28 August 2007

Hakone Ni Ikimasu

Hi All.

Making our way to Hakone tomorrow. Hot springs here I come.

Tonight I had to replace the backpack that I was using. It died a horrible death involving Mt Misen at Miyajima. Got a better one for when we go up Fuji-san. Had some sai-ramen (seems to consist mostly of cabbage) from a little roadside place. Very nice. Wish we had the like back home. I'm going to miss $7 meals at restraunts...

On the first night we stayed in Hiroshima, we went and had lunch at a tempura restraunt. OMG! So yummy. All you people who go to Go Sushi and think you know what tempura is all about, you know nothing. Nothing at all. The batter is so crisp and light. It's like it is coated in rice bubbles or something.

And the miso soup here , beats anything I have every had back home. Havn't tried sushi yet, but mark my words we will. Especially I have seen places where sushi is 100 yen a plate ($1!).

So off to Hakone to get some good soaking. Might check out the public baths while I'm there ^.^

I'm rather addicted now. If the accommodation had a public bath, I seem to be more inclined to use it than the one in my room (well, have you seen the size of them? They're tiny!)

That's all for now. Have to finish laundry...

Oh! Todays steps = 25600 steps.

Currently Reading: NOTHING - Books back in Tokyo!!!
Mood: Normal

27 August 2007

Miyajima - Japan's Twilight Zone.

Hi all.

Am sending email from phone, so forgive abrns.

We r staying in Miyajima 4 2nite so we can get some good pics of the
huge tori gates & the town w/other ppl. A bit erie @ night, every1
goes back 2 Hiroshima b4 the ferries stop running, so very few ppl
about, like twilight zone. I was going 2 go out with the others & take
fotos 2 but 2 tired. Why? Mt Misen. 530 meters of it. Although nothing
compared 2 Fuji (worried expression). So about 2 hit the bed, here's 2
hoping that it will b a better sleep than last night...

Ja ne

- Grover

26 August 2007

Ofuro: An Experience.

Hi All.
I decided to bite the bullet and went to a public bath. As in naked. With other men.
First up some back story. When we were staying in Kyoto, I went down to the hotel's public bath a couple of times. By concidence, I managed to get the whole bath to myself on both occasions (really, really good. The best thing for a long hot day of sighseeing). I want a bath just like it at home now.
This time though, it nearly approaches arm wrestling trying to get time in the shower here at Osaka. So I thought "Stuff it" and made my way to the Ofuro.
I locked up my shoes in a locker at the entrance, paid the lady inside the door 350 yen, went to the changing area, put all my clothes in another locker and went into the bath area.
There were three other people in there and contray to all the travel guides that I have read, I wasn't suddenly the focus of attention or conversation. Nor was I particulary stared at, everyone else was busy with the business of getting clean.
What you do:
First off you claim a spot along the wall where you have hot and cold water taps, and douse yourself with some hot water. Then you go and step into a anti-microbe (reading the hiragana) bath for a minute or so. Then you can get to the business of getting yourself clean. Once you have scrubbed yourself to your heart's content (in my case about 15 minutes - I love nice long hot showers), rinse yourself throughly. Then you can get in the soaking baths. As you may know, Japanese baths have two temperaures: hot and scalding. My preference is to sit in the hot one for a bit then get out and then splash myself with some cold water. Repeat a couple of times and you will feel super clean - and a little lightheaded.
I suggest you try it at least once as you won't believe how clean you feel afterwards...
Ja ne
- Grover

25 August 2007

Last Night In Oksaka

Hi All.
Had a quiet day today.
Visited Shinsaibashi again today. Bought a yukata this afternoon ^.^
Oh! Were able to get into Round One, an amusement centre chain in Japan. I wish that we had something like this back home. It had about 7 floors of arcade games, then pool tables, soccer games, tennis games, golf, boxing, shooting and on the roof there was some pitching machines for baseball batting. Very cool. We spend 3 hours there.
We leave for Hiroshima tomorrow.
We are going out soom to have some proper okonomiyake.
Ja ne
- Grover

24 August 2007

Himeji Castle

Hi All.
We visited nearby Himeji castle today, it was about 40 minutes on the shinkansen (kodoma line).
The castle is famous because it is one of the few remaining castles in it's origional form. Amazing on the inside. When we had a look at Osaka, it was very modern on the inside because it has been rebuilt so many times. But Himeji is exactly what you would imagine the inside of a traditional castle would be like. Highly recommended.
There were plans to go to Universal Studio land, but we have been on the go for 5 days now and I think we all need a quiet day. Because then we are off to Hiroshima on the day after.
We had a lunch at a udon noodle place. I had a set meal, it was quite good. Although if we had just turned the next corner, we would have hit a whole street of restruants. D'oh! >.<
Today's Pedometer Count: 21100.

Yes...It Lives!!! Bwa ha ha!!

We are in Osaka today. The shinkansen took all of 15 minutes from Kyoto. We nearly missed our train. We got on with, no joke, 30 seconds to spare.

We dropped off our bags at our accommodation (I'll post about that later), then went and visited Osakajo (Osaka Castle). The exterior is amazing. The view from the top floor (8th floor) is pretty good too. Although all big Japanese cities are very hazy about 10 km or so from any direction.

Then we went and checked out Shinsaibashi, a 2.6 km long mall. There are heaps of shops and restruants and good stores. The Hello Kitty store is an overload of cuteness.

We tried to go to a baseball hitting on the 8th floor of a games arcade building (read that last part again), but they were booked out.

I will buy a Yukata while I am here, I saw several shops that specalise in selling them. I'll just have to send it back to Australia as I don't have room in my suitcase ^.^

The title refers to the wonderful fact that 99.9% of all my photos that I did an accidental quick format over have been recovered and backed up. I was really relieved as that was cosplay from Comiket (including Mai Shiranui, D-Grey Man, Rozen Maiden), Wonderfest and me meeting Naruto. Would have been VERY pissed off if I lost that. So all is good.

Pedometer Reading for today: 22500

Currently Reading: Emissary
Mood: Happy but tired.

22 August 2007

Missed It By That Much

The hotel was selling yukatas for about 70 dollars. But they stopped yesterday. So dissappointed that I missed out. I hope that Osaka has some good one's too.

Currently Reading: Emissary
Mood: Normal

Kyoto - The Home That Isn't Home Because Everyone Is Speaking Japanese

Hi All.

Am currently in Kyoto. It's really nice. Not nearly as hetic as Tokyo. We are staying at the Nishiyama Hotel. It is really sweet. Nice rooms. Close to the train station. Highly recommended.

I have had the traditional breakfast today and yesterday.

It generally consists of: fish, tofu, salad, omlet, tea, rice, japanese pickles and a serving of grapefruit. It doesn't look like much on the tray, but it is very filling. We have pictures.

We went to the Gold and Silver pavilions (Kinkaku and Ginkaku) today. The Silver one isn't, as it's name suggests, silver. But is instead is just wood. But it is one of the best zen temples in Kyoto. Very cool. The gold pavilion, is actually gold. It is three stories tall and the upper two are covered in gold leaf. Even cooler.

We also went along the philosophers walk - a famous trail that runs along a river. Apparently Musashi (famous samurai) walked along it.

The Day before we went and hired some bikes from a rental place (go to Kyoto trains station, head towards Kyoto Tower, head right a little) and rode around. It makes it an easy way of covering large distances easily. Hills were a little bit hard. Although hiring cannondales did make it easier. You can buy a cycling map for 100 yen. BUY A COPY! IT IS WORTH IT'S WEIGHT IN GOLD!! Spend a bit of time studying it and have the locations marked out beforehand. This will help you from getting hopelessly lost (we got ourselve lost no less than three times that day). It will make for an enjoyable day.

Make sure you go to the water temple.

Plan to spend about 4-5 dollars on each temple/shrine you are going to visit. 400 yen seems to be the going rate...

Currently Reading: Emissary
Mood: Normal

20 August 2007

Kyoto Ni Ikimasu

Am currently in Kyoto. Took the Shinkansen to get here. It's more relaxed than Tokyo and that is a nice change.

Went up the Kyoto Tower this afternoon. Amazing to see all the moutains around the city.

I may have accidentally lost some 200 photos including the cosplay from Comiket and me with Naruto. A friend is going to see if he can do something. I hope so. I do not quite believe that I could have done something so stupid.

Currently Reading: Emmissary
Mood: Normal

17 August 2007

Fly Me To The Moon, Just Drop Me Off At Japan

Hi All.

I think we can all agree that I am a terrible updater, but here we go...

I am in Japan (and have been so for about 8 days). This is the first chance I have had to get to a internet cafe...

First up the trip. I don't recommend anyone travel on Tiger. The trip out of Darwin to Singapore was the most uncomfortable trip that I have ever had the misfortune of experiencing. Just sitting in the normal upright position was damn uncomfortable. The Sing - Tokyo on Singapore Airlines was absolute bliss. One of the nicest journeys that I have ever had. Which was heaven after Tiger...

We are staying in Ikebukuro which is interesting as there are love hotels, literally, everywhere. Have gone into a lot of anime shops (and figurine and manga) here and in Shibuya and Shinjuku. It's really wild.

We went up to Nikko on Day four (just when I had the route back from the train station sorted out >.<). That is really pretty country. We went for what turned out to be a mammoth walk through some very nice scenery. I was able to take some amazing photos.

Oh yes, I bought the big brother of the camera I was looking at earlier (the Cannon Powershot S5IS not the S3IS). It was about 50500 yen (so $500). Cheap. Thinking of getting the wide angle adaptor that is an accessory. It is worth about $150 here, will have to check to see if it is worth getting here.

Wonderfest was interesting. Amazing to see how popular Evangelion still is, apparently there is a "new" movie comming out while we are here. We won't understand it, but that won't stop me ^.^

Oh! (cue fanboy squeal). I met Naruto! Well some one dressed as him... There was a display thingy on in Sunshine 60 (huge buidling) of Naruto (plus a preview of the next movie - looked quite good. Have to see that too...). I got my picture taken with Naruto - I was the only "adult" who did so. Ahhh, the fanboy in me was content that day ^.^

I'll see if I can some how get the photos up here sometime after I come back...

And it' hoooot. Record temperatures across all of Japan. It has turned cool this evening, I think there is a storm on the way, but the rest of the time here in Japan has been very sweaty. Sweat + walking all day. Do the sums, get the picture...yeah.

The days have been really long and right now it it 2330 and we are going to Komiket tomorrow.

So that'll do now that I know where this place is.

Ja ne

- Grover

Currently Reading: The Goblet of Fire
Mood: Tired