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Archive for February 2010

Feb/10

17

Commentary

Just about to leave Japan so I thought I’d share some interesting moment from the past few weeks. All photos taken from iPhone as we haven’t had many good clear days for photography and I haven’t wanted to carry it around much because I lost the lens cap (now replaced). iPhone encourages immediacy as well, far off scenery is usually pretty boring. Links to larger photos at the bottom. To iu wake de ~


Very retro, also spective. Was a pretty boring store though.

Very retro, also spective. Was a pretty boring store though. Kyoto.

Not really sure what was American about it either.

Did it snow? I think it snowed ...

Did it snow again? I think it snowed ...

Definitely looks like snow.

Definitely looks like snow.

Very snowish, don’t you think?

Orange torii gate, blurred for effect (or is it just my poor photography). There were thousands of these in a long path. Fushiri Inari.

Orange torii gate, blurred for effect (or is it just my poor photography). There were thousands of these in a long path. Fushiri Inari, Kyoto.

My advice: just stop at the first row. Don’t be tempted to see them all.

It's better than orange. Found in vending machines just about everywhere in Japan.

It's better than orange. Found in vending machines just about everywhere.

Actual colour: red.

Did I mention it snowed? Just a bit past here it was leg deep. This is is Takayama, in the mountains, so it's perhaps not surprising - but we were told all this snow was from the last 2 days.

Did I mention it snowed? Just a bit past here it was leg deep. This is is Takayama, in the mountains, so it's perhaps not surprising - but we were told all this snow was from the last 2 days.

Not much heat in the sods, but much dint.

Ikebukuro's (a Tokyo suburb, or rather sub-city) version of a park.

Ikebukuro's (a Tokyo suburb, or rather sub-city) version of a park.

No parking.

Seeing stars.

Seeing stars.

Behind Starbucks is a bookshop. They sell books (we think).

A slightly rotated view of the above. One of Tokyo's most famously busy intersections. Not actually that busy on this day.

A slightly rotated view of the above. One of Tokyo's most famously busy intersections. Shibuya.

Not actually that busy on this day.

View from the top of a Ferris wheel.

View from the top of a Ferris wheel.

A wet and overcast day is the perfect day for long distance sightseeing.

Some very interesting escalator steps. I assure you they were particularly escalatory.

Some very interesting escalator steps. I assure you they were particularly escalatory.

No, I’m not sure either.

An Ikebukuro blur.

An Ikebukuro blur.

Ikebukuro is pretty.

A Nara deer. These wander around the city looking for tourists to feed off / on.

A Nara deer. These wander around the city looking for tourists to feed off / on.

Run away.

Someone forgot to clean the roof.

Someone forgot to clean the roof.

… for the last 30 years …

After a day of wandering through temples, we finally found what we were looking for.

After a day of wandering through temples, we finally found what we were looking for.

Actually we’ve spent a lot of time looking for something, eventually finding it, and then being assaulted by the said sagashi-mono the next day. I think the chronology went something like book shop, postcards, postbox, rubbish bin, kimono shop, cinema. This is not including the eternal search for a dinner place which both has a vegetarian option (they just don’t understand it here for what I can tell, or maybe I need to know more Kanji so I can read the whole menu) and is sufficiently interesting. Such is tourism.

Purple ties. How could we resist?

Purple ties, 500 yen (~$6 AUD). How could we resist?

We couldn’t (although to be fair, Josh’s was more black).

Shinkansen go rather fast. This is what happens to the countryside.

Shinkansen go rather fast. This is what happens to the countryside.

My video was more blur than picture.

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Feb/10

11

Random Photos

Street

Some nice looking rooftops, Kyoto

Some nice looking rooftops, Kyoto

Snow and scenery

Snow and scenery

Some nice looking rooftops, Kyoto

Some nice looking rooftops, Kyoto

Ironic sign, the Japanese text says Sake (alcohol) and tabacco. Sideways.

Ironic sign, the Japanese text says Sake (alcohol) and tabacco. Sideways.

I uploaded these before but didn’t have time to post. Just about to run out of time again, so I can’t write much.

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A few hours ago my friend Josh posted an excellent blog post of what we’ve been up to in Japan (http://joshdeprez.com/?p=416). It strikes me that there’s a lot missing. This post will attempt to fill in the gaps. It will skip through the things Josh explains.

One disclaimer – I make no representations about the factual accuracy of this post. It may or may not have some relation to real events.

So, here we go.

~ Gold Coast. Plane. 9 hours. Kansai International Airport. Money Hole. 3rd floor (of 5). Takoyaki sans-tako. ~

Anyway, around about now we had a chance to use our iPhones. Josh’s, as expected, worked perfectly. Mine did almost the opposite. It also worked perfectly. This is despite me being assured several days ago that prepaid Vodafone customers could not get roaming in Japan, and that in any case I would need to be on the $49 cap.

Sadly, we had dire need of my prepaid data, because we didn’t know where our hotel was or how to get there. So I loaded up Google maps, but then Josh found it on a map anyway.

~ Fun whole wall train fare schedule. “Stuff that, let’s get the day pass”. ~

We then caught the JR train to Osaka. I’ve heard a lot about how trains in Japan are almost always on time, but somehow we managed to attract the one delayed one -_-.

We sat around for a bit less that 10 minutes waiting for some unexpected passing trains or something, and then spent the rest of the trip being profusely apologised to by the effusive Japan train voice.

~ 800m walk with semi-miraculous string of green lights. Yay internets. ~

At this point a comment must be made about the difficulty of talking in Japanese when you know some but not enough. It’s annoyingly hard to ask for things in Japanese rather than pointy language or English. Why? Because you have to read the menu / map / etc first. And that’s in Kanji + English. I often don’t understand the first one. They often don’t understand the 2nd. We revert to pointing, which is really unfortunate.

Anyway, we caught a couple more trains in the morning and then walked from Tennoji to Den-den street after some harrowing encounters with 3 different maps, my broken sense of direction, uncrossable streets, lack of signs and even street names (they use numbers or something), and a rather angry looking vending machine.

Eventually we got to Den-den street, although somehow we’d ended up at the north end. That would be the wrong end, meaning that in order to walk through the street we’d have to go backwards. So instead of doing that, we accosted a vending machine and headed into the closest electronics store. There we wandered around looking for cheap computer parts, but were only able to find cheap cameras. I bought a Nikon D3000, and despite the salesman’s attempts to warn me about the warranty and power supply not working in Australia it turned out to have an international warranty and a battery recharger that will work perfectly well in Australia with a standard cable.

We then wandered off towards Minami, got lost again after somehow crossing a river without noticing, discussed various transport options, and chose the slow (but day-pass useable) loop train back to the station 800m from our hotel.

We then flipped out and teleported to Kyoto. Enough about trains.

Kyoto is very pretty, but it makes you wish it was Spring. In Spring it would undoubtedly be beautiful. In Spring we would not be able to afford our 5 star hotel, or even get a reservation. I guess these things balance out.

~ Guided check-in, random convenience store, dinner, night-time wander around expansive hotel, sleep, missed winter celebration. Morning~

So there’s this walk in the Lonely Planet guidebook, which our hotel is pretty much at the end of. We started walking backwards down it, and visited some deserted temples. Around then my new camera ran out of batteries, which I had forgotten to recharge.

The last photo.

The last photo.

そのあとで we found our way to a large temple in which there was a Buddhist monk reciting a story/lesson (or something) about some people who wanted to change themselves – it was pretty interesting, but also fairly hard to follow because it was in Japanese and seemed to be jumping around a bit.

After that we abandoned the walk and headed up through the forest on Higashiyama towards the temple I particularly wanted to see – Kiyomizudera, a huge set of temples perched on the side of the hill. We came in from the back.

Here we met our first actual crowd (and close to our first actual people, the last temple excepted). Since we came in from the back we started at the top. That’s where the greatest concentration of shrines can be found. There are two rocks about 10 meters apart – the nicely misspelt sign informed us that walking between them with your eyes closed would predict your future love life. I went first and made it with a bit of help from the gaps in the pavement. Josh went 2nd and got somewhat lost, but made it with a bit of help.

No eyes allowed

No eyes allowed

Kiyomizudera had a very nice atmosphere – the crowds were fine, but there was a genuine feeling of, if not reverence, then casual respect for the shrines.

A pretty street.

A pretty street.

~ Way too much cream, walking, Gion, walking, city, walking, walking, subway, hotel, books, sleep, walking, dinner, blogging, logging ~

Some random pavement. Not sure why.

Some random pavement. Not sure why.

More philosophy next time. Also by then I may know how to use my camera (I’ve had heaps of help from Twitter, thanks for that!).

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