A Travellerspoint blog

July 2010

On the Road Again

Mochan! woke up at the restaurant and got some pictures before coming to get us:



Shinobu and Adam's place:


Shinobu and Adam:


All of us waiting for Joe:


I think I might be growling a little bit in this picture.


Nono practicing Kendo:


Mochan!'s new club, the Kiss Club:


Then, for the rest of the day Mochan! drove us all the way from Toyooka to Shizuoka. However, good news was, Bjarke was a gentleman and when Elaina asked (even though I told her to play it cool) if he was going to sit with her on the ride today. He said yes, and he gave up his really cool front seat just for me!

People crossing sign:

Yeah... most people who live in these little villages are old. Old, but not without a sense of humor.




Then I really liked what the back of this semi had to say:


The 5 S's:

I'm not sure if this is a lost in translation thing, or if they were going for don't drink sake, but don't begins with a "d" and in Japanese to not do something comes after the subject... but any way you look at it, it was great.

When we made it back to Shizuoka we dropped Elaina off at the train station. I went out to give her a hug and wished we had more girl time to talk about what went on with Bjarke, and then David and Eelke got off to smoke, and Nono had to stretch his legs. I was trying to be inconspicuous while at the same time trying to get their attention "GET ON THE BUS AND GIVE BJARKE AND ELAINA SOME PRIVACY!" But, they didn't get it. Luckily Elaina is more outgoing then I would be in the same situation, and she got her good bye smooch.

This evening, I brought up with Eelke that I was still interested in doing a regression with her. This is where they put you in a relaxed state and you let your subconscious remember your past life. I've had several people tell me in my life that they would do this with me, thinking that I would say "whatever," but when I say "Yeah!" and tell them how I've always wanted someone to help me experience something other worldly... all of the sudden they have to "wash their hair." And what happened? Eelke was too tired. We did nothing but sleep in the bus all day, and I was really ready to do something other than eat dinner and go to bed some more. But, she said maybe tomorrow. I wasn't holding my breath.

Posted by - Rain 01:48 Comments (0)

The Beach... of Japan

Avatar reference, the real one (the cartoon The Last Airbender), not M-night's or Cameron's)


This morning we checked out of our hostels and headed to Hyogo prefecture to stay with Mochan!'s friend from Canada.


First stop:

The Sea of Japan



Yeah, thats Bjarke already in the ocean in his boxers. And thats Eelke and I... thinking about it.


Thats Nono, not thinking about it, just stripping down and doing it (the water was really cold!)


Eelke and Elaina singing one of Eelke's favorite songs. I believe it may be a song in Yiddish, but I'm not sure. Elaina learned the melody and the words (even though she doesn't know the language) about 10 min. after this first shot at it. (Yeah, she is really a professional singer.)

Then we left Nono and Joe to hike up to the top of the local mountains so we could see the land bridge we were standing on from a more panoramic view. Mochan! drove us to the trail entrance, then we had about a 20 min stair climb to the top.


Bjarke ran up the stairs, then passed us on his way back down the stairs on his way to run across the land bridge. The rest of us, 3 breaks ladder, finally made it to the top.


Then Mochan! told us that we had to look at the land bridge from between our legs...


I guess he wasn't kidding. And here is the platform you are actually supposed to do it on:


(The cement block behind the bench on the right next to the post.)

And then we would be able to see the swimming dragon.


This rock was cool, all the letters have a silver glint b/c people stuck money inside for good luck:


Then we went back down the stairs and hopped on the Wish Bus to head back to the parking lot to meet up with Nono, Joe, and Bjarke. When we get there about 5 minutes late, none of the boys are there. "Maybe they got confused b/c we weren't here?" Mochan! and I jogged back to the beach to see if we could find them. "I'll run and look at the shoreline, you check the men's restroom." I called to Mochan! as we hit the forest of pine trees right next to the beach. No luck, and then we heard voiced. "I hear Be-ya-ka" (Mochan!'s pronunciation always makes Bjarke laugh, although I don't know why. Its close enough I think. European's are funny that way. Maybe they're just jealous that American names are taught more in English classes so they are easier to pronounce. At least he isn't Ba-ne-sa. Well, I'm not either, b/c everyone can pronounce Re-i-n.") The guys were all eating noodles together at a little shop! "I've been trying to get them to hurry up." Joe said in his own defense. "Ri-ight."

Then we drove to Mochan!'s Canadian friend's place.


We basically came in, said hi, dropped our stuff off, and then Adam ran us all over to his hometown's tourist attraction. He backed out of his driveway (which was a bridge over their little canal) faster than I would recommend going forward, and then he bolted out of his development at a speed that Mochan! couldn't possibly ever catch up with since he also had to turn the bus around before he could head out.

About 2 minutes down there road we got out and followed Adam up a few flights of stairs to these basalt rock formations that first lead scientists to ponder the idea of the Earth's magnetic poles possibly shifting and even flipping from time to time. Japan was created much like Hawaii, from volcanic eruptions, and these basalt formations formed and cracked in a similar fashion to the hexagonal pillars you find in Ireland at Giant's causeway or in Wyoming at Devil's Tower. However, these ones were formed at a time the magnetic poles were shifting and they carried an inherent nature to always form angling towards the north, and here are the results:


And that is only the first location. Moving on down the path, there are even more spectacular displays of Geology:


(Above picture I like to call, "Story of My Life.")

Then we hopped back on the Wish Bus and continued to drive another 20 minutes or so north of Toyooka to Kinosaki which we've been told is a quaint little village known for its many hot springs and Onsen's (baths).


This next pic I took as we crossed over a very long one way bridge. I thought it would have been cheeper to just make one bride wider, but apparently it was better to make multiple bridges very narrow.


And then we hit town, and everyone was out with the cameras! The entire city was walking around in their Kimono's with their little wooden slippers that have the 2 blocks of wood on the bottom. None of us really got any good shots off b/c Mochan! parked the bus too quickly, and we were all ashamed to take pictures of people around this little town, so you'll just have to take my word for it. Or Joe's: "Oh my god! We have to come back here!" Referring to after the trip with Mochan! Joe has already decided one of our stops.


Then Adam's wife Shinobu (Adam had to go to work) explained to us that people staying in the hotels here can get passes to all the Onsen's, and it is popular to walk from Onsen to Onsen wearing your Japanese bathrobes. So that was why all the people in the town had their robes and traditional shoes on. Because, they too, were tourists.

She led us through the town to her favorite Onsen:

Notice the hexagonal rocks lining the fence:

Adam told us that this was one of the reasons that place was recently made into a national park b/c so many people were removing stones from it to use as bricks since they were so abundant and conveniently cut into little building blocks.


We hung out here for about an hour, and then some of us walked around the city while we waited for Joe (in his defense, he missed that we said we would meet a half hour before Mochan! was going to meet us to drive us back so we could walk through town together.) Bjarke came out with a nasty grin on his face. "He is still doing naked Kung Fu by the waterfall. All the little old guys are getting quite the show."


That evening Mochan! drove us to Adam's restaurant The Sticks and we drank and met some more local Japanese friends!


I sat between Mochan and this little girl:


She didn't speak any English, but I think we got along really well.


But some of us couldn't afford to buy the alcohol at the restaurant, so we made frequent stops to the bus to refill on the beer and plum wine we had already gotten from the local convenient store.


All the guys kept wondering, "What are you girls doing out there?" we played it on like it was a big girl secret.

Then, montage of how these two acted on this trip:


And, the last one I refrained from photographing, but it ended in smooches. Bjarke and Elaina were very proper last night when they slept over the Japanese guy's house, but the Vietnamese couple who spent the night there too swears that they are together. Elaina and I were casually talking about it on the bus while drinking and filling up her water bottle. "I say go for it! Your a hottie, he's a hottie, and you have one more night to be hotties together." I am blunt, what can I say. I just warned her not to go and do something that she may feel hurt by the next day when Bjarke acts like nothing happened, not to say that I knew something like that would happen, but just in case. You have to commit to what your getting into, which since she lives in America, and he currently lives in China, and she was leaving tomorrow to say goodbye to Japanese relatives, was going to be a one nighter.

Back in the bar:


These are all the Japanese girls freaking out about Nono's T-shirt:


Girls: "Gundom!"
Nono: "Yeah, maybe, I dunno,"
Girls: "Do you know Japanese Anime?"
Nono: "Yeah, I watch some."
Girls: "Which ones?!"
Nono listed all the ones he could possibly think of, and they were all with English names, so the Japanese girls were loosing their faith in us foreigners, so I did what any anime watcher from America would do. I named the Japanese fav of being the first and most originally Japanese gundom (big robot costume) fighting anime.
The freaked, and everything was cool again. Nono was talking about the movie at the end, and how tripped out it was, and the girls were just eating it up. Call me match maker.


Then we were all getting a bit tired, so Shinobu took the first group of us back to her place. (Mochan! was drunk and therefore sleeping at the restaurant, so we couldn't take the bus back.) Then about 2 hours latter, I was falling fast, and Adam took the second round of us back to his place. We couldn't all fit, so Meri had to sit on Esa's lap, and I crawled into the hatchback's trunk, which would have been fine, if Adam wasn't a crazy driver!


We made it!

Posted by - Rain 00:38 Comments (0)

My First Mac Desktop Background

The next morning, I couldn't even bother with Joe. "I'll meet you on the bus!" I told him as I left him to do whatever it is that he does and I got on the bus. "Every thing alright?" Ida asked in her Norwegian accent. I was speechless. "I don't even know." "Don't even know what?" Now she was getting really concerned. Whats up with that anyways? Why are Europeans so much more sensitive to peoples feelings than Americans? "I guess Joe just has to be the last one on the bus, as usual." I tried to give her a smile, she didn't buy it. "Is that a problem?" She had a point, I looked at her, a little confused, but getting it. "No, I guess not, as long as everyone doesn't mind waiting for him. "NO! Not at all, we can wait for him, no problem, don't worry about it, okay?" The tension eased out of me, maybe they had a talk about last night and how it put me in a awkward place with the whole not being able to wait for us. I smiled for real this time, the grin making it all the way to one eye, "Okay. Thanks." "Anytime..." she trailed off.

Joe was running to the bus with my shoes. I was still wearing the hostel's indoor slippers. Fuck! Then I calmed down. I would get off the bus, change into my shoes, and then be the last one on the bus, and nobody would care. They would all wait for me. I wonder though, would they be so patient after years of having this happen? I wonder if I was ever this patient. Yes, I think as certain points I've been more patient.

First stop:

The Golden Temple (for all you mac users, this is the Japanese temple that comes as one of your desktop backgrounds)


Then, ambushed by school kids. Still Bjarke was attacked the most, but instead of girls, it was the boys this time.


Then Mochan! drove us out ofthe city a bit over to the river and let us wonder around for a few hours.


First place we walked to we all got ice cream. Joe got sesame seed ice cream! Bless his heart! (We always share everything, so that's why I was so happy he got an awesome flavor!) Then some of us got lunch while the rest of us headed out into the bamboo forest.


That last picture is of a girl pulling the two people in the carriage. (so cool)


Then we walked out back into the little down and headed across the river to the monkey park! At this point we lost another part of the group, and we were just left with the Germans, Italians, Japanese, and Joe and I. (Yeah, I thought about that too. What do you think, too soon?)



At the top of the hill they had all the monkeys just running around, not bothering anyone. Then they had a building where you go inside and you can feed the monkeys through the windows with cage bars. The monkeys think that only people inside the building have food, so outside they are calm and leave you alone. Much better than what happened in China at a monkey park (Joe was walking around with a friggin banana! A Chinese woman had to get out her stick and shew the monkeys away from him b/c the were grabbing and forming an attack formation. There you are only supposed to feed them the peanuts you can buy, and hide all other food. Yeah, that monkey followed us around the rest of the time, giving Joe this constant stink eye. And yeah, Joe was a little freaked out. He made us go back to that park to face his fear of these monkeys, but that's another story.)



This is the queen monkey (according to this British girl who knew how to speak some Japanese):

Joe was freaking out in love with how the monkeys groomed each other. I have like 30 minutes of video on these 2 guys with Joe commentating the whole time. Here is Sophie's video:


Then we hung out at the playground in the monkey park next to the nature center where, yes, Joe played with the bones of an animal to make it look like it was talking. (I didn't tape that one. I try not to encourage foreigners to mess with things in other countries.)

I'm not sure if you can see these videos or not, but they are just me on a rope swing and Joe on a slide.

At the Park - me

At the Park - Joe



This little kids shirt says "Lover"


Then we walked to the river and tried to find some food, but weren't too successful, so we just soaked our feet.



When we all met up Mochan! told us that since the Norwegians had to leave in the morning, and we were also loosing the Germans for a day or two, that it was group picture time!

First, Everybody!


Then, the Italian's!


The Scandinavian's!


The Japanese!


The Holland and German group!


Finally, the North American's!


And of course, people hooking up pictures, thats right, we all have seen the ay you to are.


(Notice I'm not in this one, just Joe and his true love.)


Then we all went out for dinner at the only place where Mochan! could park the bus. Joe and I ended up not having too much money, and I wasn't really a fan of any of the menu, so Joe decided he was going to get the all you could eat dinner. This left me with bout 4 bucks to play with. I decided to get the lima bean peas the Japanese like so much. Then, it ended up that Joe couldn't order that meal unless everyone else at the table did too (maybe they just made that rule up b/c we are foreigners. Japanese people are mostly really trustworthy.) We couldn't figure out what to do for the longest time, and I was in a bad mood. I ended up ordering the same thing, even though now that Joe wasn't spending all the money, I could afford something more. Then he talked me into these potato things, and they turned out to be french fry wedges. Everyone else had these amazing looking plates, and I got peas and fries, and I couldn't eat the fries, b/c they were fired, and I don't know if you've notice, but I've kinda exploded my body on fired food. Needless to say, I was not happy. Then, to further put me in a bad mood, the 2 other tables were in mad talks having a blast, and my table, maybe brought down by me, seemed to be in a sort of rut.


Mochan! dropped us off all together at the Kyoto train station b/c Joe set up plans to "party" with Elaina, Bjarke, Ida, and Jorn since it was Ida and Jorn's last night with us. First we went to get Ida and Jorn's bus tickets, and that was a mess! Jorn, Bjarke, Joe and I all ended up waiting at an internet bar (it was too expensive to use their internet), while Ida and Elaina went to figure out the tickets. It turned out that the place they bought the bus tickets from was so cheep that they don't have a person paid to deal out the tickets, not do they even have signs for where to go to pick up your tickets. Luckily Elaina was with us, so she spoke to enough Japanese people to get the tickets from somewhere, and then we all argued for about 10 minutes about where to go. Ida "I just want to go to a cafe or something to wait," Joe and Bjarke "Lets find a bar." Finally Elaina came up with an idea to go to the restaurant across the street that would have drinks of every flavor (good job Elaina, way to take control!) The night was fun, but the drinks were expensive, so I couldn't get drunk. It was nice though. I talked mostly with Elaina and Bjarke, and Joe talked mostly with Ida and Jorn. That thing gets me really confused most of the time, but for some reason I was able to handle it. Maybe it was because my brain said okay, lets not have a nuclear melt down tonight, lets give her a break and let her hold a separate conversation from other people at the same table.

When it was time for Ida and Jorn to catch their bus we dropped them off back at the station, and then dropped Elaina and Bjarke off there too. Elaina stayed with this creepy guy her first night. I guess he has a reputation for only inviting female CouchSurfers over, and then watching them sleep and things like that. Mochan doesn't like this guy. So the next night she stayed with a different guy, and he has a whole house just for CouchSurfers! So since Bjarke didn't pay for his nights in advance, he got to go and stay at this Japanese guys's second home! Then Joe and I tried to follow Mochan!'s directions to walk back to our hostel. I was still hungry, so I told Joe to just go to the hostel, and I was going to hit up a 7-11 for dinner. Yeah, I was getting tired of convenience store food, but you can never find a grocery store, and you can never order something properly at a restarunt.

Posted by - Rain 03:26 Comments (0)

Memoirs of a Geisha (American film, Chinese actress)

movie was produced by Steven Spielberg, staring Zhang Ziyi, based on a Japanese story

I had to almost hit Joe over the head with a cub and drag his unconscious body out the hostel door in the morning to meet Mochan! at 9am. Reasons? Absolutely none, just taking his time like the world only exists in his perception. Nobody is waiting for him (an entire bus full of people), and they will just magically appear when he steps out the door, coming into existence because he perceives them to be so at that point in time. But as long as they are out of sight, they are out of mind, and therefore, cease to exist.

"Ohio!" The bus announces to us as we board. "Yes! Ohio is in the house!"

Then we picked up a tun of people! 3 Italian girls who were going to chill with us for 3 days in Kyoto, and then another group of Japanese friends of Mochan!

First stop, the temple of many gates (and they weren't kidding!)



(So many gates, they block out the sun! I have to admit, I got a little claustrophobic, not a lot, but a little.)

Each of these gates was bought by a business or family that want good luck or fortune, and I've been told to walk through all the gates it would take about 4 hours! Each one is labeled with the name of the donors, but its all in Chinese.





Here we were waiting to have everyone catch up with us to tell them not to turn right, because the path to the right will take you another 2 hours to climb, and we were meeting Mochan! in less than one. But then Chris tells us that he saw Joe run up the stairs about 5 minutes ago! "Do you want me to go after him?" "Nope, if he wants to run off by himself, he'll be back, he knows when he is supposed to be back." "Are you sure?" "No, I'm not sure, but if I'm not willing to chase after him, I'm not going to send you." "Fair enough."


This temple was dedicated to the frog. The 3 Italian girls we started hanging out with today:


Then who comes running down the steps but Joe! "See? I told you he'd figure it out. Kids got endurance." Just in time too b/c we were at a shrine where we needed some prayers for Danielle's money! If you wash the money in this shrine's water then you will have good fortune.



Not sure what these kids were doing, but we loved the umbrella fort.


Then we went shopping for lunch in Kyoto's outdoor/ covered shopping mall. My favorite advertisement for cigarets absolutely everywhere:


Sometimes he has different poses, but always flexing something. Some people wonder if he knows he is a cigaret add b/c they think the cigarets may be photoshopped. I'm not sure, but I love the add regardless.

We split up for lunch, Norway, Denmark, half of Holland, some Japan, and me to the Raman store, then everyone else went to circle sushi! I was so jealous when I heard that I would have actually liked the sushi (wtf? I hate sushi.) and that it came on little trains and carts just like in the Pokemon game where you have to eat all the sushi and whoever gets the largest bill wins.



Then Mochan! took us to the traditional geisha area of Kyoto.


Then we saw a parade of geisha's walking by, so we ran and followed after them. Elaina said that they weren't real geisha's b/c some of them had their nails painted, and some of them tripped in their costumes (which a real geisha would never do), but they were dressed like traditional geisha's, so that was at least cool. She said that her kimono that was not even half as intricate, cost $300 just to rent.


(Samurai protecting the geishas)


Then we went and saw the outside of a temple b/c we were too cheep to go in. We noticed when we made it to the temple though that we lost Joe, Eelke and David. "Well, they know to meet us at 7pm at the Wish Bus."


Coolest graveyard ever! And it is true, everyone in Japan must be cremated.


This temple is cool. You put the thing on a sheet of paper that you want to get over, climb though one end, then climb back though, and you can move on from your old relationships. I thought about trying, but I am not ready to let go of my baggage (and yes, I did just refer to Joe as baggage**).


At 7pm everyone was at the Wish Bus except for Joe. David: "Yeah, Joe was with us, but he left at one point and said something about meeting us back here at 8pm." Well, 8pm was now changed to 8:30 b/c some people were going to see a geisha show. It was really cheep as far as geisha shows go, only $30, and it included a tea ceremony, flower arranging ceremony, a traditional Japanese dance by a character actor, a geisha dance, a traditional Japanese music performance, a traditional Japanese puppet show, and a short traditional Japanese play. I was thinking about going, but now that Joe was going to meet us at the wrong time, I wasn't sure. Then Mochan! said he would drive us around a bit to see more of Kyoto, then drop people off for the show. Sophie and Elaina kept trying to convince me to go, and Sophie asked "So, if it wasn't for the money, vould you go?" And I tried to explain that I would do a lot of things were they free, but yes, if money wasn't so tight right now I'd go. "Well thats it then, I am paying for you, and when I come to visit you in New Zealand when you have some money again, you can pay me back." I liked Sophie, and not just because she took care of us with snacks the whole time either. She kept buying way too much food b/c she wanted to try a little of everything, so she would eat one thing in a pack, and then pass it around the bus. This got everyone started, so this whole trip every time we got back in the bus we would get some sort of treat passed around. This time I passed around this famous mochi that Kyoto makes where they wrap some sweet paste inside almost uncooked tasting sticky dough. Its my new favorite thing (and they had it in black sesame!)

When we got back and started walking for the show we ran into Joe and he took us to see the temple he was hanging out in all day.


I explained that we were going to see a show, and Joe asked us where he could get the free samples of the mochi we all bought in the area where we followed the geishas. He agreed to meet us back at the theater after the show was over, and we'd walk back to the bus together, and until then he was going to get some food.

Parts of the show:

Where Joe goes when I'm not around:


Tonight we unsuccessfully tried to hang out with the large group staying at the hostel near the Kyoto train station b/c Joe wanted to “party.” I wasn't too put off by that though, b/c like I've said before, when I'm in a bad mood, I don't feel like partying. They were in a rush the night before because of something, so we all got off the bus together at the Kyoto train station near to where the Scandinavians were staying. But then Joe was taking too long to get all his things together, and they just left. They told me that maybe I could catch up with them when Joe finally got off the bus. I told them, "Yeah, maybe..." but by the time Joe was off the bus, they were long gone. So Mochan! just let us back on the bus and drove us to our hostel. Joe was of course mad at me for not having them wait for us, and I was a bit touchy on that subject, so we spent the rest of the night in silence.

* * BTW, that was a reference to something Joe said about me earlier in the blog, and I figured that only he would catch it if I didn't put this comment in.

Posted by - Rain 19:20 Comments (0)

On to Osaka

Morning of not being able to find my little monkey acrobats:


I love Japan! Their houses all have these old fashioned shingled roofs like Spain or California, but gray and not orange -ish (usually, but I usually see one or two orange -ish ones per city), and Japanese style with little designs at the end of each row of shingles, and then the large ornate one along the very tops of the roofs, sometimes with little animal spirits on them. And almost every house has its own beautiful Japanese garden.

We reached Osaka around lunch time, so first off we had a picnic with some of Mochan!'s friends.

Junko (on the left, our main Osaka tour guide):


Eelke and David:



Then we headed out for a day of touring around Osaka lead by Mochan!'s friends from Osaka.

Heading to the Castle:


Joe really liked how all the castles have these rock foundations that curve outwards from the wooden castle. I was told this is structured like this so that people could open hatches on the bottom of the Castle and roll stones down the foundation to knock off trespassers. I wondered why not just make them vertical to make it harder fro trespassers so climb, and so you're not always throwing rocks on your own building. I received no answer to this question. But they did tell me that most castles are rebuilt every hundred years, so they aren't really made to last. They are mostly only made as a fortress for battles. And most castles have burnt down (some several times) since they are made from wood, so there really aren't any ancient castles. This on in particular I believe was rebuilt in the 40's.


Then, as at almost any place in Japan, they had card board cut outs that you can pose with. Joe and Bjarke:


This is Lili:


Eelke (pronounced like Erika, but Elk-ka) adopted her with David (yeah, her mom just let her go off with a stranger from another country while she hung out with some of the other women at the picnic a bit longer! Japan is so safe! It freaks me out!).


Bjarke got an iguana (well, he didn't buy it, but its like a festival there, and everyone wanted him to hold it, and when I say everyone, I mean all the Japanese people who wanted to take pictures of the Guijin (foreigner) holding an iguana).


This guy was cool:


He is being a popular Japanese icon who eats too much. That's all I got. I got his name too, but I don't remember. That, and something about his head explodes when he over stuffs himself. But then he always gets a new one somehow. Anyways, he had cups for different amounts of money, and while we were there a guy put in 200 yen ($2) for the maximum show! She started out just drumming, then he added the kazoo, then he added a little tin soldier style dancing, and then he played on his kazoo Adelvise, and Elaina very quietly sang along. I couldn't believe how perfectly she sang these high notes so quietly. Most people didn't even notice she was singing. She told me latter its all about supporting with the breath. I said okay, and it was beautiful.

Then Mochan! drove us to the shopping district and let us go around for a few hours and grab some dinner. It was too bad Mochan! never had a place to park, b/c he always had to drive away out of the city and wait for us to tour around. But he said he didn't mind, b/c while a lot of us slept on the buss, he had to drive. So when he drops us off at these tourist places he has been to all his live, he can park the bus and sleep in it.


These covered walkways through outdoor shopping malls I guess are really popular in Japan.

The Meiji store:


Then Mochan!'s friends too us to a very famous restaurant in Osaka. I almost cried a little. While we were still in China, maybe 2 weeks left, I gave up all fried food. I refused to eat anything if it had ever been even grilled. This was not an easy task. I didn't really eat much my last 2 weeks in China. Now in Japan, I had been eating fairly well (at the 7-11's), mostly yogurt and bread, but these women took us to a place where they are famous for deep frying everything!


I wasn't going to complain though, and I was just going to eat it b/c I was so hungry! Then Joe told them all "Oh no! Rain doesn't eat fired food!" So I got to munch on some cabbage they had just sitting on the tables for free like chips (I hate cabbage, ever since that cabbage soup diet Jessica dared me to eat nothing but this soup for a month straight.) But everything was made right because since I can't eat fired food, they got me a waffle stuffed with green tea ice cream (very popular in Japan, they actually have this thin crust crunchy waffle made like a shell, then ice cream in the center like an ice cream sandwich, but cone instead of cookie).


Then we went out and got some more food on the street. This was a kind of potato pancake with all sorts of gooey stuff inside and on top with veggies all mixed in. (Another thing Osaka is famous for, so of course we have to eat more.)


I guess this next place is a very famous symbol for Osaka shopping (the Olympic guy in the background). Lili didn't speak any English, and Eelke didn't speak any Japanese; so when we headed to the shopping area Lili attached onto Elaina. Elaina actually told me her exact words were "You are cute, lets hold hands when we get off the bus."


Also, Lili got a balloon animal at the Castle from this Mexican guy from Texas doing a show in Japanese. She kept messing it up though, so she would run to Joe and have him remake her the little dog. (Joe made balloon animals for a living when he was 16 at restaurants in downtown Akron.) Then I taught her to rub Elaina's hair with the balloon to make her hair stand up. She did not appreciate this. Also, she couldn't put her down b/c Lili was tired, and refused to be carried by anyone else. I helped out by caring her gigantic purse, but she insisted Lili still weighed more. I told her then she shouldn't be so damn cute, and Lili would let other people carry her.


Next, we went to get our pictures taken! This is one of the most popular things for teenage girls to do in Japan. They get all dressed up, and go and get their pictures taken and stickers made out of their photos. The place was packed, and you can find one above just about every arcade/ gambling shop, and you can find several of those in about every shopping center.


Lili was so cute! She did everything for us. And then she wasn't even that excited about getting the pictures, she just loved having them taken!

And after your done with the pictures, then you can edit them and put all sorts of cartoons and whatnot over your picture. Then you print out your stickers, cut them out, and stick them on things.


The final results:


I like that last one b/c Meri's one eye didn't get captured as an eye, so when Lili picked the enhance your eye size button, it made Meri look a little freaky.


Lili is going to be trouble when she grows up, what a little knock out!

Then Jorn and Ida took some couple shots:




Final result:


The Japanese reads "Yo-n, Ida, Kawai" Which is their names in Japanese, and kawai = cute.


Its so funny when they open their eyes wide for the pictures, because their eyes are already wide, so it makes them look exactly like anime characters rather than just making Japanese eyes look western.

Some people wanted me and Joe to take some photos together, but it seemed like an awkward proposal. Joe and I aren't really cute at this point. We are kind of on the edge of being comfortable with each other. Something is coming, and I think we both know it isn't good. So we've been avoiding it by hanging out with other people all day. But maybe at this point it was only a feeling deep within my subconscious. Like I knew it was there, my I wasn't consciously thinking about it. The only reason I can mention it now like it is clear as day is because hindsight is 20/20 yeah?


Then we went out to a temple in the shopping center.


Lastly, we waited for Mochan to come and pick us up.


This evening we drove all the way to Kyoto, and then we got dropped off at like 4 separate hostels. Mochan! had us all book our own hostels for 3 days in Kyoto b/c there are so many of us and he didn't have any friend accommodations for Kyoto. Joe and I were the only ones at J-Hoppers, then a big group were at K's house, and then another group at Kyoto's Cheapest Inn. So Joe and I got a lot of things done not hanging out with people for the first night in Japan (with me not dying of some illness). And Mochan! said that he would pick us up in the morning at 9am to take us around Kyoto.

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