#1752 – japan trip notes

i just realized i never uploaded my notes i took all the time when i was in japan, so i’m uploading them now for future reference, also to help me plan if i do a presentation on my trip for that japanese class i’ll take over the summer…

monday jan 13, 1:04 pm pst

somewhere over california –

i was able to make my connections and everything ok. i ended up sleeping for almost the entire trip cross-country.

My seat on the plane to japan is right over the wing, so it’s a good thing that part of the PTV selection is a camera facing forward and another camera facing down.

I have to remember to look for the song “sorry na naman”.

The stewardess just gave me a damp hot towel. I didn’t know what it was for, so i wiped my hands with it after watching others first.

Refreshment time! I’m trying a kiwi drink JAL has called “sky time” – the taste is very mellow, but the drink looks like it’s some sort of radioactive water.


tuesday jan 14, 6:55 am

off the coast of oregon –

all times now are tokyo time unless otherwise specified.

we got lunch – i chose chicken. They offered me beer and wine, but i just chose water.

It was pretty tasty- i ate all of the salad, all of the rice wrapped in seaweed, most of the rice wrapped in that brown stuff, and all of that custard dessert. The main course was good but a little spicy. In that purple and white (murasaki to siroi?) wrapper was a thimble-sized squeezebottle of soy sauce, too.

My ass hurts already. Wait – what do i mean “already”? i’ve been flying almost constantly since 6 am est, and now it’s almost 6 pm est.


tuesday jan 14, 6:17 pm

on the bus to hankyu ibaraki –

landed fine other than pressure pains on descent. I ended up sleeping most of the flight after crossing the date line, and was only woken up because of meal service, which was fruit (only thing i ate), noodles, salad w/ shrimp, and the main course was spinach & cheese ravioli. No picture, though, as i much more wanted to sleep and the ravioli didn’t look very appetizing anyway.

So far it’s been easy as everyone i’ve needed to talk to has spoken english to me first (“HERRO MISTAH! PASSPORT PREASE!”), and lisa & vond have given me useful directions.

Damn, we’re passing a lot of neon signs, and we haven’t really got into town..

It’s amazing, though, everything is nice, neat, orderly, and CLEAN. It seems weird and yet makes perfect sense all at once.

And we just passed las vegas, only this las vegas is named MR. PACHINKO, lol.


wednesday jan 15, 1:10 pm

lisa’s house –

woke up today at about 6 am, fell back asleep and woke back up at about 10 am. Organized my things and watched tv until about noon, when lisa told me how to get to the local 7-11. Hiked there and got an apple pastry, a cup noodle (much tastier than what you get in the states, and they gave me chopstics at checkout), and to drink i got “Fanta! Golden Apple” – i thought it would be apple juice, but it’s actually apple soda (think apple juice with the afterbite of ginger ale).

We’re going to go off to the post office and go explore, and tonight i’m meeting with brian to hang out with him.


wednesday jan 15, 6:00 pm

in a “mister donut”, nara –

lisa and i went to the post office in osaka, and then went to kyoto and got me some english maps and used the international atm and gave me a crash course in train taking on the way.

I went to nara to see daibatsu, but on the train ride there i realized that i’d arrive 30 minutes before it closed, and the guide recommended that you get to the attraction before that. So instead i searched out to see where it was to save time tomorrow and walked up and down some shopping bazaars. Most were getting ready to close so i went in those that weren’t, like an hidden-away anime store on the 2nd floor of one building (found the 1st cd of the soundtrack to “azumanga daioh”!), and a book/cd/dvd/videogame store (browsed the manga, magazine, soundtrack, and game sections but didn’t buy anything).

i kept my eye out for a bathroom and found one by accident in a sega arcade – i’ll take a picture of the giant sonic the hedgehog on the front of the arcade tomorrow for kokochan, hehe.

I started to get hungry, but didn’t know what to eat. I passed a mcdonalds and a kfc, but didn’t want to eat at either. So right now i’m eating “dinner” of a “choco donut” and “american coffee”. Yeah, i know it’s not much, and i’ll have to find something later, but i ordered it all by myself! In japanese! So yeah, i’m proud of myself.

Maybe now i’ll start to find my way to takatsuki and look around the station there while i wait for brian…


friday jan 17, 3:55 pm

in a mc donald’s, nara –

THANK GOD FOR MC DONALD’S! the cashier understood enqlish too. Unfortunately she thought i wanted just the cheeseburger and not the whole meal. Oh well, no biq problem – i’ve got my bottle of water with me, or i can stop at a vending machine too.

back in nara (after taking the wronq train system, but we’ll forget about that) and saw daibatsu today – it’s HUGE! a lady there asked in english where i was from. Got souveniers there for anne, kelly, and myself.


sunday jan 19, 9:25 am

shinkansen, en route to okayama –

yesterday i explored kyoto station and took lots of pictures. When i tried to leave, though, i was kidnapped into proofreading some english sentences by an old japanese man i bumped into. he said in english “i hope you enjoy your visit in kyoto” and did a double-take when i had said “sumimasen”, and told me that he’s taught some courses at georgetown university and that he was revising a japanese dictionary, and he wanted me to proofread his enqlish. I read through about 6 pages (every 5 lines he wanted to say or ask something and whack me on the back when he told a joke, lol). After that i told him that i had to go.

I walked through the imperial palace gardens (was going to apply to see the palace itself, but that office was closed on weekends. Then i went to an exhibit on traditional crafts (such as fans, woodblock prints, and kimono) made in kyoto.

Met up with lisa and later we met with brian and their friend, and we went out to eat at a “zen” sort of restaurant. After eating we went in some anime stores and then i worked my way to the youth hostel.

The hostel was dorm-style (reminded me of “here is greenwood”). It wasn’t bad – people were friendly, and i opted to have breakfast in the morning.

So far today i made my way from the hostel to kyoto station, and am now on the shinkansen to okayama, where i’ll change trains to go to hiroshima.

I counted my funds this morning and figure that if i want to be able to pay my tuition for the month, then after budgetinq for staying places overnight i have less than ¥900 ($7.50 approx) per day for meals, transportation on non-jr lines, and entertainment/entry fees/souveniers. So, basically, no funds = no fun. LAME.


sunday jan 19, 12:36 pm

hiroshima city manga museum (library) –

ok, THAT was weird. I searched out this place that my guidebook said was the hiroshima city manga museum. Turns out it’s just this little library filled with little kids and their parents. Oh well. At least they had some wallace & gromit stuff in the window.

Time to get eats then go to the center of town – something makes me think i won’t be hungry after seeing the museums. 🙁

that’s another thing – i haven’t seen a single vending machine that dispenses food – it’s always drinks or cigarettes. 😛


sunday jan 19, 1:28 pm

mcdonald’s, hiroshima –

who needs japanese food when just trying to order in japanese is an adventure? At least now with brian’s advice i was able to get the “daburu tiizubaagaa setto”. The drink is rather small, though.


sunday jan 19, 10:02 pm

“yesterday”, hiroshima –

i sure find the oddest places on my trips.

Take where i’m eating dinner right now – it’s a coffeeshop called “yesterday” i found while wandering around. It’s a beatles-themed coffeeshop, where i’m having coffee and a “taco blanc” (taco meat, lettuce, cheese, and onions on a pita-bread sort of muffin).

I bet dave would like it here. That’s the bad thing about japan being where japan is – i keep seeing stuff and saying “i bet dan / dave / stu / dave(2) / pete / susan / betsy would like that.”

i guess we all would have to plan an excursion to japan sometime, lol.

I saw a relay race on the way to the hiroshima peace park, which was neat. But then i saw the museums, and that was very sad – i almost started crying in some exhibits.

Then i poked around the shopping districts, and found my way to the hostel. They’re VERY nice there – the owners were going out for a few hours, so they left me a note and a key outside the door. No curfews, either, so that’s why i’m out exploring.


sunday jan 19, 11:35 pm

world friendship center, hiroshima –

i just missed the last tram and had to walk home through town. Whoops.

Did some new calculations, and figure i have up to ¥1500 / day available. That’s better.


tuesday jan 21, 10:13 pm

capsule hotel riverside, tokyo –


– nice lady & old man on shinkansen

– capsule hotel

– ginza

– kfc


wednesday jan 22, 4:18 am

capsule hotel riverside, tokyo –

ahh, capsule hotels – where else can you get woken up at 4 am by the guy above you watching porn?


wednesday jan 22, 4:44 pm

on a park bench, resting, tokyo –

well, i wandered around but didn’t find the gainax store. I DID find an anna miller’s where i didn’t expect to see one. Going to go get eats there in a little bit.

Maybe i’ll try again tomorrow after re-checking my maps, because i was just looking in the whereabouts of the store.


wednesday jan 22, 5:09 pm

anna miller’s, tokyo –

pie, coffee (bottomless cup), and very friendly waitresses. Ahh…

Too bad i don’t know what they’re saying much of the time – when i’m asked a question, most of the time i say “hai” and hope that was right. In this case, either i said yes to having cream with my coffee, or having my cherry pie served hot, or maybe i just agreed to tapdance around the room with a bottle of sake balanced on my head.


wednesday jan 22, 8:34 pm

taito ryokan, asukasa, tokyo –

found the ryokan- it’s a little old building, and it sounds like there’s mice in the walls, but the manager is cool and speaks english, and there’s no curfew, and apparently there’s a sento about 2 minutes from here so i might give that a try.


wednesday jan 22, 10:00 pm

in the ryokan, tokyo –

when people say that sento are hot, they are NOT kidding. i feel all boiled – warm, rubbery, and light-headed..

Ever do something, realize you were mistaken, and then immediately get singled out for it? That’s what happened to me when i put my shoes on 15 inches inside the threshold when leaving the sento. how embarassing. Oh well.


notes on stuff to plan to see

– ameyoko arcade (ueno)

– the imperial palace plaza

– akihabara

kichijoji (park & maze of shopping)

shibuya (dog statue & 109)


– kichijoji

– shibuya


– shinjuku

– akihabara


wednesday jan 23, 9:47 pm

tokyo international youth hostel –

this place is like a rather cheap but nice hotel – it’s on the 18th floor of a skyscraper, and has an official-looking front desk. Only difference is that i’m sharing the room with a nice salaryman who speaks english. he has a meeting in the morning in this building, and since he’s heard there’s supposed to be a big snow in the morning, he figured he’d stay here to avoid the hassle of a commute.

Since it rained almost all day, i spent my time exploring department stores, shops, and stations. I tried to go to the sumo tournaments, but the tickets were more than my budget for the day.

I had an obento for lunch. I also explored shinjuku, and checked out more stores in akihabara. That was most of my day.

Tomorrow i’ll try to see some of these (weather depending of course):

more of akihabara

the ameyoko arcade

the imperial palace plaza

the tokyo stock exchange

the tsukiji fish market


miscellaneous engrish

“good coffee smile”

“hardy rack”

“up garage”

“super hotel”

“let’s BOWLING”

“jolly pasta”

“let’s kiosk”

“beer communication”

“dead drunks are requested to keep out”