Thursday, February 08, 2007

Japanese



These are the last of the photographs taken during our 2006 trip to Japan, dear reader.

We spent our last evening in Kyoto at our favourite onsen...



...and then on to the Korean barbecue at the end of the street. Ian's a tongue fan.



Next morning, we checked out of our hotel. I was a little sad to leave as we were treated really well here, staff bending over backwards to be helpful. Still, we had Tokyo and its environs to look forward to and duly made our way to Yokohama.



Last time we stayed with Alan and Junya, they lived in a small flat near Landmark Tower. Since then, they moved out to the 'burbs and now live in a fabulous wee two bedroom house. They even have their own drinks automat in the garden!


The next day - and a trip to Kamakura.


We went to see the Great Buddha...



...by bicycle.



Later that evening, we made our way to Yokohama to experience our first sento.



And on the following day, Tokyo beckoned.



Cheeky man!



Condomania.



WTF?



It's the 1950s again.



Minge and a Harajuku girl.



Lots of Harajuku types, taking part in the filming of The Ramen Girl...



...starring Brittany Murphy. I'd never heard of her. Click here to see some of what was happening.



Some Harajuku girls are outrageous!



Some Harajuku girls are not girls at all!



We left Harajuku and Yoyogi Park and made our way to the Park Hyatt Tokyo.



We wanted to have a look around as Ian and I are staying there for a week this coming June.



The day ended in a Tokyo Izakaya. This is Mikiko and I. She is the wife of one of Alan's former work colleagues. What a fabulous evening we had. I got quite drunk and stole all kinds of things from the table like ashtrays and drinking vessels.

We missed the last train back to Alan and Junya's neighbourhood. Bugger! So we got a train as far as we could in the right direction and then took a cab the rest of the way. Junya brought one of his workmates back. He slept on the living room floor. He sellotaped lots of magnets to his body because he suffers with a bad back.



The next morning... Ian had no hangover whatsoever. Junya, not a drinker, was also spared. Mine was only mild. Alan looked dead. So Ian and I headed off into Yokohama to do some shopping. Junya would wait at home until Alan woke, hopefully to join us later that afternoon.

First port of call, Sogo department store.



The crabs they sell are so fresh, they're still alive!



Time for an ice cream break and, according to Ian, the best he'd ever had!



Alan was still feeling tender in the afternoon, so we made our way back home, had a cuppa, a chat, freshened up and then headed out to another sento. Feeling clean, relaxed, hungry... Time for shabu-shabu!



It was delicious.

Our last night in Japan. Sadness took hold. But we were ready to go home. Three weeks was a long time and we'd packed a lot in. Time to go home - for a rest!



So the next day we took the Narita Express to the airport.



Got off at the wrong stop (our terminal having changed without us knowing), took the bus to the correct terminal, checked in... And remembered to breathe.



This is the last toilet I used in Japan and it's of the traditional variety. Thank your lucky stars, dear reader, that this is the before picture and not after.



The journey home, however uneventful, was long and exhausting. Time zones. Messing with your body clock. Hunger. Sleepy? Not tired... Aaarrrggghhh!

It took us weeks to get over the journey and just as long to finish unpacking. The clothes weren't such a big deal: out of the case, into the laundry basket, the washing machine - and you know the rest. But the stuff we bought...! That took some sorting out, I can tell you. But sort it out we did. Eventually.

I love Japan. In simple terms, because it's so different from anything I've ever known before. It's the next best thing to travelling to another world. I can't wait to go back.

Between now and June, all I have are emails from Alan and Junya - oh, and Kelly Osbourne's Turning Japanese to keep me sane.

Download two songs that will always remind me o my 2006 trip to Japan, dear reader:

Japanese Boy

and

Harajuku Girls

But be quick! Seven days or one hundred downloads - whichever comes soonest and they're gone!

10 comments:

Moncrief Speaks said...

Your photos and commentary really make me want to visit!

A Novelist said...

Beautiful pictures - you look as if you're having so much fun! Adorable! I'm glad you got to visit. ;) xoxo

Bill S. said...

Cripes, this makes me want to go to Japan! Or at least to listen to "Pacific Overtures" for the gazillionth time, and then dance around the apartment listening to Pizzicato Five. Damn you and your jet-set, go-go lifestyle! (Great pictures, BTW)

Mr. Anjou said...

More fabulousness! You should be thankful you don't know Brittany Murphy - she's a mess!

carioca said...

Oh! We can see it was one of your best trips, wasn't it?
They're very beatiful pics!

Lewis said...

So, when you say "Ian's a tongue man"......could you explain further?

.25 crisis kid said...

Arigato. These make me jealous.
But I just bought my ticket to Australia, so adventure is coming.

Salty Sailor said...

you're too fabulous for words!

Salty Sailor said...

you know, I clicked on the "sento" link to wikipedia as I like to learn something new every day.

I was a little surprised by the following statement:




Most of the time the attendant is female, as few male customers have a problem with a female attendant while female customers may be embarrassed by having a male attendant able to see them.

True cases of voyeurism are rare. Reported cases usually have a male voyeur and a female victim. For example in 2001, there was a case involving a tall man who was able to see over the separating wall between the men's and women's sides. [citation needed] In another unusual case in 2003, a cross-dressing Japanese man entered the women's side of the bath. [citation needed]

In recent years there has also been an increased risk of voyeurs using video surveillance equipment. The risk is higher at a larger business or an open air bath.

matty said...

I'm so jealous!

Stop it! LOL!

I wanna go to Japan!

..but I can't even afford the BART to Berkeley.

Hey! The proto-50's dudes are hot and that guy in the shot shorts on the right has a nice pair of buns!

...I wonder if I might not be a Harjuku Girl. I know I'm not really much of a Hollaback Girl. And, I'm certainly not a Material Girl. Still. ...there are worst things I could do. Color me Rizzo.