Trip to Japan in 2008 I was invited by the Asia 21 Young Leaders’ Summit to participate in the summit they held in November, 2008 in Tokyo. This was my second trip to the East – first being to China in 2000 – and I enjoyed every bit of the tour.
I went by Thai Air via Bangkok to Japan. Once I reached there it was the evening. I had mistakenly exchanged my traveling bag with another of the same type and was without my stuff the first night at the Hotel Four Seasons. But the hotel staff was kind and provided me a casual night dress. In the morning my bag had come to the hotel, with an extra charge to pay. I couldn’t complain as it was my fault. I had an Indian gentleman (Natraj) who shared the room with me.
We went to see the Tokyo museum next morning and Natraj was more comfortable with the trains, walks in Japan than I was. In the museum there were the weapons such as swards, daggers, spears used in ancient times but they looked so sharp as if they were made a day ago. The helmets and body armors were excessively large and I wonder whether the Japanese were such big those days. The stories I had heard about Samurais looked true when I saw the weapons and body armors. How fierce the battles would have been in the ancient times!
The following evening, the Summit started with a cocktail. It was interesting to see a rainbow of cultures from Asia together at the Summit.
Next morning the Summit started and there were many an activity. I had to play a role of an ignorant and arrogant minister of an Asian country and I could do it easily as there is a living example of such a deputy minister in our cabinet. You know who.
Next we went to dinner and to a Karaoke parlor. It was the first time I experienced Karaoke but I didn’t sing as none of my favorites was in the manuals. I had some mischievous young friends with me and they suggested that we walk through the red light district. I too agreed with curiosity and that area was totally different from the rest of Tokyo. There were black people in the streets acting working as pimps and they tried to persuade us for their business but none of us wanted to get trapped. We just walked through the street and came back to the Karaoke.
Next day I was invited to do a presentation about Horizon Lanka for a small gathering of Sri Lankans and Japanese in Tokyo University. A friend of mine in Tokyo from Sri Lanka, Dinesh Dahanayaka had organized it. I did the presentation and there were a lot of queries after that. Dinesh and his other Sri Lankan friend, Chandrasiri Naiwala, took me for dinner. They asked me if I was interested in tasting sushi. I answered in the affirmative out of curiosity. We went to a restaurant and ate sushi (raw fish) for dinner. It was not bad. But not a delicacy to fall in love with it. You can eat it only for adventure of it.
Next day’s schedule was to go to see Mount Fuji with a Japanese student who had studied in a Sri Lankan university. She spoke very good Sinhala and accompanied me to Fuji, first by train and then by a bus. It was fascinating to travel through rural Japan. Finally we came to the Mount Fuji area and saw the mount from many angles while traveling. We rowed a canoe in the lake close to Mount Fuji and took pictures. I stayed at Dinesh’s house few days and he treated me very well.
Next night I went on shopping with Dinesh and bought some stuff to take home. It was difficult to find Japanese stuff as the shopping mall was full of stuff imported from China. They were cheaper than the Japanese goods.
I left Japan the next day. I went to the Narita International Airport by train and got to the airport.