As I promised, I would get all of the pics from my trip to Japan last June up before Christmas, so here is one humongous mega-post on my 4th and final week in Japan. This was by far my favourite week since we covered almost everything related to anime and visited some very cool places this week.
Today I decided to take a break from studying and continue posting pictures from my trip to Japan, which was 4 months ago now. Don’t worry though, I’ll get them all up before Christmas :)
Picking up where I left off last time, the day after seeing the incomp…*cough* battle-damaged gundam in Shizuoka, my friends and I headed to Ikaho for a relaxing day at the hotsprings.
Ikaho is a small town in the mountains so there are no trains that run directly there; you have to take the train to Shibukawa and then take a bus to Ikaho. All of the bus routes and maps were in Japanese though, so we had to ask a bus driver which bus to take (luckily he understood English). A few hours after leaving Tokyo, we made it to Ikaho in one piece and were greeted with the above sign. Personally, I found it strange that they used the American flag for the English section rather than the British flag. Whenever I’ve travelled to Europe and other parts of Asia, they’ve always used the British flag.
This post has a ton of pictures and little content, so brace yourselves.
I had nearly forgotten to post more pics from my Japan trip in June, but here they are. This post covers the second half of the second week I spend in Japan.
Since I did a lot of stuff during the second week of my trip, I’m going to cover it in two parts. The first part will be covering the places I visited in Kyoto, and the next will cover Osaka. So picking up where I left off, after spending an entire day shopping in Akihabara, we got up early the next morning to take our first ride on the Shinkansen (aka bullet train).
Unfortunately, the JR Pass only allows you to go on the Hikari and Kodama trains (the slow ones), and not the faster Nozomi trains. The ride wasn’t too bad, it lasted for a few hours and there was plenty of legroom. The only downside was that I was sitting near the front of a car right next to the washrooms so when someone walked by and the automatic doors opened, I’d get hit with a horrible stench. We arrived at Kyoto station around lunchtime and took a local train to Tanbaguchi station near our hotel. It was too early to check in yet so we just dropped off our bags and went out to do a bit of exploring. Lucky for us, there are maps everywhere in four languages: Japanese, English, Korean, and Chinese.
While I’m waiting to hear what people would like to see more of on my blog, I figured that I’d finally get around to posting some pics from my Japan trip in June. Well, here they are (the first week anyways).
Somehow I managed to pack everything I needed for a month in this little piece of luggage, and I put that in a larger piece of luggage. Obviously, I was expecting to bring a LOT of stuff back home (and I did). By the end of the trip, both of these bags were full, along with a backpack that I brought as a carry-on.
I flew Air Canada direct from Calgary to Vancouver. While AC is known for not having the best of service, I managed to get tickets for half the price that other airlines were offering because of a special promotion. Here was the first meal of the flight. The rice was horrible, but the chicken and dessert were pretty good.
It seems that AC has implemented something new since the last time I flew with them: special lights to help you adjust to the new timezone. When it’s time to sleep, the lights change colour from white to orange to blue to violet before finally turning off (to simulate a sunset). When it’s time to get up, they do the same thing but with slightly different colours in reverse order. The pic below is of a “sunrise” on the plane. As a note, since we were flying west, the sun was actually up for the entire flight.
I’m still sorting through all of the pictures and items from my trip, so I won’t have a post up with details of what I did until maybe this weekend. In the meantime, I’ve decided to write this post on the foods I tried in Japan and compare them to what we have in Canada. I was in Japan for a month, so I think my experiences there are representative of what you’d normally find and not just some fluke. Hopefully this will help someone prepare for their trip so it’s not so much of a shock.
Before I go into too much detail, I should mention that I do not like fish or salt so I do have a bias. Fortunately though, the Japanese don’t only eat raw fish on rice like some people think. I was actually surprised at how little fish I saw while in Japan. Yes, there are sushi restaurants everywhere, but they have non-fish sushi like shrimp, eel, octopus, egg, etc. Obviously, Japan has Canada beat when it comes to sushi, in both variety and taste.
Another famous Japanese food is ramen, or noodles in soup. I’m sure everyone has had instant noodles before, and I was expecting Japanese ramen to be like that but with some extra stuff thrown in. I was completely wrong. Here’s where my bias comes in; everyone says they put salt on food to add flavour, but I hate salty foods because they don’t taste like anything except salt. Unless you order miso ramen, your soup is going to be supersaturated with salt and MSG. I don’t know of any restaurant back home that makes noodles and soup like this, and I’m glad they don’t. Every time I went out for ramen, I’d need a lot of water afterwards. Another thing about ramen in Japan (or at least the places I visited), is that they barely put any meat in the bowl. You’ll get a few thinly sliced pieces of whatever meat you ordered, but that can easily be finished in one bite. Back home, all the asian restaurants put in tons of meat to keep the customers coming back.
While we’re on the topic, lets talk about meat next. I come from the province of Alberta, and we’re proud of our beef. You can find Grade AAA Alberta beef signs everywhere you go. I know in some other parts of the world, chicken is the meat of choice. In Japan, their main form of meat comes in the form of pork. If you’re muslim or just don’t like pork, you might want to reconsider going to Japan. Pork can be found in almost every restaurant in Japan, and it’s also found in many of their dishes. The most common pork dish is probably katsu-don, which is deep-fried pork cutlets and eggs served on top of rice. It’s a pretty good dish and if you’re in Japan, you should give it a try. What really surprised me though, was Japanese beef (in particular, Kobe beef). Like I said earlier, I come from Alberta and we like to think that our beef is some of the best in the world. I’ve had beef in other countries and it just doesn’t compare to what we have here, so I was skeptical about how good Kobe beef was. After trying it a couple times, I’m convinced that it’s better than Alberta beef (sadly), and worth the exorbatant price tag.
Although I approve of Japanese beef, there are some foods that I found sub-par compared to what I’m used to. The first is eggs. I love eggs, I put them in my dishes whenever I can and I can easily eat half a dozen a day. I should also mention that all the eggs I eat are grown in Canada or the U.S. In Japan, naturally, you have eggs that are grown in Japan. Before this trip, I thought that all chicken eggs were the same, but now I know better. Japanese eggs are disgustingly bland, which I found extrememly surprising considering they like to put eggs on everything like I do. If I were to fry a Japanese egg, I would not enjoy eating it plain. The other thing I didn’t like was Japanese rice, but this is more of a personal thing. I’m ethnically Chinese, and my family eats rice everyday. For over 20 years, I’ve been eating long-grained white rice. In Japan, you’ll be lucky to find any type of rice other than the domestically-produced short grain rice (due to high tariffs on foreign rice), which just feels weird. I don’t think this will be a problem for most people though, unless you’re picky like me.
I’m still trying to get back into my regular schedule, but being gone for a month really causes everything to build up so I won’t be writing much this week. Once I’ve gotten settled back into things, you can expect regular posts here again (yay). For now, here are some pictures from my trip in no particular order.
The clock tower at the University of Tokyo:
Anyone remember Love Hina? Here’s me reaching for Todai: