Saturday, April 30, 2005

Hitting up Ginza (& the dodgy club)

We spent the day in Ginza ooohing and aaahing.

Ginza was one of the first areas to modernise in Japan, eg. Western-style brick buildings. The shopping district is famous with big brand names, lines of restaurants, cafes and other interesting little stores.

We shopped so much and ate so much, with the bags and bellies to prove it!

We had soba noodles for lunch, then Rui took us to this gorgeous cafe, complete with long waiting line to get in, for their specialty dessert Mont Blanc - a chestnut dessert. Although our coffees costed something ridiculous like 800 yen, the dessert was delicious, very sweet, but worth the experience.

We also headed to Club Pure that night. Located in Shibuya, it took us ages to find it, this club fairs pretty high on the dodgy/seedy scale. Rui's mate was already there so we decided to try it out. Lured by the all-you-can-drink and cheaper ladies price scheme, I just knew it was going to be an interesting night as soon as we were handed our plastic cups (pink for the girls, blue for the guys) and walked up the stairs greeted by a puddle of spew.

The music was okay, the drinks were okay but it was a typical gaijin club. We also met up with my conversation partner Yoshi who had recently moved to Tokyo for work. Despite the seediness and having to fend off the drunk and not-so-drunk randoms, I still had a good time because I was out with good mates. At one stage during the night I was picked up, literally, by this massive guy. In shock, it took me a while to register what was going on then I started laying punches into his arms but he was freakin' hugen that my punches were to no avail but cushioned in his fat. eeew. Then there was the case of this guy who thought we were Japanese and was trying to dance with us and impress us with his Japanese. By the end of the night, everyone's waist or ass got grabbed, even poor Yoshi's! haha

Since we got there quite late, time flew by and soon we were walking through the streets of Shibuya in the bright sunlight at 5 something in the morning. After piling into a purikura booth, we headed home and crashed.

On the train Posted by Hello

Ginza Posted by Hello

SY, Rui and the Tempura Soba set Posted by Hello

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Me, Rui and the Mont Blanc Posted by Hello

Ginza at night Posted by Hello

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Club Pure Posted by Hello

SY, Rui, Me & Yoshi Posted by Hello

Morning after Posted by Hello

Friday, April 29, 2005

Asakusa & Odaiba

It was so good to sleep in and start the morning chatting with good friends.

It was lunchtime by the time we actually headed out so Rui took us out for some yakiniku action. Basically like having hotplate or korean BBQ. It was so tasty, the highlight for me being able to order a coke spider aka coke float.

Then we headed to Asakusa to check out Senso-ji temple. It was really crowded but fun checking out all the little shops that sold trinkets, Japanese souvenirs, yukata, kimono and so much food!

Courtesy of my trusty Lonely Planet: During the Edo period, Asakusa was a halfway stop between the city and Yoshiwara, the imfamous pleasure district. However it soon became a pleasure quarter in its own right, famous for kabuki theatre. When Japan began to open up to the outside world beginning the Meiji Restoration, it was in Asakusa that the first cinemas and music halls were opened. Western opera was also first performed to Japanese audiences in Asakusa's Imperial Theatre. And just on the side, the striptease was also first introduced in Asakusa.

We also took the monorail to Odaiba, area of reclaimed land which houses Fuji Television Japan Broadcasting Centre, many fashionable shops, nice scenic views and Japan's very own Statue of Liberty. Random - yes. The Rainbow Bridge was quite a sight too but I still love Akashi Bridge with its rainbow colours at night, especially from my balcony.

We headed to an Izakaya for dinner then called it a day.

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Rui & Sue Yen @ yakiniku Posted by Hello

Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) of Senso-ji Temple guarded by Fuijin - god of wind and Raijin - god of thunder Posted by Hello

Rui, SY and me out front Kaminarimon Posted by Hello

Me and Rui trying the kimono robes - I couldn't decide so ended up getting both Posted by Hello

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Fuji Television Posted by Hello

Rainbow Bridge Posted by Hello

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Izakaya Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Yay! Holidays!

Today the students went on their school excursions.

The 1st years went north of Hyogo to Kanabe for an overnight camp. The 2nd years went on a day trip to Kyoto - Arashiyama, and the 3rd years went on a day trip to Kyoto - but a different area.

Only the homeroom teachers were budgeted to go, so the rest of us teachers hung around school and enjoyed the silent hallways. I would have loved to go to Kyoto but I wasn't that fussed because after school I was jumping on a shinkansen (bullet train) and heading to Tokyo for Golden Week!!

Sue Yen headed to Tokyo via bullet train on Tuesday to met up with Rui Hsian. So now it was my turn to hit Tokyo.

Lazy-assed me left my packing to the last minute and I just made my train by 3 minutes!!!!

It was so good to see Rui Hsian AND Sue Yen together and hang out like old times and just speak english. We headed back to Saitama/Hasuda, went to an izakaya then headed back to Rui's.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Train crash

A train heading to Amagasaki derailed and crashed into an apartment building this morning, the worst Japan has seen in the last four decades.

The 1st and 2nd carriages were wrapped around the building with the 2nd carriage crushing the 1st carriage, leaving over 100 dead and over 450 injured.

I didn't know about any of this until a friend told me and I saw the horrific images of twisted metal and casualties on the news. The video footage was unbelievable.

Thanks for all the emails and messages guys. Although in Hyogo, fortunately I'm about half an hour from the area and I was at school at the time and thank God people I know that live in that area were all okay. Unfortunately I continue to hear really sad stories.

My mate's teacher knew someone who died in the crash, another friend's students live that in apartment building but live on the higher floors, students who were on their way to Universal Studio Japan (think Disneyland/Movie World) for their school excursion were on that train - some are still missing, the daughter of a lady another Perth JET teaches was killed in the crash - her body was found crushed between the 1st and 2nd carriages.

The site of the accident is now covered in hundreds of flowers and thousands of origami paper cranes.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Getting cultured (again) and reacquainted

Today we headed to Himeji for the Katsushika Hokusai exhibition.

Hokusai (1760-1849) was a Japanese painter and wood engraver famous for his Ukiuo-e (style of prints). Most would be familiar with his series of block prints called Thirty-six View of Mount Fuji.

We walked to the Himeji City Museum of Art and took some snaps of Himeji Castle in the background. The exhibition featured over 200 of his works and although nothing was in english, it was still just as good to ogle over his work.

Afterwards we headed into Sanners to meet up with our old exchange students. Sue Yen hadn't seen her exchange student Izumi since high school. It was so good for them to catch up and we had plenty of laughs over pizza, pasta and parfait at La Pausa.

Also met up with Keita working at Mont Bell and he joined us later with his girlfriend - so cute!

Before catching our trains home, we found a Purikura booth with a plush, red sofa in it! So we all piled in and took the most funniest photos. It's always a blast when we meet up with those crazy cats.

Himeji Posted by Hello

Me, Gohei and Chieko Posted by Hello

Izumi, Sue Yen and me Posted by Hello

Yuta, Gohei, Keita, Chieko, Izumi, Sue Yen and me Posted by Hello

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Miyako Odori

Today we headed into Kyoto to get cultured.

I had booked tickets to see the famous annual Cherry Blossom Dance. So excited! I had read about these before in books and now I was actually going to see one in real life, performed by real geiko and maiko.

The Miyako Odori was first performed in 1872, where the top geiko and maiko of Gion would entertain the public with their dance performances every Spring.

Once in a lifetime opportunity, so we opted for the Special class ticket with tea ceremony. Before the show, we were served green tea and a Japanese sweet. We also got to keep the dish as a souvenir. The theatre was gorgeous, really old and traditional. The backdrops, kimonos, music, lighting - the whole ambience took me to another time and place. It was such an experience. Some may say it's become too much of a tourist trap or lost it's history but most of the people there were Japanese. I was just too excited and absorbed in it all to care. It was just the thrill of being able to experience for myself what I had read about before.
Highly recommended kids - two thumbs up.

After that we walked around Kyoto, did some shopping, then headed back into Sanner for izakaya. So buggered, but so cultured. hahaha or so we think.

hmmm grease Posted by Hello