This is as north as we are going

Trip Start Apr 16, 2007
Trip End Jul 24, 2007

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Flag of Japan  ,
Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Beck: Well it`s a crazy Tuesday night here in Sendai, 2hrs north of Tokyo by shikansen (bullet train). Bill and I are staying in a traditional Japanese youth hostel. No, not kidding, it`s a YHA equivalent, but instead of the usual hostel thing of western backbackers in western accommodation, there are (apart from us) only young Japanese men staying here and the style of the hotel is totally Japanese. Meaning we sleep on the floor, sit on the floor, wear slippers inside, our bed disassembles (ie we roll up the mats) and goes into a cupboard during the day, and (most interestingly) the shower/bathroom is communal, ie. no partitions between showers. Which is cool for me since I`m the only female here besides the owner, but is a little uncomfortable for Bill. It`s also very regimented, for example, shower time must be 7am-9am only. But the owners are very friendly and the hostel itself is very nicely decorated.
Hey, enough about our hotel! What else has been going on? Well, I`ve caught a cold (as per usual), which is making me crazy. And I have to apologise for the lack of photos since this computer is approx 10 yrs old and doesn`t appear to have a USB connection. But hey, it`s only $2/hr and I don`t have to leave the building. Photos next time, I promise!
So last time Bill only wrote about our first day (Friday). Hmmm, we`ve a lot since! On Saturday we saw a shrine dedicated to the war dead and went to a museum that was there. It was excessively detailed about all Japan`s military manoevers since about 1900, which was overkill for me, but if you`re really into war I`m sure you`d love it. Next was a temple in Asakusa, which was really great. It was crazy-busy with people and there was a fun holiday vibe. Actually, it was a holiday... the whole week until 5/5/07 was `golden week`, and the 5th was `children`s day`. So apparently people just vanished from Tokyo for their holidays. The city certaintly looked a lot different on Monday when everyone was back at work! On Saturday we also went to the National Museum in Ueno, which was good, lots of old stuff. Nice park around it too.
On Sunday it rained rained rained. We got on a train and just rode around the city (getting a bit lost, but oh well). We ended up in Harajuku because I wanted to see the costume-play girls (you know, the ones with the crazy outfits?) but the heavy rain meant there were only a few girls there and they were hiding under umbrellas. So we saw another temple, which was great because it was in a park up a big tree-lined road and the rain made everything atmospheric. That is, until it made my feet wet inside my shoes and just made me grumpy. So we headed over to Ikebukuro to check out 2 of the biggest department stores in the world. After confirming that yes, they are extremely large (much bigger than Adelaide Myer), we had icecream sundaes. Except, there were cornflakes in them. And mine had redbean and tapioca ball thingies. Very tasty! But a little odd. We had intended to walk around Ikebukuro, but my feet were too wet and the rain too strong and it was getting cold, so we went home for an early night. Nice.
Yesterday I was interviewed for Japanese TV. Of course. We had gone to the fish markets because everyone says they`re cool (and they were - lots of ikky things), and a camera crew came and asked us a few questions (just about where we were from, and what we`d seen that day, and they were all impressed that we could use chopsticks). Weirdness. After that we had some supertasty sushi (yes, as good as Genki!) and did some boring stuff (sorted out our plane ticket to Beijing, etc), then caught the shikansen (bullet train) to Sendai. I`m sorry to report that the train was like any other, except we had a lot of leg room, there were 2 storeys, and 2 crying babies in out carraige. Bill was impressed by how fast it went, but it didn`t seem amazing to me. Man, I`m hard to impress. Sendai is OK, but honestly we haven`t explored it much. We arrived lateish and today we expolored the area north-east of the city. We caught the train to Shiogama, then a boat to Matsushima. We were the only people on our big boat, which was weirdness, but convenient because I could run over to the other side to take photos when I wanted to. So, the point of going to Matsushima is the islands in the bay. Which were nice..... but having seen Halong bay and the Great Ocean Road, I`d have to say this wasn`t breath-takingly spectacular. But it was very nice! Oh, except for the charming industrial developments all ove rthe coast. It really ruined the vibe.
In Matsushima itself we wandered around an island that monks had carved lots of things on, the saw a zen temple, which was beautiful, but I just keep thinking about Homer Simpson crashing straight through those paper walls! We caught the train to Ishinomaki because Bill wanted to see Mangaland, but changed his mind once we got there. I was less than impressed. So we caught the train back to Nobiru station and went for a 1hr-ish walk down the Oku-Matshima peninsula and up a hill called Otakamori, where there were really really gorgeous views. To anyone doing this though, rent a bike at the station! We tried to, but it was too late in the day :(
So that`s about it (well, the bare-bones version, if you want funny anecdotes, you`ll have to apply personally!). Tomorrow we head south again to Nikko, then on to Mt Fuji (which all the tourist places say we absolutely MUST NOT climb, so we`ll just have to look at it). From there, I think we`ll go to Kyoto? Not sure yet.  Anyway, hope all`s well!
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beckandbill on

I`m very disappointed that we failed to find the bunyip. I think we should write to SA tourism and let them know that the signage needs to be imporved. I think the biggest problem though was that Bill was driving and he didn`t believe that it existed. Boo hoo. I`ll have to make a special trip to Murray Bridge next time I`m in Aus!

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