Sunday, January 20, 2008

Japan Trip - Part 3 ~ Hits and Misses

This post will mainly be on the things which happened on the trip which is most memorable, the ups and the downs. Warning of super long wall of text!! Please take some eye rest in between points as it's really long and I don't want to have a lawsuit filed against me for causing eyesight damage. And also maybe some of the points that I would mention would be useful for those planning future trips to pick up (especially the misses). Names used in the post: My cousin - Marcus, My friend - Calvin (short Cal). First up will be the misses.

1a. Not being well-prepared enough. Despite the constant planning and tweaking to make the trip as perfect as I could get it to be, it still fell short by a great distance. I can't believed I actually forgot to put in the location of some of the accommodations, thus the greater difficulty in reaching the place.

In fact the first day upon arrival, we walked around Akihabara with our backpacks for about 3hrs before we actually found the Capsule Hotel (I did ask around, but no one knew where it was? some -.-"), and to my horror wasn't open yet till 5pm (we reached around 3pm), then having to burn time walking about with our backpacks (the lockers at Akiba station was all in used). And then there was the wandering in Namba, Osaka, Subway station for about and hour looking at every available map to find the Capsule Hotel location, and once again the lockers were all occupied, thus carrying everything again.

1b. Again on planning. Not having a backup plan. Day 2 night we were supposed to be taking the Akebono Night Train from Ueno to Aomori, and I didn't expect the reservations to be full, with only the sleeper car available, in which we had to fork out another 9,450 Yen extra even with the JR Rail Pass. Weighting in all the factors and not wanting to change the schedule, we paid and took the night train. From this experience, and not wanting the same thing to happen on our return trip, I made a backup plan, in which I am thankful for as the return trip was also full. Instead we took a 2 trains transfer (including a Shinkansen) to arrive back in Tokyo on the same day instead of reaching on the day after. But of course we had to "pay" for the accommodations for an extra night. I also made lots of other backup plans thereafter to make sure things goes as planned, or at least close to it, but as usual some still doesn't go off well.......

2. In which leads to this. It sucks when the transportation services for tourist spots don't put the timing for their transport on their website (most do but some just can't seem to find it). Traveling from Amazake Chaya back to Yumoto (Hakone), we needed to take a bus. However upon arrival at the tea house, and seeing the bus timetable, the last bus seemed to have left at 4.15pm, and the time of our arrival was 4.45pm.

We had 2 options. 1: Travel back to Motohakone which is around 1km back and catch a taxi (spend more money), 2: make the journey towards Yumoto in darkness along the road which is about 8km away; that is by the old Tokaido path though but was deemed too dangerous to use in darkness, thus the main road, but due to the winding road I swear it was about 10-12km instead, but we didn't know at this point. Being the hero, we decided to walk. We had to use our handphone lights to navigate the road (which looks like one of those race roads you would see in Initial D) as it was really dark/pitch black at certain points.

We walked for about 3hrs (I believe we cleared about 6-9km during this time), and yet the town still seemed soooooo far away. Giving up, we decided to take the first taxi that pass our way (there was 2 that passed us throughout the walk but decided not to take). Judging from the taxi fare that we eventually took (and it was damn expensive ><), I calculated that we had about another 4-5km more to walk. We managed to catch the Shinkansen back to Tokyo thankfully too due to the taxi, in which if we had walked I think we had to find accommodations within Hakone. The following day Cal's right? leg was swollen and he was out for the day, thus leading to missing out on 4 locations that I had initially planned to go on that day. But I did do some shopping in Ikebukuro and Akihabara. ^^
Just a random picture taken from Odaiba to ease the eyes. Noticed the flaming ball of light falling from the sky? We have no idea what is it, but it lasted for about 2mins before it disappeared.

3. Emo. Sorry but I gotta put this here Cal, it's part of the trip. I swear the 25th Dec was the worst day of the trip. Being irritated as my shoe laces kept coming out, and Cal always making a sarcastic comment over and over again about it, I lashed out. After that, the whole day Cal was going emo, which %$&*ing spoilt the mood. Over and over again I tried to liven up the atmosphere but in vain, but at the same time I just wanted to beat the living daylights out of him for being emo on a holiday. I said to myself I swear I was never going to apologise for the outlash, but I don't need an apology from Cal either as we're both at fault I believe and we should just put it behind and continue enjoying the trip. But no he just had to go &%$*ing emo the whole day.

Around evening time while trying to shop for stuff in Akihabara, I couldn't take it anymore and just confronted Cal, demanding what he wants to do to just stop being emo, and I also apologised against my will. I was on the verge of tears as I didn't want my long awaited holiday in Japan to be like this. He said he wanted some time to himself, so I initially wanted to drop him back at the hostel and then go back to Akiba to continue shopping, but while on our way to the subway he said he would just walk around on his own while I continue shopping and then we'll meet at a later time, in which I took the offer as going back to the hostel would waste too much time. Thankfully the next day he was back to his normal self, else I had planned to just dump him at the hostel and leave without him. There's no room for emo people on my holidays. Screw with the "Leave no man behind" theory.

4. Drawing fortunes. I'm not sure what's wrong, but I drew 2 x bad fortune and 1 x mild good fortune throughout the trip. I feel sad. The other 2 guys drew best fortunes. I swear I'm cursed!

5. Not having enough money and time!!! 24 days isn't enough! I want to stay for good!! Need bank account of Bill Gates too to buy all my lovely anime goods!!

That more or less covered the low keypoints of the trip, so onto the
1. Anime everywhere!!! I visited Akihabara, Ikebukuro, Nakano Broadway in Tokyo, and also visited Nipponbashi in Osaka. I bought anime goods from every single place too! I simply love the easy access to anime nearly everywhere in Japan (though I couldn't really find any in Hokkaido area).

2. Comiket. I really loved the event despite all the queuing that we had to do. Would really love to go again (but I would like to avoid summer comiket cause it'll be HOT!).

3. Food!!! Enough said in the first post of the Japan Trip recap series.

4. Snow!! First time seeing/playing snow, totally enjoyed it. Snowboarding is also very addictive, I want to pick it up full time now!! I really enjoy it when while the snow is still falling, you just lie down in the snow and look up into the dark sky and watch the snow. It just feels magically beautiful.
Marcus playing with the snowman, watch Kanon ep 19 for reference ^^.

5. Onsens (Hot Springs). I'm addicted. The feeling is damn nice. Even better when in a rotenburo (outdoor bath) and snow is falling all around you.

6. The 700 Yen rice. This moment was simply gold. We were eating in an Unagi Restaurant in Namba, Osaka, and Marcus ordered a bowl of Unagi Don while me and Cal ordered just a whole piece of Unagi. When the dishes came, Marcus opened up his bowl, to only find white rice with some sauces on it. He just stared blankly at the rice, as that was all they served him, no other plate which had the Unagi on it, and the look on his face was simply gold. Eventually the waitress came over and tried to explain, but he didn't know Japanese so he was just blur and stunned until the waitress went (in really broken English and some hand signs), Rice --> Unagi --> Rice. At this point we just couldn't stop laughing at my cousin. Marcus's new catch phrase: THE UNAGI IS A LIE!!

7. Deer mobbing. Marcus did most of the feeding of the deers, in which I didn't really want to do in fear of my D70 hanging off my neck, who knows they think it's food and munch on it. The deers on the outer park of the park were really docile, they just walk up to you and wait for you to hand out the food. As we moved deeper into the park, they were getting abit rough, starting to do light gentle nudges on you for you to know that they're there and they demand food.

He eventually ran out of deer food and was reluctant to buy more, in which I happily sponsored for. Why? In the far distance I saw the deers were getting really rough (in which my cousin didn't noticed), and I wanted to get some "nice" photos of a person "trying" to feed a hungry mob of deers. Approaching the "main area" (most of the deers were here) with just the food in hand, the deers would start to approach fast. They came fast and furious, nudging my cousin all over with their head, there was even one trying to take a bite off him lol. He started to run and sprinkle the food in a trail, but they just kept following him.

What were me and Cal doing? Well... we were actually at a distance, camera mounted on hand, shouting at my cousin to stand still and get mobbed as we wanted to take photos. Yes we're evil and we enjoyed it! After he ran out of food and the deers moved to their next target, his trench coat was already covered in deer saliva lol.

8. Posing for the Lucky Star pictures. This was simply hilarious, and thankfully Kyoani was closed on this day else I swear they would be laughing non-stop while sitting in their offices watching us. The earlier part of the day we visited the town of Uji, about 6 stops? (rapid service) from Kyoto. Kyoani offices is located in a smaller town of Kohata, 2 local train stops from Uji in the direction of Kyoto along the JR line.

The first building was actually just right outside of the train station, to the left side, which took me about 2-3mins after exiting the station to realise. I was actually looking for a map to navigate the area. I tried to angle the camera properly using anything I could find (I didn't have a tripod), then reconfirming the poses of each of us and where to stand. The funny part was whenever there was people walking around, we would quickly do something else and act blur, we're just damn shy to be "posing" and be seen by others. After taking a few shots, and not wanting to spend time walking around, I decided to ask the train station attendant how to reach the next building as I had the addresses.
Kyoto Animation Main Office, 1st Studio.
Address: 32, O Seto, Kohata, Uji-shi, Kyoto-fu, Japan.

From the same train station, we had to turn right, then turn left, walk all the way straight down till we reach another train line. The second building was located very near to it. Cal had enough from the posing of the first building that he didn't want to do for this, and my cousin self-decided to run to the top of the building to act as the "unidentified guy" looking down at Konata and friends, thus I had to do a solo shoot -.-". Soon after we left to head back to Kyoto. I don't think I'll be posting any of the "posed" shots as they didn't turn out properly. It was either we couldn't stop laughing when the shot was taken, or that we're out of position, or just plain ugly. But I'll still just post the pictures of the "offices" from the outside.
Kyoto Animation 2nd Studio.
Address: 11, 34, Uchihata, Kohata, Uji-shi, Kyoto-fu, Japan
Yuni Highshop Building 3F.

9. Defending one's honor. Happened on the 2nd day of the trip when we're at Ikebukuro, in the park just opposite Lashinbang (details on what is it on Windbell's blog). We were sitting down taking a rest, when we noticed a group of photographers taking photos of these 2 (or was it 3?) young girls (estimate around 11-13 yrs old?) dressed in gothic lolita clothings. We observed them for a while before they started to leave.

When they were leaving, Cal was like asking me "Eh not going to take photo ar? Your cute cute loli type" (Well I'm abit of a lolicon (non-ero, just the kawaii-sugi!!! factor, just makes you want to go kyuuuu~~~!!). So my cousin turned to Cal and started defending me
(it's only day 2! he didn't know I was already deep in the "dark" side), and then said that I'm not that type of person, and it was at that moment he heard a shutter sound, turned and saw me with camera full zoom (it's not much though, since it's only a kit lens) in the direction of the group walking off, and he went "Nooooooooooooo". Eh I couldn't help it one of the girls (in a black gothic lolita outfit) was just really really cute!! (Siscon material!!! erm....opps??) Sadly the picture didn't came out well as I only got the back and another person was blocking the view of her. Uguu~

One last thing to add. The most bizarre/scary sight I had during this trip, but no photos to back it up though. The other two didn't see it, only me. Along the stretch walking from Motohakone to Yumoto, we passed by this graveyard. After passing the graveyard was a stretch of walls, and we just continued walking. However once we cleared the wall area, there was this small hut/house. I didn't noticed any windows on the house, or I was just simply distracted by the sight. In front of the hut/house, was a white kimono, being hanged similar to what a scarecrow would be like, with arms outstretched. However the white kimono was covered in what I would say a "splash" of red colour liquid/paint/blood? I can't confirm, I didn't want to. I stared at it for about 5 seconds before I turned my head and increased my walking pace. I was simply disturbed, as it reminded me of the girl wearing the white/red kimono from the Fatal Frame series. I didn't tell the other two till we were on the Shinkansen back to Tokyo.

I guess that's about it for now, it has been a really long post. I guess my next post would be on the scenery + accommodations, then the loots breakdown, and finishing off with a conclusion, with the current state of my room with my new loots. Enjoy! Rest of related photos found here ---> Various photos.

P.S: I do not know who these 4 are, but I suspect it could be DarkMirage's group, since based on his blog post at the end of the day they were also at the Sensoji shrine around the same time as us. Why I took the photo? Hmm...walked past them, heard them talking, guessed they were Singaporeans (I swear it's the Singlish that is giving us all away). Something about the vibes I was "receiving" from them, just felt like one of "us", and also abit of profiling technique used from my point of view. So I just took a shot. Anyone can verify? ^^


calvin hii king juen. said...

but the scarecrow was calling out to you. "daniel~ daniel~" didn't you hear?

Windbell said...

That's DM's group. One of them was somewhere taking photos so there are only 3 there.

Kawasumi Hirito said...

Who knows in the near future will be able to meet up with the rest of the SGanimebloggers. Will be good to know more people with the same hobbies ^^.