Japanoramic!

Me and Mrs. Shug went to Japan for two weeks. Here's some pictures.

 

Language

It's quite surprising how little 'Engrish' the Japanese speak. It's also fucking funny, as these demonstrate.

But there's something extremely pleasing about even the most basic signs.

And if you're feeling frisky, stick your head in one.

People

The Japanese people are the most friendly, helpful, gracious people I've ever met. Stand around looking confused for longer than ten seconds and you're almost guaranteed a local will offer, "May I hewp you?"

I was also given a, "Welcome!" as we pulled into Kyoto from a friendly businessman.

This guy insisted on photographing the hell out of us, making us 'touch' as he snapped away.

The Japanese sleep everywhere. Benches on busy city streets, restaurants and most frequently, the toob.

Mrs. Shug got over excited on the first day and even took this picture of a poor couple enjoying their lunch in what they thought was peace!

The kids in Japan are the cutest you'll ever see. I spent ages trying to ambush some little girl and snap her picture until I realised I was becoming weird and obsessive about it. So I snapped this li'l fellar instead. He's kawaii enough, but looks like Willem Dafoe compared to the other kid.

It didn't rain much, but when it did, it hung around. Spot the stupid gaijin who thought they were too cool to be dry...

Stop by Yoyogi Park in Harajuku to check out rockabilly dancers, punks, rockers and skaters.

Parks

Watch out for stereotypical travellers. We found this twat playing guitar with some guys in Yoyogi Park. They swapped instruments and he got too carried away on the bongos.

Note the bare feet, traveller's beard, baggy clothes and twatty earnest expression. I bet he was having the time of his life.

Some pictures look better upside-down.

This is Shinjuku Park, which is in the middle of a built-up area but is very large and very, very pretty.

This is Mrs. Shug. She's very small, but also very, very pretty.

Ryokan

If you're that way inclined, a traditional ryokan hotel is good for a laugh. We stayed in one in the middle of nowhere.

To be fair, though, there was very little to do there. And it was freezing cold due to an over-zealous air-con advocate.

And a terrible night's sleep, although that would be our fault for not using all the mats available to us.

Temples

The temples are great, although you could be forgiven for becoming numb to them after a few days. We were trigger happy in the first few days, taking photos of temples left, right and centre. You learn to be more sparing with film or memory card space when you realise they're everywhere.

City

I thought all the back streets in Japan would look like this. They didn't. So don't trust this image.

Get to the top of this one for...

...some cracking views of the whole of Tokyo, which until now felt 'bitty'.

You've no idea how long I waited for this orange taxi to drive past!

Shibuya. Made famous to us by films like 'Lost in Translation'. It was busy but tolerable. I hate crowds of people but it didn't seem to annoy me there. Maybe because the Japanese aren't ignorant morons like the rest of us!

Cat basket for the night, sir? The capsule hotel is a surprisingly comfortable night's sleep and more spacious than you might think. I was lied to about free porn, though.

Pink cigs.

Kawaii

They're a cheeky bunch.

Various road-side figures.

Travel

In the two weeks we were there, we can't have spent longer than a total of 20 minutes waiting for tube trains, and that's using them up to ten times a day.

They're pretty much empty if you avoid peak hours, too.

The taxis are as about expensive as at home but they sure look sexy.

Avoid getting the bus. It's a bleeding chore. This was a bus station in the middle of nowhere, found only because Mrs. Shug had the foresight to write the kanji for 'bus stop' on her hand!

The shinkansen, or 'bullet train'.

Smoking carriage.

If you happen to get the shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto, sit on the right for the best views. I was stuck on the left looking enviously over the heads of those who knew better. It wasn't until the trip back that I realised I'd also missed Mount Fuji on what had previously been a clear day and was now, of course, foggy.

Food

We didn't go for the food. We went for everything else. It's not all raw fish and tenticles, though. There's a wide range of foods to choose from. Including this grey ice-cream:

I was disappointed by the lack of chopsticks. I used them only thrice in 2 weeks, resorting to eating anything I could with them if they ever appeared, like these curly fries!

Thumb dog.

There's a vending machine at every turn filled with bizarre drinks. I don't recommend 'Nob King'. But Kirin Melon Soda? Oy-shi-ka-ta!

To do

Practise your Japanese when drunk. It was surprisingly easy to secure a few games of ten pin bowling after a few drinks.

A fun thing to do is spend all your cash in a restaurant, only to realise you don't know where the international bank is. Then look around for an hour, eventually resorting to asking the police for directions to a Citibank, which is half-an-hour's walk away. It's worth the anguish once you finally get that delicious ginko in your mitts!

Club Sega.

This was Easy Feelin'. You can rent a media booth with PS2, TV and internet. It's a lot more fun if you can figure out how to order food online, which they'll bring up to you. And there were free sugary drinks to lap up.

Easy Feelin' also had a wide selection of dirty manga.

Rent a karaoke booth, but only if you have enough people. And make sure they're all European, bar one, who must be an annoying American called Martin.

 

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