Mt Fuji sunrise

Japan 2017 – 2018

January 9th, 2018

Its been over 2 years since I was last in Japan, and I find myself there yet again. This time I went Kyoto, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Mt Fuji and Tokyo. The majority of the trip was to meet up with friends and to take photos of Shirakawago and Mt Fuji. But of course being the otaku that I am, comiket was also on the list.

Day 1 – 24th – Kyoto + Osaka

The first few days I spent in Kyoto and Osaka. I met up with my old friend Kosuke, who took me around famous anime locations in Kyoto. These included and were not limited to: KyoAni shop, Shimogamo Shrine, Kamogawa river delta and Demachi shopping arcade. In the evening of the same day, I went to Osaka to have dinner with Tsujikawa-sensei, my teacher from Arc Academy, which I went to in 2010. We have a pleasant catch up and chat in a local izakaya (bar) on Christmas eve.

Day 2 – 25th – Kyoto: Arashiyama & Gion

Next morning Amy and I set out to the shopping areas around Gion and Nishiki markets. Then we went to Arashiyama, the famous bamboo forest and the surrounding temples. After lunch we headed back to Gion to visit the Gesha district. That was a very beautiful location and I managed to take a lot of great photos there.

Day 3 – 26th – Kanazawa + Shirakawago

On the next day, at 6:50am we set out to Kanazawa. There we visited the old chaya (tea houses) and walked around their fish markets. In comparison to Kyoto the weather in Kanazawa was worse. It started hailing at one point. But nevertheless, we broke through the winds and hail and got back to the station to catch our bus to Shirakawago. I was praying that there would be snow when we got there, but I wasn’t ready for what we saw. We drove right into a snow storm. There was a good half a meter of snow at Shirakawago, and it just kept falling. Thankfully there was no wind, so it was very pleasant. Unfortunately due to the snow, I wasn’t able to get any good shots of the area, as it was just too snowy. Another great thing about Shirakawago was the onsen. Onsen are my favourite thing about Japan, and I am so glad I got to bathe in them again. Since we were staying in a ryokan (japanese style inn), we got treated to delicious food and drinks for both dinner and breakfast.

Day 4 – 27th – Shirakawago → Tokyo

The next morning, after another hot bath in the onsen, we set out on a long trip to Mt Fuji. 1hr bus ride to Kanazawa, 2hr shinkansen to Tokyo, 2.5hr express train to Mt Fuji. When we finally reached the town, it was already sunset and very very cold. If in Shirakawago it was snowing and about -2°, in Mt Fuji it was really windy and -7°.

Day 5 – 28th -Mt Fuji + Tokyo

In the morning I set out for the first proper sunrise photo shoot during this whole trip. It was gorgeous. Mt Fuji lit up in red and then yellow. Even though there was no sun, it wasn’t too cold as I had 4 layers of clothes on; just like during my photography trip to New Zealand. Once the sun rose, and the transport started running again, we took a cable car up atop a nearby mountain to get some shots of Mt Fuji and the town from up top. Then we went to one of the most famous locations in all of japan the Chureito Pagoda. Because it was so beautiful up there, we staying a bit too long and almost missed our train to Tokyo. In the evening Amy and I went to a butler cafe in Ikebukuro called Swallowtail.

Day 6 – 29th – Comiket

Early morning, lots of lines… Thats what comiket is all about, right? Being back in the otaku scene was great, but unfortunately it has changed quite a bit since I last came. There is a lot more focus on gaming these days and less on anime. I did buy some goods, but not many. At the end of the day, I got sick and could barely move. But first I had to go to meet up with my friends from Kagoshima, who are all working in Tokyo right now. It was a great night, but would’ve been a lot better if I wasn’t sick.

Day 7 – 30th – Sick day

Tried to go to Tsukiji markets to buy knives in the morning. Bought some, but then realised how sick I felt and went back to the apartment. Then just spent the whole day sick in bed with a 38° fever 🙁

Day 8 – 31st – Shopping & NYE

Fever gone, time to go shopping. Literally spent the whole day running between Tsukiji, Ginza, Tokyo, Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Akihabara and back to Kinshichou, where we were staying. Had steak in Akiba for dinner and celebrated the Sydney New Year there as well. Then went back home for the Japanese New Year and took a hot bath. So now I am hoping that I will spend all of 2018 in hot baths (in Russian we have a saying: how you meet the new year, thats how you will spend it).

Day 9 – 1st – Hatsumode and Akiba

By Japanese tradition, on the first day of the year you must visit a shrine and pray to the gods there for luck, fortune, happiness, whatever. So we did that just that. Went to a small shrine in Ueno, threw some yen and prayed. After Amy left for her flight, I went to Akihabara to play games, shop for some cheap anime goods and just enjoy my last few hours in Japan.

 

Thats all folks. I don’t know when the next time I visit Japan will be and where in Japan I will go, but I must definitely go back at some point, I cant stay away from the land of the rising sun.

Photos here:

flickr

The History of Japan

February 5th, 2016

Want to learn about the history of Japan in less then 10 minutes? Well here is a video for you.

PS. Beware of memes.

The WalkCar

August 9th, 2015

Portable electrical vehicles are all the rage these days. People are getting lazier and lazier, so they don’t want to walk from place to place, they want to ride something, something that will do the work for them. First came Segways now self balancing unicycles and boards. Well Japan has just one-upped us once again. They bring the world the WalkCar. Its a flat board, with 4 motor powered wheels. No need for stabilisation and is powerful enough to go up hills and push loads.

This device is without a doubt going to be very useful for a variety of tasks, however it raises an interesting question: when will convenience start making our life worse and not better. To iterate, sure it may be very convenient to ride this device up hills and when pushing loads, but what is stopping people from using it all the time everywhere. And if we do, won’t we slowly transform into those fat and lazy human blobs that we saw in WALL-E? There is no end to human laziness, and eventually our ingenuity and strive for convenience will be our downfall. Think about that before using one of these boards on a regular basis.