Business Flight – Setonaikai, Japan (Part 1)

Business Flight – Setonaikai, Japan (Part 1)

Japan is known for its fast-paced life and modern living. But there’s a part of it that remains as it was in the past. Ang Setonaikai ay isang rehiyon sa timog na bahagi ng Japan na nakapaligid sa isang body of water na kilala bilang Seto Inland Sea. Dito makikita ang mga isla ng Honshu, Kyushu at Shikoku. Kung dito sa Pilipinas ang geographical division ay  probinsiya, sa Japan, prefecture ang tawag nila. May sampung prefecture sa Setonaikai. Kabilang dito ang Okayama Prefecture at Kagawa Prefecture. Ito ang mga lugar na magiging sentro ng ating nakakamangha at di-malilimutang karanasan.

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Mula sa Maynila, apat na oras ang biyahe patungong Kansai International Airport malapit sa Osaka City. Sa airport pa lang ay meron nang pwedeng sakyan na train papunta sa iba’t-ibang bahagi ng Japan. Ang railway system sa bansang ito ay may network of lines, kaya hindi mo na kailangan pang lumabas ng istasyon dahil may tren halos kada limang minuto na magdadala sa iyo, saan mang destinasyon. Efficiency at its best!

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This is a testament to Japan’s excellence and leadership in transportation system engineering. Paano nga ba makakapunta sa Setonaikai? Mula Kansai International Airport, kailangan nating sumakay sa JR express. Pagkatapos ng isang oras na paglalakbay, bababa tayo sa Osaka-shin station… pagkatapos nito sasakay naman tayo sa Okayama-bound bullet train o shinkansen.

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Pagkalipas ng limampung minuto, nasa Okayama City na tayo. Or if you have the luxury of time and enjoy the countryside, you can take the bus from the airport and travel for almost four hours. Sa unang apak pa lang ng aking paa sa Okayama City, I knew right away that I am in for a very memorable journey in Setonaikai.

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Standing right in the midst of Bikan area transports you to the old world Japan. Endless lines and columns of old merchant stores, public buildings and restaurants recreate scenes of the distant past. Nakakamangha na makalipas ang daang taon, narito pa rin ang mga istruktura at buong ningning na nakikipagsabayan sa mga modernong gusali sa ibang bahagi ng Okayama. And there’s no better way of exploring the area than the traditional way.

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At dahil nga isa itong trading area noon, ipinagpapatuloy rin nila ang mayamang tradsiyon ng negosyo. Sa aming paglilibot, sari-saring gamit at pagkain ang makikitang ibinebenta dito. Aside from its historic and rustic charm, Bikan also lends a romantic air. Kaya naman, paboritong wedding venue daw ang Bikan area.

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One of the centers of attraction in Bikan historical area is a man-made canal. Kaya hindi natin pwedeng palagpasin ang sumakay sa kanilang boat.  This canal once served as an alternate route for merchants in the old days to transport their goods. Now, it provides tourists a nostalgic and romantic view of the area.

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At kahit sa malamig na panahon, ang masarap na ice cream, hindi rin kayang palagpasin.  Pagkatapos ng memorable ride sa Bikan man-made canal, muli kaming dumalaw sa mga merchant store.

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Right at the heart of Kurashiki Bikan is Ryokan Kurashiki, a hotel that perfectly complements the historic atmosphere of the area. Ang Ryokan ay isang traditional Japanese inn na nagsimula pa noong Edo period noong 17th century. Nagsilbi itong tirahan noon para sa mga manlalakbay mula sa iba’t-ibang panig ng Japan. Sa isang traditional inn o ryokan, karaniwang makikita ang tatami, sliding doors at communal comfort rooms.

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Set in a 17th century-architecture neighborhood, Ryokan Kurashiki is composed of five-guestrooms across three buildings. Each room is in fact a suite that can accommodate up to six people. The furnishings are traditional Japanese pieces and it still retains the simplicity and elegance of a Japanese home.

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After settling down, it’s time to have an extraordinary culinary experience with a multi-course dinner.  And to cap it off, and make this memorable fine dining even sweeter, we were served the final course.

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