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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Japanese Expeditionary Travel Scholarship's LiveJournal:

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Monday, November 26th, 2007
12:03 am
[the_magician]
Tsukiji Fish Market
I've uploaded 285 photos of the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo to my Flickr account.

I've written up a few of the pictures, and when I get a chance I'll narrow it down to a subset and do some tidying up/levelling of the pictures, but after deleting pictures that were badly out of focus, this is the unprocessed set.

Current Mood: accomplished
Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
1:28 pm
[the_magician]
British Summer Time ...
... the weather forecast for Tokyo today is 30C and 51% humidity according to the BBC ... the current observation for the area around my office in London is 12C and 86% humidity. Some places in the UK are hitting zero at night, and it's been going down to single digits around here ... makes a difference from a couple of weeks ago where it went down to the mid 20s in Tokyo (on the evening of the typhoon, between the water cooling and the wind chill factor, it was surprisingly refreshing and pleasant, aside from the people blowing past, the heavy luggage and the threat of having to sleep under an overpass somewhere!)

Current Mood: amused
10:37 am
[the_magician]
Excess luggage from Japan ...
... even after sending off two bundles via post while travelling in Japan, and leaving a bag of stuff to be surface shipped, I still got to the airport 7-10kg over my luggage allowance (7kg in checked baggage, 3kg in carryon) so I ended up packaging up 10kg (very VERY quickly) and posting it back (7,700yen/kg for excess baggage is about £35/kg, so 7kg would have been over £200! Postage was 16,800yen for 10kg which is about £75 for 10kg, or £7.50/kg so a *lot* cheaper) ... but how long would it take to get back to the UK?

Answer: it arrived yesterday (Tuesday!), so it got posted 10am Saturday, travelled Sunday-Monday, and arrived in Feltham on Tuesday morning, before I'd had time to unpack my bags from the trip! Excellent service :-)

Current Mood: impressed
Saturday, September 15th, 2007
5:35 pm
[the_magician]
Sunrise ... Sunset ...
Tokyo is nearer the equator than London (waits for gasps of amazement to die down ... grin)

This means that not only is it hotter (on average) but that the day/night division of hours is much closer to 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of nighttime (and that the change from day to night happens faster)

Add in British summer time, and you get a situation where it is dark by 18:30 or so in Tokyo and there's still an hour before sunset in London and even then it will slowly get dark after that, so closer to two hours of useable light ... we're getting near September 23rd so the UK daylight hours are getting closer to 12on/12off but since I've not been getting up at 5:30am, it means that sightseeing in Japan is something that (aside from bright lights of city) is pretty much over by 6pm each day ... then back to the hotel and change for dinner and nighttime events (kareoke etc.)

I was talking to a lovely couple from Liverpool (Jenny and Carl) on the flight back and they had won their flight from a mobile phone game download competition. 7 days in Tokyo at the Hilton Shinjuku ... but they said they were so jetlagged that they were waking in the early hours, having the hotel breakfast, going back to sleep until 2pm and only heading out then ... and that they had pretty much stayed in the Shinjuku area (no subway trips etc.) ... still they sounded like they had had a fabulous time!

My advice to anyone travelling to Japan in the middle of summer is
a) don't, go in Spring for the cherry blossoms (March I think) and the more temperate weather, or in the late Autumn (October)
b) lots of short sleeved white shirts and be prepared to sweat! Drink lots of water!!
c) get up early and go visit things early while it is still only stifling hot and before it gets far too hot and humid ... it rains one day in three in September, and it seems to cloud over more in the afternoon (at least that was my experience) so for the best lighting for photographs, again go earlier in the day and be prepared for a lot of overcast afternoons and rainy days.

e.g. Tomorrow Tokyo will have a high of 33C and a low of 26C, London (Feltham) is a high of 23 and a low of 13 (and dropping to a low of 7C by later in the week), so on a lovely warm summer's day here in Feltham, the high temperature is still lower than the coolest part of the Tokyo night.

Current Mood: accomplished
Sunday, September 16th, 2007
12:19 am
[the_magician]
Nearly home...
On bus from Heathrow to Feltham. Change buses there and I'll be home in 30 minutes. Long queue for passport control but first piece of luggage got to conveyor belt at same time as I did. Second piece was fairly quick behind, and it was straight through customs, long walk to Central Bus Station, and I am just passing next year's Eastercon hotel as I type this.
Sunny day, 22 centigrade and I am wiped out from flight and excellent 3 weeks. Will post more later.

Current Mood: tired
Saturday, September 15th, 2007
10:52 am
[the_magician]
Take off!
On plane about to leave, too much luggage still, 16,560yen to post 10kg or 7,700yen/kilo excess for 7kg. I had 17,000yen left so I posted. Sayonara Japan!

Current Mood: accomplished
7:14 am
[the_magician]
Leaving on a Jet(s) plane ...
... took the train to Narita last night, I had a reservation for the 20:04 but the nice conductor decided there was plenty of room on the 19:04 and let me take that instead.

The train is fast but it does lean a lot and bounce around a little. The toilets aren't in every car so you may have to walk to find a toilet (there was one between car 8 and 9 on my train, and between 6 and 7 was the conductor's room) ... also between 8 and 9 was the vending machine ... but they have a trolley that comes through the train selling drinks (hot and cold), candy and sandwiches/sushi rolls.

WARNING: The train stops a few times between Tokyo and Narita Airport, and one of those stops is NARITA ... don't be fooled, that's the town/city itself and not the Airport; stay on the train and the next stop (I think) is Narita Airport Terminal 2, then the stop after is Narita Airport ... also really worthwhile knowing which terminal you're flying from so you can pick the right exit.

Anyway, it's 7:22, and I have an 8:30 shuttle bus booked to the terminal, and an 11am flight, so the next time I post is either going to be from my phone in the airport, or from my own computer back in the UK.

Thanks again everyone, it's been wonderful!

Current Mood: cheerful
Friday, September 14th, 2007
12:13 am
[the_magician]
Staying in Yokohama tonight ...
... in spite of the fact that I'm renting a room in Asakusa and my luggage is there, I'm staying in Yokohama tonight! Met John and Wakey from the convention for a meal (after touring Akihabara with John earlier and spending well over one hundred ... yen. I bought a three socket plug adapter and NOTHING ELSE (well, lunch, but nothing else otherwise!) Saw the Tsujiki Fish Market earlier with T and had the freshest most delicous sushi, and then wandered around the Hamaryoki Gardens and had traditional tea in the beautiful teahouse in the middle of the lake.

So I'm here, my luggage is there, and I'll have to head back early in the morning to do my last packing and wrapping stuff for posting. It's mostly big piles of paperwork collected at the convention, so heavy but easily posted and can go surface mail.

And so to bed ...

Current Mood: awake
Thursday, September 13th, 2007
8:02 am
[the_magician]
Pedometer
... due to the five hours plus on the train travel, plus the packing time and the sitting in restaurant time, only managed 4,500 steps yesterday (mostly up and down stairs dragging luggage for the first 3,000, and the last 1,500 were wandering around the market and bar area of Asakusa with T last night as he helpfully offered to aid me in increasing the step count!)

Should do a bit better today, I hope!

Current Mood: accomplished
7:58 am
[the_magician]
A minor tidbit ...
... according to my GPS tracker/logger, (and based on a quick check) the fastest the bullet train travelled yesterday was 273kph = 170mph!

Current Mood: impressed
7:39 am
[the_magician]
A quick observation on Japanese toilets ...
... Japanese toilet paper (in my experience) is single-ply (and quite thin!) and often (perhaps always?) unperforated. In the UK almost all toilet paper is two-ply (I think the Izal medicated is one=ply, but then it's made of thick greaseproof paper suitable for baking on!) and some is three-ply and/or "quilted" for extra softness ... none of that here!

Also this Ryokan (Shigetsu in Asakusa (pronounced: a-saxa or osaxa)) is the first bedroom toilet I've had that doesn't have a bottom-washing and bidet system on it (the one in Nikko didn't, but it was a shared toilet on the hallway rather than one in the bedroom).

This is possibly also the smallest bathroom of the trip (which is a surprise as I thought I'd already had the smallest in Japan!), where I can't stand straight under the shower as my shoulders touch the wall one side and push the curtain out the other, even hunched! and the "tub" under the shower (deep but short) actually curves in in the middle to give you knee room on the toilet (which is placed diagonally to give you knee room on the other side). If I had a tape measure I'd measure the bathroom for you ... ok it's 1m x 1.5m (short side, finger tip to nose; long side finger tip to elbow on opposite arm)

I've seen public toilets where you can easily see the urinals from outside, and on the bullet trains they have a gentleman toilet which is like a phone box with a urinal in it, with a clear window so you can see the back of anyone using it (to see if it is in use) ... and the urinals at the Irish pub in wherever it was (grin!) had urinals on the fourth floor that had a wall not much wider than the urinal immediately behind each of the three or four urinall and about 1.5m high (dropping down to 30cm between pee stations!) and otherwise a clear glass window looking down on the main shopping street below, so you could watch all the people wandering past below and they could look up and see your head and shoulders (and in my case some of my chest) and then a pillar which blocked the fact I was peeing at them!

Current Mood: amused
Wednesday, September 12th, 2007
4:51 pm
[the_magician]
It still amazes me ...
... travelling at 300kph+ oma Japanese bullet train and updatihg my livejournal using my British cellphone! And it just works, no config changes etc. I'll let you know how much it costs!

Current Mood: impressed
10:05 am
[the_magician]
Drat, misread the ferry timetable ...
... I thought it was a tour ferry and that we'd go out on the boat, around the floating temple and be back in an hour ... in fact it's an hour to Miyajima and they drop you off, and then an hour back again, and the only way that would fit into today's schedule would be to have caught the return boat immediately (ten minutes later) ... sigh, perhaps I should have done it and bailed out on dinner, but at least this way I have time to repack properly and prepare a bag of maps, tickets, receipts and such that I want to keep, that I can post back from Japan surface mail :-) and I can sort out a bunch of other maps and junk I can just ditch here ... so that's what I've just done. (the stuff I'm throwing is either duplicates, or things like booklets of hotels that are in places I've already been and aren't for the hotel I stayed at ... things that I can get again from the Japanese National Tourist Organisation (JNTO) who have an office in London and sent me a big stack of stuff for my trip)

Current Mood: okay
8:56 am
[the_magician]
Off to floating temple then on to Asakusa ...
... ferry out to floating temple leaves in one hour (10 mins from here) so finishing packing and I'll go get the ferry. Then back to hotel, grab bags and up to JR station ... aiming for 12:10 bullet train to Shinosaka, then change for train to Tokyo (then one stop on tube to Kanda and change for Metro Ginza line out to Asakusa (last stop) then find the hotel!

If I don't make the 12:10, the 13:10 trains repeat the same pattern, getting me to Tokyo at 18:13 but I don't know how long it takes to get to Asakusa (trying to get there by 7pm for dinner with a couple of fans) ... if I get there too early I can freshen up or go wandering (it will just be getting dark then) ... though the thought of me arriving anywhere early is laughable!

Current Mood: bouncy
Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
10:52 pm
[the_magician]
What a lovely day!
Stayed up far too late last night worrying about options for today (was I heading back to Shinjuku and staying at expensive hotel there, or staying in Hiroshima or something else) and doing laundry etc. so at one point, around midnight, I went for a walk (I hadn't done my full 10k steps yesterday as I'd been on trains too much, so I needed to top up before bedtime) ... and as I wandered I spotted a large orange AU sign (one of the local cellphone networks) and remembered reading that there was an Irish bar up several floors in a building opposite it, so I checked, ans sure enough there was traditional Irish music coming out of a speaker and a sign saying Molly Malone's 4F (fourth floor), so I went up. Looked like a standard plastic Irish pub (loads of them in London!) with Guinness etc. but while the (local) bartender was pleasant and chatted, the rest of the clientèle appeared to be Australian or very cliquey so I had my one orange juice and then wandered the streets between the nightspots before returning to the hotel. So good walking (taking me up to the 10k pretty much exactly) but a little disappointing (more in the full trip report!)
so how was today better then?Collapse )

Current Mood: accomplished
8:20 pm
[the_magician]
Rest of trip, hotels booked.
Tonight I stay in Dormy Inn, Hiroshima
Tomorrow (Wednesday) and Thursday I stay in Ryokan Shigetsu in Asakusa
Friday night I stay at Holiday Inn Narita [1]

Tomorrow morning (Wed 12th) is going out to see floating temple on island near Hiroshima, then back and catch bullet train to Tokyo and then over to Asakusa for meal with T & S.

Thursday 13th is probably something in morning with T & S (Asakusa, Kamakura, something anyway) and then hopefully in the afternoon/evening meet up with John & Wakey maybe in Yokohama (train passes are good!)

Friday 14th is Akihabara and anything else in/near Tokyo I've missed out (not going to do Disney this trip, no time!), possibly meeting up with Japanese friends of T&S if the travel works out (and getting luggage to airport of course)

Saturday 15th is fly back, collapse and despair at state of house.
Sunday 16th is spleep!

[1] I realise English isn't everyone's first language, but even after asking to be put through to someone who spoke English better, it was just about impossible to get them to explain the difference in price between the Standard East Wing Single Room, and the Airport Plan East Wing Single Room (East Wing is old wing and has slightly smaller rooms, but is about £20/night cheaper ... and airport plan is nearly 4,000 yen more expensive and it appears the only difference is that you get breakfast included (which would only cost 1-2,000 yen anyway) ... but I couldn't find anyone that could tell me what the extra cost was (airport shuttle is free, internet is in all rooms and is free, and you get the same East Wing room ... at least in a West Wing room you'd get better scripts for the first few seasons!)

Current Mood: accomplished
2:07 am
[the_magician]
Doing laundry and thinking ...
... it's 2am and I'm waiting for one load to finish washing while the other load is finishing drying ... and I'm thinking I brought too much stuff with me (shock, surprise) in some areas and in others, well, actually I can't think of anything I brought too little of except perhaps white light cheap shirts (finding shirts my size in Japan is probably going to be harder than finding such in the UK ... they go S, M, L, LL here, where LL is about a UK large I think (based on the Disney rain coat I bought last time I was here, which was *snug* on me) while I can buy 18 or 18.5" shirts in Asda for about £3 each.

Currently plugged in, or sitting around this PC are:

  • UK six way power strip with japanese converter
  • UK phone on charger plugged into UK power strip
  • Japan phone on charger
  • SLR camera battery on charger on UK strip
  • Digital voice recorder (on USB)
  • iPod cable (not currently hooked up to iPod)
  • Other UK phone (doesn't work in Japan but has my phonebook and calendar on it) on USB lead for charger
  • Japanese AA battery charger
  • GPS tracker/logger on USB
  • 7 port powered USB hub with Japan to UK power adapter
  • retractable ethernet cable
  • laptop
  • laptop power supply plugged into UK powerstrip


Current Mood: tired
Monday, September 10th, 2007
9:52 pm
[the_magician]
Osaka, bullet trains and Hiroshima ...
Woke up early this morning in Osaka, but spent time downloading pictures from camera, sound recordings from digital recorder, GPS points from GPS tracker and doing some planning of what I'm doing over the next few days.

So when Yoshio said he was going to be 10 minutes early arriving, that was 10 minutes I didn't have slack in the packing for ... so I met him at the original time ... but the good news was I'd booked the hotel here in Hiroshima (where I am now), and that the hotel here has laundry facilities so I didn't have to do coin-op laundry with Yoshio.
Osaka: Castle, Tower and OctopusCollapse )Bullet Train with my name on it ...Collapse )Hiroshima: T-Shirts and TramsCollapse )

Current Mood: accomplished
8:10 am
[the_magician]
Sunday 9-9 Kyoto, Uji, Nara, Namba, Osaka
11,640 steps on the pedometer ...
... started the day running late (as I have all trip) but managed to meet S and T (Californian fans) for the 9:03 train to Uji (had to skip breakfast at that point in order to do so, and stuff the last pile of maps and such into one plastic bag and the spare pair of shoes into another) ... caught the local train to Uji (home of The Tale of Genji museum, Uji Bridge which features in the Tale of Genji etc.) and met up with Yoshio who has been a fantastic guide and a great person for spending three days showing me around (he's doing the Osaka guide bit today!)
UjiCollapse )
12:20 and it was a dash to Uji station for Yoshio and me to get back to Kyoto to grab my luggage from the hotel and take it to Osaka station where we were to meet Hiroshi. We left S & T at the museum to finish off Uji, with the option for them to come join us later ... as we were heading into Nara station T phoned to say he'd be joining us but was maybe an hour behind us ... we dumped my luggage in a coin locker at Nara Kintetsu Station (the Japanese for coin locker is "coin locker"!), met Hiroshi, had a quick lunch at McDonalds (I had the Ebi burger, which is a shrimp burger, very nice!)
NaraCollapse )
Met Chris Cooper as we headed back to the station, he's staying in the Hotel Nara before heading onwards and catching the same flight as me on Saturday. We said farewell to him, and then to T (who needed a Japan Rail (JR) train back to Kyoto to meet up with S) while Yoshio, Hiroshi and I got the Kintetsu line train to Namba, pausing only to get my luggage out of the coin locker at Nara station, and again to put it in a coin locker at Namba station.
NambaCollapse )

Current Mood: accomplished
Sunday, September 9th, 2007
2:01 am
[the_magician]
steps walked today ...
... 18,462 (plus a few, so let's just round it up to 18,500!)

Current Mood: accomplished
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