Once again me and my backpack are on adventures and this time I set a new personal record, only 6kg including my backpack is by far the most lightweight luggage so far. The big question is, what did I forget? So far its only my toothbrush I miss.
My trip started yesterday with a short flight down to Copenhagen, here I had a few hours waiting before boarding the direct plane from Copenhagen to Tokyo. After a short delay since the Swedish air space was closed because of major radar malfunction. Anyway the plane was really old and not really fun but for the price I paid for the tickets I must say it was Ok. Once arrived in Tokyo everything went very smooth and even if I arrived in a huge city it doesn’t feels like it. No stress and everything was really clean and even the boarder control went without any problem.
With a jet lag from hell we decided to check in at our hotel and sleep for a couple of hours before our dinner with the yakuza, neither of me or Andreas really knows what to expect so this can be interesting
Ps. We got a remote control for the toilet, from controlling the heat to play music and I dont know what, how awesome isnt that? Gotta love this country
I survived the meeting with the yakuza and what a night. Just as we had decided they came and picked up us at our hotel. Im not sure if it was planned from their side but all the stereotypes was fulfilled in form of they came in a big, luxury, discrete in a form that you know exactly who are in the car even if you cant see them because of the tinted windows. A short, kind a nervous trip later we stopped at one of their restaurants and we started to try out the Japanese kitchen. Sashimi, chicken neck and a lot of other different dishes went down together with plenty of sake. Overall we were kind a nervous and we both know that how you behave is very important in Japan but none of us knew/know how to behave then you are at a dinner with the mob. Anyway we tried our best by looking on how they behaved and do the same. A really fun and kind a weird evening for a swede like me and since we got invited to meet them again I guess we passed the test.
With a dry throat and a slightly headache we jumped on the metro and made a visit to Studio Ghibli museum. Probably by more luck than skills we successfully took our way through this maze of metro, commuter trains and railroads and were greeted by a huge, smiling Totoro. The museum was really nice, kind a small and everything were on japanese and only a few things were translated to english. Thats a shame but the museum is still worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood. Besides sketches, pictures and stories about the different projects they also had a cinema. The movie was in japanese only (no subtitles) so I didn’t understood much but it was really cool to see.
On our way back to the hotel we took a detour through an park. According to my research it should be autumn now and i’m kind a surprised how green and beautiful everything is, around 25 degrees and a blue sky is totally an ok autumn for me so I don’t complain.
Today we have been good guys and been working, well…we can call it working. It all started that with a pickup up at the hotel and and off we went so Andreas could do some interviews and take some photos. Me? I just tagged along for who could miss an opportunity like this. 8 hours later we are back at our hotel and discussion what we should eat to dinner, i bet rice will be involved.
Publishing some random pictures from the trip so far:
That japanese are very polite is a well known fact but yesterday I think they went over the line. Somewhere around 02:20 me and Andreas realized that we wanna go clubbing. Of course we have no idea where to go so we ask the bartender at the karaoke bar we are at if he knew any place. Now the crazy part, the bartender didn’t know any place but he take up his phone and starts to call his friend, in the middle of the night. While he is calling his friends more people at the bar hear about our dilemma and after a while the whole bar was involved in where we should go. We for sure got a place to go to and it may not be the best area of the city or the best club but fun we had and with all work everybody put in finding an place for us we kind had to go there.Today I spent the day as a true tourist, visited temple, “Tomb of Ronin” which is the cemetery where the 47 samurai’s are buried and just browsed some major shopping streets, unfortunately in rain but it was fun. To bad that Asakyusa temple was closed but I guess you cant get everything.
If you want you can spend the rest of your life in Tokyo and still find new things to see and do everyday but I’m have limited time here so I aimed for the former capital, Kyoto. The metro system may be confusing in Tokyo but Shinshansen (the highspeed railway) was really awesome. Really easy to buy ticket however it would be even more cheaper if I bought the tickets from outside of Japan. Plenty of room and comfortable seats, Its not recommended to have much luggage but that’s not a problem for me and my little backpack easily fitted on the compartment over my seat. According to the net you can see Mt Fuji from the train but I fell asleep and missed it even that the lady in the seat next to me had a small baby. Ten thumbs up for the control they have on their babies and the train, well its like the opposite of going by train in Sweden.
In kyoto I decided to try out Nishiki market. Nishiki market is a huge food market and besides selling raw food they have plenty of cooked and let you buy samples if you want to try something. On my way to the market I found some temples and Shosei-en Garden, Japanese are famous for the gardens so why not check it out? It was really an marvelous park and even if I was more or less in the middle of the city it was so quite, calm and relaxing. Really beautiful and I didn’t even mind that it drizzled. Unfortunately my photo skills are not good enough to give it a fair show but t least I tried to.
I made it to the Nishiki market before they closed down and here you could find anything that you can possible eat and some more stuff. Everything mixed from 5-star restaurants to a hole in the wall. It is kind of a tourist trap for sure but it was really fun to try to eat everything, don’t ask me what I ate though cause I have no idea.
A remarkable number of people ask how I live here in Japan. Do you stay in one of hose small cubes where you have to crawl in and back out. No, I don’t and I don’t have any plans for doing it either. Tonight I however stayed in a Ryokan which is a traditional inn originated from the 16-century. Tatami floor, sliding doors, communal bath and a bed…which is not like my ordinary bed. It felt kind a weird to more or less sleep on the floor but I slept really good and quite nice to take a bath, small talk to the owners and drink cup of tea. It may be more expensive than an ordinary hotel but for a night or two I really recommend it!
The day was spent in Kyoto, the city is located really nice in a valley surrounded by green mountains and towards the afternoon when I felt that I explored the city I climbed Kyoto Tower and yikes, the city never ends?!? Anyway it feels like I seen the “must do” regarding my limited time here so I jumped on the shinksansen for my next stop, Hiroshima.
A bit surprised and very confused I realized that in Hiroshima you travel by tram, not metro. That’ s not a problem except that its kind a hard to hear or read which is the next stop then you don’t speak or read Japanese. I confess my pulse raised for a moment but then I noticed that I’m still above ground and can use google maps, success! I got of the tram just outside my hotel and it couldn’t be better but come Hiroshima, please use Latin letters on the signs too!
In Chernobyl I checked out whats happening after an meltdown at a nuclear plant, here i see the result of a planned explosion. The bomb says contain 50Kg of uranium (Wikipedia say 64?) and less than one kilo was used in the fission however the result was over expectations for the americans and the disaster was an fact for Japan with over 200 000 deaths, which 20 000 was workers from Korea. In Chernobyl the reactor was contained and everything was made to prevent radiation while here, this time, everything was carefully calculated to explode on the correct height for maximum damage. More or less the whole area where the bomb exploded to wiped out and today its a huge park with monuments and reminders so the human population never forgets, what can be better than exploring this under a shining sun and blue sky.
After spent an half day in the park and museum I went for a quick city tour to find some food and get some new clothes before I headed for Hiroshima castle. The castle is only 600m from ground zero of the bomb so as you might guess nothing were left but now its partly rebuilt, just like it looked like and inside the castle is a museum about the castles history and about samurai. Really interesting to just briefly read about Hiroshimas history, how it was controlled but mostly about the samurai lived, had for clothes and gear. My theory is that if you plan to go to war you can dress in two ways
Make sure the enemy doesn’t see you, normally called camouflage
Get so well dress that your enemy doesn’t want to harm your clothes, that makes you safe too.
Normally and de facto standard today is to use some sort of camouflage but the samurais did the other one. Really cool uniforms with so many details just for good look, no really functions its crazy but I want one! You also had the possibilty to swing a real katana (samurai sword) so now I need to figure out how I can sell my soul so I could buy myself a new outfit.
Today Ive been on a train, for a long long time. After I checked out from the hotel I jumped on the tram towards Shinkansen and back to Yokohama, Tokyo. The trip was pretty fast since I was lucky and bought my ticket to a “super express” train which means only two stops on the way but still, it took over six hours. Once i arrived to Yokohama I somehow, don’t ask me how succeed to get on the metro without a valid ticket. It should not be possible but somehow I did it and it wasn’t a problem until I tried to leave the metro system, since you need to swipe your card to leave. Well, bummer for me but I just walked closed to the first person who left and I was a free man again.
On this trip I stayed awake but no sight of Mt Fuji, the nature was really beautiful but its hard to take pictures then you go by train in 300km/h,
Back in Yokohama and hanging with Andreas and our new, highly tattooed friends we had an interesting yesterday. For the first time as I know of I tried to eat innards, cant really describe exactly what since I have no idea but it was surprisingly good even if it was a bit chewy. However when I showed a little bit to much interest in that chili-soya souse the rest of the evening was done, our hosts wouldn’t rest before he could buy me a couple of bottles of it. Street up and street down, store after store until we finally found a small store who sold it. Guess I should be lucky I didn’t mentioned that cute girl cause they are really spoiling us here and doesn’t rest until we what we want…or what they think we want.
After a advice from a russian friend me and Andreas jumped on the train and spent the day in the old city Kamakura. According to the history books Kamakura was the old de facto capital of Japan, note it has never been the capital but it been more or less working like the capital. The city is only one hour away from Tokyo, has a nice beach and filled with temples and holy places so its a perfect one day trip to do.
Anyway, the first thing we decided to do when we arrived was to get breakfast. As we are growing tired of rice we ordered a classic toast, well at least we thought so. Instead of getting a toasted sandwich or two sandwiches with some melted cheese as ordinary we got something that was around 5cm thick, lightly grilled and some butter/oil topping..together with an salad. Now 8 hours later…I’m still not hungry
The rest of the day was spent walking in temples and just watching the view, walking down the small streets and of course, took a walk on the beach watching some surfers trying to catch the last waves for the season.
This is starting to get ridiculous and I dont wanna know what out hotel personal think about us but around midnight the same black, discrete to an not so discrete anymore level turned up at our hotel and after a short bowing back and for we jumped in and disappeared into Tokyos nightlife. On the highway we mixed watching TV, talking and drinking and suddenly we saw a road toll where the street racers had started to line up. Mazda RX7, Nissan Skylines and Mitsubishi evolutions were all on a row just waiting for the race to start, such a cliché.
Once we arrived at the first club we realized that we night will be epic. There might be an queue but guy like us doesnt stand in a queue and the metal detectors, well they was turned off just for us to pass by (is that really a good thing?!?). Anyway we continued to the VIP-area for drinks and there we got one heck of a night. We met alot of of different people, from DJ’s to I dont know and by some mysterious reason they all made sure we had a blast. According to rumors Club Harlem is one of the best hiphop clubs in Tokyo, I don’t know if its true but its one of the best clubs I ever been to for sure.
The night continued in the same theme and in the early morning when the dance floor started to get empty and you could see into the VIP-lounge we saw our driver laying down in a chair sleeping like a baby, I guess its a hard work to handle two swedes who wants to party.
Yesterday it was a big party at Art Baboo, the local bar we have spent a couple of evenings at under this trip and what a party. Live “music”, good drinks and of course one or two tequila shots. Really fun even if it was kind a hard to follow in the japanese singalong. The bartender and all the guest did their best to make sure that we have an awesome evening and we for sure did! You just have to love this country
[jwplayer player=”1″ mediaid=”3604″]
Didn’t bring my camera which may be lucky but I took some photos with my cell phone so you have to excuse the quality.
Its soon time to end this trip but before we can leave our host promised us and goodbye dinner. The japanese culture are using symbolics and gestures and I don’t know if it was a coincidence, because it was a really good place or just the symbolic that we had the dinner at the same place as we met them for the first time. Looking at the outside it doesn’t look much and inside, well I think the restaurant would have problem with the authorities in sweden but no matter what, it one of the best dinners I ever had. How about the symbolic that we kind a ended where we started? Well I liked it!This whole trip we kind a been spoiled by our hosts and this evening was probably the worst one ever. One dish after another and it was special this, special that, of course with a bottle of sake or two and a friendly conversation about everything. Its quite fun that they were at least as interested in our way of life as we was about their and I guess we are all way same, even if you choose different paths in our life.
Our idea to stay sober, get in bed early and wake up to get to the airport in time didn’t worked out. Actually it took like 5 minutes after we left the hotel we realized this and out plan change to lets stay out partying until its time to get to the airport. Our newly improved plan worked as a charm but as you probably understand we were not in out best shape once we were heading to the airport and by jumping on the wrong train it looked like it could be tight with time. Then for the first time in history we had some delays in train and suddenly a little bit tight would be very tight so off the train we went and instead took a taxi. 2 hour train ride were exchanged for 1 hour taxi drive and we didn’t even had time to leave the parking before we both were snoring in backseat.
The positive thing with our plan was that Ive been sleeping for like 90% of our 12h flight though, that is amazing!