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Shazza's Escapades Light hearted look at my travel escapades

Japan 2018

JAPAN | Saturday, 4 August 2018 | Views [73]

I got a super flight deal to Japan only $300 so I had to visit. It was a long flight and when I finally reached Narita airport, got my Japan Rail pass and found my hotel, my ankles were the size of melons. Someone forgot their flight socks.

I stayed in the Ikekuburo district for my first two nights. I spent the evening exploring the famous Shinjuku alleys also known as Piss Alley. This area is full of tourists and not many Japanese people would visit it now. They did years ago but now it's just a place like tiny cubby holes slotted together with smoke from cigarettes and cooking and no ventilation. Strolling through it was all I wanted to do. The rest of Shinjuku was just a mass of bright neon lights and noise and many people.

In Shibuya I saw Hachiko the famous dog statue and the Shibuya pedestrian crossing where 500000 people use the crossing everyday. Obviously on this day it wasn't that busy.

I exchanged some money at Ginza station and the lady at the counter gave me a free gift. Everyone I have encountered working in the shops or stations etc have been so nice and friendly and above all so very helpful. They cannot do enough for you even if all I was doing is ask for directions. One lady working at stall in the Kabukiza theatre even walked me to my hotel when I got lost. Customer service in Japan is bloody marvellous.

I saw many typical local food place of lovely and delicious ramen noodles and/or rice dish. Prices range from £3 to £8 but you have to use the machine then hand your ticket in to get your meal. It was always busy. So I survived on amazing bento boxes from my favourite convenience stores. I did a big shop of these and many more snacks before my big epic adventure to Fuji mountain.

Part one of my Mount Fuji Trek was the really easy part except for my altitude sickness and the fog, rain and impending typhoon. Part two of my Mount Fuji Trek was the hard part and beating altitude sickness. The best lesson I learned from my guide Tadakase to beat altitude sickness is to take deep breaths every step and small steps. The longer your stride the more effort it takes. He's amazing as it worked. Part three of my Mount Fuji Trek was the awkward part. We reached our goal for the day of getting to the 8th station and then finding out I'm sharing a tiny cubby hole with three big guys from Salt Lake. Part four of my Mount Fuji Trek was the best bit. Reaching the summit and seeing the sunrise then having to leg it back down as fast as we can because the typhoon was right around the corner. I didn't take many photos to the summit as it was very dark so I had to look down at my feet and follow the climber in front of me. Basically for two hours my view was a bum and feet belonging to a lovely lady from Australia. It could have been a lot worse. I looked like miner because of the safety hat, it was 0 degrees and windy as hell...but it was amazing. Even the pain in both my knees were at its worse, this trip was worth it. Safe to say we made it back down just in time but the rain came and stayed for a couple of days.

I ended up staying longer in Tokyo than expected as Takayama was a lot harder to get to because the rains washed away some of the train tracks. I wasn;t staying there long enough to make the long journey so I skipped it. I stayed in another district, Ginza. I was able to have a fabulous catch up with a friend I met while visiting Palestine. He took me to a very swanky totally up market little bar in the very affluent Ginza district. Not me at all and I was wearing shorts too. There were only about ten seats and no drinks menu. You knock on the door and you get let in if there is room. Then you choose a fruit and request the amount of alcohol you want and a wonderful concoction arrives at your table. Mine was passion fruit and rum cocktail. It was yummy. My cocktail was relatively normal compared to my friend's which was rubber ducky and a disco ball. This amazing place is Bar Orchard.

I spent the rest of my time in Tokyo visiting the oldest fish market in Japan, Tsujiki fish market. You can get the cheapest and best sushi here but you must come early or it is sold out. Not sure if I fancy sushi or the crabs brains so early in the morning but it was fun looking at all the weird and wonderful delicacies on offer.

Then I explored Asakusa to death. I spotted the famous thief of Asakusa statues and got barged by very many tourists. It was so hot and very busy. How are the ladies in make up especially the Geishas look so immaculate? Their make up isn't melting at all. I wasn'twearing any make up and my face is melting! I love the rickshaw riders wearing very tight shorts trying to entice customers by showing off their legs.

Then it was to Harajuku. I guess I had to see what all the fuss is about. There were some quirky things like the type of clothes on sale and the shops generally cater to young girls. I saw some girls dressed like dolls with frills and lace etc. The place is loud, bright and very sugary pink but most of all fun.

Akihabara was certainly electric. You know how Harajuku is full of teeny bop girls well Akihabara is full of teeny bop boys, teenagers and grown men geeking over anime of all kinds. They love dressing up and cos play.

Yanaka is the old town of Tokyo. You know how all the other districts are loud and bright and busy and tall, well Yanaka is the total opposite. It's supposedly the traditional Tokyo. It was so quiet I could hear the insects. There were hardly any traffic or people. It was a peaceful walk in the town and graveyard.

The next morning I checked into my female only hotel in the Shinjuku ward only to be told that check in was at 5pm. So I go exploring even though my knees still hurt. Seven hours later my knees are so stiff from all that walking and bloody stairs in the metro that I can't bend them anymore and I hobble into the lobby and find an old guy at the desk and beg for my room. The old guy laughs and gives me my keys then points to a sign saying private bath and asks if I want one. I knew my single room had a shared bathroom/toilet because it was much cheaper so I thought this is a bonus. I guess I looked pretty sweaty. After a quick unpacking and sighing at my mattress on the floor...my poor knees, I made my way downstairs to the bathroom. The old guy showed me to the bathroom practically following me inside and I close the door behind me quickly. I look in disbelief that the bath had already been filled with pink water and rose shampoo and conditioner left out. Firstly I thought wtf and secondly I actually needed a cold shower as it was so hot and I had been sweating on and off for 8 hours. Then I thought ah bless the old guy...he saw me hobbling and thought I could probably do with hot bath to soak my feet in. So I get in the bath and did what anyone would normally do in a bath all the while looking out for a flashy light, anything that would be a camera filming me. It's hard to be discreet when having a bath. So I did it quickly then emptied the bath and tried to get out which proved difficult with my knees. It took a while as the bath was now empty as I slipped and slid like some helpless fish as there was nothing to hold on to. Then all of a sudden from another hole in the bath that I didn't see, boiling hot water started shooting out of it. Well that got me out of the bath pretty quick as I didn't particularly want a scalded arse. It was the most weirdest bath I have ever had. This place probably used to be a brothel by looking at the layout and decor. I wish I just paid that extra £20 now for my own private bathroom. If there ever is a weird fetish site with the title "Indian girl trying to have a bath in a demure way and failing spectacularly by scalding her fat arse in Japan" it's probably me.

On my last night in Tokyo I went to he infamous Robot show. It is the most mental show I have ever seen. It was so loud, so bright and so out of this world. For me personally there was not enough robot action.

I was really excited to ride my first ever bullet train. The bullet train is about £150 each way sometimes more. I've got 11 of these super fast train trips to travel around Japan and my rail pass only costs £304 for 2 weeks The best rail pass ever with the best train service ever and I couldn't wait to start my journey across Japan.

I made it to Osaka on my first ever trip on the Shinkasen. This place is certainly more down market than Tokyo. I'm obviously in the slightly shady area. Seen some drunk guys, guys dressed as women, posters of topless women and guys hanging around outside certain establishments. No wonder my room only cost me £25 for 2 nights. Although I'm not allowed to use the bath because it's for men only. That's the weirdest rule I have come across on this trip.

The next morning I headed to Arashiyama, a cute little town with a famous bridge over the Karagusa River and some beautiful temples around. It was super hot I ate so many ice lollies and ice creams, I was a hot sticky mess. I went for a stroll in the famous bamboo grove and I bumped into a couple of fabulous looking Geishas. They had the full gear on and looked amazing. I had a bit of a meltdown when I got lost and I knew my train to Nara was due. Thankfully I saw some local school boys and asked for help. First they had a little chuckle then said come with me, so I followed them for 10 minutes. Typical kids with no sense of urgency ambling and meandering down alleyways but eventually they got me in the right direction and I ran like a wild women just as my train pulled in. Then I think I probably passed out once I got on the train.

I really loved Nara. There was a temple somewhere in the park but who cares. I just looked at all the deers and they were so friendly and curious. They were licking my thighs, arms and legs like I was a salt lick but I was pretty sweaty. One even tried to chew my bag and the other gazillion deers were just too cute.

Then I visited Kinkakuji temple of the golden pavillion. It is by far the lovliest temple I have ever seen. I took so many photos. Then headed for Kobe.This was a great city with a really great night life by the harbour. There was great music, water shows and wonderful park nearby. I really liked Kobe.

My next stop was in Dogo Onsen. I pottered about in Dogo Onsen before heading to Nagasaki. It has the oldest bath house in Japan and they let people with tattoos in now. They never used to and most places don't. I think they realised not all people with tattoos are Yakuzas. I decided against it as you gotta be naked with other naked people and this was not my thing. I found a another way to soak my aching feet in the hot springs in a local fountain. It was super hot.

From here I took the ferry to Hiroshima. I visited the castle and the very sombre memorial peace park. My next stop was Nagasaki. I made it for the most beautiful sunset at another memorial peace park. I recognised the huge statues I saw on TV as the anniverasary was just a couple of days ago.

The famous Torii Gate on Miyajima Island was fabulous and they had deers. You had to take a train and ferry to the island and then I explored. But then it poured down with rain. I was the only one without an umbrella so I got absolutely drenched. The ferry and train ride back was so cold because of the air condition. My teeth were chattering in 30+ degrees. I met Bambi and his mum on the Miyajima island so it was worth it.

It was my first time in a capsule. It has everything you need in there except space. The hotel gives you towels, toiletries and pyjamas. Free breakfast too. At bedtime we all looked like we belonged in some cult. The pyjamas looked like uniform. At £25 a night it's not bad. I'm booked into a superior capsule tomorrow. Maybe it means an extra inch of space. I was an experience but there were many snorers around.

My next night was in my superior capsule. It had definitely more space than before. It's like a box room really. Free pyjamas here too but we look like prisoners. Hakodate is much colder as it dropped 15 degrees when I got into Hokkaido.

The next morning I saw the architecture of Motomachi. The slopes of Motomachi were pretty steep. I Don't fancy living here with all the steep slopes as they call them. It's because the road starts from Mount Hakodate and goes down to the sea. This town doesn't feel like I'm in Japan at all. It's a quaint old town and it reminds me of Canada. They have a fish market here where you have to fish for the squid yourself and then they take it and they make you fresh squid sashimi. A novel way to pick your own food.

I loved hanging out in Matsushima before my train back to Tokyo. This is a lovely town outside Sendai. It's full of tiny little islands with pine trees growing on it. This place is also famous for oysters. I did not try the baked sea snails but the grilled squid was nice. Much nicer than raw squid. This temple has caves surrounding it and it's the only interesting thing about it really. It's the family temple of the Samurai Lord Date Masamune. He made Matsushima his home in 1600.

I took my last Shinkansen bullet train ride and it was green. I'm going to miss the efficiency of Japanese trains. It's immaculately clean, has amazingly helpful staff, super fast and always on time...nothing like our trains.

I finally bought the super expensive grapes. They were delicious. So sweet and juicy. They were teeny tiny grapes. The fruit is super expensive here because it's the best you'll ever taste. I couldn't afford to pay for a whole melon but they sold them in slices at the market. It was the best, sweetest and juiciest melon I have ever tasted.

I stayed close to Narita airport so I wouldn't have a long journey to the airport for my flight to Okinawa. I have always wanted to go to Okinawa. I chose an apartment by the sea. The first thing I noticed in my apartment was all the danger sings. Beware of tsunami, earthquakes, snakes, jelly fish etc. What to do in any of those emergencies. I love my jacuzzi and my wonderful view from every room. It did take forever to get to the apartment and in the end I got lost. I got off the bus too far off and in the end someone from one of the many convenient stores I popped into gave me a ride. I knew choosing to stay near the biggest US military base in the Pacific might bite me in the arse especially at 7am. I have F16s as my alarm clock. I've only been here a couple of days I've counted about 20 fighter jets flying over us per day plus the numerous combat helicopters too. I haven't spotted a Chinook or V-280 yet. Love those bad boys.

There were so many islands to explore in Okinawa. It was fun crossing the Warumi bridge which is the longest bridge in Okinawa. I experienced purple potato. There is a shop that makes everything from sweet purple potatoes. Everything looks great but I didn't need to buy anything. I just ate all the samples on offer. I was stuffed. I never ate so many varieties of purple cakes and puddings before. It was a fun day.

I visited Cape Manzamo where the huge coastal rock looks like an elephant. I also saw a humongous spider too. Some people nearly walked into it. Then there was Kouri island . This island is attached to the mainland by a bridge. Everyone can swim and do many water sports under it. I guess you can have a beach anywhere.

I spent most of my time in my apartment and on the board-walk right outside it. It was sunset overload every evening. Ilovedwatching the fiery skies from the board-walk but I could also see it from my lounge and most of all from my jacuzzi.

I spent my last day in Japan buying up lots of jelly sweets and pastries to take back home. I loved Japan!

 

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