CHIBA | Pilot [Day 0.5 & 1.0]

My first blogpost for 2016! 

It felt like it was just yesterday i arrived at Narita Airport, back in Japan for the 2nd time in 2015 and this time it was the eve of Christmas. This whole 5 days trip swept by so fast with a blink of an eye and here i am back in my humid country typing this blogpost out in my comfy un-glamorous oversized rag T-shirt, bed hair and of course naked face (who wears make up at home lol) surrounded by the walls of my work studio (a.k.a home too).

Before i start my journey, would like to give a BIG & GRATEFUL thank you to Chiba Prefecture, everyone involved in the process like Hasegawa-san and our Tour guides (Akiko-san, Shioji-san & Kenta-san) for the whole entire trip.You guys have given us such a prestigious opportunity to discover Chiba prefecture and its hidden wonders, how much this prefecture has to offer than it meets the eye.
Hopefully through my writings i may allow people around the world to experience what i did virtually and make Chiba prefecture their next travel destination in Japan!


Our amazing journey to Chiba started with all 13 of us (10 students & 3 medias) boarded Korea Airlines from KLIA, transit in SEOUL, Incheon Airport for an hour before arriving at Narita Airport around 9-10am in the morning on the 24th Dec 2015.
This post might sound very much like a documentary, so i apologize in advance first lol but i just want to record every single moment of it so i won't forget about knowing i have Dory's memory (short term memory loss pfft!).
This is my 3rd time sitting on a plane traveling out of the country, honestly i do not like the feeling of floating outta my seat whenever it takes off. Scares me terribly that i constantly have to shut my eyes tight and clench the seat's arm rest till the plane has stabilized itself up in the air after 10 minutes of lifting off lol. Who else gets that feeling too? Or it's just me because i am not used to flying haha wtf.

Both my previous trips has been on Airasia, Thailand Airways once and now Korean Air and have to say their service throughout this whole flight has been nothing but superb! They fed us VERY well, in fact in total think we've been served  3-5 times in total lol, felt like a hippo every single time we un-board the plane lol.
Oh they speak Japanese too by the way, kept thinking our row (Hermes, Yingtze & I) were native Japanese so they spoke to us in Japanese instead lol wtf, must be our faces and fabulous hair lolol.

This is honestly my first time eating on a flight, and i am so proud of myself that i finished everything (expect the bun)! It's also pretty cool that they provide us with proper cutlery instead of plastic ones as i've seen on 'some' (won't say who but you know which i'm talking about lol) airlines and it's very funny when one is struggling to cut their meats when the plastic disposable cutlery breaks XD
Food served is not heavily ladened in oil, got la but not too much that it's swimming in it. Even an oil paranoia like me approves so thumbs up!

See how beautiful the sky was that day? Thanks Hermes for helping me take this photo, she got the window seat throughout this whole Chiba trip, no fair *sobs*
 A sign of a good day and an amazing journey awaits us when we touch-down.

Upon reaching our destination at Narita Airport, we were so amazed to be greeted by the Chiba Monitor JL team including a surprise visit from Hasegawa-san before heading to work! Can you imagine how cold it was for us since it's the beginning of winter and we didn't wear that much since we came from Malaysia (even with jacket it's super stuffy! ugh), but we did in fact survived our first day with frosty fingers lol.


And yes i had to start my trip with a long missed drink, Calpis. So typical local Jap wei lol wtf.
Oh and i just found out that now in Malaysia there are starting to sell Calpis too but a repackaged type and as usual that every bottled drinks here are diabetes in a bottle to suit our Malaysian taste-buds lol. So no Malaysian calpis for me please, would rather wait till my next trip to Japan again XD

Look at all our tired yet happy cold faces, here to represent Malaysia for Chiba Monitor Tour 2015!
Not many of us got much sleep like me because i was too busy watching all the movie selections they had on Korean Air! Finally watched Magic Mike & Agent 47 lol.

Our first destination was the famous Naritasan Shinshoji temple  the biggest & oldest temple in Chiba Prefecture, where millions would flock this temple yearly on festive occasions to pay their respects, but during our visit it was kinda emp ty as the temple grounds are setting up for new year's celebration.Can imagine how crowded all the famous temples in Japan would be during New years since it's a big deal to them compared to other countries.
This temple alone has a rich history since it's founded in 940s by Kanchō Daisōjō, a disciple of Kōbō Daishi during the Heian period, meaning this temple alone has been standing for over a thousand years (current age: 1075 years old) already. There are restorations going around at the back of the temple grounds, hopefully we'll get to see the finished masterpiece by this year :D

Oh, did you know that this is also a Buddhist temple? :-P
So prayer methods for Naritasan Shinshoji is different from Shinto temples, these are the 2 major religion in Japan so don't get their praying methods mixed up as it is deemed offensive in any kind of religion.

Must do when one visits Japan? 
Visit a(lot) temple/ shrine of course!

The Map of the temple located outside before entering, as you can see how large it is based on the illustration alone. If you are going to leisurely explore the whole place it would take approximately 3-4 hours alone (to snap photos/sit/ toilet breaks). But for us we were only there briefly around 2 hours before rushing off the local street vendors which are called "Omotesando" which starts to close around 4.30pm.


Before entering the temple/ shrine, did you know it is a custom to cleanse yourself at the 'Temizuya' (aka fountain basin) found below the steps of the temple. And by cleansing it means a purification process where one is required to wash their hands and rinse their mouth (not drink!) using the ladle provided, but please do not wash & spit inside the basin!
This action is to show that you have come clean and sincere to ask for blessing or anything else. I know some of us are guilty for just blindly following the surrounding visitors when it comes to this without fully understanding the purpose of it lol.
Hope you now know why :-P

Up the steps we go!

When you hear O-mikuji, think of fortune cookies! :D

Like all temples & shrines in Japan both big and small, they do sell small tokens like an Omamori (お守り) - Amulets which makes a great souvenir gift for friends & family back home or even for your ownself :) There's even a donation box for you to contribute (a minimal amount) and after that you can collect your O-mikuji, おみくじ (luck prediction). But most of the time it's written in old characters, even beginners like us needs help with translation lol.
It's like the Shakespeare language of Japan haha! I had one from my previous trip, till today i couldn't get it translated so i am not sure whether it's a good or bad prediction D:
If you have a bad one they say it's better to tie it on a pine tree of the temple grounds so it will remain there instead of bringing it back home.


One of the many reasons people come to Naritasan is also to visit the Fudo Myoo deity statue, to touch the smooth carving of this deity in order get protection in return. Our informative tour guide for Naritasan also told us back then before the invention of printers and internet, the only way one can have a picture of Fudo Myoo is by coming to this rock and using stencil method to transfer the craving unto the paper.

But now with technology, one can easily get a picture of Fudo Myoo even with google search!
And if you noticed the part of the drawing focusing on Fudo Myoo is slightly darker & more shiny compared to other parts of the rock is the result of billions coming to touch the statue of this deity over the millennium. Pretty cool huh? :D
Yes, i touched it too! It's made of solid marble rock, so it feels really cold when one comes in contact with it.


After our mini introduction tour around the front part of the temple, we headed to the back where the park was and my...it is HUGE (the map outside deceived us lol, jk)!
If you google reviews about this place, most of them would advice you to spend at least 3 hours here lol. It was a gloomy day since by the time we reached this part it was around 3.30pm and the days are much shorter during winter.

Seriously throughout this whole trip on the first day itself i was already snapping so many pictures because everything is so photography worthy!
My advice if you are coming to Chiba, prepare an external hard disk and an empty 64gb memory card lol just in case. This whole trip my complied pictures storage totaled up to 22gb (both video snipets & photos) haha, imagine how long it took for me to filter out a few to feature for each posting :-P
So many beautiful pictures which i will slowly continue to upload till all 2000 files are up lol.

They have a big park right at the back of the temple, it's really peaceful here!
Great place to reconnect yourself with nature while walking a.k.a exercising.

Strolling through the park, just admiring the surroundings. If i had a park this big near my home, i would make it a habit to spend at least 1-2 hours just strolling lol. And come admire to my beautiful candyfloss/ bubblegum hair by Daisuke Salon lol.

More steps to climb, i am just kidding lol! 
This is just to saje pose, act like it's a "spontaneous" shot but actually not. HAHA.
Didn't even finish climbing up this steps XD

There's even a mini waterfall in Naritasan park, careful of the slippery rocks and try not to fall in especially during winter. It's crazy freezing cold, how did i know? I was stupid enough to put my hand into one of the ponds trying to photograph the HUMONGOUS koi fishes ==;; and upon taking my hand out of the pond, it immediately felt like my fingers turned into solid ice cubes. That's what we call "padan muka" in my country lol wtf.

What's left of my beloved season, Autumn.
This is the period where one season transcends to another and that's the beauty of nature doing its work but somehow this does give me a melancholy feeling. It's like saying to someone you love:-"May we meet again. Someday".




Address | 1 Narita, Chiba Prefecture 286-0023, Japan
Hours    | 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Contact  |  +81 476-22-2111
Website | www.naritasan.or.jp/english



Wished we had more time exploring the park which we only went through halfway since we were rushing to catch the Omotesando nearby Naritasan before they started closing!
Super fast >.<


What i concluded, if you are visiting Naritasan after best to visit in the morning like 10am so you have enough time at the temple grounds and also to visit the Omotesando without rushing like a mad person, if it's after 1pm chances are rather slim to fully experience both places since their closing hours are around 4pm.
Omotesando basically means rows of shops that are close to each other weather it's side by side or opposite.
For the Omotesando near Naritsan it stretches about 200 meters uphill before it hits a clear road opening but be careful while crossing from one shop to another since this is quite a busy road.

200 Meters+ of FOOD & gift shops!
Tons of yummy local finger foods like fresh Senbei (rice crackers), dango, baked sweet potatoes (perfect for cold weather!) and soft ice cream lol. Yes, eating ice cream during cold weather can be somewhat satisfying :-P

Peanut Manju is also one of Chiba prefecture's snack specialty, available in wafer version but i honestly like the manju texture more lol. This reminds me a nutty version of our local kaya spread but not too overly sweet. So if you are in Chiba, make sure to bring back this instead of Tokyo banana lol, if not it defeats the purpose of prefecture snacks. Couldn't stop snacking on this because it's just too yummy to resist!


That has been a fruitful 1st day in Chiba, surprising that i didn't really feel tired even though i came directly from the airport to the temple walked almost the whole (half actually) day before we checked into our cozy rooms in Hotel Springs Makuhari.


Reasons to stay here:
  • Near to Tokyo Disneyland/ Disneysea accessible by JR Keiyo line*
  • Shuttle bus service provided between Hotel &Tokyo Disneyland/ Disneysea
  • Muslim friendly (halal food served)
  • Comfortable & Clean rooms 
  • Function halls available for private events
  • Walking distance to Mitsui Outlet Park & AEON
  • 24 hr Kombini, bars & KTV nearby
  • Awesome, strong stable WiFi (both lobby & rooms)
  • Overnight Laptop rentals services are available

*From JR Keiyo Line Kaihin-Makuhari Station: 2 mins on foot. From Higashi-Kanto Expressway Wangan-Narashino IC / Wangan-Chiba IC: (2 km)

Not bad bed & room sizing for single person or a couple to bunk a few nights. My room was a Standard double suite

The basic essentials are all provided in the room except ironing board & iron which i think you can request from the main counter below to get it sent to your room. Loving the strong WiFi here, knowing all of us who are constantly posting our updates on social media, having a stable line is a MUST! XD 

This was also my first time having a room with an aircond that blows heat instead of cold wind! Lol, seriously jakun gila when i found out about it. Yes, i know it's common for countries with winter to have air conditioners with both settings, just can't help feeling excited that i am finally experiencing one lol, i am that easily amused :-P 
Also this is my first night sleeping on a winter night in Japan, couldn't close my eyes from all the excitement especially since the following day was Christmas and we are going to meet the governor, Kensaku Morita-san himself and of course their cute mascot too, Chiba-kun!

All i can think off is how blessed i am to be here, visiting my favorite country, experiencing winter for the first time and meeting such an important person for Christmas.
Despite having such a rocky 2015, i am glad this happened to end my year with wonderful memories and a big smile on my face :)


Since it was Christmas month, outside the hotel the surrounding trees were beautifully decorated with illuminating lights but if you think this is the best you've seen wait till i post the photos of my visit at the German Village which is famous for it's biggest illumination decor in Chiba prefecture. But that i'll save it for the next post so please be patient okay :-P in the mean time, i'll spam my instagram with sneak peaks, so do follow me there @Arisa_Chow.



Address  | 1-11 Hibino, Mihama-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba 261-0021
Phone     | +81 43-296-3111


More beautiful photos, can view my full album HERE
That's all for today & good night (or morning since it's already almost 5am lol)!


XOXO,

CONVERSATION

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