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Nick's Japan Journal

by Nick

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Welcome to the blog of my trip to Japan back in August.

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Okay, well we know about Beijing . . .

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. . . but there are how many bicycles in Tokyo, Katie Melua?

Well, I can tell you: LOTS!

The Japanese sure are an environmentally concious people. You see recycling bins everywhere, and sensibly, many Tokyo folk choose to use bikes to get around, as evidenced in this picture.

I have been nearly run over by cyclists loads already, because they tend to cycle on the footpaths. However, I'm wising up a bit more now and learning to listen out for their bells, as they do usually warn you when they're coming your way :-)
17th Aug 2006, 10:47   | tags:,comments (10)


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Was just wandering about after having had a spot of lunch, and thought this street just looked typically Shinjuku. Better seen at night but I'd never great such a good shot at night.

If you are reading this Lee, I think this might be the street where you played Pachinko that time!
17th Aug 2006, 10:41   | tags:comments (5)

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

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Now this might sound like a strange place to go as a tourist, but I have read about it a few times, but it has better views from it's two observatories (one in each of the two towers) thank Tokyo Tower. And it costs absolutely nothing! :-)

Decided not to bore you all with pictures from the top. I thought one would suffice.


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This morning I went to the theatre. Just to see one act of todays play, which depicted the story of a Samurai who was plotting to overthrow the government, but fools everyone into thinking he's just a drunk. Eventually though his plan fails because his hather in law reports him to the police.

All in Japanese but I got an English commentary via a headset which (thankfully) explained everything as it was happening on stage.

This was suprisingly entertaining, It was funny as well as dramatic and had a long choreographed fight scene at the end which was very good.

Interesting note: all the roles in Kabuki are played by men. In fact there are actors who specialise in female roles called Onnagata.

Again, no cameras were allowed so I photographed a program so you could see some of the famous Kabuki actors :-)

I met a lovely South-Korean girl in the queue, who is studying Japanese whilst on holiday. She got quite excited about seeing this show.
17th Aug 2006, 10:13   | tags:,,comments (5)

Do you like my yukata?

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They have these yukata in all the hotel rooms, and despite looking somewhat
ropey still, I thought I could show it off. LOL!
16th Aug 2006, 14:06   | tags:comments (11)

Partying in Kyoto!

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Last night, I meant to go to see traditional Japanese performing arts, but I made it to the theatre too late so couldn't.So what to do when your plans have fallen through?. . .

. . . get drunk of course!

I went to a bar called "A Bar" where you get seated around a table with a bunch of strangers and then they serve your drinks at the table.

Well I was seated amongst the three party animals you see pictured, called: Dallas, Lori and Kim. All three live and work here (Kim has been in Kyoto for eleven years!)

Anyhow, they know some good places and I got asked along to "ING" with them which was (like most Japanese bars) a small dark room. There were a handful of regulars and a proprietor who looked a bit like a Japanese Slash :-) The girls assured me he would be very "genki" (happy) and indeed he was. Very genki and very zany character.

Well I managed to stay out until 4am, which I haven't done in years, but what a scream. Unfortunately, I had one hell of a hangover this morning and had to pack and get myself to Tokyo. I don't really know how I managed it, but I'm here now and feeling much better.

I'll be ready for anything again after a good night sleep.
16th Aug 2006, 13:17   | tags:,,comments (0)

Looking for Sayuri

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Various views of Gion.

Still on the "Memoirs of a Geisha" theme, I thought I'd wander round and find some more locations from the book.

The first pic shows a corner which is marked on the map as "Ichirikicyaya". I did hopefuly wonder if this might have once been the location of the Ichiriki Teahouse mentioned frequently in the book. Who knows?

For the second pic, I was trying to make it look like I was just taking a picture of the street, but I really wanted a decent shot of the Geisha. While definitely not anything like Sayuri from the book, she is the only picture of a Geisha I could get without being obvious. I saw a few Maiko (trainee Geisha) and Geisha though. ALthough one in particular, walked more like a boxer than a Geisha, so I'm not sure how genuine she was! :-D

Third photo: just a quaint old street, but took me ages to get the picture, because the world and his wife wanted to get a picture here, much the same as they did in the last picture, which is why some guy is satnding on the bridge. I just couldn't get a picture when no-one was on the bridge.

One last observation tough: could this be the bridge where little Chiyo first met the Chairman? There were only four bridges in Gion and this seemed the most likely candidate.
15th Aug 2006, 10:58   | tags:,comments (4)

The Golden Pavillion

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Otherwise known as Kinkakuji, the grounds of this temple complex are just beautiful, the gardens and ponds are very pleasant to wander around, although it is heaving with tourists, but I managed to get this shot without too many people in the picture.

The Pavillion itself is covered in gold leaf and is much brighter than it looks in the picture.
15th Aug 2006, 10:56   | tags:,comments (2)