Monday, April 30, 2012

Up on a mountain

Gah, i am so friggin tired today!
Tokyo-tired, not to be confused with tired of Tokyo, which i never am, ever.

We just came back from farewell dinner for our current roommate, Jacob, who's leaving us tomorrow morning, and as always we had tons of good food and great company.
I really am way too sleepy to be blogging, but i am so behind with the pictures, so here goes!

We hopped on the Sakura Shinkansen, a fancy new one, at Fukuyama (this is last Sunday, by the way, if you haven't been paying attention!) and it took only 25 minutes to Hiroshima. The seats in standard reserved where like friggin first class, so i was almost a little sad we weren't staying on it longer!
From Hiroshima we took a train, and from Miyajimaguchi we got on the ferry to the island.
The weather was great already and we were excited to see the famous Otorii from the boat, but as we approached our hearts sank a bit. The torii was covered in scaffolding. Like, covered. Not quite as picturesque as we were hoping it'd be!
But our disappointment quickly vanished when we went ashore and saw all the deer. I love wild deer!
So yeah, all was forgiven.
I had directions to our Ryokan, and it was located just right, and was super easy to find. I love Ryokans, but we don't often get a chance to stay at one, so that part in itself was pretty exciting.
Check in wasn't till three in the afternoon, but we put our bags in the reception, quickly changed into something more touristy, and then ran out, maps in hand, to see the sights.
I'll get to the torii and Itsukushima Shrine in another post, so i'll skip those and go straight to the mountain part.

Mount Misen was on the agenda. I love mountains, probably cause i'm from such a flat land, but i never think of the how-to-get-up-there part... in general, i don't think things through a lot of the time, but that's another story! Anyway, the how-to-get-up-there was by the Miyajima Ropeway. Their slogan? "Let's go for an Air Walk!"
Oh, yeah, guess who's terrified of heights?
Yeah, that would be me.
Going up to the ropeway station, i was nervous, but also just stoked to be seeing rocks and moss and waterfalls and prettiness, so i guess part of me just assumed i'd deal?
Or that it'd be a bit like the ropeways on Takao-san in Tokyo, which were scary, to me, but harmless in hindsight.

This was nothing like Takao.
First of all, there were two of them. 
The first ride was 10 minutes long. The longest 10 minutes ever, possibly. The gondola was tiny, and lucky for me, it was just me and Allan in it.
I full on freaked out. There's no better way to describe it. This wasn't an anxiety attack, because, well, for one thing, i was in complete and rational fear for my life! But still, i was hyperventilating, laughing hysterically and shaking so much i could barely hold my camera, which i needed to distract myself from what i assumed was my certain and rapidly approaching death!
The second ride was only 5 minutes in a much larger gondola with lot's of people. Still terrified and shaking, i handled this one a lot better. Even Allan was scared, but of course he couldn't show it, or i'd freak out even more, but yeah... we were up high. Very fucking high.

The view was great, of course, even if we didn't go all the way to the summit.
Instead we started heading down, so the darkness wouldn't catch up with us halfway, cause you know i wasn't about to set foot near the ropeway ever again.
The walk down was hard on the calves, but so fun and magical.
Sadly we didn't see any monkeys, but we saw lizards, a fun centipede, deer, and the most Miyazaki-ish landscape i've seen in a long time!
So much fun!
Oh, and i felt like kind of a badass for doing something that really friggin scares me. Good for me.

Ok, pictures!
I had Allan help me cut these posts down to the best and most essential pictures, cause they were all way too long, and i couldn't do it myself. So yeah, only the best (hopefully) for you, dear readers!


Before going up the mountain (i wish i'd had a better film in the camera for these, but whatever)

Plenty of cool stuff to see already, and the weather was just amazing

Small torii

Moss, always moss

And then, this... i'll post some even more horrifying ones from my iPhone later

Spectacular view, still shaking

Going down, so happy to be going down (and moss again)

A sunny moment

Plastic looking centipede-ish buddy, that was even brighter and more plastic-y looking in real life

Hello deer friend!

Closed, cute restaurant

Pretty lamp, pretty everything


Our day of sightseeing did not end here, so there will be a few more posts from our trip before we can get back to Tokyo and the present.
The present, in which i am eating snacks and blogging, while Allan and Jacob try to wrap a giant painting in Japanese gift-wrapping paper from 100 yen shop.
Oh, and i'm looking at my new tattoo... maybe i'll post about that later too?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fukuyama and Kurashiki, 22/4 2012 (or: "is anybody still reading this?")

I'm not sure if people still even visit this part of the internet, but in case they do; hi, i'm back!
Sort of...

We got back to Tokyo on Tuesday, but i haven't had many seconds to myself since then, and i certainly haven't had the opportunity to spend any of them on blogging.
We've been moving for Ink Rat, we've been studying Japanese and we currently have our first ever Tokyo visitor, and house guest, so obviously we're pretty excited about showing him all of our favorite Tokyo things, places and foods.

Even now, i'm wondering if i should be spending the rest of this rare night home alone* on blogging, or if i should maybe be painting or doing more homework?

But while i may lack the time to post here, i'm most definitely not lacking material.
I came back from our trip with four rolls of film, that i am now trying to turn into a more blog friendly number of pictures, so i don't find myself posting pictures of Miayajima and Izumi's baby for the next two months!
Yeah, and i have Tokyo pictures and iPhone pictures too... i better get this started!

We left for Fukuyama a week ago.
Not by Nozomi this time, but with regular, old railpass friendly Hikari. It may not be as fast, but it got us there, and while i wouldn't say i enjoy any form of transportation that isn't my bike, the Shinkansen is one of the better ones.

Izumi made us delicious dinner when we arrived, and we stayed up late catching up.
Oh, and princess Akari definitely did not recognize us at first, and it took a good hour of crying before she accepted our presence! I'm sure glad we didn't get that welcome the first time.

The next day, the day we'd wanted to spend on Sensuijima, it rained, so our hosts suggested we visited the Bikan Historical Quarter in Kurashiki, kind of a mini arts and crafts version of Kyoto, instead. So that's what we did.
We shopped for handmade souvenirs, ate udon, took lots of pictures and ended up at an outlet mall where i bought nothing and Allan bought shoes. 
Before getting back on the train to Fukuyama, we picked up food and donuts to take home with us, and ended up having quite the feat back at the house.

The next morning we had to catch a Shinkansen, a local train and a ferry, so we went to bed early.
Oh, and of course the weather was great the next day. Ain't that just typical?**


Leaving Tokyo with my tea and eki-ben

From Sunday? Yeah, cause it was dark when we arrived Saturday... ok, carry on

 Travel agency

 Izu's feet

Sleeping princess

Less graceful, perhaps, but still so damn cute

 Kurashiki shiba

 This one was a sad puppy with no one to play with

 I buy impractical things in the beginning of trips

Izumi's childhood memories

Rain proofing

Udon restaurant

Mini Kyoto isn't too far off

Tourists being tourists (what? Everyone else was doing it!)

Bridge detail

A moment with no rain

Mizuki and Akari

Allan and all his photo gear

Momotaro

Cat themed shop that i was almost about to shop at, when the discovery of live cats on display made me decide against giving them my money...

At the mall

 Guest room with a view

Heavy travel companion (so worth the sore shoulders, though)

Sad princess... maybe because we were leaving?


Ok, that's the end of part one!
As usual, i used my precious Canon AE-1 and a ton of different films, so i won't even try to remember which ones were used when. And also as usual, no editing besides the necessary resizing!

Still coming up; at least two posts from an action packed day on Miyajima, an afternoon in Hiroshima and whatever we've been up to since returning to Tokyo!



*The guys are at a show, and i've been so excited about being home alone, but i already wasted a good hour of my night napping. Apparently i was really tired.

**Having just woken up from a nap does not make for great writing, so i can only hope some of this made sense. If not, i'll try to make up for it in the next post!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kiku

I know i've already posted one picture of my friend Crystal's dog, but i got some shots of her with the Canon too, and i couldn't not post them, right?
She is, after all, a very pretty dog, and every time you get a non-blurry picture of a playful dog, it's kind of a miracle.

Also, i wanted my blog to post something pretty while i'm away.

Kiku at Ink Rat Tattoo:






Such a fancy lady.
It's impossible to tell she actually pees like a boy!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Nakano neko 16/4 2012

Tomorrow our vacation starts and although it keeps getting shorter and shorter, we're still pretty excited. We're in for some busy days when we get back to Tokyo, so it's nice that we get to enjoy a bit of traveling first.

Today we had our first ever Japanese lesson in Japan, and i saw Nuno Bettencourt without a shirt on.
No big deal.
More about this when i get back to Tokyo, cause right now i am tired and crampy and i just wanna fall asleep reading a book and eating plum flavored chips.

These photos are from me and Allan's walk from Kōenji to Nakano the other day.
It's such a nice walk, and it takes us through a part of Kōenji we actually used to live in, and it goes by a house that always has a ton of (what i assume are) semi wild cats out front.
I ran out of film before we had lunch at a great restaurant in the new OIOI in Nakano, where i managed to order a meat free meal in Japanese. It didn't sound good, i'm sure, but it's progress nonetheless!

A wonderful day with my wonderful guy.


I love old, broken houses so much

Annoying, talented husband took not one, but two, pictures of this and both where better than mine, so if he ever updates his blog, you should go check it out

Crossing the street

Where we used to live... it was small, and a little far from work and the station, but it did have a great view

Secret garden (yeah, i'm that creep who'll climb a fence if i see something cool on the other side)

Cat corner begins

Stubborn kitty refused to open its eyes for me

This one was even more stubborn... you wouldn't believe the noise we had to make, to get it to turn its head!

Cute

Possibly more cute


After lunch we got some coffee and and matcha latte, and went for a quick shopping trip at Broadway.
Then we took the train to Nishi-Ogikubo in search of some cool antique store, but we never found any.
We did have another nice walk, though, and that's usually more important to us anyway.

I hope everyone will have a great weekend, and hopefully i won't be too tired to blog a little about our adventures when we get home Tuesday night!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Shinjuku and Kōenji 15/4 2012

I'm starting to think that my purpose in Japan, like Allan's purpose is tattooing, is to help old Japanese men to practice their English.
It happens a lot, anyway, but i don't mind.

On Sunday i went to the Hanazono Jinja flea market, and bought nothing.
I don't think i've ever bought anything at that market, but i still love going there just to look.

I went shopping, just a little bit, in Lumine afterwards, and when i got back to Kōenji i got some 7-11 lunch and set out for that park i found the other day while getting lost.
I did find it, but it was a bit farther than expected. Things seem closer when you don't know where you're going.

I sat down on a bench next to a little old lady, and on the bench next to us was a guy enjoying a beer and some chips, while his two shiba dogs looked on.
Perfect.
I don't think i'd been eating for more than a minute when an old man came over to talk. Boy, was he chatty. But his English was pretty good and i got to practice my Japanese a bit too. Old people love it when we tell them how much we love Japan.
While we sat there, talking and eating, a little boy fell in the lake while playing too close to the edge. We all gasped and exchanged concerned looks, and for a moment, i felt like i was part of the gang.
Poor kid, though. He was so embarrassed that he didn't wanna go back to his parents who were hanami-ing close by, but he was completely soaked, and it's not that warm out yet. I hope he didn't catch a cold.


 Shinjuku

Cheap kimono and obi

Oh, good, i got someones shopping bag in the picture too

More pretty

 Pretty great location, and never crowded

Obligatory 

Kitsune and needy baby?

Going back to the station

 Happy faces

Maneki neko on Monkey Street

Happy lunch buddies!

Sweet little obāsan


I'm actually excited about making prints of some of these.

I wish my grandfather was still alive and could have seen these.
Since he was never online, he was pretty much the only one ever interested in seeing my vacation photos when i came back home!