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10-Day Trip to Japan - Culture, Landscapes and everything else...

Embarking on a journey from the polished corridors of Emirates business class to the heart of Japan's bustling streets and serene landscapes, my adventure unfolded as a tapestry of cultural immersion, personal discovery, and unexpected encounters.

Day 1 (19th June):

The adventure began with a luxurious business class journey on Emirates, complete with a chauffeur drive and an introduction to their sprawling executive lounge. As the plane soared through the skies, I couldn't help but feel a sense of excitement for what was to come.

Upon arrival in Japan, I was greeted by an immaculate airport bathroom – a harbinger of the meticulousness and attention to detail that would become a recurring theme throughout my stay. After a short wait, I reached my hotel, where the friendly staff welcomed me with open arms.

Famished from the journey, I ventured out to a cozy café for a sandwich and a refreshing beer from a nearby Family Mart, ready to fuel up for the days ahead.

Day 2 (19th June):

The following morning, I woke up early, eager to immerse myself in the local culture. After a delightful breakfast and meeting with my colleagues, we embarked on a metro journey, where I noticed an unusual silence among the commuters – a stark contrast to the cacophony of most metropolitan cities. Little did I know, this was a considerate gesture to avoid inconveniencing others, a testament to the thoughtfulness ingrained in Japanese society.

Our destination was the awe-inspiring office in the heart of Ginza Square, perched atop a towering skyscraper. As I stepped inside, the opulence and grandeur left me speechless. The reception area alone was a spectacle, with the cheerful receptionist greeting me with an enthusiasm that could rival a thousand suns. Amazingly, this enthusiasm resonated each and every time she greeted everyone coming in.

After a day of productive meetings, I ventured out to the vibrant Shinjuku district, where I encountered a delightful array of cozy bars and, unexpectedly, a group of menacing Nigerians. However, their presence only added to the excitement, as I made new friends and indulged in a bit of "scoring" – a testament to my spontaneous nature.

Day 3 (20th June): The day began with a brilliant breakfast, a feast for the senses that left me utterly fascinated. In the post-COVID era, even the smallest details were meticulously designed for safety and convenience, from the mask holders to the ingenious glove fans – a true reflection of Japanese ingenuity.

After a day at the office, my colleagues and I embarked on an adventure to the izakaya bars, where we reveled in the perfect balance of space and comfort, effortlessly accommodating our bags and orders for a delectable array of dishes.

Seeking a nightcap, I stumbled upon a fancy basement bar, where a skilled bartender crafted one of the most exquisite Glenmorangie cocktails I've ever tasted. The atmosphere was electric, with beautiful Japanese patrons adding to the allure of the establishment.

Day 4 (21st June):

Following a long day at work, I decided to embrace spontaneity and booked a midnight experience through Airbnb. Little did I know, this decision would lead me down a rabbit hole of unforgettable adventures.

My guide, a local expert, led me through the historic Harmonica Avenue, where World War II veterans had settled after the war. The narrow streets were lined with bars, each one beckoning with its unique charm and character.

We began our evening with a matcha drink, followed by a pre-drink consisting of organic whale meat – a bold culinary endeavor that set the tone for the night. Our next stop was a super-friendly dinner, where I indulged in the exotic flavors of chicken anus, baby bird, and frog legs, all washed down with an all-you-can-drink menu.

In a delightfully mischievous twist, I ordered drinks for the staff, knowing that they were obligated to down them – a surefire way to get the waitress of my choice delightfully inebriated. The entire establishment celebrated my presence as a visitor, serenading me with joyous songs that added to the festive atmosphere.

As the night progressed, I wandered aimlessly, meeting bar owners and reveling in their hospitality. I even tried the infamous "snake drink," a potent concoction that left me reeling with excitement.

One observation that piqued my curiosity was the prevalence of young women donning traditional schoolgirl uniforms, seemingly without any association with educational institutions – a tantalizing glimpse into the unique subcultures of Japan.

Day 6 (23rd June):

On this particular day, I decided to explore a different watering hole, where I had the pleasure of meeting two delightful individuals from Azerbaijan, Emil and Emil. We hit it off immediately, and our newfound friendship led us to a traditional Japanese dinner, where the food, service, and atmosphere were nothing short of exquisite.

Afterward, we ventured to a bar, engaging in thought-provoking conversations while observing the precise bartender, who ensured that every pour was executed with meticulous accuracy, regardless of the queue's length.

In a moment of mischief, I inadvertently scared two unsuspecting girls, adding a touch of excitement to the evening. As we strolled the streets, I couldn't help but notice the serene sight of drunken individuals peacefully slumbering on the pavement, undisturbed by the hustle and bustle of the city.

Our final stop was a bar on the fourth floor of a small hotel, where we immersed ourselves in the intimate atmosphere, surrounded by a single communal table. I ordered a drink that cost a staggering 5000 yen, relishing in the experience while wishing I had a better grasp of the language to fully appreciate the nuances of the conversation.

Day 7 (24th June):

After a restful night's sleep and a hearty breakfast, I embarked on a journey to the iconic city of Kyoto, catching the bullet train from Shinzaku station. The efficiency and helpfulness of the station staff left me in awe, a testament to the exceptional customer service that permeates every aspect of Japanese culture.

As I boarded the train, I noticed an intriguing ritual – the conductor would visibly inspect each compartment, adhering to protocol while ensuring transparency in their duties.

Upon arriving in Kyoto, I dropped my bags off at an Airbnb that once belonged to a geisha. The meticulously maintained abode was a treasure trove of traditional Japanese living, with every nook and cranny serving a specific purpose, from the measuring tapes to the ingenious bathroom design that integrated a handwash directly into the toilet.

Wasting no time, I rushed off to join a cycling tour, eager to immerse myself in the city's rich history and culture. Our journey took us through various neighborhoods and a myriad of temples, each one more breathtaking than the last.

I was captivated by the serene scenes that unfolded before me, where nature and beautiful traditional houses seamlessly coexisted. The guide provided invaluable insights into the Shinto religion, explaining its core principle of celebrating life – a philosophy remarkably similar to Hinduism. As we meandered through the streets, I marveled at the brilliantly preserved old-style houses, until an unexpected encounter at a katana store, where the owner abruptly kicked us out while brandishing a sword.

Undeterred, we continued our adventure, taking professional shots along the way to capture the essence of this fascinating city. After a grueling 25-kilometer bike ride, I rewarded myself with a fiery ramen dish that was both delicious and invigorating.

Back at the machiya house, I relaxed on the balcony, savoring the tranquility of my surroundings. As night fell, I ventured out for a drinking escapade, stumbling upon a bar that felt like a slice of New York City amidst the authenticity of Japan, complete with African-American patrons harassing women in a fascinatingly familiar manner.

Continuing my explorations, I made my way to the historic Gion district, where I had the privilege of witnessing two actual geishas – a rare and captivating sight. The bar area was bustling with energy, yet remarkably devoid of any unpleasant behavior or altercations.

As I strolled along the lake, beer in hand, I couldn't help but feel a sense of serenity wash over me. Returning to my accommodation, I discovered two charming bars nestled nearby and decided to pay them a visit. Despite the language barrier, the warm and welcoming patrons made me feel right at home.

During my conversations, I learned that the Ginza area was highly coveted for its desirable living conditions, a testament to the city's allure.

Day 8 (25th June):

The morning sun rose, and I found myself rushing to check out of the machiya house, having overslept past the designated time. Seeking sustenance, I stumbled upon a nearby café where a talented band was serenading patrons with English songs, providing the perfect accompaniment to my breakfast.

Fueled and refreshed, I set out to explore the iconic Fushimi Inari shrine, renowned for its stunning array of vermilion torii gates. Along the way, every shop I visited and every interaction I had was marked by a level of politeness and propriety that left a lasting impression.

With a heavy heart, I bid farewell to Kyoto and boarded the bullet train back to Tokyo, eager to soak up the remaining days of my adventure.

Day 9 (26th June):

By this point, I had grown accustomed to walking the kilometer distance from my hotel to the office, savoring the opportunity to immerse myself in the city's vibrant energy. After work, I would wander aimlessly, seeking out cozy cafes where I could indulge in a refreshing beer and reflect on the day's experiences.

On this particular evening, my wanderings led me to the famous Akihabara market, a veritable mecca for anime enthusiasts and gaming aficionados. I was awestruck by the sheer scale of the anime stores and the sight of grown men filling every nook and cranny of the massive video game parlors.

To my surprise, I even stumbled upon a colossal mall dedicated entirely to adult entertainment. Interestingly, the establishment was frequented by ordinary couples, perhaps seeking a reprieve from the mundane after a long day at work.

Day 10 (27th June):

Alas, my final day in Japan had arrived, and I decided to explore the Ginza area where I had been staying. With each random bar I visited, I encountered new friends and unique culinary delights, such as the intriguing shark bones.

One particular bar stood out, where the bartender meticulously maintained a map showcasing the hometowns of his patrons. As an elderly yet affable gentleman, he beamed with pride when I informed him that I was his first visitor from Dubai.

Savoring the last few hours of my extraordinary journey, I returned to the hotel and indulged in a luxurious bath, reflecting on the incredible experiences I had amassed. As if the universe had conspired to provide the perfect sendoff, I received a message informing me of a payment – a moment of sheer joy that crystallized the blissful nature of this unforgettable adventure.

On the flight back home, I was treated to a breathtaking view of Mount Fuji from the plane's window, a fitting finale to a trip that had left an indelible mark on my soul.

Throughout this odyssey, I was consistently awestruck by the attention to detail, the reverence for tradition, and the unwavering pursuit of excellence that permeated every aspect of Japanese culture. From the meticulously designed hotel amenities to the impeccable service at every establishment, I was left with a profound appreciation for the

Land of the Rising Sun.

Yet, amidst the refinement and sophistication, there existed a delightful undercurrent of spontaneity and unconventionality – a seamless blend of the familiar and the extraordinary. Whether indulging in exotic culinary delights, stumbling upon unexpected subcultures, or forging newfound friendships, each day brought forth a tapestry of unforgettable moments that challenged my perceptions and expanded my horizons.

As I reflect on this transformative journey, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity to immerse myself in a culture that is both ancient and modern, traditional and avant-garde. Japan has left an indelible imprint on my soul, and I eagerly await the next adventure that will reignite the insatiable wanderlust within me.

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