Mid-march, 74 Boothies flew for over 12 hours (some for 16) to attend the Trek of a lifetime in Japan.
Starting out in Osaka, we began this bucket list of a trip with a visit to Himeji Castle, a 400-year-old architectural marvel that has survived World War II bombings and many an earthquake. We then proceeded to a traditional Onsen (Japanese Hot Spring). There, only the smallest of towels were given to us, ensuring we all got to know each other much better than expected! Of course, no traditional Japanese experience is complete without Karaoke - we ended the night with 60 people in a room, singing their hearts out. What a start to the trip!
This start was followed by the rare opportunity to watch a Sumo tournament, something that takes place only three times a year, with a small group of Boothies really getting into the sport by running their own brackets with limited knowledge of the rules. Almost in direct contrast to this traditional sport, the very next day we had the privilege to watch Geishas perform the most graceful dances for us. In an attempt to share some of the Geishas’ grace, we were all given the chance to dress up in Kimonos and visit a beautiful Shinto shrine in Kyoto.
History being particularly important to Japan’s place in the world, a large number of us chose to do the optional tour to Hiroshima and Miyajima Island. Hiroshima has been rebuilt into a large cosmopolitan city while retaining many reminders of its tragic past, not just to remember those that it lost but also to remind people of why it happened. It has taken a pledge to enable nuclear disarmament in any way it can. Miyajima, meanwhile, is a tiny island off the coast of Hiroshima that was not hit by the disaster and stands preserved. With a Shinto Shrine that stands in the sea, Miyajima is a stunning example of the union of nature and architecture. Through the rain and cold on that day, we all found warmth in the many cafes on the tiny streets of Miyajima.
Finally, after days steeped in traditional Japanese culture, we proceeded to Tokyo on the high-speed rail. Wanting nothing to be missed, we made our way to all the famous parts of the city. Whether bar hopping at Golden Gai or gorging on sweets in Harajuku, we ran into Boothies all over the place!
However, from leading us to the clubs and guiding us to the best ramen spots to capturing the chaos of feeding deer in shrines, the heroes of the trip were the six trek leaders. They kept us in check, stayed out until all hours of the night and always woke up with a smile on their faces! Some of them did not even have the chance to meet with their families while in Japan, all to ensure we had a great time.
The Japan Trek 2018 team stayed together until the end and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of being together! While we now all know what good Sushi is, we plan to enjoy it only with each other so no one else can fault us for complaining!
Akhila is a Ramen expert and Karaoke extraordinaire.