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B1CGet in touch with guide from Hakone (2004.09.04)
B2XAttend nomikai from E-Mail from Alberto Tomita {{Schedule:19:00-21:00}} (2004.10.15)
B3XHelp Ranulf find Chicago (2004.10.17)
B4XCheck out Halloween at Omotesando (2004.10.31)


2. A weekend in Kansai

Categories: 2005.01.25:1 -- Permalink, Comment form

I had a relaxing weekend in Kansai, hopping from Kobe to Kyoto and then to Osaka. Tita Cora is also fond of creature comforts, so instead of a set tour, I took her to a 100 yen shop to buy 32 (!) miso soup bowls and then to a hot spring some 15 minutes away from the train station. There, on the 7th floor of a building nestled among apartments, hotels, and curio shops, we indulged in a bewildering array of baths, including another wine bath.

She left early the next day, so I decided to make the most of my Sunday by going to Kyoto. I went to the Kyomizudera temple, a beautiful set of cedar structures set over a cliff. I rented a PDA audio guide (how could I not patronize such excellent use of technology?) and made my way around the temple complex listening to interesting audio snippets and looking at pictures of things not on public display. Although there were many tourists, the place felt serene, sublime.

On the way to Kyomizudera and back, I ducked into lots of little curio shops. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but I found all the different shapes and colors fascinating. There were shops with folding fans in a multitude of designs, parasols sold side-by-side with fancy yukata and slippers, pottery in every shape and style. I wandered until I felt myself no longer distinguishing new and interesting things, then I headed back to Kyoto station.

I had friends in Osaka, so I decided to go there instead of heading all the way back to Kobe. I called the night bus service to move my departure to Osaka instead, and asked them to e-mail me a map of the bus stop. I tried to get in touch with my friends, but none of them replied (that's the problem when you're such an impulsive person that you do everything on short notice), so I just wandered around looking for an Internet cafe. Yahoo! BB (broadband) had a free Internet cafe in Yodobashi Camera, and I checked my mail for the map before heading to the 8th floor of the same building for a wonderful tonkatsu dinner. Then I wandered through the shops some more. Nearly went for a facial (only 1000 yen!) but it was already too late by the time I found out about the offer. Got sucked into a toy shop and couldn't resist buying a Rubik's cube-like thing in the shape of a pyramid.

Then I headed back down to the cybercafe for a quick check. So now it's back to Tokyo, and work, and and the rest of life. Just one more month!

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1. Kamakura

Categories: 2004.10.10:1 -- Permalink, Comment form

I had a lot of fun on my Kamakura trip thanks to the wonderful volunteer guides. One of them even spoke Filipino. I didn't want to miss an opportunity to practice my Japanese, though, and I was happy to find myself conversing with them easily. Yay!

The temples we visited were very beautiful, and thanks to the backstory they shared and the extra information I downloaded to my iPAQ the night before, I was able to really appreciate the places we visited. =) The guides were amazed by the amount of information on my PDA. They laughed when I mentioned things they'd forgotten, and seemed flattered that I'd prepared so much. It was a good idea! =)

Pictures up at http://www.kathychua.kom.ph/sacha . Lots of pictures this time! I filled my whole memory card. I didn't upload all the pictures taken, but the sheer quantity I had to choose from probably increased the chances of my having at least one good shot, right?

I bought a bright red parasol. Although it's made of paper, it keeps out light drizzles pretty well. Yes, I know, I already have an umbrella, but a _bright_ _red_ Japanese umbrella will probably look nice in pictures. My traffic-yellow jacket looks a bit out of place with it, though. If I find a nice black trenchcoat in the second-hand stores a friend told me about... <impish grin>

Osaka preparations


Hmm. I trust that I will have an opportunity to go to Kyoto one of these days. I should plan to just explore Osaka on Sunday so that I have time to relax and really enjoy the place instead of rushing around wondering if I'll make it to Kyoto and back.

Possible places



Tokyo Tower

Ghibli Museum (Mitaka), Hayao Miyazaki


<sachac> by the way, where can one find nice coats here? second-hand would be
         fine. i saw _one_ nice trenchcoat in shibuya 109, and have also
         checked most of the harajuku shops.
*b* those places are too expensive. take a walk down the side streets of ueno
    with its cheap clothes and street hawkers.
<sachac> ueno. right, will go there a few weeks from now.
*b* or if your closer to the west side of town take the odakyu or the
    inokashira line to shimokitazawa and there are little shops there too

Shinjuku (entertainment, shopping)

Probably just the train station

Harajuku -- teenager capital

Harajuku station, Takeshita street, Cat street, Omotesando

Odaiba -- futuristic shopping and entertainment

Not part of the rail pass. By foot, 30 minutes: Shibaura-futo station, Yurikamome. Or Osaki - Tokyo Teleport (JR Saikyo/Yamanote)

Decs Tokyo Beach

Akihabara -- electronics, 11:00 - 19:00

Bring passport for duty free

Akky: PDA 1-12-1 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Akky II: 1-10-5 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo LAOX main store: 1-2-9 Soto Kanda Takarada Duty Free Main Shop, 1-14-7 Soto-Kanda

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Also buy ticket for Hikari train to Osaka/Kyoto/Nagoya from Yokohama? Or save that for next month instead? Hikari Hayatoku Kippu: 10% discount One-way trip from Tokyo is 13,750 yen, though, so it's kinda expensive

Kyoto Sightseeing Card: 1,200 yen

Tofukuji - Zen temple

Second half of November. Hmm. This is going to be tough.