It’s been 8 months (35 weeks exactly) since we’ve visited Japan and since then many people have visited this amazing country after us and asked for tips, which I have plenty. I never got to the point of writing them down on this webpage until today. Some reasons for this massive delay are rather emotional, but we’ll get to that soon.
Japan had been on my list for so long and since the cherry blossom – a symbolic flower of the spring, a time of renewal, and the fleeting nature of life – is so important to the Japanese people and their culture (and just so beautiful to watch), I really wanted to go during the Sakura season. The life of these blossoms is very short. After their beauty peaks around two weeks, they start to fall.
My boyfriend and I were actually planning a trip to Argentina in January, but since that wasn’t convenient for work, we had to reconsider the timing, which lead to reconsidering the destination. He would celebrate his 30th Birthday in March, so we came up with the idea to celebrate it in Tokyo. With any luck, by that time the cherry blossom season was about to start.
Also would this be the holiday where we would discuss starting a family. We did have the talks before, but we had only been together for a year and a half, so we were never concrete about it yet. Being pregnant while visiting the country of saké, sushi and Kobe beef wasn’t an option, but it would be the perfect opportunity to discourse the timing of our ‘family expansion’.
The 30th Birthday, the family expansion, the Sakura season,… . All festive events that got overshadowed by a terrorist attack the day before take-off. They blew up our airport, killing and injuring hundreds of people. A tragic day that left a mark on our country; left a mark on us.
Although at that time, all of my actions were practical; arranging a new flight* – where could we fly from? when? how would we get there? – cancelling the hotel for the first night – or did I need to cancel more than one night? we had no clue when we would arrive, if we were even still going – rearranging the surprise Birthday dinner I had booked long before – etc.; it also made me doubtful towards the whole baby story. Should we introduce another life to this world? The answer being “yes” and our baby boy will be here in about 4 weeks. You can do the math. Who knows whether taking the leap of faith at the Komano Kodo trail had anything to do with it.
Had it been any other destination, we might had cancelled the trip or we would have flown elsewhere; Never before had I ever arranged a trip in such detail as this one. If there is one advice I can give you about Japan, it is to book ahead (definitely during the Sakura watching season). Another advice, is to get yourself a JR Pass if you decide to visit several cities and to download the Hyperdia app. You’ll have to order for the pass from abroad and you can do this up to 3 months ahead. They’ll send it to you by FedEx. It might seem pricy (at the time of writing they are €239 for 7 days – € 380 for 14 days – €486 for 21 days), but more than worth it.
*The staff at Connections was very helpful to us. Not only when they rearranged our flight out from Düsseldorf, but also while keeping us posted on the reopening of Brussels airport and the relaunch of ANA’s direct flights back to Brussels.