Tag Archives: holiday

the photo finale

so I didn’t actually lose my camera – ta da! I can go back to smugly thinking my brothers are the forgetful ones in our family.

I’ve placed photos throughout my posts of the trip to Japan – which feels like a very weird and wonderful dream now, from rainy Melbourne. (Much like the man who dreamed of being a butterfly, special k finds coming back to life here more of a dream.)

Here are some pics of the place we stayed in Tokyo, and our first ramen meal.

Here one of the best meals we had the whole time.

Here some weird sushi and Shinjuku in all its glory.

Here Harajuku.

Here pics from the Museum of Science and Innovation. (includes Doraemon and Asimo…gotta love the Japanese!)

Here Great Tokyo Cycling Tour!

Here more 8-bit.

Here Kyoto.

Here another amazing meal. (Meal the last.)

And because I’m not entirely sure where it fits in, some shopping madness that came over me in Don Quijote. Much, much worse than opp-shop fever. I ended up buying two of the three – can you possibly pic the two slightly less-ugly sisters?

Day 11: The Last Supper

(This title was only supposed to refer to our dinner tonight – our last in Japan – in a kind of silly attempt to make it catchy. But I just realised that as today I finished reading Christopher Brookmyre‘s Not the End of the World, a pretty hilarious and thought-provoking (and full-on) anti-religion rant (in fictional form – there’s a tall Scottish lad with long hair and a mad televangalist who’s going to make a tidal wave), it’s more appropriate than I intended.

The dinner was a massive pork steak that was beaten then poached in a tub of fat then sizzled with some thick sauce and heaped onto a pile of shredded cabbage. They plonked the saucepan down in front of us, along with a huge bowl of rice (Japanese rice is SOOOOO good!) some miso, cold jasmine tea and a glass of beer.

Pretty great last meal.

Cute waitress too, who giggled uncontrollably into her hand when we tipped her. (This was after we’d endeared ourselves to the staff by exaggerating the tear-making properties of the onion they were cutting in front of us. Boohoo, we’re funny foreigners and we like your food, boohoo.)

How we discovered the place, seeing it from the flyover:

So now we’re in our Last Hotel, after our Last Supper, awaiting our Last Sleep in Japan. Special k wants to come back for good, but when I ask him why, the most coherent answer I can get out of him is that he thinks it would be cool if our kids were little white Japanese kids.

Not sure that cuts the sashimi.

Day 7: special k lives up to his name

Today was a good day. Mostly it was filled with shopping. Then more shopping. And then when my feet were about to start dripping battery acid we shopped some more.

Finally.

I think it’s been our attempts to shop and our utter inability to do so with any conviction whatsoever that have chewed up our days. But no more! Our bags are about twice as heavy as they were yesterday.

My favourite moment by far was when special k was trying on a shirt and the shop assistant – lovely, tall Japanese boy dressed goth-classy – started playing barbie dolls with him. The shop assistant was evidently bored and saw some fun to be had.

You have to understand at this point that Japanese guys aren’t afraid of dressing up. The men’s clothing is surprisingly difficult to distinguish from the lady’s. So special k grinned in a kind of polite horror as the shoppie draped a cloth vest over the shirt, tightening and ruffling various parts of it for greatest aesthetic effect. Add a black brimmed hat and the rather pushy suggestion of a coin pendant and different jeans and you have, as he put it “Japanese fashion.”

The day ended in a place called 8-bit cafe, where special k beat a Japanese woman at Street Fighter. (Ten points if you can guess which character he was playing.)

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 6: Tokyo Great Cycling Tour

It really was pretty great.

In our wee group of 8, with the fearless Yukiko guiding us through the white-shirted throngs, we cycled over many bridges to the constructed islands in Tokyo’s bay area.

We stopped off at Tsukuda (it sounds like scooter, said in a really abreviated, Aussie style), where the first shogun imported 33 competent fishermen.

(I know it looks like I was just walking around Tokyo wearing a bike helmet. I wasn’t, I promise.)

It was pretty interesting to hear Yukiko talk about Japanese history. After the 200 years of peace during the Edo period, Japan opened its borders and embraced Industry. I think I’ve only ever seen this period portrayed with great melancholy: Here is the end of a great, untainted culture. Yukiko gave the new perspective that Japan was desperate to catch up to the West, and to develop their own industry and technology – a fervour that is still alive and well today, evidently.

The sun started to get really hot. Here’s a short video of probably the most delicious part of the whole day: we arrived at the Tsukiji fish market (biggest in the world – it is truly amazing) and dunked cloths in a bucket of iced water.

Then we cycled to the beach and ate a delicious picnic from bento boxes. I went down to the beach to dunk my head in and interrupted three little boys gleefully pushing each other into the water.

We saw some temples – walked the Steps of Promotion so that we would all be mightily successful in the work place.

It was such a great way to see Tokyo, and felt a lot more productive than walking for miles through Shinjuku station and surrounds (though I’m pretty fond of that old place).

Do it! if you’re ever in Tokyo.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 5: Run, Robot! Run!

Ok, the complaining is officially over. Promise. We’ll blame it on the heat, and not mention it again.

Seriously, I saw a robot run today. Anyone who could stay in a funk after that would have a thing or two to learn from Asimo about being human.

It’s amazing how endearing the little guy is. Makes you realise how indiscriminate and easy our affections really are, and raises all kinds of incredibly interesting questions. (I’ll spare you from them, you’ll be glad to know. I need some sleep before our 6-hour bike tour tomorrow. It seemed like a good idea back when I was in Melbourne and it was cold.)

The Museum of Science and Innovation:

Asimo:

“Science”:

I went through a wormhole and shrank as I went!

okonomiyaki for dinner. mmmmmmmm.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 4: Rock Bottom Has a Bidet

I feel rather like a character from a Jennifer Crusie novel: “Things are bad, she struggles, things get worse, she struggles, things get so bad they seem insurmountable, she struggles.”

Harajuku, on a Sunday, in the relentless sun = not the funnest thing, despite the big clown made of balloons.

Today pushed lots of buttons. Old ones about traveling and being a tourist and not being “exciting” enough to walk down that alleyway and find that bar that serves single origin sake on a full moon. If you know the password.

There were no passwords today, but special k and I had words. Rather a lot of them. We’re both more timid than not, and when neither of us steps up to the plate we get the amorphous holiday we’ve been having so far. So the words weren’t all particularly fun to hear, but we got that sorted out, anyway.

We did end up going down some tiny old alleyways and looking at some pretty odd bars, but it was in Kita-senju late on a Sunday night. Which is pretty hard to describe. The only places left open are the gambling dens and brothels. There was one little shanty filled with piles of books and magazines and one old lady drinking on her own. Another had businessmen singing something into a microphone, which looked like it was going to hit the bar any second.

A man put on his bike breaks too hard and his cat scrambled out of the front basket in disgust.

Oh yes, and I tried a bidet, which was a rude, illicit sort of an experience. They have a special button just for women. Enough said.

If my trip is really following the Crusie formula, I should soon be reaching the Point of No Return, after which everything begins working towards a happy ending, even if it’s not at first apparent.

Day 3

Day 2

Day 1

Japan is imminent

dear readers of my blog,

special k recently came home, exhausted but oddly determined and said “We’re going on holidays.” Yay! I thought, imagining the beach or some such.

“Japan, San Francisco or Hawaii,” he said, in that same determined way.

So in two days we’re off to Japan (the future) for 12 days of wandering around looking at all the weird and wonderful things.

Which gives you 12 days holiday too, because I won’t be updating whilst I’m away. (Oh no! I hear you shriek. How ever will I do without my fix of tv/romance novels/incest/the daily workings of this strange mind? Er, like I said, a HOLIDAY…)

Will post 12 days of Japan after I get back, so brace yourselves for weird pics and beautiful wallpaper.

Over and out.

adventures in a(nother) country town

this time I’m in Ballan, Victoria, with my brother and his two kids. In the way of country towns, this name is not pronounced the way you’re saying it in your head – the locals pronounce it to rhyme with Milan, as though it were exotic somehow.

Maybe it is…

All I’m saying is, there are cows.

This morning we went to visit the mineral springs at Daylesford. I’ve never drunk real spring water before, and I tell you what, it’s zingy. Until you get to the really sulphurous stuff and then it bypasses zingy and goes straight for a battery-on-the-tongue effect.

After that we ventured into the old bathhouse cafe – a beautiful, dilapidated building with cold tile floors. We arrived on the tail end of a government function and scored free scones with jam and cream, which we scoffed down sitting in front of the fire.

Then Ella and Benji climbed the walls.

We drove through a cloud to arrive back at the little brick box of a farm house and now the kids are off to sleep for the afternoon, but first I need to read Benji the next few chapters of The BFG.

That’s all for now, no moral or thoughts or anything!

Oh, and good news from the frontier: my niece appears to have forgotten that she hates me.