese Era, Reiwa (令和時代), will start this May 1, 2019.

With the Abdication Ceremony happening on April 30, the new Emperor Naruhito will start his reign the next day with the ceremony for Inheriting the Imperial Regalia and Seals (Kenji-to-Shokei-no-gi) where he inherits the Imperial Regalia, the State Seal and the Privy Seal upon his accession to the throne.

Following this is the First Audience after the Accession to the Throne (Sokui-go-Choken-no-gi), in which the new Emperor Naruhito meets with the representatives of the people of Japan.

The actual Enthronement Ceremony is now scheduled to happen on October 22, 2019. The new Emperor Naruhito will proclaim his enthronement at the Enthronement Ceremony at the Seiden State Hall (Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi) and receive felicitations from representatives from both Japan and abroad.

Events related to the Abdication from the throne

  • April 30, 2019
    • Abdication Ceremony
      • Ceremony to announce the abdication to the people and for the Emperor to receive in audience the representatives of the people for the last time before the abdication.

EventS related to the Accession to the Throne

  • May 1, 2019
    • Ceremony for Inheriting the Imperial Regalia and Seals
      • Ceremony for the Emperor to inherit the Imperial Regalia (Sword and Jewel), which are treasures inherited together with the throne, as well as the State and Privy Seals, as proof of his accession to the throne.
    • First Audience after the Accession to the Throne
      • Ceremony for the Emperor to receive in audience the representatives of the people for the first time after the accession to the throne.
  • October 22, 2019
    • Enthronement Ceremony
      • Ceremony to proclaim the enthronement and to receive felicitations from representatives from home and abroad.
    • Imperial Procession after the Enthronement Ceremony
      • Procession to show the new Emperor to the people after the Enthronement Ceremony and to receive their good wishes.

Source: https://www.gov-online.go.jp/eng/publicity/book/hlj/html/201904/201904_06_en.html

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Japan Life: Helpful Websites and Mobile Apps for Foreigners in Japan

Life in Japan is not easy for foreigners who are not fluent in Japanese. Even after my seven years here, I still struggle to remember the train schedules specially the last train.

Here is my list of helpful websites and mobile apps that will make your life here in Japan a little better.

Google Translate

https://translate.google.com

Google Translate is definitely a must have application if your Japanese language skill is still rusty.

Here are the reasons why I like it:

  • Aside from text translations, you can do image and Augmented Reality (AR) translations with the use of your mobile phone’s camera.
  • You can type in romaji and it will still try to translate it to your desired language.
  • You can download the translation data so you won’t need to be connected to the internet while doing the translation.

Excite Translator

https://www.excite.co.jp/world/english_japanese/

Excite Translator is a translation tool just like Google Translate (with only limited feature). And while they have the same purpose, most of the time, Excite Translator uses more appropriate or more formal translation than Google Translate. This is good when you’re writing emails and messages to your colleagues.


Jorudan – Japan Transit Planner

https://world.jorudan.co.jp/mln/en/?sub_lang=nosub

I know there are a lot of apps and website where you can check train schedule but for me, Jorudan, will always be my go to website for checking train schedule and transfers.

It provides a simple UI to input the starting station and destination station. You can also input the date and time you want to ride from the starting station or arrive in your destination.


Trip.com

https://www.trip.com

Trip.com is my go to website for finding cheap flights. This one saved me a lot of money when I travel for a Philippine vacation.

Our usual round trip flight fare from Tokyo to Manila is around 40-70,000 yen during off peak season but with Trip.com, you can find fare for as low as 20-30,000 yen.


TransferWise

https://transferwise.com/jp

TransferWise is one of the money transfer services I use (aside from MetroBank). TransferWise has the best exchange rate and easy to use and track because they have a mobile application.


There you go. I will update this list every time I find new useful websites and mobile apps.

Travel Japan: Cherry Blossoms 2019 Forecast

The forecast of the first bloom of Sakura in different places in Japan are now available.

Hanami (花見; literal meaning “flower viewing”) is the Japanese tradition of going to parks and enjoying the view of Sakura trees in full bloom. It is an outdoor party where people gather beneath Sakura trees during the day or even at night. Hanami at night is called yozakura (夜桜) which means “night sakura”.

From the end of March to early May, cherry trees bloom all over Japan, and around the first of February on the island of Okinawa.

The Japanese National Tourism Organization provides a forecast of the first bloom and full bloom of Sakura all over Japan. As of the moment, only the first bloom are available.

Sakura First Bloom Forecast 2019:

  • Tokyo: March 20
  • Osaka: March 22
  • Kyoto: March 23
  • Sapporo: May 1
  • Fukuoka: March 16

You can checkout the whole information in Japan National Tourism Organization’s website.

Since I live in Tokyo, one of the nearest and most popular Hanami event place near me is in Meguro River.

Every year, a lot of people go to the Meguro River to see the beautiful Sakura. The place is packed of people every year since Sakura trees are beautifully stretched along the sides of the river. The place is busy until the evening even until 9-10 PM. You can also eat street foods since there are a lot of vendors selling different food and items along the river.

Before I end, here are pictures of the Meguro River Sakura during the day and night.

That’s all for now. Feel free to comment below. 🙂

Snowboarding in Japan

Hakuba
Hakuba

We, Filipinos, don’t experience snow and winter in the Philippines. This is the main reason many of my foreigner friends here in Japan would usually be surprise when I tell them I love snowboarding.

I live in Tokyo for about 6 years now and every winter season, I find time to go to ski resorts on weekends. I will usually go on weekend snowboarding together with friends or former colleagues.

We book group ski/snowboard packages online which come with the following inclusions:
Round trip bus ride from Tokyo / Yokohama to the ski resort
– 2-Day Ski Lift Pass/Ticket
Rental gears (jacket, pants, ski or snowboard, and boots)
– Overnight stay on a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn; with dinner and breakfast)

Some of our usual snowboarding destinations are:
Hakuba in Nagano Prefecture
Zao in Yamagata
Naeba in Niigata
Myoko in Niigata

We’ll be organizing some group snowboarding trips this February and March. We’re not sure where to go yet but I know we will enjoy the snow again.

Feel free to comment or send messages.

Japan Adventure: Climbing Mt. Fuji

Early this Summer 2017, me and some of my friends climbed Mt. Fuji. That was second time climbing Mt. Fuji and up until now, it’s still the most brutal thing I ever experienced.

I’m not really that fit when I did the climb. I was usually short of sleep and lung capacity is not really that good anymore. But luckily I was able to reach the top despite a couple of minor hiccups.

The Plan

  1. Ride the bus from Shibuya to Mt. Fuji 5th station
  2. Eat dinner in the 5th station
  3. Start the climb at around 8pm
  4. Reach the summit before the sunrise
  5. Eat and rest for a while on the summit
  6. Climb down back to the 5th station
  7. Ride the bus back to Tokyo

Things You’ll Need

  1. Good hiking shoes
  2. Gloves
  3. Good jacket for the cold night
  4. A rain coat
  5. Flashlight or Head lamp
  6. Energy bars and/or small snacks
  7. Water (in my case, 2 liters is enough)

The Climb

Our group had 6 members; 2 Filipinos, 3 Koreans and 1 Japanese.

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We started our adventure on Shibuya. We met there and rode the bus which took us to Mt. Fuji 5th Station.

We then took a quick dinner in one of the restaurant in the 5th station.

We started the preparation for our climb. We bought some wooden walking sticks. Those wooden sticks helped us during the climb as a support for uneven land. There are also stamping area in every station where you pay ~500 yen and the staff would put a “station stamp” in your wooden stick.

This year, because we have some first time Mt. Fuji climbers in our group, we decided to climb the Yoshida Trail again. This, as far as we know, is the easiest of the trails going up the summit. There are 4 trails to the summit; Yoshida, Subashiri, Gotemba and Fujinomiya.

We started our climb at around 6pm and it started relatively easy. The weather was very nice compared to my first climb the previous year. The climb from the 5th to the 8th station was very smooth. I didn’t even had to wear my jacket yet.

By the way, after the 7th station you will notice that there are a lot of 8th stations. Another fun fact, there are mini stores and vending machines in each stations where you can buy drinks and food. The prices are more expensive but that’s the cost of convenience.

By the time we reached the 8th station, it’s already very dark and cold. We started to wear our down jackets and turned on our head lamps.

The climb between 8.5th station and the summit was very difficult for me. The wind was becoming stronger and colder as we climb up. I only brought three Snickers bars with me that day and as pointed out by some of my friends, my jacket wasn’t really think enough for the cold winds of Mt. Fuji. This was around 2AM to 3PM.

So after 10 hours worth of climbing and two incident of public puking near the summit. Me and my buddy were able to reach the summit at 4AM just in time for the sunrise.

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There were a lot of people climbing in queue starting the 9th station and there are more people waiting for the sunrise in the summit.

In the summit, we ate some food inside a ramen restaurant and stayed there maybe for two good hours to rest our bodies before we climbed down.

Final Thoughts

Overall, it’s a great experience. I am not really a fan of climbing mountains but I enjoyed physical and challenging activities. However, now that I climbed Mt. Fuji twice, I am not really sure if I still want to climb it next year.

Again, it’s definitely the worst feeling I ever experienced in my life physically; the cold and strong wind, the fatigue, the dizziness and the headache.

Let’s see next summer if I’ll climb it again. 🙂

Travel Japan: Hokkaido during Summer

Hokkaido is one of the more famous places in Japan aside from Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.
It is the topmost island of Japan where the cold wind still blows even when the summer breeze is already in Tokyo.

Usually when people talk about Hokkaido, it’s about the snow festival and the cold weather. Being the topmost island of Japan, the temperature can go below zero degrees Celsius during winter days.

So last August, me and two friends decided to spend our summer break in Hokkaido; splitting our 6 days (5 nights) adventure between 3 nights in Furano & Biei and the remaining 2 nights in Sapporo.

The summary of our plan:

  1. Fly from Tokyo to Asahikawa Airport
  2. Stay in a Furano hotel / airbnb
  3. Roam around Furano and Biei
  4. Travel to Sapporo area with bus or train
  5. Stay in a Sapporo hotel / airbnb
  6. Roam around Sapporo area
  7. Fly from New Chitose Airport back to Tokyo

Accommodations:

We kinda wasted a lot of time before doing our hotel booking so most of the cheap and good ones are already booked. If I remember it correctly, we’re almost a month away from the trip before we did the booking. Luckily, we were still able to find some good deals.

B&B Furano

First, B&B Furano. This pension house might not be a luxury hotel but the rooms are good enough for travelers like us. The house is near bus stations and it’s walking distance from some restaurants and 7eleven. The breakfast meals are also great.

For 2 rooms, we paid 75,000 yen for 3 nights.

MYSTAYS PREMIER Hotel

Next, Mystays Premier Hotel in Sapporo. This one is a really nice hotel. Complete with amenities like restaurants and hot spring bath inside the building. The hotel is within walking distance from the city center.

For 2 rooms, we paid 57,000 yen for 2 nights.

The Tourist Spots:

Me and my friends didn’t really stick on a fixed itinerary and schedule. Here is the list of the places we checked out during our trip.

Farm Tomita (Furano)

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Flower Land Kamifurano (Furano)

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Zerebu Hill (Biei)

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Furano Cheese Factory (Furano)

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Patchwork no Michi (Biei)

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Ken and Mary Tree

 

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View in the Patchwork Road

 

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Another View in the Patchwork Road

Shirogane Blue Pond (Biei)

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Otaru (near Sapporo)

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Shiroi Koibito Park (Sapporo)

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Sapporo Beer Museum (Sapporo)

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Soup Curry GARAKU (Sapporo)

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Chicken Leg Soup Curry + Broiled Cheese on Rice

Genghis Khan Restaurant (Sapporo)

This restaurant serves lamb meat for Yakinuku. We waited over 2 hours just to be seated in this famous restaurant and maybe that’s the reason I was too hungry to take pictures. 🙂

Final Thoughts

Our Hokkaido trip last Summer will definitely be on the list of my favorite trips even though we were kind of relax in our itinerary and weren’t able to go to other tourist spots.

Hopefully in the future, I’ll get visit this place again and enjoy the food and places we weren’t able to try. Maybe during winter for a change. 🙂