Monday, June 25, 2007

To Melbourne`s open.... arms

For those of you who are melbourne bound, this post is for you.

I will be in Melbourne for about 3 days.

I will be arriving probably quite tired from an all night flight and will need to spend some time with my family, and my brother, who will be on a break from the army who I haven`t seen in I don`t know how long!

So the plan is:

Thursday night:
Jen will be organising a pub crawl!!

Friday night:
Folks place (I have yet to ask them)
Recount of tales from my travels accomanied by photosplus other stuffBE THERE!!

Flying out

Please use the messages bit to let me know weather your coming or not, and to which. This is important although I am not at liberty to explain why.

For those of you in Brisbane, feel free to complain about the lack of plans for you guys (feel free to organise a catch up for the friday after I return, e.g: Friday 7th July)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sitting on crutches

I am a bit unwell today, and as such am sitting down writing of my travels. The crutches fortunatly are metaphorical.

My meanderings through Japan have resulted in my disruption of more than a few places.
Initially after my foray into the nightlife of Tokyo which first shook me up and laid me out I ventured forth once again into the big city. Feelings of dread tormented me on the massive and regualar trip from Kamiooka (a suburb within yokohamma) to near the centre of Tokyo (around 1.5 hours)

As we alighted the train vestibule we were immediately assailed by a wonderous gaiety of human fashion all being agressively dsiplayed!

Harajuku has a reputation for having the wierdest and strangest fashions loudly displayed.
To start some background information. Japan is fashion mad! Everywhere you go, this is mostly the girls, because the guys when they are around are mostly in suits, most of which are black (and cut way to skinny to suit me ). Well the girls wear clothes almost to suit a personal style that tends to fit in one of my different fashions. I'm not talking about girls dressed as maids or giant mecha. It just seems that there are so many different styles available. In melbourne and especially brisbane it seems like there are only so many different clothes available. Eventually or immediately you see someone else wearing the same clothes, or clothes that have a similar cut, a similar pattern, stuff that just looks the same.

That isnt really the case here, upon consultation with my local guide (Kana :p) finding an outfit that you see someone else wearing is close to impossible. There are so many different shops, brands and outlets finding the same clothes is difficult especially since not all outfits cater for all of the styles. It creates a very diverse visuals whenever you walk the street.

In shinjuku I have previously mentioned a shop where girls congregate in wearing the extremes of fashion. Normal fashions, and mostly slightlier sluttier or risque fashions.

The only part of fashion of Japan that remains constant is that most girls like wearing long black socks or stockings some of which go almost all the way up the thigh. I suppose in those cases its finding the clothes that let the top of the stockings still be visable.

Anyway. Harajuku. It even at the station had more extreme fashions, tending towards cosplay(looking like cartoon characters), gothic (black with lace), punk(black with pvc and metal or tartan), lolita (looking like a little girl in a maids outfit). It wasnt quite as extreme as i was lead to believe, but it was still highly prevelant. I also have not actually made it to the area on a weekend where it apparently goes off and squeezes the life from you (this is more a result of the sheer number of people you expect to have there on such an occasion.

The streets were filled with clothing shops to cater for everything. Heaps of Goth, punk, lolita and combinations of the above were prevalent, costume shops, underwear shops (with cheap price tags, kana exploded with delight) as well as lots of normal fashion outlets, expensive retro opshops (similar to what you can find in aus, although some of there stuff was very good and more expensive than retail shops in the area). Fast food outlets dripped from the seems between clothing shops. The most impressive ones were waffle shops. The have a plastic 3d display that shows all the different waffles they make in creamy fuity cakey glory.

Its a nice place :p

more later

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wallowing in the aftermath

I write this is aftermath of an all nighter...

I caught up with Stewie who followed the trail of beautiful women into the orient 3 years ago and never returned. Stewie took me on a tour of the different species he had encountered and their habitat.

Main habitat: A gigantic shopping mall, contained with 1 building shooting up into the sky, only featuring girls fashion clothes of all different styles and fashions and relatively cheap prices (so i heard) and thats it. Nothing else except clothes. The building was struggling to contain all its inhabitants.


One such species is the mumba, easily identified by peroxide affected hair, an orange tan complexion and the inability to wear clothing that covers anything below their butt cheeks

another such species is the school girl, societal pressure and strict regulations mean that all girls who attend school must wear a skirt... where I say skirt, I of course mean a large loose fitting belt made out of a heavy cloth that generally covers the waist region and attached parts, thats about it. This is the only species not tending to be found wearing height altering apparrel (high heels).

There is also a strange propensity for the wearing of long black socks.... I have not yet determined the significance of this particular mating display.

In his travels he had also found the wonders of shibuya, which has the really big intersection of which a picture was taken from the middle of... lots of electronics, huge tvs and watches in the side of building lots of lights, hidden away stores filled with obscure manga memorabilia including man sized robot suits and women sized suits/dolls, as well as minature ones in various states of (un)dress, not to mention a staggeringly huge collection of general meorabilia and used manga (hopefully not too sticky) as well exactly how perverted the people who create manga are exemplified for example by the character sketes from the artist who made neon genesis evangellion. Imagine if you will one of the girls from the anime every way possible. Specifically all the poses facial expressions everything he thought of for that character before actually making the anime...

His tour extended to Shinjuku of which we explored to the early hours of the morning. This particular habitat is know by its bright lights numerous of which are red, excessive amounts of bars and clubs and resturants. The lights, oh the lights. Everywhere small narrow winding streets with symbols emblazzening themselves on your retina does not make for easy navigation especially once so much alcohol has been consumed walking in the middle of the street and taking photos of taxis instead of getting out of the way seems amusing.

The full gambit of the area was tasted, ex-pat bars, seeing drunk japanese girls be carried out of pubs, resturants politely ushering us out after we had outstayed our welcome, scored free booze and the drank all the stuff you had to pay for. There was the general open air exploration and then penultimately kareoke, of which once you pay the entry fee you get free booze and kareoke until you decide you cant be arsed any more! After Kareoke the only slice of shinjuku we had yet to sample were the clubs.

Due to the currently altered state of stewarts inebration and female tendancies, in spite of the fact that an afterhours club was discovered... by myself!!! with a line!!! at 4:30am! and looked fairly interesting as the only person who knew about it was slightly unable to walk and remember his own name, not disimilar to the current party comprised of us (stew, ross and me) Stewart preffered to get something to eat and a taxi home...

That such a venue existed in the area we were in was a suprise to stew and ross, the local predators, so the find was quite a prize. This was especially impressive as this area wasnt the gigantic skyscraper full of 24hr clubs,pubs and other things related to the first 2.

By the time dodgy drunk food had been consumed we could catch the first trains home.

This marks the end of the first week (or so) in Japan

To date I have seen Ueno, A humoungous version of vic market, with expensive branded stalls strewn throug everything else

Akihabaru, the electronics district, I am still convinced the whole district was some strange wet dream. As well as being full of geeks, geek supplies (CHEAP) and everything a computer or electronic hobbiest could ever want generally for a good price, they even covered things i hadnt considered, such as minature model building galleries, manga minature model parafanellia and maid cafes attached to a small (large) store so you too can collect all the supplies you need to clothe your own 'maid'

Amussingly enough I saw actual school girls looking as if they were considering buying a school girl costume...


Yokohama a pretty cool city, a very cool china town soooo much bigger than melbournes with some cool stuff in it, such as a t-shirt that had written on it in japanese "i love hentai" i will probably be going back there to pick that up :p

Also had some cool gardens etc...

The shopping malls - well to start with they are everywhere, they are all like light versions of everything i have so far described... except for the pub/club stuff

I got an awesome camera in one... olympus FE 230 its pretty awesome and tiny and a lot cheaper than in aus!

Kamokura is the only place i have yet to mention so far. To get there we took an old train, so old it looked a lot like a melbourne tram. It was pretty cool, by the ocean. Black sand beaches with birds of prey flying over head. Fascinating.

I mean a beach thats black looks kinda wrong and dirty, but when you look closer it is gleaming and glittering black sand.

Around the beach were hawks or eagles, hovering overhead, possibly looking out for being fed, and will swoop down and snatch stuff off the ground around you if there is stuff there. So much cooler than feeding seagulls or pigeons.

At Kamakoora was also a narrow pedestrian paved road full of traditional japanese shops full of handmade paper, crockery, kimono clothes as well as second hand kimono and yokata shops (I picked up a pretty cool Yokata, kinda like a casual kimono, however I am having trouble finding an inexpensive belt for it as well as appropriate sandles in a large enough size) as well as a small art gallery, knives... everything. At the end of the street there was a huge and impressive buddist temple.

I believe that covers just about everything to date except the Onsen (translated: japanese hangout for freedom space and relaxation)

Onsen more literally translated is hot spring. It like a health spa, with massages and stuff like that available as well if you order it and pay for it, most people come to get naked soap themselves up on a little stool with the most advanced hand held shower system ever! digital temperature displays and analogue adjustements for your handheld shower and lots of liquid sop stuff and a towel.

After you have convinced everyone that you cant get cleaner they have pools filled with black water. All the water is coloured black . It is opaque! There are digital readouts for all the pools temperatures. Some are calm, some bubble and jet, some are cold some are hot, some are ridiculously hot, some are inside, some are outside.

Did I mention everyone is naked!! All you get is a little towel which people look at your strangely if you happen to let it fall into one of the pools.

Oh and they keep the naked girls where the naked guys cant see them :(

It is very calming and relaxing. It felt the most spacious and luxurious place I have been to so far in Japan.

Apparently Kana's family will be taking me next weekend to a bigger more famous more luxurious one where you also stay the night near mount fugi

And now before my fingers fall off I will continue to recover.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

My first taste of Japan

So far it looks amazing.

Tokyo, which we just caught a bus through was huge, incredibly developed with highways plaiting themseles up, down, over and under an absolutly massive city, with highrises as far as the eye can see with little shopping districts brightly illuminated way over there and just underneath the highways we were travelling on.

We took a bus from the airport to Yokohama (sooooo expensive $35 aus each,,apparently a taxi to our destination would have been like $300), it was silent except for us. The bus was eriely quiet, so were the people on it. While we chatted tried to learn/teach japanese and laughed at japlish signs and ogling the sights of Tokyo.

The bus was pretty cool, quite spacious and very organised and efficient for transporting lots of luggage, which was very useful. Very clean as well.

I bought noodle flavoured tea!!!!!

When we arrived in Yokohama we changed from a bus to a train. We had to walk with our luggage through a shopping mall to get there. There were a whole heap of girls in their school uniforms, 10:30 at night on a saturday!!! (apparently its cool to wear that stuff) There were also a lot of guys and girls in yokata, which is a semi formal kimono with less material, because there was some kind of minor celebration and a lot japanese people wearing japanese clothes, which look a bit different from what you see in Aus.

Kana`s mum had heaps of food waiting for us、like a miso soup,reminiscient of chicken soup,tuna sashimi (raw fish) and inargi and ngiri (different kinds of rice balls) and japanese beer and a few kinds of sake (booze).

There place is very unusal to me its smaller than I am used to in Australia but larger than I was expecting thanks to numerous warnings from Kana and her mother. It is jam packed with stuff!
It is very cool here and Kana`s family is very nice!

My phone with international roaming on it just dosnt work here!!! I am very suprised and very disappointed. I will have to get a japanese phone for myself... :D

(catch ya, in japanese)


I have just arrived in Japan and as such I am going to make best use of nmy time here by... updating my blog :p

We arrived in Melbourne late at night, I had not reminded Kana about the weather in Melbourne, partly because I didn`t remember and partly because I didn`t want her to pack to much.

This was slightly sad and funny when we arrived and it was 9 degrees and Kana was only dressed for a winter night in brisbane!!! I did have a spare warm jacket for her and gloves and scarves however I didnt bring extra pants for her!!!!

It was great seeing everyone again. Friends and family.

The first night back it was straight into meeting the family. I think it was a bit late and everyone was a bit tired, so as well as updating each other on how we were and what was happening and lots of pictures and what was new, we also degenerated into a few family arguments.
All in all it was very nice and very touching.

They did manage to make improvements to the area we could stay in the spare room/little sisters study.

My grandparents had not changed much since I saw them last, 6 months is a long time. I am glad they hadn`t changed much.

Once again it was great to see and talk to them again and eat all their food.

I went out clubbing to the nightcat with some friends. A very bohemian night club in Melbourne. They had a live band playing, it was very remineiscient of traditional melbourne bands. A mixture of hip hop regae and jazz/funk. Just like cat empire, still thinking and a bunch of others. People wear completely different kinds of clothes (different from brisbane) cut up the dance floor, I drank an unsual beer and some wine and generally had a good time.

Catching up with friends was pretty amazing too. Everyone was still the same and at the same time different. Everything is changing a little without me around. Some are engaged and looking to buy a place, some are settling down and moving in with each other and a little afraid of that ( :p ) some are just getting more confident and experienced and knowing what they want a little better. Some are still the same :p.

Lots of great food was eaten in lots of different places. For me the highlight was almost a faulty towers style french resturant.

They asked us if we wanted coffee 4 or 5 time throughout the night, got my main meal wrong, forgot about the bill, ended up forgetting to charge us for desert and wouldnt give us crepe suzette still on fire!

The food was amazing however, everyone desrves to have some foi gra on top of an awesomely cooked eyefillet and inch and a half thick and proscuitto and smoked duck should always be in salad.

Jen took us on an impromptu tour of the alleys of melbourne which also coincided with looking at free renegade art gallereis of melbourne (hoisure lane, etc). Awesome looking graffiti.
Kana and I stunned our family just before we left with some awesome Japanese style cooking, teriyaki ocean trout and japanese style green bean salad plus a lot more
The party at the end of the trip made it all worth it, not to mention about 3 hours sleep before we jumped on a plane for 9 hours!