Best country ever!

Tokyo Travel Blog

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In Japan, I was picked up in Yokohama by my friend Satomi.  She is from Tokyo and came to California to go to film school with me, but now she'd back in Japan.  We went to a really cool market and had Italian food for lunch, a bit odd.  Then we caught the train to Tokyo- more specifically, Shibuya where she lives.  It's very famous like Times Square- in Lost in Translation its where Scarlette Johansen is walking through the city and there is a giant dinosaur walking on the sceen on the side of a building.  We walked around a bunch and went to Harajuku, the fashion district for young hip girls.  Of course we went to the Sanrio store and the 99 Yen store (basically a dollar tree).  We went to a really great place for dinner, which she referred to as Japanese pancakes, but really its more similar to omlettes.  You get a big bowl of ingredients and then pour a beaten egg over them in a bowl and mix it, then you cook it on a hot plate on your table.  We also cooked up some great noodles to go with it, and she ordered me a delicious Japanese iced tea- caffeine free of course.  It was so delicious, and she says i have very good chopsticking skills.

the streets around her apartment are so amazing, theyre very small, with very few cars, and crowded and urban/hip- but still very clean and comfortable.  and at night as we walked back from dinner, it was completely deserted, but still felt very safe.

she has a nice apartment, and wonderful food that her mom made for breakfast.  i got to have real miso soup, rice, and awesome japanese grapes- which are in fact a lot different than american grapes.  the skin is thick and you have to use your teeth to peel them and spit out the skin, then the middle is very thick jelly like with seeds, so you have to be careful to pick all of them out- as many as 5 seed in one grape.  also the green ones are very sour, i love them!

the next day we went to meet her mom for lunch near where she works, we had tea and little sandwhiches and cake at an organic french style cafe.  It was really fun, especially since her mom speaks no english.

we went around some more that day, went to a cool star wars toy shop, and picked up some neat cards from a stationary store.  Satomi had to get ready to leave for India very early the next day, so she booked me a hostel outside of the busy part of the city, and took me there that night.  She was so sweet and even gave me a goodbye present of an awesome stuffed animal and an adorable card.

Turns out that the hostel i was staying in also had a lot of kids from semester at sea staying there as well.  I ran into some guys in the lobby that were in one of my classes and they asked if i wanted to go back into shibuya for a litle bit to walk around.  I said why not and we got back into the city and of course ran into another big group of SAS kids who then talked us into going into this club where all drinks were 400 Yen (less than $4).  we stayed there a while before realizing one of the girls had made a new American friend who lived in Tokyo who wanted to show us around all night club-hopping.  it kinda turned into a long drawn out thing where everyone just wanted to head back to the hostel but no one wanted to leave her alone with a strange guy so we had to stay and then the trains stopped running so we all had to stay together so we could share cabs back.  I made some new friends that night, and since it was ladies night almost all the girls' drinks were free so no one was really too  upset.

The next morning the guys and I went to a temple in Tokyo, then had some really amazing cheap lunch and had old business men practice their english with us.  We then hopped the bullet train to Kyoto.  I was excited to go because I kept picturing this great green city with all temples, but when i got out of the train station, it was apparent that what i had pictured was just the product of selective advertising.  Like if the only thing you ever saw of LA was shots of fancy beverly hills areas in the movies and you suddenly ended up in echo park.

I got horribly lost trying to find my hostel and the humidity was terrible.  i finally found it and just stayed in all night trying to rest up for a big day of sightseeing the next day.  When i woke up, i noticed some big bites on my leg, but I have a tendency to have bad reactions to bug bites so i didnt really think it was a big deal.

I headed next to Kiyomizu Temple, which I believe I got off at the right stop, but saw a different Temple iinstead, still beautiful either way i guess.

Then I headed to Ginkaku-ji (Silver Palace) which was absolutely amazing.  Down the street there was another temple holding a monthly traditional market.  I found some great crefts there, including a woman who melted plastic, stuck objects in it, and dried it- then put them on necklaces.  I had to buy a few.

i headed back south towards my hostel where I realized the Inari shrines were, the famous shinto gates all lined up together.  It was dark when I got there, so it made for some really amazing pictures and very few people around (also a lot more bug bites).  I slept at the same hostel again, and woke up with more ig bites on my legs.  They started turning a little dark but I figured it wasnt a big deal.

That morning I headed to Osaka to meet up with one of the Japanese students from the ship who was from Osaka and wanted to show me around.  I wasnt feeling too well that morning, but it was great going around with a local who was so enthusiastic about having American friends.  We got to see the really busy street- which I dont know the name of, but still really cool.  Then the "American Village" which was supposed to resemble American shops I guess, and got to eat Tako-Yaki, which is a dish Osaka is famous for.  Its little octopus tentacles battered and fried with a vinegar sauce and chives.  it was really amazing.

we got back that night to the ship for the farewell reception for the japanese students.  My friend Aki cried while giving her speech because she was so sad to leave all of her new friends.  Then she and a lot of other students from Kobe taught us to make origami, and write kanji characters of our names or phrases.  Mine says Kate Freckles.

I met back up on the ship with my friend Heidi who I spend most of my time with, she saw my legs with the horrible purple bites and the blisters that were starting to form on them.  She kind of yelled at me for not taking it more seriously and took me to the front desk to page the on call nurse.  When I got down to the doctors office, the nurse even had to say "eew" at my bites and said it was very good that i came to see her.  It appears that the bites someow gave me a staph infection and that was also why i was eeling some intense pains in my legs.  She had to lance some of the blisters and covered my legs in bandages.  I started taking antibiotics and using special cream on the bites.  It sucked to go through, but Im all better now and the bites just look like old bruises.

Japan was pretty much my favorite place in the entire world (and I'll be able to say that with a little more authority once I finish my trip of course).  Satomi even said that if i can ever get away for a month, we can get an apartment and just travel around Japan together.  I cant wait!

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photo by: maka77