“The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become until he goes abroad”
  • Day20

    Saraba da Japan!

    April 27, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    You've been amazeballs Japan. Hopefully I'll be able to come back again some day.


    So many that I have heaps of unfinished blog entries awaiting completion when I get home.

    Kaiju Collected:

    A desire to come back again!
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  • Day20

    You know you are flying to Australia...

    April 27, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    ...when a significant portion of people waiting in the checkout line are wearing thongs and shorts even though it's 20 degrees.


    The ambient language is shifting back to English, so general understanding of other people's conversations is stating to seep in as well.

    Australians are loud. Half of the time it's to complain about something.

    Kaiju Collected:

    6 pairs of thongs within a 10 metre radius.
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  • Day20

    A Queen of Tarts at the Dreamers Lounge

    April 27, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Getting some last minute fancy-ness while waiting for the airport bus to take us back to the real world.


    I poached the pic of the cafe because I couldn't do it justice. It's a bit of posh dining with middle class prices.

    Since it's frequently hotel guests waiting for the bus, the clientele is pretty mixed but this is also the kind of place where you could get all cosplayed up for some steampunk adventures and have breakfast here.

    Being Japan, I wouldn't be surprised if that is what the locals do anyway - saw plenty of teenager types doing the Victorian era dress code for DisneySea.

    Sandwiches were nice - if you don't mind salmon. They also do high tea sets. Deserts were awesome - or at least the strawberry tart I had was!

    Kaiju Collected:

    Strawberry tart and real coffee - albeit in modest quantities.
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  • Day20

    Excess Baggage 2: The Return

    April 27, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    The sequel to Excess Baggage is yet another pair of shoes being sacrificed for the needs of the many.


    Next time travelling to Japan I'm thinking I'll bring less shirts since I seem to just buy more anyway.

    The small compact umbrellas we bought didn't last very long in a Tokyo gust of wind, ponchos were better. That second lot of umbrellas we bought in the park were broken too - but they were never coming home anyway. I think the locals must go through a lot of umbrellas in this place while they laugh their way through a mini tornado.

    The shoes look fancy-ish but they were poorly fitting cheapos from Target that never recovered from getting saturated.

    Jacket was a second hand thing that took up a lot of space but was consistently too hot to wear.

    Lol - to think I previously considered taking smaller bags - forgot about all the geek stuff.

    Kaiju Collected:

    More storage space.
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  • Day18

    When it Rains, Just Keep Swimming

    April 25, 2018 in Japan ⋅ 🌬 18 °C

    Raining and blowing a gail in DisneySea won't stop the Japanese from getting into the spirit of things.


    If this were Brisbane or most Australian cities, this weather would have brought the transport system to a halt and the social media outrage would be apocalyptic.

    Here, it's just another day.

    Kaiju Collected:

    Ponchos and more durable umbrellas.
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  • Day17

    Achievement Unlocked: Shinkansen

    April 24, 2018 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

    Gun control starts at home - we should really stop referring to these as "bullet trains" since they don't look like that anymore, but the shinkansen are totally awesome.


    The original Tōkaidō Shinkansen connects Tokyo to Osaka and is the one we used to take us between the tow. This while time looking for the "Hikari" service rather than the "Nozumi" service on the platforms, I always assumed it was the name of the line.

    I've only just discovered that "Hikari" actually means "light" and stops at more stations while"Nozumi" means "hope/wish" and is faster. The Hikari line is covered by the JR Rail Pass that foreigners can get, the Nozumi is the more expensive premier service for fancy pants Japanese suits. So my new name for the Hikari is the "Gaijin Express" since the non-reserved section is pretty much full of them.

    Gaijin Express or not, these trains are totally awesome. It's super fast travel that is cost comparable to flying, but massively more convenient and comfortable than flying ever could be - which is you know, the way train travel is supposed to work in normal countries.

    Getting on in Tokyo, the Hikari were leaving every 10 minutes, but in peak periods, this route carries up to thirteen trains per hour in each direction with sixteen cars each (1,323-seat capacity and occasionally additional standing passengers) with a minimum headway of three minutes between trains. From a transport policy wonk perspective, that is a crapload more capacity than can be achieved by planes.

    From a comfort perspective, screw flying - these things have plenty of leg space and the carriages are wide because they use normal-country rail gauges rather than super narrow tram tracks masquerading as "heavy rail" (*ahem* QLD Rail sucks).

    If you have any self respect left, you also don't have to go through the dehumanising process of border control security checks and delays while a bunch of insecure pricks use their overblown powers to boost their ego in the name of terrorism - just get on, get off where you need to go.

    As much as Japan loves robots, these things are also actually fully staffed by humans, not just people to drive the bloody thing, but also conductors and omg stewards walk up and down the isle.

    The stations are either in the middle of the fracken city, or they are well connected to *convenient* train connections at the other end that make transfers easy.

    If there was a single thing that makes Australia feel like a backwater full of sooky la la's who have lost the ability to actually build anything like a normal country, it's our lack of fast rail - pull your finger out Australia!

    Kaiju Collected:

    The JR Rail Pass is a ticket to ride (in comfort, to anywhere, cheaply)
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  • Day17

    Japanese Wrap, No Trash Talk

    April 24, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    It's traditional to give gifts with elaborate wrapping. It's not traditional to provide bins - but it's still clean!


    In Japan if you buy anything, they wrap it, put it in a bag. Takeaway latte = would you like me to put it in a bag. Is this a gift for someone = I'll put each cookie in a separate bag.

    Wrapping is everything. The traditional gift wrapping cloth you can buy at trinket shops is called furoshiki. There is a whole technique devoted to wrapping gifts with cloth that requires no tape or staples, it's like origami with cloth.

    But the modern translation of furoshiki seems to be shopping bags. The bakery we had breakfast from individually wraps each bun in a plastic sleeve, then puts all you purchases in a high gloss thick bag that looks like you bought perfume from Gucci.

    Meanwhile, there are hardly any bins anywhere in Japan. Anywhere. Yet the place is also immaculately clean and therw is no rubbish blowing about the streets. Anywhere.

    The rare bins you do find are coloured coded for sorting, but the criteria change for each city. It can be... complicated...


    Still not sure where all the rubbish goes but I have a sneaking suspicion it is partly cultural.

    1. Rubbish is a "domestic" duty, so all the rubbish gets disposed of at home.

    2. Drinking tea/coffee is a more social activity so you sit down to drink with other people - I never saw anyone walk and drink anywhere.

    3. Robot House Elves clean up everything when you aren't looking. Or at least it feels that way. Did notice a lot more gardeners and health and safety types. The one time I saw rubbish and ordinary civilian picked it up.

    I think though that most of the rubbish goes home for recycling - it's only the travelling gaijin who drink and walk who get excited when they find a bin to dispose of their coffee cups in.
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  • Day15

    Kyoto Tower of (not so much) Terror

    April 22, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

    It's a tower but, like Kyoto in general, more modest. Without the flashy lights of Tokyo or the price tag.


    Kyoto has less people in it than Brisbane but it's more compact, being a river valley surrounded on three sides by mountains.

    This tower is actually not that tall but is still the highest point in Kyoto because every building in the downtown area is almost uniformly a dozen or so floors, while the rest of Kyoto has a high proportion of traditional buildings of 3-4 stories.

    Essentially you can see all of Kyoto from this tower.

    It's not very big but they have installed interactive touch screens in the observation deck that can be switched to multiple languages.

    Some tourists rather unkindly call this a tourist trap but it's right next to the gigantic Kyoto Station and it's cheap - so it's not really a trap if it's convenient and cheap...

    Kaiju Collected:

    A nice view.
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  • Day14

    Japanese Drinking like a Fish

    April 21, 2018 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Grog is sold in convenience stores and vending machines, so accidentally getting an alcoholic drink from a vending machine when you can't read the language is bit of a gaijin hazard.

    1. Kirin Lemon: Doesn't taste as sickly sweet as lemonade, probably the favourite thus far.

    2. Suntory Pop White Soda: Suntory is a large Japanese brewery, Pop is just to distinguish it from their harder grog. I still have no idea what this drink was - I think it may have been a sweetly tasting slightly alcoholic energy drink...? :/

    3. Match: Kind reminds me of Lucozade - fizzy vaguely citrus but with the definiative aftertaste of pointlessly added vitamins and minerals that is just going to go straight through you.

    4. Vitamin CC Lemon: Lemon cordial and soda water.

    5. Mitsuya Cider: It's like soda water but with a creaming soda after taste. Nothing in Japan with "cider" on it is actually cider.

    6. Aquarius: I think they took water and mixed in some lemon cordial.

    Kaiju Collected:

    A lot of Kirin Lemon.
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  • Day14

    Japanese Bread and Circuses

    April 21, 2018 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Japanese bread tastes different and is used differently to bread in western countries.

    Bread in Japan is commonly called "pan" due to the Portuguese traders who introduced it, but it never really started to be baked locally by the Japanese till the Meiji period (1868-1912) when the Japanese were adopting all kinds of Western things. It didn't really take off with the locals though until 1874 when Yasubei Kimura created anpan, or buns stuffed with red bean paste called an, or anko. Anko was commonly used in Japanese sweets (hence the sweet connection) and Kimura's bakery, Kimuraya Sohonten went gang busters as a result - it's still standing even. People really got into bread when the Emperor got a taste of it and gave it the royal tick of approval.

    1. Strawberry and Whipped Cream Sandwich: Kinda like an ice cream sandwich, but not as cold - bread here seems to be more commonly associated with desserts or sweeter tastes rather than salty or savory ones.

    2. Mystery bread roll: This turned out to be more like a herb bread, though really soft. So more like a sweet herb bread.

    3. Mystery bread bun: "Fluffy buttery butter is the deciding factor" says Google translate, and it's correct - it's definitely buttery, and it was the deciding factor in me not eating all of it. It also said it was melon, but I'm pretty sure that is referring to shape rather than taste - this was just like a giant ball of buttery butter.

    4. Uchi Cafe: I think these are cream puff pastry, but probably coffee flavoured.

    5. Lawson Bakery mystery bread: I think this was anpan with a curry paste...? Probably pork - it's usually pork.

    Kaiju Collected:

    A lot of carbs and sugar.
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