Posts with photography and entries from Japan.

A quick hello.

Jan. 12 2005 8:55am
Just a quick hello as I write this feverishly from Okinawa island. My internet access has been very limited as of late so I haven’t updated. Nonetheless I’ve been having a great time here in the southern part of Japan, as well as in the Kansai area. I’ll spend the rest of today in Okinawa sightseeing as much as I can before catching a 9pm flight back to Tokyo. Time really does fly by when you’re out travelling.

So far I’ve gone to Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, and Himeji in the Kansai area and then went south to Ishigaki island for two nights before heading to Okinawa island for one night. All this makes me wonder why I would want to come back to Canada so soon! hehe…

Anyway, I’ll write more later.

I’m off!

Jan. 4, 2005 10:17am
I’m off on the first of my two major trips outside of Tokyo. I don’t know exactly where I’m heading yet but it will no doubt include Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and maybe Kobe as well. I’m returning on the night of the 8th. Then early morning on the 9th I will be flying to Okinawa Island where I’ll stay for a few nights and will be returning to Tokyo on the 12th. I’ll be lingering about Tokyo from then on.

I probably won’t be updating this site for the next little while but I will do so when I get back. Until then, have fun wherever and whatever you are doing!

Cheers.

Getting pushed around.

January 2, 2005: 1158pm
I went to Asakusa today with my family. It was crazy busy there as everyone goes there for the new years for good fortunes. It was a steady stream of people who would trample you left right and center if you weren’t paying attention. We didn’t even go in the shrine since it was too busy and we didn’t have enough time to wait.

At night I tested my vocal abilities with some pretty pathetic karaoke. It was a sad state of affairs. But I was able to sing a wide variety of songs from English to even Japanese, which surprised my folks.

It’s late. Goodnight.

Happy New Year!

January 1, 2005 11:08pm
A happy new year to all who actually read this site!
I hope you all had a fun time at your new year’s eve party. I sure did!
Shopping in Harajuke in the early afternoon I bought 4 shirts and 1 scarf and barely scraped all the stores in that area. I will have to go back another day! I have to say I didn’t know shopping for clothes can be this interesting here in Japan!

After a new year’s eve dinner with my family and relatives, my brother and I left around 9pm to go to Roppongi. We went to the Gas Panic bar to celebrate the new year’s countdown since this was the only bar that we actually knew about as we went there last night. We went in one year at around 10pm and came out the next year at around 6:15am. Although the music was ok, the people there were nice. A mixture of foreign and locals go there so it was a perfect mix of people. A hello to Marii and Cathia whom I met there. If only the drinks were a little cheaper. One small bottle of water was 500 yen, and one bottle of beer cost 700 yen. That’s about 8 canadian dollars. And with that one really, really persistant staff member there, it was hard to enjoy yourself in her presence. The rule in the bar is that you had to be drinking in order to stay in the bar. If she caught you, she would stick to you like a target and stand in front of you until you order a drink. And if you say no, like I did, she would point to the door. Gad, I mean, give us a break there gal. Every other staff member is leniant and let’s us be drink-free.

Today I woke up at 10am to go see my only living grandmother of 90 years. She was surprisingly very healthy and alive with was great to see. I met Tomou, one of my cousin, and their cute daughter of 9 years. It was a nice reunion of my dad and his two brothers.

Anyway, have fun and remember to make your new year’s resolution!

Snow and rain makes it a pretty damp day.

Dec. 29, 2004 10:30pm
It was a leisurely paced day today even though I woke up at 7:10am. While eating breakfast it started to snow and snow, and snow even more. It actually accumulated to some amount on the ground. It was actually white in Tokyo. I went to Shinjuku with my brother and mother and spent a good chunk of the time at Tokyu Hands. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Tokyu Hands is a department store that specializes in home furnishings and goodies. It was one of my favourite stores to go to while in Japan since I was a little kid. I would go nuts in their stationary department buying sharp pencils (mechanical pencils) and pens that I wouldn’t use. I went back today for the first time in 9 years and I have to say the store seems to have gotten a lot smaller than what I remembered it as. I did find some nice pencils and pens but refrained from buying them as I probably wouldn’t use them that much.

After the big snowfall ended in late afternoon, it started to rain. The roads of Tokyo were pretty slushy and wet preventing me from going outside much of the time. I went around Shinjuku station going from one camera store to another price comparing for a speedlight that I have been eyeing for quite some time now. I did buy a turtleneck for 770 Yen and two pairs of underwear for about 700 Yen from Uniqlo, which was a bargain. Had I only bought that jacket for a mere 3990 Yen.

I came home, met my uncle who came home today (from Nikko), had sukiyaki dinner and watched a documentary on some mysterious lightning phenomenon happening in the deep swampy rivers of Venezuela. It’s pretty cold here in this room I’m in now since the heater refuses to cooperate. I’m not sure what’s going on but I have to sleep here tonight so I hope it warms up a bit.

Backtracking to yesterday, I met my penpal of 9 years for the very first time. We met at the New South Exit at Shinjuku station and headed off to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building where we went up to the observatory level on the 45th story. Since it was such a nice clear day yesterday we were able to see all around the city of Tokyo and beyond. Wandering around Shinjuku some more trying to find the Pentax Forum, we gave up since nobody knew what we were talking about. It turns out, it was in the Mitsui building, and not the Marui building as I was thinking. After a sushi lunch we went to the Hamarikyu Gardens in Shinbashi. From there we took a nice – but cold – ferry ride to Hinode Pier and then to Odaiba Kaihin Koen.

Odaiba was very interesting actually. It was pretty large with all its entertainment buildings and shopping plazas. We visited the Toyota Car Theme Park which displayed all the latest and greatest vehicles of Toyota. We went to the Future Design Center (or something like that) and then rode the ferris wheel right to the top at 115m high. Unfortunately we didn’t get to go to the Fuji broadcast building which seemed pretty futuristic on its own.

Dinner was curry rice at one of the many restaurants at Venus Fort. We headed back to Shinbashi via the Yurikamome skytrain. It was a great day as I finally got to meet Carol and did something that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.

More food to warm me up in this cold.

Dec. 27, 2004 11:30pm
Walking all around town is was actually very interesting to see the different types of people going about doing their business. I went to Shibuya area today for the very first time. It`s a part of town that is more known to be frequented by the younger crowd. I didn`t get enough time to do much shopping but I am sure to go back there when I have more time.

For lunch I had some tsuke-men, which is the latest craze in Japanese ramen. It`s basically cold noodles (much thicker and tastier than the ones found in T.O.) served separately from the hot broth. I liked it quite a bit, however my brother is fonder of the more traditional ramen.

We met up with my brother`s coworker and his wife in the afternoon at Shibuya by the famous dog statue. We walked around, went to Andersen bakery which served some really, really good pastries and baked goods. Dinner led us to Jiyugaoka, which was actually quite bustling for a small place. We went to the famous restaurant that served one of the best black pig cutlets in the area. Black pig? These are in fact specially bred pigs that are actually all black in colour. Strange indeed. It apparantly makes the pork much tastier and so much more tender. It was in fact very good. The most tender pork I have ever tasted in my life. We got to talking to the chef about how we found this restaurant by watching a Japanese TV show back in Canada. He was very grateful for us coming to his place that he gave us a free bowl of ten-don, which also was very, very good.

We went to Sweets Forest in anticipation of some great sweets only to find that by the time we arrived there, only one of the dessert cafe was open. All in all it was a day filled with more eating. I wonder what I will be like in three weeks time if I keep this rate up.

I didn`t write this yesterday but I was actually very surprised at how much smaller many places and things looked like now. As I remembered it from long ago many of the malls and shopping plazas seemed soooo large to me since I was only a little kid when I used to visit those places. The walk to the bus stop near my aunt`s house takes all but a mere 30 seconds but I remember that being such a long and arduous walk! Walking down the hallways of the Nakano Broadway arcade, I remembered that as being such a large mall but now it seems quite small and less grand.

On another note, I woke up to some horrible news this morning about a tidal wave and earthquake combo that hit the Indonesian coastlines quite hard. It`s quite scary to hear that when some of the places that got hit hard were actually places that some of my friends had just visited just a few months ago. An earthquake of 9.0 magnitude is just unheard of and I can`t even imagine what kind of damage that would have caused. I only saw minimal clips of the aftermath and that alone was just daunting.

I`m off to bed now. Goodnight.

4 hour delay, free drinks, cell phones, and no ATMs

Dec. 26, 11:00 pm
We were so close to staying a night in Vancouver. Thanks to the wonderful weather we had in Toronto the day before, our flight from Toronto to Vancouver was delayed four hours. Naturally, we had all thought that we had missed our connecting flight to Japan. However, once we landed in Vancouver, we learned that our flight was waiting for us. Since the number of people flying to Japan was so much, Air Canada decided to delay the connecting flight so that we could all go to Japan.

No matter, the flight was smooth. With free alcohol on board, I went for it all. From sake to ale & ginger to rum & coke, I happily kept ordering one after the other. I even got a special cake just for moi as I had gone to see the attendant after everyone else was sound asleep.

We arrived in Tokyo about 8:30pm Christmas Day. By the time we came to Nakano, where my aunt and unlce lives, it was around 11pm. We had a late snack – accompanied by beer – and slept the night away.

Today, the day after Christmas, my family went browsing around Nakano, Shinjuku, and Tokyo stations. Looking around for prepaid cell phones we went practically everywhere. We finally got one for my dad to use while my brother and I decided not to get one. My brother got himself a Sony T3 Cyber-shot digital camera since he knew from the start he was going to get one here. I think it was a bargain for just under 50,000 yen. I didn`t buy anything. I did look around though, keeping tabs on what I think I should buy later on. Only problem is I don`t think I prepared myself for the many shopping opportunities that are here in Japan. I suppose it was silly for me to think that I wasn`t going to buy anything here in Tokyo since I did`t need anything at the moment.

I`m looking forward to what tomorrow will bring me… did I metion the food here is just amazing?