Tag Archives: Japan

Day 26 – Taipei to Tokyo to Aomori

Alright, resuming the journaling of the Asia trip on January 31st, 2012.

I got up from the hostel and got on the bus to the airport. I was a little concerned when the bus didn’t go to the terminal first, but it was just making a few stops before the airport and I was just being paranoid. Got to the airport and I made my way through check in and security without any problems. I stopped at the Duty Free shop to pick up a bottle of Kaoling liquor for Sean, the guy I was going to stay with in Hokkaido, because he said that he wanted some.

After a short flight I got to Tokyo. Went through customs and then to the travel desk. I figured out what trains I needed to take, and information about the rail pass system. I was off on the next super train north with an East Rail Pass good for a month and to use on three days. On the way up the East coast of Japan I sat next to a guy who was wearing very traditional Japanese clothing and wooden sandals (known as geta). He didn’t speak any English and I didn’t really speak any Japanese besides a few words I knew, but somehow we conversed what we could. He showed me his pictures of the leaning tower of Pisa, so I assume he had just been there and was returning home. For some reason, he gave me his photos. This was just the first of many similar strange gifts that people gave me throughout my Japan trip. I think I gave him one of my weird flashlight gifts. He got off around the Sendai, which later was the location of that big tsunami. I hope he was alright.

So I finally got to Aomori at the very top of Honshu. But it was so late when the train arrived that the next train to Hokkaido was the following day. The visitor center was closed, so I couldn’t find a cheap place to stay, so I just put my bags in a locker at the station and started walking.

I walked and walked and walked. It was getting late and I figured the park was as good a place to sleep as any. Japan is a really safe country, and I had no fear of getting mugged or things being stolen. And although it was a brisk September evening, it wasn’t too cold. So at first I slept on this stone slab in a park. It wasn’t comfortable so after a while I got up and walked around the town some more. Luckily there was some 24 hour shop so I got a snack or two. I returned to a wooden bench near the sea. I maybe slept for about an hour. Woke up and walked around a little bit more, then moved to another place. Slept on that bench for another few hours.

This was the first time in my life that I had ever slept on a bench homeless style, but I figured considering the circumstances it was alright. I hear that business men often sleep on benches after missing the last train, so it wasn’t altogether uncommon.

Sadly I am missing all my photos between the last few days of Taiwan and when I ended up in Tokyo a few weeks after this, so I can’t really prove where I slept. I probably could find it on google maps. It’s just north-east of the train station.

So the next morning I woke up to an interesting surprise, which I will explain on the next trip log.

Day 27 – Aomori to Sapporo

After a long night of switching park benches and walking aimlessly around the city of Aomori, I finally found a wooden bench behind some building that was well sheltered from the wind and just good enough to sleep on. The funny ironic punchline to this long adventure is that when I woke up, I found that the building I had been sleeping behind was actually a police station! I’m not sure what the loitering/vagrancy/homeless laws of Japan are, but I hear that many business men who miss their last train home often will sleep on park benches and it is a somewhat accepted practice. I also think that if a police officer had come out and lectured me, he might not of known enough English to tell me what I was doing was wrong. And even if he had, I think the Japanese are too polite to incarcerate ignorant foreigners.

Anyhow. Got up early and went to the station. I slept again in the waiting room for a little bit before heading to the visitor center. Of course they weren’t of any help so I tried to figure things out on my own. The guy at the ticket office offered me a price to get up to Hakodate, but when he saw I was very discouraged at the price he then did something, and the price lowered! Apparently he wasn’t giving me the cheapest price because he thought I didn’t want to take the local trains, which are a lot cheaper.

I finally got onto the local train and was on my journey again. Luckily I had warned Sean, my soon to be host, that I did not know the exact day I would arrive. On the local train the scenery was beautiful and totally worth the slower relaxed experience.

I went through one of the world’s longest underwater tunnels – correction, the Seikan Tunnel is the longest and deepest operational rail tunnel in the world AND the longest undersea tunnel. All in all, it was completely black and not interesting at all. But afterwards the local scenery was amazing. Hokkaido is known for it’s natural beauty. I finally got to the next main city, Hakodate. At the station I bought a Hokkaido rail pass, which gave me I believe 3 rail uses over a period of time. I studied the time schedules and map and decided to use the first leg of the pass to get to Sapporo.

In Sapporo I was able to find a hostel, I think I found it through the visitor center, or maybe using wifi. I walked there and the people were very nice. I put my stuff down and took a shower, then lounged around the hostel for just a little bit. I was hungry so I went out to Sapporo’s famous Ramen Alley. This is about 2 or 3 alleyways with ramen shops lined up on either side. I found a place that was rather normal looking, assuming the more normal a place looked the better chance it would taste good.

The owner was very curious about myself and I told him all about my travels and where I was from. We related over some movies set in San Francisco, like Dirty Harry and Bullit. I told him my birthday was coming up and he bought me a beer! As I said, foreigners get free things all the time in Japan. After a good meal I headed back to the hostel. I talked to people around the table in the evening, specifically chatted with a guy who had missing teeth but he was very cool. And finally to sleep after a long journey.

Day 28 – Sapporo to Saroma

Got up in the morning and had a nice breakfast with people downstairs. Met a friend Trevor or Trenton or Tess something and we decided to explore Sapporo together. We walked around seeing the various tourist sights like the TV tower, Odori Park, the brick government building, the Clock Tower (which was very small and disappointing despite how much it was advertised. Then we walked to the Sapporo Brewery, which was a little ways away. We went through the small cute exhibit they had and then got to the bar. Ordered the sampler and tried three different kinds of beers: Original, Black, The Hop. I think those were the ones. We mixed them to make different tastes, which was okay. Then I got a classic and didn’t like it as much.
Looking at the timing we left, and since we were hungry we got a quick bite to eat (which I remember being not that great in some food court).
Returned to the hostel to pick up my bags but then I realized I was late and I half ran to get to my train.

Showed up there exhausted and definitely didn’t make it on time. The subway to the train is on the other side of a mall and you have to go through a maze of stores and what not just to get to the train station. Anyhow, even though I missed my train I got the next one to Engaru, waited a while and left.

The train must have hit something because we stopped for 30 minutes, and despite the Japanese reputation for being on time and never late for anything I still got to Engaru late. I had been keeping in contact with Sean and what a great couchsurfing host he turned out be, he was waiting for me at the station. What a good guy. So we drove back to his place in Saroma and he gave me some leftover curry he had. Had a beer, chatted a bit, and went to sleep.

Sean is from Alaska by the way, teaching English up in Saroma but not in some organized institution, I think he was working just as an individual.

And somewhere along the way during this day I lost my bookmark and wrote this eulogy:
Today I lost my bookmark. Well rather I know where it is, and I do have the time to return and retrieve it, but it is time to lose it. Simply enough, it is a ticket to a ride at the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, CA. The day I got it, I confessed to a girl that I loved her, after a long walk on the beach and half of the drive home. She muttered something back to me that I didn’t hear, and we just kept driving in silence. I was half glad to have just said it, and partially disappointed to have not heard what she said. Years later we hooked up and I asked her but I think she didn’t remember. That ticket went in the armpit of so many books and literature. It became worn from me playing with it and sticking it in between my lips. It spent a good four years in Moby Dick, like a paper Jonah, slowly making its way over the pages. Finally it carried me through On the Road by Jack Kerouac, which I finished in Sapporo, Japan, and now resides in a book shelf in a hostel. Who knows if the bookmark has been removed or is even used for further reading, or if the book is still there. Sayonara.

Day 29 – Saroma

I got up and put aside the futon Sean had given me. He had to leave for his class, but before going he left me with his bike and a scribbled out map for where to go. The map actually turned out to be excellent – it was more of a nodal representation of the area. I started to ride out but it started raining, so I turned around and biked back to his place. While walking on the way back I saw an old lady walking in the rain without an umbrella so I helped her to her house. She was really thankful and I felt awesome for doing that.
After putting the bike back I didn’t want to just stay inside with the rain pouring so I went out to walk around the town. Saroma is a very cute town, and everything seemed miniature. The streets were small, the cars were small, the flowers, the bridge, the river, the people. Everything was just tiny and cute.
I walked down one of the main roads and once I hit the bridge I turned around and headed back. On the way I stopped at a small bakery and bought a seashell cake, which if I remember correctly was a little too sweet and spongy for me.
Got back to Sean’s and watched some television. He came back and by then it was sunny outside, so he drew me another map of the greater area and told me of this nearby lake town with hiking paths and a harbor.
I took the bike out again and this time rode to Lake Saroma. It was a very nice ride, despite the fact that it was a one speed bike and there were some gradual hills to get over. I finally got to the harbor and explored a bit. I rode near where he mentioned the trail started, and parked my bike outside a hotel. The trail started there and I followed it into a lightly wooded area. I wouldn’t have called it a forest, but it was a small trail. There were lots of bugs, and it didn’t look like many people had travelled the path recently. After going a ways I figured there wasn’t really a loop around so I headed back to the bike. On the way I passed by this other hiker. We greeted each other but after passing I heard him call out to me. He came back to me and gave me some weird postcards of a fox and snow. I was a bit confused, but I took the gifts and thanked him.
I took the bike to a nearby rest stop for cars and got some kind of tempura snack. Behind the rest stop were the actual trails heading up to a view point station. The trail was long and went up a steep mountain with lots of steps. Have I mentioned the stairs in Asia by the way? Asians love stairs up mountains. They’re all over the place.
I got to the very top and was rewarded with a viewing station that was really great. You could see all the area – the harbor, the farmland, the whole coastline. the sun was heading down so I returned to the rest stop. Earlier Sean and I had decided to meet up at that rest stop at a specific time (5:30 I think it was). It was a lot faster going down than up so I got back early. In the rest stop they had some famous Saroma pumpkin ice cream, so I got that and a coke. Then Sean picked me up and we headed back to his house.
He had to head out again, and I finished the day by getting some ramen and beer at the local shop. Then came back and watched some more television and relaxed and slept.

Day 30 – Saroma to Abashiri

Got up and packed
Sean had a headache so decided to call the day off
At around 1 he dropped me off at the bus station to Abashiri
Said goodbyes
Meeting up with June, who would pick up the same bus on the way to her place
After a while I did meet her, she was very fun and reminded me of some eccentric friends I have
We got to her place but she had to head out for work. Showed me her bike and got me a map of Abashiri
I broke her internet trying to get the wireless to work
Headed out for some food
Went to this Nepalese place that was very delicious
Tohu ice cream and Lassi the way it should be made
Walked back, passing by a 7-11 to pick up a beer
Relaxed back at Junes place, cleaned up her place a bit in kind of an apology for screwing up her internet
tried again at fixing it
didn’t work
June came back
chatted a while
Then went to sleep

Day 31 – Abashiri and Shiretoko National Park

Got up and prepared for the day
Headed out to the train station and used JR pass to get up to Shari
Bus from Shari to Utoro
Round trip bus at Utoro
5 lakes, walked very fast
picture of deer drinking at pond
lots of deer
hurried, but very beautiful
made it in record time
to nature center
went on trail
large beautiful field
very windy so waterfall was flowing upwards
back to nature center
chocolate bar
bus back to main area
bought a ticket
short walk
lost ticket
nice lady helped me get onto the bus because she sold me the ticket
back to Shari
train back to Abashiri
Walked back to June’s place
we went out for sushi
delicious sushi
back to her place, chatted a bit
went out for milk
she made cookies
went to sleep

Day 32 – Abashiri to Asahikawa

Started the day biking around Abashiri
Adjusted June’s bike
biked for such a long time up these giant hills, but couldn’t find the museums
tourist map was horribly wrong scale
managed to find drifting ice museum, but everything else was nowhere to be seen
after biking for hours went back to June’s just for a 15 minute nap
went out to pick up Glen from the train station
walked back but June and Alex met us part of the way back
went back to her place, picked up my stuff and headed out
going camping
road trip
stopped at a few places on the way
Free shop! in Engaru
Dinner with a family, the… Simon and gang
Small little kids, so cute
Ended up in Asahikawa
Went to one of Alex’s friends place
He was really chill
then went out drinking at an international bar called The Den
Really small but quite fun
started drinking a whole mess of things
played pool
started hanging with a giant group of japanese girls and we asked each other questions
They worked in some kind of factory that produced weird wooden trinkets
two really cute girls who I talked to a lot, Arisa and Rena
Arisa was very cute, and I was trying to think of a way to somehow score with her, but I had no idea and I was really very drunk at that point
I was so drunk that the end of that night seems like somehow we decided to leave, and June helped me back to Alex’s friends place in a taxi. Glen, Alex and June then went to a ramen shop where Alex’s friend worked and supposedly it was the best ramen ever. I on the other hand dealt with my drunkeness and went to sleep.

Day 33 – Asahikawa and camping

Woke up with a deadly hangover that didn’t seem like much at first but then got worse as the morning went on. I felt very tender and awful.
Reggae music and jamming with Glen, free range chickens
Alex’s friend made us breakfast
Alex spent the night elsewhere, and we waited for her to come back
Then we headed out on the road
went to the mall where we picked up food and supplies for that night of camping
I was still very hungover so kind of just dealing with it
but after a while out on the road I felt better
got to the campsite
unpacked stuff
set up tent
started meeting people
all sorts of western foreigners from various parts of the world
lots of cool people
olympics of some sort
hula hooping, sock wrestling, chubby bunny, origami
got some great food for only ¥500
yakisoba, niku
party had to be moved several times because we were disturbing the japanese people
hung out around this water area with various toys like a waterwheel and some sort of pump device
tiny tree frogs all over the place, and giant moths that looked like dead leaves
after meeting all sorts of people and having a great time, things started to die down, and it started to rain at around midnight, so I retired and went to sleep in the tent
very nice sleep

Day 34 – Asahikawa to Hirosaki

Woke up
packed up the tent and put it into this girl Caroline’s car
drove back to Asahikwawa
Mall for a bit of food, got more shortbread
teriyaki burger from mcdonalds
went to train station and got on a train headed south
updated journal on train because they had plugs in the seats!
got into hirosaki fairly late
took taxi to melissa’s place
taxi driver looked like alfred from batman
got there
ran into melissa
cake with roommates

Day 35 – Hirosaki – Castle and Apples

started day biking
melissa lent me her bike
went to the castle
information center
walked around a lot
the castle was small and unimpressive
took a few pictures
walked around
walked around
then went to nekupo or whatever village
did some drumming
obvserved the museum they had there
played with some toys
observed an asian banjo concert, pretty cool
walked around
went back to the bike
headed in the wrong direction
got very lost
finally found where i was on the map
went to the apple orchard park
woman taught me how to find the good apples
went around the whole park picking apples
found all sorts of different
came back to the main place
picked up some cider
went to check out for apples and they threw away all of them because i was horrible at picking out apples
unsatisfied i rode back to mellissa’s place
took a nap
ate the apple, it was alright but not incredible
mellissa came back
her friends joined us and we all went out for dinner
walked a while but eventually found it
40s restaurant
tried all sorts of things
very good
boob ice cream
went back to the apartment and fell asleep

Day 36 – Hirosaki – Onsen

Got up and headed out without really knowing what i was doing
wanted to go to oirase but i got to the station a little late for that
instead decided to go to an onsen
a few sounded appealing but decided on one not too far away
dake onsen
while waiting for the bus i had a small grilled cheese and ham sandwich, that wasn’t so bad
took the bus there
bus dropped me off right in front of the onsen
the guy working there didn’t speak excellent english but good enough to help show me around
it was raining a little bit
went to the outside onsen first
no one there
i kind of guessed at what to do
undressed in the hut
put my stuff in a basket (seemed logical)
rinsed myself off outside of the onsen a bit
stepped in
hot but relaxing
rain caused bubbles but it was beautiful
chilled a while
when it got too hot i went out for a bit
drank the cider from yesterday
then went back in
then got out and grabbed a beer and chilled in the lounge area of the onsen
went back into the outside onsen
then got out and went to get a small beef noodle lunch, which was good
after that i went into the inside onsen
much smaller and I didn’t like it as much
but met a guy kobeyashi
tried communication
forgot my towel
he gave me his old one
i gave him a flashlight
we got out
i went to the other onsen to pick up my small rag towel
as i was leaving kobeyashi was there
offered a ride
i took it
we talked in the car
he gave me a coffee
and a pen
he stopped for business at a few places
his company sold drinks to stores
he dropped me off at the temple area
i walked along the temples
into a big one
didn’t really know what to do there
heard a “ben?!”
it was kobayashi checking to make sure i had an umbrella
what a nice guy
said our farewells and i headed back to the apartment
melissa was back
so we were figuring out what to do
i suppose the plan was to cook for dinner
got out and they ordered a cake
had an apple pie
went to “hoi”s apartment
she made rice and curry
we played a game about coming up with songs that had a certain topic in the lyrics
tried to get my laptop to play a movie didn’t
watched youtube the rest of the night
went to bed

Hoi was absolutely beautiful, I so wanted to somehow hit on her, but there was no way of doing it.

Day 37 – Hirosaki to Tsuruoka

Left melissa’s place
got the train to tsuruoka
it was a beautiful trip down the coast
changed in akita
got to tsuruoka
information center
went to narakan hotel
barely able to communicate with the person
very strange room
rested there for a while
then went out in search of the internet
found some random free wifi somewhere
on the way back got ramen
it was meh
couldn’t figure out how to order
guy with huge cavity
found out there was wifi at the police station so loitered around there for a while
went back to the hotel
watched a bit of tv
went out to get supplies at convenience store
tried on the yakasu or whatever its called
went to bed in it
took it off midway through the night

Day 38 – Tsuruoka and Haguro San

went out to the bus stop to get to haguro
took the bus there while kind of obsessing over times
was on the same bus as some taiwanese people
when we got to haguro, i started talking with them and we became friends
i travelled the paths with them
haguro was beautiful
as kurt pointed out, very much like muir woods
but lots of steps
loooots of steps
bridge and shrine and waterfall
goju-no-to beautiful pagoda
went down famous path that poet Basho went down
frogs or lizards
went up more stairs
stopped at a restaurant
taiwanese people paid for me, very nice
macha tea
certificate i got for strong walker
went to big shrine at the top
no shukubo as i had learned earlier
tasted some of the food
went down on the bus with taiwanese group
said goodbye to them and stopped in haguro
went to musuem there, found a very helpful guy
he told me places to eat and stuff
looked around the museum and learned about the buddhists shintoists who trained there
blew shofar thing
went to food place he suggested down the road and it was excellent
went across the road because i realized i didn’t have small change for the bus so I bought some chopsticks with a 10k bill.
got on bus and went back to tsurouka station
waited around
tried going to hotel the taiwanese people suggested but they rejected me because i was a foreigner, something about pointing at his elbow
went to a bench that was kind of secluded
some high school girls joined me and kind of flirted with me
we tried communicating, but whatever
called raashad, figured out how to get to his place
high school girls helped me
we took a picture
went out to meet rashaad
worked well!
hung out
went to his taiko practice
got to beat the drums
at first just beat along simply
then mock beat the drum while they were learning a song
then the teacher encouraged me to actually beat the drum so i started to play along with them
i had the song pretty down by the end!
then on the way back stopped at the family mart to pick up a giant curry cup noodles
back to rashaads place
chatted and then went to bed

Day 39 – Haguro to Tokyo

got up at rashaads
headed to the bus
though i missed it but didn’t
went to the station
realized that in reserving the ticket the previous day, the person had stamped my rail pass for the 17th, so with a pen i secretly changed the seven to an eight and no one noticed for the whole day
took the train to nigata
magically the taiwanese people showed up!
nice to see them again
the coast was beautiful
said goodbye to the taiwanese people when switching trains in nigata
went on to tokyo
got in
a brief trip to the information booth to figure out how to get to this hostel i had found
went to the hostel
luckily they still had a room open
seized it
relaxed there for a while
openned up the map and started circling things like crazy
(went out to akihabara?)
after a while started chatting with people at the hostel
they were really cool so i decided to go out with the charlies the next morning for the fish market
also met a very cute israeli girl… hoping things happen with her – aviya
celebrated the first of my birthday by going out and buying beer from a vending machine. beer and sake
andrew bought me the sake
we came back and chatted til late
went to sleep

Day 40 – Birthday in Tokyo

It was my birthday!
I got up very very early in the morning
with two charlies I went to the Tsukiji fish market
we didn’t see the auctions
walked through warehouses
finally got to the market
all sorts of animals from the sea
many still alive
others very fresh
huge tuna
lots of fish
after that we went over to the sushi area near the market and ate sashimi
we talked to the people serving us, and i taught the charlies some japanese
had a beautiful bowl of raw meats, they were absolutely delicious
although a slimy mollusk almost made me gag
got on the subway and went back to the hostel
I had to pack up my things and leave my bags at the hostel
Researched a bit for other hotels, and after calling a few, found one on the other side of the city in Ikubukuro
headed out to there
dropped off my stuff in the room
headed out
I first headed down to the hachi-ko statue which is a small statue of a dog
then walked up shibuya to yoyogi park
beautiful park full of cool things
dog park
people practicing music and routines
couldn’t find a way out the top to get to the meiji shrine
had to walk to harajuko and then to the shrine
messed around the shrine for a bit, wasn’t so incredible
got on the subway and went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government towers
went to the north tower and looked out upon tokyo
went to the info booth to get a place for food
after deciding on a place, i walked all around shinjuku and couldn’t find it
finally went into some random noodle shop and got udon
checked a camera store and they didn’t have the camera part i wanted
took the subway to roppongi
started out walking to roppongi hills, but decided there was nothing there, then walked the other direction and saw a lot of people, but not as many as i expected
walked down some side alley and found a huge amount of expat bars
there was also some sort of festival with people dancing in a circle to music
after that i walked all the way to tokyo tower
the walk wasn’t worth it, but the tower was very cool
it was all lit up by the light
i didn’t have much time, so i got a ticket, and realizing the line to get onto the elevator was so long i left then
went back to the ninja hostel to meet up with friends i had made there
sat outside since i wasn’t allowed inside
we all went to dinner first at yoshinoyas
then went to Big Echo
sung all sorts of great songs
never gonna give you up
bohemian rhapsody
we are the champions
big butts
some cowboy bebop song
some other anime song
mr roboto
don’t stop believing
always look on the bright side of life
my way
no tiny dancer?
we left, and i realized i didn’t have much time before the trains closed
tried to take a train and only got to Shin-okachimachi before the train stopped, which was about 10 km from ikibukuro
so i decided to walk
walked and walked
it was a long walk
2.5 hours, probably more but I forgot to check my timer
got hit on by one prostitute
the rest of the journey wasn’t so interesting
just a large street
people in ikebukuro were kind of looking at me with puzzled face but i didn’t care
guy at hotel was being a bitch when i couldn’t remember my room number
went to bed

Day 41 – Tokyo – Tourist stuff

got up
met a guy in the hostel
he had to leave that day but we hung out
got cheap food somewhere, potstickers
we went to the station and he bought me the jr ticket because i had to go to the ATM to get money
walked around looking for an ATM
found one at the post office
we went back to the station and split ways
I went to the imperial palace on the train
got off and went to the main area, but it was closed off
started walking around the whole place, clockwise
could not find an entrance
finally got to the east gardens
it was a long walk
the gardens were semi interesting
there was part of the foundation of the original castle there, which was stupid i thought
the gardens themselves were kind of nice
and then i decided I didn’t want to go to the art museum since i was tired of walking
instead i walked an incredible distance to get to the JR station
found out i had lost my all day pass somewhere
so i got on the train to harajuku
harajuku was interesting
lots of fashioned up people
saw many lolitas
didn’t walk across the bridge but i could see from afar that there were cosplay people there
got two pizza slices at a pizza place and it was incredibly unsatisfying
guy hugging his mother in harajuku
went to starbucks and got a creme brulee coffee because it looked interesting but it didn’t taste like creme brulee at all
sat down somewhere
little kid dropped his ice cream behind me
i kept on telling him that it was going to be dirty (in english, knowing he didn’t understand), but he tried everything to pick it up. I think he was afraid of asking me to move aside to get it
finally reached behind me to pick it up and saw all the dirt on it and threw it back down
After I had enough of harajuko I went back to tokyo tower
this time i had the time to spend to wait in line
got up to the top
it was a pretty good view
took a lot of long exposure shots, just like on taipei 101, but there weren’t as many intersections so they weren’t as interesting
blurry shots were cool though
went back down and went back to the hostel
i got four kirin beers to drink, each of them different
i drank about three of them and labelled the last one with a marker while drunk and put it in the fridge (humorous marking)
talked with a spanish guy
and some guy from chicago who was hanging out with a french guy
the chicago guy was a bit obnoxious, but we all went out to find a club
we walked around ikebukuro but couldn’t find any place that had anything happening
it was kind of dead except for the guys dressed in suits trying to get people to go to gentlemens clubs
so after a while we just headed back and I went to sleep

Day 42 – Sumo Wrestling

I got up early and since I had to check out I stored my bags at the hotel’s bag storing place
packed the beer i had in the fridge into my day pack
today was sumo day and i was supposed to meet CS people at the sumo wrestling place
i took the train there and got there at a very reasonable hour
guy drumming
got to the ticket booth at exactly the time said to meet (8:30) but didn’t find anyone
went in
watched the preliminary battles
not many people at all
so I just chose a spot to sit and watched for a long time
some girls came and sat a few seats away from me
i eavesdropped on them for a while, then when they left i said i would look after their stuff
after a while i walked around the stadium
ate some kind of chicken rice bowl and a meat bun
went back to the seats and i took a nap on the chairs, kind of uncomfortable but it was perfect temperature for napping
i watched until i got a bit stale and went out myself to find some things
they gave me an invisible stamp for reentry
saw all sorts of sumo along the streets
got a can of coffee
and bought some beer with some onigiri
went to a park that was very near the stadium, kind of nice
guy taking photos of a skanky dressed woman posing on some shrine
went back to the stadium
found the girls had returned
they had bought me a beer present
so I gave them the tall can of beer I had bought in return!
and we started drinking and chatting
they were english teachers down in Kobe
jennifer, meredith, and the other girl who didn’t speak too much english
we watched some sumo matches
then went around the stadium, getting trinkets and they treated me to this sumo food dish which was very tasty
went to the seats and the matches started to get heated
by now a lot of people were there and the higher up matches were starting
like large clashes between giants
finishing move (fatality) scoreboard
really got exciting
then it was up to the last few matches and everyone was cheering and it was great
i had to switch my memory card at that point and i put it somewhere in my bag
after match we went out to the convenience store
the girls were going to tokyo tower
since i had been there the day before i decided to drop out
said goodbye to them, and we would meet again in kobe
i was a bit tired so i think i just went back to the hostel from there to figure out where i was staying for the night
i researched capsule hotels and thought i found out
went out in search of it, but instead found a manga kisa
returned for my bags and went to it
this place was very weird
personal room
rent 6 items
most porno
the room had a very comfortable chair
large screen television
a bed
3000 for 12 hours
the perfect little get away
total privacy
watched 20th century boys without subtitles
didn’t understand and spent most of my time on the internet
bought used panties
very interesting
then went to sleep

Day 43 – Manga Kisa to Asakusa and Ueno Park

I didn’t sleep too well because I kept on thinking about who had slept there before me
got up and reserved a hotel across the city in asakusa
headed out
got to the hotel
i must have gotten one of the last beds because some people later in the day tried to see if they had a spot and they didn’t
they first put me into a 4 bed mixed dorm, and i had to move to the 8 bed the next day in another building but whatever, i reserved the place for 6 nights
once i had put my stuff down i had to go out into the world because the room wasn’t ready
so i set out on my day
first went to asakusa since it was right there
tried to go to the asahi brewery but couldn’t find an entrance
went down to a small park
went back
ok whatever
then to nakamise, a major street
went to the big shrine they had there
saw a guy making soba noodles
got some ice cream
then went back to the hostel and put my stuff in my room and took a shower
walked to ueno park
lots of lotus leaves
had some kind of street stand food
getting dark
found a free concert and listened in for a while
pretty bad music i think
one song i liked
so then i headed back, think i took the train
at the hostel i had a beer or two with some people downstairs
did my laundry shirtless
talked to people there for a while
then headed up for sleep

Day 44 – MOMAT and other unique places

I got up in order to change rooms across the way
luckily i didn’t have to wait for the room to be ready, and i just headed over to the branch of the hostel
set down my stuff
then packed up and headed out
i bought the rail pass because i knew i would be using the subway a lot today
first went to the museum of modern art, tokyo
they had a paul gaougin exhibition going on
slowly walked through that, and i really didn’t understand what was so great about him. i mean there were lots of cool colors that he used in his paintings, and they were all dark, but… what?
the rest of the museum was more interesting
some art movements through japan, surprisingly looked similar to western paintings, or even better in some cases
wasn’t so impressed by the photography section
saw a piece i really liked… kind of impressionist involving posters on a dark alley being lit by this green lamp
from there i went to iidabashi because i heard you could see geisha there
walked up and down the main street and didn’t see anything
then went to nakano
took a little while to find but down a long shopping area was another shopping area
went up and down the floors there
lots of old toys
old stuff
cool things
bought a godzilla final wars book and one piece keychain
then headed to ikebukuro
went to nekobukuro
not as many cats as i hoped
a huge crowd too so you didn’t get much time with the cats
small room
but it was cute
after that i went to waseda, got on the tram, and rode that all the way to Minowa for only 160
got on the subway and went back to the smile
met some people there and we hung out a bit
then went to bed
stayed up because they were talking, but i didn’t want to tell them to be quieter

Day 45 – Various places

So I started the day not really knowing what to do.
I had posted something to facebook about godzilla the day before and cousin steve reminded me about the statue of godzilla in ginza
went there
asked a policeman godzilla wa doko deska
found it
took lots of pictures
then was looking at my map trying to decide what to do, and i decided to go to the Sapporo Beer Museum
went there
most of the exhibit was everything i’ve seen before
i was only interested in the tasting room
tried the four beer plate
interesting, but i didn’t like them as much as sapporo beer or kirin
i have found that, like my friend kobayashi, i like kirin beer the best
so i even got another classic drink, so i was nice and buzzed after that
so i decided to go to the Museum of Photography which was nearby
i think it was because i was drunk, but i completely understood and was affected by every photo i saw
only did one of the exhibits, and then thought that was enough
after that i found out i didn’t have my map with me
so i guess on a whim i went to tokyo station because i remembered finding a great info desk there
turns out the info desk was inside of the jr station, and you have to pay to get into there
so i looked around everywhere trying to find a map
went to ginza again
tried to find the apple store
looked all over and then right when i was about to give up i found it
i found out apple had released some new shiny toys, so i went to play around with them
went up the escalator that decided where you want to go
talked to an employee for a little while about what was new with things
Yusituko Shrine
but got there too late and it wasn’t open, so failed
i then decided on going to akihabara
looked for a computer
didn’t find it in the main center because they didn’t have any english oriented computers there
went to the second hand shop the guy pointed me to and found a very expensive one, so i didn’t want that one
went to a duty free store and found out those are best for finding computers
found a nice eee pc for 349, but i didn’t get it because i wanted to look around
didn’t really find one better than the one i found, but i decided to go back there later
i thought that it would be a good experience to go to a maid cafe
so i went to one
collected fliers
it was cute, but not great
i sat next to some weird french girl, and some really weird guy named mumu joined us
we were a strange bunch
i got a coffee and bear dessert
then i got some kind of sweet potato sake which was horrible
got suckered into taking a picture with the maids (i was told that all the maid would be in the picture, but it was a lie, just like the cake)
so me, marie and mumu left (after a really confusing round of figure out the check), they gave me the wrong price
we headed to an arcade
arcade was really interesting
mumu bought us ice cream, which was even creepier
then i left them and went back to the hostel

Day 46 – Nikko

decided to go to nikko
then went to the station just to find out that the ticket i had to buy was dispensed by the information center that opened later than the train I was expecting to catch, but that was alright.
waited for the place to open, while got mcdonalds coffee and hash brown thing
bought ticket, round trip that included buses
instructions on the ticket were perfectly easy to follow
got on the right bus, and headed out to the first drop off
there was a confused german (?) tourist who was following the same path as I, except he seemed to not really know exactly what he was doing
upon getting to the main section found hordes of school children
some school trip to the temples i suppose
the temples themselves seemed very interesting, but it was hard to enjoy them with all the other kids swarming around
I went around to each place, it was all condensed in a small area so I just walked
The main temple was under construction (one of those rules of travel), but the thing I liked about that was they kind of had an exhibition on how they were repairing the place, and you could watch the guys working on it
annoying spanish tourists
I went to this mausoleum for this famous guy who’s motto was “live simply” but oddly enough his grave was very elaborate with designs and stuff. I guess his motto should have continued “live simply, die elaborately”
cool water stream
went to get ramen
souvener shop filled with little children, so went to another
couldn’t find postcard
went to a few
finally went to the crowded one, settled on a small set for cheaper
then caught the bus to the bridge
bridge was pretty much just a bridge
then walked back to the station
the town was very tourist oriented… meh
I couldn’t find much else to do
decided to go back
caught the wrong train
luckily didn’t get caught
I think I chilled for the rest of the day
went to the 100 yen shop to buy ingredients for omelets

Day 47 – Harajuko and Shinjuku with Aviya

when i woke up i made myself an amazing omelet
went out to meet aviya at keijo
went to the 7-11 we agreed to meet at
waited for 30 minutes
went and found a wifi hotspot and emailed her
found out she was there, just in the wrong spot
we walked around the area
second hand shops
old cd store with 100 yen cds, spice girls, ace of base
cool shop playing the ventures and had some cool old clothing
got on the train, but accidentally got on the subway
went back to get the train
train to harajuko
walked all around harajuko with aviya telling me what the styles were
got crepes
went into various shops
then went to yoyogi park
sat down
bad babysitters
people practicing comedy
walked down a ways
tap dancers
walked more
people practicing a dance for some festival
dog park
fuzzy husky
walked back to station
decided to go to shinjuku for fashion
went to moira? some high class fashion store with many levels
went to all the floors
repeated this process at another building
saw some very interesting styles, goth, loli, punk, etc
got a great flyer that showed the different brands
found a really nice bear hat I wanted, but didn’t want to pay a million dollars for it
(also saw some nice boots in harajuko that looked apocalyptic, wanted those too)
the whole time we were talking fashion, which i’ve never really done in that depth before, it was very interesting
so after that we decided to get some food
hard to find since she was vegetarian
had some sushi… it was alright
perfect store thought
sat somewhere to talk
i was so attracted to her, and i thought i got the impression she was sending me some signals, but went in for a kiss when it seemed appropriate and fail
decided to go back
met her dad at ueno station
got yoshinoya
walked back, their hotel was halfway back to my hostel
her dad bought me mcdonalds ice cream
i went back to the hostel
chatted with some people
then went to bed

Day 48 – Tokyo Game Show and Odaiba

Slept in
I got up and made myself another omelet
got on the train to the tokyo game show
got off at the wrong stop, thought it was a bit weird
walked around trying to find the place
a bit confused
followed some guy to some other event
kept on walking in a direction that i saw a sign say the name of the convention center
walked about a mile or two
finally found the place
tried to find an ATM
after a long time finally found one at citibank
got into the convention
tons of people
walked around to each booth
different but similar to macworld
booth babes
lots of games to try but didn’t try any
ff xiii
negro install
square enix merchandise
no nintendo?
gundam head
watched a lot of people playing games
bought some stupid little snack
on way back decided to go to odaiba
went to the station and switched to the private line
very cool over the bridge
got off at the first station across the bridge
walked along the beach
walked through the island
took pictures of stuff
statue of liberty
the future museum was closed
went to the ferris wheel area
toyota car exhibit
arcade, tried money in some stick hole game
back to the hostel and got food somewhere
was this the day? tried whale!

Day 49 – Lazy Day

decided not to do anything today
made the last of the eggs into an omelet and shared it with a guy from london
he made me coffee in a polite exchange
drank a whole carton of apple juice
had to switch hostel buildings
went out to reserve studio ghibli tickets
problem was that i either had to go that day or the day after tomorrow
bought the ones for the day after tomorrow because i had decided not to do anything that day
stomach was feeling bad, tried to walk it off
went back to the hostel and spent some time in the restroom
then went to the lobby
talked with phaedron
norway came along
we all went out to asakusa
walked around
got a little bit of food
teriyaki rice cake balls
couldn’t finish them
after walking for a while we split up
phaedron and i went back to the hostel
hung out there some more
i tried to catch up on my journal
ended up talking to some people
looked up a lot of things online
I don’t really remember how the night ended

Day 50 – Another Lazy Day

Made a list of simple things
for breakfast i went out to get myself some bacon and orange juice, and i came back to make it
Sent some postcards and got my shoes at the other hostel
i made my lunch, which was grilled cheese sandwiches
decided to do laundry later
for dinner wanted to go out and get things
then went out and got dinner with phaedron… where?
oh yes, we went out with a british girl vetenarian
went to get sushi in a place
then came back and had a few beers in the hostel bar
got a pitcher with phaedron
walked around with people, to 100 yen shop
made bacon and had last of the grilled cheese
got pretty tired and went to bed

Day 52 – Wrap Up and to Kanazawa

met with ______
went to kabukiza
saw two shows
dancing tweezers and hair
spider demon
then to yasakuni shrine
then to tokyo dome city
then to tokyo station to figure out bus things
hard times
then back to the hostel
then out for gyoza
100 yen shop last stop
then to bus ticket station
then to shinjuku
then to bus terminal
little confusion but alright
then got on bus

Day 53 – Kanazawa

arrive by bus
planned out path
tree crutches
tree coming off the ground
how many people worked there? so meticulous
hacking at tree stump
leech on ground
went to hostel
booked room
checked things at tourist information spot
got bread and some weird apple pie thing
got bus ticket
got stuff from locker
stored stuff at hostel
went out on bus
geisha district
interesting to see
didn’t find shima so meh
next stop
just a bathroom?
got on bus
went to around the art gallery for lunch
bought sandwiches
then went to myoryuji temple for ninja stuff
reservation actually only was a 5 minute wait
cool secret traps, hidden stairways, suicide room, 7 floors in 3
after that
went to omi-cho market
saw unagi there
instead got fried potato thing
and sashimi
came back to hostel and ate the sashimi
relaxed a bit
wrote in journal
checked mail
talked with hostel owner
had dinner with people at the hostel
was going to go to public bath but it was late so decided not to
went to bed and slept very well

Day 54 – Kanazawa

got up, but stayed in bed sleeping in
got up, got some coffee
planned day
instead of going to onsen
headed out
walked along quiet nice river
went into samurai houses district
old merchant house
walked a bit more through the samurai district
went to an international festival
got naan and pearl milk tea and saw some taiko drumming
went to 21st century modern art museum
really cool stuff
big festive quilt, looked different in personality from either side
pool illusion
then went to omicho again
got some unagi
went back to the hostel
stored it in the refrigerator
then went to the post office
sent off some souveniers
walked up the city to another district with old houses
tried to get to the confectionary museum but no one was there
went to the tawaraya candy store
tried some stuff
very different tasting candy
bought some lollipops
went back to the hostel
went to the supermarket
got some kind of stir fry
came back to the hostel
cooked with rice
wrote a bit in my journal
misaki showed me how to do zasen meditation
went to the public bath
came back
went to bed

Day 55 – Kanazawa

Got up
“checked out”
went along river to downtown area
walked around downtown for a while
relaxed in park
man exchanged snacks with me
bird pooped on head
went to temple via car
did the meditation
australian monk
all sorts of thoughts
tried fighting them off
but they were all interesting
what not
meditation like death
not for me
left in car
went to cd store briefly
back to hostel
had tea with people
then updated journal
sat around pongyi with the guys there
talked with ojisan, he got me a small tea pot
woman with kimonos
got on bus
went to osaka

Day 56 – Osaka

arrived in Osaka by bus
went to the hotel
checked in and dropped off my bags
got map and circled things
went out
tried walking to the castle via nippombashi as to get tickets for bunrako theater
got tired so took subway
the bunrako theater was closed until november, so no puppet theater
walked around dotombori because it was close
accidentally went into love hotel district
santa claus hotel
takoyaki, bleh
got onto JR train
went to osaka castle
walked to the castle, it was huge
didn’t go in because I didn’t want to pay, besides the castle was more impressive to look at from the outside
walked back to JR station
took train to kobe
cheaper to stop at osaka station?
got to kobe fairly early
picked up a piece of bread to eat and walked around
went to post office and sent a postcard to maryann, but it cost more than I was anticipating because I taped it
went to art exhibit
really cool
3d shadow
mirror with lights room
strange exhibits set up in freight containers
festival with colors flying everywhere, confetti with fans
tunnel with light up squigglie things
very cool
then went to hotel to meet hashimoto san
he was wearing a cowboy hat, which is kind of the type of person he is
he was really a great funny guy, i can see why my grandfather became friends with him
we planned out the next few days and then got a buffet dinner
loaded up my plate with all sorts of different japanese foods
very tasty
then we parted and I went back to the hotel
met yet another guy from north carolina and a guy from england
chatted for just a little while then went to sleep

Day 57 – Kyoto

got up to meet shogo at the station at 10
went to kyoto
we got into a taxi
for the whole day we took the taxi all around kyoto
saw all the different major temples
started with the biggest temple in all the world (supposedly?)
then the golden temple on the water
lots of tourists, so again kind of ruined the experience
went to the mizu temple
famous stream that people were drinking from, but i didn’t want it
picked up the lost sole (shoe sole)
and the mushi temple with crickets
went to a wonderful soba lunch at a great japanese restaurant
went to some other places
rock garden (not very zenful because of the tourists)
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! fill in?
then after finished sightseeing, we went back to the station
separated and went back to hotel
dinner… was… what?
no one there that night
relaxed and watched japanese tv

Day 58 – Nara

got up to meet hashimoto at the station again
went to the wrong B1
anyhow, met up with shogo-san and masako-san
we took the train to nara
got in a taxi and took that around again
went to… twin pagoda temple
daibutsu, huge buddha
gigantic temple, largest wooden structure in the world
lots of deer, they knew “thank you”, fed them crackers
lots of school children again
very old old temple, with interesting small stone graves
hit long sounding bell
went to a really interesting traditional japanese lunch in a grove
very beautiful
lots of great food
went to a few more places
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!fill in!
temple on hill, went up on the roof where they have a festival where they pour embers off of the roof

After done with Nara, we went back to Osaka
went out to dinner at a mini bbq place
tons of small little foods
great taste
after dinner we separated and i went back to the hotel
met Gareth, guy from england who had been traveling for past 5 months
he was very cool
bought beers together and talked for a while
he fell asleep, i went out because i wasn’t tired just yet
went to nearby place to drink
old man and i “talked”
then went back to the hotel and slept

Day 59 – Osaka – Ramen and Observatory

got up and gareth had to check out, but i told him I was going to the ramen museum and he wanted to go with me
tried to make a reservation but telephone cut out because pay phone that didn’t show me how much time was left
went out, got some food at a convenience store because couldn’t find supermarket
got on train to osaka station
got on hankyu takarazaku line to ikeda
got off train
100 yen shop for a little bit
got to museum
took pictures of ourselves with momofuke statue
went into museum
found out workshop was full
woman came after us to tell us it wasn’t full, so we put our names down
went through museum with english guides
it was incredibly awesome
tons of ramen boxes
really hilarious video with colonel sanders looking momofuke guy and the english dub voice was a southern accent
similar to the heiniken experience but without the moving chairs
saw space ramen (Space Ram)
saw the tasting room
went upstairs to the workshop
made the ramen
flour and egg
folded and pressed
put it through machine to press it
fold fold fold ten times
then put it through the machine to thin it out
then put it through the machine to cut it into strings, while cutting it with a scissors
then it was steam cooked
then we added some flavoring
then we put it into a fryer
ramen onsen
lots of oil
we think everyone is robots
then we got to decorate our ramen bags
mine was a godzilla
then we put them into the bags
we even got to keep our bandanas! that was cool
went down to tasting room and had a lot of different foods
then we went to the other workshop station, less intricate
decorated cup
ramen punch (nandeyone!)
then left museum
went back to osaka station
wanted to go to the observatory tower for gareth to take pictures
walked towards it, found a cool spot that saw the tower
stayed there a while
he took a time lapse photography
i was running out of batteries
stupid 100 yen shop batteries didn’t do crap
went to observatory
had to jump the fence
then went up building
at the top we tried to figure out the best spot to take pictures
by the way we were wearing our bandanas which got a lot of attention
gareth set up and we spent a long time there
met a malaysian guy
we finished taking the time lapse photography
went to get a beer and some dinner with malaysian guy
had a good time
helped gareth find his bus (a little difficult)
we all parted
then i went back to the hotel

Day 60 – Hiroshima and Miyajima

went to shikansen shin-osaka station to meet hashimoto
got on shikansen, veeeery fast, faster than the others
arrived in hiroshima
put luggage in lockers
took taxi to main museum
walked around the museum, very serious, very sad
they had some models of people walking around with skin melting, and it was very graphic
after museum walked around the area, seeing the various memorial statues
saw large dome building that had remained standing
while viewing, i thought a lot about how the city was a very unique situation in terms of sociology
it is kind of the newest, and last city in the world
most everyone who was there had moved there, filling in a void
not really any place like that since the west
went to get okonomiyaki
absolutely delicious and fantastic food, kind of like an advanced omelet
went to somewhere…
station, picked up baggage, took train to miyajima
dropped things off at hotel
then went to see the floating tori
saw a small museum
walked around
ice cream
then went back to the hotel
had dinner
dinner was another traditional japanese dinner, fantastic
after that
went to taiko drum show, cool part with neon lit demon masks
i was picked out as the only foreigner in the audience
got a rice paddle?
after the show put on yukata
went out with geta shoes and walked around the torch lit area with shogo
tori was lit up
went back to the hotel
went to my room
went through bag picking out unnecessary weight
went to sleep

Day 60 – Miyajima and Iwakuni

woke up and had a buffet breakfast
went to cable car up mountain
great view
beautiful prehistoric forest
walked a kilometer to a temple with a fire that supposedly hasn’t gone out in few centuries
hashimoto really had a work out
walked back
went back down gondola
left miyajima
got on train for iwakuni
took bus to big bridge
got a really meh lunch at a nearby hotel
went over bridge
three humps on the bridge
went to white snake museum, shiro hebi
shiro neko
went up another cable car
walked to castle
this castle was a little bit more interesting than hirosaki’s
bigger museum
had pictures of all the castles in japan, they all looked pretty much the same
got to the top and it had a great view of the area
went back down
took a taxi to the shinkansen station
took the shikansen back to osaka
shogo insisted he pay for a hotel for me
apa hotel
checked in and said goodbye, arranged to meet later
i wanted to go out and maybe go to a bar, but couldn’t find a cheap one
got some ramen (really just getting a bowl to eat my other ramen, but it was cheaper to buy some more ramen in a bowl than to buy a bowl)
back to hotel, ate two bowls of ramen, sake, beer, and roll of cookies