Donnerstag, 17. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 13 - Hachiko

Harayuku reminds me of Camden Town in London. It is a district for people who like to dress... different. Not necessarily a bad thing. You have a lot to see there. And they had nice underwear. I will never forget the face of the cute girl behind the counter when I walked in with a male friend of mine who happens to speak a little Japanese and bought some panties and a bra. I don't think that she sees male humans walk into her store alot. But I just HAD to get this fluffy bra. I mean... how cute is that?

For Lunch they introduced me to Shibuya. Let me just say. This district is horrible. The only thing I like there is the statue of Hachiko. Well and maybe the 'french café' we went to drink a tea. A rose tea. and sweets. Delicious.
But this whole district is about: beeing cool. How you look, how you dress, how to do your make-up, having cool friends, hanging out at cool Karaoke-Bars... Seriously if I want to see slutty teenagers I check them out on Facebook.
But I really wanted to visit Hachiko, and a we met a friend there as well. And somehow... you can't just not go to the "one big crossroad" in Shibuya. I mean in EVERY movie that includes a scene in a Japanese City, you see this crossroad.

As a big final highlight, we went to Tokyo Tower. One of the many things one has to visit, when in Japan. The view over Tokyo at night is awesome. I know, I use the word awesome a lot. But it really was awesome. Though, I wouldn't go there when it's tourists season. We already had to wait a lot to get up there. I don't want to imagine how it is during the busy season, during big festivals and such.

Mittwoch, 16. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 11 and 12 - ... i hate People

Finally we got into the train for Tokyo. My fiancee looked forward to that all the time. I wasn't so sure if I was looking forward to it. The first day wasn't that bad and I started to believe that I was O.K. with a big city like that. Oh how wrong I was.

The next day we started early to take a walk through Tokyo. I think, we wanted to go somewhere specific but the guy who told us, he knows the direction, got us lost within the first few minutes. So we decided to just have a nice walk. We even passed the island where the Emperor lives on. You don't see much, but it looks like a giant park. I'd love to live there.

When we reached a subway station again, I started to hate Tokyo. So many people shoving through these damn stations. So many people shoving through the streets and shops and everything. Basically every time we rode the subway I had the urge to push all the people away from me and start screaming hysterically at them... for no reason, just because they were there and it was crowded.

The Sky-Tree was still a construction site. But one of our fellas is a big fan of architecture and we went to see it anyway. I have to admit. It is impressive. And I am not sure if I would feel comfortable up there. But damn... that's a building! You feel so tiny next to it.

At Asakusa we took one of these awesome boats designed by Yamamoto, to get to Odaiba. It is all made up as a space ship and over the speaker the characters from the Galaxy Express tell you stories about the building you can see. Unfortunately Japanese only. Foreighn Tourists are supposed to understand that or just shut up and enjoy the view without the guide.
Still, If you like Yamamoto take one of these boats to get to Odaiba. First: you avoid the subway, second it is a nice boat trip, third... it is a frigging space ship on the water! And Odaiba itself has some nice restaurants and shoppingmalls and a ferris wheel and all kind of stuff that entertains you well.

Montag, 14. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 10 - Nightmares and Regrets

Yodobashi. My personal nightmare. Not that I didn't enjoy going in there and see all the stuff...
Trust me, Yodobashi has EVERYTHING! They have sound systems, cameras, Outdoor equipment, bicycles, crafting equipment, TVs, Games, DvDs, Music, Computer, toys... and it is as big as a really big shoping center in Switzerland. Only that it is just one store, for well... geeks and normal people alike.

So for our last day in Osaka we decided to visit Yodobashi. They told me, that I never really was in Japan unless I made one trip to the Yodobashi. And I kid you not when I tell you that I had to spend half of my day in this frigging building. My dear fiancee refused to go out again. He wanted to see this and that and stuff and this again and there and... at one point I just placed mysef at some stairs at the entrance and started to read a book. But it wasn't over jet.

Later they draged me to the Mandarake. I wasn't happy at it first.
Let me explain something first. I love comic and manga and all that. But I just don't see the point in buying Japanese books. I can't read them. So... why go to a secondhand comic shop?
I soon saw why. It isn't just a secondhand "comic" shop. It's a second hand nerd-stuff-shop. They also sell all kind of Cosplay equipment, figurines, card-games, posters... EVERYTHING.

And I was at the top floor drooling at all these cute little thingis when i saw 'HER'.
The most awesome figurine I've ever seen. From my favourite PSP-Game. Valkyrie Profile "Lenneth", hovering in front of a tainted glass window. She was beautiful. And only 15000 Yen. But rationality caught up with me and I didn't buy her. I mean, it is after all about 50cm high and I had no idea how to carry her. Later this day, back in my Hotelroom I hated myself for not buying her.

In the evening we headed for the Floathing Garden Observatory. A platform that connects two buildings. And

there is an escalator between the two building. If hights bother you... don't look down. Just... don't. As this was my first skyscrapper on this journey, I was impressed by the view. But it got even better! Back down we got to the HEP, a shopping Mall next to Umeda Station. And at the top of this shopping mall, there is a ferris wheel. The gondolas have their own docking station for an MP3 player so you even get to have your own musik while going up... If you're not affraid of highs, pay it a visit.

Sonntag, 13. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 9 - Back to Kyoto

Kyoto again. I started to wonder why the hell we stayed in Osaka at all. Maybe it was the food. Food in Osaka is awesome. This time we visited the Fox Temple.

The passage with all the toris is beautiful. Pitty that some of the toris already start to rott. But it is a very nice and easy walk in a beautiful park (yeah there are parks everywhere in Japan). You can head for the big tour but which happen to be a lot more of walking, but we stayed with the short one, there was still plenty of other stuff to see.

The Sanjusanguendo Temple, for example. There is a building that hosts thousand and one statues. We werend't allowed to take pictures in there, so I had to catch one from the internet to show the awesomeness of this halls to you. I felt kind of minor, walking all these statues. They are beautifuly crafted, with lots of details. It is astonishing what people back then could create. It seems to be made with so much love and care. Something you don't see today very often.

Another thing you have to see when you visit Kyoto is the Water Temple. But try to go there in Winter, when not that many Japanese people try to play tourist and visit the temple. It was so horribly crowded, that i didn't even manage to take a nice picture.

Samstag, 12. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 8 - The mysterious Restaurant

You can't stay in Osaka without visiting the Osaka Castle. I mean, sure you can decide to not to visit it. But it would be a shame. Osaka Castle stands in the middle of an enormous park. It is surrounded by several enormous walls, built from enormous stones which almost make the old Egyptians envyous.

The castle itself isn't as old as it seems. Because it is made almost entirely out of wood and the clime in Japan is very humid they have to 'rebuild' all the temples and castles every now and then. Osaka Castle was also almost entirely destroyed during WW II and they decided to rebuild everything in 1997. So basically all these old buildings probably aren't all that old...

In the park next to the castle there are lots of souvenir shops again. And many stalls that sell Takoyaki. Delicious and treacherous food! It's a snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and filled with diced octopus. I like these little balls very much. Unfortunately, even if they are all cooled down at the outside, they are still cooking hot at the inside. Damn I burned my tong!

Our day was still young and my fiancee wanted to visit the golden Pavillon in Kyoto. At this point I was already tired of all the old buildings which honestly, all look kind of the same. So I didn't really give the Golden Pavillon a chance. Big mistake: If you can ignore the endles crowds of tourists that try to take a picture form one specific spot, you can enjoy an astonishing view of the Pavillon.

So why take a photo at this specific spot? All the post cards are shot form that angle, so of course if you go there yourself, you have to take a picture like the ones on the postcards... no I don't get it either... We took our pictures from ten meter to the right and I still think they're beautiful.

And now let me tell you the adventure of the misterious restaurant. All the people in my group have been there two times at least. But everytime they try to get there, they get totally lost. Usually ending up at the wrong train-station. So, needless to say, that I had to endure a pretty random sight-seeing because noone had a clue where to go. They almost got me to the point where I wanted to start punching people in the face, but then... oh, sweet, sweet surpirse, we found it.  And I did, what they should have done the first time they went there. I took notes.

Now, if you want to taste the best Okonomiaky you have ever tasted and you happen to be in Osaka. Follow these Instructions:
- Take the (brown) Subway Line to Minami Morimachi.
- Now take the Exit 3
- Head left immediately, into a shopping alley. If you have a red-brown tori over your head, there's a knife and blade shop to your left and you should see an Okonomiyaki Restaurant named the "Yukari" to your right.
- Go in there and enjoy a delicious meal.
If you understand any Japanese: That's the place:

Freitag, 11. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 7 - A Proposal

We did not stay in Takamatsu. Our planing took us to Osaka and after we left our lugage in our next hotel, we got on the train for Nara. There's a enourmus park with all sorts of temples. Another attraction in this park are the deers.  Hundreds of them. And they will eat you if you buy food for them. One actually tried to gnaw at my dress. Beside the deer and the temples you have also the souvenir shops. In Japan there are souvenir shops everywhere. And every souvenir shop has its own Hello Kitty.

Again we had to realize that tourist season was over. Many temples were under construction. But I still got to see the giant golden Buddha. And a Pagode that went up five storeys. And there is this temple with hundreds of lanterns and... oh it was awesome. If you ever head to Osaka, visit Nara. Just do it.

So we were in the temple full of lanterns and I really wanted my camera back, but my friend refused. He said he really didn't care and he would love to take some more pictures and he ran off everytime i tryed to get the camera back. The others kind of backed him up, telling me, that I should just enjoy the temple. After the lantern we had the choice to head further up the hill to a temple which was clearly under construction or downhill, where deers and more souvenirs were waiting. I headed for the downhill path and everybody started shouting at me.

Up they said, awesome view they said. Doesn't matter that the temple is under construction they said.
Tired and pissed of I followed them to this stupid temple which was under construction. It looked awful and there was no view at all. The only thing that differed this temple from the others were the lucky charmes that were heart shaped. So... yey... we were in a construction site for couples. I didn't feel even a little bit romantic. I turned to tell them that this shit isn't funny at all and that I started to get really pissed. Turning around I bumped into my boyfriend who held a little box and grined at me with his gorgeous smile: "Just stop for a second and tell me if you want to marry me!"

Needless to say that all the anger was suddenly far away and I started to feel VERY romantic. I mean, who gets a proposal in Japan, in a temple especially for couples on 11.11.11? Even if Murphy clearly hated him and messed up the planing a lot. If you get a proposal even a construction site can be romantic.

We went back to Osaka and for a big feast in a Yakitory bar. The Ondorian next to Tokyu Inn at Juso Station in Osaka. Go there, and eat... eat a lot. Try the sweet patatoe and the tuna and the cesar salad and... really... just go there. It is delicious:

Donnerstag, 10. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 6 - Caverns and Parks

In Takamatsu I got my first Matcha Latte from Tullys. Not only is this coffee bar named after one of the famous families from Game of Thrones, it also has the most awesome MatchaLatte. We left town and headed for a ship again. It brought us to Megishima. A little island with a little village on it. We were totally off season and everything was kind of deserted.

We found a nice guy that told us, that the busses to bring the tourists to the caves are not on scedule for the next few month, so we decided to walk. I got the feeling that the average age of this city was way over sixty and there were cats... lots of them. And giant spiders, and monstrous wasps big as little birds. (And I really don't want to find out how big hornets are in Japan if wasps already freak me out...)

Megishima is a beautiful little island. And since we went there out of season it was mostly abandoned. I think the average age in the small village at the harbour was about 50 or more. Everything looked old and well... out of season. But there were caverns. And our Tourist-Guide told us they would be worth a visit. It was quite a walk, up the little mountain.

The Oni cavern was adorable. Decorated very cute and little signs that tell you a little story about the Oni of this islan. Or at least it would have told us a story if we were able to read japanese. If you go to Japan you have to get used to the fact that these little, adorable people are fucking racists. They don't do anything in english. They don't really expect foreign people to visit. And you always feel like kind of a freakshow. Nonetheless, I found Megishima rather lovely and quiet. I bet during the season it is as crowded as every tourist attraction in Japan. 

Back at Takamatsu we ran into the sign leading to Tamomo Park. Quiet and very beautiful. Built for an Emperor. The special thing about this park is its river. It is a river built without water. I have to admit, I hate Japanese cities. I hate all the crowds and the noise and the lights. But I could forget about everything in Japanese gardens and parks. Maybe it is because it is one of my firsts parks in Japan, but I find Tamomo Park one of the most awesome parks I've ever seen.

Mittwoch, 9. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 5 - More Traveling

Next Stop: Takamatsu.

Since traveling by train is too mainstream, we decided to take the ferry. It was an interesting

experience. Ferrys in Japan are not like ferrys in europe. You don't have chairs or benches. You have spaces with a thick carpet where you can hang out and eat your luch and party really hard like a bunch of people in their fifties demonstraded to us with lot of enthusiasm.

You take your shoes off and make yourself comfortable. We took the first spot, so everybody went past us at some point. A group of elderly women passed us and stopped at our spot and stared at the shoes of our giant friend. One of the ladies could not resist. She took off her shoes and bowed at us very politely, then she placed both of her thiny feet in one of his shoes and looked at us with a wide grin in her face. It was just so cute.

We went off the ferry in Yawatahama and took a train to Takamatsu. It was rather lovely. Now that I had enough sleep and felt comfortable, traveling Japan by train wasn't that horrible anymore. In Takamatsu we got a cheesy hotel room… it smelled awful of cold cigarette smoke.  So no reccomendation this time. Take the ferry, though. It is awesome.

Dienstag, 8. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 4 - A great view

Because Beppu it self is more about hot tubs and relaxing than real entertainment, we decided to go on a fieldtrip the second day. We took the bus to the Kintetsu Bepu Ropeway to ascent Mt. Tsurumy. The tourist office reccomendet it to us. They said it has an awesome view. Well maybe the woman in the office was right, but Murphy decided, that the awesome view can take a day off when we arrived at the top of the Mountain:

But it was still a very relaxing tripp. And the mountain it self was beautiful as well. For me it was a relieve. Because... even if Beppu was a small town it was already very noisy and crowded and colourful and... well... Japanese. Advertising shouted at you from every corner. Everything is colourful and singing and dancing and... it's horrible! Oh and you have vending machines everywhere, which can come in kind of handy.

In the evening I wrote my first postcards. Normally I tell people that my vacations are awesome, the food is delicious or that I met some nice people. This time I was forced to tell someone about the toilet paper. It’s very thin; you even can read the newspaper through it. My friends though that would be a proper topic in a letter… well they wouldn’t shut up, so I gave in…

Montag, 7. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 3 - Tall people

Beppu is a nice town. Probably bigger than Zurich, but for Japan, it is a small town. Unfortunately I underestimated the power of the Onsen and got myself a circulatory collapse. So we decided to start low with our first whole day in Japan.

The tourists office reccomendet the 'Jigokudani' and so we took the next bus and rode all the way to the aglomeration. The Jigokudani was a combination of dozends of public Onsen and a Crocodile park Named and a park 'Umijigoku' with lots of different wells and pools. Some of them are shiny blue, or dark red or jellow. Everything smells like sulphur but the view is totally worth it.

We spent the evening in the hotel. We went to the big pool with the watershow. Many Japanese people decided to do the same. Now immagine beeing a tall person. Being tall in Japan isn't hard. Even I am a tall peson. Now immagine beeing a tall person in Europe and going to Japan. You're huge! Our Friend is tall, he's huge... and he is some kind of attraction for Japanese people. Standing in a crowded elevator can be so much fun. Especially when it's crowded with a group of Japanese women in their fourties. It's all giggling and whispering and aweing and sometimes even friendly poking to make sure, that the gian man is real.

Sonntag, 6. November 2011

Japan 2011 Day 1 and 2 - An endless Journey

Since I have some non-German speaking Friends, that were interested in my trip to Japan, I'll try to write in english, this time.

I have to tell you, flying to Japan is horrible! Well, I guess, flying anywhere that far away from home is horrible. But we didn't just fly to Japan, no! We flew to Japan, sitting in airplanes for about 15 hours... just to change to trains for the next seven hours. Somehow I didn't really enjoy the view. I was just weary and tired and I really wanted a nice hot shower.

So for all the people who want to travel Japan: Do yourself a favour and take a hotel-stop in Tokyo when you arrive. Don't go straight to Beppu by train! But at the other hand, when you arrive in Beppu and talk with hands and feets to a Taxi driver becaues he doesn't understand a word in English it starts to get better.

If you then get out of the taxi and see the awesomeness of the Suginoi Hotel... you start to feel even better. And then you'll finally find a Japanese who can speak some english, and they get you delicious food, and you can change into a comfortable Yukata and head for an awesome little Onsen... At the end of our endless journey I had to admit, that it wasn't that bad after all.

If you do not have to keep your budget low, I really reccomend you the Suginoi Hotel in Beppu it has a particularly awesome Onsen at its rooftop. The food is delicious. And Beppu it self is a very nice and almos quiet place. Well as Quiet a city as you can find in Japan.