This long holiday turned out to be one of the most memorable journeys we have made so far. Firstly it is because it was started in 2017 and ended in 2018 🙂 Although it was actually just lasted for one week in between the last week of December 2017 and the first week of January 2018, we did really feel like we have spent a full year on this trip. The reason was because we decided to take most of the trips by train and stopped by in several cities we passed by.
Actually the original plan was to go back to our home country, Indonesia, since my eldest son would have a quite long break from his school and I too could take a couple of leave from the office to match with his schedule. Well this is a part of life of a family man when your holiday schedule needs to be synchronized with your children’s school program 🙂
But then we found out that my wife’s passport is expiring thus we could not even buy a flight ticket online. We found out this quite late and for renewing the passport we need to go to the Indonesian Embassy in Tokyo. We did not have time for this since I was still working and the ticket price was rising as well. Soon we gave up the plan and then tried to think what to do for this year’s end holiday.
One thing for sure was that we need to go to Tokyo for renewing my wife’s passport. Well this was immediately sounded not interesting at all since we have visited the embassy and Tokyo couple of times before. Then we came up with the idea of making the journey to be more interesting than the final destination. Since in total we would have more than one week to spend then we planned to fully take advantage of this duration.
Our family is a big fans of public transportation. We tried to educate our children to use public transportation whenever it is possible, reliable, and safe. So this was an opportunity to have massive experience of public transportation in Japan. We chose train since it is already connecting mostly every cities in this land of the rising sun. Furthermore we decided to use JR Seishun Juhachi Kippu since this was a good offer from JR (Japan Rail) for holiday season. With this ticket we could take all trains and services from JR to all over Japan for the duration of five days (it does not have to be consecutive). Or it can be used by a group of five people but within one day only. The price of this ticket is around 11,850¥ and is being sold only during summer (around July and August) and winter (December) holiday.
Picture 1. The Juhachi Kippu got the first stamp for the first day.
Prior to the trip we were kind of planning the itinerary list for the trip. Well the list was actually only for deciding which cities to be transited and which hotels to be stayed over. There was no definite places or touristic area on it. We would prefer to keep an open option. We would decide where to go once we reach each city depending to our mood and condition. As I said, this trip would be about the journey, not the destination. The first time I told my colleagues at the office, they were all telling me that my holiday plan sounds impossible and interesting at the same time 🙂
Anyway we went on with our plan. However on the early morning of the first day we had to take our eldest son to the hospital. He threw up many times and were unconscious all of a sudden. We thought then, okay it’s over. The trip would be cancelled even before it was started. We took care of our son at home and he recovered quickly. Thanks to God. But since he was also enthusiastic on the trip, we had to ask him whether we should cancel the trip or not. He said in a firm tone, no.
After we made sure that he is okay, we decided to leave a bit later in the evening. And instead of using the Juhachi Kippu, we bought tickets for Shinkansen in order to reach Hiroshima quickly since we already booked the hotel for that night. It was also because we were still worried about my son’s health condition. We reached Hiroshima around 8 pm and checked in at the hotel around 9. We immediately took a good rest that night.
Picture 2. Family picture just at the gate of Hiroshima Station.
Picture 3. Route to Hiroshima by Shinkansen.
We were relieved that my son was okay during the first trip to Hiroshima. Even after staying one night at the hotel he did not show any signs of health problem. On the next day in Hiroshima we went to try on the Hiroshima streetcar to visit a very lively commercial area called Hondori. There I had an appointment to meet up with my friend from Surabaya, Indonesia.
Picture 4. We took the streetcar to enjoy the view of Hiroshima downtown. Then we met friends in Hondori area.
In the afternoon we continued our trip using the normal JR trains with the Juhachi Kippu heading towards direction to Tokyo. We stopped in several stations on our way to our next stop, Kobe. One of them was Itozaki station. There were several other small stations in between where we needed to change trains.
Picture 5. Transit at Itozaki Station.
In the evening we made it to reach Kobe Station. We traveled nearly 300 km by trains in about 6 hours duration. It was our first full trip using the JR trains thus we were quite exhausted. After taking a family picture as our trip signature 🙂 (somehow we all still managed to put smile on), we went on to the hotel and spent a night at Kobe.
Picture 6. Signature picture after reaching Kobe Station.
Picture 7. Route to Kobe.
The next morning we really did not have a plan on where to go. So we decided just to explore nearby area from Kobe Station by walking on the way to find a JP Bank ATM actually 🙂 We walked and walked towards the harbour area. At the end we were glad to go to this area because along the way we found many interesting places as can be seen from the pictures below. Honestly there are more snaps of great spots in the harbour area. But if I shared all of them here, then this blog would be a photo album 🙂 Do not worry I will share them on the next blogs, special on each city.
Picture 8. Snaps of some cool spots in Kobe’s harbour area.
After exploring Kobe within half a day, which were absolutely not enough to experience the city, we had to move on towards our next destination, Nagoya. Again we were using all normal JR trains and stopping in several small stations in between such as Maibara Station. It was another 200 km of train rides and around 4 hours long journey before reaching our next stop.
Picture 9. That kanji letters on the neon board behind me were read as Maibara.
Picture 10. Route to Nagoya.
At the time we reached Nagoya Station, the temperature dropped so it was soooo cold. What made it worst was that we had to walk a bit far towards our hotel. I was not aware of this when I booked the hotel. Then we took the coldest and darkest long walk we ever made so far. Furthermore the fact that we needed to spend a new year’s eve in this city was started to sound worrying us. By that time we were kind of regreting this so we went bed soon after entering our room. There was no counting down, no mood to see the fireworks, just sleep off the last eve of 2017. But what I saw in the next morning and what we experienced on another long walk towards the Nagoya Station had changed our memory of spending new year in Nagoya from an uncomfortable feeling into a joy of miracle from God.
Picture 11. Arrived at Nagoya Station.
From the window of the hotel room where we stayed, I witnessed a very beautiful sunrise over the Nagoya’s skyline. It was the first morning in 2018. The sky was clear and bright blue. This made the scenes along the pedestrian way towards the station way more exciting than the scenes from last night. We really enjoyed the walk despite some light rains were pouring down midway and took many cool snaps including our signature picture 🙂
Picture 12. First sunrise of 2018 in Nagoya.
Picture 13. Nagoya TV Tower, a famous landmark of the city, in the background.
Picture 14. Wonderful colours and scenes at Nagoya.
From Nagoya we were heading directly to Tokyo. This was the trip with the longest distance of around 400 km. However since we combined it with Shinkansen in one part of the trip (Kakegawa – Mishima), we could save a little bit of time. It was only around 5 hours in total. The cost of taking the Shinkansen was relative cheaper than other routes. And on the fourth day we arrived at Tokyo (Shinjuku Station) finally. We were ready to accomplish the main mission which was to go to our embassy and to apply for a new passport for my wife. Yet because it was already quite late evening, we must waited until tomorrow morning.
Picture 15. A short transit at Mishima Station and Yokohama Station.
Picture 16. In front of Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.
Picture 17. Route from Nagoya to Tokyo was the trip with the longest distance.
In Tokyo we stayed in Sakura Hotel Hatagaya. This hotel was promoting to be a Moslem friendly accommodation. Therefore when we checked in, we were told of many special services such as Halal menu in their cafe, a prayer room, and location of nearby Masjid (read: mosque). When we tried several Halal menu available for our dinner, one of the lady from the hotel took a picture of our family and asked for our permission to upload it on their social media. We were glad to support their program. We ordered curry rices and a Japanese style menu which was already modified to be Halal (no alcohol and no meat). It was such a nice dinner and we went to our room with our bellies bigger than ever 🙂
Picture 18. A screenshot of the tweet on Sakura Hotel Hatagaya with our picture on.
In the morning after, we rushed to the Indonesian Embassy near the Meguro Station. It was the first day the embassy opened again after year’s end holiday. Thus it was a bit crowded inside. However the officers worked quickly and just before lunch break, my wife had finished her application process of a new passport. Before we left the embassy, we posed for our signature picture in front of the embassy name plate as we always do every time we visit the embassy.
Picture 19. We did our main mission to visit our Embassy. Yeay!
Again it was a free time the whole day afterward. We ended up continuing the day by visiting Halal Sakura, one of many restaurants that serve Halal menu in Tokyo and checking up Sekaido in Shinjuku, one famous stationery shop that sells complete equipment for drawing, sketching, calligraphy, painting, and other two dimensional visual arts. The later was kind of heaven for Manga (read: Japanese comic) artist and fans. We were quite full on the first day in Tokyo, both of our stomachs and our minds 🙂
Picture 20. Activities on the first day in Tokyo.
Picture 21. Route of the subways and the walks we had on the first day in Tokyo.
Then here came our “hidden agenda” that I have not mentioned to all of you until now. Actually back to the time when we were still planning the trip, we had to mention about the possibility of going to Tokyo Disneyland to my eldest son in order to convince him on our plan. But then he was so convinced for this. To be honest we thought the dream of going to Tokyo Disneyland was the thing that stimulated him to quickly recover and to be very passionate throughout the long journey. We actually kept saying to him that this would depend on how the trip goes and our mission at the embassy. And we actually were more prepared that we could not make to visit Tokyo Disneyland due to some delays and fatigues from the trip. But later we found out that it was not the case. We still had a full one day on the second day in Tokyo as planned before and everyone was still fresh and healthy. Alhamdulillah (read: all praises to Allah). So then we finally went to Tokyo Disneyland, spent a good time there, before started the journey back to Kitakyushu. My sons were at their happiest mode. I and my wife were also happy to be able to capture this moment with them. The temperature on that day was freezing cold again yet we felt a lovely warm in our hearts.
Picture 22. A fun day at Tokyo Disneyland.
After Tokyo, the return trip was started. In the late afternoon we left Tokyo towards our next stop in Shizuoka perfecture. We stayed over a night in Fuji, a small town in the foot of Mount Fuji. This part was a bit of miss in planning. I was not aware that actually I actually had booked a hotel that is located quite far from the train station and there was no public transportation. When we reached Fuji Station it was already almost 10 pm. Then we had to take a taxi to go to the hotel. However the happy mood that was carried away from Tokyo made us to finally reach our hotel and to have a good rest for the night.
Picture 23. Route from Tokyo to Fuji town.
Picture 24. A morning walk with signature picture with a real Mount Fuji as our background 🙂
The other thing that also waved away our regret to stop by in Fuji was that we actually could see the mighty Mount Fuji from our hotel!!!
Picture 25. A great view of Mount Fuji and the Fuji town.
Soon after we finished to prepare for the next trip, we checked out from the hotel and heading towards the station. We used again the Juhachi Kippu and this was the fifth day for us using the ticket which means the last valid day. We planned to reach Kyoto by night. On the way we stopped for a lunch break in Hamamatsu.
Picture 26. The ticket with five stamps on it already. Every day the train officer stamped the ticket one time before the first train ride of the day manually on the officer’s post at the entrance gate.
Picture 27. In front of Hamamatsu Station.
Picture 28. Route to Kyoto
At this point we were all started to feel tired and to think only of going back home. We managed to arrive at Kyoto in the evening and had no mood at all to take a picture in front of the station. Only in the next morning we could take the picture below.
Picture 29. Somewhere around Kyoto Station.
After having a very good lunch at Ayam-Ya, one of the best Halal ramen restaurant in Japan, we continued our trip to Osaka. From Osaka we continued the final part of the journey using the Meimon Taiyo Ferry that sailed directly toward Moji port in Kitakyushu.
Picture 30. Last try to have fun at Osaka Station.
We had a good chat during the breakfast on the ferry’s restaurant. We discussed about the journey that we almost completed. I asked my eldest son about what he feel. He said that he enjoyed the trip and would have a lot to write on his homework of activities during holiday. Even the title of this article: Ichi Nichi Hito Machi, which means: One Day One City, was actually his idea. Seeing the brightest smile at his face, I could tell that his was telling the truth. I would say that we have learnt a lot from this journey. We experienced ups and downs of our moods, cries and laughter of our sons, arguments and praises towards each other more than ever. We had seen that our eldest son started to be helpful and independent while the youngest one had developed his movements, his speakings, his courage in going through real time experiences. At the end of the day I and my wife would agree that we had accomplished the journey. Yes, the journey was our destination since the beginning. In total we had 1,609.6 km of train rides plus additional distances by buses, subways, trams, ferry, and also on foot.
It was not because of our great plan. Instead it was because our surrenders to the Almighty that guided our throughout the journey, provided us with mercy and good lessons. And we had witnessed His amazing verses all over the land of Samurai. At 11 am today we arrived safely back home.
Picture 31. Breakfast over the Kanmon Strait.