I’ve been wanting to go to Japan for a long time.
Last April I went there.
Fascinating, diverse … and not expensive.
Useful links for those going on their own.
Japan | Frommers.com, helps to establish priorities if your time is limited.
Japan Tourism website, with excellent PDF printable guides.
Our itinerary (15 days): Tokyo, Nikko, Hakone, Takayama & Ogimachi, Okayama & Kurashiki, Hiroshima, Matsuyama, Imabari & Shimanami cycling, Takamatsu, Himeji, Koyasan, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto.
Jalpak The best flights I’ve found and they can get you the japan rail pass
You will need the timetable to plan your trips inside japan.
You won’t need this, but for rail lovers it contains pictures of all stations for all the lines.
Japaneseguesthouses.com : Traditional japaneses hotels aka Ryokans and Minshukus. I strongly recommend to spend some nights in one of them provided you can arrive early enough to take a bath before dinner (usually excellent) at 6. Reliable website.
http://www.japanhotel.net/ Comfort hotels at a very reasonable price. Reliable website.
For cycling lovers Shimanami route, 70 km between Honshu and Shikoku, bridges over the Sea connecting islands.
Kabuki Theater. Be brave and give it a try, what is as traditional as Noel Coward for japanese ears will be as advanced as the most vanguardist contemporary music like Ligeti or Boulez for yours.
Flights Barcelona – Japan: 700-900 €
two week Japan Rail Pass: 300 €
Accomodation: 60-100 € double room/night
Meals: 7-15 €
My feeling was that you couldn’t be known thoroughly unless you found a way to communicate certain “incommunicables”-your private metaphysics. My way of approaching this was that before you were born you had never seen the life of this world. To grasp this mystery, the world, was the occult challenge. You came into a fully developed and articulated reality from nowhere, from nonbeing or primal oblivion. You had never seen life before. In the interval of light be tween the darkness in which you awaited first birth and then the darkness of death that would receive you, you must make what you could of reality, which was in a state of highly advanced develop ment. I had waited for millennia to see this. Then when I had learned to walk-in the kitchen-I was sent down into the street to inspect it more closely. One of my first impressions was of the huge utility-pole timbers that lined the street. They were beaver-colored, soft and rotted. On their crosspieces or multiple arms they carried many wires or cables in an endless falling relay, soaring, falling again and soaring. On the fixed sag and flow of the cables the spar rows sat, flew off, came back to rest. Along the sidewalks, the faded bricks revealed their original red at sunset. You rarely saw an auto mobile in those days. What you saw were hansom cabs, ice wagons, beer drays, and the huge horses that pulled them. I knew people by their faces-red, white, wrinkled, spotted, or smooth; smiling or violent or furious-their eyes, mouths, noses, voices, feet, and gestures. How they bent down to amuse or question or tease or af fectionately torment a small boy.
God appeared very early to me. His hair was parted down the middle. I understood that we were related because he had made Adam in his own image, breathed life into him. My eldest brother also combed his hair in the same style. Between the senior brother and me there was another brother. Senior to all of us was our sister. Anyway … this was the world. I had never seen it before. Its first gift was the gift of itself. Objects gathered you to themselves and held you by a magnetic imperative that was simply there. It was a privilege to be permitted to see-to see, touch, hear. This would not have been impossible to describe to Ravelstein. But he would have answered dismissively that Rousseau had already covered the same turf in his Confessions or his Reveries of a Solitary Walker. I didn’t feel like having these first epistemological impressions anticipated or dismissed. For seventy-odd years I had seen reality under these same signs. I had the feeling, too, that I had to wait for thousands of years to see, hear, smell, and touch these mysterious phenomena- totake my turn in life before disappearing again when my time was up. I might have said to Ravelstein, “It was my one turn to live.” But he was too close to death to be spoken to in such terms and I had to surrender my wish to make myself fully known to him by describ ing my intimate metaphysics. Only a small number of special souls have ever found a way to receive such revelations.
The craddle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour). I know, however, of a young chronophobiac who experienced something like panic when looking for the first time at homemade movies that had been taken a few weeks before his birth. He saw a world that was practically unchanged-the same house, the same people-and then realized that he did not exist there at all and that nobody mourned his absence. He caught a glimpse of his mother waving from an upstairs window, and that unfamiliar gesture disturbed him, as if it were some mysterious farewell. But what particularly frightened him was the sight of a brand-new baby carriage standing there on the porch, with the smug, an croaching air of a coffin; even that was empty, as if, in the reverse course of events, his very bones had disintegrated.
Such fancies are not foreign to young lives. Or, to put it otherwise, first and last things often tend to have an adolescent note-unless, possibly, they are directed by some venerable and rigid religion. Nature expects a full-grown man to accept the two black voids, fore and aft, as stolidly as he accepts the extraordinary visions in between. Imagination, the supreme delight of the immortal and the immature, should be limited. In order to enjoy life, we should not enjoy it too much.
I rebel against this state of affairs. I feel the urge to take my rebellion outside and picket nature. Over and over again, my mind has made colossal efforts to distinguish the faintest of personal glimmers in the impersonal darkness on both sides of my life. That this darkness is caused merely by the walls of time separating me and my bruised fists from the free world of timelessness is a belief I gladly share with the most gaudily painted savage. I have journeyed back in thought-with thought hopelessly tapering off as I went to remote regions where I groped for some secret outlet only to discover that the prison of time is spherical and without exits. Short of suicide, I have tried everything. I have doffed my identity in order to pass for a conventional spook and steal into realms that existed before I was conceived. I have mentally endured the degrading company of Victorian lady novelists and retired colonels who remembered having, in former lives, been slave; messengers on a Roman road or sages under the willows of, Lhasa. I have ransacked my oldest dreams for keys and clues; and let me say at once that I reject completely the vulgar, shabby, fundamentally medieval world of Freud, with its crankish quest for sexual symbols (something like searching for Baconian acrostics in Shakespeare’s works) and its bitter, little embryos spying, from their natural nooks, upon the love life of their parents.