This year, 2015, I was lucky enough to experience a rare holiday called Silver Week. It occurred on September 19 to 23rd.
Facts about Silver Week: Silver Week actually does not happen every year. It also isn’t like a leap year that happens every 4 years. Silver week is actually a “new type” of holiday in Japan there it only applies to a strong of consecutive holidays in September. It somewhat started in 2009 where during September that year, a weekend was followed by three Japanese public holidays. In 2015 we had the same thing where following weekend of September 19 and 20, there were three public holidays. The third Monday of September and 23rd September are actual public holidays. September 22 isn’t really one, but interestingly Japanese law stipulates that should there be a one non-holiday between two public holidays, that day is to become an additional holiday, known as a Citizen’s Holiday (that is Kokumin no Koujitsu). I have no idea who, why or how this become the law, but who am I to complain for having more holiday. If you know anyone who complains, they are crazy!
Now, back to the interesting details – My holiday!
It was my first official holiday ever since I arrived in Japan for my new position as an ALT. To make it count, I didn’t just organised a few catch ups with people over Silver Week, but also extended my holiday by taking the reminder of the week off so I could explore different parts of Japan. Although I didn’t get much sleep, I sure did have a one great holiday indeed.
To start off my Silver Week holiday, I went and explored Nagoya first.
I had always wanted to go to Nagoya because I had heard of that city’s name so many times and people have told me how more history there is. With my friend, Amanda, we headed to Nagoya for two days. We stayed at a very convenient hotel called APA Hotel Ekimae. God bless Booking.com for making hotel booking easy and simple. I booked a double room for two people, with the imagine that it would have two single beds. Hah! To our surprise, it was a “Japanese standard” double-bed. I say “Japanese standard” to emphasis that it was a small double-bed suited for a small Japanese hotel room. Both Amanda and I shared the bed completely fine, but it wasn’t without minor challenges. When you have a friend who snores, sharing a small double-bed becomes interesting. As same as the bed as, funnily enough, the room has a TV over 52 inches and a relatively comfort size bathroom. Who am I to complain?
At Nagoya, we explored a number of places such as the Osu Shopping Area – huge shopping area with heaps of second hand clothing shops; Nagoya Castle – a beautiful white castle with great tiled roof; Tokugawa Art Museum, a Japanese garden called the Tokugawaen Garden; Sakae – Nagoya’s red light district area and was pretty harmless in terms of safety for tourists; and shopping around Nagoya Station. Given it was my first time visiting a Japanese Castle, I really enjoyed Nagoya Castle. I also liked Tokugawaen very very much. There is something relaxing and soothing in a Japanese garden that I cannot explain, except I would love to see more Japanese garden. I would absolutely go back to Nagoya and explore more.
After Nagoya, I headed back to Tokyo and was up early on Tuesday 22 September to head off to Tokyo DisneySea!!!. Another Brisbane JET, Ian, a wonderful folk who I flew over to Tokyo with for this program, organised this event. When Ian suggested we get up early early to meet up at Tokyo Station around 8:00am, honestly, I was sceptical, however, it turned out to be a great decision. We turned up at Tokyo Station to get to Maihama Station, which is where we caught a monorail to Tokyo DisneySea. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the number of people at Maihama station. Furthermore seeing the number of people outside of Tokyo DisneySea at 8:30am, I was so grateful that Ian told me to get my tickets online prior. We went passed the ticket gates and when I saw DisneySea, my jaw dropped. Tokyo DisneySea was not just huge but one beautiful theme park. I cannot imagine the amount of time, effort and detailing when into make this park. Ian had visited this park before so it was great because he showed me the exact way to the best rides and how to get a “fast-pass” for rides. Each ride has an area for people to get fast-passes. I have to say fast-passes was the most genius thing invented ever. You don’t have to pay for these but just line up to get these passes, which tells you when you can go on the ride you desire on that day. So for example, I lined up to get a fast pass for Journey to the Centre of the Earth and I obtained a ticket that told me I could come back between 3:15pm and 4:15pm to experience the ride then. I also did the same thing for the Indiana Jones ride too. Friends and I lined up for the tea cup ride in the Mermaid Lagoon; the Storm rider ride and also the Tower of Terror. I could not fault any of the rides. It was not just great to hangout at such a great place, but most importantly, I got to hangout with great friends like Ian and Amanda. To top the day off, we caught with a friend in Shinjuku, had great food at an underground restaurant followed by karaoke. As much fun as we had, we managed to still catching the last train back to our homes or hotels.
Next day, I got up for my flight to head off to Nagasaki. I was accompanied another friend who I met on the JET program. Her name is Steph and she is a CIR who I met at the Tokyo Orientation. We were lucky enough to be roommates during the orientation and managed to keep in touch for the entire time since we separated our ways for our placements. I arrived in Nagasaki on Wednesday and got in later in the day. To be frank, I had no expectations for Nagasaki. It was my first time visiting and I was absolutely up for anything. As it turned out, we had one heck of a time in Nagasaki.
We had great food adventures, amazing drinking outings and wonderful times exploring the area of Nagasaki. Apart from exploring the local area in Nagasaki, we organised a cruise to see Gunkanjima Island. I have posted photos of Gunkanjima under the Moments page for those who are interested.
The entire cruise took about 3 hours including our ride to and from the island, a stop on the island to hear the Japanese tour guide explain to us about the island and also a short stop at Takashima Island. The day we visited the island, we had perfect weather which allowed me to take great photos. I really enjoyed the cruise. Aside from exploring Nagasaki, our trip also involved a number of random but interesting and fun encounters with locals. On the second day visiting Nagasaki, we ran into a great taxi driver who recommended and drove us to see the world’s third best night view which we were not aware of. The next day, we met a cute little girl when we were on our way into a local shrine who turned out to live at the shrine and gave us a little bit of a tour guide; and finally. On our final night in Nagasaki, we drank at a cute little restaurant called Fuku No Mori which didn’t seem attractive at the time, but turned out to be a great decision. We each had 7 glasses of ime-shu, which further continued with more whisky and Japanese shu and chit-chating with a professor who works at Nagasaki University and his wife. To top the night off, we walked to a local ramen place which was proclaimed to be very famous in Nagasaki. I headed back to Tokyo on Saturday with one hell of a ill-stomach… who could of guessed that mixing drinks was a bad idea.
Overall, I have three words for this trip – IT WAS EPIC! Unfortunately like many things, holiday time had to come to an end. Nevertheless, I am really glad that the holiday turned out to be such a great one. Most importantly, I am truly grateful was able to spend the holiday with a few great souls that I have met on my travels on this program. I truly look forward to more adventures in the near future!!!!
PS: You can check out more photos I took during this trip under Photos.