Miss Dylanna Bax won the Miss Philippine Airlines award during the Miss Cagayan de Oro 2015 pageant held last August 22, 2015. As Miss PAL, she won a Round Trip ticket from Cagayan de Oro to Nagoya, Japan. Read her article below about her dream adventure in Japan.


Japan is not a destination. You do not just visit Japan to see the Cherry Blossoms, Mt. Fuji, Hachiko’s monument, or the cosplayers who bring your favorite anime characters to life. Exciting as those are, Japan is more importantly an experience. Thanks to Philippine Airlines and the Miss Cagayan de Oro Association, I was able to experience Japan. And it was an experience that I will remember forever.


From Cebu, I traveled to Chubu Airport to meet my travel companion. Though she lived on the other side of the planet, a 30-hour flight wasn’t going to stop her from enjoying Japan with her–might I add, adorable, fun, and amazing–baby sister. My older sister is the perfect travel buddy: knowledgeable, adventurous, organized, but spontaneous enough for when things go haywire. Thanks to her, I avoided getting poisoned by raw foods and completely embarrassing myself by not knowing how to operate their technologies or not adhering to Japanese customs and etiquette…because there were so many!

Not taking calls in the bus.

Not tipping at restaurants.

Giving omiyage (gifts/souvenirs from your hometown to your hosts).

Finishing everything on your plate. 

If it wasn’t for my sister who ate all my vegetables, I would have been the epitome of rudeness to the Japanese. 

Besides the vegetables though, I am yet to taste a bad Japanese dish. My mouth still waters for tonkatsu, onigiri, udon, ramen, fried mochi, and okonomiyaki. Japan is certainly worth traveling to for the food alone.

From Tokoname, we traveled to Nagoya city to visit the Nagoya Castle. The said birthplace of Oda Nobunaga. The gardens around the castle complex were gorgeous, each enceinte provided a glimpse of the kind of security afforded to Japan’s nobles. The history of the Nagoya Castle is quite extensive and the Castle itself housed numerous artifacts from the Edo period. It is a must-visit. Compared to the Nijo Castle in Kyoto, which is pretty much an exhibit of waiting rooms (but still a must-see for its beautiful garden), the Nagoya Castle provides more interesting information on Japan’s military history and will surely satisfy those interested in Japan’s Sengoku and Edo eras. 


When we traveled to Kyoto, our reception wasn’t very nice as we got lost in the streets of Imagumano, drenched in the rain and our phones dying. Lesson learned: don’t rely on the GPS to know exactly where you are. We had to take refuge in a small clinic to call the guest house to pick us up. It was probably a very unusual and rude sight for the Japanese doctors and nurses, but in the spirit of thinking positive, we now know where Kurosaki Isshin works (hashtag, Bleach reference)!


But as they say, first impressions never last. The next days, I found myself completely romanced by the city of Kyoto even when veiled by gentle rain–or someone’s umbrella. With the help of a Japanese friend, who kept us from getting lost in the confusing web that is the Kyoto public transportation system, we managed to visit all the sites we wanted to see and try all the things we had been dreaming of trying, like eating dango. Besides the Nijo castle, we went to see the Inari Shrine and the Kiyomizu Temple. I have never been to a Shinto Shrine or Buddhist Temple before so that was very interesting to see. Not to mention, the site was breathtaking–a monster to climb, but breathtaking nonetheless. 


Speaking of breathtaking, the rides in Universal Studios Japan in Osaka completely took my breath (and voice) away. I never imagined that it would be here that I would experience the fear of getting chased by a shark, the wonder of stepping into Jurassic Park, or the magic of stepping into the bewitching world of Harry Potter, or even understand what it feels like to be a damsel-in-distress being swooped and tossed around by Spiderman through New York City. 


Travelling through Japan has allowed me to somehow fulfill my childhood dreams and fantasies. Riding the train and watching all the students chitchat gave me a glimpse of the lives of my favorite shoujo and shounen anime characters as if I was there with them. Walking through Gion and seeing all the Geishas and yukata-clad men and women, I felt like I just stepped into the world of Rurouni Kenshin. Only that instead of being a shishin swordsman, I would have been a shinobi (ninja)–wielding a shuriken instead of a katana. It was like reverting back to my 12-year old self.


Of all these exciting experiences however, the cherry on top of the trip has got to be our host family. I booked the McCarthy’s place through AirBnB and will continue to remember their home as a happy place. Not only is it a perfect home away from home, the hosts, Mike and Masayo are absolutely wonderful people. Masayo cooked delicious food and served us tea that I could not stop downing; Mike took us to a vegetable festival and drove us around Tokoname to see the sites, beaches and seaweed farming. It was a fine mix of quiet living plus spirit of adventure. I cannot count how many walls Mike has invited me to climb–and how many times I failed to do so (no talent for parkour here). To me, Mike and Masayo are Japan’s finest treasure and I will cherish them always.

Japan is not a destination. You visit Japan to see, learn, and try something new. You visit Japan to marvel at their history and the intricacy of their art forms, to be amazed at their technological advancements, to delight in their amazing cuisine, and to simply bask in a culture that is so distinctly its own. You visit Japan for the very things travel brings: realizing dreams, forging lasting friendships, discovering new passions, having unique and memorable experiences and then yearning for more.

article courtesy of Ms Gean T. Cesar

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