famous floating Torii gate
It bugs me that I still haven’t written a post on my trip to Bali (one of my favorite all time trips) a year ago but it’s coming!
Right now I will focus on Japan since I just returned last month. Although short (just 13 days) I had an absolute blast exploring the small populated country. Literally, as soon as I stepped off the plane and headed for the subway, I experienced the kindness of Japanese people. Since english is hard to come by, I had to ask lots of people for directions using sign language and minimal talk. This makes for an interesting trip and also made me realize how friendly Japanese people are. Even though I can’t speak Japanese, they tried their damned hardest to show me where to go.
My first stop was Hiroshima, sadly famous for the atomic bomb that was dropped during WW2. I visited the museum and checked out the peace garden out front. As I walked through the museum looking at the absolute destruction of a city and looking at models of children that had their skin melt off their bodies, I couldn’t help but let the tears out. It’s amazingly sad how brutal people can be to each other.
The only building left standing after the atomic bomb
After leaving the museum, I needed to brighten the day a little bit so I headed to the island of Miyajima which isn’t to far from Hiroshima. The minute I jumped off the ferry, I saw deer. I’m used to this in Canada but I never expected it in Japan. They were everywhere! After taking some pictures of the famous floating Torii gate. I began my 2 hour hike to the top of Mt.Misen. Although the hike was quite grueling, I managed to see a snake and some deer along the way and once at the top, the view was worth it.
One thing I wish I had taken pictures of were the vending machines. They are amazing. I ordered coffee in a can thinking it would be cold (as they usually are) and it came out hot! I almost dropped it! Once I returned to the bottom, I made sure to try some of the fresh BBQ Oysters that most restaurants offered. I’m glad I did as these suckers were goooooood.
After Miyajima, I headed back to Hiroshima and did something really strange. I went to an amateur theatre show. I thought it would be a neat experience but it was actually quite odd. For one, I don’t speak or understand Japanese so I had to make up my own words (which was expected) but the audience was almost entirely middle aged women. Let’s just say it was an experience.
The next day I headed off to meet Wakato, a guy I met online with Unique Genius. Wakato and his wife brought me around the city to see some ancient temples as well as treating me to an amazing array of traditional food. Wakato and his wife added so much to my experience by adding great company and showing me things I wouldn’t have tried on my own. After taking me through the fish market, Wakato and I ate baby octopus on a stick. It was one of the most unusual things I seen so I had to try it.
After an amazing time in Kyoto, I had planned on heading straight to Tokyo to meet another fellow Unique Genius. Before leaving however, I checked my email and had received an email from a couchsurfer which changed my plans to visiting a house near Mt.Fuji. I had never met this guy before but had heard he was famous with couchsurfers. He literally built his lifestyle around hosting travelers. He sometimes hosts 20 people at a time and has even bought a bus to take them around. His name is Mochan and it’s called the Wish Club.
The night I arrived, Mochan was hosting a guy from Spain, A girl from Vietnam, a couple friends from Japan, and myself. We started out the night by having a great meal, sharing some sake, and some good conversation. The next day we visited a giant robot, another fish market so I could try more interesting food, another temple where many ceremonies were being held, a noodle house which the bathroom stated MAN (I found funny), and enjoyed a really amazing traditional tea ceremony. This place was extremely tranquil and not very touristy. At least, not when we were there. The garden was calming and the fish were hungry. We bought some food to give them and dipped are hands in the water to let them suck the food out of our hand. It’s funny just listening to the sounds they make. The tea house was extremely cute and peaceful. The door is small so that big samurai swords would be left outside. Once in, the tea master made us a delicious cup of pure green tea and a cute little traditional dessert.
Once the tea ceremony ended, we all traveled to a friends cabin in Izu. The cabin was absolutely amazing and still smelling of fresh cedar. We decorated the cabin in more halloween gear than I have ever seen at other parties (it was October 31st) and cooked up a storm of food. Of course, after watching an episode of entourage, I had to introduce everyone to a sake bomb! This is when you balance a shot glass of warm sake over a glass of beer using chopsticks. Once all glasses are balances, everyone yells sake bomb and hits the table with their fists causing the chopsticks to move and shot to fall into your glass. SAKE BOMB!
After a great night with cool people, the next morning was views of Mt.Fuji. When we arrived, the clouds had covered up the great volcano as usual so we bought more food and had a picnic at a nearby lake. Luckily for us, after eating the clouds had moved and we had a perfect view of the summit. More spectacular however, was the waterfall not to far from Mt.Fuji. I have seen many waterfalls throughout Canada, New Zealand, and Australia but this one really amazed me. Massive and very green. The water surged from a cliffside of lush green trees into a exotic little pond with fish lurking around. It then flowed out through a fern-gully type setting down a peaceful stream.
Next up was a visit of a local sake factory where we sampled many kinds of delicious sake before taking me to my train heading for Tokyo. Arriving in Tokyo around 6pm, I instantly met up with Trond (my other unique genius friend). Trond is the president of a recycling company, has lived in Tokyo for 15 years, and speaks amazing Japanese. With stomachs growling, Trond treated me to a very nice fancy little japanese restaurant where past president Kennedy would eat when he came to town. The meal was fantastic and we were able to talk about our plans for online entrepreneurship. Trond also gave me 2 amazing gifts; a book on the unique characteristics of Tokyo and a book on the traditional zen gardens of Japan. He explained that each book would give me a different view on Japan (a more traditional view of the zen approach and the new generation of very unique styles). I was amazed by his kindness for we didn’t even known each other prior to this meeting. After the amazing meal, Trond brought me for another meal believe it or not. I thought I was going to burst but I couldn’t resist a great Indian restaurant. After eating curry on a type of bread made from potato, I was really stuffed! It was now getting late and Trond had to return to his family so he quickly gave me a tour of the famous street crossing before I got on my train to my next adventure of staying in a capsule hotel. Easy to find, this capsule hotel was quite the experience. I was extremely tired and found I had a great sleep in my capsule. They are actually quite roomy and with earplugs, pretty quiet for the most part. Each little cubicle has its own TV and alarm clock which I did not use. My belongings were locked in a locker on another floor and I wore a kimono as pajamas. Once laid on my pillow, I set my alarm clock for 4:45AM so I could try making the fish market that everyone talked about.
I can’t believe I woke up for a fish market. I was like a zombie in the morning but made my way to the famous fish market which is the largest in the world. As I stumbled throughout the fish market, insanely busy with fish being brought in from the boats, I couldn’t help but imagine what my bed would be like. Sleep seemed more important. I stayed awake enough to not get run over by the amazing array of forklifts sporadically driving around me. I could see how someone could be killed here which is probably why I was asked to leave 10 minutes later. I guess I needed a pass to be in there which I later found out is because drunk tourists wonder in there and puke all over the place. Some people should just stay home.
I left and went back for a couple hours sleep in my cubicle and then made my way to the subway to go to Osaka. I quickly walked around the town to get some views of Tokyo and then grabbed the bullet train to Osaka.
To be Continued…
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