Thursday, February 08, 2007
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...
Later that evening, we made our way to Yokohama to experience our first sento.
And on the following day, Tokyo beckoned.
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:
But be quick! Seven days or one hundred downloads - whichever comes soonest and they're gone!