domingo, mayo 30, 2010

After more travels than I can tell right now

I spent my morning here,

on the slopes of Mount Fuji


martes, mayo 25, 2010

I was here today.

I love Japan (particularly places like the temple complex at Narita!).
G'night all.

lunes, mayo 24, 2010

ready, set...

The whirlwind tour!
That's right, if I had three days of sightseeing mania, then you're going to get it in one fell swoop too!! Hang on!

Day one: Friday
Friday morning after a crash course from Josh, I was ready to tackle the big town for a day. Camera armed and ready!

First stop: a shrine in Ueno park.

Complete with a, uh, gong-er thinngy!

Next stop - shopping! Ameyoko plaza is supposedly one of the grandest bazaars in Asia. Where you can find...

uh, these.

Ahh, that's better!

This thing haunts me! Apparently it's a good to honest cultural symbol. A badger (not a bear like I supposed) that frequents food or drinking places. Hmm...

Ginza! The classy part of town. ;D

And then by night, Shibuya the, uh, people part of town. Seriously, there's no way to convey in one picture the sheer oceans of humanity at this intersection. Just get me to show you the video sometimes, cause this just doesn't cut it!

A must, apparently, in Japan. I have yet to try it, but I feel that my destiny awaits me...

Day two: Saturday
This day Josh and I traveled in to his work together and I spent a little while observing some of his classes. But then I went to a mall to wait for him.

And well, one must stay awake somehow.

But then we were off!! Where am I here?

The Imperial Palace of Japan!!! This place rocked, it's actually still the current residence of the Emperor of Japan so obviously we didn't get to see the palace itself, but the grounds were great! The pic above is one of the many buildings near the moat that surrounds the whole grounds.

Me and the moat! Here you can see the grounds starting to the left and city city city on the right.

The palace was indeed peaceful, but only a few steps away the city begins in earnest again. Shiny!

I know, it's silly. But really, what sort of trip to Japan would it be without Godzilla?!

Walking the streets at night (that's Josh there in his spiffy hat).

Day three: Sunday

Saturday night we spent near to Tokyo so that we could rouse ourselves at the perky hour of 5:45 and train back in to see this - the biggest shrine in Tokyo.

I honestly don't know what that thing is, but it is big!

And this spiffy dragon was on the bottom.

And right around the corner - a pagoda!

It doesn't get much more cultural contrast than monks and a Starbucks, and yes, they actually went inside and got something!

This was a monorail train we took that rode us around the whole bay area (the first picture on this blog was taken from it. Sveet!

One more shot from the train.

And sadly, my camera would have been much more active on Sunday, if it had not died of batteries shortly thereafter!! Oh well, now that it's Monday and I've taken a day off, they are fully charged again and await any other adventures I have. My time here has only begun!

domingo, mayo 23, 2010

Just got back

from a two day trip to Tokyo with Josh, woahhhhhh good times! :) I'll see if I can post some tonight maybeish, but I've seen sooo much in the past... 48? hours that I may need a day off just to process it all!

Just wanted to go on record though that I am still alive and happy in Japan!

jueves, mayo 20, 2010

Safe in Japan!

Well, I made it! After 16 lengthy hours of travel, I landed in the Narita airport yesterday excited and utterly sleep deprived. As I exited the terminal I was greeted by my joyful brother, a lovely sight indeed, who whisked me onto a train and then into his apartment.

It is there that I sit now (it's afternoon here in Japan). This morning we got up and left the house at noon, Josh to take a train to work and I to walk around the city. After wandering around for a few hours I'm a bit tired, but I am better than I was yesterday and just so happy to be here! Here are the pictures from my travels thus far (and ones of the apartment will hopefully follow in a day or so):

I only got a couple of shots from my actual flight, but here I am at my layover in Vancouver; not looking my best here...

I wouldn't normally put this on a blog but toilets in the nice parts of Japan are legendary for their technology; upon exiting the plane this was what I was greeted with in the restroom.
Step aside, Star Trek, these are potties of the future!

Katsutadai! When Josh and I got off the train at our station, this is what I saw - a small city center surrounded by housing, misty with rain, gently bustling with people and little cars...
then and there I knew that I would love it here in Japan.

Josh with my suitcase.

And that was the last pic from yesterday.

Today after I walked Josh to the train station my very first stop was an international ATM at the post office. Or, Post of Ice, rather.

With cash in hand I thought it would be a great time to get to know the city better so I continued down the street that I was on. Pretty soon I got out of the area of shops and went past row after row of houses. The climate of Japan lends itself well to nurturing plant life and the people of Japan seem to take full advantage of this blessing. Everywhere I walked there were little gardens and pots of flowers. Purple seemed to be a frequent color, which of course made me very happy. :)

Also sprinkled throughout the city were smallish parks like this one:

My street finally T'd into another one and just as I was wondering whether the houses would go on forever I glanced to my right and saw a little sliver of countryside. I followed my curiosity and found that the city did indeed end, so I ventured down that road to see what it was like. I was met with a green misty countryside complete with trees...

and bamboo groves...

and rice fields!

The fields, I thought, were just beautiful.

They were sectioned off into small plots and irrigated with ditches and man-made conduits.

As I kept walking I soon got back into city again, and at this point rather than just backtracking the 45 minutes to Josh's place, I took a gamble on my sense of direction and attempted to make a loop through the city of Yachiyo back to the small Katsutadai station where I started (which, by God's grace, was a successful venture!).
Yet even back in the city it seemed that plant life still crept in to the scene. This house took moss-covered to a whole new level!

And this stairway seemed to get lost into a mass of overgrowth too. Hope no-one has to flight through that on their way to work every day!

At one point I noticed some young children going home with their moms from school. This little one wore a long rain coat that wiggled adorably above their feet. Sadly, the picture doesn't do the cuteness justice.

Later I was standing by a tree getting my bearings when I noticed a plaque beside it. Imagine that! Here I was in Japan, standing by a tree from Tyler, Texas!

Near the end of my walk I stopped by a store for a bite to eat. Here's a picture of the cat litter section, tellin' it like it is.

Japan, as I noted at one point to Josh, seems to have a firm love of the whimsical (just watch a good Miazaki film if you doubt me). Yet as I walked by this statue on the sidewalk I wondered whether it was really meant to be whimsical or if it was thought as a perfectly normal decoration to put in front of one's store...

you never know...