What you need to know to plan your Japan trip

Last year I travelled to Japan and I still wonder what made me pick such a difficult country for my first international trip. Difficult not because of food (I love Japanese food), difficult because the communication there isn’t easy. I got some help from friends as I was planning the trip but most of the stuff I learned while I was there. In the past few months a few friends and acquaintances reached out to me asking questions about my Japan trip. So here’s a list of QnA that I have created based on those questions. It’s purely based on my experience and research. I was in Japan for 10 days and travelled to Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. There were a lot of things I wish I knew before hand, but then you always learn from your mistakes. I hope these questions help you in planning your trip.

What kind of budget should I look at?
I travelled to japan in September, which is an off season and my budget for a 10 day trip was Rs 1,25,000 (all inclusive); I was lucky to get cheap return tickets from Mumbai to Tokyo (Rs 30,000). I stayed at AirBnb Homestays which saved me a lot of money; I didn’t spend more than Rs 15,000 for my stay. The major cost (apart from travel tickets) was the JRR pass (Rs 20,000) which is essential if you’re planning a short trip. It saves you a lot of time as well as money if you plan to travel intercity.

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Nongriat’s Living Roots Bridges and The Tribe That Communicates With The Trees

The Story
A bonfire’s lit in the centre, a group of travellers sitting around it warming hands, when someone starts a story – there was once a man who fell in love with a tree. They wanted to get married but the man’s community didn’t approve. The man married a woman and bore kids with her. However, the tree’s love for the man never died and he created a bridge over the river with its roots. It was the tree’s gift to the man it loved.

Nongriat, Meghalaya

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Faith Walk in Calcutta – Knowing the city through its various cultures

During British Raj Calcutta was divided into three parts – white town where the British established their offices and residence, black town or north Calcutta where Indians were forced to move to and grey town where Cantonese, Portuguese and Jews lived. As racist as the whole setup sounds, this sadly was the reality of the then India. While the divide doesn’t exist anymore, you can see a difference of culture, lifestyle and architecture. A walk through various faiths and cultures of Calcutta was my second heritage walk with Navpreet (FunOnStreets) during my trip last month.

Also Read: Colonial Walk in Calcutta

Buddhist Temple, Bow Barracks, Calcutta

We met early morning near Bow Barrack and started our walk with a visit to city’s first Buddhist temple. Bow Barracks were built during World War II to house the army. These barracks were later given to the Chinese and the Anglo Indians who still live here. The area still has no water connection and they have to rely on water guys or bhishtis to wash the roads. We spotted a bhishti with a traditional leather water bag on his back. Navpreet also told me that Christmas is massive in these areas and the whole street turns into a dance floor and party hub.

Bhishti with his leather water bag, Bow Barracks, Calcutta

Small Church at Bow Barracks, Calcutta

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Colonial Walk in Calcutta – In Pictures

Calcutta is brimming with History and the only way to soak it all in is to walk through it. Last month as I stopped over at Calcutta on my way to Meghalaya, I was introduced to Navpreet Arora – the heart and brain behind FunOnStreets. Navpreet quit her corporate job last year to follow her passion for History and introducing locals and tourists to her city through walking tours. Her in-depth research and love for story-telling is what make her walks most interesting. In two days I went for two walks with her exploring completely different aspects of the city.

Her Colonial Walk is set around Dalhousie Square (now known as Benoy-Badal-Dinesh Bagh), the area that was the financial, social and political nucleus of the city when Calcutta was the capital of British India in 18th and 19th centuries. Dalhousie Square was named for James Marquees of Dalhousie who served as the governor general of India from 1847 to 1856.

The square is surrounded by monumental buildings like Writers Building, General Post Office, The Royal Insurance Building, St. Andrew’s Church, St. John’s Cathedral etc. In the centre lies Laal Dighi or red tank which was named so because it’s water reflected the red colour of the buildings surrounding it.

Here’s the walk in few pictures, for the stories behind these buildings, go take a walk with Navpreet.

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Green Garlic – The Winter Wonder

I miss winters and being in Mumbai the only way I feel close to my favourite season is by visiting the vegetable market. All the greens call out to me from the carts and baskets and I feel like – I say this quite often – a cow or a goat. For a household of two people, I end up buying vegetables for an entire village. This season, apart from the regular sarson, bathua and spinach, I ODed on green or spring garlic also known as leela lasan.

Green Garlic/Spring Garlic/Leela Lasan

Green Garlic/Spring Garlic/Leela Lasan

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