Edit Blog Post
Published: March 17th 2010
Japan Feb/March 2010
after spending a night of 'free accom' at KL international airport (where I wrote my last entry, played with the luggage trollies & ate KFC for a wonderful 4am snack!) i finally caught my flight to Narita, Tokyo. My arrival in Japan was the most eventful so far. I landed at the same time as Ola, Maz & Hart (tho they were on a different flight from Australia). Going thru customs/immigration check point, I handed over my entry card where under the "address in Japan" section I had simply written "Onsen" coz that's all I could remember about the place we were going to for snowboarding. This didnt seem to please the Immigration officer & before I knew it I was being ushered into a side office with an official who was thoroughly questioning my purpose of visit, identity, address in Japan..u get the point'. After repeatedly explaining that i was staying at Onsen to him & giving him details of people i was meeting in japan, he finally granted me entry with a friendly "please be more careful next time"... phew!! it wasnt long after, that i met up with Ola & co & they explained that
onsen simply meant 'hot spring' in japanese! hahaha... Tokyo, 1st night - capsule hotel
by special request, we had decided to spend our first night in Tokyo in a capsule hotel... I was completely freaking out about spending the night in what sounded like a coffin-like bed...but was pleased to note that capsule hotels are Japan's version of a hostel... where you're in a dorm (sexes separated) and instead of bunk beds, you sleep in a 'capsule' which is a long tube (larger than a coffin) ... & that's about it! hehe.. it really was a cool & original experience which i recommend to japan visitors =) this night was also my first introduction to an 'onsen' - traditional japanese bathing.. where (sexes separated again) a large public bathroom, consisting of one bath tub (size of a small pool containing super hot water) & some showers around the outside.. so the task is to strip off ur clothes in a designated area just outside the onsen.. then shower to clean urself & then sit in the hot tub - bathing =) thankfully the first time I undertook this task noone else was in there & my nudity was saved
from public display ;p Nozawa Onsen - snowboarding 27Feb - 8Mar '10
day 2 in Japan we caught a kazillion trains, including the infamous Shinkansen (bullet train) & a bus for our 2-3hr journey to Nozawa Onsen where we had planned to spend the next 6days at the snow. Nozawa is one of the most gorgeous little villages I've ever seen, with a collective of narrow, intertwining, hilly streets that are lined with cute little shops, amazing architecture & of course vending machines =) we found our accom (Seisenso) immediately - it's a small town - and were pleased to find ourselves in a cute & very homely Japanese inn. The receptionist/host spoke reasonably good English (a rare treat in Japan) & was as welcoming, friendly & generous as every Japanese person we'd come accross. The only nuisance in this place was the resident cat (if u could call it that) - seriously, the most bizarre animal i've ever seen! didnt sound like a cat, was huge & arguably evil! haha... but we survived & agreed to a mutual hate relationship =)
Nozawa continued to be a super enjoyable experience! our inn was packed the first day as many
note English words
Japanese made good use of the weekend to also enjoy the snow... later in the week we were joined by fireman Sam from Hong Kong (yes, he's a fireman & his name's Sam!) & later on by Martin, the Englishman who'd lived in Japan for 7yrs! both were handy to have around as Sam could read most of the signs & menus using his knowledge of the Chinese language, & Martin was fluent in Japanese! =)
first 3 days on the slopes destroyed me! I forgot how painful snowboarding can be! didnt fall as much, but still experienced throbbing pain in my legs, back, neck, arms... everywhere!!! but, mixed with intense fun, laughing & a sense of accomplishment as my skills were finally being refined, I'd say it was well worth it =) the 4th day we all agreed to take off & spend time exploring the village (translates to walking around, eating lots of food, drinking beer & coffee from vending machines & end it with a tour of a few village onsens) =) what a perfect day that was!!!
unfortunately Hart fell on his shoulder & caused a bit of damage to it, so he sat out for
4 out of 6 days 😞 I guess he used that time to get better acquainted with the freak feline at the hotel! ;p hehe... day 5 on the slopes Ola & I mustered enough courage & joined Marilyne on the red runs! This was a bit of a leap for Ola who was still finding her bearings on the board/mountain.. so she went back to green runs for more practice... I was hooked!!! what a thrill to fly down the red slopes & not have to plough snow the whole way!!! on day 6 (last day on the slopes) Sam & Martin joined us (Ola too) & we formed a naturally cool hehe snowboarding crew (& 1 ski) as we mastered the reds & 1black run together.. hehe.. I even went down the "boarder valley" an unofficial run that is in between 2 valleys thus forming a natural half-pipe..
finally the time came to farewell Nozawa & the snow.. exhausted yet satisfied, we boarder our bus & trains back to Tokyo... next destination - Shinjuku, Tokyo... highlights from Nozawa
the steamed maan/pau from the streets
jumping into really hot onsens (with a cold water hose pointing at us,
haha - weaklings!) ;p
imo syoshu & sake
okonimyaki (i think that's how u write it) Tokyo, part 2
Maz & Ola resumed their roles as our official tour guides (Hart & I were more than happy to let them navigate the metro system & tourist locations... we followed like very happy sheep) =)
They showed us Shibuya (one of the world's busiest & consequently most famous intersections, that is crossed by ~3million people per day)... we watched ppl cross this intersection in perfect order for about 30mins! amazing!! really amazing!! another testimony of the brilliance of the Japanese people. From day 1 Japan astounded me. I never knew what to expect there, but what i found was one of the most courteous, friendly, generous, polite, intelligent group of people living in the current age. In summary, the Japanese are the most dignified race of people I have ever come across... not to say that other people in this world arent dignified... but... well, just go there & u'll see for urself...
Spent 2days walking around Tokyo with Ola & Seif (we had bid M&H farewell since they caught an earlier flight back to Aust).....went to Harajuku gardens, emperor
palace, markets, ate the best kebab in Tokyo =) went up the observatory building & more! by this stage I was so over being cold &thus slightly sick... so i was really looking forward to heading back south for some warmth, despite enjoying Japan immensely & definitely hoping to return again some day to check out more parts of the country.
8th of March - fly to KL for a 1 day stop over in transit to Vietnam... stay at Tune Hotel again.. hehe... nice to be warm again 😊
flight count Feb26-9March
tsk tsk tsk... after all my hard work in Malaysia! I left Japan ranking at:
Tot: 0.179s; Tpl: 0.013s; cc: 15; qc: 61; dbt: 0.0866s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (10.17.0.13); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.2mb
Viva la snow!
Rock on Hala! Sounds incredible mate - congrats on joining the snow club. You'll never look back! Love those photos too, though I can hardly see you under all that ski gear. Hope you're enjoying the warmer weather now and recovering that tan. Starting to cool down in Melbourne now but apart from that everythings rockin pretty hard at the mo. Might have an aparment in Collingwood soon! Looking forward to the next post and more adventures. G