Inner Musings from Tokyo : November 2021

December is here and we pull out our cozy sweaters!

The frenzy of fall also has subsided and it is unbelievable how fast the year had rolled amidst the pandemic.

A man rides past showcasing the winter attire

As I settle into November—the very best month of autumn, it reminded me that it’s a holiday month.

But instead of the hurried rush to a destination, we had earlier already planned a few short trips for November to spend time as a family and to take a moment to celebrate and reflect on all that makes us grateful.

And now suddenly November became a hectic month for us.

We took the opportunity on Japan’s Cultural Day, 3rd November to visit Ginza, the luxurious shopping district. This was not a planned visit but probably was symbolic as we had visited Ginza about 5 years back on the same day.
ME posing for a shot at Ginza…

Like I mentioned in the October post, with just 1 month left for JLPT for me, the time was majorly spent on finishing the course and preparing the best for the examination. My study schedule was packed with daily classes in the morning and twice a week in the evening too! The last time that I would have dedicated so much time to studying would be a decade ago.

So, to have a short break and re-energize my mind I decided to make a solo trip to Osaka for a weekend.

A very famous and frequented area in Osaka for doing everything

Well, this was a trip to Osaka, however, the theme was to promote “Kochi” which lies in Shikoku Prefecture! Some time back I had applied for this event, to be held on 12th November and luckily was invited to attend this invitation-only event.

It was a fun time attending the event and knowing about “Kochi’s” Culture, Food, yearly cultural events, and places of interest. I could meet “John Daub”, a famous YouTuber in Japan, for the 2nd time in the year. I could also meet some like-minded people at the event and it looked like these acquaintances will continue to inspire me in my endeavors.

Selfie with “John Daub”, a public figure and Creator of Only in Japan – Masks have to be on, if you are so close?
ME again, now with an artist from Kochi Prefecture

Some pictures from the event.

The event was held in a cozy restaurant with the Kochi style ambience with lots of food and sake (all famous popular stuff from Kochi Prefecture)
A palette of soul food with some sake on the table
Some greetings at the start of event – This was an event to promote Kochi Prefecture to “foreigners” living in Japan
Took the opportunity to visit one of the famous lively covered seafood market
And then the famous “Dotonbori” area of Osaka
To finally end the Osaka Trip, explored “Namba Parks”, a lovely place to relax, hangout and shop – This is a shopping mall, an oasis in the city where people can enjoy trees and flowers while browsing boutiques.

While returning from Osaka I took a bus from Osaka to Yokohama – This was my first-time experience traveling on an overnight bus in Japan. Night bus traveling is so comfortable in Japan and makes the trip very affordable too! I was surprised to see that the bus was packed with travelers. Young people and families in groups. I look forward to taking my next bus overnight trip!

The overnight bus stops for few breaks and this highway service area does boost your spirits to keep traveling more and moreAn early morning stop traveling from from Osaka to Tokyo

The next two weekends were also spent making short trips! These were to enjoy the beautiful Autumn and Momiji viewing…

I remembered a line that I had read sometime back, “Come to Japan during the Momiji season!”

There was no plan that we had made earlier this year for “Autumning”, but decided otherwise…as last year we had chased the beautiful autumn in Tohoku, visiting Tohoku thrice using the Special Tohoku Pass – Will also write about these interesting places in a separate blog, meanwhile please find the link to enjoy the Tohoku Autumn any time you want to…

This year we had decided to visit some local places fleeing ourselves from the urban metropolis and visiting some spots which are not famous, but equally beautiful and worth visiting.

The vibes of Inaka can be felt as soon as you get down on the platform

The first trip we took was to Utsunomiya, Nasu, and Kuroiso in Tochigi Prefecture. We took the JR 3 days Tokyo Wide Pass to travel comfortably in the Shinkansen.

And the feeling enhances once you start walking the neighborhoods

Tochigi is the place where Mrs. Roy Kapur had spent her first 4 years in Japan, studying for her degree on a scholarship. This prefecture is close to Mrs. Roy Kapur’s heart and now we as a family are fond of this place too. We took long walks on the beautiful roads of Kuroiso, Nasu, and Utsunomiya and felt the nostalgia along with Mrs. Roy Kapur.

Mrs. Roy Kapur Reminiscing, with obvious emotion…

The Place has changed for 2 decades and now is brimming with young energy, coffee shops, top-notch bakeries, antique stores, and a design-minded community.

The old and the new exists together – The farm outputs left on streets to be picked-up for some coins and the new infrastructure library designed as a “forest of aphorisms”

Please enjoy some beautiful pictures from Tochigi

Looking otherwise is always a better option than looking at camera
A beautiful Tea house being watched by hawk eyes of Hachiko
A modern Café in an historical set-up
Sometimes you don’t enter these buildings, not knowing whether “Is it a Hair Salon” or “Is it a Jazzy’s place”
This MADPERROS Pizza, the ultra modern Café makes you party hard even in the day, let alone afterhours

Since the pass has unlimited rides on The Bullet Train – Shinkansen, we made a quick headway to Gunma on 2nd day evening and spent a few hours in a local Onsen (original hot spring water from mountains). I don’t remember the name but it was in the middle of a very small town (I remember now, it was Jomo Kogen).

Onsen was on the bank of this river and we overspent out time here and took the last bus from this location to Jomo Kogen, a Shinkansen stop station.
A smile comes automatically on a click whether it is a day or a night

There were vast fields all around with some houses around, a perfect Inaka, the countryside. The place was very calm and beautiful surrounded by mountains. The Onsen was small but well maintained and very relaxing and had both indoor and outdoor baths (Outdoor baths were almost literally open to nature)

Please enjoy some pictures from Gunma Prefecture

After Inaka’s visit, next, we went ahead for a 1-night staycation in Tokyo, to celebrate our Marriage Anniversary.

Our anniversary coincided with that of KEIO Plaza’s

This was a lovely surprise to me by Mrs. Roy Kapur, as always – Surprise holidays and gifts are a forte of Mrs. Roy Kapur and if I remember, I wouldn’t have done that in these 2 decades (Not an ideal thing to do!). Just before the JLPT weekend, it was kind of a dilemma for this weekend but the bookings were already done, so we went to stay in a lovely hotel, called Keio Plaza in the Shinjuku area – The busiest and most famous area in Tokyo…

I am glad we could make this trip! It was worth it, as the festive season had started in Japan. The Beautiful night illumination and lovely weather added to the charm of the stay.

The hotel stay was extremely comfortable, we roamed around Shinjuku after many years, spent some time in coffee shops (doing a bit of study as well), explored some local eateries, and enjoyed visiting Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. People familiar with Tokyo would know that Shinjuku Gyoen (新宿御苑) is one of Tokyo’s largest and most popular parks.

The Iconic click similar to found in the guide books
Starbucks finds its best spot to serve Coffee
We had three options to choose in Shinjuku Gyoen

Overall, it was a month full of new rich experiences in urban-rural living and the interest it triggered in our child about these 2 diverse livings.

Happy Autumn

Before we start dressing for winter, みなさん Have a great December and Happy Holidays!

Hi, I am Piyush Kapur, a corporate professional and a passionate beginner in the blogging world. Life Mantra : Sometimes we just have to let things go.