A Travellerspoint blog


Wanna know why Japan is alittle crazy ?

Try drinking Sweat ...

... perhaps buy a doll for your children ...

... maybe english is your cup of tea (check out the 3rd line)...

Posted by ImpBob36 21:44 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

In between

overcast 14 °C

Ok .. OK. I know its been awhile since my last update. Alot has happen in the last 2 weeks.

I offically finsihed my training a couple of weeks back but thats a boring story, so heres I created a Time Machine that will take you back to the not so distant past ... 2 weeks infact.

*click* Get ready cause here we go .....

It morning and I squint at the TV to screen. 19th March, Cloudy and overcast. A swirl of clouds appear behind me and I see myself and several readers step out of a lightning filled void and into my bedroom. Good. Now that my future self is here, I will be able to go back to bed and rest. No, if you go back to bed, you wont be able to have a fun day for me and the readers to watch. Damn, my logic is still impecable. Oh well.

The Juso Boys (a colective term for my 2 Canadian flatmates and a Canadian/US couple from training) all get dressed and ready for work. Todays destination: Kyoto - cultural capital of Japan. We head to Toji Temple, a short walk from Kyoto station where tradition temple markets have been held for serveral hundred years. Along its walkways and scattereed through its gardens are over 700 vendors displaying their wares on blue tarpolin, shakey tables or simplies piles of stuff.

Toji Temple Markets

Coins. Kimonos. Sword hilts. Black and white family photos. Wooden decorations carved into fish and local gods.

Toji Temple Markets

The lanes start out in a grid but soon spiral and dance around the grounds with twist and turns. Potted bonsais. Newly budding cherry blossoms.

Toji Temple Markets

The smell of coal grilled corn fills the air next to an old man selling war medals. Multi-colored stars sweets twinkle in the sun, next to boxes of old cassette tapes and LP records.

Toji Temple Markets

Children swarm around a low pool with Black Moors and Goldfish. The hold tiny plastic circles with thin paper streched between it, trying to scoop the fish into their metallic bowls. The longer the paper is submerged, the less strength it has, scoop too hard and it rips and tears. A scream of delight erupts as a 4 year old scored her 5 catch; a smaller boy sobs on the sideline holding a torn circle and an empty bowl.

We started out as 5 but as we wander, our numbers dwindle, slowly the crowds consume us one by one. After 4 hours, I am tired and through the magic of SMS and a little luck, we all manage to met back at the entrance.

Back to the train station and we head further into town - next stop, Shi-jo. As we emerge from the subway, I feel a sense of Deja-vu. The last time I was here was 2 years ago with my brother and his girlfriend. I smile as I walk past the restraunts we ate at and the store. OPA. Loft. The glorious 7 levels of entertainment and free drinks that is JJs. We wander through Teramachi, an uncover shopping arcade that streches as far as the eye can see. Past trendy jeans shops and vending machines, rock j-pop music blasting out, the occasional english word thrown in catches our eyes.

Past the shopping and through the suburbs we hit Kyoto Imperial Palace. The grounds and massive in size and structure. The grounded gravel rock pathways cruch with each step as we past freshly budding cherry blossoms.

Amongst the White Chrry Blossoms, Kyoto Imperial Palace

Juso Gang

I take most of my photos with my phone. I hope to upload them as I figure out how to install the drivers. For now, I enjoy the calm serenity, the follage seems to muffle the the traffic beyond.

Back into Kyoto and its fine dining at Shakeys Pizza. Oh yes, all you can eat Pasta, Curry, Potota and Pizza. The vegarians amounst us are happy as we from out of our tables and go back for the 4th plate. The food is cheap and the price is cheaper - \890.

Suddenly, a wormhole opens behind me. I turn to see the backside of my future self disappear in a puff of smoke. His internet time must be over.

Posted by ImpBob36 21:25 Archived in Japan Comments (0)


Japan's Finest Castle

overcast 12 °C

The day started out rather bleak. The low white clouds again hugged the skyline as I started out and pondered the need from an umbrella.

Apartment View

We headed down to the local station and embarked on the hour and bit trip south to Himeji, arguably the most popular and beautiful castle in Japan.

Juso Station

We grabbed the Hankyu line south into Kobe and changed onto the JR at Sannomiya for a long ride out. After exiting the Central North gate, we headed to an Information booth to grab local maps in Japanese and begin the walk down the main strip towards the castle grounds. Another information shop offered free bicycle rentals but only 2 remained and there was 4 of us. Baby J wasnt the sharing kind so we continued on foot across the road to the castle. The castle loomed larger and larger as we wandered through the parklands outside its gates.

Himeji Castle (Garden View)

The entrance fee was \600 and we had left ourselves only a few hours to wander through its gardens, support buildings and the castle proper.

Inside the Castle Gates

The castle appears 5 levels tall but infact it has 6 levels and a basement.
Himeji Castle

Many of the exteria walls protecting the grounds contain round, cicle, square or triangle portholes used for firing arrows, muskets or boil oil on foes.
Castle grounds walkway

Perhaps due to the late hour, by the time we arrived inside, we were alone. We wandered through the walkways in eerie silence, with the occasion squeak of floorboards or distant crew cry accompaning us.
Inside the Castle

At last we hit the top,and catching our breath after multiple staircases, we turned our gaze outside the castle and across the city of Himeji
View of Himeji from 6th floor of the Castle

Posted by ImpBob36 21:21 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Love is ...

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or latter. Those that know me well are probably suprised I lasted this long; I have, afterall, been in Japan for 2 weeks to the day and there has been nothing. Nada. Zip. What the hell am I talking about? Its 11:30pm here right now, but any dark time will do. Look outside your window. Go on. Ill be here waiting ...

(Dobee dobee do do dooo)

Back so soon? Good. Now did you see that bright object in the sky to the north. Y'know that one that kinda hurts your eyes when you look at it? Well, thats my big cheese grin. Ya'see me friends, today I bought a new toy, a mobile phone to be exact. Doesnt sound too exciting, I know but remember Im in Japan, the land of dreams and possibilities, of new heights and technical wonders, a geek utopia if you will. So this phone of mind is pretty good, ya see. Its got all the usual stuff, numbers, handsfree etc but then its got some other things like GPS which uses satelittes to find your exact position and show it on the map including local McDonald restraunts, post offices and train stations. It can guide me to anywhere I wanna go, download train timetables and display the latest weather. Its a MP3 player and allows me to set my ring tone to any one of the funky presets which vibrate to the beat or strobe in a rainbow of colours or I can use my own music. It has a video camera which allows me to make video conference calls. It has web browsing capabilities, I can check my hotmail, or surf the internet. It has a 3.2 megapixel camera so I can assign photos to my contacts. It has infrared, bluethooth and USB for wireless or wired transfer of data between PC or phone so I can keep things sync'ed. It has Felica, a brilliant piece of technology that allows me to use my phone as a sorta credit card, swipe it at a trainstation and it deducts the cost of the ticket from a prepaid, charged amount. This also works for 7'11 munchie runs or the internet cafe Im typing this in. Theres also a calculator, calendar and reminder feature, world clock, japanese <--> english dictionary. Um ... I think the next model up came with the kitchen sink but I decided to skip that feature, who needs a sink when you can just dial a pizza.

Anyway ... I can type anymore, i need to go play with my phone. Till next time my gentle cyber-readers ....

Posted by ImpBob36 05:26 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

24 Hours

10 °C

Its 1am. Ive just logged onto the internet to check my mail, update the blog and see whats happening in the world. Everything here is in Japan; the news, TV, newspapers, magazines. Sometimes I feel isolated and disconnected and reaching out across cyberspace help me to remember where I come from, where things are going and what I have left behind.

2am. I return home and have some Baileys. Bottles cost \2000 or just over $20. Ive almost finished my second for the week, whiling away the dark hours chatting politics, movies and music with my canadian flatmates. We laugh as we quote Muriels Wedding, debate the meaning behind the Cube and argue about which Lord of The Rings movie was better (I still say the 1st).

3am. Time to crawl into bed. I start my first day of Kids Training tommorrow (or is that now today). Im nervous yet tipsy. Sleep comes quickly and easily.

10am. The alarm clock kicks in auto-pilot. Shower, shave, coffee. Im at the train station before I rememeber what Im doing. Tide is High plays in my ears. My mp3 players is in a strange 70/80s mood today, 99 Loft Balloons follows, then Time Warp. A jump to the left indeed, as I float through the station, changing between the Hankyu railway to Midosuji Subway.

11:30am. Damn. I forgot to do last nights homework. I flick through the training manual and assimilate as much as I can. An empty quiz sheets calls to be complete as I grab a pen and furiously write. 17 teaching techniques, ideal warmup length, how to motivate a class, cultural skills I can partake on the students.

12:00pm I barely finsish as the next trainer wanders in. First up is a game of Charades, designed to show non-verbal communication skills. We laugh, scream with fustration and go wild as 2 teams complete, ultimately its a close tie.

3:00pm. We cover the teaching material, bit by bit. Soon, all the text headings have been discussed and modelled. We demo various activities through the afternoon. Im a plane, a car, a watermelon. We teach sentense structure and vocab. Questions and answers.

4:00pm. Singing. Ugh! We dance around the Mulberrry Bush (the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush). Oh yes, we dance around the Mulberry Bush, early in the morning. We put our right hand, we put our right hand out. We put our right hand in, and shake it all about. We do the Hokey Poky and turn ourselves around. Cause that what its all about.

5:00pm. Im exhausted. We danced and sang and danced some more. We scatter out from the office block and I head home to change.

8:00pm. Ive broken even in the poker game. Theres a line of empty beer cans, and Im on my 4th baileys. Tommorrow is my first day off since Tuesday and Ive got 6 days of training on the other side. Time to let our hair down. Baby J (my flatmate) and I continue our movie discussion, breaking occasionally to bluff each other out or curse at at the cards that can so cruel sway the tide of the game.

10:00. We were suppose to met a canadian and US couple but they havent showed up. We do a quick run to McDonalds and head back. The McChicken is fresh and hot and for \100 is far too convient after a few drinks.

11:30pm. They arrive and we're sitting in a local bar. Theres 5 of us now, up on the mezanine level, looking down on a sea of black hair. The barstaff know some broken english and Baby J teaches him a handshake so convuluted and involved that I can barely keep up.

12:30am. We head back to the couples apartment, buying alcohol, chips and TimTams (oh yes, Im an aussie and can smell them a mile away). You can drink alcohol in the street and we stumble along with Ruskies, Chu-hi's and beer. We grab a laptop from their apartment, wander down to the river and watch episodes of Southpark until the battery runs dead.

3am. Bed is inviting and warm. Sleep comes quickly and easily ....

Posted by ImpBob36 19:20 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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