Archive for the 'japan' Category

mt. fuji is a very shy mountain. hai! aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh hai!

cue up the Vapors, it’s time for my “observations on tokyo” email.

Shortly after writing my last entry, I got up, got out and went shopping in Shinjuku. This led to three, no four, observations:

1. Nearly everyone in Tokyo is really well dressed. At all times. For all occasions.
2. Shopping seems to be the national sport as all the centers, malls and department stores were stuffed to the gills with browsers and buyers.
3. This place is not nearly as Americanized as is portrayed in the media. Aside from the proliferation of Starbucks, of course.
4. Hai! It’s like “smurf.” It seems to mean everything. You hear it all the time. At the beginning of sentences, as punctuation, in the middle of words…

Also, people are a lot louder than I expected. I was in a trendy store called Laundry buying the expected hilariously translated t-shirts. There was a sales girl, very nice, helping me out with her arsenal of english language shopping phrases so that I could use my inane hand gestures a wee bit less. Anyway, when not helping me, she was just yelling. Of course I have no idea what she was saying, but I could tell that she wasn’t talking to anyone in particular and all the sentences trailed off in a “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hai!”

I took one of those guided tours that I generally avoid like the plague, this one to see Mt. Fuji and the hot springs at Hakone. My well earned “day off.” We drove out to see the mountain, which is way cooler even than it looks in photos and on TV. It totally stands out from the mountains around it, and seems ultra special. Apparently, it’s also a very shy mountain, as it likes to hide behind the clouds, so if you see it, you’d better take pictures immediately. Since it rained like crazy yesterday, there were mudslides and we couldn’t get too close. We went to a peace shrine instead, which was beautiful.

Then off to lunch at a hotel (I was the only person on a bus of forty that chose not to have “western style” chicken, but opted for the Japanese lunch instead. Weird.) then cable cars over the mountain to the springs. Any of you who know me well are going to be very proud when you see the photos of this thing.


Then, we got to Owakudani Valley with all the springs, reeking like sulphur as hot springs tend to do. The draw for this place, though, is that they boil eggs in the sulphur and iron filled springs, which turn black from the combination of minerals. They say if you eat an egg, you add seven years to your life. I bought “one” (which turned out to be six) for the novelty, convinced it would be disgusting. It tasted just like a regular hard boiled egg. Score seven years for me, without foul effects. I shared four of them with French Canadian pilots and stewards and then brought the last one back to the hotel for a snack (14 years!!!); my bag may never be rid of the smell.

Then we took a “pirate ship” across Lake Ashi. I don’t know why it’s a pirate ship. Our guide suggested because the other company runs plain boats, it gives them an edge. Ridiculous.

Finally, I took a bullet train back to the city and then walked around for a while looking for that section of Tokyo that you always see in the movies- you know, the Blade Runner looking part. I think I found it, but I’m not sure. This city has so many downtowns.

I lucked into a subway station (my own line, no less). Lucked into guessing which might be my stop by comparing general locations of landmarks and ended up a block from my hotel. Oh, and I found the gaijin. They’re on the subway. I was wondering where all the whiteys were.

That’s all for today. I have real business meetings tomorrow, all day. Then Harajuku for ridiculous souvenir shopping on Weds before I head out.

Ah, Tokyo, I barely knew ye.

Ciao, kiddies.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no Law & Order, at least not yet. These people are clearly missing out.


it’s raining in tokyo


Because I am a total jackass, I did not check the dollar to yen conversion rate before I left Melbourne,  Sydney, New York or wherever.  Cut to me getting to the Citibank ATM after 11 hours of flying and arriving in Tokyo at about 8:30 pm.  or 10:30 Melbourne time.  Or 9:30 am yesterday in New York.  Or whatever.  I go to the ATM machine, put in my card, and for the first time in the long history of my travels have absolutely no idea what to do.  I had to cancel my transaction, go check out the Thomas Cook rates, come back, stand in line and get money.  I  still didn’t quite understand because I barely got enough to pay for my train ticket to the city.  Then I had to go back again, wait for some seriously confused Brits to get their cash and withdraw about ten times the amount I’d originally done.

Incidentally, and oddly enough, shit’s a lot cheaper here than in Australia, as least as far as food is concerned.  I’m waiting for that illusion to be shattered.

so, Japan is getting all the rain Australia so desperately needs.  It is pouring.  I was planning on retailling (like shopping, but you take notes instead of buy things) or go on a day trip.  now, i’m thinking of renting movies in my room for 2500 Yen a pop (no, I have NO idea what that is).  maybe read finish my horrible crime thriller.  Take a shower.  Watch Barack Obama on CNN International (man, are people as or more obessessed with the election as Americans are). 

Or maybe I should just buy an umbrella?


“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Upon common theatres, indeed, the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value - john adams
September 2018
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from the man who taught me everything:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”