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Archive for the ‘Japan Vacation’ Category

All Good Things Must Come to an End

April 17th, 2007

So everything has passed. And I am back home. tomorrow I should be getting over the jetlag from the journay between the two countries. And I want to wrap up a few things for everyone who has been following my trip.

Mt. Fugi was breathtaking. On our second day there, when the morning broke, the day after hiking from the train station, through the entrance shrine and up to the first station. The sky was a clear blue, and not a cloud in the sky. The onsens were hot and the meals were delicious. I even spotted a cogri on the hike back from the mountain.

The trail seemed to go on forever. I kept telling myself, I just need to make it past this next bend then I'll be at the rest area. And I'd turn the bend and then there was just more road. Luckily we prayed for a safe journey through the mountain and were blessed with everyone returning in one piece.

So now it's back to where it all began, Tokyo. There were just so many options and sights to see, i wish i could have had a couple more days. returning to the hotel we realized we could still see Mt. Fuji in the distance, it was amazing.

AND my jacket was waiting for me at the front desk. I opened it up and checked both pockets, but nothing was in them, I don't feel bad about it, at lest I got my jacket back.

After a quick rest, a small group of us headed out into Tokyo, going to Akihabara, Shinjuku and harijuku. Outside the park were the goth kids and street performers, along with a group giving out free hugs, one could always go for a free hug.

That night was our final dinner and my last night in Japan. Those I have talked to already know the story of what made that night so amazing for me. I did NOT want to return home afterwards. All I will tell you here is that now returning is not just an option, it's a necessity.

I hope everyone enjoyed following my trip as much as I enjoyed being on it.

Later.

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Jacket Update

April 11th, 2007

Great News. My jacket has been found, in the bar in Hiroshima. It's being sent to our last stop back in Tokyo at the Prince Hotel. Now the question is, where is the money Lebowski?! Jerred's fried who went to see if it was still at the bar after we left was too polite to go through the pockets for us, so we shall the results in - i think 2 more nights.

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Kyoto – the anagram lover’s Tokyo

April 11th, 2007

Well, our time in Kyoto is coming to an end. And I didn't get to see everything, there are so many temples, shrines and things to do, i could easily do a week. Plus, in a third the time I'll have figured out the entire bus system. Which is quite well designed and timed, they even provide a cross chart with your location and where you want to go crossing at which bus you need to take. AND i finally woke up without my feet hurting, but now that it's the end of the day, back to the usual.

Kyoto has been great, we starting our first full day with a tour of a castle, a buddhist shrine and a temple. All beautiful. I snapped as many pics as i could, but i would have to stop myself so I could enjoy everything myself.

Then at our last stop, the temple, was a rock garden. I was entrancing, even will all the other tourists around. Jerred was telling us that no matter what angle you look at the rock garden, there will always be a rock hidden from your site, and he was right. When you are able to see all the rock, you have reached zen. We all sat down for a bit and meditated and then everyone was ready to go. Then I told them I could have sat there for hours. And it was just rocks. But so relaxing.

Later in the day, a handful of us were treated to seeing a tea ceremony. Not a full one, that is closed off to the public and they last for 2+ hours, and you must kneel the whole time. that wouldn't have happened. After she showed us how everything was done, we got a chance to try making the tea and serving it. amazing.

This part of the tour has definetly taken a turn to the tourism part. The next day, shopping. I was on a mission to find some thing in Kyoto. So I didn't stop much for pictures. The the shopping area was massive. I was just a huge maze of stores and stores, anything you could want you could find, you just need to keep walking, and turn a couple corners. One strange this though was I went looking for some records for a friend so he could spin some Japanese in the clubs in Cleveland, but all the places I found were only american imports, so anything you could find in there, you'd find in america in the first store you go to. Sorry Adam.

But what day would be complete without going to dinner and karaoke? It was a blast, but a little different than what I expected, the place we went to, you don't sing to the public, you just rent a room with a karaoke machine and hang out with your friends. But still, it was a blast.

So next up is an early morning, off to Mt. Fugi. Time to go let my feet rest for a big day.

Later.

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Happy Easter – In Japan

April 8th, 2007

So it's been a while since I written anything for everyone. When I last left off it was quite a night, the last night in Hiroshima. What's nice about this tour is that our guide knows these really out of the way pubs to head of too so it's not just a regular tourist hang out. The signless type of place that you have to know someone else who knows about it.

Before all that we spent the day walking though the peace park and viewing the A-bomb museum. It was very moving and layed out very nicely. It focused most on the historical elements of what lead up to the dropping of the A-bomb on Hiroshima.




No, wait, even before that, we got to see the floating tori gate. Specktacular. I can't wait to get most of these shots back into photoshop and color correct them, the gate looked great no matter what angle you looked at it.

One cool thing is that the island has these deer on it, and they are so used to people they just hang around the main enterance and wait for unsuspecting tourists and little kids to start feeding them. Gotta watch out though cause once you feed them, they will herd around you and not give you a moments rest till they get interested in someone else.

So then with a nice long day under wraps. We headed to the bar, where I had a nice chat with a japanese girl, her boyfriend didn't seem to like that, but oh well. He'll never see me again.


So the next morning we were off to Nagasaki. The place was very different from any of the previous places. Since it was an open port for the dutch and chinese, there is just an infusion of european and chinese style. Which made it feel too different from Japan for my taste. I would have like to trade this free day for another in Takayama, I could really go for a hot spring right about now, especially for my feet, nothing but pain and blisters right now. But I push on.But with going to Nagasaki, we can compare the other peace park and A-bomb museum, theirs was more focused on the effects of the bomb and the museum was full of artifacts from after the blast. But there was a beautifully design memorial attached to the museum you could go to and take pictures. In the museum, you couldn't take pictures.

And that's really it for Nagasaki, kind of a weak point in the tour for me. They had a china town to visit, but if I wanted that I would have gone to tour China. tomorrow will be a big day. 715 off to himeji castle for lunch and then over to Kyoto for 3 days. That should be back to the regular kick ass time.

Until then.

Later.

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What a night

April 6th, 2007

so i:mback at the hotel.tipsy,no drunk.and the night went quite well thus far. talking to a cute japanese girl,in JAPANESE. good stuff. OK i NEED to go Pass out for a while. EVERYTHING is good. i`ll hoepsully get to upload pictures good. i`ll hoepsully get to upload pictures when we get to naqasaki tomorrow.]

Later.

typing on a japanese keyboard while intoxicated is difficult.

Takayama Sake

April 4th, 2007

Now this is the sign of a great trip. Culture and then drinking. In the morning we headed off to Hida Folk Village, a historical site which looked like something from the last samurai. It was a bit chilly, but it felt great to me.

It was all very surreal and beautiful. In fact none of the pictures I took can really capture how great this entire place it. After a morning of history we headed back to the town. And off to lunch, a little dining area were all of us barely fit. The food, still excellent.

And then off to the Sake Breweries. It was just too perfect. By that time, the main group had scattered of and it was down to 4 of us, including the tour leader. We went into the breweries and it would either be a free sample or pay for a sample for 100 yen or so, and when i say sample I mean, 3 shots worth. And as we were going around, it began snowing. And these huge snow chunks, Snow mixed with the preserved buildings, created a sight too beautiful to describe.

Even with the snow. It was still very warm outside, at least for me. It's gotta be that northeast ohio blood. After hitting all the breweries, some twice and others three times, it was time for some dinner, hida miso soup. i think its amazing that we'll reform as a large group to go to dinner together, but if we don't want to it's no problem. Everyone has the same intention, Have Fun.

AWESOME soup. With hida beef, the local cow. Not very lean but extremely delicious.

So we all head on back to the Inn and some of us step into the onsen for a bit and then our tour leader took us to a few bars which allowed tourists and forieners to enter. They were small hole in the wall places and excellent. It was an awesome day/night.

hida miso soup. i think its amazing that we'll reform as a large group to go to dinner together, but if we don't want to it's no problem. Everyone has the same intention, Have Fun.

AWESOME soup. With hida beef, the local cow. Not very lean but extremely delicious.

So we all head on back to the Inn and some of us step into the onsen for a bit and then our tour leader took us to a few bars which allowed tourists and forieners to enter. They were small hole in the wall places and excellent. It was an awesome day/night.

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Takayama Sake

April 4th, 2007

Now this is the sign of a great trip. Culture and then drinking. In the morning we headed off to Hida Folk Village, a historical site which looked like something from the last samurai. It was a bit chilly, but it felt great to me.

It was all very surreal and beautiful. In fact none of the pictures I took can really capture how great this entire place it. After a morning of history we headed back to the town. And off to lunch, a little dining area were all of us barely fit. The food, still excellent.

And then off to the Sake Breweries. It was just too perfect. By that time, the main group had scattered of and it was down to 4 of us, including the tour leader. We went into the breweries and it would either be a free sample or pay for a sample for 100 yen or so, and when i say sample I mean, 3 shots worth. And as we were going around, it began snowing. And these huge snow chunks, Snow mixed with the preserved buildings, created a sight too beautiful to describe.

Even with the snow. It was still very warm outside, at least for me. It's gotta be that northeast ohio blood. After hitting all the breweries, some twice and others three times, it was time for some dinner, hida miso soup. i think its amazing that we'll reform as a large group to go to dinner together, but if we don't want to it's no problem. Everyone has the same intention, Have Fun.

AWESOME soup. With hida beef, the local cow. Not very lean but extremely delicious.

So we all head on back to the Inn and some of us step into the onsen for a bit and then our tour leader took us to a few bars which allowed tourists and forieners to enter. They were small hole in the wall places and excellent. It was an awesome day/night.

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Takayama

April 3rd, 2007


Starting the day in Tokyo, I awoke at 430am, and could not fall back asleep, then Asim awoke. Still not used to this new timezone. So Asim and I waited till 630 rolled around and we headed off into the refreshing Tokyo rain to the Fish Market. What a sight, pure chaos and... hey ya smell that, know what that is? That's fish, i love the smell of fish in the morning, smells like victory. The had closed off the auctioning of the fish to the general public so we didn't get to see all that, but we did get to witness the processing of the fish. Saws and fins flying everywhere and every minute another cart speeds by, almost hitting something. It was quite a thing. and i spotted some Unagi.

Then it was time to have some breakfast, a traditional Japanese breakfast, consisting of sushi, rice, fried egg, this potatoe salad thing and coffee, lots of coffee. Very Tasty. But things in Tokyo have come to an end for now, we'll return on the 14th for a last horra.

It was time to take the Shinkanzen to Takayama for our 2nd Major city. Known for fine woodcraft and it's Sake breweries, Jerred (our tour leader) said that Takayama has a style all it's own due to it's solice in the mountians. With a 5 hour ride and a quick train switchover in the middle, we were there. With a bus waiting to take us to the hotel. It was only about 10 degrees celcius, i think that's about 40 degrees ferinheit. But i didn't really notice.

So we all took a quick look around and returned to the hotel for a traditional japanese smogashboard. Awesome. beef, fish, vegetables were all there to try. I sucessfully tried a taste of everything, but I couldn't finish it all.

And after dinner, a nice dip in the hot spring of the hotel. So nice and relaxing. I can't wait till tomorrow to do it again, and try out the different sakes at the sake breweries.

Later.

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Videos

April 3rd, 2007

So I am able to take some video with my camera, this seems like a great opportunity to try it out.


This guy is trying to escape. Stop him.

This is the Bullet Train from Tokyo half way to Takayama

On the bullet train

Almost half way to Takayama

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So Much Walking.

April 2nd, 2007

And walking is good for you. 

So I tried the internet connection in the room last night, and nothing. So I could not upload the 170 pictures I ended up taking. The wait until the next chance I get. Until then I'll need to take care of this blister onboth my feet, which are in the sae spot on both.

The reason for th blisters, got up, at 430am, just couldn't sleep. Force myself to fall back asleep for another hour eventually. Then it was 830. Shower and check out and since i had 2 hours to kill i decided to walk back to Ueno. No Problem, just a straight shot. Went to a coffee shop and bought what i thought was a danish, but it was more like a breakfast pizza, and the coffee was delicious. Stood in line to get my JR pass to use the train system and went to Customer Assisstance to find out how to get to the check in hotel.

They were very helpful in showing me where the hotel was, unfortunetly they directed me to the wrong hotel. I overshot the destination by 2 exits. So get more information on where the hotel was and kept moving, all this while dragging my suitcase with my backpack at the ready. The woman at the wrong hotel suggested i use the subway station, but I just wanted to keep with the trains, and I didn't know where the subway stations were, so I was off for what should have been a 15min walk, which turne out to be 45min of zig-zagging through Shingawa. And found the hotel, only the balls of my feet were hurting, and made it up to the room and it was around 2 o'clock, and I didn't just want to lay around and rest, of course not,that's not why I'm here. So I went to look around the temple next to the hotel and took a ride up to the very top of Tokyo Tower. Amazing, I could see until the clouds stopped me.

So after waiting in line at the Tower to get in and such, I treated myself to a rum and coke in the hotel bar. Quite, Nice. And then it was time to meet the group I'm with. Everyone is so very nice and friendly, and way more traveled than I an. Sarra has taken 6 months to just go travel th world with her husband and everyone else has seen their share of the world. My roommate Asim is a really cool guy, and he's from Canada.

After dinner a group of us decided to go wander around Rappongi to take a quick look a all the bright shiny lights. And get asked repeatedly if we want to go into the bar we were passing, definetly big on the hard sell tactics there. After about a couple hours we headed back. Feet had taked quite a toll through the day. But worth it reguardless.