Monday, March 31, 2014

Japan Holiday - Day 5

This morning we leave Jiragonno for Tokyo, our final stop before flying home tomorrow via Haneda International Airport. Being a nature person I really prefer the countryside than the city. But visiting Japan without going to its capital is incomplete.

Tokyo is the most populated metropolis in the world with a population of  more than 13 million. One would expect traffic jams and air pollution in Tokyo but surprisingly they were very well managed. Perhaps this is to be expected knowing how serious the Japanese are to tackle problems before they get out of control. I've full admiration of the cleanliness of Japan. From the airport to the hotels and the many sightseeing spots we went I tried finding faults. Strangely I saw no littering in parks, malls, eateries, toilets and anywhere people congregate. It seems the Japanese were taught to NOT litter from young and any rubbish they generate like sweet wrappers or tooth pick they pocket to be thrown in the next available bins. There are almost no litter bins in public places like airports and shopping streets. In the Ueno Park we visited the authorities set up several large boxes for the public to throw in garbage according to categories for recycling. You won't see litters on the ground for sure. If you do you can take it they were thrown by foreigners. And people don't spit or vandalize public properties. Japanese are very organized and obedient.

The other thing that amazed me is the near absence of air pollution. Colin said the transportation authorities ruled only vehicles with the strictest gas emission control are allowed into the city. Which is why you won't see old vehicles entering Tokyo.

The standard of construction of roads and highways, including flyovers and signboards is extremely high. In these 5 days I didn't ride over any bumps nor saw faulty street lights, traffic lights or signage. Most certainly I didn't see signboards blocked by trees. Everything coexist beautifully. Roads, railway lines, low rise buildings, electric poles, signboards, traffic lights and vehicles of all sizes, and pedestrian traffic, there were no obstructions or stress. The only jam I encountered was in Kyoto and that was due to the Sunday traffic into the temple. Tokyo wins my admiration. Colin stays in Tokyo and love it more than the smaller cities. He can get everything yet not suffer the big city blues.

In Tokyo we visited the Imperial Palace park, walked part of Ginza, rested in Ueno Park and caught several Sakura blooming. No, we were too early by a week to see the full bloom, but it was a choice of experiencing ice in Fuji and less bloom or vice versa.

We visited the large Asakusa Kannon Temple in the Asakusa district. It is one of the most popular and colorful temples we've seen. Thousands of devotees and visitors like us thronged the temple to pray, make offering or just sightsee. The Japanese are mostly staunch Buddhists who weave their faith into their daily lives. As Christians I observe they have many disciplines worth emulating. Their faith help them develop a cohesive society and apply the teachings and values to make Japan a country to be emulated. Their leadership in technology, mass productions of automobiles, watches, electronic gadgets, computers, toys, medicine, personal care products, etc is testimony to the emphasis they place on children education.

Lastly we visited the Toyota showroom in Odaiba to view a wide display of Toyota vehicles. In the 1960s Japan was the great copycat of automobile engineering. In less than 30 years they became a major automobile producer and exporter. Today they are at par with the Americans and Germans. Toyota is the biggest car maker in the world today, producing on average 10 million vehicles yearly. It is the largest public listed company on the Tokyo stock exchange by market capitalization.

We fly back the next afternoon from Haneda International Airport. It was very impressive. I left Japan with awe and admiration. Would I visit Japan again? Good chance of going to Hokkaido.

For a photo gallery of this day's travel, check my Facebook album HERE.

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