Hello from Japan!

For those that can’t read kanji that says ‘Hello from Japan!’, at least that’s what google translate tells me.

We arrived on Sunday and currently taking it easy staying at Keith’s in Tokyo, finding our feet in what is a radically different place to Australia (unsurprisingly!).

The journey here was pretty smooth and featured our first airport sleeping experience at Hong Kong that was actually pretty pleasant thanks to advice from http://www.sleepinginairports.net/ (thanks John K!). < ?php echo $falbum->show_random($num=4, $tags=’hongkong’); ?>

Japan is a very confusing place. I’m not sure if Japanese people are just used to the level of complication that abounds or whether it is just served up so they can have a good laugh at gaijin wandering about looking confused.

Here’s a list of things that have confused us so far:

  • The rail network is ridiculously efficient and blazingly quick, but trying to find out what sort of ticket you need to get is ridiculously confusing such are the number of different fares and train operators.
  • Taps. I needed instructions on how to use a tap (really!)
  • The kettle. Likewise, I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to use a kettle that had four buttons on it. There is no need for such complication in a kettle, all you need is one button for on, surely! Ironically you’d think that a kettle would boil water but the wizzo-kettle doesn’t even do that, it merely heats the water to a steamy, if not boiling, 98 degrees.
  • The shower. Granted, showers back home have had me flummoxed for a while before, but I’ve always managed to figure it out in the end. Keith had to show me how to use his, never would have figured it out for myself.
< ?php echo $falbum->show_random($num=3, $tags=’confusingappliances’); ?>

Aside from being confused a lot we’ve really enjoyed our first few days here. We’ve been out and about a bit sightseeing in Tokyo. Watching the sun set from Tokyo’s answer to the Eiffel tower was cool. Looking out over the city in any direction all you can see is grey buildings until mountains or the river get in the way of the architects, Tokyo is vast. For the most part it’s also nothing much to look at, but is punctuated with the odd respite from the endless shops and offices in the form of temples. The buddhist temple Senso-ji and the surrounding low-rise district was pretty cool. The electronics shop districts are a gaudy sight too – endless rows of them with neon signs vying for your attention to step inside and look at all the cool gadgets and cameras advertised by brightly painted signs and posters. Viv bought a fancy new camera for a bargain price in one of the shops to replace the recently deceased one that had a terminal meeting with the coral sea back in Australia. < ?php echo $falbum->show_random($num=4, $tags=’tokyo’); ?>

Relative to Australia it is bloody cold here, about 12 degrees outside and as most of our clothes more summer orientated we’ve been pretty chilly, even when we do have about half of our limited wardrobes on to go outside! It should be warming up soon anyway with spring only just around the corner.

We’ll be hopefully heading on from Tokyo on Monday, assuming that all is well with our Chinese visas, to Hiroshima. In the meantime we’re enjoying the luxury of Keith’s hospitality at his dinky little flat. < ?php echo $falbum->show_random($num=4, $tags=’yashio’); ?>

Sayonara!

John

8 thoughts on “Hello from Japan!”

  1. Woo, update! I tend to check your blog everyday to see if there is anything new.

    The only airport I’ve ever spent overnight in (that I recall) was Heathrow before I flew out to America. I guess I should have checked that site ‘cos it wasn’t a great experience. All the shops were closed except the starbucks which I didn’t realise ’til about 3am, benches were too uncomfortable to sleep on and I ended up getting lectured by a christian theologist who basically told me I was going to hell because I wouldn’t apologise for my sins to a god I don’t believe in. Fun times.

    What is so difficult about the taps? Inquiring minds want to know! I think we need posed pictures of Clarence showing John how to use Japanese stuff, I’m sure being a third cousin (perhaps) of Godzilla, he is well-versed in Japanese culture.

    Are you going to buy yourself a new iPod to replace the deceased one or have you managed to breathe new life in it? I’m sure somewhere is a place you can transfer all the music off the old one onto the new one.

    It’s absolutely freezing over here at the moment. Went ’round a mates for drinks a couple of days ago, left about 11pm and it was so cold outside that I felt like a huge weight was sitting on my chest and my teeth were attempted to perform the drum rhythm from Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk in world-record time.

    Amusing link for you: http://uk.news.yahoo.com/23032006/356/grey-squirrel-curry.html
    Tory MP proposes saving red squirrels… by eating grey ones. I swear some of the catering staff at Exeter had had that idea first. At least there always seemed to be more squirrels around at the start of term than at the end. Not that Exeter ever really had a shortage of squirrels.

    Looking forward to the next update.
    Sayanara, Oniichan and Viv-san

  2. Taps, yes. Very confusing things. I just took a picture for you so you can see it in its full glory:

    http://static.flickr.com/55/117164744_b2c92f47e2_m.jpg

    look at it resplendant with it’s LCD screen and 2 knobs. That’s just the cold tap too. The hot tap comes from a boiler and has 3 switches and a dial to operate. crazy madness!

    and here’s the bath shower controls:

    http://static.flickr.com/47/117164665_393ace3057_m.jpg

    and for completeness here’s the kettle:

    http://static.flickr.com/37/117164577_80473d5644_m.jpg

    not that it looks like a kettle, quite what’s wrong with a pouring jug with one switch for on and off I don’t know. This ‘kettle’ takes longer to ‘boil’ than a conventional kettle and pours slower and is generally a lot more confusing to use. Technology for technology’s sake, gah!

    I’d gladly join the grey squirell eating hoardes to help out our plucky little red dudes. I had a curry last night incidentally, sadly it wasn’t made from grey squirells. Have you ever thought of trying a nice bit of road-kill – http://www.guardian.co.uk/britain/article/0,,1698775,00.html ?

    On the ipod front it seems to have miraculously risen from the ashes and now works again, at least for the moment. I tried a bit of alcohol on the contacts and it sprung back to life, guess it must be a piss head and was suffering from withdrawl symptoms! It could really do with a new battery though as it lasts for less than 3 hours on a charge now.

    It has started to warm up here after a bitter first couple of days and the cherry blossom has started so as soon as we get to somewhere that has a reasonable number of trees rather than endless rows of buildings I imagine it will be very pretty.

  3. Japan – top of my list of places I want to go to.

    You guys mention that you’ve checked out some of the shopping/gadget areas, but have you been to Akihabara yet? If not, you MUST check it out. It’s a gadget-fest!

    Take care.

  4. Yup, we have been to Akihabara, and it is indeed the hallowed gadget fest. Viv bought a new camera to replace the recently departed that was laid to rest in the coral sea, I played with, and drooled over, some very fancy cameras I would love to own if only I had the money…

    Japan is cool, and not as expensive as is made out. It’s not cheap but certainly not crazy prices, get yer ass out here!

  5. I think it probably seems cheap cos your not paying for incredibly expensive accommodation 😉

  6. Epic! You actually posted me the said prize! i’m used to getting ripped off on these internet competitions…rest assured anyone who is thinking in participating in future competitions can expect a good service from these travellers, they are good honest folk. All accounted for… bendy dinosaur, wierd jelly shark, stickers and an interesting and informative pamphlet on great white sharks…superb!

    Anyway, i got a busy day ahead downloading 400 tiny segments of landscape scenery from the internet for a new flight sim i have recently purchased..it doesnt get much more rock n roll! haha!

    Japan is awesome! just be careful with the water pressure on the toilet, you may get a nasty shock

    Thanks for splendid gifts,

    Andy : )

  7. Accomodation isn’t that extortionate, it’s costing us 2400 yen each for the dorm we’re staying at in Kyoto, that’s about 12 quid so it’s about on a par with a dorm in the UK. The place we stayed at in Hiroshima which was like a home from home was and included breakfast was 3500 yen.

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