Tuesday May 22nd: Deer Nara,

I had decided after arriving in Nagoya that I wouldn’t spend a day at a hostel in Nara, rather I would spend an extra night at the hotel and simply commute to Nara. It was only about 100 minutes hotel to station. That and I really didn’t want to move again and then walk somewhere around 15km to explore Nara (not that I knew I would walk quite that much), and then 3 more in Nagoya.

Commuting also meant that I would have a chance to briefly get a few pictures of the Nagoya subway, Kyoto shinkansen platform, and Kyoto station interior, not that any of those came out particularly well.

Well, the shinkansen arrival picture was okay.

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Monday May 21st: The Eclipse and a tiny bit of Nagoya

Just to start off with, the last post I still hated writing about and I’m not particularly in a great mood for this, that and I’m feeling the pinch of time, having a few hours left today and tomorrow to hypothetically catch up. It’s not going to happen. Anyway, this is going to be a shorter than usual post, and if you want a way more awesome article about the eclipse that almost had my pictures in it, look no further than a friend’s article on astrobites. If you want pictures waaaaaay better than mine, head over to In Focus.

(Hey look, I found the “Read More” button!)

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Saturday May 19th and 20th: Awkwardness in Roppongi

Maybe it will be more entertaining to read about than for me to relive.

Okay, so… *sigh* This happened.

I ended up getting dragged out to Roppongi, a section I had no real interest in, but on the suggestion I wouldn’t need worry about the cost (oh, what a fool am I) I decided to go and observe a “never-wrong” retired Texan Marine and a real estate agent/would-be player from Singapore try their hand at acquiring temporary Japanese companionship (they were quite specific on the Japanese bit). I’m here at least partially to gain new experience, and observing such sounded pretty new to me, at least outside of scripted dramas. Continue reading

May 16th through the 18th: From Sapporo to Hakodate to Tokyo

On the 16th I worked on getting caught up, getting my initial train and Sapporo posts up.

I met Michael who in theory has been waiting weeks for me to mention him, and is likely already back home after spending time with is father in Tokyo. He did something quite cool, he rode a bike from the Southern tip to the Northern most tip of Japan. When we met he had about 2 days of riding left from Sapporo. Made me wish I had spent at least a little time outside the cities… but alas.

For my last night in Sapporo I once again splurged and had a second bowl of soup curry, this time at a 19 out of 40 on the spicy scale. Much better than a 9. (Soup Curry photo set.)

The 15 vegetable one the night before was prettier.

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Brief Real Time Update!

I finally worked through the last 5800 pictures, compressing and uploading 22% of them. Tomorrow I plan to get writing, since I have something like 8 articles I should write, ideally before I arrive in Korea and have to start writing about a different culture.

After visiting it yesterday, I was curious about the Kirkland brand cheese, mixed nuts, and chips available at a nearby supermarket. People told me that there is a Costco in Fukuoka. Turns out there is! Sadly there’s no way to get there without a car, or walking about 8.5km from the last train station and back. Guess I won’t get a chance to see the prices, and if they have something like the drink and a Polish sausage for 150 yen. Not that I took my Costco card with me.

I did break down and buy cheese. It’s cheaper than it is in Korea according to everyone who I’ve met just coming here briefly to renew their Korean visa. I paid about $12… well, after they removed the tax, $11 for it. I’m not entirely sure why they pulled off the tax at this market, it didn’t advertise as being a possible duty free, still, I’m not about to complain, especially since it doesn’t seem that they do much in the way of discounts come 9PM, much to my chagrin.

Still, sharp cheddar, and enough to keep me going for the next month. 2lbs (907 grams) for $12, or 100 grams for $8. Hmmm, let me think about that. Thankfully South Korea doesn’t really care about bringing food over as long as it is obviously not in a quantity meant for resale. This also means I’m going to scope out some zip bags/plastic wrap and a knife at a 100 yen store tomorrow because while I don’t trust a chef’s knife that only costs $1.25 for much of anything, it is being purchased basically as a disposable cheese utensil.

Tuesday May 15th: Yoichi – The Scotland of Japan

The reason I went to Sapporo was because it was near the home of Nikka‘s first whiskey distillery.

You must excuse me as I write this, but I may interchangeably refer to Nikka’s whiskey as scotch. Obviously it isn’t “scotch” not having been aged in Scotland for 3 years and one day, however it would appear at least some peat comes from Scotland, so… they’re not messing around. Ultimately, when it comes down to it, “whiskey” has a pretty broad range of flavors, and calling it scotch helps narrow it down, because, well, Nikka’s whiskey tastes like scotch.

On my way there it became quickly apparent that things were going to be even closer to what seems like home. Shores were rocky, the sky was mostly cloudy, with just hints of blue coming through. Arriving at the station also told me that this was not a big place. Yoichi is a fairly small town, with the tallest buildings being the bookstore and the “Phachinko” place, both of which were on the street coming off the train station.

About 200 meters, directly in front of the station, beyond those two buildings on the sides, the street Y’ed. At the Y, on the other side of the street, under a clearing of sky, I saw what I was looking for.

Nikka, Japanese for Scotch (not literally).

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