Thursday, March 29, 2012

Geeking Out in Hirakata Park: One Piece Memorial Log

So all you will probably glean from this post is 'amusement park' and 'nerd,' but what else is new? :) So on Wednesday, I did not have an exam and I only had class until 10; my speaking partner, Riyo, and I decided to go to Hirakata Park, a small amusement park one train station away from the main city by my school. I was quite excited, because I have seen advertisements all over Osaka about the One Piece Memorial Log, a special One Piece event being held at Hirakata Park. One Piece is an anime/manga (television show/comic book) that has been in existence since 1997; as of now it is about halfway done. As such, it is an extremely long and extremely popular thing in Japan. My friend convinced me to start watching all 540 episodes (ongoing) last fall; as of today I have finally caught up. Hence, I was very interested in going to said Park to see what fun adventures were in store!

(If you really want to know what these pictures actually mean in relation to the series, ask me and I'll go into more detail haha)

So we get to the park, and of course immediately go to the event hall where the One Piece event is being this point, we're not exactly sure what it is, but who cares? It turns out, the "Memorial Log" is an event where you can walk through (and take pictures with) important parts and events in the series! 100 pictures were taken instantly. One of my favorite parts was dressing up like the characters; one of the characters is a cyborg, so they had these huge robot arms for you to put on. There is also a character with a huge afro; I have many awesome pictures.

After the awesome walkthrough, there was a small 3D theater with a cute short movie about a special One Piece adventure, also cute. Then there were more opportunities for pictures. The best part was there was One Piece purikura; it is my most prized purikura to date.

There was also the opportunity to put your picture on a Wanted poster stylized like the ones in the series. It was pretty cheap, so I debated about getting one or not, but I knew if I didn't I would regret it later, so I gave in and paid for one. Imagine my surprise when they didn't just take the picture, she started explaining something in Japanese very quickly and handed me a little card, paper, and pencil. We walked away; I was very confused. This was One Piece; an adventure was required! I had to earn the right to get my picture. To do this, I had to go find 6 treasure chest stations that were around the amusement park. The card was the key to open it, and write down the clue inside. We found 3 of them right away, but it took us a while to find the other 3 (although 5 of the 6 were close to the hall, apparently).

We decided to ride some rides while we were looking. First, we went on a small wooden coaster (I taught Riyo a new vocab word: rickety) and then a little pedaled monorail ride. At this point, it started to get windy and cloudy. Unfortunately, the ferris wheel we were going to ride next (it would have been the 5th of Japan, haha) closed because of the weather. Boo. So instead, we walked around to find something that was not crowded (Riyo said this park was never crowded, but with our luck, because it was Japanese students' break, it was crowded. Joy) and gave up, jumping in line for a whitewater ride.

When I say crowded, we really didn't wait longer than 20 minutes for anything, so it still wasn't that bad, but the park closed at 6 so we had to get movin. It was kinda cold, so I was a bit worried about getting wet, but no one was wet when they left this ride so I was pretty sure it would be okay. This ride had absolutely no waterfalls for the car to go through! It would be impossible to get wet on this ride, haha. We got a little splashed, but nothing big.

The weather was slowly getting better, so we went on the Meteor, which was a baby Power Tower, also crowded. Riyo had never ridden it before, so it was a fun time. We also rode a spinning coaster which was exactly like Wild Cat, no backwards or anything like Yokohama. I also saw a putt-putt course from this, which made me happy that two of these exist in Japan.

(Somewhere in there we also got crepes, which was delicious)

It was nearing 4 o clock, and the Wanted picture place closed at 5, so we decided to hunt for the final 3 treasure chests. We stumbled upon one by pure accident, and miraculously found the other. We then went to the place and asked the lady for a hint, and she told us where the last one was, haha. Then I got my picture, yay! We also stopped at the One Piece store, where I bought various things as usual.

Then we went back to the other side of the park (stopping to play a fun shooting game which I lost at as usual) to ride the Red Falcon, a roller coaster that was kinda boring actually. I was surprised that it was so crowded, but it actually wasn't. There was only one train car running, so the people had to wait for it to come back, which I thought was weird.

Then we rode a log ride, where we did not get wet at all. There was no splash on the hill, which I suppose was a good thing. We then rode a kind of ride which was like Max-Air on a track; the kinds you see at Twins Days and festivals and stuff. There were also a couple other rides, such as the swings and stuff. But we ran out of time.

It was a nice cute park; we had a wonderful time!! I am very glad we went there, although my wallet is not :p

Exams are almost halfway over!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

It Would be Raining: A Day at the Cafe in Nagoya

First of all, here are Yokohama pictures. And here are Nagoya pictures!

So I didn't really have much planned for Nagoya; I arrived extremely early and nothing really opened until 9, and my bus to Osaka left at 5:30. So I arrive at the unholy hour of 5:40, what better thing to do than pile into the over-crowded McDonalds? Nagoya Station is basically an airport because of all the Shinkansen that leave from there.

This is after finding a bathroom, of course, (which made you pay for the TP...really airport-station?) because I had to pee the whole bus ride, even though I went just before we left. The night bus I took from Hiroshima must have been the Ritz Carlton of night buses, because the one I took to Nagoya was just a straight bus without a bathroom. Yay.

So I hung out in McDonalds for a while before I headed to Osu Kannon Temple, mostly because it was open early. It was extremely quiet, and the stamp-book place was not open yet. So I went to a different McDonalds nearby and read my book for a while, until it was about 9, before I headed back. It was still closed :( But it was a very pretty place.

Since it was now 9, I could go other places! I went first to Atsuta Shrine, which is famous because it is (supposedly) where the legendary Kusanagi sword resides. It is regarded as one of items of the Imperial Regalia of Japan, which are the sword, the mirror, and the jewel. These three items are said to be proof of the emperor's divinity and that they are descendants of the sun goddess Amaterasu. So of course we wouldn't actually be able to see it. We've talked about it in class, so it was pretty cool to be there. I donated 500 yen to the lady who drew my stamp in my book (entry was free too).

Next, I subway-ed over to Nagoya Castle. It's not the original castle because it was destroyed by a bomber in WWII, but the recreations are excellent. I scaled 5-6 floors of stuff (and visited the observatory on top, where it was foggy, of course). There was another section still under reconstruction until 2018, and it was raining. But it was still really cool and interesting and huge. I also accidentally entered through the East entrance instead of the main one, which was fine, but it meant that I was travelling in the opposite direction of everyone else. (Gaijin XD) I also had a long walk back to the subway. But it was only spitting rain, and I was not buying an umbrella because I had enough to carry home.

There were also sakura blossoms starting to bloom! And I had my camera :)

At this point it was raining in earnest, and I was ready to go home and never spend money again. With 5 hours until my bus leaves, I return to the station. I make sure I figure out where my bus is leaving from, and find lunch. I get a bowl of kakiage soba (a HUGE noodle bowl, I don't know how people finish it). Then I camp in a very nice cafe for a couple of hours with my book until I can't drink anymore. It should be easy to find a bench to hang out on, right?

Sure, if i wanted to sit outside in the rain, but not inside. So a half hour later, I miraculously find a row of chairs in the market attached to the station and wrote some blog entries for a while. I didn't think I could hang out there for the last hour of my loitering, so I went to a different cafe in the airport-station and ordered a ridiculously expensive iced tea so I could sit and wait for my bus.

Aaaand of course, I accidentally sit in the smoking section.  Silly Japan still having smoking sections. So now I smell like a chimney; I am so ready to go. I go to the locker to gather my wares, and there was a cute old Japanese couple trying to figure out the electronic lockers. I, who had never used the lockers before, helped them do it. They were very nice and cute. Then I piled on the bus, which had a bathroom, but some idiot smoked in it (we could smell it), but luckily we stopped at a rest stop.

Finally, I was in Osaka Station! Almost there! However, for some reason, my train card wasn't working. (There are these nifty passes you can buy that you just load money onto so you never have to buy a ticket; it just automatically subtracts money) So at first I say hell with it and buy a ticket, and in Kyobashi I ask the lady to charge it for me, thinking that may be the problem. I switch stations and it is still not working. The man at Umeda Station said the card thought I was coming from Shinjuku, so he said I couldn't use it from Shinjuku (clear in Tokyo) and I walked away confused. I realized it must have scanned my train card on accident, because I had to use a different train card in Tokyo.

....How the hell was I supposed to tell that to the Station Master in Japanese? So I go to the Station Master and he tells me I need to go back across the courtyard to the other station so they can fix it, because that one didn't have trains in Tokyo. It took me a minute to understand him, and I'm preeeeetty sure he was getting a little pissed, but Japanese people don't get mad, so eventually I left without him getting angry, lol. I knew I knew the verb he was using, I just couldn't place it, so I didn't understand him fast enough for his liking, so he had to repeat himself a couple times. I walked over to the other station and they fixed it in like 2 seconds. Sigh.

Then I went to the next station and waited for the bus, and walked home in the rain.

I missed my futon <3

Big week coming up! Exams, exams, and more exams! And what better thing to do during the middle of exam week than to go to Hirakata Park, and amusement park not a half hour from here!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Photo Bomb!

So even though I slept 12 hours, when I start typing I get in the meantime, I'm going to get some pictures and videos up here:

Tokyo Day 1: Shinkansen, Imperial Palace Gardens, Yasukuni Shrine, Sensoji Temple, Akihabara

Harajuku, Shibuya, & Shinjuku

Odaiba, Studio Ghibli Museum, & Tokyo Tower


Disney Sea!

I have Yokohama and Nagoya on facebook; I will put those up here tomorrow. Odaiba and the Disney albums have videos that facebook does not :)


A Rollercoaster at Yokohama...Literally

This entire day needs to be prefaced with it was definitely a bad day for Japanese. -.-

Today started with checking out of my hostel; miraculously all of my omiyage (souvenirs for other people) fit into my bag, except for the fragile ones I purchased in Disney. So, besides the fact that my bookbag was the width of another person, I was ready to go. My hostelmate was also checking out and heading to a different hostel, so we walked to the station together. The poor girl is starting school in April and travelling beforehand, so she had two massive suitcases to get onto the (thankfully uncrowded) train. I helped her onto her platform (I later received a text saying she made it to Shinjuku okay) and I was off to Yokohama! Yay!

After a few train transfers (Yokohama is very close to Tokyo) I was at the station. After locating where my bus would leave from that night to take me to Tokyo, where I would transfer for Nagoya, I set off for Minato Mirai Station, where all the fun stuff lives.

Upon entering the super shopping center in Queen's Towers above the station, I was greeted with the happy familiarity of Mister Donut. After eating one, I jumped on the epic 3-floor-spanning escalator to get to Yokohama Cosmo World, a small amusement park across from Queen's Towers Plaza.

Cosmo World is a mostly kiddy park where you pay per ride. It does have a few gems, however; namely, a rollercoaster that goes underwater.

(Happily, there were lockers in the Towers so I no longer had the width of a small boat. I did however, need my bag later so I had to pay 400 yen twice :( )

So I bought tickets for 3 rides: the awesome coaster, a spinny coaster that reminded me of WildCat in Cedar Point, and the Cosmo Clock, a super huge ferris wheel that used to be the tallest in the world (Japan seems to have a lot of those, doesn't it?).

Of course I head for the rollercoaster first. It isn't very crowded; there are no lines anywhere. I sit in the car, and the overhead bar is heavy when it is lowered and secured. Its like they had extra weight in it or something. Either way, the tunnel-going-into-the-water part was woah cool. It was also fun to hear all the Japanese people flipping out on the coaster :p

Next I headed to the little spinning coaster because it looked cute. I was happily surprised at how awesome it was. I haven't ridden the WildCat in a while, but I don't remember it spinning around and going backwards like this one did! I liked it. The ride operator was very nice as well; he definitely did my seat belt for me. Because I guess we don't have those in America. Ah well.

Finally, ferris wheel time! (This is my 4th ferris wheel since coming to Japan) It was very pretty, and the clock itself is really cool. Because this ferris wheel is a clock, each spoke measures out a second in a minute. When it lights up, it ticks like a clock (of course I have pictures). Also, every 15 minutes it would light up in a 'firework display,' which was nifty. (I only know all this because the English descriptions on the ferris wheel told me so :P)

I am very, very glad I rode this ferris wheel. If I didn't, I may not have noticed what was on the roof of the Aeon (mall) next door that I have been lamenting does not exist in Japan.


I could not believe my eyes. Putt-putt? In Japan? As soon as I got off the ferris wheel, I immediately headed for the building, which I happened to enter from the food court. I stopped at a bakery thing and got a little pizza turnover, and a meat bun shaped like a pawprint, as well as some other bread. Yum!

Then I found my way to the roof. I opted to play the 18 hole game instead of the 9. the 9 hole one was a 'family course' and actually had fake green. The 18 I played on was on straight metal. You had 6 chances per hole, and when it rolled into the corner you could move it to the black line further in so you can hit the ball.

This was definitely one of the more hardcore games of putt-putt ever. Some holes were pretty simple; I got 2 hole-in-ones and a lot of 2s. Then there were holes where you had to send the ball off a ramp into the hole or up a volcano thing and they flew off course no matter how hard I tried. My favorite was one where you launched the ball into the air to a net. No hole, just a net. There are pictures.

I do feel bad though, because I said afterwards to the operator man that it was really fun, and I wanted to say American putt-putt is easier (more boring) and I'm pretty sure I unintentionally said cheaper. I didn't understand what he replied with, but he didn't seem offended? He might have said come again? I dunno, I felt bad.

So I was so happy I found putt-putt I decided to treat myself with the ultimate-Cold Stone Creamery. Did I mention that when I walked into Aeon I was greeted with a Starbucks and a Cold Stone? Yeah. So I wanted something with Milk Tea ice cream, but the lady said they were out, so I got a strawberry thing the lady suggested. So all 3 of the workers were making ice creams like they do with the two spoons, and they all start singing a Cold Stone song!

Maybe I just haven't been to Cold Stone in a while, but I do not remember such a song. I about fell over. It was to the tune of Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above, too. I laughed and put a tip in their jar, too (this is rare; you do not tip in Japan). It was weird, there were American dollars in the jar, at least ten. I pointed them out, and the worker was surprised too. Odd.

So I'm happily walking down the street with my ice cream, which I know you shouldn't walk and eat things in Japan, but its just ice cream (I paid for it by carrying about the empty cup for forever-Japan doesn't believe in public trash cans). I slowly made my way over to Landmark Tower, the tallest building in Japan that has the fastest elevator in Japan (I've been in many observation towers lately, too). It's not hard to find, its the tallest building, but it was labeled out front as a hotel so I was confused for a bit.

I then paid the exorbitant fee to go up (1,000 yen, really?) and it was very pretty. Unfortunately, as seems to be the theme when I go up tall things, it was foggy (its usually foggy or night time). I still have some -ish pictures.

On the way down from the tower, they let you off on the fifth floor, those smart bastards. There was not just a One Piece store, but a Shonen Jump (One Piece's publisher) store. So they had all kinds of nifty stuff! And I found the perfect gift for my cousin ;)

Next, I wanted to head to China Town, but to do this I needed an ATM, so I needed to get my bag out of the locker. This means I had to find the locker.

I got very turned around in the Towers. I passed some lockers, but they didn't look like the same ones? So I got on the super 3-floor spanning escalator that I came in on; that was at least something familiar. I realized immediately that I had gotten the locker after I came up the escalator, and that being on it was a bad plan.

[The following sounds very funny. I assure you, it was not funny. So try not to laugh, kay?]

No matter how close you are to the top, do not try to go up a down escalator. Not only does it shock Japanese people, you can fall like I did; right on my freshly healed now-not-so-much knee injury from my bicycle. -.-

So now I had an extensively bleeding knee (I swear it bled more than when I first got it) and a need for band aids over an ATM. My tissues were in my locker; I needed in there too, so I bought some really crappy Band Aids and fixed it up. It seems alright, I just destroyed some of the new skin is all.

So that was fun; in my haste I never re-locked the locker. So I got some $ and was en-route to China Town! I knew it was a bit of a walk, but I was feeling poor; I did not want to pay for a train when it wasn't raining or anything outside. Adventure!

China Town was nifty and Chinese looking. I bought a huuuuuge meat bun for dinner because I knew the name of a Sichuan place that existed there, but I had no realistic way to find it. I was also conned into buying a huge bag of chestnuts because it was supposed to be 1050 and she said 500 and I felt bad. I still have some.

So I sat in the small park-pagoda area next to the trash pile and ate. Ironically, I saw the 'how to open chestnuts' illustration after I gave up. They're....okay. I don't think they go bad, so I'll eat them eventually.

Then I walked back and stopped to watch the 'fireworks' on the clock. Afterwards, I sat in Starbucks and read until it was time to retrieve my things and head to the bus. I even managed to transfer buses and get off at the correct station at 5:40 am no problem!

This is where the days blend together because I slept on a bus...


Why Eat When You Can Wait in Line? Disney Part 2

So Shelly, its not that I was too tired to write, its that I was too tired to write without a keyboard. I now am home and have a keyboard, so I can transcribe everything I have written in my notebook to the Internet!

I forgot to mention a few things last entry:

1) The Pirates ride has a restaurant in the ride in the very beginning! You can eat under the permanent night sky; it looked pretty awesome.

2) When you leave to go on a ride, the operators say "itterasshai," which is said when someone leaves the house as a sort of general well-wish. They also say "okaeri" (welcome home) when you come back. It's cute.

So this parks popcorn flavors: caramel, curry (no thank you), cranberry (good, but not my cup of tea), strawberry (delicious), black pepper, sea salt (just tasted like popcorn), and milk tea (by the time I went searching for it, I couldn't find it and the fireworks were starting).

This park If you combined Universal, Busch Gardens, and Disney in one glom of a park, that's Disney Sea. Yeah. We walk into a Venice Plaza a la Busch Gardens in the beginning, and across the river there's a huge volcano. Looking at the park map, we notice there is an Aladdin AND a Little Mermaid area.

Yeah. There's a lot to do in 11 hours.

So we start to play the fast pass game; we immediately get a fastpass for Tower of Terror, which in hindsight, was probably a bad idea. After you get one fast pass, you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can get another, and by the time we got to 'The Journey to the Center of the Earth' ride (aka volcano) it was too late to change. The line for that ride never died down the whole day either.

So we jumped in straight away. 2 and a half hours later, we get to the ride through the most confusing maze of a queue ever. It was a really cool ride, just not something worth waiting the same amount I would usually wait for Top Thrill Dragster.

When we got off the ride, we were able to get another fast pass for something that wasn't already sold out, so we got one for '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.' In the mean time, we went to the futuristic port world of Port Discovery to a ride called 'Storm Rider.' This was one where you strap into a movie chair and things happen. You fly into an eye of a huge storm; it was cool because this was a ride that had no English on the actual ride, and its fun to be challenged sometimes. We can't be accomodated everywhere, as much as Disney tries (they do a really really good job, mind you). If we were, we might as well not be in Japan.

Either way, it was easy to tell what was happening on the ride anyway. I liked being able to understand snippets of conversation on my own :p

Before heading to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, we wanted to double-check Indiana Jones: Temple of the Crystal Skull's fast passes were gone. We get there, and lo and behold, a Western guy speaking English is there, dressed as Indiana Jones. The Japanese girls were starstruck. Elizabeth and I were dumbstruck. Unfortunately, no fast passes, and when we went back to ride it later he was gone, so we didn't get to talk to him.

Still. WHY was he there. Hilarious. It was at this point we inhaled a meat pie (and I had a dessert pie too) for lunch en route to 20,000.

Speaking of,  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was very cool. (If you can't tell by the names of these rides, if you know my Dad, this park is perfect :p) The water bubbled in front of the window, so it was really easy to believe we were underwater!

Next, we headed back to Indiana Jones to see if we could squeeze it in before our Tower of Terror fast pass time. We knew a single rider line existed, but we couldn't find a queue for it. After waiting about a half hour, we noticed a sign that the fast pass line was also for single riders! So we jumped over, hoping we didn't just screw ourselves over. Luckily, we didn't, and that was easily my favorite ride. Between boarding the little bumpy car, and Harrison Ford animatrons speaking Japanese, it was pretty awesome.

Because of the single rider line, we made it with time to spare for Tower of Terror. It never occurred to me that Tower of Terror would be a different ride. I mean, we're in Japan, so why would they base the ride off of The Twilight Zone? The premise was that it was a tour of this explorer's house who's been cursed by his last artifact, which wreaks havoc on the tour. I mean, it was pretty awesome, and still the Tower of Terror, but I was surprised.

We double back to the Indiana Jones ride's neighbor, Raging Spirits, because it has a single rider line too. Unfortunately, the lady told us the ride was too busy to have single riders at the moment, and we should come back later. We didn't really have time to come back later, and with all of Aladdin and Little Mermaid land to explore with Fantasmic in a few hours, we didn't go back. It was a coaster that appeared wooden-ish that somehow had a loop in it, but I mean come on. Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. :p

So as you would guess, these worlds are definitely kid-oriented, but who cares. Aladdin land (its like the Arabian Coast or something) had Flying Dumbo-like Flying Carpets, and a 2 story carousel. We jumped in line for the Magic Lamp Theater, which was a half 3D, half live-action show starring the genie. We needed the foreigner subtitle machines again. It was really cute.

With time running short before Fantasmic began, we at least wanted to see what was in The Little Mermaid area. And take a thousand pictures. You enter Triton's Kingdom (Me: !!!) and inside there are a bunch of little rides, a show, and a restaurant. We had a choice of dinner at the restaurant of the 'Under the Sea' show. We made a beeline for the show, where we needed the foreigner machines again.

It was SO cool. Definitely better than food. Ariel was somehow attached to a trapeze through her costume, so she could flip and fly around in the air. There was a huge Ursula that came out of the wall (that part was a little weird, because Sebastian told her not to become human and Ariel was like 'Kay!  ...) and people that flew around a bit like Cirqe du Soleil. I really enjoyed it.

Next, it was time for Fantasmic! Said show was held in the middle of the giant lake in front of the volcano; so people gathered around the edges. I was confused as to how it was going to work if it was the show I was thinking it was going to be, which it was, but they definitely made it work. And I have video ^^. There was this black spirally volcano tv which showed scenes from Disney movies. They had floating balls portay movie clips as well. They had a huge magic mirror that projected the films over water for one side, too. Excellent show.

With only a few hours left, it was time to buy and get out before the crazy (this is where I sought the milk tea popcorn, lol). And then an announcer was like 'Now, its time for fireworks tuned to Disney Music!' and I was back in a flash. Even cooler. XD

It is very hard to find something to buy in the Disney Resorts that A.)Say Tokyo Disney on them or B.) aren't ridiculously gimmicky that you could get anywhere. Luckily, I bought the majority of things the day before, I just wanted to find something that said DisneySea on it. Nope, none of that. So I got a couple things that are unique to Japan Disney, and made it out of the store before everyone else.

Once I got to my train station, I wanted dinner. (10ish?) There we two Japanese fast food places that are 24 hours...and I couldn't get the freakin door open of either. The first one said touch on a certain part of it, and I guess I didn't push enough. The second I just stood there, nothing happened, and I gave up and turned to leave, and the worker came and got me haha.

Seriously treated like kid gloves, even when I know what I'm doing. But, when I can't even get the door open, what evidence do I have to provide otherwise? Dinner was good at the beautiful price of 280 yen, I'm going to have to eat there more often.

Then I packed as much as I could for the next journey: Yokohama!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Popcorn, Line Jumping, and Michael Jackson: Disney Part 1

So today we went to Tokyo Disneyland!! No font can express my joy. Unfortunately, today was a national holiday, so it was CROWDED. We realized only too late we should have gathered more fast passes because they were gone all too soon, but we know for tomorrow.

A couple general things before my day:

First of all, there was a surprising amount of English and lack of foreigners. I know its an American company, but even ride titles were written in English. Some rides like Pirates were half English, completely untranslated at the end. I also thought because Disneyworld is so international, Disneyland would be as well. Nope; still felt super foreign.

Also, popcorn of all things was almost a trend in the park. There were many different flavors throughout the park. Salt, curry, honey, chocolate, butter and soy sauce, and caramel I think were all of them. We just got caramel, haha. What made it trendy was that you could buy souvenir buckets that hang around your neck. Of popcorn. There were all kinds! 2 different Pooh ones, chip and dale, alice, aristocats, mickey, donald, stitch, monsters inc, and toy story just to name a few. Some even collapsed in layers so you didn't have to reach into the bottom when it was low. Eating in line:no big deal in Disneyland.

Also not a big deal? Line jumping. People were cutting to meet with their group all over the place; we were weirded out. I suppose since they stop parades (even the light parade) to let people cross the street, why not a line?

Awesome: the One Piece shirts i got yesterday? I wore one today, and 2 different cashiers commented on it. It was a great conversation starter, I had a nice conversation with one ahile he wrapped my souvenirs. I'm wearing the other tomorrow :-)

So we get there, after transferring trains via 3 electric walks and 4 escalators to Disneyland! We got in the first line we saw, a Monster's Inc ride that didn't look that crowded...because the line was indoors. This cues bars had SEATS. They wanted you to lean on the rails! The ride itself was cute a la Buzz Lightyear lazer game, except you shined flashlights on monsters and there were no points. Next we waited for Buzz Lightyear, and there were points, and because Elizabeth hasn't played a shooting game before, I won, haha.

It was then we noticed a curious ride: Captain Eo. Starring Michael Jackson. In Disneyland. Yeah. Apparently, when 3D was new, disney, george lucas, and Michael max this hilariously terrible short film where Michael has the power to turn monsters into backup dancers. It was in English with subtitles. We laughed a lot.

They also had star tours, but we unfortunately ran out of time :-(

Next, after grabbing a fast star-shaped meat bun for lunch, we headed for Pooh's Hunny Hunt, which is so much more AWESOME here. While waiting, we saw some parade from the queue, which had different characters from the usual like simba and pooh and prince!beast. But this ride. Wow. Inside the queue, there were huge pages from the book. The ride itself was phenomenal. Tigger sang in Japanese, pretty awesome. I loved it.

We then passed Mom's favorite ride, its a small world, which looked huge. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to ride. Darn. The train music for Disneyland when the train leaves is also that horrid song.

Next to it was an alice in wonderland themed restaurant. It looked very nice, complete with Alice themed vending machines, but we had no time to sit and eat, because we rushed to Phillar Magic, which is new for Tokyo Disneyland. I've been on this ride several times, and I was unsure whether they would translate the songs or not. We were pleased to see that they did! It was really cool to hear the classics in Japanese.

Next was Haunted Mansion, which tomy recollection,was about the same. So was Space Mountain, which we had a fast pass for, except the hill up had lightning instead of shooting lights. We then got some fast pizza set (which included CREAM PUFFS) before heading to Pirates, which was slightly different? It was interesting.

Next, we went to a stitch rideshow, because he's Elizabeth's favorite. We needed special subtitle machines for it, so we felt very foreign, haha.

Next was the light parade, which was AWESOME. I must say, I missed my normal light parade music though. We then decided our best bet was to shop for the last hour or so. I easily took over 100 pictures.

Tomorrow is Disney Resort park 2: DisneySea!


Monday, March 19, 2012

A Day of Trains, Gundams, & Cat Buses: Odaiba, The Studio Ghibli Museum, & Tokyo Tower

A few things I have forgotten to mention:

When I first arrived and was trying to find the right train in Tokyo Station, I had a moment of utter horror because the train board was all Japanese...until I looked to the right and saw the English train board :-D

Yesterday, on the way home from karaoke, a very drunk man tossed his cookies in our train smelled like booze and hotdogs; we couldn't switch cars because we were in the front car, and were blocked by vomit. We didn't want to risk getting off to move. We were relieved when we had to transfer lines.

So today! We did a lot today. The weather this morning was b-e-a-utiful, which was perfect for a trip to the port area, Odaiba. I had several reasons for going to Odaiba; there were awesome views of Rainbow Bridge, the skyline, a wonderful ferris wheel, and a life-sized Gundam I had to take a few pictures of :-P The gundam area was under construction for a new shopping plaza, but I still got some sweet pictures.

Before I met Pat, I walked past some stores in Ueno Station. One particular store has some One Piece shirts I've been keeping an eye on. The Tokyo branch, however, had different ones. So i bought one :-) A delightful surprise was that it was 300 yen cheaper. In Tokyo. Weird, right? So I went and got the other shirt I wanted as well :-P

To get to Odaiba, we rode the Yurikamome, which is a train-like tram with huge windows-perfect for pictures of the skyline including Tokyo Tower and the new Sky Tree, which is the yet to be open tallest tower in the world. There was also a shopping center called Palette Town: not spelled the same, but still made me giggle.

We then headed towards Shimbashi to head towards Mitaka for he Ghibli Museum, when Pat spotted a curious thing from the window: a clock. "It's the Miyazaki clock!" He exclaimed as we passed, it was this huge special coo-coo clock made by the man from Studio Ghibli himself: Hayao Miyazaki. We got off the tram and sought it out (passing the Excelsior Cafe mind you) and it only chimed its performance at certain times. We had timed museum tickets, so we decided to come back at night. We then got some donburi for lunch, and headed to the Studio Ghibli Museum!

You can't take pictures inside the museum, for good reason-its so crowded, no one would ever leave! We watched a short original film special for the museum, and saw exhibits demonstrating how Ghibli films are drawn and made. There were also crazy staircases, indoor bridges, and a cat bus from one of the films. There was also the most crowded gift shop ever; you could literally not take a step forward. Aside from that, it was awesome.

We then trekked back to Shimbashi to watch the clock toll (waiting in the cafe, of course). It was very musical and cool, I recorded the whole thing. We then walked to Tokyo Tower and rode up to the first landing. We were going to pay to continue, but it was late and there was a 40 minute wait; we hadn't eaten yet. It was a nice clear night, ironically my phone took better pictures inside the tower. I am glad we went up!

We then found an "Italian" place and inhaled food before heading home. What's on tap for tomorrow? TOKYO DISNEYLAND!!!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Epic Stores: Harajuku, Shibuya, and Shinjuku

First. I wish I brought the stupid keyboard to type on.

Second. Here is exactly how to leave a comment. You don't have to sign into anything. Click the number of comments at the bottom of the entry. Then, type your message in the empty box. In the dropdown that asks to log in as whatever, select anonymous. I know you can do it readers. If I type it on a touch screen at 2 am, I'd like to know it's worth it.

Third. I also forgot that yesterday at Sensoji, we had a baked rice krispie with peanuts called okoshi. It was delicious!

Today! Less rainy, yay! It rained randomly instead of constantly. We began the day window shopping in Harajuku, which is this place where Japanese teens dress in crazy outfits on the weekend. We didn't see many, but there were a lot of people. This place was like, the place for preppy shopping. There was also a gaijin shop, that had obvious asian themed ware at expensive prices. It was amusing. We walked the stores, and amongst the expensive I managed to find the one thrifty VDO like shop. It had so many retro clothes- and yukata, which is a cotton kimono. I got me and a friend one :-)

We ate lunch in Yoyogi park, where w watched a police escorted animal testing protest go by (the broadcasting station was right there). I also saw someone breakdance while doing double dutch. Pretty awesome. On the street, we saw a parade for St. Patrick's day! It was cool, although it was odd they kept stopping the parade to let people cross the street. After visiting Meiji Shrine, we headed for Shibuya, which has HUGE buildings and shops and things.

It also has a famous crosswalk because its so huge. It is. I have pictures :-)

We also saw thw statue of Hachiko, who is a dog that followed his master to work everyday, and when he died, he waited for him at the station. Unfortunately, there were advertisements around it, but it was still nice to see. We stopped for pretty decent pizza at Sbarro, because Elizabeth works at one at home. (Decent=it had sauce, haha)

We then went to Shinjuku, which had more HUGE BUILDINGS. We went up the (free) Tokyo Metro Govt Office Observatory building 45 floors, to see a whole lot of fog. I tried to take some pictures, but indoors and fog...

It was still really nice. After a brief stop at McDs, (I swear we eat Japanese food) we went to karaoke! I have been there twice before, but it was not as fun as this. We sang many songs. Loudly, and on key. It was wonderful :-)

So, sleep. Yeah. More tomorrow!


Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Whole Lot of Rain: Day Two

Yaaaaay the forecast says its going to rain until Tuesday. Wonderful. The likelihood decreases starting Monday though. So it was a beautiful rainy day in the city.....

First, a friend from the hostel and I went to the Imperial Palace gardens, since we are unable to go in the palace itself. Rain and cold so it wasn't pretty, but it was historically awesome to see buildings from the 17th century!

Next, we met Pat and Elizabeth at Yasukuni Shrine, where I finally discovered how to get a shuuinchou, which is a special book that you get a special stamp and the name written in sumi-e at shrines and temples. I found about it by accident, and I am so glad I did! I love it. The shrine was also very beautiful, even in the rain.

After lunch at a ramen shop, we went to Sensoji Temple, which is lined with many tourist shops. They were a bit expensive, and there were umbrella people everywhere, so it was hard to find stuff, but I bought a few things :)

Then we set sight for Akihabara, which I was slightly disappointed in. We had no fantastic need for electronics, so we didn't go in many stores. Also, I've seen better anime stuff elsewhere, I was surprised. It was still nice to go to, and there was a Mister Donut! Excellent.

After more wandering, we ate dinner in Ueno-at Hard Rock Cafe! I had a real cheeseburger on a bun with french fries! It was soooo good!

I hope it stops raining.


Friday, March 16, 2012

I Have Never Felt More Foreign: Day One

So my hostel has the internet, and I brouht my tablet! I didn't bring the keyboard because its defective until I can go home and get it fixed (if i leave the two connected the batteries drain) so typing will be slow, and there will be no pictures until I return. But you still get these, which are fun.

So I'M IN TOKYO!! I took my test and got on a bus to the station! I got there so fast, I had an hour before my Shinkansen left, so I had a nice lunch and waited around and relaxed.

The Shinkansen is a lot quieter when there are not 500 gaijin on it. It was very cloudy, so I am prett sure I did not see Mt. Fuji. Its still cold so you cannot climb it yet; i am thinking when the family comes we can see it then. Anyway, I thought the shinkansen wasn't fast? haha. I have  new video. I also got a sneak peek at Nagoya and Yokohama, which i will go to later this week!

So trains near my school can get crowded, but not very often. I was FLOORED getting off at Tokyo station. So many people!!! I have never felt more foreign.

Once I got to the hostel though, it is better and more quiet. The woman who runs it is soooo nice! The place is ridiculously small, like woah small, but its cheap and safe and a happy environment.

Until tomorrow!


Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Spring Break of the Century: Itinerary

Ladies and Gentlemen, the time has come! Spring Break begins tomorrow! (PS If you didn't see, I added Ramen Museum pictures to the bottom of the previous entry)

Unfortunately, I still have to pack, and I have class tomorow, AND a huge test tomorrow. I love school -.-

BUT! Immediately after that test, I jump on a bus and head for Tokyo! I will have my tablet, but I don't know how often I'll get to anywhere with internet (not sure if my hostel has it or no), so I wanted to give you some indication of where I will be next week so you know I'm alive:

Tomorrow, Friday the 16th:
-Get to Tokyo (Crazy, I know)
-Find the hostel
-Happily, someone who has been studying abroad all year will be in Tokyo tomorrow! I hope to see her for dinner!

Saturday the 17th:
-Imperial Palace Gardens
-Yasukuni Shrine
-Sensoji Temple

Sunday the 18th:
-Meiji Shrine

Monday the 19th:
-Tokyo Tower, Sky Tree
-Ghibli Museum

Tuesday and Wednesday, 20th and 21st:

Thursday the 22nd:
-Yokohama Cosmo World
-Minato Mirai 21

Friday the 23rd:
-Nagoya Castle
-Atsuta Shrine
-Osu Kannon Temple

Doesn't it sound AWESOME?! Here we go!!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Jyouzu Kind of Day: The Instant Ramen Museum

Before I go into the magic of Sunday, I want to talk about some of the magic of yesterday.

First, fun fact! Japan is on military time; I know this, and my phone clock is set to it. No problem, right? Well I was looking at my night bus ticket home, and it said it arrived in Osaka at 12:44. Trains stop running around midnight, so I was wondering if I was going to have to book a hotel or something? So I went to the travel agency on campus yesterday, and she looked at me like I was crazy when I asked her how to get home. Why? Because 12:44 in Japan is in the afternoon. So I had to make a special trip to Kyobashi to change my bus ticket time so I can have more than 3 hours in Nagoya. I rode my bike to the station, despite my knee (which, by the way, I rode my bike today without it hurting for the first time today :p) so it would only be a 8 dollar oops instead of a 12ish dollar one. Boo.

BUT also yesterday, a friend in my Japanese class told me of a magical place down the street from my house. What is this place? A secondhand bookstore, namely, a secondhand manga store. Its also for video games and I'm pretty sure I saw some Pokemon cards too, but manga. Walls of it. Manga is organized by publisher in Japan, so I basically walked down all the aisles to find what I wanted, (found some other ones too ^^), and I couldn't find the series I want to buy. So I asked someone. And there it was! Each of the older ones were 100 yen. 100 yen! That's a bit more than a dollar!! I wanted to buy them all on the spot, but I was not sure which ones I needed. Now I do, and I'm ready to go buy the lot and look like an idiot gaijin! I wanted to ask the guy if there were One Piece manga too, but I had already asked him so many questions about other manga I figured I'd ask him when I came next time. You would think that would be an easy section to find, so I felt silly asking. Again.

At any rate, a happy occasion! When the manga isn't Kindaichi Case Files (the series I want which is a detailed mystery manga), and is just normal speech, I can read it. Mostly. So I got a few others :) But now, the whole thing should be about 25 dollars instead of 50! Good day.

SO anyway, Sunday. A few weeks ago I was pressganged by a nice Japanese girl in the lobby to sign up for a trip to the Cup Ramen Museum; I didn't have to go, it was just a sign up if we were interested. So I did, and when she facebooked me to ask if I wanted to go, I was free, so why not? I was expecting a huge group of gaijin (us; what we fondly call a Gaijin Smash: when suddenly there are more than 6 foreigners in one place, its a big to-do), but there were only three of us and six Japanese students. I was surprised!

I must explain: jyouzu (上手) means skilled. When us gaijin speak Japanese in everyday situations, we have what we call 'jyouzu days,' where we understand what is being said and can successfully reply and interact. Then there are those days where nothing is going right and you smile and nod. Luckily Japanese people are fantastically nice. Anyway, Sunday was sort of a forced jyouzu day. One of the six spoke okay, and the others were...out of practice. So it was an all Japanese day! Considering this never happens, I was very happy! It is good to practice, especially listening comprehension. My listening comprehension sucks, which is very bad.

The Instant Ramen Museum was this nice little museum about the origins of ramen; its main attraction was that you could design your own cup of ramen! We got to decorate the container, then we picked what foods we wanted in our cup (I think mines shrimp, naruto (which is a little fishcake typically found in ramen), cheese, and egg) and they shrink wrapped it for us! Strangest of all, I think to keep it safe, we put the ramen cup in a plastic bag and filled it with air. So I have a airlocked bag with ramen inside (don't worry, I have pictures).

Then we went to a nice lunch where I had omu rice (which is delicious, its basically an omelette with rice and ketchup inside that you can have other topics on it besides ketchup if you want), and "lasagna," which had zero resemblance to lasagna. I've told you about their generic cheese, and I think there were noodles? No sauce or ricotta or any of that nonsense. It looked more like potatoes au gratin. It was still delicious. I also spoke Japanese the entire time :) We also did purikura; I have a lot of pictures in my purse, haha.

I will post pictures later, I'm supposed to be doing my homework :)

EDIT: Here are some pictures!


Saturday, March 10, 2012


What my sister will read from this blog entry: Fishfishfishfish.


I went to Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan) today!! 8 floors of fish! Yay! It was really cool. But first I had to get friend told me at the subway I could get a special ticket that will work on all the subways and be your aquarium ticket; it didn't save a LOT but it saved enough. So I asked the ticket stand man if I could get one and he asked me 'When would I use it?' and I was like What? '....Now?' It was 5 at the time; the aquarium closed at 8. How long does it take to go through an aquarium? Haha. So I went to the station master, who AGAIN asked me if I wanted it for today, and I told him I was going there now, and he gave me this adorable little ticket :)

Then I walked the wrong way down the street for a while, until I saw the giant ferris wheel. Then I was like ....Oh. THAT WAY, and then I found it :) It was so cool! You got on a huge escalator to go to the top of the aquarium first, and you walk down as you go. That's a nice thing about Japan, in museums and things there is a specific route to follow. Very hard to get lost. And English maps. ^^

And I got to the bottom and there was a cute little gift shop. It was really fun! Pictures!! Then I walked through the mall towards the ferris wheel...

Let me explain. Japan is not one giant anime convention, BUT. There is one anime/manga called One Piece, and it is everywhere. I mean everywhere. It is very popular because its such a long series. Last semester, my friend made me start watching it. I have almost caught up. Subsequently, it is very hard to resist buying souvenirs when I see One Piece things.

SO Lo and behold, this mall had a little store of ALL ONE PIECE THINGS. I about fainted.

So I spent some money -.- But I bought some things for other people on my souvenir list in the aquarium, so it was okay :) Everything I buy, I would have zero chance of finding at home, soo....

And then I went on Tempozan Ferris Wheel, which at one point (8 years ago?) was the tallest ferris wheel in the world. Cool, right? Japan has a thing for ferris wheels, haha.

So I had a nice, tiring adventure. I wonder what's on tap for tomorrow? ;)


Kaiten-Zushi and Plum Blossoms!

I am determined to keep this blog up to date and organized before I leave for a week and automatically get a backlog over spring break, which is shaping up to me the most exciting, most thrilling, most expensive thing I've ever done. Before I tell you how this led me to plum blossoms, I will start with the sushi the day before.

Kaiten-zushi is a type of sushi restaurant where the sushi rolls around on little conveyor belts throughout the restaurant, and you pick up the ones you want as they roll by. You may also special order some and they come out in some special method; at this restaurant they were on a red 'special order' bowl. Each plate was a hundred yen, which is about a dollar something.

When we got there, we could NOT figure out how to open the stupid bubbles the sushi rolled around in. We couldn't lift the bubble, or take the whole bubble off the track, there was no button to push. So we asked the lady. We just had to lift the plate. -.- Later, when we were done eating, we found the helpful instructions behind the chopsticks that said how to open them. They also said dont pry open the bubble, lift the bubble, or press it. Faiiiiil :) Here are some pictures

(You can only be here so long before you start liking sushi)

So anyway, my epic spring break requires 1 Shinkansen, 1 hostel, and 2 night buses. (and I found out today, unless I want to spend 4 hours sitting in a train station, which I'm sure Mom would LOVE, another hotel)  In order to book one of the night buses, I had to travel to a farther train station. (It was funny because the travel agent said my Japanese was good and I definitely did not form a coherent sentence when I was there)

So I figured since I was already AT said train station, I should do something fun. So I headed over to Osaka Castle. I didn't have a lot of time, so I did not go IN the castle, but the plum blossoms (also known as Japanese apricots) are in season right now. In front of Osaka Castle, there is this HUGE area of plum blossoms!

Ta da!! I DID NOT HAVE MY CAMERA. -.- I did not intend to go anywhere picture worthy on my adventure to the bus station, so to take the pictures of the plum blossoms, I had naught but my cell phone. So excuse the funkyness of these pictures, I did my best lol.

What I really wish I could do was take a picture of the smell, it was so nice! It was very pretty too, although the day was cloudy. I had a nice time walking around the pretty flowers while being a stupid foreigner trying to take pictures of them with my phone.

Don't worry, when Hanami (spring flower viewing, SAKURAS!) comes, I will be ready with my camera in hand, and a trip to a temple every day. XD


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not Your Typical Day at the Theatre: Noh

Previously, we left me sleeping 3 hours before I had to wake up and go see a Noh play for my theatre class (I should probably make a blog post sometime about my classes ne?) which sounded like a cool, albeit tiring plan. I knew it was going to be a bit of a trial because Noh has many Zen influences, and its slow movements are a main aspect of the plays. Yes, I said plays because we saw three.

In a row.

The one in the middle was thankfully Kyogen, not Noh, which typically comes in the middle of Noh plays. Kyogen is comedy, and it was really funny, but I'm getting ahead here.

So I DO have pictures, but Elizabeth has the pictures of the performances we weren't supposed to take, so I will wait until I have access to them and post them all at once :)

This is a Noh stage:

There is a bridge the actors and musicians come in on, and the part with the pine tree in the background is the main stage where the "action" is. There is not that much action in a Noh play. The music is also nothing you would ever think of when you think of music either. There are 3 drummers and a flute, accomanied with Yoooooooooh! noises from the musicians to keep time and orchestrate in a way. (Julie: Do you remember our Pokemon Stadium game? The mini game where Lickitung ate all the sushi? The Yoh in the beginning of that game is the exact same thing lol)

Anyway, there are very few actors in a Noh play, and the main one wears an elaborate costume and a mask. Supposedly you are supposed to be able to convey expression based on how the actor tips his face/mask, and for the first play I could tell when he was sad actually (it was a tragedy). I enjoyed the first one, a biiit slow but it was easy to follow. It was about 3 people who were exiled, and 2 are pardoned and they have to leave one behind. The plays are in veeeerry old Japanese (like Canterbury Tales equivalent), but we follow along with scripts. It was very sad, but I enjoyed it.

I forgot to mention, the seats were VERY close together, so there was NO knee space. Now, short as I am, this is usually not an issue, but my knee wound is right on my knee, so whenever I bend my knee it hurts, and it was impossible to unbend my knee in these seats. I ended up torquing sideways and half unbending it by Elizabeth because there was no one sitting next to her. I couldn't switch seats with her because the play had already begun.

Anyway, the next performance was the Kyogen, which is a small comedy performed by a few actors, no masks, normal (ish) Japanese, no sadness. It was about a nephew who was pretending to be a demon in order to trick his aunt to give him her homemade sake. It was really fun; I enjoyed it.

And then there was the third play. We had already been watching plays for about two hours mind you. This next play by itself was two hours. It was this really Buddhist-themed play about a woman who is famous because she does a dance about a Mountain Witch, and said Mountain Witch meets her and was like you should sing for me! And she does and the Mountain Witch dances. Noh dances are basically walking around, stomping, and really cool hand movements. I usually like the demon dances, because they typically involve really cool weapon movements that remind me of my kata from karate. However, this play was just long and we had already been there two hours. There was also an "interlude" that was not in the script and it was 20 minutes and no one knew what was going on, they were just talking. Ugh.

But at the veeeeeeeerry end of the dance the Mountain Witch did some kind of flip stomp move that was really cool. That's about it. Haha.

So after four hours of theater-ing, we got to go to dinner, yay! I and about a handful of other students went to a very nice restaurant with our teacher and his wife and another teacher, where we had reeeeeeally good food. First, there was buckwheat tofu. The teachers had never even heard of it. It was sooooo good! I'll doubt I'll ever find it anywhere else again.

Then we had rice, very good shrimp tempura with soba noodles, and green tea mochi. Shrimp tempura is a kind of fried shrimp. Mochi is a dessert form of rice where a special kind of rice is beaten numerous times into  a mush. Sometimes the mochi is filled with things, like ice cream:

Mochi filled with something delicious is called daifuku. It is typically filled with a bean paste.

I have one of those ice cream mochis after dinner most of the time. My freezer is never without them :) So yes, we had a wonderful dinner! Also, the dinner was on tatami mats with cushions to kneel on. Kneeling is fine, we do it in karate all the time, but now when I lack a healthy knee. So no kneeling for me, lol. After a while, no one was kneeling except for one of the teachers, so it really was not a big deal.

And then I had to come home to study for two quizzes. -.-

But it was a very adventurous weekend!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Trains, Buses, Streetcars, Subways, & Boats: Fun Times in Hiroshima

So I've had a craaaaaazy weekend, so I will split it into two blog posts for ease's sake. I took a day trip to Hiroshima Saturday, which is a bit far for a day trip, but the next day I had to go see a Noh performance for school in the morning (next entry) so I had no choice in the adventures that follow.

Preface the entire adventure with the following:

1) I fell off my bike again (the first time was no big deal, it was raining and I had a hand on my hood and lost control on a hill; just a couple bruises) last week, and not only did I rip my jeans (my BLACK JEANS that I searched forever for -.-) but I have a nasty wound on the bendy part on my knee too. So walking/biking/moving is fun. Frequent bandage changes are important.

2) When I woke up at 6 in the morning to get to the station for the trip, I never changed my socks, so I wore my fuzzy pajama socks all around Hiroshima.

Obviously all of this spells fun. As I mentioned, we met the teacher at the station (there's a class who specifically goes on this trip, but everyone else is welcome to come along) so we could travel together to the Shinkansen. The Shinkansen is the bullet train that can go over 300mph. It really didn't look like it was going that fast, but we also kept stopping at other stations. I took video anyway, which you can see here. After the hour and a half ride (sounds long? Hiroshima is 6 hours away; that's how fast we were moving), we arrived in Hiroshima. We had to meet in the Peace Museum at a certain time to hear the speaker that was the point of the class & us going there, so Elizabeth and I decided to explore the Peace Park and the museum beforehand so we would have time to do everything we wanted before we had to leave that evening. Here's one picture of the Atom Bomb Dome:

Obviously there are more pictures here. They are not happy pictures, especially the ones from the Museum. It was pretty...intense; I was surprised at some of the things on display. One of the things that I thought was...different, was that in one of the rooms they had a display typical of museums with fake people, except said people were in burning rubble and ash with their skin melting off. I did not take a picture.

There were many powerful stories attached to each of the items on display. Another one I couldn't bring myself to take a picture of was a deformed tricycle and little hat. A little boy would ride his tricycle every day; he died on it. His father couldn't bear to part the two of them, so he buried the trike with whatever they could find of his son in the backyard until it was donated to the museum.

So I'm looking online trying to make sure I label my pictures correctly, and look what I find:

Yeah. It was a powerful experience, to say the least.

We just finished the museum before we went to meet the teacher to hear the speaker, who survived the bombing of Hiroshima. The teacher was a horrible translator, but with my own knowledge and his failed attempts I got the gist. She was a teenager working in a factory, and she saw light out the window and knew a bomb was coming. Her and a friend were pinned underneath some rubble when the building caught fire, and her friend was able to move so they could get out and run. Her father died a year later from complications, and her mother was in the hospital all the time. She worked the next ten years to support her siblings. She said  she was angry at Americans for a while, but then she realized it was war she really hated.

(That's another thing that bothered me, when he was translated he would not give us all the details. The info about the first ten years after the war I translated myself; the teacher only said "she said it was hell." He does this every semester too; you would think he would have at least practiced in advance.)

So with only a limited amount of time, we wanted to go to Miyajima and see Itsukushima Shrine, which is famous for this:

Gate in the water. :) Unfortunately, it was low tide so the rest of the Shrine did not have water, but it was still awesome. Many pictures were taken. Oh yes, on the way there, we ran into the teacher on the streetcar station stand, and he was like 'you're going to Miyajima? Don't take the train, take the streetcar! It takes 25 minutes!' TRY AN HOUR. ::sigh:: I suppose it probably still would have taken an hour to go back to the station and get a train, but still.

Either way, it was very pretty. Itsukushima Shrine also has the oldest Noh stage in the world, which I also have pictures of. What I don't have is something called goshuinchou, which I found out on the night bus on the way home is if you bring a special notebook to the shrine, they'll made a pretty stamp and drawing (sumi-e) of the name on it. I need to try this, and wish I knew BEFORE we went to Miyajima. Gr. Oh well, I live next to Kyoto and the cherry blossoms are coming ;)

We also ate delicious momiji, which is a specialty in the Hiroshima area. They are little maple leaf shaped cookie-cakes filled with various substances. I bought some custard filled ones! Unfortunately, good candy and food here expires quickly, so I cannot bring any home. I will think of you fondly when I eat them :)

For dinner back in Hiroshima, we had okonomiyaki, which is also famous in Hiroshima because it is cooked differently. Normally okonomiyaki is a bit of a cabbage-batter-meat pancake, but in Hiroshima each layer is made separately and deliciously. With noodles. However, I like the normal way the best, because when it is cooked separately then I have to eat straight-up cabbage. Not as delicious.

And what's a trip to a different city without a trip to Mister Donut!? Yum:)

After some confusion as to where the stop was, we then got ready to take the night bus home, which went from 11pm to 5am. It stopped for like an hour, which my housemate says was around bathrooms and food and stuff, but everyone was asleep. It was very nice, there were three seats in a row, each had a foot or so between each one. There was a lot of feet room, and they gave you a blanket. Even I fell asleep a little.

Which was good, because by the time I took the assorted subways and trains and got home, it was 7, and I needed to be up at 10 for the Noh theatre.....

I'll write that one next. Tune in next time! ;)


PS. The title is as thus because in Hiroshima I used the following transportation: Shinkansen, subway, streetcar, streetcar, ferry, ferry, streetcar, streetcar, streetcar, night bus, subway, train. Fun right? Who needs a car!