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Showing posts from June, 2010

Nikko & Kegon Waterfall

6/30/10

I apologize in advance for the lack of decent pictures, the weather was absolutely terrible today! It only cleared up briefly while we were at the lake (a stopping point between Nikko and the Kegon Waterfall).



Nikko Shrine was absolutely amazing...had the weather been nice, I probably would have enjoyed it. But since it was down pouring and my raincoat was doing absolutely NOTHING, in fact I think it was exacerbating the problem...it was difficult to really fully enjoy the "beautiful" scenery that the shrine had to offer.

There was this really cool part where we went inside one of the buildings and a guy was hitting these two sticks together on one side of the room and it sounded like ordinary sticks being hit together, but when he did it underneath the huge dragon that was painted on the sealing it made a much better sound and reverberated (very different from the other sound). They called it the crying of the dragon. It was amazing!

The lake was beautiful, the fog …

Hiroshima has crabs...

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6/28/10

Today we started early...mainly because we had a surprise visit from the sunshine and figured that we had better make the most of that time, as the forecast for the next days (including today) stands consistent at rain/thunderstorms...EVERY day! Today was no exception to that but at least it held off until after lunch time so we could get some pictures of our morning adventures!

We went to the Hiroshima Castle, part of which we could walk through (of course by removing our shoes...customary here in many places in Japan). There was a shrine within the castle grounds, and somewhere there is a tree that survived the atomic bomb, we couldn't find that tree per se, but we did see a lot of trees (I tried to convince mom to take a picture of one of the many trees to pass it off as the "survivor tree"...she would not)


After the Hiroshima Castle (properly called Hiroshima-jo, but since when do I do anything properly?!) we ventured out to the Shukkei-en (Shukkei Garden). T…

Hiroshima, Peace Memorial, Shop-a-holics anonymous

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6/27/10

Again, not a wonderful day here in Japan, it has been raining off and on, seems like it's more "on" when we have to walk outside, but hey, I'm not going to let a little rain get me down right?!

After checking in (to our upgraded room) we ventured out to the Peace Memorial here in Hiroshima. It's absolutely fantastic and my pictures I'm sure won't do it justice. There is a flame burning in the middle of the park to memorialize the lives lost, and when you stand in front of it and look through the archway you can see the Genbaku Domu (which was right around ground zero in WWII).



Throughout the park there are shrines and memorials covered in paper cranes as a sign of peace. There is also a monument to Sasaki Sadako who was 2 years old when the Atomic bomb was dropped, she had leukemia and then died when she was 12. She believed that if she folded 1000 paper cranes that she would be cured. She completed the first batch and wasn't cured so she star…

Sweet suite

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6/27/10

We arrived in Hiroshima, and upon getting to the hotel were notified that our room was not ready (it was still being cleaned) I guess we looked irritated enough that a few minutes later one of the girls came over and offered us a mega upgrade (from the cheapest room in the Crowne Plaza to the most expensive) to the Junior Suite. This thing is massive and probably bigger than the first floor of my house...definitely way more technologically advanced! I hope the toilet comes with directions in English...a flush could turn into a surprising blast of cold water if I'm not careful!

I can't capture the full amazingness of this hotel room or my excitement that is a result of this upgrade...ahh I'm fully ready to go explore Hiroshima, but better yet, we're spending two nights in this palace!

Kyoto, Nara, and Deer...Oh my!

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6/26/10

We had a packed day of touristy-shriney-templey-loveliness today! We started in Kyoto and visited the Kinkakuji Temple (Golden Pavilion) and then the Nijo Castle (both World Heritage Sites). We then had lunch and shopping at the Kyoto Handicraft Center. The shopping was fun but shopping on a budget (a time budget that is) sucks! We each got a pearl necklace (perverted blog readers keep your dirty "pearl necklace" comments to yourself thank you very much!)...pearls are very popular here in Japan!

We boarded the bus and then headed to Nara (once the capital city in Japan, in approximately 700). In Nara we visited the Todaiji Temple and Kasuga Shrine, both conveniently locate in Nara Park. Both of these sites are registered as World Heritage Sites as well. Todaiji Temple holds one of Japan's most well known temples enshrining a gigantic bronze Buddha. According to my entrance ticket, The Vairocana Buddha (Buddha of the Sun) is 159.89 ft high, 165.61 ft deep, and has…

Holy Kyoto

6/25/10

Today we headed to Kyoto via the Shinkansen train. It took 2 hours and 45 minutes and who knows how many miles! When we arrived in Kyoto it was nice and sunny, but of course that didn't last long. Actually I'm pretty sure it started raining approximately 1 minute after we got off of the bus at one of the shrine/temples that was about as far away from the hotel as we could get. I have to refer to them as shrine/temples because I don't know which is which. I know that one is Shinto and the other Buddhist but decipher them if I had to. I can however tell you the differences when looking at a map because one of them is represented with a swastika and the other with a sign that looks closer to the pi sign (no joke!)

We visited approximately 349823094 temples and shrines today, making this a very holy adventure.

I tried on a pair of the split toe shoes (they call them Samurai shoes here, basically your big toe has a separate section than the rest of your toes, and the sh…

Shinkansen

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6/24/10

We took the Shinkansen to Atami (first time riding this "bullet train"). It flies! I captured a video but wasn't quick enough to get the front of the train as it zipped by us! Enjoy!


From Atami 6-24-10

*click on the picture and it will bring you to the Picassa album where you can see the video. I was having a hard time uploading it to the blog!*

Once again on our way back, we had to get off at the Shinjuku train station...once again we did not take the right exit (there are approximately 230840320984 to choose from). We have yet to take the same way out, and we have yet to take the correct way out. Perhaps before we leave here! I hate this train station!

Dinner at the Onsen

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6/23/10


This definitely gets its own post. Dinner. I’m pretty much speechless as a result of my dinner experience. Let’s start from the beginning. Dinner was included with the cost of the room/trip. We walk down to the dining room in our rugged clothing and sandals (and it was clearly a dressier dining room than we packed for). Upon sitting down the waiter (well, one of the 6 waiters who tended to us throughout the dinner) started to speak to us in Japanese, like we could actually understand him, when I asked for an English menu, he thought I was asking about a particular drink…you get the picture…and this was just the first 5 minutes. He handed us a menu that was a small piece of paper and was entirely in Kanji. I have no idea if it was a menu for dinner, drinks, or happy ending services offered by the girls on the street. After we clearly were not making any moves or picking anything they just started bringing dishes. I lost count of the “courses” that we had but there were some dis…

Atami

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6/23/10


Well, we ventured out of Tokyo to a little town called Atami which is located on a peninsula that is famous for its Onsen’s (hot springs baths). We are staying in a “traditional” style Japanese room called a Ryokan. The room is beautiful and overlooks the sea. It has tatami mats covering the floor and a small table (for dining) in it with four chairs (with no legs) with pillows on them (I told you, traditional!). At night the room transforms to a bedroom (I just hope we don’t have to do this transformation because I have no idea where this table and legless chairs are supposed to go! At any rate, there is a closet in the room that has nice mats (like futon mattresses but much better than the ones you may have had in college!). These Onsen’s are very popular among the Japanese as a place to go and relax. I regret to inform you that you will not be hearing about my experiences at the Onsen as I will be opting out of this one. You go nudie and there are very specific instructions


N…

Man wearing panties, Glam Dolls, Drag, and other useless information

6/22/10

And you thought you were just getting one post today. No way faithful readers...I couldn't help but let you in on the lovely little evening that my mom and I had here in the lovely area of Shinjuku in Tokyo. First, we were coming down the escalator and I saw ass cheeks and leg hair. When the rest of the person was in view (from behind mind you) I saw a ponytail (to the side) and made a comment to my mom about the woman forgetting to wear her pants to the shopping mall...mom quickly guessed that it was a man...no way, couldn't have been...he/she had a very woman-ish rear. Well after shopping around (mainly snooping and staying in close proximity to get a closer view of this site) I was able to catch a glimpse of the face...with a beard (no we aren't talking an elderly woman's beard, this was a full on man). Clearly he decided to leave the house in what looked like panties to me. One wrong move and everything was going to be showing in the front!

Later on the wal…

Tsukiji Fish Market and Asakusa (again)

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6/22/10

This morning we got up at an offensive hour (leaving the hotel before 5 am, like I said, offensive) to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market. This is the central fish market in Japan and if you get there at 5am (before the trains start running (and no we did not get there by 5am) you can catch the Tuna auction. Fisherman/women from all over the world sell their catch over here (a couple of large tuna can sustain a person financially for the year. Many of the fish bring in close to a million dollars).


I wore my flip flops (because it's hot and humid and why would I want to put on sneakers?!), I quickly learned that that was not a smart decision when walking around a fish market (with water, blood, guts, fish, parts, etc all over the floor). I hope I don't get some kind of Japanese fish disease as a result (do they exist?!)
The fish market was interesting, but there is little in life that is worth getting up and leaving before 5am...

When we got back to Shinjuju we tried to go t…

Mt. Fuji and Hakone

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6/21/10

Today we ventured outside of Tokyo to some different perfectures (that's what they call them) but most importantly we were on Mt Fuji. We went to the 5th station. I won't tell you how many stations there are (you can just stay impressed that I was on Mt Fuji not just on the bottom gazing up)! Thankfully the sun came out at just the right time for us to get a few shots of "her" (they refer to Mt Fuji as a "her" so I will too, don't want to piss off the mountain Gods)
We got a lucky bell inside the 5th station, I plan to keep that with me, I don't presently have much luck so perhaps this little Fuji bell can help me out!

After driving down Fuji, we had lunch at the bottom at a hotel. Our tour guide indicated that it would be a "weak lunch". Being a big fan of eating this concerned me. What was presented to us was a beautiful tray with individual dishes of bite size items. It was delicious (for the most part).


Next to the hotel their …

Shinjuku National Garden, Meiji Shrine, Harijuku

6/20/10

Today we actually got a break from the rain (how nice I know) so we decided to go to the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. It was a short walk from the hotel and was absolutely worth every bit of that and the 200 Yen that we paid to get in (about $2)! It is a huge garden with various sections (Japanese style, french rose garden, English landscape, and huge open spaces where people were picnicking and whatnot)

Next up was the Meiji Shrine in Harijuku. It was a bit of a walk from the train station, it was now hot and humid (making me slightly miserable and not zen-like). On the way to the shrine on one side of the path there were tons of Sake barrels with great decorative labels. On the other side were wine barrels (with some purpose but it was too hot to pay attention and care, so I took a picture of the sign to read about it later!)

Next up was Harijuku. Wow! This is the area of Tokyo known for having people (male and female) dress up in outlandish outfits/costumes/make up and w…

Dynamic Tokyo Tour

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6/19/10

Today got up bright and early (5:30am I thank you very much) to go on the Dynamic Tokyo Tour. We had to walk to another hotel to meet the tour group/bus to then be transported to a bus station to get on a different bus. This was a great way to see the city because 1. I didn't have to walk and 2. because someone was telling me what everything was!

First stop was the Tokyo Tower. The tower is used for news and media and is approximately 330 meters high. We went to the observation deck which was about half way up (plenty for me thank you!)


Second stop was the Happoen Garden for a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. There were several weddings going on at this garden (17 to be exact on this particular day). 
Next we had a traditional Japanese style barbecue lunch that was to die for. It was cooked in front of us on a stone (rubber stone from Mt Fuji).
Fourth we went on a river cruise on the Sumida River to Asakusa (which is a fantastic shopping area in Tokyo for traditional Japane…

I hit the mother load...

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6/18/10

Today was an amazing day...first of all, ma dukes arrived in Tokyo for our two week adventure.

In the Kit Kat world things have been moving and shaking! I essentially doubled my collection while waiting for my mom at the airport.

I have added the following flavors: Citrus Golden Blend FlavorApple (just guessing by the package design)MelonCorn on the cobCherry blossom green teaSemi-sweet chocolateRaspberry and Passion FruitWe have a busy day tomorrow with the "Dynamic Tokyo Tour"...hopefully the rain stops so we can actually take a picture or two! Until the next time, happy Kit Kat hunting!


So long, farewell, I hate (can't wait) to say goodbye...

6/16/10

The time here has quickly come to an end. Tomorrow is my last day of work, and in an effort to part ways with the lovely city of Yokosuka Japan I have come up with a list of things that I will miss terribly when I am back in the U.S.
*I won't be leaving Japan for another two weeks though because mom and I will be traveling around like crazy kids, I will keep the blog updated!*

1. Lemon soda (lemon squish I believe is the name) it comes in a black can that has yellow polka dots and is amazingly refreshing (even has lemon pulp in it)
2. Sushi-go-rounds (and just good, fresh sushi in general)
3. People who sing to greet you as you enter/exit their stores (yes they are that friendly here!)
4. The Kit Kat hunt (2 more weeks left and I'm determined to expand my collection!)
5. The Toto Washlet (really there are no words)
6. Everyone backed in to parked
7. The triangles (seaweed wrapped around a triangle of rice with some sort of surprise (usually fish) in the middle)
8. Amaz…

No sheet?

6/13/10

I have been looking forward to this weekend in Tokyo for several weeks. There are many reasons for this: exploring a new city, getting out of this crappy hotel, new food options, but most importantly was the spa appointments that I scheduled for a Massage and Facial (OK pervs no jokes these are legit...not the offers the girls "sell" on the corner!)

So I am ready to go with this massage, thinking it will be like massages at home (I know, what was I thinking?!)...the massage itself was great...relaxing...it's how it started off that had me a little on edge. Perhaps I should have had a cocktail before going to this appointment?!

I walking into the hair salon because that's where they do the spa services. It's one person and one room. The room has two curtains hanging down but you can see into it from the hair salon. I'm instructed to undress, except underwear and to lie face down on the table (the table is a massage table with towels (Japanese towel=Ame…

Tokyo (Shibuya) 6/12/10-6/13/10

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Otherwise titled: The weekend away (for luxury and pampering) from the dump that we currently reside in! For some reason I don't think that whole title will fit within the blogs settings!

At any rate, we went to Tokyo, really we checked into the hotel (which seemed like the Biltmore compared to where we have been staying), and then headed out to Shibuya on a mission. My mission was to find at least 1 new Kit Kat flavor to bring to my collection. I failed miserably (I know, disappointing!)

I was able to finally capture (photographically speaking) the smoking man that I walk by daily. I mean, wouldn't this guy make you want to smoke a pack of Winstons?! Don't lie.

I mean, do you think you could pull off those jean shorts...I THINK NOT! Thank you Winstons.

Shibuya was pretty swell...it's just one of the many sections of Tokyo. There were tons of different stores and eating options. We opted for a little Italian joint (I know Italian in Japan...blah blah) and it was fantast…

I think I'm turning Japanese

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6/5/10

My t-shirt collection continues to expand. Today I was able to score to beautiful numbers. The first is a classy panda t shirt that says "these animals are good tree climbers" on the front and on the back. The other one has a pretty bow and some other graphics and on the back it says "starts a revolution because of the shine..." I know, fantastic! I'm just doing my part to fit in over here!

Speaking of fitting in...rompers are a pretty big deal over here. Not just rompers but skimpy little rompers made from see through materials. So in my attempt to "fit in" I also attempted to put one of these bad boys on today. I was quickly reminded that I have some things that Japanese girls/women do not...hips and and an ass...turns out that the good old medium romper wouldn't go over my thighs...the search continues...

In my attempt to try on this one piece item I did get to thinking about some things (yes I do a lot of my thinking in dressing rooms a…

Oh hey I'm famous...

6/3/10



So most of you already know that I'm a pretty big deal...this just confirms it. I'm on TV...so what if you can't understand what they are saying...this is not the point (and clearly those thoughts are only because of how insanely jealous you are of my new found celebrity status...it's OK!)

I can be seen at 4:48 and again at 5:35 for an actual quote where I say something ridiculous like "perfect"...but let me frame this for you. I had just slid down a waterfall backwards and head first, I barely came up for air and that camera was in my face. Not only was I speechless from the experience but I was also just trying to get air in the lungs and water out...Most of you who know me know that had I had full oxygen potential to the brain I probably would have cursed or said something partially offensive!

That's a kid's Medium right??!

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6/2/10

T-shirts here are hilarious. I've mentioned it before, and I really can't say it enough. Every day we are on a mission to find hilarious t-shirts along our walk to/from work!

Today was a gold mine...in a clearance bin!


I apologize in advance if you are one of the lucky ones to get a t shirt from Japan from me (not for the t shirt of course, these are works of art). The sizes are definitely not what we are accustomed to. A medium (women's) here in Japan is comparable to something you would put on your schnauzer. So it might be a little snug, but wear it with pride, because lots of love went into finding these gems!

I mean really, how can you beat "promise to affection" or "time is same for every one"?!! One of these bad boys is bound for one of you blog readers...but that will just have to be a fun surprise! I expect pictures in your t shirts (to those who I have already sent them and to those who will receive them!)

It's hard but someone has …

Move over veggie burgers, it's time to make way for the Vodka!

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6/2/10

Each week we have been getting 5 drink tickets, each ticket is redeemable for 1 drink at the downstairs bar (downstairs bar=where all of the dirty old men contractors hang out...the same ones who visit the massageee girls, you catch my drift). So the first day we moved in to this hotel, Adina and I went to the bar for a drink. We literally have been stockpiling our drink coupons ever since. Why you may ask? Save up enough of those bad boys and you can get a bottle to take to your room and avoid above mentioned creepers! Today I took those golden tickets and cashed them in for a nice bottle of absolute, hey thanks Japan...! I even have tickets to spare!

Not a bad perk of staying in this hotel! My hardest decision now is what to mix with my lovely beverage!
Oh and trying to give it a home in my mini fridge (you know the kind you had in your dorm with the microwave on top...that size!) freezer, that was somewhat of a challenge.

I assure you, the Vodka and I are now nestled in nice …

It's a party in my mouth!

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6/2/10
In addition to the Kit Kats coming in what I guess I will call "unique" flavors. Many of their chips also have some interesting flavors and names as well! I am not even going to start a collection of these things too, the Kit Kats are bad enough, but the names on these two containers had me at...hello!

Being in Japan there are some foods that I definitely miss and these two mini cans of Pringles captured them perfectly. The Pringles cans both say "funpicnic" for the flavor, but the picture tells a completely different story...

Flavor 1: Cheese fries.
Flavor 2: Chicken wings

I don't know what kind of picnics they have here, but I clearly need to be invited to one if cheese fries and chicken wings are involved. Hell, I never had those on any picnic I went on!

Alas, we have new Kit Kats!

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6/2/10
Finally! New Kit Kats! I'm happy to report that I have stumbled upon two new flavors of Kit Kats today while out and about in Japan town!

First up we have what they call "bitter almond". I actually tried this one and it's quite good. I'm guessing it got it's name because of the dark chocolate, I could be wrong.

The next flavor is a complete mystery to me. I did try this one and I will say nothing more because someone reading this blog is going to get the pleasure of trying it, and I'm not telling who :) Anyways, there is no "name" for the flavor, which to me looks like a cup of yogurt with green jelly gobs floating in it.

Kit Kats have been scarce lately, but rest assured, I am searching in every nook and cranny possible to bring you the widest variety of flavors known to man!