A Travellerspoint blog

Guest House Bola Bola

semi-overcast 28 °C

I can't read maps. This was already well established, but beautifully illustrated this evening when it took me 30 minutes to complete a (supposedly) 5 minute walk to Guest House Bola Bola from Uzumasa station. The last 60 seconds of which were accomplished by taxi.

Retard.

The cabbie was nice enough not to charge me, obviously aware of my special needs.

Guest House Bola Bola is a quaint little establishment with traditional japanese style tatami sleeping arrangements and ridiculously low arch ways. I feel like an ogre. Not the first time in this country of slender and graceful people.

Today I rode the shinkansen to Kyoto. Maybe it's because I'm inherently oblivious, but we didn't seem to be going exceptionally fast. Maybe it's because I had the aisle seat.

Kyoto station is quite incredible, it's a massive structure with a complicated steel atrium and the most impressive series of staircases I've yet seen. I took the escalators.

Posted by kitschikat 07:46 Archived in Japan Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Ueno Park, Club Yellow

semi-overcast

Yesterday saw me roaming Ueno Park with Dr Reiri, my Aunty's good friend. He very kindly accompanied me through the expansive grounds where within lay a variety of museums, shrines, monuments and Ueno Park Zoo.

Unfortunately, there is also a sizeable homeless population that take residence in the park and it made for an very uncomfortable experience eating lunch amongst them. I felt terrible.
Aside from that, the weather was very agreeable and conducive to an afternoon of rambling amongst foliage. There were many families with small children, as a colourful market selling all kinds of children's books was set up. If only I could read the language, I would surely have bought a beautifully illustrated book relaying the teachings of Dr King. These kids are smart.

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Reiri and friend

Whilst circumventing the lake on which swan seats and row boats were being pushed around by happy children and amorous teenagers, we came upon an arena blasting reggae beats and indecipherable hip hop. It sounded infectious. I wanted to go in, if only to witness the concentration of outlandish costumes these guys get about in. Instead, we went to the Mueseum of Western Art.

After my western cultural enhancement, we took the subway to Kamiyacho to scale the Tokyo Tower. It looks distinctly like the Eiffel Tower and is very popular with domestic tourists. One bus load arriving in a Hello Kitty tour bus, replete with waving kitty kats in pink and a huge plastic kitty at the door to greet boarding and alighting passengers. So so kitsch. (Michelle, I was going to bring it back for you but you said no pink, right?)

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After the tower we subwayed ourselves to Shinjuku where we met my Aunty Fusi and another of her friends, Yuka, for yakiniku.
This is a buffet style of meal where you cook your food over a hot grill. There was a refrigerated meat section where you could select from a variety including (of what I could establish) beef, pork, chicken and liver, as well as a buffet table laden with vegetables, salad, fried chicken, spring rolls, chips and desserts. The food was plentiful and delicious and I ate like a hog.

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Oishii!

After dinner Reiri and Aunty departed and Yuka and I made our way to Nishi-Azabu, club Yellow to check out Gilles Peterson.

The club from the outside was distinguishable only by a neon yellow sign and to get to the dance floor you had to descend flights of stairs into the basement. We arrived around midnight to a very trendy looking crowd. Beside the stair wells, where many lingered later in the night, there were only two parts to the club (or maybe that's all I saw..?). A front section where drinks were served and tables and a lounge running the length of a mirrored wall accommodated non-dancers. And a darkened back area where the djs gave it up.

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Trendy Yuka

Know how there's always one creepy old guy at the club? Same rules apply here. Except, the dude wasn't creepy in the least. He was delightful, drinking and dancing along with everyone else. It was very endearing. Maybe cause he looked like the Japanese equivalent of my dad is why I felt an instant affinity for him. Incredibly, Yuko had previously met him in a club in Shibuya and invited him to sit with us. I had no idea what he was saying but was impressed when told that he had handmade the felt hat he was sporting. Doubly so on hearing that the dude was 76 years old.

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Not so creepy old guy. Pump on!

Maybe around 2am Peterson came on. At this point the place was heaving. Many many gaijin, who seemed to be among the only arseholes in the joint. Loud, drunk and rowdy. Same rules apply. To get to the dance floor was a mammoth effort, and almost resulted in a major collapse of bodies. People went crazy when Peterson did the slightest thing and it was exceptionally difficult to groove with people body slamming up against you.

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But it was fun. For the most part. I took many photos, only to be told at the end of the night that it wasn't permitted. Oh well, fuck it, I'm a stupid gaijin.

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For Krystalla

Posted by kitschikat 22:59 Archived in Japan Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

The Imperial Palace

there's nothing to it.

overcast 22 °C

Today I made my way to the imperial palace to have a peek at, well, a lot of shrubbery. Unfortunately the palace itself is only open twice a year, and not during my stay. It's hard to tell if the place was impressive, as I only managed to scan the perimeter and saw nothing of it really. However, being a palace and all, I'm sure it's tops.

After a couple of hours scuffing gravel and scanning hedges I wondered into Ginza, the top end fashion label boutique area, with many expensive stores and some very odd-looking buildings.

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Case in point. Awesome.

I'm continuously delighted by the Japanese sense of aesthetics. Damn they have style! Everything is saturated in colour and neon and crazy design, or minimal geometric or natural motifs. I've never been happier to just stare at stuff. Advertisements, vending machines, shop facades, everything. And the people, so many beautiful people and different faces to watch. My visual faculties have never been so stimulated. Time to eat.

Posted by kitschikat 04:23 Archived in Japan Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Biggie Smalls

rain 22 °C

Spent my second day in Tokyo watching big men in small pants fight, fight, fight! Although, the pomp and ceremony that precedes each romp usually lasts a fair bit longer than the bout itself. Say maybe 4 to 1, given that fully-qualified contestants are allowed a maximum of 4 minutes to stomp about, scatter salt and psych each other out. It was awesome.

Highlight for sure was the half-pint holding his own—even after being caught in a headlock for well over a minute—and valiantly coming out the victor. Certainly the longest match of the day. The crowds' response was immediate and overwhelming. Woo!

It's quite a spectacle to witness the vertical leg stretching that is part of the warm-up-psych-out routine. Anyone managing a perfect 180 elicited much applause from the audience (and hushed astonishment on my part. How these guys manage to keep their balance...wow. They couldn't have impressed me more if they'd bent down straight-legged and touched their toes).

(Actually, that's a lie.)

It was also something to see both wrestlers collide and topple over the dohjo into anything that might lay in their path, be it empty seat, ref or fellow sumo (poor dears aren't quite nimble enough to move out the way).

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All that palm slapping and pants pulling. Kudos guys.

The rain persisted and I relented, bought an umbrella. For a country with such urban population density, they certainly make big umbrellas. Perhaps it's a method to enforcing personal space. Something that, to my delight, has yet to be rigorously violated.

Posted by kitschikat 02:44 Archived in Japan Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Konichiwahhhh!

rain 27 °C

Sorry if this makes little sense, I'm very tired.

Riding the train this morning from Narita Airport to my hostel in Ueno (once I'd finally figured it), I kept having intermittent flutters of tight tight hotness in my chest, alternating between extreme excitement and severe disorientation.
I'm in Japan. Woo!
Shit, I'm in Japan. What do I do?

...anyone?

A few immediate, though not necessarily well thought-out, observations:

1. It helps to pay attention when walking into a cubicle. Don't assume that every toilet is westernised. As I almost did, you might find yourself with one very soggy sandal.

2. If you want to avoid looking like a tool, try to remember, or relinquish a few yen for, an umbrella. I forgot the first and refused the second. People didn't look too impressed. (This being a country where special plastic sleeves are provided at shop entrances for dripping umbrellas)

3. Don't be an idiot and over pack. Note to future wiser self.

4. Check local english rags, cause that's how I found out Gilles Peterson is playing in Tokyo this Saturday, woo!

5. Hostels suck.

I'll write more when I don't have several huffy europeans sighing in the background wanting to use the computer.

You know, you could just ask...

Posted by kitschikat 21:53 Archived in Japan Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

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