When photos of my Japan trip survived “Ondoy“, I’ve become utterly convinced that they were spared for a reason. That was my very first trip abroad and certainly, one of the most memorable moments in my life.
I thought that as a TV newscaster…
I could qualify for the Youth Exchange Program held annually by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Japan.
Barely one month before the deadline, I scrambled, rushed and dashed to relevant organizations and agencies just to make sure that I got all the requirements right.
Only by God’s grace, was I chosen, together with a handful of professionals to represent the country in the RP-Japan Friendship Programme for the 21st Century sponsored by the Government of Japan through the Japan Information Cooperation Agency (JICA).
From January 13 to February 9, 1999, all of us delegates visited Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Kanagawa-ken, Matsuyama–shi Ehime Prefecture, Hiroshima, Japan–without spending a single cent, or should I say, yen.
JICA certainly knew how to pamper us! With about 85,000 yen as pocket money, and everything else paid for, our only job was to enjoy and learn from every activity prepared just for us. For one, our group experienced Japanese culture extraordinaire in Chigasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture.
…while us girls, were taught the sublime Arts of Tea Ceremony and the Kimono.
For two hours, the kimono expert from the International Association of Chigasaki helped us put on an array of exquisite kimono made out of shibori, with matching undergarments, obi, ties, socks, and sandals to boot.
Here, my close friend Pam Pamplona–Riggan and I couldn’t resist the chance to freeze this moment the only way we knew how.
After the photo-op we went inside Kiyomizu Temple, otherwise known as Kiyomizudera in Japanese. It dates back from the eighth century and is usually flocked by tourists all year round.
Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku
Ana Hotel Matsuyama
How to Reach It:
100 or 206 (15 minutes, 220 yen). Get off at Gojo-zaka or Kiyomizu-michi bus
stop, from where it is a ten minute uphill walk to the temple. Alternatively,
Kiyomizudera is about a 20 minute walk from Kiyomizu-Gojo Station along the
Keihan Railway Line.
(mid March to mid April and mid November to early December)