A Travellerspoint blog

Update Time! whats been happening?

rain 17 °C

Its been a while since our last update so here we go.. i would recommend getting comfortable and possibly a coffee - this isnt going to be short folks.

last tuesday we went to Disney "the happiest place on earth" land. and it was a long day! we were able to conquer every ride except for space mountain, which im pretty sure would of been the best ride in history, due to some fast pass ticket scam, though the nice lady said we can comeback and use it another day (sigh) however all in all it was a good day and we were pretty exhausted by the end of it.

later that week we headed off to Mt Fuji with great expectations however our spirits were crushed like small helpless animals under the tread of a tree clearing bulldozer of environmental hate. it was a cloudy rainy day and couldnt see anything at all. the highlight of the day was the violation of a small rabbit / badger mascot by Josh and Darren while wearing disney cowboy hats.

Luckily the Nagano day trip was amazing. After a brief train trip, bus trip, mountain hike we arrived at monkey paradise aptly named hells valley due to there steamy gysers and rocky terrain. our first interaction with a monkey was josh being attacked and chased so we knew we were onto a good thing. it was pretty surreal being able to walk right upto wild monkeys and watch them go about their daily business of laying in hotpools and fighting each other (monkies are somewhat cruel) The day ended with some naked bathing (no monkey).

Well after all that the intinery has been thrown out the window and things got alittle crazy over the last couple of days.

It started off Sunday morning with the plan to take a 4.5hr train ride from Tokyo to Takayama in central Japan.
Upon arriving in Takayama we quickly hired some bicycles from a local and set off. It was quickly agreed upon that bicycles was the best idea of the holiday so far - we made great time and saw the entire city in an afternoon. so instead of staying the night - we packed it up and changed our course to Osaka.

We arrived in Osaka around 8:30pm and made our way into a pretty seedy part of town (ofcourse without knowing!) and finding a capsule hotel. we decided to give it a try - though the locker space couldnt fit our suitcases so we had to upgrade to a normal room. (not without jumping into some capsules first though)

Today we went in search of new accommodation and somehow found a place built into a major stadium which is home to the Osaka Football Club. its pretty strange to be staying in a stadium!

After dropping off our bags we ventured off into Osaka to check out whats for offer. starting with a trip to the Aquarium. it was pretty good though the much hyped whale shark cause abit of disappointment. i was expecting to see something godzilla like.. but it was just a fatter than normal fish.

After that it was into Osaka Castle, and with a trip to the castle came more rain (we seem to have bad luck with weather so far) the Castle was somewhat impressive but i think the weather made everyone abit disgruntled.. we made for shelter and went over to Dombomtori (sp?) and walked around what seems the largest street mall in the history of street malls. eventually getting lost.

anyways the last few days will see us visit Hiroshima, Miyajima and Himeji and exploring more Osaka.. expect more photos soon!

Posted by tayzonday 04:12 Archived in Japan Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

More Pictures

Again, as promised... Here they are!

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Posted by Phalanx 00:13 Comments (0)

Update on Tokyo

The city of Godzilla

-17 °C

Ok well its been a while since our last update. We last left you at the Iga Ueno ninjas which is in the Kansai region (near Kyoto and Osaka)

Well following that day we caught the Shinkasen (super fast bullet train) straight to Tokyo travelling at speeds of about 300kph!!

Tokyo has been a stark contrast compared to Kyoto. Where Kyoto was rich in old history, beautiful temples, and beautiful scenery - Tokyo is futuristic, neon coloured, sky scraper, madness.

Arriving to Tokyo station on the first day we were completely lost in the train system. We got too excited and caught the first train that appeared in front of us and it took us south towards Yokohoma. After we figured out the system a little better we ended up at our accomodation in Asakusa (also known as Old Tokyo).

Our first day we checked out our district and found a really nice market that runs down a street for about 500 meters and at the end of the street is a big temple. That night we cruised over to Shibuya and checked out the famous Shibuya crossing. It was pretty amazing. The sky was filled with skyscrapers and neon lights and plasma screen advertisements everywhere. After we had a coffee there at Starbucks which looks over the crossing we headed over to the Shinjuku district to check out the Tokyo night life. We found a nice Irish pub where we drowned in about half a dozen beers and then stumbled our way back to bed.

Our second day was a bit more exciting when a typhoon decided to rain down on Tokyo. Never-the-less we continued exploring. We went first to Akihabara (electric town) and checked out the crazy apartment stores, where about ten thousand different type of mobile phones, toasters, computers, and games were for sale. That night Brad and I decided we wanted KFC and we were going to catch a train to find it. Josh tagged along reluctently and then the most craziest thing happened.

Of the hundreds of trains that run through the subway in Tokyo each night we jumped on the one that was carrying a foreigners Halloween party enterourage. It was seriously insane. Our train carriage had about 100 people in it wearing the most outlandish costumes you have ever seen and drinking copious ammounts of alcohol. There were yellow power rangers, big green frog suits, dragonball z characters, men wearing thongs with bow ties, Guy Fawkes masks, Pokemon.... yeah it was pretty epic. Dont worry we took a lot of photos so youre not missing out.

Our third day fell on a Sunday. The Harajuku district on a Sunday is famous for the Cosplay that goes on there. For those unaware Cosplay is the act of dressing up as a famous character, icon, or fashion and playing or acting in that role. We found the place which just sits on a walk way bridge just behind the train station. It was pretty surprising what we found there. Lots of teenage girls, were sitting around in groups eating cake. They were dressed up in some pretty crazy costumes and posing for the cameras. Most of them were wearing Anime style goth type clothing. And in the middle of all the craziness was this guy who was singing U2 songs at the top of his voice with a backing track.

That night we went to do our laundry. While we waited for the washing machines we decided to find a diner or cafe to wait in. We stumbled into the nearest place and found it occupied by only 3 elderly Japanese locals. We sat down regardless and ordered a round of beers.... 1 hour later we were singing karaoke and having a merry time with the locals and calling out 'Kampai!' (Cheers!) everytime another round was ordered.

Today we woke early to head over to the Tsujuki Fish markets. The place was chaos. There was just action happening everywhere. People rushing around on electric carts, ice being tossed everywhere, giant tuna the size of a man, and plenty of tentacles. After the fish markets we jumped on the monorail and headed over to the Odabai district which is famous for hosting some pretty awesome buildings, a man mad beach, rainbow bridge, museums, and Pallette town. We went to the science museum which was pretty awesome because of the robot demonstrations. I got some cool footage to show you of some of the robots that were on display.

Well thats all folks.... Tomorrow we will be going to Disneyland so keep checking our blog for more updates.

Sayanora!

Posted by Phalanx 02:35 Comments (1)

Pictures!

As promised here they are

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Posted by brisvegas 20:18 Archived in Japan Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

We survived the ninjas!

hopefully we will have the same outcome in Tokyo...

overcast 21 °C
View Japan Holiday on tayzonday's travel map.

Well we just got back from a day with the Ninjas. We left early this morning as Iga-Ueno (ninja hangout) was a good 2hr trip and what seemed liked 45345 different trains. We were lucky enough to stumble across a pleasent japanese woman who guided as in the right direction, which i think was lucky because im pretty sure we were set to go in the opposite direction altogether.

A day at the ninjas consists of firstly a quick demostration of a ninja house which is what seems a typical farmers shanty but it has a billion hidey holes and places of advantage to launch a formible attack on your local milkman or possible rival ninja spy!

After that we got to view alot of ninja clothing / weapons and read up on the history. this was the calm before the storm however as soon enough we were watching a live ninja demostration with real weapons. We all left pretty impressed and josh and darren were so amped that they decided they would be wannabe ninjas if only for 5minutes and chuck some ninja stars around.

We finished off our ninja excursion by a quick visit to a castle. it was very impressive from the outside and made for pretty cool photos however the inside was abit of a letdown, pretty much consisting of nothing.

On the way down from the ninja mountains in the hunt for food we seemed to of stumbled upon a local market / parade. there was plenty of food and game stands and darren felt compelled to blow 500yen on a rigged shooting game, he did score a pitty prize from it though being a rather cool BB gun.

After eating some dodgey street vendor food and joining the local parade we waved through the 456423 trains back to Kyoto.

Tomorrow we leave for Tokyo on a first bullet train ride. Kyoto has been great and if things continue to improve its going to be pretty epic!

Posted by tayzonday 01:24 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Spaghetti and cake

at the same time!

Well it has been a pretty cool few days. We have seen just about everything Kyoto has to offer and a few of the surrounding areas too.

At the moment Brad and Darren are at some dodgey italian rip-off place odering this posts namesake (spaghetti and cake). I settled for some fish flavoured rice balls after walking the streets while the guys did their washing as Darren was down to a single sock and a wife basher, which is not really appropriate attire for the streets of Japan.

So with the Giant Budda, Silver Pagoda, Gold Pagoda, Imperial palace, Deer park and 20 to 30 other sites done all that is left for us to do is the ninja village. We are planning how best to approach the ninja masters and ask for a crash course. Brad thinks we should disguise ourselves as pirates, Darren wants to make a sacrafice to the gods and my plan was to breach their inner sanctum with 200 bells attached to our clothes in order to prove our worth. But that all seems like too much hassle so we are just going to dish out 800 yen and go along with the rest of the gaijin visiting on the day.

Last night we went out to the party district in Gion (a local suburb), after getting knocked back from several places for not being japanese we opted for the local Pig and Whistle, had a pint then continued to attack the pavement in serach of a bar. We found one that had an hourly charge for all you can drink, so being good aussies we did our duty and finished the spirits placed in front of us then left before the karoke started.

Money running out! Photos coming soon i promise!

Posted by brisvegas 04:20 Comments (1)

First Impressions

The vending machine is coming right for us!

sunny 20 °C

WOW

Well today was pretty awesome, we managed to squeeze in an Imperial procession, the path of philosophy (Brad contemplated society, Darren wrote some poems and I invented the interstellar messaging system - more info coming later), a large ensemble of temples, multiple shops and a few eateries.

Brad used chop sticks for the first time yesterday and is already shoveling in the food like a pro! Darren is regretting bringing a bad pair of shoes and my beard is going on strong.

The flight over was pretty good, I managed to get told off by a small child and she re-affirmed our holiday mantra
"ITS A GOOD HOLIDAY, ITS A HAPPY HOLIDAY". Brad got told off by an elderly lady about forgetting to pack a bomb and we are still waiting for Darren to be yelled at.

We are currently at the hostel with the other two having a snooze (possibly an extended nap since they turned offf the alarm and continued sleeping). It is very cramped and Darren has already managed to tear the bathroom door off in a feat of wild bear like strength.

With a large portion of Kyoto done we are planning a day trip tomorrow to check out a deer park and a few local temples at Nara. It is about 50mins away so after a hearty breakfast of miso soup and rice balls we will chant our holiday mantra for a while in the zen garden then make tracks for the day.

Pictures will be coming tomorrow and I will try to make an entry whenever the guys are taking naps :)

Posted by brisvegas 04:48 Archived in Japan Tagged backpacking Comments (3)

Sayonara Folks

We're leaving in 3 days!

overcast 25 °C

Well believe it or not people but 3 days from now we will be in Japan. In 2 days Brad, and myself (Darren) will be traveling to the Brisbane airport and meet up with Josh in Sydney. We're going to overnight at Josh's house and then we'll be catching the one way air express to Osaka Japan! :)

Hopefully we've all packed our bags and suitcases and haven't forgotten anything. Already we've exchanged 1,000 Dollars into Yen which works out roughly to be about 100,000 Yen. This should last us the first week before we have to visit a bank.

Well when we land we're going to head straight to our accommodation in Kyoto which is just a short train ride away from Osaka.

So keep checking the blog folks because we're going to take lots of photos and when we get a chance we'll post them up for all to see.

Posted by Phalanx 03:05 Archived in Australia Tagged preparation Comments (1)

Japan - The weird and wonderful

semi-overcast 18 °C

Well here's my first entry. I figured I should contribute something to this awesome piece of wonderful blogness. There are now 63 days to go.

Here are a few peculiar and amazing things I have stumbled upon that will certainly leave us feeling like we're in another world. These are some of the things we can hope to expect in Japan.

Vending Machines
The Japanese have vending machines for everything. Even the used panties of schoolgirls (Josh).

In Japan, with a high population density, limited space, a preference for shopping on foot or by bicycle, and low rates of vandalism and petty crime, there seems to be no limit to what is sold by vending machines. While the majority of machines in Japan are stocked with drinks, snacks, and cigarettes, one occasionally finds vending machines selling items such as bottles of liquor, cans of beer, fried food, underwear, pornography and sexual lubricants, and potted plants. Japan has the highest number of vending machines per capita, with about one machine for every 23 people.

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Cosplay
Cosplay is a Japanese subculture centered on dressing as characters from manga, anime, tokusatsu, and video games, and, less commonly, Japanese live action television shows, fantasy movies, or Japanese pop music bands. However, in some circles, "cosplay" has been expanded to mean simply wearing a costume.

In Japan, "cosplay" as a hobby is usually an end unto itself. Like-minded people gather to see others' costumes, show off their own elaborate handmade creations, take lots of pictures, and possibly participate in best costume contests.

The Harajuku district in Tokyo seems to be the most popular location for cosplayers in Japan. Below is a good example of a cosplayer. Here we have Vincent Valentine from the video game Final Fantasy 7.

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Toilets
There are many toilets in Japan that have computers built into them. A button for a squirt of water up your bum (no homo), a button to heat the seat, a button which starts gurgling, swooshing, nature noises to disguise the sound of your urine hitting the basin.

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Capsule Hotels
A capsule hotel is a hotel system of extremely dense occupancy. Guest space is reduced in size to a modular plastic or fibreglass block roughly 2 m by 1 m by 1.25 m, providing room to sleep and little more, although facilities usually include a television and other electronic entertainment. These capsules are then grouped and stacked, two units high. Luggage is usually stored in a locker away from the capsule. Privacy is maintained by a curtain at the open end of the capsule but noise pollution can be high.

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Love Hotels
Love hotels usually offer a room rate for a "rest", as well as for an overnight stay. The period of a "rest" varies, typically ranging from one to three hours. Cheaper daytime off-peak rates are common. In general, reservations are not possible, leaving the hotel will forfeit access to the room, and overnight stay rates only become available after 10pm. They are often used by young couples, since many young Japanese people live with their parents. They are also commonly used for prostitution (Josh).

The Metro Train
All I can say is...

Groping is also common on trains. I'm looking at you Josh.

Karaoke
Karaoke is a usual form of entertainment of the business people in Japan. After a hard day's work which is can sometimes be unusually long, they would drop into a bar; have a drink and enjoying humming to popular tunes with the help of a karaoke machine. Karaoke was invented approximately 20 years ago and has gradually been a part of the Japanese society. It is not just a temporary boom but a regular form of entertainment both within and outside Japan.

If I'm feeling up to it (AKA drunk) I might bust out a Rick Astley song or Chocolate Rain by Tay Zonday.

Oxygen Bars
The oxygen bar is a trend that started in the late 1990s in Japan. O2 bars can now be found in many venues such as nightclubs, salons, spas, healthclubs, resorts, tanning salons, restaurants, coffee houses, bars, airports, ski chalets, yoga studios, chiropractors, and casinos.

"Airheads" will normally pay 100Y per minute to inhale an increased percentage of oxygen compared to the normal atmospheric content of 21% oxygen. This oxygen is produced from the ambient air by an industrial (non-medical) oxygen concentrator and "inhaled" through a nasal cannula (AKA nose hose) for a period of 5 to 10 hours - or even longer.

Posted by Phalanx 01:31 Archived in Australia Tagged preparation Comments (0)

Let the countdown begin!

overcast 19 °C

Well we are exactly 67 Days and a bunch of hours (too lazy to work that much out) until we fly out of Sydney International destined for Osaka!! With airfares book, accommodation reserved things are going pretty smooth and now we start looking at a must-do! things to achieve during our time in the land of the rising sun. Here's a small list so far!

  • Chill in a hotspring (onsen) in Nagano with the snow monkeys!
  • See the ninja museum and shows in Iga Ueno
  • Get a rundown on some edo period samurai history.
  • Visit the peace park in Hiroshima
  • Check out the wooden gate in mayajama and chill with the deer on the island.
  • Do some shopping in Ginza, Shibuya & Akihabara
  • Have a coffee at the starbucks overwatching Shibuya crossing (as you can see on the background)
  • Walk the street markets of Osaka & Akasusa.
  • A day of eating the best japan has to offer in Osaka (right before we fly home ^_^)
  • Ride the metro train and visit Shinjuku station during peak time.
  • Visit the imperial palace and its surrounding gardens
  • Check out the Harajuku girls and some cosplay.
  • Visit Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea
  • Spend a night in the Gold-Gai bar district (Shinjuku) and Kabukicho's karoake bars
  • Visit Mt Fuji.. jeah!
  • Bail Josh out of a Japanese jail.
  • Visit Japans largest castle in Himeji
  • Scope out of the shrines and temples Kyoto has on offer

and this will only continue to grow the closer we get to October 21!

Posted by tayzonday 17:28 Archived in Australia Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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