I visited Japan for the first time-and this was how It went.

Japan. The land of the rising sun. People associate Japan with their vibrant-coloured cherry blossoms blooming in the spring, and girls walking around with flower adorned kimonos. As someone who has only explored this country by the oh-so-useful Google Street View, I finally got a first-hand experience when I visited Tokyo last Fall.

Honestly, the biggest hurdle of travelling in Japan for me was definitely the language barrier. It was not the confusing train maps, nor the expensive costs of travel and food. It was the language barrier. I don’t expect the Japanese locals to speak perfect British or American accented English, but I was actually hoping that those who are working as stationmasters or waitresses would be able to speak basic English. How wrong was I. There were some locals who were able to communicate with us, but those people were a lucky few.

If you prefer to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life at the end of a long day, I would recommend staying in Ningyocho, a small town situated about a half an hour away from the heart of Tokyo. It was here that I was able to interact with the locals and get to know more about their way of life. How white-collar workers would have a drink together before heading back home, or how mothers would regularly bring their children out for walks during the weekends. The place offers a refreshing sight from the usual bright lights and cityscapes of the trendy parts of Tokyo.

On my second day in Japan, I took an hour long bus ride to Honshu Island, to view the iconic Mt. Fuji. Even though the main attraction of the day was obviously the majestic mountain that is Japan’s highest, I relished my time looking out of the bus’ window and to catch a glimpse of rural life in the country. For someone who has always lived in a city, the sights of small traditional houses and tree-covered hills were an unfamilar but welcoming experience.

The thing that I was not expecting though, was how cold it could get in the countryside. I have never cared to check the daily temperature before heading out, and oh boy, what a huge mistake that was! I was severely underdressed with my sleeveless chiffon top and moderately thick coat, when everybody else was wearing full knitted tops and winter jackets. By the time the sun sets, I was shivering and hunched over, jumping around in an attempt to keep my body warm. Oh, and did I mentioned I was wearing heels? Even when I’m travelling, I tend to take priority in fashion rather than comfort. Hmm.. ( Self-reflecting on how stupid I was ) When it comes to footwear, a good pair of well-beaten boots will always be the best option for hours of roaming around.

I also got to enjoy the sights and ride of Tokyo DisneySea, one of the most happiest or unhappiest place on earth. Unlike being the usual joyous and cheery visitor that Disney always portrays on the promotional pictures of their theme parks, I had a scowl planted on my face almost 90% of the time. Did you notice that I wrote drown ride instead of rides? Well, that’s the problem. Out of all the 27 attractions available in the park, I only rode on 1. One.

As I visited Japan during the November/December months, there is no doubt that many people ( especially tourists like me ) are coming into the country. As such, the average waiting time for each ride was nearly 2–3 hours long, and restaurants and shops in the theme park were fully crowded. I don’t have neither the patience nor the time to wait that long for a ride that only lasts for about 8–10 minutes. It was an unpleasant experience not getting to fully enjoy the activities offered, but I should have known better than to travel during the peak periods.

As I never done any proper planning or prior checking before this trip, I have met with many abrupt setbacks that sometimes dampens the fun and spirits. It’s a well-deserved punishment considering that I came back home with an important lesson to learn. I will be visiting Japan ( specifically Hokkaido, Kyoto and Osaka ) once again later this year, and maybe this time, it will be a more pleasurable journey.