We live.

Jun. 10th, 2008 05:03 pm
firstlight: (Niou - nutritional information)
This (long) weekend has featured a lot of fun stuff. We walked all around Berlin (mostly East, ventured over West yesterday); I trust Pez will be supplying what photos we took when we get home tonight. Most of them aren't very sane although one or two might happen to include various historic landmarks. I suspect that fact is mostly coincidental. We ate a lot of icecream ([livejournal.com profile] thephoenixboy was not lying about the amount of the stuff on sale over here). We drank more cocktails than I have probably had in the last five years put together (note: in the past five years I've probably had two cocktails, so this isn't saying much). Niou-hedgehog acquired a mini-me (again, photos of this to follow later). We came up with bad wrong ideas which we will doubtless inflict on you all in the near future.

More seriously, we also went to the Holocaust Memorial and took a look at various open air exhibitions about the Berlin Wall. Both were really interesting and the Holocaust Memorial I found to be really effective. There's an information centre underneath it and we spent quite a while walking around that, taking our time to take stuff in.

Heading back home tonight - flight isn't until the evening but we've officially run out of energy now I think, so we're taking it easy today.
firstlight: (Yukimura - Blossom)
We spent a lot of today on Miyajima in the end. It's an island just off the coast by Hiroshima, with temples and a famous shrine on it. And deer. It has lots of deer. They're very... free range.

Number of deer observed eating tourist brochures/maps: 4
Number of deer observed eating plastic cups: 1
Number of deer observed attempting to steal handbags: 1
Number of deer observed eating people's clothing: 1
Number of deer observed mobbing one child for food: at least 10.

Was a really nice day. We just sort of... ambled. Saw the shrine, saw the not-quite-so-floating torii (the tide was out), did not get menaced by deer. Hiroshima... it was too late to go to the peace museum by the time we got back from Miyajima, so we just walked through the park by the A-bomb dome. It's very... hm. Hiroshima as a city feels so alive (which is a strange thing to say, I guess, but it's sort of late and I can't think of another way to put it *g*) and it's very hard to imagine the level of destruction which took place there, even looking at the remains of the dome.

That was our day. Hiroshima... we just wandered through it quickly but it seemed like a lovely city. We didn't see much of it, though.

I ate a proper meal in the evening and I am not suffering for it. That's got to be a cause for some sort of celebration. (It's the first time since the 3rd. >_> I've been eating, sure, but I've been picking at food - that's all. I have an apetite again. Whee.)

...about time to go to bed now, I reckon.

I'm going home so soon. Where did the time go? (...I guess a chunk of it sort of got eaten by illness. But still.)
firstlight: (Hijikata - Smile)
We explored Hakodate yesterday, including the museum of northern peoples and Goryokaku. We also had tea at the former British embassy. While we may be eating Japanese food, English tea is important, damn it. ;) It was a rather lovely little tea-room. It felt sort of like wandering into the National Trust, somehow... *amused*

Anyway, the museum of northern peoples was about the Ainu (indigenous people of Hokkaido), and was mostly in Japanese - they do provide English signs but they're usually about a line or a line and a half long when the Japanese is a lengthly paragraph, so we were obviously missing a lot - but it was still rather nice to walk around and take a look at.

We took the tram from that part of town, down by the docks, right the way across to Goryokaku. There really isn't anything left of the fortress there but the park area is lovely and there's a moat. A very pointy moat. (It is/was a star-shaped fortress.) Celen, it didn't do a transformation sequence - I feel sad. There was a museum there too but it had no English whatsoever so we didn't go in. I kind of wanted to be able to - it was about the history of the fortress, significant events there, and I'm dorky enough that when I pick up vague details about a historical place or historical people I want to know about them properly. (There was stuff about Hijikata everywhere in Hakodate. The place where he apparently died was marked on all the maps. Sometimes with pictures of an inappropriately happy-looking dude on a horse.)

Randomly, it looks like they're doing a reconstruction of one of the buildings inside the fortress. All the signs about it were in Japanese, but we deduced that it was a reconstruction of the main government building situated there and that it will be completed in... 3 years time. Damn. Could have been interesting. ;)

I found Hakodate really pleasantly relaxing but there isn't a whole lot there; so we headed on to Sapporo today and discovered upon arrival that their Summer Festival is currently running. Sapporo being Sapporo, this mostly involves a lot of beer. No, really. A lot.

Attempts to do anything Cultural Like in Sapporo were thwarted by the fact that it's a Monday today. Japan is like parts of Continental Europe in this respect (hi, France, I'm looking at you) - it's dead on Mondays. No museum or botanical gardens for us. Just beer and shopping. >_>

We're stopping here for a couple of nights before we go even further North. Working our way up! Sapporo is actually rather lovely, though, although that might be the beer talking.

352

Jul. 28th, 2007 01:10 am
firstlight: (Yukimura - Evil)
OMG I need a translation nowwwwwwww. Why is Pez asleep or otherwise not online? It's only....... 1am in the UK....... >_>;;;;; *runs in little circles*

(For now, I guess I'll just stare at Yukimura. Man, he's looking pretty!)


Today we're heading up to Hakodate (Hokkaido). :) (Still don't have a phone due to organisation failure yesterday but we can get one from Tokyo station so we should have one by the time we leave. Phone number to follow for people who need it next time we have internet access.)
firstlight: (Yumichika - *sparkle!*)
Sun! We have sun! Since we arrived in Nikko (and mostly since I arrived in Japan) it's been either raining or misty. Today we've had bits of sun and only scattered bits of cloud, and Nikko is actually really lovely when you can, uh, see it. It's been difficult to get an impression of the place! (To give you some idea, this is the first day when we've even been able to see the mountains that surround the town.)

Took a walk into town, had tea and cake (good but a bit pricey). We've got a couple more days left here but after tonight only one more day of work - our last day we have free and we'll go see the temple and shrines. (I hope the weather stays about like this - it's warm but not insanely hot and the cloud coming and going kind of keeps it that way.)

The cicadas are out in force today. I swear they're louder than the ones in Europe, or my memory is wonky. (They make me think of Renji.)

Photos

Jul. 22nd, 2007 04:46 pm
firstlight: (Kubota/Tokito)
Small selection of photos. A mix of Hakone and Nikko, kind of out of order but actually with titles to hopefully provide vital clues. ;)

...

It's really late. I'm going to bed. *g*
firstlight: (Yumichika - *sparkle!*)
So far today we've made breakfast for guests and... gone on a tour around the mountains. Yeah, a reeeeally hard first day. *coughs* Our host took us on a drive up to see lakes and waterfalls - way, way up, into the mist and then out through it again (so we could actually see some - but not all - of the things we were trying to visit). We went all the way up to a place apparently famous for its onsen, where sulphur comes up out of the ground. Had possibly the hottest footbath in the world and then went to an onsen where all three of us girls had silver ring related incidents. Sulphur, huh. Note to anyone who hasn't already done this: yeah, do remember to take any silver rings off before getting in a proper onsen. >_>;; But the onsen was amazing. I still feel insanely relaxed. Could do with one of those more often! We also had lunch up by one of the waterfalls, and on our way back down we stopped off at a place which sells, err, every kind of rice cracker imaginable and then some, I think (or maybe my imagination regarding rice crackers is just severely limited). O_o It offered free samples, free tea and free coffee. And a video about making rice crackers. I never knew it was possible to make such a big deal out of the things, but I guess if it could happen anywhere it'd be in Japan. *boggles*

I can't remember all the places we went today but they included Onsenji (which was about as high as we went - predictably enough, the temple in the town with all the onsen), lake Yunoko, the Yudaki waterfall, and the Ryuzu waterfall.

I have photos but the transfer cable is buried somewhere in my bag and I have to go help with dinner in a minute so I can't really be bothered right now. Maybe later there will be photos. :D;;
firstlight: (Jin - Sword)
We took the train to Hakone today and did a round trip through the mountains there. You can get a round-trip ticket which covers everything and is valid for a couple of days - though it's worth it even for one. :)

Train from Shinjuku station (which we did not get lost in) to Hakone-Yumoto, and then a bus up a little winding road into the mountains - it reminded me a bit of being on Italian roads, but less like taking your life in your hands. Japanese bus drives slow down on corners, for a start. It was really very pretty, though misty - actually, the mist made the whole place seem really atmospheric.

We got the bus as far as MotoHakone, which is really a little cluster of restaurants on the shore of lake Ashi, and there we had very, very tasty tempura. And then took a ride on a "pirate ship." *snerks* It's the suggested way to get up to Togendai, to get a cable-car thing up into the mountains. On a clear day we'd have been able to see Mount Fuji, but as it was we could just about see the shore of the lake. It was still really pretty, though. :D

Getting the cable-car involved increasingly high levels of mist (insert FFXII joke here?) but oh man, going right up to the top of the mountains like that... *_* we didn't spend a whole lot of time because it was really a whole sequence of cable-cars and due to being a bit slow to start out in the morning we were worried about the possibility of missing the last one and ending up stuck in Owakudani for the night or something... XD but, beautiful area and spectacular scenery even if only visible for a short distance in all directions. ;)


Tomorrow we're off to Nikko to do volunteer work. We'll be working at a lodge - locked entry with more detail (address etc) for those who might conceivably need to know will follow before I leave. We might fall off the face of the internet as I have no idea how access will be. In any case, we're there for a week and then spending a day or two in Tokyo again for Sarah to do more of her fangirly things before we head right up north to Hokkaido. (This trip is a series of journeys punctuated by Tokyo. Well, we'll certainly be getting value from our rail-passes when they kick in.)


I have a rather strong urge to write Samurai Champloo fic right now. I blame the mountains and the millions of places selling those dumplings they always try to eat. >_>;;
firstlight: (Kanzeon Bosatsu)
We went to see (part of) a kabuki play today. :) You can get tickets to a single act, which is what we did for the cheapness and the not sitting through four hours of something in a language we didn't understand, although in a slightly surreal turn of events the play was actually an adaptation of Twelfth Night (!?). So I've now seen the end of Twelfth Night in kabuki form. It was actually really cool, and my inner theatre geek (which has been dormant for a while, I know) loved seeing how it was all staged (I thought it was awesome how they changed the set by rotating the central part of the stage, hee). We went with a few guys Sarah had met before at various times during her travels, who were nice, though I did have to be Stern at them during the performance because talking in the theatre and not bothering to keep your voice down is not what I call acceptable behaviour. >_>;;

Yesterday we'd tried to go to the play, but showing times on Mondays are strange so we didn't manage. We spent the afternoon wandering around Akihabara instead, and had tea in a cafe where the maids were dressed as cats. (...yes. Only in Japan?) I bought a few anime-related bits and pieces then, too.

I'm generally quite tired from flying still, so we've been taking it pretty easy! That's the reason for this first little while in Tokyo, anyway, so I don't have to go straight from Narita to doing volunteer work. We're going north to Nikko on Thursday.

I keep thinking I need to take more photos this time (as I took very few last time) but the weather hasn't been fantastic.
firstlight: (D1 - WTF)
Japan has welcomed me with a typhoon and an earthquake.

...

(Typhoon disrupted a lot of train services yesterday but didn't affect us. Earthquake involved feeling the building shaking - it was over the other side of the country that it was worst, apparently, according to the news on TV. Not that I can understand much, but they have a map marking the epicentre.)

Day 2

Jul. 15th, 2007 02:43 pm
firstlight: (Discworld - Elementary Necromancy)
Today it... didn't rain much, actually. And I slept a lot, although at times that would be normal for other people. (For me, waking up at 10:30am is sort of a freak occurrence.) Hi. I love that so many hostels have wireless internet and that Sarah has a wireless-capable laptop, by the way. That's why I'm actually sort of around.

We went to the Tokyo National Museum and, uh, geeked at archaeology for a lot of the day, which has left me wanting to know a lot more about early Japanese burial rituals. (I'm sorry.) It's also entirely possible that Saiyuki has forever ruind Buddhism for me. Uhh... I have no defence for myself. I managed not to actually giggle out loud at anything, though (although, in an un-Saiyuki-related way, the statue of a bodhisattva performing a hand gesture not unlike this did come really damn close. I use that particular illustration because that was the image it summoned to my mind...)

Other than playing the inappropriate association game in the museum (*sigh*) we also went and poked around in Animate in Ikkebukero and related shops. Fairly briefly and with restraint, I might add. More or less. :) (I do have to point out that there is no Rikkai stuff anywhere now, really - ordinary merchandise or bromides etc in the second-hand shops or doujinshi. There was tons more than this at christmas, even if they've never been in much of the merchandise to start with. But I did, umm, buy a couple of things which [livejournal.com profile] pixxers might try to mug me for if she was able.)

Because I woke up so late and took so long after that to turn into a functional human being we didn't really have time to do more than that today, other than rescuing tourists who looked far more lost than us! I've done OK with navigation competence today, having successfully negotiated a JR station which had no English map. Turns out I do still remember a few of the Important Place kanji I memorised last time, though for anything other than place-names I'm still clueless. It's ok. Ordering in restaurant = pointing at random thing if they don't have English. It's worked ok so far. I'm not a picky eater these days. ;)
firstlight: (Yanagi - û_û)
I did not sleep on the plane to Japan. This is entirely the fault of this book, which I completely failed to put down. I never have the attention-span to read on planes; I find the environment way too distracting. Except I actually did read pretty solidly, on both the short-haul flight to Frankfurt and the long-haul flight to Narita. I ran out of book a couple of hours before we arrived. ...I kind of wish I'd got my hands on more than one of his books now. And I would love to go into detail as to just what I thought of it, but I haven't slept for I-don't-know-how-many hours. Assume that there was a bit of gleeful squeaking here, coupled with some deeply insightful comments (because, you know, I'm great at being insightful... >_>;;).

One thing I will say is that a random side-effect of reading that book is that my view of the Tokyo subway system is now warped in much the same way that my view of the London underground became warped after reading Neverwhere. Which isn't to say that they are otherwise similar books at all. But... *g* (I realise I have just used the word 'that' an obscene number of times, but I'm too jetlagged to restructure.)


It's quite undeniably rainy season here, of course. It's actually, uh, kind of similar to the UK right now. It's probably what the UK's weather wishes it could be. The rain here has more stamina, and it's a bit warmer but... not actually too hot right now at all.

Basically: I am in Japan and I am alive. Flights went smoothly though Heathrow airport security confiscated some of my keyrings, which obviously constituted a serious threat of some kind. (...??)

More when there's more to tell! :)

Holiday!

Jul. 12th, 2007 09:04 pm
firstlight: (Yumichika - *sparkle!*)
I think most people know by now, but tomorrow morning I'm off to Japan for a month! I'll probably be doing public travel-updates, because I do find it good to write these things down as I go. I'll be around here and there but I have no idea how much I'll be reading and so on!

Hope you all have a good summer. :)

Japan!

Jan. 5th, 2007 10:14 am
firstlight: (Urahara again)
Right. As I have finished cleaning the kitchen and... okay, no, I haven't finished unpacking, but... leave me alone. :) As I've done quite a bit this morning and have the rest of the day + tomorrow morning to finish making this place look respectable, I'm going to sit down and type up a bit more about Rikkaimyu and Japan. General stuff first:

Japan )

(The short version of all that is, "I had a fantastic holiday, is this summer too soon to try and go back? :D?")
firstlight: (Tenpou - flowers)
Aaaaaand the rest:

Budapest )


Vienna )


Prague )

...This concludes Ye Tourist Photos. Syl has some "artsy" (her word) photos that she's going to post herself, and (believe it or not) some even crazier ones than those displayed here, which may also show up at some stage.
firstlight: (Urahara again)
So. On our recent travels, Syl took around 800 photos. Yesterday, we uploaded... lots. Though by no means all. So now I present... an illustrated guide to our adventures. (not actually image heavy because I linked to the images rather than posting them.) There are far more images in most of the albums than I've linked to individually - there's a link to the entire albums at the end of the section for each place.

Warning: some photos may be more than a little... obscure? 8D

And this post is public so Syl can link to it for people on her flist. Because we're too lazy to both make posts, damn it.


Eze )


Verona )


Venice )


Zagreb )


...and that's all for now. Budapest, Vienna and Prague to come.

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