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Archive for May, 2007

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Umbrella Dodging

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

I spent the day and night in constant fear of losing an eye.  When the clouds come out, the streets here explode with umbrellas.  There seems to be a fear against being hit with a single drop of water in every Japanese soul.  Maybe they don’t like covering up their style or endangering their gelled hair-styles with a hooded raincoat.  I don’t know the real reason why, but it puts any 6’4” gaijin in danger.  Thousands of umbrellas whizzing by your face, as the metal support rods keep coming close to scraping out your cornea.    [read on]

Pleasure Gardens

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

One unexpected delight that I’ve found most enjoyable about Tokyo is the various pleasure gardens scattered throughout the metropolis.  I’m not talking about a mere public park or the stereotypical Zen rock garden.  Rather the scenic, nature sanctuaries, secluded from the chaos outside the walls that protect them.  Today, Mihye and I met again to spend the afternoon visiting two of the most famous.    [read on]

Conveyor Sushi + The Japanese Movie Experience

Monday, May 28th, 2007

At ¥2700 a night, the Hotel New Koyo is definitely not the cheapest bed in Tokyo, but for the private room and friendly expert advice offered by the staff it is worth it.  I decided to stay another night, and set off to Asakusa.  I had a few hours to kill before meeting Mihye for lunch, so I spent the morning taking photos and wandering the temple area.    [read on]

Ueno-Koen and the Omikoshi at Ameyokocho

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

One night in an internet café is tolerable.  Not so comfortable, but sleep is possible.  You can get computer work done and then easily pass out in your oversized recliner when you are ready.  Very helpful for blogging, uploading photos, and staying in touch with out a ketai (cell phone).  It is a worthwhile experience, and definitely a must for a budget traveler in Tokyo.  However, two nights in a row is too much.  In the few times I’ve stay in one before I never realized the quality of sleep wasn’t as good.  Compound two nights in a row and you simply don’t get enough rest.  None of my friends could put me up for another couple days, so I decided to seek out a cheap bed.  I found a ryokan in Minowa.  Hotel New Koyo is only ¥2500 per night for a private room and located near Ueno and Asakusa, two areas that were on my itinerary before coming to Tokyo.    [read on]

A Walk in the Park II: Yoyogi-Koen

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Since the internet café didn’t have a shower this time I started my day heading to Roppongi to find a cheap sento (public bath only… not a full fledged onsen) recommended by Lonely Planet.  The ¥400 sento turned out to be closed, so I broke down and used the upstairs onsen for an outrageously expensive ¥1280!  

I was even more surprised to find that this place was an overpriced dump, unlike the elegant onsen I found in Yamanashi!  The faucets hardly worked; if it wasn’t spitting out scalding hot or freezing cold water it wasn’t working at all!  The sauna and bath were both unbearably hot.  I couldn’t stand more than a few seconds of it before getting out and regretting the shocking sum I spent to endure this unpleasant experience.  Please heed my advice and avoid the Azubu-Juban onsen like the plague.  It is overpriced, dysfunctional, and if it will give you the worst impression of this sacred part of traditional Japanese culture.   [read on]

On the road again!

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Today is the first day I start my true travels through Japan.  The time I spent at the Solar Cafe in Narusawa was an exciting experience and provided a different type of life than I’ve been used to, but it was too easy to make myself at home.  By the time I left I had friends that were like family, 2 pet dogs and a rooster, a bed of my own, a favorite grocery store, a bike and even an SUV at my disposal (not to mention an office with a great view).  Strapping on my daypack and taking weekend trips to Tokyo was exciting, but not much different from short hops to NYC or Phila back home.  I never really felt like much of a vagabond… but that is all changing.  Now I leave to begin my nomadic lifestyle.  For the next six weeks left of my visa, I’m backpacking and hitchhiking south west through Japan bound for South Korea.    [read on]

Yamanashi Adventure Day

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

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Back to work… if you want to call it that

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

I’ve really been spoiled as backpacker and before that as a freelance musician.  The idea of staying in one spot and working a nine-to-five job terrifies me.  I grudgingly woke up for work on Wednesday and started laboring.  Not very long into it I remembered how much fun the work is, and the good times that would follow hanging out in the café afterwards.    [read on]

Konjaku: Past and Present

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

As much as I enjoyed the last night and day in Tokyo, it was mostly just great conversations with good friends.  There is not much to tell that would captivate your attention other than Nabe and I making plans to play music when I come back to town, and a last minute lunch with Mihye (the Korean girl who introduced herself as Michelle last time I was in Tokyo).  I really wish I could’ve stayed a little longer, but I have work to finish on the farm before starting my true travels through Japan.   [read on]

Fight of the Mostly Naked Fat Men + The Tokyo Underground Music Scene

Monday, May 14th, 2007