N1, Take Three

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Dec 012013
 

Another year, another N1. I feel okay about how I did. If I passed or failed, I’m sure it was close either way. (I hope I passed!) In general, I’m going to focus more on writing to improve my Japanese, as well as reading “meatier” stuff, like literature, as opposed to light novels. That sort of thing. Heading home tomorrow morning. Also, my hotel room is creepy.

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Going Home in the Snow

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Nov 122013
 

I left New York to go back home today. It snowed a bit in the morning and in the evening, but it never stuck to the roads. Time to get into serious mode for the N1 now.

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Celebrating Pocky Day in Manhattan

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Nov 112013
 

I spent Pocky Day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, then went to Kinokuniya. Dinner was with friends in Greenwich Village. Tomorrow I go back home. It’s supposed to snow.

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Off to Boston… Again.

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Nov 062013
 

I’m off to the Boston Career Forum again, to see what’s going on in the world of bilingual workers. I got as far as Delaware again, and stopped at the same place I stayed at least year.

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Cash Is Still King.

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Aug 022013
 

Always carry some cash on you, just in case those servers go down, and the credit cards turn into useless slivers of plastic. This was reinforced for me today.

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Off to Boston.

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Oct 172012
 

I’m heading to Boston to check out the Career Forum there. Now if only my car can make there in one piece, all will be good. Also, I rant about speeding laws, which irritate me in how they’re implemented.

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Asheville Again

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May 272012
 

I went back up to Asheville for Memorial Day, to help the folks out and to take a bunch of photos. I’m still a bit behind on the editing, so I’ll post them when they’re ready.

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Harajuku, Akihabara, and a View I Won’t Forget

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Dec 212011
 

Regardless of my sore throat, I pushed on today. I shipped out some boxes, went to Harajuku and had fish pizza at Shakey’s, bought more souvenirs for people, then went to Akihabara and looked at video games, manga, and electronics. After that, I stopped by Marunouchi and Maruzen, and then had dinner at Sou Hon Kei in Shinjuku again. The view was incredible. Tomorrow I go home. (Sad Face.)

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Toughing it out

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Dec 202011
 

I started the day late because I wasn’t feeling well. I went to Shinjuku to do some more shopping for people back home, then went to the post office to get boxes to send stuff home in. Dinner was in Roppongi again, followed by more Christmas/souvenir shopping.

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Great Luck, Good Food, Plastic Food

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Dec 192011
 
Great Luck, Good Food, Plastic Food

I went to Senso-ji, then Kappabashi (where they make the plastic food), had an interesting encounter with a toilet, then went to Jinbocho and finally had dinner in Shinjuku. It was a mix of plastic food and great food!

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Towering Over Tokyo

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Dec 172011
 
Towering Over Tokyo

First full day back in Tokyo. I looked around at electronics stores, went to the tourist info center near Tokyo Station, then went to the Tokyo Tower, missed out on some fireworks, got overcharged for “meh” yakitori, and wandered around Shinjuku a bit.

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Sayonara, Yamasa, Sayonara, Okazaki. Tadaima, Tokyo.

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Dec 162011
 
Sayonara, Yamasa, Sayonara, Okazaki. Tadaima, Tokyo.

A whirlwind of a day as I thanked everyone at Yamasa during the closing ceremony, had lunch with all of my classmates and said goodbye, then rushed to finish packing and got out of town. I made it to Tokyo and passed out in my favorite hotel in Shinjuku.

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Last Trip to Anjo

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Dec 142011
 
Last Trip to Anjo

Today was the last big testing day. I forgot to attach a file I was sending to one of my teachers, so I had to race home at lunch to send it. There was an earthquake in class, too. After class, I went to the calligraphy store in Anjo, where everyone was really nice again. I bought more packing materials at the Daiso, and frantically packed until 2 a.m. Oof.

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Jackson Pollock and The Tallest Toilet in Nagoya

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Dec 112011
 
Jackson Pollock and The Tallest Toilet in Nagoya

Today I went to see the Jackson Pollock exhibit at the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, then went to the Midland Square Building to see some great views of Nagoya. More book shopping after that, then expensive crepes for dinner, and a train ride back to Okazaki. I managed to take some really good photos with my cheap little IXY, too!

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Calligraphy Lesson

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Dec 052011
 

Today was my first calligraphy lesson in Japan. I’ve been doing it for about five years in the US, but I’ve never had a chance to study it here. It was a lot of fun. Thanks to the teacher’s info, I’ll probably go to Toyohashi this weekend for supplies.

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First Night in Kyoto

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Nov 252011
 
First Night in Kyoto

I made it to Kyoto; discovered a few things about buying shinkansen tickets, ate some delicious food in Kyoto, and some not-so-delicious food.

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Okazaki-jo and Anjo

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Nov 202011
 
Okazaki-jo and Anjo

The Tokugawa theme continues from yesterday, when I did some local Tokugawa-related sightseeing today. I visited Okazaki Castle and the Ieyasu and Mikawa Bushido Museum, then went to Anjo to pick up some calligraphy supplies. This time, I took pictures!

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Shopping in Nagoya. In the Rain. Again.

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Nov 052011
 

Went to Nagoya, got my money back at Bic Camera, found a nice international grocery story near JR Nagoya, got lost, bought more books, had to buy a bag to carry it all, then ate some organic food, bought a blanket, and even found a Krispy Kreme.

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ごろごろ and 電子辞書 (Gorogoro and Denshi Jisho)

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Oct 292011
 
ごろごろ and 電子辞書 (Gorogoro and Denshi Jisho)

It’s Saturday, and for once it’s not raining. It’s not really sunny, but it’s not raining. I’ll take what I can get. My electronic dictionary is dying, so I’m off to Nagoya to buy a new one, among other things.

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Nagoya Again!

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Oct 042011
 
Nagoya Again!

I decided to head to Nagoya one more time today, to pick up some odds and ends. Before leaving town, I stopped by the Post Office to take out some money. The postal ATMs are a great deal. There are no fees, other than whatever your bank charges, and there’s English support if you need

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Sunday Is For Laundry, and Another Trip to Nagoya.

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Oct 022011
 
Sunday Is For Laundry, and Another Trip to Nagoya.

It’s Sunday, a day for laundry, and for going to Nagoya again. So, laundry. I have this really long metal pole that hangs horizontally in the middle of my apartment, over the TV. It’s suspended from the ceiling by two other big metal poles. Apparently this is my clothes dryer. I come from a country

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It’s Saturday, So It Must Be Nagoya.

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Oct 012011
 

It’s Saturday. No classes, and it’s beautiful outside. So I went to Nagoya to do some shopping for some much-needed necessities. No photos on this trip, because I didn’t take my SLR with me. It was too heavy to carry around while I went shopping. I needed to buy sheets, a wireless router, and after

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Getting Used to Apartment Life

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Sep 302011
 

More classes today. I have a lot of gaps to fill in in my Japanese. Today I have my private lessons, then I’ll probably go to Nagoya to do some shopping. I need to get a wireless router and some kitchen supplies, as well as some sheets ASAP. Those are all top priorities. I’m getting

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Back in Okazaki!

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Sep 292011
 

Today I made it back to Okazaki and Yamasa again. I got up early, and grabbed a shinkansen, the Nozomi from Tokyo to Nagoya. I could have grabbed it in Shinagawa, which would have made more sense, but I know the way to Tokyo Station better, and I didn’t want to get lost and miss

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Off to Japan! (Wait, Didn’t I Use This One Before?)

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Sep 262011
 

It’s 3:30 a.m. Saturday, September 24th Sunday, September 25th. The driver is going to be here in an hour and fifteen minutes, and I’m trying to close my humongous Samsonite 29″ suitcase. My plan was to have a giant suitcase big enough to stuff Jimmy Hoffa into, but slim enough to fit nicely behind the

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Through the Trip Prep Looking Glass

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Sep 202011
 
Through the Trip Prep Looking Glass

Note: This is about stuff I did before the trip, but I’m actually writing it about 10 days into the trip, but I’m going to put this chronologically before it anyway, so that it makes sense. Because It’s There. Before this 3-month trip to Japan, I decided to do what I did before I came

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Going Back to Okazaki.

 Japan, Japanese Language, Travel  Comments Off on Going Back to Okazaki.
Aug 162011
 

I mentioned earlier that I was dissatisfied with the way my Japanese was progressing when I took the JLPT N2 last month. After talking to Michele, I realized that I have completely neglected my spoken/written Japanese in order to prepare for the N2, which tests neither skill. I considered my options seriously, and realized that

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London School of Economics (Lessons Learned from London)

 Great Britain, Photography, Technology, Travel  Comments Off on London School of Economics (Lessons Learned from London)
Jul 202011
 

Whenever I travel, I learn some new lessons about what works, and what doesn’t. Here’s my list for the London trip. Now watch me totally over-analyze everything I packed. The Best Camera Bag That Isn’t a Camera Bag Camera Non-Bag: The Mountainsmith Kit Cube is very clever, and very useful. But, it comes with a

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Good Line Karma

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Jul 122011
 

Well, I’m finally back home. Long day today. I got up at 5:15 a.m. after a 2 hour nap, got the last bits of packing done, had breakfast, and got out the door at 7 a.m. Base2Stay was a lovely hotel, and I thoroughly recommend it. Check-out was a breeze. Off to Earl’s Court, then

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Towering Over London

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Jul 092011
 

Today was a really busy day. I saw the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, then went to Piccadilly Circus yet again to pick up some tea at Fortnum and Mason. After that, I had some noodles and karaage, and picked up some Japanese confections at Minamoto Kitchoan. On the way I came across the

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Jul 082011
 

I had an ambitious plan today, and got whooped by the National Gallery. That’s one tough museum to get through, even on roller skates. I started out early enough, but made my first error when I headed out the door and down the street, having forgotten to brush my teeth. I hate it when I

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London Loves the BL.

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Jul 072011
 

It’s Thursday, and I had to move out of my double room today. Before I did that, I started to check over my camera from my trip to Westminster yesterday, and what do I find, but the UV filter on my 80-200mm lens is smashed to bits, and it’s bent into place. I forced out

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Pounded

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Jul 062011
 

It’s Wednesday, and I’ve crested the hill of my trip to London. Today I had to move out of room 114, a nice little room, so I spent some time throwing everything into bags. I had also decided to send two boxes full of unneeded books home. Using the mail turned out to be a

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Wandering Around Piccadilly Circus

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Jul 052011
 

My first stop today was Piccadilly Circus, where there’s a neat used Japanese book store called Adanami. It’s in an old dry cleaner’s, and when I got there, I could still see the old dry cleaner’s sign. I got there just a little too early, because they were still closed. They open at noon, and

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Caution: 175 Steps.

 Great Britain, Photography, Travel  Comments Off on Caution: 175 Steps.
Jul 042011
 

The test’s over. My brain still resembles Jell-O, but it’s time to be a tourist. So let’s start off big. How about the British Museum? Is that big enough for you? It’s big enough for me. I headed off to the Russell Square tube station, and encountered a sort of tube station that I haven’t

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Crossed Up at King’s Cross

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Jul 012011
 

I met up with Michele (pronounced the men’s way, not the women’s way) from Italy today. He’s someone who also posts on the RTK forums, and is really good at Japanese. He’s in town to take the JLPT N1. We had a bit of a mess at first trying to meet up. We agreed to

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Paddington Bares All

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Jun 302011
 

First a word about where I’m staying. It’s a hotel called Base2Stay in Kensington, about 5 minutes’ walk from the Earls Court Tube station. London hotels are ungodly expensive, and when researching a place to stay, I came upon horror story after horror story about cheap hotels that had terrible service, or no air conditioning,

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The flight from Heck

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Jun 292011
 

I made it to London safely, but it wasn’t without a few snags. For starters, the flight was overbooked because the Sunday flight was cancelled, and they were trying to cram as many people on board as possible. There was no way a mere $800 voucher was going to lure me away from taking my

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Bele Chere

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Jul 262009
 

I’m in Asheville for the weekend, and I decided to take in the Bele Chere festival today. Yes, that’s how it’s spelled. According to the official website FAQ, it’s Scottish for something along the lines of “have fun.” It’s definitely not a misspelling of the French phrase that refers to your beautiful loved one. All

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Dis-AAdvantaged

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Jul 192009
 

I just had a shocking discovery– my AAdvantage miles have been taken away from me. American Airlines pulled the rug out from under me when I wasn’t paying attention and expired them, since I haven’t flown American in the last 18 months. So the 23,500 miles I had so diligently hoarded in hopes of getting

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Rich 1, JR Pass 0

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Jul 272008
 

I found the whole breakdown of the various trains I took on my 52,000-yen Japan Rail Pass last Fall, prices and all. They’re in no particular order, but that’s because I’m too lazy to sort them out properly. Sendai -> Tokyo 10,390 (Shinkansen) Nagano -> Sendai 15,220 (Shinkansen) Nagoya -> Nagano 6,390 (Limited Express) Osaka

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Last Day In Japan. ;_;

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Nov 142007
 
Last Day In Japan. ;_;

I managed to get packed last night, but I was up late doing it. No surprise there. First thing this morning I backed up all of my photos to DVD. I just had this horrible image of a security guy ruining my laptop, all 3,000 photos, with no backup… *shudder* Then it was off to

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Hot Doughnuts Now! Shinjuku, Takashimaya Times Square, Krispy Kreme!

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Nov 132007
 
Hot Doughnuts Now! Shinjuku, Takashimaya Times Square, Krispy Kreme!

Busy day today, with ups, downs, and a Krispy Kreme sighting. I started off at 9:30 by running to Ikebukuro to buy a suitcase. Ugh. But I did find one. It’s not the best one I could find, but it was the right mix of cheap and not too shabby. Then breakfast, which was more

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Nov 122007
 
Senso-ji and Akiba Fun, Part Two, Akihabara, Ikebukuro, etc.

Akihabara So on to Akihabara, or Akiba as everyone calls it here. First, I stopped at Asakusabashi station again, as I transferred from the subway to the JR line. I had a wait, so I took some more photos of Asakusabashi station: Asakusabashi platform: Roof detail: Signal lights: My train came in, and I made

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Nov 122007
 
Senso-ji and Akiba Fun, Part One, Senso-ji and Asakusa

Reversal! I was at about 70% today, but I was good enough to go. I decided to keep my plans simple. First off would be Senso-ji in Asakusa. On the way there, I had to change trains at Asakusabashi station. So I took a photo. I got to Asakusa, and headed to Senso-ji. It’s a

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Odaiba

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Nov 112007
 
Odaiba

I woke up feeling really crummy today. But I decided to head to Odaiba anyway. (Bad idea.) I should have had a clue when I was feeling wonky riding the subway… but I didn’t. I pressed on. The longer I rode the Oedo Line, the worse I felt.  I had to ride for 15-20 minutes

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Mind the Gap, Please

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Nov 102007
 
Mind the Gap, Please

Long day. I got up early, researched some ideas, and settled on hitting Nakano Broadway, because it’s full of all kinds of shops, some of which I may be interested in. Since Time Out recommended a trip, I figured I’d give it a shot. I hopped on the Chuo Rapid to Nakano, got there, and

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So I Was Shopping in Ginza Today…

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Nov 092007
 
So I Was Shopping in Ginza Today...

I’m going to use my new favorite phrase now. So I was shopping in Ginza today… … yeah, that’s my new favorite phrase. Some massive stores in Ginza (with matching prices, I’m sure!) Seibu department store: Anyway, I was shopping in Ginza today, looking for two stationery stores mentioned in Time Out Tokyo. But first,

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Tokyoverload.

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Nov 082007
 
Tokyoverload.

Leaving Sendai Finally made it to Tokyo. A brief synopsis of the day: First, a jar of KitKats. Yep, a glass jar full of KitKats. Never seen one of those! I got up early to make my 10 a.m. checkout, went to the station, and made some calls overseas to the family. (Hi family!) I

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Buses in Japan. How to Cope.

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Nov 082007
 

I’ve mentioned buses in Japan before, but I thought I would mention them again to give them a little special attention. In order to get to some out-of-the-way places, you will need to ride buses.  They can be the most intimidating of the various forms of mass transit, because they can be a bit confusing,

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Matsushima, Seagulls, The Magnificent View, and Taiyaki. Part Two

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Nov 072007
 
Matsushima, Seagulls, The Magnificent View, and Taiyaki. Part Two

Oku-Matsushima, A Hidden Gem… If you could hide something that big. At the station, I got on the train to Nobiru. When I got there, I talked to the lady in the shop at the station, and rented the bicycle (there’s only one, and it was available!) for 300 yen for 4 hours. I was

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