Don't be guiri!
How are you? We are happy to tell you about Haikugirl’s Japan. Her real name is Alison Muskett and she is passionate about Japan. Way Away interviewed Ali and here you have amazing recommendations when travelling to Japan:
– What is the most impressing place in Japan you have ever been? What advice would you give to someone who wishes to travel there?
It’s hard to pick just one impressive place in Japan, but one of my most memorable experiences has to be my trip to the Yuki Matsuri (Snow Festival) in Sapporo, Hokkaido. I had never seen so much snow in my life, and seeing gigantic snow and ice sculptures there was just unbelievable. As well as enjoying the festival while I was in Hokkaido, I was able to try local food, such as ‘soup curry’ (which certainly warms you up!), and visit other tourist attractions, including a chocolate factory. The Yuki Matsuri happens yearly in February, and it’s an unmissable experience. Dress for the cold weather – the snow will be piled high, and streets do become slippery – but remember lots of layers because inside it will be very warm.
– What do you hate to forget in your suitcase when travelling?
I’m a big fan of lists, so I don’t think I have ever forgotten anything while travelling. I guess the one thing I would be gutted to forget would be my camera battery charger – I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t take photos.
– What would you say to those travellers who are afraid to travel on their own, and end up going to a travel agency even if they do not like taking part in organized tours?
The first time I went to Japan in 2006 I was 24 years old and had never travelled alone before, but I had the best two weeks of my life. I travelled around Japan, using a JR Pass (a kind of train pass only available to foreigners) and, although I couldn’t speak any Japanese at all, I really didn’t run into any problems. The key to my trip was planning – I was nervous about travelling alone, so I planned everything meticulously before I went, and booked all my accommodation in advance. I spent months planning, and was then able to relax and enjoy myself for the whole of my trip. Now, there are so many blogs and websites giving advice about travel, and it must be much easier than when I went 7 years ago. So, if you’d like to travel alone but you’re feeling a bit scared, my advice to you is to just go for it! Plan, plan, plan – and then have the best time of your life.
– What kind of food have you tried on your travels around Japan and you found it delicious/surprising? Can you recommend us any place where to try it out?
I’ve tried a lot of interesting food in Japan, and I really think it’s the country with the best food in the world. As a pescetarian (I eat fish but not meat), it was sometimes difficult in Japan, but I could always rely on sushi. For a genuine taste of Japan, though, I would recommend trying takoyaki from Osaka. If you just walk around downtown Osaka you will come across a number of stalls selling freshly made takoyaki – a kind of dumpling with octopus in it – and you can just stand on the street eating it. It’s very hot inside – so be careful not to burn your mouth!
– Finally, tell us something that happened to you travelling and that you will never forget!
This is another difficult question to answer, because I had so many amazing experiences in Japan. Something I will never forget, though, is attending a festival with my Japanese friend. The festival was called Oni Matsuri (Demon Festival), and it was a proper local festival, bound in traditions. At the climax of the festival, lots of white flour-like powder is thrown out into the crowd, and you have to dive in and try to grab these lucky bags. We got covered in flour, but it was so much fun, and incredible to be involved in something so traditional that must have happened in that town for years. When travelling, I like to try to get involved in local things as much as possible, and to try to see the country as residents must see it. One of the best ways to do this is to attend local festivals and events.
Ali, thank you very much for your time and your advices. We are sure, travellers are going to take them into consideration!