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.
A typical Tokyoite’s day starts and ends with a (crammed) train ride. The efficiency of the Tokyo train system means that workers residing in the suburbs can commute to their workplace in the morning and retire to their homes in the evening, even if their residence is 50 kilometers away. To while away the time, the Japanese have perfected the art of reading books while standing in a moving train, as well as sleeping and waking up right when the train doors open at their destination.
Koishikawa Korakuen is a pocket of peace and lush greenery tucked in the middle of the sprawling Tokyo cityscape. The park is an enjoyable visit all year round, although a visit coinciding with the peak of autumn colors in Tokyo from late November to early December is guaranteed to be a visual treat as dozens of maple and ginkgo trees transform the garden into hues of vibrant yellow, orange and red.
Sapporo, capital of Japan’s Hokkaido island/prefecture and also Japan’s 4th largest city by population, is a popular destination especially during the Japanese summer. In the summer months Tokyo and its surrounds are teleported to the tropics, with soaring temperatures and humidity that can rival Manila or Bangkok. Sapporo on the other hand, enjoys mild summers owing to its higher latitude.