16 August 2015

Touring Japan Over 2 Weeks

Tokyo Sky Tower. Tokyo's popular is approximately 13 million. Groote Eylandt's population is approximately 1,200. Groote Eylandt's land size is 100m2 larger than Tokyo. These figures blew my students' minds. They found the idea of so many people living among each other incomprehensible. Great discussion topic!
Weight conscious people need not worry- calorie burning stair counter in Tokyo Hands. One store you must visit! It's like Bunnings mixed with David Jones mixed with every specialty craft supply store imaginable. Set aside at least an hour or three to get through the multi-split level monster of a department store!
We found the English translations on signage and products very amusing. This pastry shop made cream filled pastry logs which were so incredibly light and fluffy. Ele and I agree the Japanese do French pastries better than the French! 
With no smoking restrictions, why not have a fag while you serve customers? This was our first restaurant experience.
Snow monkeys in Yudanaka. It was amazing how close you could get to them without them even bothering to look up. A number of times I had to move out of their way.
Snow monkeys swimming in the onsen (hot springs) in Yudanaka Monkey Park. During winter, they swim in the waters as the snow falls. They were much cuter than the monkeys I saw in Bali. They have long fluffy fur and they were very playful.
Yudanaka Monkey Park. Nature at its finest. This would have been amazing to visit in the winter. Yudanaka is apparently swarming with tourists during the snow season because of its ski slopes. During the 30 minute forest trek, I only passed two couples. The ratio in the monkey park was 1 person to about 20 monkeys which make the experience way better than expected.
Ele bed bound after her tick removal surgury. We stayed at a Ryokan (traditional style accommodation). Sleeping on tatami mats and rice pillows- a very uncomfortable pair.
Playing in our summer yukata (robes) after returning from a soak in our hotel's private onsen.
Shibu (onsen town) in mountainous Yudanaka. It was like a ghost town at night which was eerily beautiful and peaceful.
Residents walking to one of the onsens for a evening bath. Men and women bath separately because all baths are required to bath nude. 
There are two extremes in regards to gaming in Japan. There's Pachinko slot which abuses the senses with flashing lights, irritating sound effects and digital images of complete bamboozlement. Then there's this game....target shooting with cork guns. This lady spoke no English, but she sure knew how to get a laugh when I got my camera out. 
Gate crashing a 21st karaoke birthday party
Funny tourist pose in front of a temple in Kyoto
Bamboo forest in Kyoto
A expansive tranquil garden surrounding a temple in Kyoto
The main river running through Kyoto city. We stayed in Sanjo which is where this photo was taken. The restaurants that back onto the river were outrageously expensive. It was a nice place to go for a bike ride but I'd recommend staying somewhere more lively.
Learning how to conduct a traditional Japanese tea ceremony in Kyoto. This involved making a cup of Matcha Tea.
Torii Shrine in Kyoto. Kyoto seemed to be the bike capital of Japan.
Tanuki the lucky Raccoon Dog can be spotted throughout Japan
Out the window of our Shinkansen train on route to Osaka
Delicious Shinkansen Bento Box- an assortment of tasty morsels in a wooden box. This box contained eel, tempura prawn, baby octopus, egg, rice and pickled vegies. These boxes cost around $6-10.  
Our night in a capsule hotel in Nagano. AMAZING!!! No need to BYO pajamas or toiletries as they are all provided. 
Sumo Tournament in Nagano
Shortly after taking this photo, he won his match. I like to think we were his good luck charms.
Kusama's Pumpkin on Naoshima island
Ele and I were fill ins for Naoshima's over 70s weekly volleyball tournament. We had names for each of them. The smiling assassin sitting behind me was the oldest in the group at the ripe old age of 83! 
Most Japanese restaurants pay big money for each menu item to be replicated in plastic and displayed in the front window. Everything from a glass of water to a side sauce. The best replicas even had intricate marbling painted on their meat and minuscule grains of salt. Ele and I enrolled in a replica class and got to make two dessert tarts.  
A government primary school classroom. They still use blackboards and each classroom has a keyboard next to the teacher's desk so that he/she can play for the students each morning. Students are required to clean their own classrooms as they don't employ cleaners.
This is the 'play ground' and assembly area. Children march every morning before entering the building. Gravel and concrete surfaces are typical for most city government schools. Children are given unicycles to ride during recess and lunch. Their play equipment looks like a death trap; made of chain rope and concrete foundations. 

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