My trip to Japan


 

2017/12/29

Akihabara

The ApaHotel has a Very Berry Soup in the front, and guests receive a ticket for a free breakfast every day. It’s a charming place–very French in its inspiration. After breakfast I met my friend Jeongmi and we explored Akihabara. First we went to a maid cafe.

 

You’re not allowed to take pictures of the maids so I only got a couple of shots, but here’s the wall.

In order to call a maid over, you’re not allowed to say 「すみません」. You have to say 「にゃんにゃん」, which is the sound a cat makes (equivalent to the English “meow-meow.”)

After this, we visited a computer shop across the street that has free VR demos.

I already have an HTC Vive but there’s one demo that my computer can’t run, so I seized the opportunity here.

We then went to Don Quijote where you can find everything.

Including an umbrella shaped like a katana.

And… this…. 「おっぱい」means “boobs.”

On the top floor of the Don Quijote in Akihabara, AKB48 gives daily performances.

Back outside, we saw many cool things.

Such as this, to my knowledge, the only Carl’s Jr. in Japan. (For those of you heathens who live in the Eastern half of the US, Carl’s Jr. is Hardees. Also, Best Foods is Hellman’s and Smith’s is Kroger. You weirdos.)

Oh my gosh, I want it so.

Finally, we went to an owl cafe.

I love this picture. He’s surveying the land.

I’m no ornithologist, but I do believe that this is not an owl.

That is a big boy. A big, beautiful boy.

Thank you, Jeongmi! See you later!

I didn’t notice until now that Asakusabashi Eki has these cool figurines.

This really makes the process easier on the staff. You put your money in the vending machine and choose the card you want, then you hand the card to an employee and they make your food.

It’s so beautiful.

Something cool happened while I was eating.  A family came in and the father started talking to one of the servers. I barely understood anything he said, but I did hear the words 「四人ですけど。」(“We’re four persons”). I looked and noticed that there were three empty seats next to me and one empty seat to my left. Then I realized what was going on and and moved over so that the four empty seats were together. Everyone was very appreciative. Man, I’m glad that I caught those last two words. I understood little else.

This is a video of me going from my hotel in Asakusa to Akihabara Eki. Nothing extraordinary happens; it’s just there to satisfy your curiosity.

2017/12/30

Nara, Oosaka

First thing is to find the correct train at Tokyo Eki.

Shinkansen look like airplanes on the inside but they are MUCH more comfortable. There’s actually enough room to move your legs!

There’s Mount Fuji!

There’s a bridge in Odaiba similar to the one in the background.

The wall is upright, I assure you. It only looks slanted because the train is moving so quickly.

We’ve arrived at Kyouto Eki.

Now to go to Nara.

Nara’s mascot is this cute little deer.

They even have a deer on the manhole cover.

We browsed an antique store that Kaoru frequents. They have some pretty cool stuff in there.

They even have a gramophone!

 

 

The food at this restaurant was excellent–especially the dessert. If you’re ever in Nara, you owe it to yourself to come here.

 

Nara Park.

 

Some deer enjoy being pet, and others only want food.

You can purchase 鹿せんべい (deer food wafers) for about a dollar.

That crow stole a piece of wafer!

Kaoru is in the middle. Manami is on the right.

These are the plans that Kaoru drew up for us. She has such a big heart and is a very dedicated friend. It makes me want to cry.

I told Kaoru that while I was in Oosaka the one food I wanted to eat was okonomiyaki. This was the right place for that.

This event, called Illuminage, runs from November until February, I think. It’s setup in Nishinomaru garden to the west of Oosaka Castle.

http://japan-attractions.jp/illumination/osakajo-castle-illuminage/

They have a couple of shows, too, such as this lady and her monkey.

There was also a show based on an old Japanese story. I didn’t really understand; my listening comprehension is pitiful compared to my reading comprehension. Still, it was cool to watch.

All right, time to see the real thing.

I desperately wanted to get a picture with the castle and Moon in the same shot, but there was no such luck. I even lay down on my back but to no avail.

This, I think, is my favorite picture from the trip.

Thank you, Manami! See you next year! Thank you, Kaoru! See you tomorrow!

 

2017/12/31 & midnight 2018/01/01

This was my first encounter with the Kansai dialect. I had never seen the word 「おこしやす」 before. I looked it up and saw that it means “welcome.” Interesting. Also, they say 「ちいちゃい」 instead of 「小さい」, which I think is really cute.

Kyouto Eki is huge!

I arrived way too early so I had breakfast while waiting for Kaoru.

Our first stop was Fushimi Inari Taisha.

Contemplating the kanji…

We didn’t go all the way to the top because we were tired and on a tight schedule, but we ascended far enough to get a nice view of Kyouto.

At the station next to Fushimi Inari the support beams are painted orange to look like torii.

Kaoru ordered pasta and I ordered cheese curry.

There were several cats outside. Oh, what a wonderful day!

The pictures with filters on them are Kaoru’s, by the way. I want to give credit where credit is due.

After lunch it was time for the Monkey Park at Arashiyama.

嵐山公園 – Arashiyama Park. The name “Arashiyama” means “storm mountain.”

You can buy little bags of peanuts or apples and feed the monkeys. Some of them are pretty quick on the draw.

 

 

 

 

This is the shirt I was wearing, by the way. It says 「私は怖い女の人が好き」which means “I like scary women.” The word for “scary,” こわい, sounds similar to the word for “cute,” かわいい. So it’s an intentional typo. I made this shirt last year and I love it.

Kyouto has a lovely bamboo forest.

And now for Kinkakuji.

This was probably my second-favorite picture from the trip.

Visitors toss their coins and try to land one in the pot.

And here’s the gift shop.

For dinner we went to Morimori Sushi. It was terrific. (I can’t remember the location, unfortunately.)

 

They have hot water on tap so you can pour your own tea.

Not only do they have items come by on the conveyor belt, but you can make an order and it will come to you on a shinkansen.

There was a wide variety of items. Some of them were pretty creative, such as the hamburger one on the left.

And this one–oh my goodness was it good! This plate, with two pieces, cost ¥810 (almost $8), and let me tell you, it was worth every last yen!

Seriously.

This is what it did to my face. That is pure bliss right there.

That is one hungry family.

We then went to get some evening tea.

This was my hotel for the night. It could be described as an avante-garde dormitory hotel.

Here’s my cubicle.

While I rested for a couple of hours, Kaoru chilled in the lobby. Everywhere we went, those around us assumed that Kaoru and I were a couple. So when we got to the hotel the doorman wasn’t sure if we were going to try squeezing into the same cubicle.

After resting for a couple of hours, Kaoru and I headed out from the hotel to Nara Park. 

This place had the longest line of any booth, and I could see why once I started eating.

That was some good chicken!

The doors to the temple opened at midnight so Kaoru and I waited in line for a while.

 

 

2018/01/01

Oosaka: Sky Garden Observation Deck, Oosaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, kushikatsu

Riding the elevator to the 35th floorand then the escalator to the 39th

This is the Tower Gate Building. The Hanshin Expressway goes THROUGH the building because there was nowhere else to put it and the owners refused to sell the building so it could be demolished. So they just cleared out floors 5-7 and a road was put there instead. It is so well-insulated that you can’t even hear the traffic inside the building. Every month the owners of the Tower Gate building receive rent from a tenant called “Hanshin Expressway.” Only the Japanese could come up with such a stupidly genius idea.

 

This little guy swam up and down the line repeatedly to get pet.

This fellow was also a model. Perhaps a distant relative of the condor in Yokohama.

 

 

Unfortunately it was time to go after this. Kaoru went with me to Shin-Oosaka Eki and saw me off at the gate of the shinkansen. We didn’t get a picture because it was an emotional moment, so look at my JR pass instead.

 

Thank you for everything, Kaoru. You’re a wonderful friend. I love you with all my heart and I can’t wait to see you again next year.

 

 

Aah, back in Tokyo with their delightful ads.

 

2018/01/02

Touhoku countryside

This day was quite the misadventure. I intended to go to the fox village in Shiroishi, but I took a wrong turn that cost me 90 minutes and by the time I got to Shiroishi the fox village was 15 minutes from closing. So I got to spend the whole afternoon on various trains looking out the window. I’d like to thank the train conductor in Shiroishi for being very kind and helpful (she was also very cute, but that’s beside the point), and the taxi driver in Shiroishi who didn’t charge me anything because the fox village was closed.

Waiting for my shinkansen at Tokyo eki

Back at Akihabara eki, finally.

 

2018/01/03

Odaiba

On my last day I didn’t want to ride the shinkansen anywhere, especially if it meant wasting the whole day. So I just went to Odaiba.

I sat on a boulder here and cried for a bit because I didn’t want to leave Japan the next day.

Safety first.

 

I figured I would try some Japanese Chinese food to see how it differs from American Chinese food. My mistake was not getting the classic dish beef and broccoli.