A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: - Rain

The End is Just The Beginning

Holes and gaps

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Yeah, yeah, I know what I said, but there are just some things that have happend that have been looked over, like 2 months in China, some weeks in Hawaii, and oh yeah, the past year! Well, I'm back at Chiu's now, exactly one year later, and well, here are some places where I am going to attempt to play a bit of catch tup:

The Forgotten Passage
2 peoples failed attempt at traveling and writing about it at the same time

Then theres always that Hidden Passage I was talking about... where did I put that? Oh well, and theres:

The Passage Down-Under
Life on the other side of the world, and upside-down to boot

I know the title could use a bit of work, but I think thats what they were going for when they started calling it "the land down-under," but in any case, The Southwest Passage is truly over, but my life as seen through the eyes of a Oneway Ticket, continues on.

Posted by - Rain 20:59 Comments (2)

The End

My journey into the West to discover the Far East ends with its final quest today

Today, I said goodbye to my favorite little grocery store, bought snacks for the plane, and my last breakfast red bean roll. I also got a wallet for 100 yen (a buck), and I still use it to this day, my favorite little wallet with a coin purse on the outside and the perfect size for the little zipper since my new purse. It also says "Synapse Japan, High sense creation, we would like to hand our goods to you. You must be satisfied with it!" And I am. At the airport after checking my luggage in, I waited to go through security to a wonderful show where they really wanted to get me into a Kimono. I told them no thanks, and I watched other poor tourists get roped into having their pictures taken with the musicians.

Really wonderful show, especially for an airport:

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It was fascinating watching them take appart their instruments as well. They literally take all the strings off, and have to put all the bridges away.

Then, I waited a little longer, and then it was time to get on my flight. Joe had contacted me from Sydney. He told his couchsurfing host Chiu that I was coming, so I already had a place set up. I don't know how excited I am about seeing Joe again right now, but in his emails he seemed insistant that I stay with him while I was in Sydney. My work visa for Australia still hasn't come through yet, so I was traveling there on my visitor visa, and would have to leave the country and come back once the work visa went through. So now the plan was to go to New Zealand first. While I waited in the airport I got on their internet and put through my application for a working holiday visa in New Zealand, and it was not only free, but they didn't even want me to get a health exam. Oh New Zealand, how I like you already.

And besides me buying about 3 tall cans of beer for the flight to Australia (I do better with my claustrophobia if I'm buzzed) as I tried to get rid of the rest of my Japanese change, and then having to finish all 3 before the flight! (I ended up giving one away and throwing out the other half of the second), thats about it for my story. I end this tale a bit dazed with Sappuro beer, but hey, is there really a better way? Now I leave the east, and I am very happy to start my life away from travels, with a job, and a bed of my own, and even bills. Oh how I can't wait to have to pay phone and electric bills!

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Posted by - Rain 20:14 Comments (2)

Wrapping things up

Its about time to call this mission

It turned out that my friend couldn't show me around Electric town because the Americans were already back to work because of the time difference, and so the Japanese sector of the business did not get a holiday for the 4th of July. Oh well, I was actually a bit relieved about this, since the social interaction sounded stressful more than enjoyable. I gave the place another chance, looking at it from a more realistic perspective, and I guess I had a bit of a better time, but it was still just not quite the same as a place to share with friends. The next day I walked around town and tried to figure out why it was all decorated, but failed to ever figure it out.

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That evening I went to another hostel bar as I still had a free drink pass. I talked to some cool people who were traveling as well, but the sneaking into their conversations felt difficult and intrusive. Once we got going I felt a little better, but still an outsider. Then I went walking at night for the first time, and I found all of these lights with red white and blue strips and stars on the lamp posts. It couldn't have possibly been for the 4th of July, but they were coincidentally strange.

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The next day, well, it was my last day in Japan! Tomorrow I leave for the land down under! Wow its taken me a really long time to say all of this! So I did only what I had to do, I said goodbye to the Asakusa temple by actually walking around all the gardens and temples in the main temple area. Of course I did some shopping too, I mean, come on, its my last day! First off I bought a new purse. It was time for the one I got for free in Hawaii after I was robbed to be turned in for a new one. It was tearing appart, and I was running out of safety pins to hold it together, and on top of that, the some dozen pins I was already using were boring bigger hols into the seams, so, it was a dying cause. I found this perfect purse, with a sipper on the back on the outside for a cell phone so you could keep it safe against you, and easy access, and I could hear it b/c its on the outside of the bag, and then it had a big flap that went over the main zipper (this is a green canvas messenger bag btw, if you didn't already guess my style) and a secret zipper inside for the wallet, and another zipper for smaller things, and even the flap had a zipper for storage! It said city of Tokyo in a funky type and I absolutely loved it! You can see it in almost any picture of me in Australia and New Zealand, and it is still my purse to this day. I love it. I also found these BFF type keychains. I never ended up getting Joe anything for his birthday, you know, with the whole him dumping me thing. But now I feel resolved about us. He is my soul mate, and will always be. He is the love of my life, and I hope to god I never fall into the clutches of a relationship with him again because of that fact. We are both different people, and our love for each other at this point is bassed on a reality that only exited in the past. Right now, he needs to grow up, go back to school, get a job, become independent, become successful, become someone I don't feel as if I have to take care of. I'm sure he has his requirements for me as well. Is there hope, maybe, but its in the future, down the line, after a lot of heeling has taken place. However, with that in mind, here was by birthday gift I would give to Joe. One of the key chains is of the yin, the dark energy power, with a silver tattoo like sketch of a tiger for the "white dot" portion of the yin yang. The other is yang, the light energy power, with a silver tattoo like sketch of a dragon where the "black dot" would normally go. These two keychains fit together to form the yin yang. The tiger, since it is silver with a black background, is obviously a white tiger, therefore Joe's keychain. The dragon is silver on white, so it is a much more subtle looking design, and what can I say, I'm flexible like that, and dragons are cool? I'm sure if you talk to Joe about it, he will have the philosophy all panned out.

Finally now, my last purchase, I swear, well, last one today, I have no promises for tomorrow, anyhow, I got new shoes! All the Japanese girls have them, and I feel like such a big dumb grunt in my hiking boots, so I got these awesome wedge heels that looks like Spartan spikes! To top it off, they were only $14! That was about half the price of the purse (oh sales, how I love the... I need to get out of traveling so I can stop being such a shopper).

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And now, to finish touring the temple grounds in style:

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Not sure what the sign says, but it was some sort of cute story about the temple and its shops.

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I thought that last picture was so cool and representative of the area, the old Japanese statue, perfectly framed by the new Japanese constructions.

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At first I thought these were candles, but with a closer look:

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You can see they are little "foxes" I think they look like kitties, but this is the fox temple, so all the statues are of foxes and all of these little figurines are supposedly of foxes as well.

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Here I thought the place was really cool, but I was mostly looking at this amazing woman. Here, lets see if you can spot her a bit closer:

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Okay, in case you are still puzzled about what I am talking about, this is the woman:

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With the gorgeous breeze playing the same in my hair as it was in hers, I could feel connected to this woman, hear her story playing in my head. I fell in love with this woman, and realized I could only keep up the guise of taking pictures of this statue infront of me for so long, so I continued on past her, and wished I had known her.

Then, continuing my creepy watching people, I have been seeing this man off and on at the food shops near the market just before the temples, and now I see what he has been up to:

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Not bad.

Here I finally get my sesame ice cream cone, and as I'm sitting down near the statues of buddha with all the red bibs, I see what Ciani told me to look for, maybe, possibly, bottles with a little marble inside! They were like 5 bucks and only had a sprite like drink inside, but you get 2 bucks back if you returned the bottle to them, so I went in the basket, and I got myself one. I was tempted to keep the bottle and send it to Ciani, but like I said, I was tired of paying loads for shipping, and I really wanted my 200 yen back.

So, here it is, saved forever in images:

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On my way back to the hostel just before I cross my bridge, I went to my favorite sushi train place, and I indulged by getting hot green tea as well, and you get the hot water from a little spout at every chair around the oval train track. Ahhh, Japan, how lovely today was. I will miss you.

Finally, the temple right near my hostel that I pass almost every day on my way to the bridge:

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Posted by - Rain 19:33 Comments (1)

Lolita

Every day, if I keep the talking to a minimum, I can get about an hours worth of small chat going! This is very exciting as last night night was meet the locals night at the bar under the hostel I was staying at in the beginning of the week. Since I was still technically staying at the same establishment, I got one free drink on the house to show up and be foreign. There is a cover charge to get in for the people not staying at the hostel as well, so basically the locals are paying for our first drink ^_^* The night started off with some sort of bingo game on the television. We all got cards, and they would display the numbers on their big screens and it was actually really fun. This German couple I sat with were doing really well, so thats how I started making small talk. "Sugoi!" I taught them (aren't I so multi cultural?) After bingo they brought snacks out on the tables to keep us all entertained and staying. Most of the locals I met were older men. One of them made friends with me on facebook, and for the longest time I couldn't remember when I met this beautiful girl, until she sent me a message, "Hey, remember me from last night? Me and my friend hung out with you and your blond friend." They really thought it was going to be a double date kind of a thing with me and my "blond" friend. Basically there is this latin woman (I say woman because she had to be the oldest person at the hostels, in her late 30's if not 40's), and she was a tramp. I'm just going to put it out there. At first I really didn't like her because she took up a lot of my alone time in the bed room being hungover. But, I couldn't complain, because she was a quiet hungover person. I would sleep, and she would sleep, and we would only leave the room for tea and going to the bathroom. She was gone every night, but then the next morning I would see her discheveledness on the bunk next to mine, and I knew she was okay. She dressed like she was out of the 80's, and probably because she was, but it was the fashion amongst the Japanese girls, so she looked the part. Big baggy sweaters that are short sleeved and hang off of both shoulders, tight running pants, extremely high heels, and short curly blond hair with almost black roots held back with a big headband. The Japanese boys were all abonds until her notoriety proceeded herself. But this night she was still a hot number, and she was out to be my protecter. She explained to everyone that I had been sick, so she would talk for me, and oh man the trouble I would get into with her if I hadn't only had my heart trampled all over the past month. I was single, and I was completely happy to not date. So what the fuck was I doing out at a bar? Desperately trying to make new friends! I left her to both the boys at one point, and started mingling with a group of fairly adult seeming people, and they seemed genuinely to want to just meet people from other countries. The main guy I started talking to lived in America for a few years in Arizona, so we had a great time dishing about how much we loved it. Then he asked if I had been to Electric Town, and I scrunched my face up. He agreed that I needed a guide, and it really was all it was cracked up to be! He promised to take me there and we would go to this restaurant where they hand cuff you, and lock you in a jail cell, and serve you your food through the bars. Or, if I didn't want something so intensely interactive, we could be the "jail guards" who eat at tables outside of the people in the cells. I told him it sounded interesting, but expensive, and I was really just looking to tour around. But he insisted, and said he would buy, and on top of that, did I want another drink? He started to turn around to the barman to ask for 2 of something, but I told him that I was really alright, and I was still working on my first drink... he noticed it was the same one I got for free like an hour ago, and seemed disappointed, but then I got him back on the topic of showing me around. "Well, you know its a public holiday Monday right?" I looked at him, "Ahh, I don't know much about Japanese holidays..." He laughed, "No, its an American holiday, July 5th" "Ummm, July 4th is an American holiday" "I know that, but the 5th is too, since my American counterparts have off on Monday." He looked at me, trying to figure it out, and so I explained to him that we believe that you should get the day off work for American holidays, so if the holiday lands on the weekend, you still get the closest weekday off. Yay, I'm helpful! Well, anyways, because of the time difference, he wasn't sure if he was going to get off or not, but if he did, he would email me about where to meet and he would take me out to Electric Town. Sure, why not, I wouldn't let him buy me drinks, the least I could do was let him show me around and buy me dinner... riiiight.

Today, however, was Lolita day!!! I remembered Mochan told us that once a week all the girls would dress up like French maids and parade around this one part of town to be discovered for TV. It is actually called "Lolita Square" in my guide book. We took Eelke to see it on an off day, so we didn't really get to see any girls, so I was real hopeful I would get to see a tun!

The train station where all the girls get off to go to the square:
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Yeah, I don't see any yet.
Okay, the bridge over the train tracks where there is actually the square where they are all supposed to gather:
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Ahah! There's one across the street!
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Yeah, she's not really good. They were better dressed in Electric Town, what gives?

There was a kid playing the guitar and harmonica singing J-Pop, and I thought he was pretty good.

But hey, maybe more Lolita's will pop up once I start walking around right?
When I went to climb down the steps from the overhead pedestrian walk, I saw one, and tried to get a quick shot:
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People weren't too happy with me because I was forcing them to funnel around me, so I hurried up down the stairs and I found another one, kinda, I think she might be selling flowers at the train station:
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I didn't find any more today
V. V,
but I did find a cool market that sold all sorts of really neat Japanese clothes, shoes, jewelry, snacks, it was like a shopping festival!

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I shopped around for a few hours, going into every shop, looking through all the neat stuff, and I even managed to buy myself 2 pairs of earrings! I have been looking for some nice sewing earrings exercise I saw this woman have them what is probably now years ago, but I haven't really been looking all that hard since I don't shop. But here in Japan I have been window shopping a lot, and they have them everywhere! This first one I found I liked because maybe it could be a rain drop? It is a white sparkly diamond in the shape of a diamond. I wanted some jewelry to take the name Rain back for myself (since the name is very linked to Joe because he is the only one whoever says it). I also wanted a sewing earring because I have this cool idea to take the one earring, and instead of wearing it like you are supposed to, wich is to pull it through one hole and let it dangle, I want to make it a short earring and sew it through all 3 of my holes! I know, I'm going to start a trend.

Here is what I am talking about:
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Cool right? Then as I kept shopping I found this awesome "Australian" shop called Kangaroo Country (Takeshita Dori, Harajuku), the Boomerang corporation. I remember all this because I still have the little bag they gave me the earrings in because it was so cute. It has little trees with kangaroos and koalas and peacocks and platypuses all on the border around the name. They had cool Jem and the hologram earrings and sewing earrings with a circular blue diamond at the end! Way more perfect, but oh well, this market was actually really cheap, so I didn't mind buying another pair of earrings. I have hardly bought myself anything this whole trip, so I figured, this is the country I really wanted to see, why not get some souvenirs? Also, the last red star earings I bought in Taiwan already broke and fell off my ears, so, I needed replacements. When I took the earings to the counter, all excited for the sale 2 for the price of one, the guy told me thats 2 earrings, not 2 pairs. Well fuck, now the price wasn't so cheap, so I decided to just get the one pair:

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I like that pair better, but for the next year (I kid you not, today is August 2nd, 2011 real date, and blog date is July 5th, 2010) I wear one white diamond in one ear, and one blue diamond in the other, both sewn all the way through all 3 holes.

After I made it to the other end of the shopping walk, I couldn't take the crowds anymore, so I made a circle around the block, went back to the train station, and crossed the street to the temple (they literally are everywhere there is open space here).

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Now, I'm not sure what this was for, but there was some sort of big celebration, and there were women all dressed up in real kamono's, and they had people escorting them along silk rug paths, and the munks were all chanting while putting up these prayers along the shrine. It was fascinating. I stayed here, watching all the professional photographers set up their lighting and the monks all preparing for some sort of ceremony.

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The gossip amongst the guijin (tourists, foreigners, white people) is that it is the temples really really old special you made it a very long time anniversary, so it is a very big deal. But all the fuss was kinda over since they all went inside to have a private ceremony, so I walked around the beautiful temple as everyone dispersed.

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Then, my patience paid off, as I was one of the few still around when they exited, and oh my gosh there were so many beautiful kimonos! And they were all being put into limousines and busses, and the people helping them walk would have to put their hands on their hair to help get them into the limos like cops do to criminals so they don't smash their heads into the side of the car. One woman's hair really really wasn't fitting, and they had to try turning her every which way to get her inside, and eventually they opened the sunroof and she had to sit poised under the opening because her headdress was too big for the car!

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Now the hubbub was really over, so I walked from the temple, through the gardens, and found a beautiful and extensive series of paths though a public park.

One of my favorite pictures:
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And another sign about the karasu's nesting! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
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Now I was starting to get back into a city area, so rather than risk attack and or getting lost in this place, I decided it was time to start figuring out where the hell I was. I walked through the park for a few hours, and didn't care about what turns I took because there were maps and people everywhere, they could help me find my way out easy, but the trick was finding my way to the train station through the city with no real decent map to speak of... Last resort I could always go back through the park, but I didn't want to backtrack, even though it was beautiful, I wanted to see new things, and so I attempted a walk through the city.

I got so friggin lost I can't explain it. Finally I found a subway station, and I ran to it. I was on the buttfuck other side of the city! Well, not of Tokyo, I can't walk that far, but the suburb i was in was like 8 tran stops away from where I started! I decided to change trains at a new location from before, and I got out and got lunch (they have food inside the train station so you have to actually have bought a ticket to eat at these train "malls" I don't know what else to call them. And here are just some of the stained glass windows at the escalators!

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And this one tells the story of the white rabbit going down to Wonderland:

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The place was just amazing. The food was per usual, wich in Japan means not bad at all ^_^*

Posted by - Rain 05:45 Comments (2)

Electric Town

So, I should leave Asakusa for a bit

After spending a few days just wondering around my part of Tokyo, getting to know the place, and finding out the only part I found truly interesting was the Temple (as it is what this part of the city is famous for, this was no surprise), and this awesome organic nature store just down the main road that my bridge is a continuation of, and that the temple is on. So anyways, being brave, I got out my little map, and decided that this week I would check off every interesting place on it. Luckily this was a picture book, so the map of Tokyo was only major train routs and attractions labeled in pictures, english, and numbers, leading you to small Japanese/ English explanations of the place. First stop, a place I've actually heard of from my anime friends, Electric Town. I still have no voice, but I no longer feel like I'm constantly tired or sleepy, so, Electric Town it is!

This is the exciting place where all the shops are like at an anime convention and all the eating establishments are themed with waitresses and waiters in costumes, and well, it sounds like just the thing to lift my spirits for a little fun right?

OMG where is this place? - cool statue though

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I'll know it when I see it has been the answer, so I wondered around for a bit, and then, I think I found it:

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Those girls get mad when they notice you taking pictures of them, so you have to be crafty about it. See this one:
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Thats her doing the usual, "NO PICTURES!" Except they say it in Japanese. I was tempted to tell them "Watashiwa, nihongo o hanashimasen deshita, sumimasen, demo, wakarimasen." (I don't speak Japanese, I'm sorry, but I don't understand you) Because I thought it would be hilarious... but I opened my mouth and remember nothing happens after that... she thought I was strange standing there, pretending to talk, so she left.

Cute backpack.
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Here there were a bunch or arcades, man the Japanese love video arcades! And gambeling was all intermixed with the kid stuff, so at one machine you pulled a lever and win or not win money, and then right next to it was the claw machine to try and pick up stuffed anime characters. I guess in the end, arcades are really just a kids gambling place, so mixing in some real gambling doesn't sound to strange. Why not?

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I was seriously contemplating going to see the movie flowers because I had seen so many previews for it, and it didn't seem like a movie where you would really have to know too much about the dialogue. Also, I think there are cinemas where you can get the movie subtitled in english, which it pretty cool, you just have to know where to go and how to ask for it...

Electric town was kinda boring when you don't read the language and you don't really speak it either, you are just kinda lost, wondering around, knowing that there should be a lot to see and do, but just being completely unaware of how to go about it. I needed a friend with me to show me around, but without a voice, making friends was really hard. I was fucking depressed, lets just go out and say it. I wanted nothing more than to make a bunch of world friends like the Wish Bus, and have us all run around looking at toys and going to anime bars and ordering fun drinks and well, just partying... but I am alone, and unable to make new friends, and feel a bit sick to top it off. So, browsing it was.

OMG anime pillows! Boys actually buy these in Japan to snuggle up to at night... GROSS! And there has been a documented case of a boy actually marrying one of these pillows legally! I don't know how true or stretched that rumor is, but, it gives you an idea of how these things have taken off. (And apparently the pillow wasn't all underwear like these, you buy cloths for them like dolls, and you clip them on the pillows! He fell in love with the anime character watching her on tv, then bought her pillow, dressed her in a white gowned, and then got legal documentation, she gets everything in the case of his death... or so the rumor goes... ps he probably doesn't have much.)

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Yeah, those are anime boob toys... and the shops just kept getting kinkier.

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I went around some of the shops and looked at mangas and action figures and cosplay costumes, but I felt like the stuff we had at our conventions was just better than most of this stuff, and it just wasn't concentrated the way I need it to be to keep my attention, and less creepy as sexual shit. I actually liked walking around the town outside of the main touristy bit better b/c it was so pretty with trees.

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Posted by - Rain 18:47 Comments (2)

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