A Travellerspoint blog

April 2011

Tokyo Kendo


Morning video:


From here we went in search of an internet cafe where Joe looked up Shelly's details again, and I looked up details on this supposed Dalai Lama visit, because none of the Nagano tourist information people seemed to know anything about it (very fishy). As it turns out that the Dalai Lama was coming to Nagano today, but he was only meeting with some 200 Buddhist priests at the Zenkoji Temple. Nagano was a city built around a temple, rather than a castle, so it was kinda important historically and spiritually. The temple invited the Dalai Lama to hold prayer at their temple, and then to give a lecture in the city. His public lecture was actually going on tomorrow afternoon at the Big Hat auditorium. So, technically, I had all day today to meet Shelly and her family, and maybe even get to see a real Kendo practice tonight as her husband is an instructor at her 2 little boy's school. We managed to get in contact with Shelly via skype, and she agreed to come and get us since we weren't too far away. So we waited for her, unfortunately, in this nice green area outside the train station (the one you can see from my videos crossing over the streets like the disney monorail); which was the designated smoking area. Here in Japan, they shun smokers, but at the same time as corralling them into designated areas, they make sure they are nicer than the surrounding areas, giving them feng shui for their relaxation with nicotine. Bitter? Who, me? Guess I'm not very empathetic.

Eventually she came on her bike (guess we really were close), and she walked us back through her inner city developments to her favorite donut shop. Here she absolutely refused to let me not get anything, and then to top it off, I couldn't pay for anything I got either.

Once we picked up breakfast for us and the boys, we began walking back to her place. She was astounded by all the stuff I carried, so she insisted we place our backpacks on her bike, and then she could wheel them back to her place. Luckily, she allowed me us to at least help steady and push the bike along. It was an absolutely gorgeous day outside, so it was unfortunate that we ended up spending most of it inside, but it was really nice getting to hang out in a Japanese house with her two little boys, and I think Shelly and I really hit it off with our gossiping about Japan, her sons, and her two nieces back living next to my mom; that we didn't even notice the time. After donuts and coffee (hot coffee, as Shelly made fun of her husban's like of iced coffee. In China and Taiwan it is every important to only drink hot drinks. This is good for your body and keeps you "looking young and beautiful." Shelly made a ta-daaa face while fraiming it with her open palms and batting her eyelashes... yeah, Shelly wasn't your average "Japanese housewife"); I got on the laptop to do a little planning for tomorrow, and then helped Shelly (for what I was allowed) to make lunch. Her two little boys, one about 9, the other about 5, were doing fairly well keeping themselves occupied, but the elder one wanted to pick up some more coloring books from the local store. Holding his little brothers hand and heading out the door, Shelly warned him to be back within the hour otherwise his lunch would be cold. I looked at her in shock, and she quickly eased my worry, telling me that in Japan, children are safe to travel on their own. The youngest boy was even upset that he wasn't allowed to ride on the train by himself yet, Shelly said maybe next year. I had noticed a lot of little children on the trains with us, but I always just assumed that someone put them on the train, and someone would be there to collect them off of it. But no, children in Japan learn to be self sufficient at a much earlier age than we do in the states, and since Japan is a much safer place, it is of no worry to the parents that they do so. And just like she said, the two little boys were back from the store, coloring books in hand, and nothing particularly interesting to report about their travels.


The older one could speak english, but the younger one was only just learning. The older one could also speak Taiwanese, which was very impressive. Shelly was Taiwanese, but her husband was Japanese, making the boys automatic Japanese citizens. If it had been the other way around, and Shelly was the Japanese side of the family, they would not. That is how strict the laws are in Japan about being a citizen. If the parent is female, then they are not Japanese, they are the father's nationality! This is why Japan is not an immigrant country by any means. She said it was even hard for her living in Japan because people used to be able to tell that she wasn't Japanese once she started to speak, but now she said that they cannot tell she is Taiwanese, so it makes things easier socially. But still, she was way too rebellious and feminist to get close to many of the other house wives, so I don't think that she will stay permanently in Japan. And quite frankly, I think she misses Taiwanese food (it was very good). But she promised to take us to an amazing restaurant tonight after kendo practice.

She said that bringing the boys up, it was always a question of what their nationality should be. The eldest was born in America, so he could pick to be American, but his mother is Taiwanese, so he could choose that, and his father is Japanese, so he could elect that too! But once he choses a nationality, in Japan at least, that is it. If he doesn't pick Japanese, then he can never be Japanese. He could apply for citizen ship in Taiwan or America as an immigrant, but not Japan. The younger one was born in Taiwan. And all of these conversations about life, politics, religion, societal rights, etc, we had while watching the Madonna episode of a show called Glee. I guess it is a show based in my home state of Ohio. I have only ever seen TV commercials for the show, and a few posters with the characters putting an L on their foreheads. It was distracting, no, not distracting... eye catching. It was eye catching, but it never forced you to actually pay attention, so we easily carried on making lunch and talking about the word as we knew it. As seen on the show, the high school cafeteria served edible things Shelly couldn't describe as food. She said this was one of the reasons she didn't want to raise her children in America, she wanted them to know what good food was like... and traveling to Taiwan and Japan, I almost had to agree. They have real real food in Taiwan and Japan. Every dish is absolutely a masterpiece. No tots.


When the father got home he got the boys ready for Kendo practice, and we all walked down the road to one of the best Kendo schools in all of Tokyo (which makes it one of the best Kendo schools in all of Japan, which then can be extended to being one of the best Kendo schools in all of the world... I was pretty excited). Joe recognized the name of the school, and its head Sense from a book he read at Corey and John's house they rented back in Hawaii called The 47th Samurai:

In The 47th Samurai,
Bob Lee Swagger and Philip Yano are bound together by a single moment at Iwo Jima, 1945, when their fathers, two brave fighters on opposite sides, met in the bloody and chaotic battle for the island. Only Earl Swagger survived.

More than sixty years later, Yano comes to America to honor the legacy of his heroic father by recovering the sword he used in the battle. His search has led him to Crazy Horse, Idaho, where Bob Lee, ex-marine and Vietnam veteran, has settled into a restless retirement and immediately pledges himself to Yano's quest.

Bob Lee finds the sword and delivers it to Yano in Tokyo. On inspection, they discover that it is not a standard WWII blade, but a legendary shin-shinto katana, an artifact of the nation. It is priceless but worth killing for. Suddenly Bob is at the center of a series of terrible crimes he barely understands but vows to avenge. And to do so, he throws himself into the world of the samurai, Tokyo's dark, criminal yakuza underworld, and the unwritten rules of Japanese culture.

Swagger's allies, hard-as-nails, American-born Susan Okada and the brave, cocaine-dealing tabloid journalist Nick Yamamoto, help him move through this strange, glittering, and ominous world from the shady bosses of the seamy Kabukicho district to officials in the highest echelons of the Japanese government, but in the end, he is on his own and will succeed only if he can learn that to survive samurai, you must become samurai.

As the plot races and the violence escalates, it becomes clear that a ruthless conspiracy is in place, and the only thing that can be taken for granted is that money, power, and sex can drive men of all nationalities to gruesome extremes. If Swagger hopes to stop them, he must be willing not only to die but also to kill.

When we got to class it was first only the small children, where the youngest child was still probably the youngest of the group.


See that little one in the blue shirt? Yeah, he isn't part of the class. He is a baby brother that kept picking up things and running at the class, chasing them like it was a sword, and sometimes, when he could lift one, it would be.


This kid was a menace, but so cute. The mom was also helped out by several of the other moms, including Shelly, by passing this little boy around to be held, because when he wasn't in someone's arms, he was charging the class.


One of the drills they did was so adorable, I couldn't help but laugh the whole time. To get their lungs in shape and to work on their endurance, they had to run back and forth between the two far walls of the room, screaming their battle cries at the tops of their lungs! The kids were having so much fun doing this, it was fantastic! Wild eyes, and uninterrupted sprints for about 5 minutes made it for one of my most memorable experiences in Japan.


Then it was the older kids class, of which both boys participated. Here, they got Kendo swords.


You see that little one on the right? That's Shelly's youngest. ^_^* So cute and deadly!

My favorite drill they did at the end of this class was the one on one challenge. They lined up in 2 lines facing each other, then the first two in line approached the middle ground holding out their Kendo sticks. Completing the proper bows, the jumped into an on guard position and began screaming at the top of their lungs! The one who screamed the loudest and the longest in one breath was the winner. Yes, many of the kids did turn red in the face with strain. The instructor was particularly proud of one of the little girls in the class for winning, and Shelly leaned into me to tell me that was his daughter.


Then it was the young adult class, and again, both boys participated. This class about a half dozen adults came to help with. One of them was this really proper sounding British lady. She seemed so off from the rest of the group who were all Japanese men. But there she was, probably about Joe's hight, but less than my weight, long blond hair, and perfect pale complexion, but once she fitted up in all the pads and Kendo helmet, it was hard to tell her apart. They had the children basically beating them in the head for about an hour! The kids got Kendo sticks, lined up against an adult, and then would charge at them, and the adult would bend over and give the kid a perfect target with their heads! This was good training for the kids to get to learn what it feels like to actually get a strike in, and its good practice for the adults to get some strikes against them, but keep focused and unfazed. Occasionally the adult would block their attacks (rather easily), and then give them a nice whack on the behind, but mostly they let the kids win.


After a break, all the adults came in for their class, and the 2 little boys lined up to drill with them as well! I guess it helps when your father is one of the top instructors of the school. They did, I kid you not, 1,000 high kicks to warm up for the night. I was counting with the instructor as he called out the numbers in Japanese. This part of the class was quite boring, so as they hit kyu-ju-kyu, I figured the next one would be 100, and then they could move on. Nope. Well then, when they passed yon hiyaku, I figured they would only do one hundred more, reaching a nice round 500 kicks. After passing 500, I stopped paying attention to the count. I was grateful when they hit 1,000 and I think the instructors voice was grateful too. For the rest of the class you could tell the British woman was only a beginner as she was only allowed to practice specific sparing drills with her opponents, but it was very interesting to get to see all of them rotating through the different instructors, sparing sometimes quite impressively one one advanced would get paired up with another. But always loud, between the screaming and the stick smashing, I was getting a bit of a head ache. I went out of the room and joined the mothers in the lobby. They were all very impressed that I stayed in there for that long. ^_^* But I loved it so much, and became very excited about joining a Kendo school when I reached Australia. Best of all, I figured out that it was the same sword fighting they used for the light saber duels in the original Star Wars movies! Its Kendo! I leaned over and very excitedly told Joe about my realization, but I guess he already knew all about it.

Grant it, its really bad Kendo, but hey, the movies were really good, which is more than you can say for the prequels that had great martial arts but terrible story line, dialogue, and acting. Especially watch when Obi-wan kinda slaps Darth Vader's sword in little circles with the tip of his light saber. This is a common move that Kendo fighters use, and the move that actually got me to realize that this fight was choreographed by Kendo people in the first place. Its a classic move from the movie, and I believe that they use it as both a method to disrupt the other's planned movements, get the other sword off line and out of balance, and just to plane mess with the other person.

After practice we headed for the restaurant and got a table with its own iron cooker in the center. Shelly ordered for us as her husband got the soccer game on his phone. The two little boys were so excited to watch the game over their dads shoulder while we talked to Shelly. Then when the food came out Shelly would take the raw meat and vegetables, stick them on the hot iron, cook them in seconds, then pass them onto our plates. Every set of plates that came out of the kitchen, I would ask what it was, and Shelly would always reply that she would tell me after I was done with my dinner. This was a well thought out plan that she learned from having her nieces over. Apparently, my favorite dish was cow tongue. Who knew? It was sliced into thin peaces a little thicker than pepperoni, so you couldn't tell from looking at it (ps, pepperoni probably has cow tongue in it). The next in line for favorite dish I had a tie between the stir fried vegetables and the cow tale. Again, it just looked like thick pepperoni, but these ones had a small bone in the center. I probably just grossed out my entire family. ^_^* This is a 3 smiley face blog!

After dinner Shelly showed me where the shower was and a towel I could use because she knew I had to head out early to catch the morning train out to Nagano to make sure I got one of the few standing room only tickets still available to see the Dalai Lama, and then she looked at me surprised as she saw me take up the bed she made up for us on the floor, and Joe took the couch. He told her it was because he had a bad back, we still weren't mentioning to anyone at this point that we were separated. Yes, we could have slept together because of last night and all, but neither of us wanted to. We got our extra day together, which was all we really wanted, and we were sated from last night, so yeah, I think things were really working out very well for the both of us.

PS Thank you to Brittany, for if it wasn't for her, none of these pictures would be here. We forgot the cameras back at Shelly's place, so I took these photos with my phone. For some reason I couldn't or didn't download these pictures off my phone, so they remained there all the way to New Zealand. In New Zealand, Joe used my phone as a watch, and when it was finally time for him to fly home to Canada, he only returned the phone, the charger and usb cable were gone. So with no power to the phone... my photos were trapped. Brittany agreed to take the phone and get the photos off at the Sprint store, or somehow use cables and adaptors they had back in the States.

Posted by - Rain 14:18 Comments (2)

Kidnapped to Ueda

That morning we headed out too early for the museum or castle to open, so we simply had to skip me seeing them because we had way too much planned. Today was Joe's last day with the JR pass, so we planned a full day of travel. First we would check out the port town on the way to Nagano as we switch trains, then to Nagano to see the 1998 Winter Olympic park ect (maybe even get to skate in the ice rink, but I doubted we would have time), then onto Tokyo where we hope to meet up with Shelly (my mom's neighbor Melody and Belia's sister in law) either tonight or tomorrow.


Yep, that is the city (kinda depressing). We walked around for a bit taking one last ditch effort try to find Joe one of those stupid cone hats made of hay. He decided he needed one this past week, and we really have been looking, but surprisingly haven't found a one. We have seen farmers wearing them though, so he decided that if we stopped in a small farming town that we may find some because they apparently aren't sold in touristy places. We didn't manage to find any wondering around the town, and I wasn't pushing too hard, but Joe caught the drift anyways that I thought we should move things along. We stopped in a bakery for some breakfast and Joe looked in the cabinet and pointed out all of these delicious treats for me to buy for myself that he would usually pester me for even thinking of purchasing. Of course Joe picked up a huge loaf of organic wholegrain bread for himself, and I sat there a long time contemplating if I should get a fruit waffle, but I had been conditioned for so long to not buy such things, I compromised and got a pumpkin bread (not just a slice, but the loaf).

Bordom of waiting for the train:

Back on the train Joe and I snacked on our breakfasts, but had to keep putting them away to stare out the windows because the mountains the slow trains took us through were just so magnificent. I couldn't actually get any real nice pictures of them, and I kept thinking we would get closer, so I kept saving batteries and memory by not taking awesome shots! So you'll just have to take my word for it, these mountains were really wonderful.


Really creepy train station:

Hitting Nagano, we were told at the information desk that none of the Olympic buildings were open since it was summertime, but during the winter you could buy expensive tours to go through the buildings. Other than that, they aren't accessible. They said that they used to have public ice skating at the M-Wave, but the rink was just too big for the amount of people it would draw in after the Olympic fervor subsided.


But, seeing as we were already here, we decided we would go forth to see the outside of the buildings anyways... but then there was this man. He was looking at us looking at the map, but not in a creepy way, in a "can I look at the map too so I can point things out" way. I acknowledged him. "Konichiwa" "Ahhhh, konichiwa! Sugoi! Nihongo o hanashimasu ka?" I told him that I spoke a little Japanese, and then he proceeded to speak to us in decent English. He said his name was Miko, and he loved showing people Japan, so he tries to take people around whenever he has time. He asked us if we were here to see the dalai lama. "Eee-eh" I shook my head. Miko said that he was coming to Nagano tomorrow to give a speech and that it was a very big deal since his banishment from Tibet by the Chinese government. He told us that Obama is a great man, and that he had lunch with the dalai lama against China's wishes, and that he wished Japan's prime minister would be so great. The Japanese government has not acknowledged his presence in Japan, but are allowing him to hold several auditorium lectures throughout Japan. He said that it was being held tomorrow at the Big Hat arena where they held the ice hockey events for the 98 olympics. Unfortunately, Joe couldn't go unless we wanted to drop a lot of money to get him a ticket back to Tokyo tomorrow, which he didn't want to see the dalai lama that much. But I told Miko that I would think about coming back tomorrow myself to see him.

Miko told us that if we had an hour or so today, that he has a few hours before his next appointment (I believe he was some sort of an architect), that we should come with him to the next town over, Ueda, and see that city, because it was loads better than Nagano as a lot of alleys in the town are unchanged from the time of Edo. He said he would take us on a tour of his hometown, show us the castle grounds, and take us to the sake-factory all before lunch time. I looked at Joe, and he looked at me, and in our faces we couldn't agree more that this sounded like the best idea since hanging out with Adam and Shinobu in Toyooka. So we went back to the ticket desk, and got a ticket to Ueda, just 10 minutes on the shinkansen, and then a ticket back to Nagano for 2 hours later. If we ended up only taking an hour, then we could always hop on the bullet train early, but this way we gave ourselves plenty of time and an assured seat, because today was unfortunately the day that started the weekend of elderly getting tickets for half price on the trains... so they were packed!

Exiting the Ueda train station Miko insisted that we pick up a couple of umbrellas that were sitting in a bin outside the station after we bought our lockers for all of our things. I told him it wasn't necessary, but then he forced his umbrella on me, and he then picked up another umbrella for himself. I felt bad because his umbrella was so much nicer that the one in the bin, but there was nothing I could do to trade him back. He insisted that Joe and I should use the larger one so we could share, and then we wouldn't feel so bad about talking someone else's umbrella, even though that is what you do in Japan, especially if you planned to go back to that location and return it. (Strange customs)

First, a detour into a historic building from the turn of the century (you don't think things that old are impressive when you are in a country with a history as long as theirs, but with a bit of perspective, its pretty old). They sell homemade jam here, and allow you to taste all sorts of weird flavors. Really expensive stuff, but cool to look through.


Then we headed off to the castle, and Joe continued grilling Miko about his hometown, and his experiences.


The castle:


Here is something they built to store and age sake (if I remember/ understood properly):


Shrine to the warriors who defeated many in battle for the castle even when they were outnumbered, the 6 coins are a symbol of Ueda warrior luck:


In the distance there is something that appears to be a Christian church... well, it is made to look like a Christian church, but you will find no crusifixes on the walls. It is a wedding chapel for brides (who are the majority) who want a western looking wedding without the religious connotations. They want the big white gowned, the church pews before a pulpit, and they will even go so far as to have a man dress like a catholic priest preform the ceremony. Apparently there is also a lot of money that goes into having someone who can speak perfect english preform the ceremony, even if the bride and groom don't understand a word of it.


Now, to the sake factory!


Inside the sake shop they had a doll collection and a wooden log carved out with little owls inside:


The woman who owned the shop was apparently very happy to see Miko and his foreign guests again, so she threatened to not let us leave until she made us all tea and lunch. We attempted to get out as soon as possible so as to not overstay our welcome, but we couldn't leave without at least having a cup of hot sake (so cute). Miko, having a very western way about him from his work, also found it hard accepting the woman's hospitality, but eventually took a cup of sake after Joe and I took ours. Then, as promised, he led us back to the train station just about an hour into our stay in Ueda. He tried giving us his umbrella as we left, but we managed to run away before he could, waving and thanking him all the way.

We managed to catch another train back to Nagano only 15 minutes after we were to catch the first one, and then we purchased bus tickets out to the M-Wave building where the ice rink was located for the Nagano Winter Olympics.

Joe trying to curb my disappointment:

As you might have been able to notice by my lack of sound of any kind... it didn't work.


The area leading into the M-Wave part of town reminded me of west Cleveland... rundown, old, dirty, spread out, and giving you the feeling that you could be jumped at any moment. Really a strange feeling town for Japan. I would have to say it was the worst city I have been to since northeastern China... no offense Jinan, your city was still better : )

Coming back into the train station, we went literally over the tracks, and then appeared back in a city that looked like Japan. Many close together shops, bright colors, tall buildings all packed into one another, many people on the streets, a place you feel it is almost impossible to be lost or forgotten about. We started out by asking people where we could find a nigiri sushi place, walked down a street for about a half block, entered a very fancy restaurant, and then were directed to the second half of the restaurant upstairs that had the sushi trains (Joe explained that we were looking for the sushi trains with sound effects and visual hand motions... I think she could tell what we were after just by the way we were dressed). After that we hit up the Baskin Robbins (very popular in Japan), and spent 10 minutes deciding on what cone to share. I ended up giving him some cash, then waiting for him outside. I felt my presence may make him hesitate and look to me for advice. I just wanted ice cream, and I wanted it quickly and efficiently, no mucking about. Once we were done with that, Joe checked on me to make sure I was okay, and I did actually feel a lot better. Yay for ice cream! So with that, we concluded our time in Nagano, and headed back into the train station to pick up Joe's last JR pass ticket. We were on the train to Tokyo within the hour.

In Tokyo we couldn't get a hold of Shelly on the pay phone, so we decided to try and get an internet cafe to see if we could reach her on skype or by email, but we had no luck finding one. It was getting dark by this time, and I was really tired, and there was this love hotel. Apparently, before we left Japan, we had to stay in one of these. Adam said that they were great, and that it was a real Japanese experience. The price was about the same we would pay for a hostel, so we went for it. Our love hotel was New York themed, and you got to look at a photo board with all sorts of different styled rooms lit up if they were free, dark if they were taken.

(Thats the statue of liberty on top)

We picked the cheapest one:


Mirror above the bed:

Our balcony:

And here, sleeping in our 1920's style New York apartment, with condoms and love making help supplies, Joe and I laid. He was upset that I would be leaving tomorrow already, hoping to spend one more day with me hanging out with Shelly and her kids, and I told him that he would just have to be disappointed, because that wasn't enough to keep me in town one more day. The tension of our last night together was astounding. An hour passed, neither one of us moved a mussel, but I could tell Joe wasn't asleep because he wasn't making any noise with his breathing either. I waited... oh hell I wanted something to happen, I just didn't want to do anything about it. What a waste of a love hotel... I turned my back to Joe on my side. Nothing was happening, and I was just going to have to pretend, once again, that he is not sleeping right there, probably my last chance in a long time to get any. I know, it sounds so very crude... and both our mothers read this blog... maybe this is where I loose a lot of readers from... I don't care. It is crude, but it is how I felt, and what was happening, and I feel like writing about it, regardless of who does or doesn't want to read about it. It was crude to think about it, but sometimes people who aren't crude have such thoughts, and denying that you have them only makes you less of a person, not more. I would like to be a person who embraces all qualities of myself, good or bad, and this one, as long as Joe felt the same, I was ready to embrace all night. A nose appeared between my shoulder blades, nuzzling into my back. He whispered V to me, and I lost my nerve. Thankfully (or so I thought at the time), he did not give up at my stiff cold shoulder. We cried to each other as we explained what happened to us. We held one another so tightly, as if by crying so close together we could wash away our physical problems, just for one night. Slowly, tentatively, cautiously, this lead to us having sex that night, as best as we could, touching in that way for the first time since Taiwan. Neither of us could bring ourselves to kiss, however. That would be crossing a line, one that you could see was too far as we looked into each other's eyes, wondering what we were doing, and contemplating weather or not we cared. As we continued as if virginally moving forward, the answer was no, all we cared about was saying goodbye in this way for the last time, and knowing that it didn't mean anything other than we were probably still attracted to each other, physically if nothing else. This gave us peace somehow, and we fell asleep holding the other in a gentle embrace for the last time.

Sneak preview of the next morning:

We seem to have fairly uplifted spirits.

Posted by - Rain 15:54 Comments (2)

5 Times

How often do you just miss crossing paths?

This morning we woke up and Creighton gave us some ideas of where we should to today (one of them being back to Kyoto, saying that everyone does that trip from Kanazawa). Yeah, so we should have known this, but Joe was determined that he really wanted to spend some quality time in Kyoto. He also decided, without discussing it with me at all, that today we should take separate trips. To tell you the truth, this really hurt my feelings, because here I was, feeling like this kid really needs to make shit up to me, and there he goes, saying that he needs some space. That should have been my line... why didn't I come up with it first? This has been a really long time coming, and if we had only realized this possibility sooner, then maybe we wouldn't be the broken shards of the people we were a year ago. What the fuck man, I was really hoping this trip would force me to grow, to find some sort of spiritual awakening, realize our love though strife and challenge. Yeah, so... never believe those stories you hear with the uplifting music playing in the background of the movie trailers, because they are just the success stories. Now I wonder how many untold travel failure stories there are in the world. Well, I seem to be determined to write mine, so, maybe that can be my gimmick.
"Come, read my travel story, and feel better at the end of it that you never uprooted yourself like me, instead of feeling worse about yourself for never having the guts."
I like it. Its... inspirational.
"Stay who you are, and where you are, its safer, and its costs less."

Anyways, so today we head out to Kyoto, and plan to meet back up to train back to Kanazawa at 2pm, giving us plenty of time in Kyoto for Joe to see the historic part of the city he missed with Mochan b/c he wondered off with David and Eelka, and for me to see the famous rock garden we didn't to to with Mochan because we went to see the Golden Temple instead. I told Joe that if all else failed, and we didn't meet back up to go to Kanazawa, that I would meet him in the Samurai village in the evening. The old Samurai village was only a small development, so we could easily wonder around there, enjoying the place without having to wait around, and we would still find each other.

Joe gave me the camera, since I liked taking stills more, and he took the video camera. And since Joe loves talking long, tediously long, videos, I couldn't upload them to youtube, so if you want to see Joe's day in Kyoto, you'll have to have him show you it on DVD. Basically, from what I was told, he never ended up finding the historic geisha town, but he did find a tour guide through a samurai home who was taking Japanese people through the place, and would let Joe come along, and occasionally cater to Joe so he could try and understand what was going on. He stayed there for most of the few hours we stayed in Kyoto from what I recall, just wondering around that area, so close to the geisha town, only a few streets away. Then he grabbed some sushi before meeting me for the train.


My trip:


It starts with me getting lost, seeing a big land mark, getting off the bus, and then making shit up from there. So, here is a really big temple, clearly marked on the map, and a large tourist attraction (making the map in and around it better than most other places).


Those people were singing and having some sort of a ceremony in front of the temple. I wasn't the only one to take pictures of them though, so were all the Japanese school kids who were on field trip to the temple (and there were a lot of them).


Then, occasionally asking for directions, I finally found the street the Golden Temple was on, and this is the same street as the famous Japanese Rock Garden temple as well.


Gardens on the temple premises:


Inside the temple (you didn't have to pay to see the temple gardens, but now you have to pay to go inside, where the rock garden is enclosed behind a large fence).


To be honest, after being to the Japanese Gardens in San Francisco, I was real disappointed in this one. I know, heavy sigh, I'm sure I'm just missing how this one is so much better because of its simplicity... damn I'm western.


And, it was time to run, so I waited forever for the bus across the street after buying some water at the vending machine on the road (they are everywhere). It was really hot today, and I was sure I was dehydrated a bit, so I got one more bottle, and then the bus came. After getting on the bus, I realized it was going the wrong way! Yes, it is a little confusing, even when watching traffic drive by. You just let your mind shut off, and you walk to the side of the road you always would walk to pick up the bus going "that" way. But in Japan, they drive on the British side of the road... so I waited all that time, watching busses going in the other direction, when that was the ones I wanted to catch! I looked at the map, and the bus terminal where they should turn around and head back the way I wanted to go, wasn't all that far, and I figured I could stay on this air conditioned bus, or get off it here, cross the street, and then pick it up again, paying the exact same driver money all over again. I decided to save the money, and spend the same amount of time touring around the city. This plan would have worked, except that driver was off duty when we reached the bus station, and I had to sit there and wait for the new driver to come, then pay him all over again, and I waisted about an hour with this little endeavor. Now I was really going to have to run it to get to the train station on time, and I really wanted to at least see the Kyoto castle on my way to the station, but now it looked like I wouldn't have time.

When I finally got back downtown, I rushed over to the train station, looked at my watch, and realized I had missed the train. Not only that, but I had missed it by an hour! I thought Joe and I were meeting at 3 for some reason, but we were meeting at 2... so not only did I miss the 3 o'clock train, but Joe had already gotten on the 2 o'clock train... yeah, I know. I'm allowed to fuck up every now and again too you know. Its not a one person privilege.

Number One:

I was late coming back from my trip, and I had to catch the next train in half an hour. Joe thought I may have been waiting for him on the train, not at the ticket booth, so he got on the train without me. This, after the fiasco at Takachiho, where we agreed that he and I were both old enough to take care of ourselves, and we should always assume that the other will make it to the buss or train on time if we split up. If we had done this at Takachiho, we wouldn't have missed the buss, and I wouldn't have gotten my awesome haircut... yeah, I can spin this however I want, being the author and all.

Train ride back to Kanazawa:


2. Joe left a message with the travel information desk for me saying he would meet me outside the castle, and if I didn't get there in time, then he would meet me at the restaurant for dinner that Creighton suggested we go because the food was great and it had the Japanese drummer who would play every time someone entered or exited.

3. I assumed Joe would see that I missed the train, find out when the next one came in, and then meet me then. So I waited at the train station for him, and I was really hungry, so I got some lunch while I waited. After lunch I realized Joe wasn't coming here, so I went to the information desk to see what was still open in Kanazawa that I could go see on my own. Joe's girl got off at 4pm, I came to the desk about 10 minutes after that.

4. I tried to get to the castle before it closed at 5, but didn't make it, so I just passed by it and headed for the art museum up the road. Joe waited at the castle until 6pm, when the last visitors were exiting the castle before they closed it up. He thought I may have gone on the tour. I must have passed right across from him, as the exit to the castle faces the road I was on the other side of, hoping to catch the smell of the garden which was just behind me in this picture:


(Joe is actually in those pictures somewhere too.)

The art museum was closed by the time I got there, which was so depressing because it was internationally recognized as being one of the best modern art museums in the world! Joe went to it while he knew I would still be in transit from Kyoto, and he said I would have really liked it (and thats saying something because I hate modern art). He told me about this one room where it looks like you are looking up into something Escher like, and its all sorts of these triangles and skylights that are somehow not 3D at all, but a fish tank, I don't know, its messed up, and something he would have to explain. Then there was a room (behind glass) that moved with the impressions of people, but no people, so you could see foot prints like someone had just walked along a squishy floor, but it was all automated. Then you could see the impressions of bodies moving around on the bed, and all sorts of things. That one sounded really neat. And the absolute worst thing of all!!! It was free. ; _ ;

Here is Joe fucking around with the outside exhibits:

Since the museum was closed, I went to the only place I could, the Samurai village, for the one last ditch effort to meet up with Joe, now getting worried that he din't have Creighton's address or directions written down like I told him to do in case we didn't find each other. Apparently, he was trying to prove that he could be relied upon, so taking an extra set of directions would be admitting to his future inevitable fail. Life not going the way you planned, however, is not something uniquely characteristic of only one person in this whole world. I know, its crazy to think that I could ever screw up something like this, but hey, it could happen, however unlikely. So... I headed for the Samurai village.

First Jesus I've seen in Japan:

Modern Art across the street from the large intersection near the Louis Vuitton building:

Art in front of Louis Vuitton:

Leaving the main shopping district downtown, to the really creepy old houses that Samurai used to live in:

I wondered around the Samurai village for a bit, but it was creepy b/c it was literally abandoned narrow streets w/o lighting. So, I left after about 20 minutes, really just giving up on meeting Joe.

5. Joe waited for me at the restaurant until very late. I actually passed the restaurant on my way back downtown as it was on the way from the Samurai village, but I didn't want to go in just to look for someone and have the drummer play my entrance song and exit song right on top of one another. So I went to the bus stop just down the street from the restaurant, and apparently 30 minutes before, Joe used the exact same bus stop.

I took pictures of the restaurant:

I popped into a convenient store and picked up a yellow rice triangle with salmon, and a boxed salad with chop sticks for dinner. I ate those at the bus stop while I waited quite a while for the right number to show. Here I had a lot of people confirm for me that I was going in the right direction, just in case.

When I got back to the street with the gas station, I was very worried. I almost got lost on my way back, and I had the written directions. But then in the parking lot across the road from Creighton's I heard someone stomping around. Was I hallucinating? Did I actually miss Joe so much that I was starting to hear him doing his ridiculous kung fu stomping everywhere I went? Then I saw the hoodie... it was Joe. Here we proceeded to explain to each other what had happened all day, realizing that we were practically running into one another left and right, but always just missing.


PS How many hipster glasses does Creighton own?


5, including the pair he had on...
Yeah, it was, and I only figured this out right now as I was looking at which photos to put into the blog.

Posted by - Rain 16:14 Comments (3)


bore into my soul, and then ream me out for caring

But first, the oblivious start of the day:

Good morning out our bedroom window to Takayama!


Good morning breakfast nook! "Ohio Goziimasu, asa gohan!"


Good morning bike rack!


Good morning temple!


Good morning giant bell!


Good morning Joe!


Good morning front pathways!


Good morning backyard grave...yard!


Good morning temple shrine!


Good morning Vanessa!


Good morning top of the hill shrine!


Good morning Bagua!


After wandering around our own temple grounds for a bit, we finally moseyed over to the next temple over, crossing through their graveyards, then passing into the front where we were probably more welcome. There were a few older people praying at one of the graves, but that was about it all morning. Very quiet, very peaceful, very secluded. Our own little secret Japan.


These pictures we spent quite a bit of time taking for my mom. Joe was quite intent on making sure Georgi had good "Monet's Japanese Bridge" pictures. Apparently, we haven't done enough for her, and this would somehow make up for it...


Then it was on to visiting every temple along this walk (there were quite a few), reading their temple history, and then moving onto the next.


As we continued walking down the paths, we came back and forth from the topic of my mother. I haven't spoken to her since Hiroshima, since she couldn't bare to hear the sound of my voice. That was the last contact I had with my mother, and I could feel her slipping away from me. She always liked Joe from the start, one of the few people in my life who immediately liked him. It took our first fights for some dislike to settle in, but that dislike was only due to my dislike. This was opposite some of my high school friends, who's dislike came naturally, and like came from my like. Joe grows on people, just like he grew on me. But my mom liked him before she met him. Said she liked what he had done for my personality. He made me a warmer person, more considerate, more inclined to hug (I think that was the real kicker). And now, I was worse than I had ever been. Was it because of Joe and my separation? Am I a corse, cold, horrible person without him? I let these feelings be known to Joe, and do you know what he told me? Yes, yes I was. I was heading down a dark path, and he can no longer be there for me to bring me back out of it. He worries for me because of this, but he can no longer bare to confront my terrors. I started to cry, and needed to do so alone, so I went ahead, allowing him to take the myriad of temples in at his much slower pace. As I walked, I looked at my phone. Fuck it! I pulled open the flip and hit 3 [send] and it dialed my mother (1 is my vioce mail, and 2 was kung fu... I just got so used to the speed dials I never changed them after I quit, so my mom was still only #3; yeah, she thought it was a misplacement of priorities too. Hey, Joe was #7, and believe me, I've heard all about that too).

Hi mom.
Whats wrong?
Vanessa, why are you crying?

(At this point my mom has her angry voice on. She always gets mad when something is wrong and we aren't telling her about it. Its kinda alarming actually, to hear someone get all stern on you when you are trying to open up to them. But at the same time it gets you to move your ass along with the conversation.)
Mom, I'm sorry I've been so horrible...
No, you haven't been,
Yes I have! And I know you are just saying that now because your just happy to hear from me!
Yeah, so?!

(Thats so my mom)
So that doesn't make it okay! That just means you forgave me before I even could say I was sorry!
Well, Vanessa, thats because if I always waited to forgive you until you said you were sorry,
Yeah mom, thanks, I'm really feeling like getting told how I never say I'm sorry while I'm trying to apologize!

(We argue about pretty much everything, surprising how we seem to manage it though.)
At this point I went into a whole thing about Joe breaking up with me,
He did what?!
MOM! Let me finish!

And I explained everything that led up to me getting all pissed with her about the money transfer getting all mucked up, and then I lost it when she didn't want to see me!
What are you talking about?
(Here folks, is where the shit hits the proverbial fan.)
Remember mom, when Joe was talking to you and he had the head phones on, so I only got his side of the conversation, and I was on the sofa behind the computer, and then I started talking to you, and it was frustrating b/c I couldn't hear what you were saying, and then when I finally got the headphones you were all defensive and said that you had been sick all day worried about telling me this because of how I would react, and then Joe took the headphones back and said that he would handle it, and I went to get them back from him, and he wouldn't let me have them. I brought up how it was my computer and my head phones and my mother and he didn't have the right to keep any of them from me, and he said that you told him that you didn't want to see me!
Vanessa, none of this is true!

(of course I knew most of it was true, but I understood her upset mother talk enough to know she was referring to that last part)
Vanessa, I wanted to talk to you but Joe wouldn't let me!
Then she continued to tell me the story from her point of view, and how she thought that I was so angry with her that I didn't want to see her any more, and thats why she was hysterical, and that was what Joe was calming her down about. Not that I upset her so much, but that she was so upset that I couldn't bare to look at her! I honestly didn't want to live anymore that night. I remember thinking, if Joe didn't want to be with me anymore, and my own mother couldn't stand the sight of me, and most of my friends from back home can't be bothered to even email me, let alone check out my blog from time to time, to top it off I haven't spoken to my father in ages, and my sisters are all off doing their own things... I remember thinking that if I didn't wake up the next morning... I wouldn't mind.

All of this, I have been caring with me for the past week, and even today, when Joe and I brought up what happened, even then, he didn't come clean with me about what had actually happened! I told my mom that I loved her, and that I would talk with her again later, but that I really couldn't think of anything to say to her, and right then I needed to find Joe and have him explain himself.

Why did you tell me my mom didn't want to speak with me?
Because you were upsetting her.
Okay, but why did you lie to me?
I didn't lie to you, she was upset, and I could tell that the more you talked to her, the more upset she got.
But she never told you she didn't want to speak to me!
Thats not true.
I just got off the phone with her Joe! She told me herself!
Yeah, okay, but that doesn't mean that isn't how she felt!
What gave you the right to tell me that!
Look, V, whatever.
No! Don't whatever me! This is important! You have been letting me think that my own mother thinks I'm a monster all week!
You are a monster!
Not in her eyes!
Yeah, because she is you mother!
Exactly! How do you think I feel, knowing that I was being horrible, and on top of that, thinking that the one person in the world who should always be on my side thinks the very same thing! Thinks the absolute worst of me! How could you do that!
It seemed like the only way I could get you to leave the room and I could calm you mother down, she deserves that at least.
You don't know what you are talking about! She was getting hysterical because she thought I didn't want to speak to her!
No, she was getting hysterical way before that. She is just rewriting history because your her daughter.
No, she's not! Because her not wanting to speak to me doesn't make sense! This does!
She is just sugar coating it for you.
That is what a mother does Joe! And you took that away from us! You made everything worse!
Thats your opinion. But I guess thats all that matters.

Now that conversation gets a little more emotional and unruly, and it ceases to make any sense from what ever amount of sense it started out having. Basically it ended with the understanding that I am a selfish bitch, and while he may not be perfect, at least he tries to think of others. Beautiful. So fucking beautiful I could spit. This, was the nail in the coffin. Or have I already had one of those? Well, I guess coffins have a lot of nails, so if I have used this metaphor before, allow me architectural license (architects build things, coffins get built, and architect sounds like artistic, if you've got something better, bring it). Joe and I were threw. Nobody manipulates me like that and gives a shit about me. The last strings of our hearts have been pulled from each other. Connections, gone. Surprisingly, this was the one thing that truly gave me any solace. Was the understanding that we no longer had any love for one another. It was like those moments when you first realized you were in love, and probably had been for quite some time, but only now you had finally realized it... but in reverse.

Quite walk through town:



The town was a bit touristy, so Joe and I agreed it was best to take a few hours apart, and he would stay at this park we found on our crappy map and do some kung fu while I finished seeing the "historic" town (kinda like walking through Williamsburg Virginia, very historical, but with a gimmick attached and gift shops inside the old frame work).

Park at the top of the hills:


Now it was time for me to wonder the city by myself. The first thing I did was walk into the first ice cream shop I could find, and purchase a green tea ice cream cone. Next on my list, would be the black sesame, but I was saving that for just before I had to go get Joe as sort of a last minute of freedom treat.


And I found my little acrobatic monkeys! These were the ones from Nara that I never found again! Unfortunately the shop didn't have any of these ones for sale : (


Plus, they were only close to the monkeys I liked from Nara. These ones didn't have all the limbs coming together at the hands and feet. So, it was close, but no cigar.


And these dolls were everywhere!!!


They are the symbol of the city, and you can get them in any color, shape, size, or design. I ended up buying Danielle a Hello Kitty Takayama doll coin purse.


This is also the city where I found Jessica a crystal owl to match her cell phone bling owl I got at the gorge.

It was getting close to lunch time, so I followed a couple I met in one of the shops to a music show they were having outside one of the temples. It was all very nice traditional Japanese music, but I'm really not into that out of tune kinda sounding music... sorry Japan, so I left about 30 minutes into the show. I really thought it was going to be a shorter performance, but when it only turned out to be intermission, I took that as my chance to leave anyways. I also followed around some english speaking tour groups to hear about how they are trying to preserve many parts of the city for cultural heritage... but this little old English lady kept giving me stern looks, so I slowly put more space between myself and the group until the tour guide was too quiet for me to hear. Then I went to get my ice cream, and headed up the hills (of course he only had to climb this monstrosity once...) to get to the very top of the city.

When he was ready to go we packed up our things from the hostel and headed to the train station to get to Kanazawa before dark (key point there). Joe made some pop corn before we left, and of corse burnt it, so the fire alarms sounded through the temple... luckily it was just us and some eastern European family along with the temple priest, so we didn't interrupt much. The priest didn't seem surprised that it was us as he turned off the alarm in the breakfast nook area... And with that, we left.

I pointed out some things I found as we headed out, and then we caught our series of trains heading northwest into Kanazawa, the city with one of the top 3 gardens in all of Japan. We also had a couchsurfer set up, to that was exciting! We had only been couchsurfing with Mochan and Adam since getting to Japan because we were finding it difficult to surf so close to our arrival dates.


My favorite Nara girls poster in the train station:


Gates leaving the Kanazawa train station:


From here we were running out of time to see anything today, so we hurried over to the garden,


stuffed our things in the lockers, and bought tickets with an hour and a half to spare!



Now look at the way the light plays with the landscape. These pictures I took with Brittany in mind as her favorite painter is known as the painter of light.



This picture is for Jenna:
Even Trees wear corsets.


When was the last time I had a sincere smile like that? Hell, when was the last time I was in a decent enough mood to have a photograph taken of me (it doesn't count if it is a picture of me and Joe, because Japanese people coerce me into those.) Sad, really, when you think about it. I'm in a better mood than I have been in probably months with just me and Joe because 1. I know its over, and 2. I know I'm still loved by my mother. Strange how I can fix a broken heart by saying at least my mother loves me... didn't see that one coming. ^_^*


Joe really liked the roof on that one. Apparently, they just don't make thatched roofs like they used to.


Then the place closed and Joe and I made a mad dash across the street to see the castle, but it had closed too. We were rushing so much because we were told that Kanazawa is a great central place to take day trips from, so if we finished all our Kanazawa things today, then we would have all day tomorrow to see nearby places. Joe was determined to see the castle (I was not so much), so he snuck in the exit. These are my pictures of the outside of the castle that I took while I waited for him.


Now here are Joe's:


It was getting late so we got our luggage and headed to the bus station to go to Creighton's place. We managed to buy an umbrella and an ice cream cone before we found an internet cafe. We literally found this place by the owner, coming out to us as we wondered up and down the street, and asking us if we were looking for wifi. She was so cute, and so determined to get us online. It took us forever and a day, but we eventually managed to figure out how to get on her network, and we re-looked up the directions to his place, and then headed out on a series of busses which we eventually exited at the corner of a street with this huge gas station, then we walked along the street until we saw a red romin shop, then we crossed over, and looked for a white apartment complex of which we were to enter door 4, go up the stairs to the second floor, then push open the 3rd door on the left... b/c he leaves it open for couchsurfers. (Its Japan, they don't believe in locks.) Luckily this white guy spotted us, knew our names, and took us up to his room (It was Creighton). He had just gotten back from karate class and had figured we would be getting in a lot sooner than 10pm... yeah, us too. We ended up staying up with him, talking about all sorts of political issues and the social system they have in Japanese schools (he is an english teacher). It was midnight before we ended up going to bed (an hour after Creighton's CS profile says he needs to be in bed by... why do people let me talk so long?) We got the computer room all to ourselves, so that was nice, and again we had our own floor beds, which was necessary at this point. And without any further adieu, I passed out sick with tiredness (and probably a few other things).

Posted by - Rain 17:44 Comments (5)


How often do you find the right person?

"Falling Slowly"

We have not told Adam and Shinobu about our... situation. Since we are the only couchsurfers this time around, we got the entire side room to ourselves. This means we had a sliding paper door that gave us complete privacy to sleep in separate pillow beds on their tatami mats. They had enough pillows and blankets for the Mochan Wish Bus, so there was no need for us to even share a blanket. Staying with Adam and Shinobu was the first time we actually had the choice not to sleep in the same bed... Joe seemed unaware of this fact when I placed my pillows apart from his the first night. Tonight, my distance was somehow more apparent. This setup being worlds different from our time we spent here last week, entangled with one another on the house's singular sofa, cuddling into the warmth of each others relaxed embrace, friends pilled in blissful bundles, scattered on the mats around us.

"When Your Mind's Made Up"

As the quiet comments progressed, he became callus, or so I imagined. As I lied on my stomach reading a book (1982 I believe), he made casual remarks to incited hell fire, but on the outside, I remained oblivious. When I returned the favor, my remarks became more and more spiteful with his continued attempts to calmly tell me to shut the fuck up. I found myself bringing up things that had no reason to be brought up just so I could get a rile out of him, get him to care, get in the last word.


We have been together too long for either of us to think these tactics would work. However, we have failed our relationship, so this blatant failure was probably to be expected. Somehow, we were caught off guard. Shocked, by the other's disinterest in caring, in trying, in holding on to what we had.


Sleep did not come easy if it came at all that night. I found myself watching the moonlight through the paper door, waiting for the sun to rise and release me from this place. I needed a change in scenery, I needed to stop pretending that everything was okay, I needed a friend to talk to. One of my best friends lay sleeping a few feet away from where I festered. Or at least that is where his body was located. The person I once thought the world of was no where to be seen, and hadn't been for quite some time. We have been just fooling ourselves.

"The Hill"

I only now realized what I had been talking about all these past months. I have been saying falsities against this person who was my passion, my joy, my love, my soul mate. He would always be those things. But the person sleeping in the room with me, he was none of them. He was a shadowy reflection of all the things I desire in love, and a staggering display of all the things I put up with because they paled in comparison. Our ties, our connections, were all been broken, severed... obliterated. He blames me for what he had become, and I blame myself as well, to some extent. But what could I do, other than continue to push away, and then grovel to be close again to this someone I don't recognize? I cannot fix him unless I fix myself first, I know this now; and unless he can pick up the slack in our ever disconnecting relationship... then time will simply pull us apart at the remaining seams.

What holds us together now is not a sliverwing, nor any pins or screws, but a remembrance of who we once were to one another, and a final quest not yet fulfilled...

One more week together in Japan.

"All The Way Down"

This will complete our quest, the Southwest Passage.

We will have crossed the continental USA on a Honda Silverwing along a treacherous path that zig zagged through the wondrous natural formations of the south west. Then, flying over ocean to discover the countries to the far east: China, where we studied martial arts; Taiwan, where we experienced a balanced east/ west civilization fusion; and Japan where culture, nature, technology, and dear friendships truly culminated the journey.

"If You Want Me"

So, with that, I cried myself to sleep, going over my internal montra... "Only one more week, just one more week, you can make it"

In the morning I woke up to the sound of rain tap dancing on the roof. I left the side room immediately for the living room to get on my computer. Tonight we would be arriving in Takayama, and I was going to make sure we not only got there in time, but we had a room waiting for us. The walls literally were paper thin, so Joe, being a light sleeper, woke up the moment I began typing. The kitchen was part of the same room, so we continued on with our individual business... and the silence couldn't have been just for Adam's benefit. It was reminiscent of every night previous to last night. What do we do, who are we, how do we interact, what has become of us? No answer... so we speak endless monologues to ourselves, leaving no room for normal human interactive conversation. The ball has been left, free falling, in the other's court... this must mean its in the middle, and the referee has tossed it into the air... but what does it mean when neither side jumps?

"Say It To Me Now"

A little while later Adam pounded down the stairs that cut diagonal above our room. "Ohio!" "Ohio.." I said to him with amused distain from the look he gave me about his little pun. (One of the things I would not miss about Japan... Telling people I am from Ohio, and having them say good morning to me... or maybe I would... naw, I probably will miss that. I'll miss everything about Japan, just not the events that took place for me while I was there. These times, I will not miss at all, and I cannot wait until they are finally over.)

As we packed our things up and got ready for Adam to take us one last time to Genbudo Park, Shinobu had enough with my shoes. "Take these!" She insisted handing me adorable black wedge heel sandals. "Ohhhhh, Shinobu must really like you!" Adam chided as he explained how Shinobu is obsessed with shoes and she can never get rid of old ones. He showed me an entire book shelf full of shoes, and then I really couldn't take them. It would be like taking a stamp to post a letter to someone from a stamp collector. I just couldn't. But Shinobu was also stubborn, so we finally came to a compromise, and she gave me her slightly more run down, not as cute, brown leather shoes that she hadn't warn in about 3 years (ps, I saw her wear the black sandals she was trying to give to me only last week.) And now it was finally time to say good bye to my sandals from the Sedona... I was having trouble parting with them. We actually found a pair exactly like these in Taipei, but they were $20 more expensive! (Imported from Arizona) I refused to pay more for shoes in Taiwan than I would in the states, especially because everything else was so much cheeper there... but now, looking at my shoes... I was maybe regretting my decision not to replace them. "Take a picture!" I told Joe. "I want to remember them!" Who, me? Sentimental? Naw.


Then Adam packed us in the car, and we drove down the road to Genbudo Park. It was raining still, so we took some time looking around the visitors center:

I still have my hawaii accent here, yah? Its also mixing with his heavy Canadian, "Ooouh, man"


Then, as with every good building in Japan, we borrowed the umbrellas that sat in a bin just outside the front door. Joe and Adam went off to the main area for Joe to show him some kung fu before I taped him doing the forms he has been planning for the past week. I went off and explored the rest of the formations for some alone time in the rain:


I feel soothed as the warm water washed over my body. I left the umbrella with Adam. This was my element.


I wish I could say I had some profound thoughts here, but I didn't. Emptiness filled my head with such wonderful bliss, I couldn't be bothered to think of anything. Because nothing was better than what my brain would eventually think of... and quite frankly, I was tired of that subject, as I am sure you are as well. But like I said before... only one more week.


It was about time to head back and get some filming done before Adam takes us to the train station. As I get there Adam shows me a sign that he noticed my presence... maybe Joe was just concentrating. Like a good girl, I waited patiently to be useful, we were on Joe's schedule... I understood this idea quite well. Then I decided to be on my own time. I walked off, not too far, and took more pictures. I did this to prove that I had my own life, outside of Joe's.


When Joe was finally ready for filming, he let me know, and noted that he could just keep practicing until I was ready.


This was new... or maybe now was simply the first time in a while I ever gave him the chance to let me go astray. Maybe if I had tried being independent of waiting for my life to start when he was ready... my brain shut off again. Empty vessel. I didn't want to finish that thought. Like a knock out punch, my brain saved myself from too much pain, and simply put itself to sleep.

Tams, 1-4:

Northern Sholin:

Improv Cain:

After this, Adam practically pissed himself as we took a quick hike around the place to see all the things I told Joe he missed. He and Joe went on and on about humor, the something brothers, 3 stooges, and a bunch of other comedic references I found myself just smiling and nodding. Heavy sigh, maybe Joe and I weren't a perfect fit... his sense of humor I never understood. (See that there? It was a joke. Funny right? Come on, its not in your face hilarious, but it has some basic truth added to an over simplified statement. Its giggle to yourself humor to lighten a tense mood. Or does that just make things more tense since we are still in the thick of the situation. Too soon? Too soon?)

Joe found a crab:


Then, for a proper goodbye farewell Adam took us to his favorite sushi place where we braved the rivers that were rapidly flowing through the parking lot ditch (there was a really big dip between the parking lot and the shops), forcing me to eat in the restaurant barefoot and wet. The place reminded me of a 1950's diner all done up in pink with soft lighting, and oh yeah, a sushi train that went all along the booths. Joe and Adam ate a pile of sushi plate, and I had my usual unagi and salmon with the random odd ball plate that I was recommended.

Then it was off to the train where we rather smoothly got dropped off right on time, and headed out on the shinkansen to Kyoto. This was traveling way to far east and a little too far south for our end destination, but in Japan you go where the bullet train will take you. So we said a fond good bye to Adam, and he made me promise to put the video of Joe doing the improv "cain" form on youtube so he could show his students.

We had a slight gap between our trains, so we wondered around the train station a bit as the rain continued to downpour.


Creepy advertisement:

Rocket Boy flying into Kyoto tower:

Me, standing next to the worlds only outdoor escalator (I'm just guessing, the worlds only, not the me part).
Yeah, I'm going to get electrocuted.

Notice the diagonal line of rain of the stairs... thats the line between the roof on the left, and the open sky to the right... yeah, the electric staircase is getting rained on.


Roof garden (yes, we took the escalator to get here, and survived!):

Then we caught the bullet train up north, and then switched to a local train that got us to Takayama just as night began to fall. Now, to get to the hostel located within a Shinto Shrine (I know, how cool is that?!?)

Okay, not very cool when you are in a tiny village filled with shrines. Nobody knew what I was talking about. And apparently this is a big tourist attraction for people who want to be pampered in Ryokan's. Joe and I were exhausted, wet, and not at all in the mood to go through this again. Well I wasn't at least, but Joe seemed perfectly keen to sleep straight up on a wooden bench outside a bunch of shops. His reasoning was that if they weren't going to make it possible for budget travelers to pay for a place to stay, then he was obligated to sleep on the street. Eventually we ended up inside a Ryokan just to take a break from the elements. Then the woman took us from the gorgeous lobby that was done up modestly, but you still knew that every slight decoration was deliberately and most likely expensively, placed there. She got us to sit down at the front desk, and she wrote down a number, and gave it to Joe. He nodded and handed it over to me. This went on about 4 times before I finally gave in to let her show me a room. It was lovely, absolutely perfect. Maids came in and showed us how they set up this gorgeous bed on the tatami mats with all sorts of beautifully fluffy decorated blankets. The place was lit up with the perfect ambient lighting to make you feel like you were vacationing in the most romantic city in all of Japan. Everything was Japanese, from the wooden table on the floor in the breakfast nook with delicate throw pillows as chairs, to the tall shiny wall screens with intricate natural scenes carved into them of mountains becoming lost in mist. There was even the sliding paper walls that separated the main lounge from the bedroom, and the private bathroom had the most intricately lovely bide. If Joe and I were still together, I would have bought it in an instant. But we weren't vacationing lovers. We were separated, and I just couldn't fork over the money for a love nest with all night and till mid morning pass to the hot spas decorated to appear as waterfalls in both men, women, and unisex areas. Joe and I never ended up going to an onsen where we could spend time together, nor did we ever get to go to one that was set up to look like it was in a little hide away in the forest. One came close, where they had some trees around some fake rocks that you could see the pipes poring water into the "waterfall" but that was it...

Leaving that place was hard. Even with Joe and I separated, I honestly walked back into that room 3 or 4 times mulling over the possibility of spending 1900 yen on one night. The hostel I "booked" was going to be about 500 yen, just to give an idea of what I was dealing with. Yes, I was poor enough to have to make this call... heaviest sigh.

There was a cluster of shrines at the far end of town that a taxi driver told us was in walking distance... yeah, why wouldn't he just let me fork over the 100 yen for a lift? Grrrr! It took us over 30 minutes in the dark, cold rain with all our luggage to make it to the other side of town where all the shrines are. You know what that means? No people! Finally I jumped in front of the only car on the road and preyed I pronounced the place Japanese enough. Hell Yeah! It was a teenager! "Can I help you guys?" He asked with a perfect American accent! Thank the lord! We are so fucking lost! He let me in his passenger seat, and Joe in the back while he turned his lights on and looked at my map with me. He marked where we currently were, and the rout which we came from to give us our bearings. Then he circled where we needed to go, not far at all, and showed us the street sign just behind the car of the road we needed to go on. Light, almost easy sigh. Thank you so much! "Domo Arigato Goziimasu!!!!!"

But, as with every new place you visit in the dark... when we got to the location it was supposed to be at, there was a big tree. The map, needless to say, was not all that accurate. We ended up finding another hotel, and the chef there walked us all the way back to the tree, then pointed up the road at a big cement looking shrine gate. As we walked there, I started to wonder, yes, that was probably the way to the "natural shrine" but where was the shrine building where mass was held? There was a light on in the building next to where we were walking... I went up and nocked. "Sumemasen, demo... yusu hosteru koko ni arimaska?" Excuse me, but does the youth hostel exist here? He nodded up and down, told me to wait a minute, then shut the door in my face. Ummm... a few moments later, he came out with 3 umbrellas. "Come, come!" he said as he handed Joe and me umbrellas, and then ran out his door past me, and across the street. We followed him around that big dumb tree, and along a small rock walking path up to the building literally next door to his. I guess he gets a lot of lost foreigners at his doorstep. He rang the priest, and a little old man eventually answered the door. It was 10pm, way after curfew, but the man who gave us the umbrella's explained that were were lost, otherwise we would have been here sooner, and while my Japanese was understandable, that I have trouble expressing myself. It was all very cute how he had invested so much into helping the two of us get on the priest's good side. When the priest had enough of hearing the man beg for us, he let us in, and the man with the umbrella almost wouldn't except his 2 back! I pointed to the barrel of umbrellas next to the door, and I said "over 20!" Then he nodded, and conceded to take his umbrellas back. I bowed to him several times, thanking him with such exasperation I think he teared up, that, or he got some rain on his face, which was possible.

The priest took my name and looked me up on his hand written message log, and there I was, to have arrived several hours ago... he gave me a disappointed look. "Sumimasen..." I said with a small pout of embarrassment. He nodded and waved me off to the shoe shelf. I slipped off Shinobu's wet sandals and then quickly made my way back to the priest who had my key in hand, and obviously a bit impatient to get back to sleep. He took us through the black shrine, winding around rooms that were set up with all sorts of statues and prayer drums, up the stairs to a place that looked more like quarters than a temple. "You," he pointed to the women's restroom, "HIm" he pointed to the men's restroom. "Anatagata" Meaning both of us, he pointed to the sign on the wall that gave a map of the room numbers and their locations in reference to the breakfast room we were in. "Wakarimaska?" Did I understand? "Hi! Wakarimasu! Arigato Goziimasu!" I said this with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, and then Joe and I made our way to our room. This was not a hostel, it was a hotel. When I slid the door open, I expected to have to tip toe around bunk beads, but the room was empty. I pulled the light switch. The room was empty except for a large flat screen television on a short coffee table, and a closet full of blankets and pillows! Our own bed room! I couldn't believe it! We even had 8 outlets all to ourselves! I have to admit, getting ready for bed was the most fun I had all day. So glad I didn't fork over the mony to sleep in guilt at that other place. I was literally sleeping above a temple in my own private room with everything I could ask for and more (wouldn't use the tv, the private room with the blankets, pillows, and outlets was enough to make me tear up myself)!

I was really tired, so after getting ready for bed I passed out, but Joe needed to explore the temple at night, so he left for some time, and attempted to take night shots.



Once, the movie
(On the above site, hit the skip button to go through all the songs.)
If you are so inclined, try reading through to the music...
and no, I didn't put them in album order ^_^*
Once, IMDB

Posted by - Rain 00:13 Comments (2)

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