The way of the samurai

This morning we headed to one of the oldest dojos in Japan where we were going to learn the basics of Kendo – the way of the sword. Our sensei was a fourth generation samurai who had many fascinating stories with my favourite being when his dad taught him the art of seppuku which shocked him enough to stop speaking to his father for over 12 years and move to America to gain western culture. They talk now by the way just in case you’re worried. He definitely picked on me (must be that Asian bond) and I won my 1v1 match against my American friend Dan (that’s revenge for leaving England).

One of the most enjoyable activities I’ve done and I felt like I was shown you the real Japan. I needed a piss just before we started and the lesson was two hours long. You can imagine the relief I felt when I finally was able to relieve myself.

A quick break at home to get freshened up and then we got on a cramped bus to head to Kinkakujicho to visit the golden pavilion temple which was given to the last shogun general. The gardens leading up to it was beautiful as well!

Then it was time to zen out at the Ryogen-In zen temple where they had 5 zen gardens. It was great until I could hear some dude click his SLR camera constantly.

The above is a very well acted photo of what being on the bus was like haha.

Thanks for reading!

Memoirs of a Geisha

I mean, I’ve woken up to worse views in the morning!

We headed to Kyoto in the morning but not before heading to the morning market in Takayama. below you can see a cookie based coffee that I had. It was probably one of the best coffees I’ve had and eating the cup afterwards was a bonus.

Chopsticks with my name on it!!

The long walk to the hostel.

Great name for a shop and yes I went to McDonald’s as well. They had a burger with a hash brown and I couldn’t resist.

We had a tour this evening learning about geisha culture and it was very interesting. Did it make me want to watch the film I mentioned in the subject title? Probably not. We managed to see two of them during our walk and apparently it is very rare that it happens so that made me happy.

The shoes the geishas who are learning have to wear!

Chocolate!

Our amazing bar host!! Yeah two drinks got me a bit merry haha. Tomorrow we are having a kendo lesson with a real Japanese samurai which I know is going to be a once in a lifetime experience.

The one with the temple stay

Today was an early start but I didn’t mind as I got to ride the bullet train. This bad boy speeds along at over 300km/h and had the most comfortable seats as well. Along the way we also got to see Mount Fiji which was in-cred-able!

The front of our accommodation in Takayama city which retains it’s traditional Japanese architecture.

There were 11 different varieties of Sake to try and yes I tasted all of them, and yes I was very drunk afterwards.

The bedroom! It’s like laying on clouds.

Hida beef which is apparently better than Kobe, but since I’ve never had Kobe i can’t confirm it but I can tell you it was delicious.

Ended up in a Japanese bath house fully naked with some members of my tour group.

Tomorrow we head to former capital of Japan, Kyoto to see Buddhist temples and imperial gardens.

Mount Hakone

Wouldn’t it be great to see Mount Fuji? We attempted to do this from the beautiful Mount Hakone which is also home to some lovely smelly sulphur and black eggs. To get there we needed to travel on 4 different modes of transportation which included two trains, a tram and a rope walk. You don’t actually walk on a rope by the way.

The view from the top of the hostel and below is outside of it.

After the failed attempt to see the “Fuj” we boarded a pirate ship for a lovely 30 minute cruise around a lake as the sun was setting.

It was cold ok!

We ended the night with a curry based hot pot dish and then we all had to pick a guilty pleasure song that the others in the group had to guess. I picked Flo Rida – Low and no one guessed it was mine! I had thrown people off the scent all day but to be fair I only managed to get 3 out of 19 song choices correct…

I learnt to make sushi!

Today was fun! Started the day at the Tsukiji Fish Market where I ate a sea snail and then learnt to make one of my favourite foods! I’m sure you can work it out by the title of this post. Needless to say it tasted great and I’ll probably forget how to do it when I’m home…

Once we were done eating I tried to go to a dog who I follow on instagrams’ shop but it was closed. I later found out that the shop closes on Mondays. SUPER! After a quick freshen up back at the hostel we headed out to the super cool area of Shinjuku.

Cheers!

This is where the cool people play Pokemon Go.

This place is nicknamed “Piss Alley” because the whole alleyway didn’t have a toilet, you can work out the rest. Food was good there though!

Cheers to Shinjuku!

One of the main attractions of Tokyo is the Robot Museum. This is a 2 hour show full of music, dancers and of course robots. I’ve put a small video down below so you can experience some of the madness. I cannot recommend it enough and I will not spoil any of it (unless you ask me of course).

Stood next to the Hachi statue. The story is that a dog used to wait for its owner everyday after he finished work but unfortunately the owner had a cardiac arrest at work so never made it back. The dog however kept waiting for its owner until it died and now there is a memorial for it. Cute right? Dogs are great.

Shinjuku crossing! One of the busiest intersection in the world. A place I’ve seen in one of my favourite games Persona 5 and in films. Managed to get to the viewpoint for free which is always a bonus. Leaving Tokyo in the morning to head off to see Mount Fuji! Weather permitting of course.

The one where I got to play with two otters

Before I talk about the subject title of this post I’ll give a quick rundown of the day.

Woke up nice and early for a traditional Japanese breakfast of boiled eggs, yogurt and a banana (not in the same dish…) and then headed out to the local market. After what was a seemingly endless walk through a crowd of people (little did I know this was not going to be the worst of it today) we went up the information centre to get a quick overview of the surrounding area

The centre of the pastry was filled with cream cheese and it was great! After eating we headed on the underground to Harajuku which is the main shopping district of japan. Here you will all the classic expensive brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry and my personal favourite Apple.

A delightful lobster roll.

The above is the hipster clothing/eatery area of Japan and it was SO full of people. It took nearly 25 mins to get across to the other side just because of the above!

Yeah yeah it looks like take a shit haha. Some dude wanted to film us dancing with him for some sort of music video and of course I was happy to oblige.

After our amazing dancing escapade was captured we headed to the Meiji Shrine which is located in Shibuya, Tokyo. It is the shrine that is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shōken.

Lucky timing as we got to see a traditional Japanese wedding reception whilst at the temple.

I wanted to go to a shiba inu cafe but it was fully booked so I made do with a owl cafe which I sort of regret going as I saw the poor creatures tied up with locks.

On the other hand I got to play with otters and meerkats which you can see below! The owner clearly loved them as he had plenty of food and treats available for the little critters. Maybe this was the second best experience of my life because as you know the koala bear is number one.

Ramen is bloody good out here but that was to be excited.

It was back to Akihabara for more some more computer games which is satisfying my lust as I really want to play the new Red Dead Redemption game (less than 3 weeks to go – not like I’m counting or anything).

Outside the biggest sex shop in Tokyo. Six floors for your sexual pleasure. No camera were allowed which is probably a good thing as I saw some weird shit in there.

Sushi making class in the morning, finally I can learn to do it and I’m going to make everyone jealous.

Maid cafes, arcades and meeting the new group

The titles for my blog posts are getting less inventive or maybe I’m just not funny anymore. I went to geek central Akihabara which is full of arcades, retro games, anime and VR porn cafes. Yeah that’s right, you can watch porn in VR in your own private room for a fee. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what it’s like but I’ve been assured people frequent them often. You can also get hand job/blowjob cafes too but this will stay an unknown subject in my life. I mean, why pay when I can…you know what I’m not even going to go there.

I also met up with my friend John who I went to university with over 15 years ago, damn right I’m old. It was lovely to see him and we hung out all day.

Ok so in the maid cafe you have to wear a bear hat and you get served by lovely Japanese ladies in maid outfits. I also got to see a song and dance show which was hilarious and fascinating at the same time. I couldn’t film any of it or take photos as it’s prohibited but I did pay for a combo meal which entitled me to the below picture. I fully recommend it and it’s a staple of Japanese culture. Don’t go by yourself though as that’s creepy.

After we headed for a wander into some retro arcade shops.

Snake? Snaaaaaaaake!!!

 

This bird made the weakest sound and I had to film it. Pretty sure it was mocking me.

Fried cheese, fried raddish, fried salmon, fried chicken…you get the idea.

Big old 7 floor electrical store selling everything you’d ever need.

The pagoda was built in 942 and the temple in 645!! Both stood the test of time until World War 2 ruined everything.

Ok think that’s it for this entry. This has been a fun one to write and I can’t wait for more fun with my new tour group.

Exploring Tokyo

Oh Japan! If you ever come here prepare to do a lot of pointing as most of them cannot speak a word of English. Not that I’m complaining of course as my charade skills have levelled up immensely. Tokyo is something else though as you will see in the following pictures.

The morning sun from my hotel room.

Merry Christmas from Tokyo.

My first stop today after watching the wrong Fantastic Beasts film (I thought it was for the new one but it doesn’t come out here until the 22nd…hence the confusion) I went to visit Hibiya Park. It is a 40 acre public park and the first western style park. There is a lot of history there which you can find at https://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-parks-gardens/hibiya-park. Needless to say it is lovely!

I just want to take a moment to appreciate how good the camera is on the iPhone XS Max. I haven’t edited any of the photos that you’ve scrolled through and I’m so glad I bought it now because I know that Japan is a beautiful country. What’s that? I should have got the Pixel 3 if I wanted to take EVEN BETTER photos? Apple for life!

Okay apologies for that. After the walk I was famished and I wanted to eat teppanyaki. This is where they cook the meat in front of you on basically a large frying pan. I chose the wagyu beef after deciding that spending over £120 on a kobe steak was probably a bad idea. I think I can safely safe it was the best steak I’ve ever eaten, the bloody (heh) thing just melted in my mouth.

It gets dark at 5pm here so walking back was a treat as all the lights were on!

Tomorrow I am meeting a friend from university who is going to take me around town first to some arcades so I can play some classic games and then lunch at a…maid cafe which should be an experience. Non sexy photos to follow…

Also my tour with a company called One Life Adventures (cringe at the name) begins and it’ll be 10 days of fun including eating a robot restaurant, learning to make sushi, sleeping in a temple, a kendo class, my favourite activity karaoke and many more.

Let’s do this!

Land of the rising sun

I’m in the country I’ve been looking forward to visit for a long long time! I am finally in Japan, the home of ramen and sushi! Very very excited right now. I can’t check into the hotel until 3pm (it’s currently 9:30am) so that means I’m going to have a very confused wander around as there’s hardly any English signs anywhere. I should probably buy a phone SIM card so I don’t get too lost…

I’ve only got a few photos so far but you can probably expect more…I mean that’s why you’re here right? Not for my eloquent use of the English language.

Labelled on a map as “really big clock”. Glad it wasn’t a typo for something else.

I’m glad the toilet signs are so useful because I was definitely going to sit on it like the image advises not to.

A day trip to Daintree National Park and Cape Tribulation

Adventure day! First stop was Enterprise where they didn’t have the car that I booked online so that means an automatic upgrade, not that’s a problem for me. It was a lovely Mitsubishi SUV and driving it has now made me want one..

After picking up my friend from my NZ tour we started the journey to the Daintree National Park and the first stop was Mossman Gorge which people like to swim in because you won’t get attacked by sharks or crocodiles. The gorge is part of the traditional homeland of the indiginous Kuku Yalanji clan. There is a lovely 2.4km rainforest loop walk.

Straight after we headed back to the car to head to the Daintree Discovery Centre which let us walk through one of the oldest rainforests in the world! Yeah, older than the Amazon if you can believe that. The rainforest boasts the highest variety of plants and animals in any rainforest on the planet. The whole place is over 150 million years old!! But first you have to cross a weird ferry boat which cuts over an hour of the journey, not sure why they couldn’t just build a bridge but $$$ I guess.

Snake? Snaaaaaaake! (MGS reference)

Because of the Farcry game series I really wanted to climb that aerial tower…not really, heights terrify me.

The view of the rainforest after climbing up a wooden canopy.

After being scared shitless from the fake prehistoric animals it was time to head to Cape Tribulation! The place is a remote headland and ecotourists destination in northeast Queensland. Basically another nice beach.

Smashed avocado for lunch with bacon and egg….mmmhmm! On the way home we stopped to get ice cream!

And that was my final real activity in Australia! I am headed to Japan tomorrow and it’s definitely the part of my trip that I’ve been most looking forward to. I’m going to eat so much sushi and ramen until I explode and sing at many many karaoke bars.