In this three-part blog series of A “HO” New World with Lou, Louisa pens her experiences and revelations gleaned from her many adventures in the land of rising sun. 

Go big or go home. Go explore or stay home.

I choose to go big. Instead of taking the easy route flying back with the rest of my squad from Tokyo, I choose to explore the other prefectures/cities in Japan alone. Cos’, why not?   

Now, a good solo trip requires good preparation. If I were to go in alone, I need to know what potential elements I am dealing with. 

As part of my preparations, I bought my 7-day JR pass in advance. I even employed the use of Japan Rail Pass calculator to determine if it pays off. So many places to go, so many things to see, so little time! My crazily ambitious appetite for Japan goals started to spiral out of hand. 

Before long, these (see below) were the finalized cities I intended to go. Do take note of the insanely high ROI (return on investment) that could have attained with the JR pass.

Yes, the proposed itinerary is pretty crazy for a first-timer who hasn’t even once stepped foot in Japan, let alone doing a solo inter-city trip. But I believe I can pull it all off. 

I’m also motivated by high ROI. It gives me great satisfaction knowing that my dollars are stretched to the core with meticulous planning. I even timed it such that my JR pass can cover my commute to the airport on my last day!

Having said that, I eventually took my friend’s advice in scaling down my voracious appetite as holidays are meant to be relaxing, not intense. I observed that the trees in Japan are mostly in shades of green, and felt that it isn't worth the 6-7 hours travelling to and fro Shirakawa-go village in Takayama. Heard from another friend that Kobe has nothing much to offer, so I decided to scrape Kobe off the list.  

The ROI yielded from the JR pass is still pretty substantial (see below) after scaling down. Balancing between ROI and being able to enjoy with the pared down itinerary was indeed a wise move on hindsight!

My first stop on my solo leg is Osaka.

What I love most about Osaka is its larger-than-life persona. Whilst both Dotonburi and Shinsekai left deep impressions, it was the Namba Yasaka Shrine that captivated my heart.

How many shrines you know of are as cool and kick-ass as the Namba Yasaka Shrine? 

Zilch. There is no shrine comparable to this.

That’s why the lion head shrine is top of the must-visit on my list

Can you feel the love tonightttttt? Seeing “Simba” and “Nala” pledging their love at a lion head shrine is an unexpected surprise.

Lion symbolizes strength, courage and passion. I might not be a Leo, but looking back, it is the lion’s fighting spirit in me that enables me to overcome the impossible and persevere in the face of struggles. This fighting spirit also spills over to protecting my loved ones and what I stand for. For example, growing up, I found myself having to fight on behalf of my family members who were taken advantage of by relatives. Yes, they can be like lions too.

It’s an irony that I’m praising the attributes of a Leo, but also highlighting their flaws at the same time. I reckon that God didn’t create this majestic creature to be blended in like wallflowers. Their flaws are as massive as their strengths, and totally in-your-face. 

In this trip to the land of rising sun, apart from the daunting jitters of a first-time solo tripper I had within me, I had also faced much opposition. When news about my attempts in wanting to fly solo for the second half of my trip had spread to my family, my mom was livid. So livid that she expected me not making it back home alive. 

As I reflect on my solo leg, I’m proud of myself for being an independent conqueror, conquering cities across Japan. I came back home not just alive, but with a bag full of experiences, and also showed how I've grown in ability and independence. There’s nothing more empowering than exercising courage and strength in the face of fears and opposing voices!

Featuring mori World's 1st Pursebook (a blend of purse and refill notebooks) on my trip to Japan. You can use it on-the-go with its convenient purse storage compartment, and also for your before-trip preparation check list or after-trip travel reflections. #MORITIP use polaroids to spice your pages up! 


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