A short-notice business trip right smack in the middle of Japan’s busy hanami season and the Philippines’ holy week meant that direct flights to Tokyo were booked solid. I flew with PAL (Philippine Airlines) to Fukuoka on Japan’s southwesternmost Kyushu island instead, and connected on a domestic flight to Tokyo Haneda via ANA (All Nippon Airways).
Early last month (January 2016) I flew with Cathay Pacific from Manila to Tokyo, with a brief stopover at Hong Kong.
“I am very fond of sunsets. Come, let us go look at a sunset…”, the Little Prince said in Antoine de Saint Exupery’s most famous novel.
In the middle of winter, the small seaside town of Kawazu in Shizuoka prefecture comes alive with close to a million visitors that come to see the early blooming variety of cherry blossoms. The kawazu-zakura bloom between late February to early March, a full month before the more known somei yoshino sakura bloom in Tokyo and Osaka. The kawazu-zakura, clad in a darker shade of pink, are also in full bloom for a longer period than their fleeting relatives.
The small town of Nikko in Tochigi prefecture, a few hours north of Tokyo, is home to the lavishly-decorated Toshogu Shrine, a shrine dedicated to the once-most powerful man in feudal Japan: Tokugawa Ieyasu. In addition, the surrounding area encompassing Nikko National Park is popular for spectacular autumn scenery in October.
Set in a serene cedar forest around 100 kilometers north of metropolitan Tokyo, Toshogu was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1999 along with neighboring Rinnoji Temple and Futarasan Shrine.