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

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

Today I went to Matsushima. Matsushima is one of the traditional Three Famous Sights You Have to See in Japan. Miyajima is one of the others, and the third is the Heavenly Bridge, which I had to skip due to time constraints. Matsushima is Japanese for Pine Island or Islands, since nouns in Japanese can

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Travel Day. Nagano to Sendai.

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Nov 062007
 

Today was a travel day from Nagano to Sendai for the most part, just like the headline says. I sent a third package home, and my luggage is still heavy. I still don’t get it. Maybe the junk in my bags is breeding? The shinkansen is no longer exciting for me. Instead it makes me

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Nagano: Zenkoji and Togakushi: Part Two: Togakushi and Notes

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Nov 052007
 
Nagano: Zenkoji and Togakushi: Part Two: Togakushi and Notes

Togakushi. Tooi. After some false starts, I finally got communications with the travel and tourism office people to work. I decided to head to Togakushi. It’s a close-ish town with mountains, trees, not many people, and a famous cedar-lined path that leads to a famous local shrine. I know I’m burned out on shrines, but

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Nov 052007
 
Nagano: Zenkoji and Togakushi: Part One, Zenkoji and Nagano

Another day in Nagano. Lots of walking. LOTS of it. I got up late. I slept in until 9:30 a.m. because I was tired. I’m sure Nagano has a lot of great Olympic-related sights, but I decided to skip those. It just didn’t do anything for me, and if I can’t ride the bobsled, what’s

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Slow Train to Nagano

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Nov 042007
 

Today was another travel day. A very long one, at that. Sayonara, Osaka. It was fun. I have to come back sometime. I really loved it there. Now off to Nagano, which takes a while to get to from Osaka. Back in Nagoya The Business Hotel Nissei was good to me. I got to sleep

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More Osaka: Giant Crab vs. Giant Octopus vs. Guy in a Clown Suit

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Nov 032007
 
More Osaka: Giant Crab vs. Giant Octopus vs. Guy in a Clown Suit

It’s Saturday in Osaka, and time to go see more stuff. This will be my last full day in Kansai, so I want to make the most of it. I got up at 8 a.m., slowly got my act together, and made sure to get to the Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan) by 10:00 a.m., when it

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Oh, Osaka! Castles and Towers and Okonomiyaki!

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Nov 022007
 
Oh, Osaka! Castles and Towers and Okonomiyaki!

Today I left fun fun Fukuoka for Osaka. The shinkansen ride took about 2:45, and I got there right at 1:45 p.m. The way the shinkansen works is that it runs on special tracks designed for high-speed rail. This means that not every station is equipped to handle these trains. So Instead of going to

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Filling in the Blanks

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Nov 022007
 

Okay, I figured out what I’m doing next. After Osaka it’s Nagano, then Sendai, then Tokyo. I just made the reservations for Nagano and Sendai a little while ago. I’ll deal with Tokyo later. Nagano is smack in the middle of the Japan Alps, which should be beautiful this time of year, and Sendai has

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Hiroshima/Fukuoka. Hello Kitty Robot Overlords.

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Nov 012007
 
Hiroshima/Fukuoka. Hello Kitty Robot Overlords.

Last night in Hiroshima I tried to do laundry again. It’s not always easy to find a hotel that has coin-operated washers that work. Even though the 5,000-7,000 yen a night business hotels tend to have them, they aren’t always in the best shape. I give you the hotel I stayed in last night as

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Hiroshima/Miyajima Part Three, Miyajima Ropeway, Shishiwa

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Oct 312007
 
Hiroshima/Miyajima Part Three, Miyajima Ropeway, Shishiwa

I spent about 30-40 minutes at Itsukushima Shrine, then had to hoof it up the mountain to the ropeway, because it was starting to get late in the day. The Ropeway is a gondola-type thing that hangs from a cable system and carries you up the mountains, because otherwise you’d be there climbing for a

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Hiroshima/Miyajima Part Two, Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima

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Oct 312007
 
Hiroshima/Miyajima Part Two, Itsukushima Shrine, Miyajima

Ferry to Miyajima After a one-hour rest break, I left for Miyajima, one of the three most beautiful sights in Japan, according to something someone famous said in the 17th century. Miyajima, the Heavenly Bridge near Kyoto, and Matsushima were the three most beautiful sights in Japan. To this day, they’re all “must see” places.

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Hiroshima/Miyajima Part One, Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum

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Oct 312007
 
Hiroshima/Miyajima Part One, Hiroshima Peace Park and Museum

I had a big day in Hiroshima and Miyajima today. I started off with a trip to what they call “The A-Bomb Dome.” (The Genbaku Dome if you want to say it in Japanese.) It’s a famous building that was still standing after the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Other buildings were left

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Random Musings from Hiroshima

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Oct 302007
 

I managed to snatch dinner before they could snatch it back out of my hands. Department stores just up and close at the drop of a hat. And they have confusing hours. For example, the food stores in the basement close at 8 p.m. The main stores close at 8 p.m. The book store closes

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From Nara to Hiroshima

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Oct 302007
 
From Nara to Hiroshima

Chipped Teeth on Rye. I made it to Hiroshima just now. And I somehow managed to chip one of my teeth on a sandwich. A sandwich. A soft, chewy, delicious sandwich. Dammit. Now I’ve got this rough spot on my teeth that I can’t stop rubbing with my tongue. So now my tongue is sore.

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Rub-a-dub

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Oct 302007
 

I figured I would mention this while I could still remember it. I just went down to the baths in the basement of the hotel. Okay, you know how you always hear, “Be careful, the baths in Japan are really hot!” you may be tempted to think, “Yeah, right.” At least I did. Until now.

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Oct 292007
 
From Kyoto to Nara

For my last night in Kyoto (which was last night), I went back to Isetan’s 11th floor. This time I went back to my chicken and pizza places for a second raid. Good stuff. Later that night my stomach paid me back in spades. That’s why I bring the Pink Stuff with me on a

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Another Big Day in Kyoto

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Oct 282007
 
Another Big Day in Kyoto

Another busy day. Not as good as yesterday, but yesterday was hard to beat. I started off my day by doing laundry at 7:30 a.m. Doing laundry in Japan is kind of handy. I say “kind of” because it has its limits. I’ve noticed that all of the coin-operated washers that I have come across

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Nasty Crunchy Yellow Things; Wait Your Turn; Keep Left

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Oct 272007
 
Nasty Crunchy Yellow Things; Wait Your Turn; Keep Left

Here’s my nightcap report. After I got back and recharged for a couple of hours, I headed back to Kyoto Station and Isetan’s 11th floor. FYI– The mall stores and the stores in Isetan in Kyoto Station close at 8PM, and the restaurants all close at 9PM. I made it in time to go to

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Oct 272007
 
A Philosophical Journey Through Kyoto

Wow. I’m totally wiped out. I saw a bunch of stuff after all, in spite of a persistent light rain that wasn’t more than slightly annoying. Ginkakuji For starters, I took the subway and then grabbed a bus to Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion). On the bus ride there, I saw a great sight I wish

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It’s Raining Again…

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Oct 272007
 

It’s raining in Kyoto today, and it’s supposed to rain all day.  I guess I’ll head to the station and ask the information desk people for some ideas for things to do that won’t get me soaked. I’ll try to visit some temples/castles tomorrow, and just do city stuff today. Monday I travel to Nara,

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Sayonara, Okazaki; Konbanwa, Kyoto!

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Oct 262007
 
Sayonara, Okazaki; Konbanwa, Kyoto!

I’m back in Kyoto, safely out of Okazaki now, although I kind of miss Okazaki. The Sky Is Crying Way Too Much I’m so happy to finally be dry. Why is it whenever I go to Kyoto, it rains? (Does two trips count enough for a “whenever?”) It started this morning, during “The TP incident,”

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The Stupidest Thing I Ever Did… For Today, Anyway

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Oct 262007
 

Well, I have a new Stupidest Thing I’ve Done So Far in Japan. And it’s up there with other Great Stupid Things I’ve Done. I brought some U.S. toilet paper with me because, well, let’s just say that me and Japanese toilet paper haven’t been getting along very well. In general, the stuff I’ve been

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Touring Around Okazaki

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Oct 252007
 

Fun day today. I got back on the ol’ Buttbuster 9000 and did some touring around Okazaki. I’m going to miss that bike… okay, no, not really. I managed to send about 20 lbs. worth of stuff home for only about $60. Fortunately, it’s all stuff I won’t need for the next 8-10 weeks, because

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The Bells, the Bells! (Because “The Chimes!” Sounds Lame)

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Oct 242007
 
The Bells, the Bells! (Because "The Chimes!" Sounds Lame)

Okazaki Castle happens to be too far away for me to get to today. But at least I have a way to show you where I am on an interactive map. (It’s in Japanese, but a map is a map.) http://tinyurl.com/3d6cgv There’s a zoom-scale-slider-thing at the bottom of the map, to change it from 500m

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It’s Log, It’s Log, It’s Big, It’s Heavy, It’s Wood!

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Oct 232007
 
It's Log, It's Log, It's Big, It's Heavy, It's Wood!

Something I saw yesterday that I forgot to mention– I was walking by the local high school, and it sits on top of a pretty steep hill. Well, I saw the baseball team out there, in their uniforms, acting lively and cheering, while someone was blowing a whistle. Intrigued, I looked as I passed by,

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The Trash Heap Has Spoken!

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Oct 232007
 
The Trash Heap Has Spoken!

Yesterday was interesting. I got up at 8 a.m. I was freezing, and my throat was killing me. The window had been leaking cold air into my room, and it was right above where my head is on the bed. (Or was– I moved the other way on the bed so my head and feet

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Noodling Around Okazaki on a Sunday

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Oct 212007
 

Today was nice. I woke up at 8, was freezing to death, cranked up the heat (once I figured out how), then went back to sleep until 10 a.m. (Which is exceedingly late for me.) I goofed around for most of the day, played on the computer a bit, did laundry, and then I went

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It’s Made of Gooold!

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Oct 202007
 
It's Made of Gooold!

I just got back to Okazaki from Kyoto, and today was great. Sun! Beautiful sun! I dumped my luggage in a locker at the station, and talked to the very helpful ladies on the 9th floor of Kyoto Station in the tourist office: by all means, go there. Try to get to Kyoto well before

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Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head

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Oct 192007
 
Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head

I managed to salvage a nice evening out tonight. I thought about going to Gion (the place with all the geisha), but I’m going to save that for when I return to Kyoto later in my trip. I have to return here to see everything I want to see. First I stopped by the local

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Putting the Mizu in Kiyomizudera, or Blame It On the Raaaaain

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Oct 192007
 
Putting the Mizu in Kiyomizudera, or Blame It On the Raaaaain

So I made it to Kyoto, and guess what? It’s raining like crazy. And guess what I left behind in Okazaki? Yes, my rain gear, what there was of it, anyway. I managed to make it to Kiyomizudera (emphasis on the mizu today, I guess), and I took a bunch of pictures there. Like any

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Made it to Kyoto.

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Oct 182007
 
Made it to Kyoto.

I finally made it to the hotel in Kyoto. It’s the Urban Hotel Kyoto, another business hotel. Business hotels are a good deal for cheapskates like me. You get a tiny room, a tiny bed, a tiny bathroom, a TV, a fridge, and you don’t pay a whole lot. The fridge was an unexpected bonus

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Off to Kyoto for the Weekend!

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Oct 182007
 

I’m still in Okazaki, but I’m leaving for Kyoto in just a few minutes for the weekend. I need to rest for another 5-10 minutes, then I’m heading out. That’s one thing I’ve discovered I have to do– make time to rest. If I don’t, I suffer. Classes are hard. For some reason, the Japanese

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Kyoto Plans

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Oct 172007
 

So far, I think my tentative schedule is going to be: 10/26 last day in Okazaki– go to Osaka. 10/26-10/28 Enjoy Osaka, then head to Nara. 10/28-10/29 Enjoy Nara, then head to either Hiroshima or Kyoto again, if I feel like more Kyoto. 10/29-11/1 Hiroshima or Kyoto 11/1-11/3 Kyoto or Hiroshima, or move on to

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Blue Monday

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Oct 152007
 
Blue Monday

Today was a slow day. I got up early, fiddled with setting up the website (I finally figured out why it wouldn’t resolve), did my homework, went to class, then rested. All of the running around from this weekend took a lot out of me. On the upside, I’m learning a lot in the Japanese

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Oct 132007
 
Flower Cars and Feudal Lords. Parade!

Big day today! For starters, I woke up at 7 a.m. On a Saturday. Can’t help it. Then I did laundry at the laundromat next to the QuickMart. I lead an exciting life! Laundry was completed without much incident. Wandering in Nagoya Then I set off for Nagoya. This time the trains worked! At first,

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