Sunday, 27 February 2011

Ten Days Back to Hirakata II

Day 5: Journey to Dog Mountain
The distance between Suwa in Nagano prefecture and Inuyama in Nagoya prefecture is very large, especially when there’s only one train line through the mountains along the old Nakasendou, which is the old mountain pass that went from Tokyo to Kyoto. Hannah and I were determined to do this on the cheap again (unlike last time when we were charged extra to go on a faster train). It’s 10:20am and we’re at the station: So we asked the guy at the counter how much it was cost to get to Inuyama just by local trains. (Rough translation of what I remember)
Train guy: “So you’d like the fastest route down?”
Me: “No, we’d like the cheapest” He gave us a blank look and looked up stuff on his computer.
Train guy: “If you took the faster trains you’d get there by 3:00”
Me: “Ok, what if we took only local trains?”
Train Guy: “…You would get there at 5:00”
Me: “How much would it cost to get there by local trains?”Train guy: “7000yen”Me: “For one person?”Train guy: “No, two. So 3500yen each”Me: “Ok we’ll take those”Now at this point there are quite a few train guys watching us eagerly and snickering and after we buy our tickets and get down on the tracks they’re all laughing.
I can’t help but laugh with them rather then take offence by it. I mean I’d think it was weird too that two foreigners are wanting to spend an extra 2hours on a train even though they don’t have to and only want to take local trains through a mountain. I mean any sane person would rather take the fastest route possible, right?The train ride down was mostly uneventful although the views from the train as we went down were gorgeous! Especially going through Kiso Valley which is a place I want to hike in the summer (I’d really just like to hike through that part of the Nakasendou).
We arrived in Inuyama at a good time, about 4-5ish I think it was. And because we were feeling lazy we got a Taxi to the “Inuyama Riverside International Youth Hostel”.
It was…well for one I wouldn’t say it was an ‘international youth hostel’ a) because when I made reservations they didn’t reply to my English e-mail and seemed to only speak Japanese (even though their website was in English) and b) The only other people we saw were business men, not youths or back packers or whatever. The guy at the counter also didn’t seem to notice that we’d made a reservation even though I said in Japanese that we had one. *rolls eyes*But the hostel was really nice. It was kinda like a roukan style with a large tatami mat room with futons and a shared bath downstairs. Hannah was nervous about the bath but because we were the only two girls there we got to have the bath all to ourselves! (But used it seperatly). That night we even dressed up in the Japanese gowns they provide (don’t know what they’re called) and watched films.

Day 6: Gentle Lift, Seven Turns, Hundred Turns
The plan for day 6 was to Gifu and to see Gifu castle because Hannah had wanted to there from the start.
I’d heard about it from Areal who said that there were 3 ways up the mountain to the castle. The easy sky lift, the seven turn path, or the hundred turn path. He’d strongly recommended the hundred turn one and I was really looking forward to hiking up it. Thing was that the distance from the station and the bottom of the mountain was about 45mins by foom and when we got there Hannah was really adamant that she was taking the sky life….she was then really adamant that she didn’t want to go on her own -_____- So I dished out 600yen and took it with her .The view from the top was pretty impressive! And the short stroll to the castle had some really interesting stuff. Turns out the castle was built on a giant rock that had no water access so they had to dig into the rock to get water in cases of sieges. The castle itself was pretty tiny. Actually compared to British castles all Japanese castles are tiny, but Gifu castle was tiny compared to Japanese castles. There were also a lot of hikers on the mountain and one old guy was kind enough to offer to take our photo.We then went back down but down the 7 turn path, which was long but not that steep. On the way we ran into two ladies feeding birds peanuts on their hands. It was so cool! So they invited us to sit down with them and the bird actually landed on our hands!
When we got to the bottom we had a lot of time to kill thanks to the sky lift being so short. So we ended up wandering to as many temples I could find on the map. Also it was freezing because it started to snow again. Hannah was not happy. We then had to kill time before it got to a decent time to have dinner and then had to find a decent shop to have dinner. Hannah was not happy again.

Day 7: More temples castles and…dolls?
We didn’t really want to go anywhere far day 7 and decided to explore Inuyama. Inuyama has to be the prettiest place we’d seen on the whole trip. The town (meaning Dog Mountain after the mountain which is next to the castle I think) is located on the river which comes down from the mountains and into the lowlands. There is the castle on a huge hill next to the river opposite another similar hill.
When we went to Gifu and saw the view it looked like the whole area was similar to this with flat land and then random hills which make the landscape look like someone’s gone underneath and poked mounds in
random places.First we headed to the castle passing through this really nice little shrine on the side of the hill (yay stairs). Inuyama was the one castle I did really want to go inside because I’d heard it was one of the oldest remaining castles. To a point that was true. They had some of the original wall from hundreds of years ago inside but most of it had been rebuilt or restored. Japanese castles look very much the same. They have 3 (rarely 4 floors) which are square shaped and don’t really have rooms but panels which you can move or take out which create a corridor going around a central space on each floor. I don’t think the main castle was made for living but for political affairs. I think there must have been other buildings around to house castle members but at most castles those have been destroyed (although did have some towers and buildings at Inuyama and Hikone). Still, Inuyama castle was really nice and my favourite so far simply because the view was amazing and the layouts of the room were slightly different (it’s hard to have much variety in several square spaces which look the same). After the castle we wandered down into the town where they had a castle road, reconstructed to be more traditional looking and fit in with the image of the castle. There was even a few museums and the ticket for the castle let us go into those. But first we needed food and found a really nice little shop which sold baked sweet potatoes. They bake them in a clay pot which had coals at the bottom and then the potatoes sit in a pot over the fire. And they taste so
good ^^
The museums, which were after lunch, consisted of a doll museum and a floats museum. We went into the doll museum first which was just a room with displays of various dolls for the theatre and how to make them. The thing we didn’t realise was that the dolls are also used for the local floats. Remember when I went to the Aki Matsuri in Korea Town? The Danjiri they had were a kind of float. Each area has a different kind. Tokyo, for example, use ones which you carry. Inuyama had ones with wheels which you pulled but they were tall structures which often had the puppets performing ontop rather then people. The floats museum showed us the two different kinds of floats, one for spring festival and the other for the autumn festival which is done at night. The floats are linked with the local Shinto shrines and just like in Korea Town they go around marking out the different territories of the local shrine’s god.After exploring a lot more we went back to have a rest before getting food in a local department store that seemed to be the only place with cheap food in the area (first time we couldn’t find McDonalds! Not that we wanted any). On the way we stopped off at a large Buddhist shrine which I’d noticed before and wanted to stop off at. It was creepy because it was getting late and then we no one there except us and two other Japanese people.

Day 8: Into the Ice Lands
So I thought being in the mountains would mean we’d get a lot of snow. But nooo we only got a little bit of snow that didn’t settle. So you can imagine my surprise when we get out of the mountains and to Hikone, which is located on the north shore of Lake Biwa, and it’s snowing. A lot. And it’s freezing. We’re early when we arrive at the hotel so after dumping our stuff we go for a wander. Not far though coz it’s so freezing and resort to sitting inside food places in the department store opposite the station.
The evening was spent chilling and recovering in the nice warm hotel room.

Day 9: Hikonyan!We met up with a friend of ours Yuka who lives in Shiga prefecture and who had also taken us on the Kyoto tour at the very beginning of the year. So we met up with her and headed off to Hikone castle.
Interesting thing we found out on the way was that Yuka had NEVR been to a Japanese castle! 日本人のに!On the way to the castle after a brief look at another shrine (Japan’s full of them if you hadn’t noticed) we ran into a rickshaw man who said that Hikonyan was in the castle. Hikonyan? Turns out the mascot of Shiga prefecture, a boisterous cat with a bushi hat on, was doing a meet and greet kind of thing at the castle. It was sooo cute ^^The castle grounds were the most castle looking grounds we’d seen…I know that sounds random but most castles don’t have a moat, extra walls, bridges, towers, and buildings surrounding the main castle. AND IT WAS SNOWING! Full of snow! Was so cool! We played in the garden before going into the castle and we made
little snowmen and snow angels and had to explain to Yuka what snow angels were ^-^ The castle also had the steepest of the steepest castle stairs I’ve ever seen. Castle stairs are like ladders it’s ridiculous. After the castle we went down the tourist castle street to find food, but couldn’t find anything for less then 1500yen until we went to the very end and down a back street XD Then wandered to the lake which looks like the SEA which is SO COOL! You could barely see the mountains on the other side or the little islands in the middle of the lake. We then grabbed a coffee and just wandered back to the station where the hotel was ^o^ It was an awesome day

Day 10: Figurine Museum of Nagahama!!!

Final day! Yuka had suggested we head on a train up to Nagahama which is even more north on the shore of Lake Biwa and was slightly more snowy too! It snowed practically all morning and was foocking freezing >_<>th castle in less then 2 weeks).

Had a brief look at the lake which was right behind the castle and then wandered back to the other side of the tracks where there was a shopping distract. On the way I saw something amazing! The roads had some kind of anti-freeze being sprayed on them automatically! Sooo much better then salt and grit! And then we saw a shop clerk building a snowman ^^ LOL! The shops were actually really nice old styles. We even found a fandom British coffee shop and being that a little market thing that smelt of burning wood. I then wanted to go to the figurine museum but Hannah wasn’t really into it enough to spend 800yen on the entry fee and I don’t think she was in a great mood anyway, so she went back to the hotel and I stayed. I have to say I think the man regretting telling me I could take photos inside the museum when I asked him if I could >8D I took photos of almost EVERY figurine of interest in that museum! Half of it were figures of animals and the other half were (of course) anime ^___^ Almost every kind of figurine that was ever sold in gashapyon (like toy vending machines) and stores. I was in heaven! (I plan to put the photos of the figurines up on my other blog at some point after I organise my other photos which go before it.) After the museum I wandered around and found a really random shopping mall which the figurine museum merged into. It wasn’t very big but had some really nice shops, like one which sold various kinds of music boxes, and others which sold hats, old clothes, second hand kimonos.

Upstairs there was a museum for a TV show which I think was based in the area. I ended up getting a cheap music box which played the theme to Spirited Away. Then I wandered round to the glass museum…which was basically a glass shop. It was packed but had the nicest glass items I have ever seen. Vases, jewellery, boxes, but my favourite items were the glass flowers. They reminded me of Stardust and I really wish I’d gotten one! But everything in that store was breakable and expensive. I felt like I should have stayed in Nagahama a bit longer but I couldn’t think of anything else to do, so I headed back. Thanks to the heavy snow though it took a lot longer then I thought and didn’t make it back in too bad timing.

When I got back to the hotel it turned out Hannah had already had dinner…ok…I had said that I wanted to go to an Okinawan restaurant that we’d seen earlier in the week…well I was a little annoyed…ok very annoyed. So I went to the restaurant anyway on my own. I don’t think I would have done that if I hadn’t been so fired up. When I got there I was surprised to find that it wasn’t a restaurant but a bar, and they had a live and the entry was 1000yen. Unfortunately that was all I’d taken with me for food. I embarrassingly explained this but being the lovely Japanese people they were they let me in for free! The atmosphere of the bar was just…amazing! The customers were all hippies, the guy playing was a hippie playing the most interesting music I’d ever heard (I wish I’d taken my camera!!!). I got talking to the bar owner and some of the customers (mostly the guy at the bar) and asked for his opinion and ended up getting this random Okinawan meal. It was like an omelette with ham and really, really bitter green things, but I was so hungry I ate it all! I then sat and watched the music and chatted with the guy at the bar. When the first performance was over the woman next to me (who had been sewing the coat she was wearing the whole time) gave me this random paper with a sweet wrapper sewn into it as a gift! So nice! The second performance was really…weird…I can’t describe it without the performers sounding like nut-jobs, but it was the most entertaining and wonderful thing I had ever seen! The guy played the digaridoo and the woman, while wearing random hats (such as a frog hat) would sing songs and play percussions and with hand puppets (such as…frogs). It got to about 9:00 and I felt like I should have gotten back after being in there for 2hours. I felt like I could have stayed til 3am and would have had an amazing time with all the resident hippies. I am defiantly going back there and if anyone is ever in Hikone, you HAVE TO go to the Okinawan Bar Pavaiso (Open 6pm-3am).

Day 11: HIRAKATA!!!

When we got up in the morning it was blizzarding! Really, really, snowing. There were people outside trying to clear the path with shovels just to have the path get covered again 5mins later, and school kids hiding in the train station for cover and then flocking out when their school bus arrived. It was kinda funny when we were sitting inside the warm eating buffet breakfast (hmm choco cereal ^^). But by the time we’d gotten our gear together the storm had cleared and we got on the train back to Kyoto and from there Hirakatashi. I can’t tell you how happy I was to see the familiar sights again and it felt so good to be back in the dorm and with familiar faces. It really did feel like I was home.

And that was the end of my Winter Adventures in Japan.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Ten Days Back to Hirakata I

Day 1: Flatter then a hedgehog on the road.

Out first destination was Kofu in Yamanashi. Yamanashi means no mountains, which I thought was quite ironic considering it’s in the middle of the mountains north of Mt.Fuji. Turns out I was wrong. Yamanashi is a large area on a plateau surrounded by mountains with the top of Mt. Fuji just peeking over the south east. The plateau its self had no

mountains and is flatter then a hedgehog on the road. No joke. It is stupidly flat for an area in the mountains. You would have thought a flat area like that would make it easier to drag stupid kilo’s of luggage along. Wrong. The hotel looked a lot closer on the map then in reality and it was along a busy road where people drive rather then walk so the pavement was poor. Needless to say it was tiring, long and we were knackered when we arrived but happy to have Sukiya which was nearby. Day one followed and Hannah and I decided to go for a random walk to find a shrine up in the mountains. We went and found a tourist information who told us how to get there. So caught the train to Kofu and started to walk up the road until we found a shrine which I assumed was at the bottom of the hill in comparison to the temple on the mountain (which we could see from town). But it just wasn’t our day. After heading off trying to find the temple on the mountains we ran into this random Japanese guy who wanted to talk to us. This has happened a few times, people want to practice English or are just curious, but not this guy. This guy was…weird…I think he might have been smoking something (he even said he liked drugs…or at least I think that’s what he said). Now I can normally understand people but this guy was just….completely random. I couldn’t understand a word! What I did get was smoking was bad, he was an artist, were we going to Yamanashi University, and could he take his picture with me…just me, not Hannah…shortly after that we quickly ran away…only a lot more subtle then running, ie, walking quickly. One good thing we got out of him was that there was a bus up to the temple, and Hannah wanted to get it so we walked aaaaall the way back to the station to find said bus. There was no sign of one so we asked the Tourist Info lady she said the bus wasn’t running anymore that day even though it was 2pm ><> was very miffed and we couldn’t go hiking up the mountain and that we didn’t do anything that day apart from run around in circles. At least the day was improved but a really, really nice Chinese meal at one of the restaurants along the busy road.

Day 2: To The Giant Frozen Lake in the Middle of the Mountains!

Suwa is a huuuuge lake surrounded by a town to the north of Yamanashi in the Nagano prefecture in the middle of the mountains. When we arrived we were pretty early coz we accidentally got on the wrong train (and had to pay 1100yen extra ¬¬). So after checking into our hotel and getting kappa zushi for lunch (OMG was soooo happy there was a kappa zushi opposite) we walked the 40min walk into town. We wandered around the lake and then to the station, found a map of the area and headed back to the hotel after passing the castle. We walked so much and didn’t really feel it that much…I think we were kinda used to it by then. The evening was then spent plotting the following day which (as how we found most of the things for this trip) was spent on Google Maps investigating landmarks in the area…including a park…on a mountain >8D

Day 3: Gradual Climb Up, Dangerous Neck-Breaking Slide Down

Morning we had complimentary breakfast (which we’d paid for…so not that complimentary). BUT it was a buffet and like true foreigners took our moneys worth pluss a couple of rolls for lunch. SO GOOD! Rice, miso soup, fish, boiled veg, bread and jam and 4 glasses of apple juice (every day in Suwa) ^___^ Best breakfast on the whole trip!

WOOT! I was really excited for the mountain hike, although I kinda forgot to mention to Hannah that that was what we were doing ^^;; It was a really fun walk up though! We first went through a Buddhist temple which had the nicest smelling incense burning in the cemetery. Then it was a gradual stroll along a windy road which slowly went around the mountain. It took about 3 hours to get up there. I think most people take their cars although we only saw about 3 cars (including one which just kept going up and down. I think he was a ranger).

When we were ¾ way up we found this ooooold shrine infront of this use bolder with an amazing view over the valley! After another 10mins we found some stairs. I decided to go up the stairs but Hannah took the road. So with that I had a little break and recorded a short video blog (which I won’t be putting up coz im mean) ^^ Theeeeeen it was just another 10mins up these stairs to the park! And it was surprising just how clean and tidy the random park ontop of the mountain was! It even had a view point in the center where you could see Mt Fuji, Lake Suwa and the surrounding mountains and valleys! Soooo pretty! It even had a random Japanese conveyor belt slide! How could I NOT slide down it ^O^ A bit more of a stroll was needed before we resided we needed a loo…on a mountain…oh dear. There was one next to the old rickety shrine buuuut…it was kinda…well…just a hole in the ground ><>_<

Anyway, loo conundrum aside is was time to climb back down. And when I say climb I mean slide. No joke. I decided we should take the steap dodging mountain path back down which started infront of the small old shrine. Because it was winter the ground was covered in dead leaves, which made walking down veeery tricky. So we slide down most the mountain. And where it took us 3 hours to get up, only took about 30-40 to get back down. Hannah was not impressed but she was laughing so I don’t think she mined too much (unless they were laughs of nerves…)

Day 4: Suwa Stroll

This day was pretty chilled in comparison to the mountain. We did our normal breakfast run and strolled out into town again. Headed over to the castle, but it was expensive for such a little thing and we knew it would be a museum so skipped going inside. Then just wandered over to the lake and around town for a few hours. OH! It started to snow! OMG SNOW! The first bit of perspiration we’d seen in over a month and it was snow! I was so happy!...Until I realised how freezing it was! >_<>t was better then doing nothing at least ^^;;;

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Almost Valentines Thoughts

You know this year I’m actually looking forward to Valentines because I get to spend it with my best friends in Japan and give them gifts for once. I don’t have to expect a card from a guy, and I don’t have to give it to anyone, just friends. I like it that Japan has the tradition of girls giving the boys they like (or their friends) chocolates (for friend’s it’s called “tomochoco”) and then a month later on 14th March the boys return to the girls who gave them chocolate (or the girls they like) white chocolate.

I’ve surprised myself about how I’m dealing with it. I normally dread the day because I’ll either get awkward confessions (the first time being at Uni when I really was not expecting it) or last year which was fairly uninteresting with the &(£$^%!£@$*$&-ex. And I was thinking back over the past few years about how I spent my Valentines in secondary school, then uni and all my friends who I love way more then any person and as I was I was flicking through old photos of my Uni life. And I think that although out of all my friends I’ve made the greatest loss, and the greatest regret I have was loosing Dani. You know I’ve tried to keep quiet about this because last year people were all very close and I didn’t want to turn people against each other or create unnecessary drama (and I'm not one to talk about things which are really personal) but I think now it’s fair that people know what happened between us.

In the first year of University Dani was one of my best friends and she really helped me open up and I in turn tried to help her and be supportive of her. But in the second year things changed and for reasons I still don’t know Dani began to ignore me. Not just ignore me but avoid eye contact, not greeting me and avoid talking to me unless I spoke first. Which kinda hurts when you live with the person and have the same classes. When I got my hair cut she avoided looking at me and when I finally asked what she thought she said “Yeah it’s nice…I guess”. Those words still ring in my ears. At anime I heard that she thought I was being passive aggressive and I went home in shock and cried because that hurt so much, I felt like I’d really lost her. Sadly I was too much of a coward to confront her about it because I was afraid of making things worse, and I just kept thinking things would get better, she’d snap out of it. But no. Even after I did try to talk to her about it she still didn’t change, even after I helped out with her now ex she didn’t say a word to me, even after I got drunk trying to pluck up the courage to talk to her (that time I thought I’d gotten through but I hadn’t), even after everything…So after 6 months of being ignored by her, and having her treat our mutual friends like crap (especially her ex and a guy who had a crush on her) I decided to just give up and start ignoring her back. Perhaps that would wake her up? Would that make her come to me and ask me for once “What’s going on? Is everything ok?”? Nope. It just made things worse. I think what was bad was that neither of us were particularly aggressive towards each other, it was both of us who were being passive aggressive at that point.

In December while in Japan I finally took her off my friend’s list on facebook and told her the things she had made me feel. I was emotional at the time and said I didn’t want to know why she abandoned me. After that she blocked me on facebook. I was surprised that that still really hurt. I know it’s silly to still think about it, especially because she hasn’t acted like a proper friend to me in almost a year and a half but I still mourn her loss. And as I was flicking through my old photos hers came up of when we were still in the first year. I really miss that Dani who was kind and considerate of others, who didn’t only think about herself and who was happy to see me and listen to me and who was interesting to talk to and had depth to her personality and was sweet and who cooked for us and who showed us new things and…who was all those things and more……I think friend’s are the most important things and the betrayal of a friend cuts the deepest.

It’s funny coz my new years resolution was to not talk about her anymore and to just forget her and if I saw her in the new school year just to start over and introduce myself as if we’d never met…but I guess my heart is still soar and I think with being open about this I can get over her. Hahaha, I make it sound like she was an ex, although I think in a way she was because to me best friends will always be closer then boy/girlfriends. But I don’t think things can ever be fixed now. She’ll always have what ever happened weighing over her mind and I know she’s not the sort of person to let things go to accept the responsibility for her actions. If she can never return to the Dani I knew then I just hope Japan makes her a better person.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Last Few Days in Tokyo

So our holiday in Tokyo was coming to an end before the 10day trip back through Japan to Hirakata. After the Brits all left Hannah and I really didn’t have that much to do, so to prevent vegetation in the house we’d go out for really random walks trying to get to places near us, mostly shrines. The only thing I wish I had done in Tokyo was go to the book market and Umeda and go to Akihabara more on my own to explore it all properly. Oh well ^^ It’s stuff I can do next time. One night randomly though Myra’s friend Cheese came and cooked for us. The numpty managed to slice his finger open but it didn’t stop him cooking and omg the food was soooo good. I must remember to the marinades and stuff he used to cook with. Things like a mixture of cooking wine, soy sauce, sugar, and then various spices mixed together.

On January the 14th Hannah and I went on a trip outside the main Tokyo distract to Tama Zoo! It was a zoo Hannah had really wanted to go to because it was apparently the largest and most natural zoo inTokyo. (Note: most zoos in Japan are really poor and small and not very good for the animals). And it was a really impressive zoo! Took us 6 hours to wander around and stop for lunch and we saw all kinds of cool animals. We seemed to time it just right as well to catch most of the animals getting fed like the koala, red pandas, and wolves. I’m just a tad annoyed that I lost about 200 of my photos from that day ;_;

Next it was my turn and we went to the Ghibli Museum on the 17th which I had really, really wanted to go to ^o^ And it was so cool! We couldn’t take pictures inside *sadface* but it was just…so AWESOME! It was like a European house but not and it was full of cool little contraptions and drawings and devices and hidden little details and a cat bus that children could play on! On the roof was a robot from Laputa Castle in the Sky which you could take a photo of. If I ever get rich I want to build a house like the Ghibli Museum >8D

Our final whole day before we had to pack was the 18th and we spent it with one of our new housemates walking the Rainbow Bridge at sunset! It was so cool! I really, really, really love Tokyo as it’s getting dark and the city scenery is just so pretty! At the end of the bridge we found a random beach! A beach in the middle of Tokyo! Who would have thought it XD

The following day we packed and then the day after finished packing, sent a parcel, georged ourselves on Taiyaki (fish shaped pancake dough sweets filled with anko, but these had chocolate, strawberry and other flavours)…it was good ^_^ And then we left Tokyo for our first destination of Kofu in Yamanashi!

I have to say I think Tokyo is my favorite place in Japan so far. Being able to explore it every day was fun and not having money meant I had to walk everywhere which meant I got to really to know it well. There were a few things I wish I’d done but nothing I regret doing. People say Tokyo is too big and too full of people, but I found that apart from the salarymen in the stations people were generally very nice, especially if you spoke Japanese ^^;; I never experienced a busy underground train where we’d have to get pushed onto the train but Brit and Cait who were there for a week said they had. I think I’ve gotten used to the large crowds of people and I’m happy to take my time trying to get through them all and I think I have a skill similar to the Japanese of being able to walk through a crowd without touching a single person. The Japanese tend to have body language and unsaid rules about elicit when it comes to moving around in public, which I think can sometimes be very similar to Britain.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Visiting Friends

I mentioned before that Louise and Sheila had come to visit myself and, of course, Japan. A few days after then, after the Yokohama trip, Imogen, who had also be visiting friends in Osaka, came up to join us. Picking her up from the station was a bit of a palava but she managed to make it to the Tatami house alright (the hostel Hannah and I moved out of but which Louise, Sheila and Imogen were staying in).

On January 6th all the Brits went out to Asakusa for the day. That was Me, Hannah, Myra, Louise, Sheila and Imogen. We went down a famous and terribly packed street full of old style shops selling overly priced touristy

stuff. At the end was a temple which was also packed because it’s still the New Year. We prayed and then got fortunes which had English on them for once (mine was fairly average), and then food at the mountains of food vendors off the side. OMG I love Japanese food stalls. Then it was off on a mission to find a shop that sells plastic food because we’d heard there was some in the area, and we found some and I got an ice-cream and steamed buns! PLASTIC FOOD IS SO COOL! It looks like real ice-cream but it will never melt! Mwahahaha!

After that the other headed home so Myra, Hannah, Cheese (who joined us after the plastic food hunt) and myself went to a wander towards the Sky Tower. The Sky Tower is even taller then Tokyo Tower but it doesn’t open until later this year though. BUT we did find a fandom play park in the shape of a boat with a slide! Japanese slides are awesome fun because they’re more like conveyor belts then slides XD I’m not joking, it’s really weird to go down them.

The following day on the 7th I met up with Louise, Imogen and Sheila at Daimon and we went to the pokemon center, which is so expensive when you don’t have money but full of so much shiny stuff!!! We wandered over to the harbor bit before going to Daimon Jinjya which was probably just like any other shrine except that it had a woman with a monkey performing out the front…I felt really bad for the monkey being dragged around by the woman and made to do tricks for peoples entertainment. The shrine though had loads of Jinzo who are gods which tend to have bibs and hats and these ones had little windmills. They’re offerings for him as he’s normally associated with death, the afterlife and in particular of taking care of the spirits of dead children and aborted foetuses. Random fact of the day XD

On the 9th, a Sunday, Hannah, Louise, Imogen and I went to Harajuku! I love Harajuku! Louise and Imogen really wanted to go shopping though so Hannah split up so she could go see the shrine in the park. Harajuku was as packed as ever. Oh! I met Gabe who was also coincidently in Harajuku! It was brief but nice…for some reason though the others just avoided him :/ We basically just went around the awesome shops and I got a nice dress for 1000yen, and spend another 3000 odd in Body Line (I love that shop too much I think).

Louise and Imogen also spent stupid amounts of money in there. Although what was really cool was a random guy in…well, I’ll put up a photo, was standing outside Body Line for most of the afternoon posing for the tourists. Hahahah. Ohh Japan you are so strange but I love you.

When it was starting to get dark Imogen, Louise and I wandered over to Shibya, which is only a 15min walk away, and we took pictures of the crossing again and then had to say bye on the train beca

use they were leaving the following day. I thought about it but Louise will have graduated and Imogen is going to America next year so that was probably the last time I saw them ;_;

We did try to arrange to meet briefly the following day so I could help them post a parcel but in my hurry I jumped on the wrong train and was late and missed them. Was really angry with myself and just had a shite day until I phoned Areal to find out about his adventures snowboarding in the mountains which cheered me up. Oh yeah I don’t think I said. Areal walked from Kyoto to Nagano where he snow boarded for about a week and then got the train into Tokyo and then the shinkansen back to Kyoto. Everyone thought he was going to die in the mountains, instead he just lost a stupid amount of weight, was really loaning traveling by himself, but I think also had an amazing experience walking Japan and through the mountains and then meeting people at the ski lodges. I admit I’m still jealous and a part of me wishes I’d done something like that. But I like my warm showers and the chance to go to Comiket ^o^