Australia, Japan · 19 Days · 63 Moments · April 2016

Because... Japan!

2 May 2016

All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately 200 yen only lasts 10 minutes in the airport massage chairs so our much needed massages ended way too soon. One last Asahi and a Peach cocktail and it was time to board our plane. 15 sleepless hours later and we were back in Aus. Another 6 hours and a trip on the Hume and we were home with our critters and a metric tonne of washing. We had the time of our lives. Thanks for following our adventure! Until next time. Stu & Katy ✌️
Just found the postcards we intended on sending home until Japan got in the way. Sorry not sorry. ✌️
What to do on your last full day in Japan? Well it just didn't feel right to have a lazy one but having ticked off everything on our to do list in Tokyo the only thing left was a day trip. A couple of trains and hours later and we were in Chichibu for what was supposed to be a flower show. Turns out the pet dogs people took along were more entertaining than the partially blossoming flowers and giant Japanese wasps. It was the pet turtle that took the show. Interesting day out. πŸ•πŸ’πŸŒΈπŸŽŒ
Just a few of the dogs and turtle of the Chichibu flower show. πŸ•πŸ’πŸŒΈπŸŽŒ

30 April 2016

So we turned up to the baseball stadium earlier and bought tickets for tonight's professional game. We just arrived back and gave our tickets to the staff and all these people gathered around. One man ran off and eventually came back. They said our tickets were for the university game earlier in the day but we could go in on these new tickets. We got ushered to our new seats. These Japanese people are so damn nice! I think they were laughing because Stu's Tokyo Swallows merchandise cap cost more than both the university tickets combined πŸ˜‚ #weheartjapan #goswallows
You're not mistaken. This is a dog asleep in a dog pram. That's right, no human babies allowed. Look at it, all swaddled and snug while proud Mum watches on..! Best. Thing. Ever. God I love Tokyo
Left Kyoto on our last Bullet train this morning after a much needed Starbucks caffeine hit. Smashed some sushi that caused a food coma and slept till we rolled into Tokyo. Battled the masses on the subway and checked into the 12th floor of our apartment overlooking Shinjuku and sunk a few schooners above the crowds below. Went out for a mad veggo dinner and saw a swaddled dog in a pram and not on our plates then off to the baseball. Sat next to a couple of drunk Japs to watch the Tokyo Swallows take out a sweet victory against the Yomiuri Giants. Another cracker of a day in Japan. ✌️🎌

29 April 2016

Back in Kyoto and we hopped on the correct train to head towards the village of Arashiyama to keep their bicycle rental market in business. We should have named this blog 'Katy and Stu's Japanese Bicycle Adventure.' Anyway, we headed to the Monkey Forest where we hiked up another mountain, saw some cute yet very vocal monkeys, and a great view of Kyoto. Then we rode along the river to the bamboo forest where we battled the crowds on our pink and purple bikes with one obnoxious American even scoffing "Cycling? Really? Why would you.." Hope you enjoyed trudging in the rain back to the train station buddy! The bamboo was lovely albeit crowded, and I sobbed a quiet tear for my DSLR that I'd left behind. However to relieve the angst I told myself had I brought it, it surely would have been broken/lost by now. We headed back to Kyoto station and got lost in a 12 storey department store before retiring to our apartment for the wet afternoon. We head back to Tokyo tomorrow for our last days..

28 April 2016

Last night in Kyoto we hopped on a bus and went to a vegan restaurant for some western inspired food. Bloody amazing! 😍
Today we rose later than usual due to the effectiveness of the block out curtains. Feeling very refreshed and slightly discombobulated we looked out the 19th floor window at the sea of umbrellas and ponchos dancing below. We had planned to visit Miyajima Shrine just south of Hiroshima but wondered if the shrine on the water would be any good with water falling above it too. We decided to give it a shot, and hastily jumped on a train headed in the opposite direction. Tears were averted and we eventually made it to our ferry which we ran for as the next one didn't leave for at least another 15 minutes. The clouds parted and the sun came shining through and we got to see the beautiful Miyajima Island and fend off overly friendly deer. Glad we made it despite the challenges and we got some great pics which of course made it all worthwhile. πŸ’—β›©

25 April 2016

Arrived in Hiroshima at the same time as the rain. Quite fitting that we explore the city and see the devastation caused by the A-bomb on a miserable day. So much destruction and suffering was felt here but the city was rebuilt with a strong message of peace for the world.
What we planned on being a relaxing day was anything but. In Kyoto we rose early from our capsule sleeping quarters and jumped on the bullet train for Osaka. A journey we shared with Japanese business men and angry French tourists. 15 minutes later we arrived at our destination and on to Osaka castle constructed in 1583. A quick nap overlooking the moat which stood strong against a 200,000 strong army in 1614. Enough history for one day and we were off to Shinsaibashi, a massive retail district then to nearby Dotonbori. A casual trip on a giant Ferris wheel on top of a skyscraper overlooking the city then tempura for dinner. After a solid but relaxing 14 hour day of nonstop trains and walking we deserved to spoil ourselves. An upgraded hotel room to have a single bed each instead of a king single to share was the perfect way to end the day. StuπŸ™

24 April 2016

Day two in Kyoto saw us rise early from our capsules that seem to be based on the cryogenic chambers from the aliens movies. Back to the bike shop and off onto the streets to cover 17km by bike and 11km on foot (conservative estimates). Checked out the Gion area where memoirs of a geisha was based. Saw a few "geishas" ourselves but turns out anyone can rent a costume and play the part for a day which I think was the majority of who we saw. Either way they were convincing. Took a stroll down the Path of Philosophy where we tucked into a sushi lunch by the stream then onto Fushimiinarishita for a casual 4km sweaty hike up to a mountain shrine but mostly people watching. Heels and painted on make up are suitable attire when taking on a few hundred uneven steps. With such a busy day hopefully our cryogenic chambers will feel a little more comfortable tonight. Stu πŸ™

23 April 2016

For two nights in Kyoto we are staying in a capsule hotel called 9 hours'. Still not sure why it's called this because we were here for much longer. Girls and boys are separated on different floors (insert romantic honeymoon). Everyone meanders around in the same grey gown they provide you and other guests don't speak to each other. I don't know if it's because it's a cult and you're not allowed, or because you've listened to other people's battles throughout the night with plastic bags, Velcro and respiratory infections and you're too exhausted to strike up convo. Pretty interesting concept, hopefully we get more sleep tonight 😴
Don't tell Tokyo but Kyoto is our new favourite city. It's the veggo capital of Japan, home to the amazing Nishiki markets where we filled up on testers and bought two serves of croquettes, my favouritest clothing store H&M, is bicycle friendly and just filled with awesomeness. We've seen more tourists than anywhere else so we must be on to a good thing here. We visited a temple built in 1276 which was incredible. This is the city of 10,000 shrines so there's not much need to go looking for history just jump on a bike and it will find you. We heart Kyoto πŸ’—
A morning stroll through the streets of Nagoya will take you to an enormous glass structure with a glass and water ceiling that you can walk on, holding a children's bmx competition and a farmer's market in the basement level. Because.. Japan.

22 April 2016

Amazing veggie tempura and miso soup tonight for dinner πŸ˜‹
What better way to clear a head cold than to scream your sick lungs out at an amusement park. Nagashima Spa Land is not built for fun, rather sheer terror. I actually thought I was going to die on several occasions and at times had to opt out while Stu went ahead and toyed with death. These Japs sure know how to build stuff, except things that are wind resistant such as the longest rollercoaster in the world which was at the top of the list (sorry Darls). There was over 25 other hell rides to choose from, including one where we paid for a poncho and got saturated anyway. We had a great day watching our lives and the ground below flash before our eyes.

21 April 2016

$25 and an hours wait for this pizza.. Tops πŸ˜‚
An early start this morning to board Thomas the Tank Engine again and sadly leave Mt Fuji behind. We rode a total of 9 trains today, not including the extra trip due to alighting before our stop. Thanks to the ever reliable Japanese train service though we only had to wait two minutes for the next one to arrive. Took the Shinkansen AKA bullet train to Nagoya which was done in no time at all as expected. Checked out the Toyota museum where after a riveting 45 minute guided tour we learnt that the Toyota empire began with textile manufacturing. Lucky the knowledgable German dude asked all the questions that nobody thought to ask, then answered them himself anyway. Back to the train station in the pouring rain because who pays for taxis when you're wearing Kathmandu.

20 April 2016

Stu was in food heaven tonight - mushroom and pumpkin noodle soup. It's apparently the best for miles, where you sit on the floor and put your feet in a pit under the table. The noodles are made in house and sit in a delicious miso-like broth, only a short 1km bike ride through the dark windy 6 degrees streets of Fuji.. Worth it but
Mt Fuji time! It's so beautiful and breathtaking to see in real life. We got to our shipping container hotel, and since the pneumonia from bike adventure #1 had subsided we were good to go. We grabbed some pushies and set off! They're like the new version of the bullet train, everybody's doing it. We had sushi lunch by the lake went up a gondola to a nearby mountain with incredible views. We even came across (read: crashed) the wedding photos of Mr and Mrs Chou, what a beautiful bride she was. Another awesome day exploring amazing Japan.
The last of the three trains needed to get to Mt Fuji was Thomas the Tank Engine themed. Why..?

19 April 2016

Another busy day of 'Because... Japan' moments was too much for the wife who's fast asleep in her king single bed so it's my turn to do a post. We went to DisneySea yesterday and it was awesome. Couples dressed identically, Disney characters singing Spice Girl songs, bilingual Mickey Mouse, rollercoasters, gondola rides, curry flavoured popcorn, and backwards spinning teacup rides that made us sick. Selfie stocks were banned though so capturing those timeless pictures with Goofy were made impossible.

18 April 2016

We heard that the Robot Cafe was an unmissable experience in Tokyo, and now we know why. It's hard to describe. Combine a puppet show, a thousand laser beams, Victoria's Secret fashion show, Transformers and a bad acid trip. That's the only way I can put it into words. The less something made sense, the more it made sense. Lucky we aren't epileptics although I felt like one at the end. Robot Cafe - Because.. Japan.
Headed to a gorgeous Japanese garden within the heart of Tokyo today. Cherry blossoms scattered throughout and apparently a perfectly acceptable place for a bloke to whip out his selfie stick. We loved wandering around and enjoyed our sushi picnic for lunch. Ps. Dad's only just realised you can swipe across and view all the photos for each post - shout outs to him 😘
Cherry blossoms! So so gorgeous. Photos don't do them justice 🌷
Today we got crammed into an elevator and went 45 floors up into the huge Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. Pretty spectacular view. Its amazing to think 13.5 million people live in this city although it felt like a large portion of them were riding elevators with us
Each morning we wake up to busloads of people getting dropped off at this 'AKA Jewelry' store whilst some dude is shouting what sounds like the Koran. It makes no sense but it gets us out of the house

17 April 2016

Friend shrimps. So friendly.
The Ginza shopping precinct was cool. They shut the road in the afternoon so the rich don't have to worry about doing commoner things like, crossing roads. Very affluent. Very trendy. New York in Japan - tick βœ”οΈ
My rental bike wouldn't take me back after the rain trauma *insert tears* so we took the monorail back to the train station. It was nice to see our bike track in the sunshine with more than 20 metres visibility
These pics are for the Mums and my friend Kate Tulip 🌷
We parked our bikes after our leisurely ride and headed into the Museum of Science and Innovation for our indoor activities. We saw much weirdness but enjoyed playing old video games. Seeing a three year old dominate Daytona was pretty impressive; how did he learn to play something invented so long before he was invented? A crowd gathered for a Honda-brand robot, a robot dog, and a robot lady in a hidden room. Had a great time being a kid again, even though Japanese kids are like, ichi times as smart.
The weather is a little inclement here in Tokyo today so we decided on an indoors activity at the Science Museum. But when we got off the train, these shiny red bicycles were calling our name, begging us to ride 6km to the museum. In another 'Because... Japan' moment the bikes were pedal assisted by some kind of electric motor to power us on our way. Nothing screams romantic honeymoon like riding head on into a coastal Japanese storm front. I almost wet myself laughing, but it wouldn't have mattered. We were soaked! Indoor activity - check. βœ”οΈ
First cherry blossom tree! Amongst the concrete but that doesn't matter..
What will today's adventure bring? Lucky we have this handy dandy map to get us around town! We thought it depicted a global network of trains but this is only one organisation of many trains in TOKYO. We only got lost once yesterday.. It's not our fault we couldn't understand the overhead PA advising the trains carriages would split and take different routes at the next station! However we made it back without a divorce. Win.

16 April 2016

Dad is this why they're selling off Ausgrid? To privatise and start painting the electricity boxes? I'll be voting Baird for the pink Bambis!
Vegan burger bar a few blocks from our apartment. About three million amazings. Maybe four. What a fab end to our first full day! ^_^ Sleepy time listening to the sweet sounds of Tokyo Drift on the city streets below.. 😴
Japan nailing it with logical inventions: chains to stop jaywalkers. Oh the raised warning lights are pretty good too.
We visited the Meiji Shrine near Harajuku. Not up to speed with traditional culture but what we learnt is that it was built in the 1920's and destroyed in WW2 by airstrikes. It was rebuilt 20 years later and today serves as a place where you can wash your hands with strangers using a bamboo cup attached to a long stick, see a thousand painted Sake barrels, pay to write messages to Emperors, and wear socks and thongs as Official Wedding Footwear in front of thousands of people. Albeit crowded it was actually a quite relaxing and pleasant escape from the surrounding concrete jungle.
Hooters in Tokyo. Because.. Japan. Stu did comment on the discrepancy between the busty blonde on the front signage and the actual working waitresses. I don't know what he meant.
So we went to a Cat Cafe. Yep, it happened. It was so nice and clean, and super quiet. There was a lingering scent of lavender. Even the cats didn't make noise. Above the busy streets of Shibuya we sat perched and purring alongside our furry friends. Nobody under any circumstances is permitted to show these photographs to Mama and Frank.. It could become catastrophic.
From black eggs to bottled water with added yoghurt.. There's really nothing to be said for these items aside for: Because.. Japan. Might just use that for every photo description from herein out.
This guy dressed in an animal onesie gave me free hugs and candy.. No strings attached! Why, you may ask? Because.. Oh you're getting the hang of this! So are we. Well, all except the failed claw game. It's still so raw. The hug helped though..
Trains in Japan. Whoever the transport minister is this week needs to come and learn a thing or two. These people have restaurants and department stores under. the. ground. Everything is clean. Everything runs on time. You'd think this place was built on some forethought or something? Amazing.
Saw these chopsticks for babies in a Β₯100 store. Fought back tears, oh the cuteness! Β₯100 stores are like $2 shops but *insert exaggeration* times better! #sorryhotdollar
I spy with my little eye, something beginning with.. G
Because.. Japan! ^_^
Where are your sunnies darl? Did you leave them on the airport train? I heard you can get new ones Same Day! Just like a passport!
It's like off a movie. One about, say, going to a new country. And not knowing anyone. You feel lost, and you can't figure out the translations.. #lipmy
Insert sore point, near tears. God I wanted that stuffed hamster-cat so bad. Nice effort though Darl. I won't hold it against you... *distant sobs*
Cruising the streets of Shinjuku
Kids toys in a 12 storey department store. Not enough Aussie kids have access to giant smiling inflatable flying potatoes. Elevator selfie thrown in for good measure. Because.. Japan. Does that work here?

15 April 2016

If anyone can assist with the chips? I feel like this would be a good radio segment. Basically whatever you think it's going to taste like, it's the opposite. Here we have what might be a sweet potato concoction? Wrong! These are some sort of salted caramel popcorn flavoured puffs, or something similar. Regardless this chemical sh*tstorm was pretty tasty.
Okay.. First meal time. Being a vego in Japan was always going to be a challenge, but challenge accepted! A whole restaurant dedicated to crumbing anything and everything for you to dip into delicious sauce. Stu thoroughly enjoyed his pint of Jim Beam, soda and lemon. Because.. Japan. (That's quickly becoming a thing). We still aren't sure what the go was with the shouting, the ringing of bells and the throwing of dice into a bowl. Again, Because.. Japan.
Walking from Shinjuku station to our apartment. I can't even remember what we were even talking about but in those twenty minutes, we were in awe. Not even the concrete bags strapped to our backs could flatten our love for Japan. It had us at Hello.
Nothing like a cold drink of corn to turn that frown upside down! πŸ˜‚
Airport Pet Hotel. Why don't we have such basic necessities in AUS?
Tokyo Narita Airport.. Can't walk because a) we are finally here and b) I've literally packed bags of concrete and can't move
Occasional travel mates. How you doin'? Care to share your peanuts? (I'm not being facetious. Cathay Pacific provided very tasty nuts in-flight).

14 April 2016

Ah yes, the infamous passport incident of 2013. It's still so raw however here's cheers to the end of that nightmare. Those passports that lie together fly together.. Ain't that right darl?
Rather than bombard the precious Facebook feeds of friends and family, this blog is an optional subscription to follow our Japanese adventure! Japan is one of those places we have always said we'd love to visit, but never really made a reality. We decided on this incredible country as our belated honeymoon slash much needed holiday, and here we finally are! Let's do this..