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Showing posts from June, 2010

CJ2010: Travels with the toddler

Prior to this last trip I had been very nervous about the difficulties of travelling with a toddler. On a previous flight to Japan there was one little child who raced up and down the aisle, even during descent, and then caused havoc for his parents at the immigration queue. Was that going to be Alex, flying into temper tantrums whenever he was restricted? Thankfully not! We were very fortunate on this trip and our travels with Alex were relatively easy. In fact, they were downright pleasurable. Perhaps it helps that Alex travels about 4 hours by commuter train four days a week. But, so long as we let him down now and then to explore around our seats in the aircraft or train he rewarded us with big smiles. He also slept for periods on most longer trips. Flying business class definitely made a difference, with more space around the seat for him to play and more comfortable positions for him (and us!) to sleep on our laps. Alex was very sociable, enjoying interacting with other pas

Some statistics

While copying the photos from this trip to my networked share drive I discovered that we had, between us, taken almost 6000 photos at over 22 gigabytes of data and written around 18,000 words in the blog.

Lounging home from Tokyo

As I watch the aircraft fly down along the valley on descent into the airport I find it difficult to convince myself that the holiday has come to an end. But it has. A pile of dried millipedes greeted us at the front doorstep when we arrived home. The dog did his business on the sheepskin rug and threw up on the bedroom floor. The one remaining goldfish was floating ill in the tank. There was no lunch to be had but a tin of baked beans for Alex. Welcome home! As always, I was sad to say goodbye to our room at the Shinjuku Prince. Alex continued to gaze outside at the passing trains. It was almost time to catch one of those trains. After leaving our luggage at the hotel our first task was to book seats on the evening's Narita Express for the airport. Then we set out to do some final day shopping at the Lumine and Mylord (love those names) department stores around Shinjuku station. A little further south is the imposing Takashimaya Times Square complex. The basement food ma

From fashion to fandom

Every time it is the same. I sit here late on the final night gazing out of the window at the neon cacophony that is Shinjuku, listening to the last of the trains passing through, sad, not wanting to leave. It is long after midnight, but still there is life on the streets, less now, but still there. I am not alone in looking out the window. I showed Alex the view of the trains this morning. Tonight, when we returned, he refused to go to bed, just wanted to stand by the window watching the trains run past, singing "woo-woo," his sound for trains. When we return home I will have to setup more of the model railway layout for him. We found a couple of model railway hobby shops in Akihabara, the suburb of Tokyo renowned for electronics and comic related goods. The station was well setup for western visitors, an information booth with maps and a helpful, English speaking, staff member on hand to direct visitors to specific shops. All along the main street stood young girls

A haircut and a trip to the zoo

Rocky, who had spent a year on a working holiday in Sydney at Shinka in The Galleries Victoria, wondered why it was so uncommon for Australian men to become hairdressers, unlike in Japan. We explained that Australia's most famous hairdressers are male, but that Australian men tend to pay less attention to hair than their Japanese counterparts. There is also the sexuality issue. While B had her haircut at Earth in Shinjuku, Alex and I wandered around looking for a late breakfast. Alex was a demon last night, very disturbed, probably teething. At least we all slept in this morning. Looking down towards our hotel (brown building) I was saddened to discover that Sakuraya was gone, at least from East Shinjuku. Most of their shops sold electronics and cameras, but there was one branch near us with floors of hobby goods, including model railways. Now it looks like I will have to search further afield for supplies. Speaking of trains, we ate sushi for lunch, delivered on a sushi

From shrimp to Shinjuku

Asia wakes late and stays up later. We made breakfast at the hotel this morning, but many shops were yet to open by the time we checked out. Wandering the streets of downtown Kyoto we went in search of gifts and dried foods. The latter we purchased from Nishiki markets which sell everything from fresh seafood to pickled radishes. Wandering through the main streets, the shopping arcades and the tiny alleyways I was struck by how the modern concrete buildings would have a little gap for an old house or a shrine. Despite the wonderful cuisine of Kyoto we found ourselves in a branch of the First Kitchen hamburger chain trying to feed Alex some meat pasta. The pasta was too chewy for him so he preferred the salmon from my burger. This time, when we caught the subway from Karasuma Shijo station to Kyoto station we were careful to search out the elevators, escalators and ramps, so the process of transporting our luggage was much easier. We had to hurry to make our Shinkansen ride. T

Tea, Sweets and Weary Feet in Kyoto

The Japanese love France, or at least love the idea of France. I've heard that many suffer near fatal culture shock when the actually visit dirty, smelly Paris (must be eau de metro or piss in other words), but there are shops and patisseries scattered around Kyoto and elsewhere in Japan with French names and descriptive text. How accurate the French is, I don't know, but I can't say I blame them. In one French named bakery we ate a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs and thick toast, along with a side of salad. Salad seems to be a breakfast dish here. Doesn't matter, it usually tastes so good anyway, especially their potato salad. The big Japanese department stores are like David Jones in Australia, only less affordable. Full of premium brands. We were looking around the children's section of Daimaru and it would be difficult to justify purchases made there, despite all the lovely goods. Another shopping area, the covered Nishiki market, provided us with some

Riding the Yak back to Kyoto

Oh it was good to sleep in! Alex woke up early, then went back to sleep and we barely made the hotel checkout time of ten am. When Alex awoke the second time it was with a "woof" and a cheeky smile as he pretended to be a dog. Then we crossed over to Izumoshi station to go and see the single major sight of the city: the Izumo Taisha shrine. We intended to catch the private Ichibata Dentetsu railway line there, but the station attendant pointed us to the bus instead. The bus route followed the river canal most of the way. It would have made for a pleasant cycle ride. As we neared the shrine area we passed the old Japan Railways station, itself built like an impressive shrine. An old steam engine stood near it. We were dropped off in front a torii at the entrance to the shrine. It is one of the oldest and most important shrines in Japan and is home to Okuninushi, the god of marriage. The other gods also get together here each year. We strolled up the front park towa