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Showing posts from April, 2006

Home from Japan - Japan 2006

It's sad that our holiday has come to an end, but in another way it's good to be back in our own house. Very relaxed after two weeks on the move. When we arrived in Cairns the shops in the transit area were all open. Arrival in Sydney ran smoothly and we got home quickly. I slept a bit this afternoon, looked through the photos, gave up on converting them to a DVD before tonight's dinner. Feel like vegetating now, listening to Star Wars music. I'm glad the next working week is only four days long.

Leaving Japan - Japan 2006

We have said our goodbyes to Japan and are on our way home. Despite my sadness at leaving Japan, I shall also be glad when this flight touches down and we return home. Not looking forward to cleaning up our own residence or heading off to work everyday. Working from a hotel room with great views and no constant interruptions is quite pleasant. We spent our last day in Japan hanging around Shinjuku, our "local" area. B did some cosmetics shopping at Mary Quant and has assisted by a senior Japanese staffer with a very cute Scottish accent! Now I think I have heard everything! Thanks to them for their help. Meanwhile I discovered that Shinjuku had even more previously undiscovered shopping options, which was handy as we had quite a few last minute purchases of gifts and "necessities" to make. Amongst the shops we wandered into was the Marui department store with about 4 levels of gothic/punk/fairtytale/Barbie Doll fashions for the Cos-play-zoki crowd. Se

Gokuri juice and sacred mountains - Matsumoto - Japan 2006

I am very depressed right now. This is the last night that we will be looking over Shinjuku's insane canyons of flashing neon. Tomorrow evening we return to Australia. I would be quite happy just to keep working from this cramped hotel room with the wonderful view, to go out shopping until late in the department stores and eating cheap noodles for dinner. Or to escape to an exquisite garden and drink tea, even if I don't really enjoy the flavour. There's nowhere like this in Australia. Our holiday may be almost over, but thanks to a bottle of Gokuri, a snowbound volcano and and a castle surrounded by cherry blossoms I feel that it is almost complete. The choice for today was a train ride to Matsumoto or up to Sendai. Matsumoto won partly because the train departed from Shinjuku so no cross Tokyo subway or Yamanote ride was needed. It was raining on the way up, obscuring much of the view. However, as we neared Matsumoto the skies cleared enough to appreciate a f

Rice crackers and dolls - Japan 2006

I got lost in Asakusa this morning. I couldn't get my bearings and ended up walking in circles. Maybe it was the featureless grey sky. We visited the pottery and cooking supply shops along Kappabashi-dori and bought rice crackers outside of the Senso-ji temple complex district. Then we caught the subway to Asakusabashi station and looked at the doll and miniature samurai armour displays at the local shops. Too expensive! Harajuku was next, a trip to Oriental Bazaar to purchase souvenirs for family. B had her hair cut at Fizzi, the same place as in 2003. No open wireless access or Japanese/English lessons this time. Wandered around Harajuku with a headache. The shop below Fizzi sells model railway goods. It's amazing how cheap Japanese N-gauge rollingstock is. Had zaru-soba, yaki-tori and sushi for dinner tonight. Still don't know where we are going tomorrow.

1am in Shinjuku - Japan 2006

It's 1am in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and I am typing this from a Sharp Muramasa (PC-CV50F) mini notebook computer that I just picked up second hand from Sofmap. The big signs are dimming, the trains stopped and the traffic slowing a little. It's good to be back in Shinjuku, but it's a reminder that our holiday is coming to a close. Will post further retrospective updates tomorrow.

Gardens, samurai homes and geisha streets - Japan 2006

Our day began with a Japanese breakfast at the ryokan. Cooked fish, pickled vegetables, omelette, miso soup and rice. It wasn't as bad as I imagined, but neither was it by preferred way to start the day. We then stepped out of the ryokan and wandered down to the nearby Nagamachi samurai district, bounded by two canals of gushing water. Behind the wooden and the straw and mud clad walls of the old houses were magnificent gardens with ponds fed by the canals. The Nomura Family Samurai House was a wonderful example. The small garden was incredible in its use of trees, moss, stone and water, giant carp drifting through the narrow waterways. In the upper level, seated on the straw tatami flooring we drank traditionally frothed green tea and soaked up the warmth from the heater. Our next stop was a silk dyeing house where fabric for kimonos was made. The process is very involved with intricate designs painted on the fabric, masked with rice paste, the remai

Snow and night cherry blossoms - Takayama to Kanazawa - Japan 2006

Japan just keeps improving. I hope it stays this way. Last night we suddenly changed our minds and decided to go to Kanazawa instead of Matsumoto and Nagano. So we caught a local train north instead of a bus to the east. As the train ascended into the mountains snow drifts began appearing. Soon most of the ground was coated in white broken up by pines and bare deciduous trees. At Tsunogawa the train stopped, and if I hadn't asked the driver we would not have realised that we needed to change to a bus. Most of the bus passengers were foreign tourists, including a group of Californian Japanese. The bus drove high up across the mountains, past quiet ski resorts and icy gushing streams. Eventually we began our descent once more into a moutain valley covered with trees devoid of foliage. Our entrance was past a dam and huge factory of unknown purpose, which suited the brown appearance devastated look of the valley. Eventually the bus pulled up at Ino