It’s been another long day of walking, and I find myself quite happily sitting in an ummm, Japanese restaurant… Hard to say what kind this one is, I haven’t yet picked up what the characters mean, so I step into a lot of places with a good amount of hope and faith. I think by my study of the pictures on the menu and English list of foods, it’s a place that puts things on sticks. Sounds great! Now to try and get their attention with my pigeon Japanese to get some food… success:)
To be fair I have eaten incredibly well in Japan. I can’t think of anything I’ve had that I didn’t like, actually no, the blueberry muffin this morning was awfully dry… so Japanese I know.
This being my last night, I guess I have to be a bit reflective or sum up my time here, I’ll get to that but Its probably best to update what has transpired since the karaoke and naked men. A little bit more naked men actually. You see, I don’t think I have walked so much as of late, my feet have taken a pounding. I tend to start walking at about 8ish and will still be at it come 7ish pm. It doesn’t help that I take wrong turns, misread signs, or just underestimate distances between things. Once I was walking along a nice path in a university on my way to a cafe, so I thought. In my head I knew the place was just over the way, and in spite of the weird look the security guard gave me at one of the gates, I pressed on. The problem was the path didn’t go just over the way, it kept going around, with the wall not opening up as I assumed it would. Instead I had to head back towards where I came from, back out the main gate past a bunch of girls playing tennis, which I thought was great sport, to watch as i walked by, however when I read the sign on my way out of the gate it said, Women’s college… which kinda explained the weird looks, but thankfully I could easily plead ignorance.
Kyoto was much easier to walk from place to place, as I said there were ornate shrines and beautiful temples at regular intervals, all different and yet very similar but appealing. What did I do in Kyoto after the coffee? oh that’s right I walked down to the old town which was very cool! The streets are packed close together, and as an extra touristy treat, a large amount of ladies were dressed in the traditional kimono dress. Shuffling along the streets, looking lovely, talking and giggling quietly, taking selfies… seriously.
I then walked vast distances to buy my speed train ticket via another shrine and or temple, then I figured “oh the old fort thing is only 2km away… that’s an easy walk”. Perhaps first thing in the morning it may have been. But by the time I got there my feet were in the beginnings of mutiny and it was 5mins away from the entrance gate closing, so luckily I scraped in. But because of the wanning condition of my feet, I motored through taking in the old imperial and shogun palaces at a respectful march.
I had met some dutch folks on a subway line when I first got into Kyoto. It’s funny how you see fellow westerners and just start chatting, not always, just sometimes. Anyways, I came upon them again as we were both exiting the old fort thing. It was really weird to recognise someone in a city full of unfamiliar faces, nice to swap stories and tips and then which each other well on our respective journeys.
From there I had already lined up a really cool sushi place. Tell you what, before, I was a bit “I prefer my fish cooked please”, now depending on the fish, I’m quite happy to eat it fresh, it’s surprisingly very tasty.
Dang it, I forget about the whole smoking indoors thing in Japan… folks behind be are smoking what seems like a pack each.
So I finished the very satisfying sushi with my feet still fairly exhausted, but I was a little stumped for ideas as to what to do. So, being in the state of tiredness the best thing I reasoned, for my sore muscles and feet was to get naked again. Once again I was not disappointed. This time however there were more westerners, and I was able to pick my moments well to have a conversation… haha not as amusing as it may sound, just nice to have some normalcy when in a hot tub. Japanese folks are raised to be quiet and respectful. Passive, I have heard it said, either way, it would be highly unusual for them to spark a conversation. So it was nice to just relax, would have been better to have been able to do it with a beer, but you can’t have everything.
You might be wondering why I chose to walk instead of say ummm use public transport… I hear that, and perhaps in hindsight I would do it differently, but at the time I wanted to see as much of real japan as possible and that meant the laneways, byways, highways, alleyways, back yards, side streets, private streets, I ended up inside an office block once, but i digress.
The bullet train was an experience, they are impressive machines that just whip into the station surprisingly quietly. Was a great way to see the countryside.
My only complaint was no complementary wifi. I mean, I spent over $160 on the flaming ticket. It’s an incredibly advanced piece of equipment and no wifi? The buses I paid a fraction of the price some how managed to work it out, but not a high speed train. That was a bit poor.
Yokohama is where I am now, and apart from being unusually cold, it’s a great place. I’m staying with a Japanese guy who has travelled extensively and so speaks great English, with a slight German accent. He recommended another sushi place, the type where the sushi comes around on a conveyor belt, the best in town he says. So I make the journey across town to try it, only to find a que probably 40-50 people thick. At first I thought, “hmmmm I’m not one to patiently line up for food when hungry”, but before i could make a decisive choice people were already lining up behind me, so I was committed. It was truely fantastic by the way! And the funny thing, I was bumped up a good 2/3’s of the line. I was contently reading a book on my iPad, resolved to a potential 1-2 hour wait, to be asked to come on in. I just put my head down and followed the lady, avoiding any looks of potential disgust. I again was blessed to be sitting next to another compassionate young woman who spoke English and was able to let me know the system. I can see now why people were lining up for it, it was a really great experience. The plethora of chefs were all very enthusiastic and vocal. And the fish was the freshest, there was a guy slicing up an actual massive tuna.
My night only got better as my new host, Seiichi then took me out for a good tasting of Japanese craft beer.
I explored Yokohama’s Chinatown today, and my only real attempt to visit a museum since I’ve been here (surprising I know), was dashed due to renovations. So I’ve found the food on a stick place to write this out. The food on the stick was all very nice by the way.
So Japan. It’s crazy full of people. I’ve been in crowds, but this has been relentless. No matter where you’d go in the cities, hundreds if not thousands had the same idea… Though the people are incredibly polite, respectful and patient. I never felt uneasy, unwanted or disrespected. But they’re not ones to spark a conversation, so unless I was in need, I pretty much kept to myself and they theirs.
They love their bikes over here, didn’t see many chained up, nor helmets. Apparently it’s not a thing to do… safety that is. I was told they don’t see coming off as a potentiality, but they wear seat belts in a bus and in car for some unforseeable reason…
Their cities are really impressive feats of engineering , some really great architecture both modern and ancient.
The public transport was a breeze, once I figured out where I was going that is.
I’ve had a great time in Japan, it’s very much a place I would come back to, and I would suspect if I did, it would be just as amazing if not more amazing time next time. As there is so much interesting and cool stuff here in Japan, a shame I only had 9 days to take in as much as i could.
But I will gladly leave the 2 degree mornings for the 20 degrees of Athens… sooo very excited for that :)))
oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m unable to upload photos over a certain size on this platform, so I’ll put a bundle on the facebooks, at some point.