May 24th and 25th: Hiroshima

This is a long one folks.

From Osaka station, it took about two and a half hours to get to my hostel in Hiroshima. It would have been a little shorter, but for my unfamiliarity with where things are and the strange pace I take on when carrying my luggage.

After finding my way out of the Hiroshima station, I found myself with two options, I could grab a local train and then get on a streetcar, or just get on a streetcar and ride for an extra 10 minutes. I opted for simplicity in a new place rather than saving a small amount of time. Also there was a guy with a Care Bear bag (thanks phone!). Maybe it was just cheap, but I like to think it is some weird cross cultural hipster thing. Continue reading

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!)

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.

Continue reading

Thursday: Jazz, Scotch, Sake, and Zen Buddhist Vegetarian

So, okay, no pictures of a jazz band, just the CD player and speakers. I forgot to get a picture of the piano that was there though, and clearly the owner prefers to be the primary instrument in the jazz she listens to.

This is actually going to be a pretty short entry as I didn’t do a whole lot. By that I mean I finished sorting 1200 pictures, wrote a 2282 word article, ate far too much food, and just relaxed for most of the day.

By too much food I mean, I ate the second carrot I purchased the other day, as well as an apple and a salmon rice ball. I found a Lawson 100 nearby, found some black thread, a two pack of thick carrots, an apple and a navel orange for 105 yen each. The 5 yen is the tax. I also found and ate some free crackers.

Now that would have been fine but an Enforcer by the name Asmer recommended a place by the name of Mikoan. It was a tiny vegetarian place with food done in a zen Buddhist style. Not only that, but the dinner set for 1000 yen was the most food I had seen for the price. To top it off, she has a cat that roams the floor of the restaurant/bar.

I found the location on Googlemaps, it didn’t seem too difficult to get to, heck, I thought I knew where it was. Turns out I didn’t, I was about 10 blocks west of the location. However  I did run into a shrine that features pigs, and thought that was new.


Lots of pigs.

I wasn’t too miffed, as I don’t mind walking around and exploring, it just took a while since most North/South streets aren’t marked and even when they are, often times there’s no romaji. I walked through a few parts of Kyoto I hadn’t seen, catering even more to international tourists, it was interesting, and some parts I wish I had more light, but I was lost, and not really in the mood to spend 3 hours sorting pictures again… so I didn’t even try.

Eventually I realized I needed to cross the river, and that it wasn’t a street. Sometimes lack of color on the Kindle is a hindrance. I found a McDonald’s on the other side, and thought, ah, that must be the one on the… no. Not it wasn’t, there was another in a similar location about what would be 4 blocks East, had there been any cross streets. Shoji street is a giant open air mall on both sides that goes for I don’t know how long, I didn’t stay with it. I did find a clothing store there, but the high end stores around it and quality of the garments scared me off. I’m sure the sign saying 1000 yen I saw in a mirror was probably for single pairs of socks.

Eventually I found another McDonald’s and everything else fell into place. I walked down, saw shrines surrounded on three sides by comparatively towering commercial buildings, by this point I just wanted to get there, and really, I would have needed a tripod to take any worthwhile pictures. Not that it stopped me from taking horrible pictures when I left showing how hidden this restaurant was, but…


I found it… well, this is leaving, but hey.

The place was packed. There is a single bar at which all patrons sit, room for about 15 people. A group of four that had finished eating was politely asked to move down one seat so I could sit. After that, I ordered the typical plate, the Vegetarian Dinner Set. There was also a vegetarian curry, but eh. The neat thing is had I one or more companions also ordering it, we would have received some different dishes to give a wider spread of sampling. Alas, I am more or less alone out here, but it was still quite tasty.


This was like a Thanksgiving feast for me.

It took quite a while for me to actually finish the food, and seriously, I still feel kind of full, over 12 hours (and an orange) later. Because of the time it took, I ended up chatting with a few people, the first two were from Kyoto, although the woman was from South Africa originally, but after 13 years started moving around quite a bit until currently settling in Kyoto. After mentioning I did techie sort of work in my normal life I was asked about the Adam tablet. However I wasn’t familiar with so I couldn’t make a recommendation. The specs seem respectable, but it is now over a year old, which in mobile can be ancient.

The second group came in a few minutes after the first two left which consisted of two travelers from Finland, one of which went to Western Washington in Bremerton, and their friend who grew up outside of the city of Kyoto. She helped me pick a sake, which is made locally called Tamanohikari.

Hah, here I was complaining to them about how memorization of horrible English spelling complicates my phonetic spelling in other languages and I actually spelled that correctly. I also apologized for English being a horrible language. I do that a lot. Why wasn’t Esperanto picked up? IT’S EASY AND MAKES SENSE.

Anyway.

Truth be told, even though it was sort of implied by the title, I didn’t have any scotch, it was available, and would have gone well with the jazz, but the sake was enough for me.


That’s pretty much the entire place.

I gave them all the link to this site, which I do frequently, though I have no way of knowing if anyone ever follows up on it (oh, sure I guess I can check the access logs, associate by location and assume, but I really don’t care to). I can hope.

After I got up from the bar, the cat seemed more willing to pay attention to me, or allow me to pay attention to it. Cats. Thankfully it was quite friendly, and actually used to people, go figure.


Finally another friendly cat.

After paying and stepping outside, I figured taking pictures of the place wouldn’t be the worst idea, and then I found a bunch of Totoro figures outside, to go with the hour listing hand-made cutout at the bar. Cats and Totoro.

After taking some horrible pictures that a tripod and external lights should have been used for, I wondered off back home.

It finally dawned on me though, why I was always creeped out in the hallways at this hostel though.


Hello Dave.

We’ll see if I make it to the Fox Shrine today, and I think I’m going extend another day here so I can figure out what the hell I’m doing after Kyoto, as I still don’t know. Leaning towards  Hokkaido, but accommodations are tricky/expensive.

Oh yes, and before anyone asks, the poster that mentions black money, is actually about a giant scam back in 2000, where black strips of paper were claimed to be 1000 yen notes. Yeah.

Saturday: Pictures, a Mystery Panel, and a brief preview of my Sunday discoveries.

There aren’t many pictures from yesterday I care about, not that there were that many pictures at all. Still I said I would post them, so I am.

Also it turns out as long as you stay away from the “core” of Kyoto around the bullet train station, it’s actually a fairly old looking city, no where near as dense as even the most sparse parts of Tokyo I visited. The further you go the closer it gets to what I had imagined. I am happy to report that prices are lower here, things are about 10-20% cheaper, and I’m within walking distance of a proper supermarket, so that will be nice.

It also looks like the last of the cherry blossoms fell while I was in Tokyo. Damn.


Dropbox version.

Now I have 803 more pictures to go through. Though some are for an animation, so… still a lot.