Welp... I'm back and just as exhausted from writing this blog as I am from the jet lag. I'm just going to dump the rest of the photos I took while Zac and I were in Kyoto and Osaka.
It's a little past 1 am in Kyoto, the old capital of Japan, Zac and I just finished watching the movie Dark City, and a bottle of sake where I have come to one conclusion: The Matrix is a blatant ripoff. I always knew the Wachowski Siblings (that's the PC name to call the pair now, right?) were hacks. Anyways... TO ZEE BLOG!
Our first day in Nagoya was essentially a day to recover of going 36 hours with 20 minutes of sleep. To our surprise, our AirBnb accommodation was incredibly clean, cheap, and inhabited by a French gentlemen who went by Alexy. He was nice and majored in English, so communication was easy, and he soon informed Zac and I that he was going over to the "fireworks" down by the bay. We also had the chance to talk to a couple of the owners of the apartment. They laughed at Zac when he informed them he was only 22 years old. Apparently beards make you look old or something...
The pair of us didn't really have any plans that day so we thought watching the fireworks could be fun. Alexy told us we should go a little bit early, because it gets kind of busy...
OK, so do you know how you hear the stories of Japan's decline in population and how they're all wiping themselves off the face of the Earth? WELL YOU WOULD HAVE HAD FOOLED ME.
Zac and I arrived out of the suffocating subway, filled from wall to wall, by people dressed in kimonos, to what we thought might have been a minor firework celebration. Turns out it was one of the busiest nights of the year in Nagoya. We were told it was a festival celebrating the sea/nature/fireworks(?) Anyways, there were apparently over 500 individual food carts lining the street where a parade was occurring.
You could barely move anywhere the place was so crowded. Imagine Portland's Last Thursday amount of people and multiple that by twenty. I've never experienced any place so dense with people, yet the event felt very much in control. No Last Thursday shootings here...
After grabbing some food and a couple beers, Zac and I slowly made our way to the front of pier, at sunset, to wait for the fireworks to start.
I tried my best to get photos of the full display of the fireworks, but there's only so much a $100 50mm lens can capture (and a dude with a bodybuilder.com shirt blocking you the whole time).
The journey home was surprising convenient. The cops set up crowd control barriers that made the whole process amazingly efficient. It's as if they were there to... protect and serve us? Weird.
The next day was a day Zac and I have been anticipating for a while: the national sumo tournament! It sold out quickly and lasted over 10 hours with numerous bouts. I only wish I had a telephoto lens to capture the action better. Because of that... I didn't take too many photos. Sowwy :(
Nagoya was fun and our days were filled. At noon the next day we took the bullet train to Kyoto, which was luckily only 30 minutes away this time! We were use to nine hour train rides at this point so getting to Kyoto so quickly was a sigh of relief, which gave us some time to explore around the apartment we were staying at. Our AirBnB host, an older old man who use to be a real estate agent, named Tetsuo, picked the two of us up at the station. He quit his job of working in realty and is lives a quieter life as a baker. #lifegoals
Anyways, Zac and I went to a nearby graveyard for a little bit. They're extremely clean and totally not creepy at all.
Well that's it for this time. Nothing too crazy and probably nothing as wild as some of the last blogs. Zac and I are going to ride bikes through the hillside and visit multiple shrines and temples tomorrow. In two days we're going to a Buddhist temple an hour outside Osaka to meditate with monks high in the mountains.
I am currently writing this blog with a sweat-soaked shirt, going over 200 mph on the Shinkasi (bullet train) heading towards Nagoya for a sumo wrestling tournament. Zac and I have slept maybe a good 20 minutes in the last 48 hours, so it will be get some sleep, but for now... BLOG TIME.
After a great time in Jozankei and Sapporo last week, Zac and I traveled nine hours to get back to Tokyo, in which we were planning on going out with a newest friend, Riki, to play "survival games", a bit outside of Tokyo.
Our accommodation was... the pits. I booked a place in the Ikebukuro district in a place that was listed to only sleep four people. There were nine, so we decided to spend as much time away from there as possible. We ventured out our first day back in Tokyo drinking with a Colombian man who went by the name Dre.
Dre took us to a place in the nearby subway station for some sushi. It was standing room only and a 20 minute wait, but so worth it. The sushi was extremely good and cheap.
After filling up on sushi, we decided the only logical thing was to drink, so we could forget about where we had to sleep that night. The three of us headed down toward Shibuya, where Zac and I had out first inebriated night a couple weeks ago.
Dre took Zac and I took the 180 yen beer place. Finding cheap beer in Tokyo can be hard sometimes... I once paid over 1000 yen for a beer here.
We then went to the Shibuya Starbucks to grab some coffee, but to mostly obtain access to their second floor overlooking that famous Shibya street again.
That night, Zac and I met back up with Riki in Akhibara, where we were out until 4 am, singing Don't Stop Me Now, at a maid karaoke bar with Riki, his roommate Hanzo, and two girls from Poland who were staying with Riki for the night. Riki sang A Whole New World and after he mentioned he use to be Indiana Jones at the Tokyo Disneyland. After that, we walked over to a nightclub playing deep Tokyo house music.
Riki ended up spilling Jagermestier all over Zac's new white shirt as well as the Polish girls; it was a fun night. The group of us ended up crashing on Riki's couch for 20 minutes before we had to leave at 5 am in order to ride the metro across town to change clothes and came back in order to leave at 7 am. We were headed for Chiba with Riki, and his friend Akira, to shoot air soft guns at each other all day. I wish I had photos of that night, but I am not letting drunk Tomas handle my camera. I tend to forget things sometimes...
Riki, Akira, Zac, and I got a rental car and drove to Chiba to a little place called Battle City.
Battle City was absolutely fucking incredible. There were over 60 people, who all took the game very seriously, but still knew it was just a game. Everyone was dressed in full combat regalia, many of whom had American flags on their uniforms, which... amused me.
There was a red team and a yellow team with multiple game scenarios. The first one was capture the flag, the second was what Riki called: "Osama Bin Ladin hunt", where people volunteered to go into the field 10 minutes before everyone else, and the red and yellow team had to "eliminate" all the terrorists before time was up. With all the brush areas, it was a hard task to achieve. I sprayed pellets into the bushes, randomly hitting someone. I think the terrorists won every time, though.
During lunch, our squad leader, who we were told went by "Captain Ham", took us out into the field for a photo shoot. Captain Ham was coming up for all the ideas for the photographs, I was just there to snap them.
After lunch and the photo shoot, it was back to battle. I had the opportunity to get in the field as a war photographer. I was shoot in the neck, ears, arms, legs... well pretty much everywhere on accident... well I hope it was an accident... :(
The games were really intense and sometimes frustrating for Zac and I. We FOR SURE had the shittiest guns available. Mostly everyone else had really good equipment and sometimes gas powered weapons. Also, some groups had walkie-talkie channel, which made them a lot more effective on the battle field. At the end of the day, Zac and I did feel like assets for the team. I think I racked up around 10 kills that day.
So, the day was great and I slept like a baby in the car on the way back to Tokyo... especially running on 20 minutes of sleep. It wasn't until we got back to Riki's house that I realized my backpack wasn't there, which meant I must of left it at Battle City... FUUUUUCK! I was in such a comatose-like state that I totally forgot I brought my backpack with me. Oh yeah, my passport and train pass were in that backpack... In fact, Zac and Riki didn't remember either. Sleep is important. This was definitely (what I hope) to be the most stressful situation of the trip. We spent the beginning of our day taking the JR train all the way back to Chiba to retrieve it. Luckily it was still there. Thank you Japanese people for being extremely honorable and keeping all my belongings untouched -- you're the best!
Anyways, Zac and I are finally in Nagoya. It's STILL extremely humid and hot here. We're staying with a french guy named Alexy! The apartment is very clean and comfortable (UNLIKE SOME PLACES). Zac and I only have another 10 days here until we fly back home. I'm missing all my friends, family, and my gal-pal like crazy. Maybe let's get drinks when I'm back? Excited to see you all very soon!
11:30 p.m in Jozenkai, Sapporo. Zac's asleep, we just finished watching John Carptener's The Thing, I'm in my underwear and scared. On with the blog! Sapporo is fantastic. It's just like Portland! We're staying in Jozenkai hot springs a little more than 12 kilometers outside downtown Sapporo (like how I'm using the metric system now? I'll actually stop doing that now). Our condo is kind of small, but we have a full functioning stove and rice cooker. The only thing is our routine right now is eating rice almost every meal and using the 7th floor men's onsen (hot spring) two times a day.
Jozenkai is filled with nearby mountains and hiking trails (just like Portland) and downtown Sapporo doesn't contain a lot of flashy lights like Tokyo (just like Portland) -- ooo! -- and also has a lot of places to get locally made beer (JUST LIKE PORTLAND)!
Zac and I decided to explore the local hiking trails that the nearby Mt. Yuhidake had to offer. The hike took about two hours and was about 580 meters (I lied about the metric thing) to the top.
Nearing the top of the mountain we reached a gorgeous vista. I actually said "wow" it was so wow-inducing.
After about another 20 minutes of hiking Zac and I finally reached the summit of Mt. Yuhidake. Water was drank and Kind Bars were ate.
We ended the day with a trip upstairs to the onsen and a viewing of John Wick. Keenu Reeves is an underrated actor with a sad and unfortunate past. He's great.
The second day in Sapporo we took the bus into town and essentially just wandered around for a bit. Nothing special, except Sapporo, I suppose. It feels so much like Portland. It kind of rained, then stopped, then kind of rained again, then stopped, then got sunny towards the end of our day, then got cloudy again. No wonder we're sister cities.
The rest of this blog is just gonna be a photo dumb. I mean, that's why you came here, right?
We're going back to Tokyo in a couple days! I'll update the blogamatron then! l8tr m8s
I'm currently writing this blog post in just my underwear, eating Doritos and drinking vending machine Coca-Cola. If I'm going to be spending money on convenience store in attempts to supplement drastic weight loss, by God it's going to be on American products (they're both still owned by American companies, right?!). I've dropped about 12-13 pounds so far, all from walking 5-6 miles a day. Also my tan is slowly fading away, but I still feel like I'm the tannest person in Japan.
Zac and I are currently in Jozankei, 30 minutes outside of Sapporo. The contrast between one of the biggest and most populated cities in the world to the quiet, nestled city of Jozankei has been great for us, BUT I'LL GET TO THAT LATER.
It's been apparent that I haven't updated this blog in a while. I've wanted to, but with hangovers occupying the majority of my blog sessions, I've only had time to edit photos. This blog is going to be a brief summary of our last week in Tokyo. It's been a blur.
At the start of the week, Zac and I had the chance to drink Japan's version of Four-Loko, "Strong Zero". It was 141 yen (about a buck-ten) and 9% alcohol volume. It was disgusting and resulted in a terrible hangover (so, worth it... right?) that lasted well into the next day, where we would eventually meet up with my old foreign exchange from when I was 12, Shuntaro!
It's been over 10 years since we've seen Shuntaro, but he looks exactly the same and is doing very well for himself. We met him at his office in Rippongi Hills, a brand spanking new sky scraper in the middle of one of Tokyo's biggest (and touristy) sections. I UNFORTUNATELY DID NOT BRING MY CAMERA FOR ANY OF THIS. The photograph above is from Zac and I's last day in Tokyo. Shuntaro took us to the top of one of the tallest towers in all of Japan, which was amazing. There is no city that compares in shear size in the United States like Japan. In any direction you really couldn't tell where the city ends.
After Shinturo took us to a Japanese restaurant where we were engrossed in a platter off seafood. Fuck, I really really wish I took a picture of it. It might have been the fanciest platter of any sort of food I've ever had in my life. We had the opportunity to catch up on the last 10 years of our lives while we drank bottle after bottle of sake from Shuntaro's hometown of Hiroshima.
The next day, with a slightly better hangover, the pair of us ventured to Shibuya to see the famed busy intersection and general site-seeing. We happened across a bar wedged into one of the section's many buildings that had English on the sign. The English-style pub was filled with people, noticeably a lot of people who weren't Japanese; it was obvious this place was a tourist bar (hence the English lettering).
Zac and I bought a couple of overpriced beers and sat next to a couple of English gents, who introduced themselves and instantly startling offering us glass after glass of wine. They were extremely nice and suggestive of places Zac and I should visit while we're in Japan.
We were both given bar napkins with lists filled with destinations and bottle after bottle drained of wine. One of the gents, Ben, then bought a tower of beer for the table and other locals joined us as we drank long into the night.
As last call rung, Zac and I attempted to make our way home with Ben, the other English gent. The rest of the night we pretty fuzzy for me, but we eventually made it home safely with the help of Ben, and Zac dragging my ass home. It was fun, but a pretty typical night if you're drinking anywhere in the world.
The next day Zac and I decided we wanted to have a quieter night... but still drink. Zac found an air soft gun range + bar. We snagged the last table for the night and ordered our drinks and guns. It was a long wait to shoot, which only lasted a few minutes, but was definitely fun being buzzed and shooting recreations of our favorite guns. I shot a SCAR.
The next day we simply stayed in from a long bender of drinking... and ended up drinking sake all night with Riki and Hanzo. It was great talking about our cultural differences, among other things. Staying with Riki was a incredible experience, and Zac and I both are hoping to see him again before we leave Japan. We are actually planning on playing a "survival game" with Riki next week in the forest, where I was told we just shoot each other with air soft guns.
For the rest of the blog I thought I just post a bunch of photos from the week.
That's pretty much a wrap for the first 10 days in Japan. Like I said, we're in Sapporo now after a long days travel from Sendai (around 8 hours) and are now watching obscure Japanese television. Today we climbed a mountain; I fell on my butt a couple times and found a wizard's staff. I'll update the blog tomorrow... hopefully...
As we checked out of the Oak Hostel we realized that although it was the 5th in Japan, it was still Independence Day in Murica. With the mass amounts of McDonalds in the Ueno area, we celebrated in the most American way we could possible. Zac and I both ordered our first Big Mac's ever. We both intend on keeping it the only Big Macs we ever consume.
With the taste of freedom, fat, and salt entrenched in our stomachs, it was time to head to our final resting place for our final five days in Tokyo! Zac and I found this place on AirBnB located in Akahibara, which was luckily only a mile walk away from Oak Hostel.
We got a little lost, but we pretty much have gotten turned around a few times anywhere we've gone so far. I think getting lost is part of the journey. Anyways, once we finally arrived to Rikki's place Rikki stumbled out to greet us and to warned that everyone in the house was incredibly hungover from the previous night.
First stumbled down Emily from the upstairs bedroom and collapsed on the floor in front of us. Enter Alina who dragged Emily who introduced the pair as English teachers from Nagano visiting Tokyo for the weekend. After Alina realized Emily was RIP'd from the night before, she invited us to go to the "Final Fantasy Cafe" with her where we got our first taste of Akahibara: Electric Street.
We finally got to the Final Fantasy Cafe, which only served fruity-ass candy drinks, but was odd in a weird/fun way. Alina, Zac and I ate quickly and soon returned back to Rikki's.
When we got back Rikki wanted to invite us out to a kind of "locals only event" that we weren't fully understanding what it actually was when Rikki explained. It was only when Rikki showed us videos of a girl in skimpy latex repeatedly kick a man wearing a ski mask in the balls that we realized he was saying "FETISH", of course we agreed to go, as long as our genitals remained in tact.
The group of us first went to drop of Alina and Emily at Akahibara station, but first went through some of the anime stores that lined the electric street:
Once we dropped Alina and Emily off at the station we then headed to Harajuku, world famous for its Takeshita Street and center of Kawaii fashion.
Rikki, Zac and I briskly made our way through the crowds and winded through the streets of Harajuku in fears that the fetish fest might be over. As time went on Rikki feared that we may have missed out. We were all sweaty and tired and worried that one of us may miss out on getting physically abused by skimpy Japanese sadists.
Then Rikki had a bright idea that turned out to be better than any BDSM could over: an Onsen! Onsen means Japanese for hot spring, in which there are many all over Tokyo.
The three of us stripped naked (SORRY NO PICS), showered off and entered the Onsen. There is a side for males and another side for females. Rikki mentioned how there has been a recent influx of perverts using selfie-sticks to take pics of the female side, leading to many arrests in the Onsens as of late.
Luckily, no arrests were made at the Onsen, but the water was unbearable hot. But frequently jumping in and out of the hot water into a shower of cold water prevented the feeling of heat stroke. After having enough of the insanely hot water, we dried off, put on our boxer-briefs, and enjoyed Coca-Cola in small glass bottles on small benches on the outside of small doors with a koi pond in front of us. It was the best Coke I've ever had.
After the Onsen, Rikki bought us beers where we said "KUN-PAI" and smoked some a menthol cigarettes as we made our way back to the metro to head back home.
On our way back through the dark streets of Harajuku we actually did stumble upon the end of the fetish fest, but it was already over, and I didn't bother to take photos.
We went back through Takeshita street and browsed through some of the shops. There are so many random clothing shops with English lettering on them that everyone's outfits is unique in their own way. We also visited the 100 yen store, and right now the yen is weak, so it was like a 75 cent store for Zac and I.
At this point we were all tired and got back on the metro to head home. The metro's here are efficient as fuck and the means of transportation for the vast majority of the city. I took a few photos, but Rikki warned that the police sometimes board the trains to make sure that perverts aren't snapping up-skirts, so out of respect, I wasn't getting too shutter happy.
On our way home, Rikki brought us in front of his favorite karaoke bar. Maybe we'll hit that place up in the next few days.
I write this as I drink a Budweiser in the final stoppage time of the women's World Cup final. USA, USA, USA. Zac and I are heading out again. I update this blog every morning/afternoon here in Japan. L8tr m8s.
As our third day started, and Zac and I had a second vending machine coffee of the day, we decided we wanted to see some mothafuckin' PANDAS. I've personally never seen a panda up close in personal in my life so venturing to the nearby Ueno Zoo nestled in the ginormous Ueno Park was a must.
It cost 500 yen to enter the park (about 4 USD), where the two pandas were the first animals on display when we entered. About 1 in 2 people had a camera attached to them (me being one of them), eager to capture an image of the illusive creatures who apparently are begging to go extinct:
When we reached the pandas, they were both laying on their back's, eating bamboo, not giving a fuck. And that's all they did. It was great. Pandas are majestic creatures.
So we saw the pandas for a little bit and decided to venture deeper into Ueno Zoo's heart of darkness. Before I go on, let's set the scene: it was around 80 degrees with 90% humidity. I was wearing a bro-tank and feeling miserable; I can't imagine how the animals were feeling in such temperatures -- they didn't seem happy. With that being said... ENJOY THE PHOTOS!
I think this will probably be the saddest entry I'll post -- it can only go up from here, so stay tuned! Tokyo definitely isn't a bad place, zoos just tend to be.
I've started a collection of all the broken English signs that Zac and I have seen while wandering through Tokyo, so stay tuned for that. It be no sad, much funny happy time.
Zac and I touched down in Narita two days ago and I think the jet lag has finally worn off. Tokyo is... BIG. Bigger than I would have ever imagined. Around 12 million people live in the greater Tokyo area -- about 10 million more in comparison to the greater Portland area. We took a direct train from Narita airport to Nippori station. Add on an additional metro transfers and we finally arrived from Portland after an 18 hour journey to our first hostel: The Ace Inn.
Zac and I were so tired from the plane ride that we went to sleep as soon as we got to Ace. At this point I was still feeling somewhat and was just looking to get better. BUT! Now that I am better I'll be updating this blog more frequently with flicks so stay tuned...