03/11/2012 08:28 am ET Updated May 11, 2012

Two Weeks In Japan (PHOTOS)

For me, Asia has always seemed the ultimate destination. I was raised all over Latin America and have since lived in Europe and the US and traveled to Africa. Asia remained elusive. Finally, last fall, I decided that I was going to go.

I also decided that I wanted to go by myself and this in and of itself determined which country I would go to. As a young woman traveling on my own, there were few places I'd feel comfortable going for a couple of weeks. This, added to the fact that I have a few friends living in Tokyo sealed the deal for me. I'd spend the first two weeks of 2012 in Japan.

The country is an incredibly beautiful, inspiring place. I was struck by the kindness and patience I was greeted with everywhere I went, despite my inability to speak the language and also with the resilience of the Japanese people in light of all the disasters they have faced in recent years. Emblematic of this was what I learned while at a museum in Hiroshima. Apparently, the city started to rebuild itself the very day after the atomic bomb was dropped on them. Just 48 hours after, electricity was up and running again, and the public transit that hadn't been destroyed was running as well. This says a lot about the Japanese, I think.

The geography of Japan is also, in and of itself, breathtaking. I traveled what is known as the Japanese Alps, visited an island in the Seto Inland Sea; walked the cobbled streets of Old Kyoto alongside geishas and looked over the never-ending megalopolis that is Tokyo to see Mt. Fuji peeking through the winter fog.

What follows is a photographic diary of my experience in Japan: