The new year invariably signals a wave of hope and optimism in our minds. Apprehensions are rising everyday of a probable announcement of the vaccine. Never in my life have I seen the whole world wait with bated breath for a news to arrive. And with this positive feeling of a ray of light many have started planning of possible places to visit in the post covid world. In fact the thing that was most missed last year were our family vacations and holidays.

If you are planning a foreign trip in the near future , i suggest you to look up a possible trip to Japan. This might raise a few eyebrows as Indians conventionally plan for Europe or USA as their most preferred holiday destinations. I also had a few of these apprehensions when I visited this place in 2018. Needless to say I was completely bowled over the moment I set foot in Tokyo. The cleanliness of the streets is what hits the Indians most when we visit a foreign country. We all yearn for it yet its a pity that we cannot enforce it in our own country.

The best time to visit Japan is from March to May as one gets to see the famed cherry blossoms in full bloom around this time of the year. The people here spend a lot of time outdoors in the carefully curated gardens which look like scenes out of a fairy tale. On one of our visits to one such garden we saw numerous families, with children and elders picnicking and enjoying the bright sunshine. We have almost forgotten these family picnics and outings in our fast paced lives.

What I appreciated most about the Japanese people was their respect for everything traditional along with the ultra modern. So the skyscrapers and bullet trains exist side by side their age old monasteries. The religion followed here is mainly Shintoism. The monasteries charm by their simplicity and austerity. Nowhere is there any hint of an excess, just the calm and peace and reverence.

Tokyo is famous for its uber cool shopping districts and themed restaurants. The Cat Restaurant and the Robot Restaurant deserve special mention for fun lovers. There are diverse opinions regarding Japanese food but those who like experimenting will have a gala time here. Though I had a not so gala experience with almost uncooked fish at a local sushi restaurant. The glass of coke saved the day for me! However, the famed Japanese Ramen and Okonomiyaki being cooked in a live counter have been out of the world experience for me.

Surprisingly, a visit to Japan can be accomplished with a minimal budget because of the favourable conversion rates of the Rupee vis a vis the Japanese Yen. But shopping in their supermarkets can be a daunting experience as most of the products are priced exceptionally high. But for me the entire experience of being in this exotic city simply outweighed other hiccups! In sharing my thoughts I would love to see you all go ahead and gift yourselves a wonderful Japanese holiday as we wake up from the pandemic slumber and move on with renewed hope and enthusiasm.

Ms . Angana Banerjee
English Language Coach, Kolkata, India

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