September 08, 2007

Mom and Dad visit Japan

Back tracking and playing catchup a lot... mom and dad made it to Japan!... last April. Of course it was awesome to see them, since it'd been awhile. They arrived at the airport without too much trouble, other than a cranky American immigration officer harassing them in Winnipeg and some problems sorting the cash machine out (if you don't remove your cash from the slot quickly enough, it will close and your money will be gone). Wisely, they rented a cell phone in case they got lost.

Here we are at in front of the airport! I opted to take my parents to my place on the bus, so they would have a cool view of Tokyo.

Here's a photo shot from the bus. They seems interested by the city as they tried not to fall asleep.

By the time we got near my place, it was getting dark. The neon lights must've been shocking compared to small-town Canada!

Bikes are a popular thing here.

Here we are near my home the next day.

There I am; posing on the street.

On my parents first day in Japan, I left them to fend for themselves as I went off to work.

Gan-butt-eh (Good luck!) mom and dad! You're alone in the most populated city in the world!

June 03, 2007


Look forward to an absolute TON of photos from parts of Japan and China soon. I'll try not to go as picture happy as I did with Kyoto. Here's a teaser pic from West Lake in Hangzhou...

Ochanomizu Station

I thought I'd share a couple photos of one of the cooler-looking train stations in Tokyo; Ochanomizu Station.

Here's the orange-coloured Chuo-line train, with the skycrapers of Iidabashi in the background.

Here's a shot of the station itself.

BTW, some people might be wondering why I haven't posted in a while, or talked about my girlfriend (6 months now...) or even mentioned where I work. Well, I just don't feel the need; especially regarding where I work. I teach English in Tokyo, but beyond that I just won't say. There are enough people around who read blogs on the net that I'd rather not get caught saying something critical about who I work with/for... at least until after I have new people I work with or for. My family and friend all know where I am, or would if they asked. ;) As for not posting much... well, I'm just lazy. I've seen so many temples, shrines, trees, Asian people picking their noses, etc., in the past two plus years that I just don't feel like taking pictures of and talking about them all. I might get into the habit of updating often again, and I hope I do, but we'll just have to wait and see how energetic I get about it. I will post picture and talk about where I go on my travels, as that's always interesting to someone (probably me in 10 years time).

Cheers, and happy reading/picture viewing!

KFC: Shaking hands with the Colonel

Just a funny picture of my meeting Colonel Sanders at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Oji, Tokyo.

Nice to meet you, too!

If you zoom in, you'll see what of the biggest problems with fashion in Asia... older ladies who seem to think that coloring their hair any colour of the rainbow is a bright idea (pun intended).

April 01, 2007

Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disneyland

Back in January, Hiromi and I took a day trip to Tokyo Disneyland. If you've been to the Magic Kingdom in any other of the Disney theme parks, then you've basically been here. It's not much different, other than the restaurants having a much wider selection of sushi and curry-rice than the other incarnations of Disney.

Behold, the ironic commercial glory of Cinderella's castle at night!

Let's go see Mickey! We're going to Disneyland!!!

Ahhhhh, Tokyo in the winter... kind of makes me miss the snowy frozenness of snowy Canada.

Another entrance? Oh well, it's Disneyland!!!

European(!?) shopping at its finest.

Think Cinderella is in there? I need my apartment cleaned.

Space mountain!!!... (closed for maintenance)

Splash Mountain!

The Wild West! I think that's Big Thunder Mountain.

More Wild West!

It was all pretty and stuff at night.

That's all folks!

January 01, 2007


Happy new year. I didn't break a leg this time.


For Christmas break this year, I decided to venture out to Kyoto; the old capital city of Japan. Basically, I walked around for four days and saw enough temples and gardens to last for seven lifetimes! I took the shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Kyoto. The trip was about 3 hours, and cost a little over 13,000 yen. The shinkansen, like the KTX in Korea, travels at around 300 km/h. It doesn't feel that fast when you're in the train though. I was happy to have a window seat on the north side of the train, so I had a great view of Mt. Fuji.

Day 1

The first day consisted of my waking up, going to Tokyo Station, paying a bunch of money for a train ticket, riding to Kyoto, and exploring the area around Kyoto Station.

This is Mount Fuji. I hear it's famous in Japan.

Not a bad view, eh?

I took the 'SuperExpress Nozomi' train. They say it's the fastest bullet train, because it doesn't stop at many stations. There were only two stops between Tokyo and Kyoto; Yokohama and Nagoya. I managed to take a couple pics of some Nagoya buildings. Here's one...

...and here's the other!

My friend, Sheila, told me to stay here, at Toji-an guest house. So, I did. For 2000 yen a night, it was okay. This place would be better in warmer weather, though. There was a small room with a couple of computers (150 yen for 15 minutes. What a rip-off!!!), a small common room with a kotatsu (table with a heater inside and a blanket around it. You sit under it, with the blanket over you lap, and it keeps you toasty warm), and a few bunk bed rooms. The room where I was was bloody cold. Houses in Japan generally don't have insulation, but this room was extremely cold. Probably the fact that nobody could figure out the space heater had something to do with it. Anyway, every night there were a lot of other travelers hanging in the common room and drinking (beer, soju, sake, whiskey, etc.), so that was a lot of fun. That is really the good thing about this place; that you can meet lots of people and have some fun. Most people seemed to be Japanese or Korean, although there were a few Germans, French, Brits, etc. there. I came across a couple of Americans who were teaching English in Korea who had nowhere to stay, and invited them down. They only stayed one night (if they even stayed for that! I don't know if they ever did come back from the bars or not.). Anyway, there's a link to their website: Toji-an Guesthouse.

This is at Toji temple. This pagoda is the highest in Japan, and is the sixth version of the same one. The previous 5 all burned down. This version was built in 1643. The guesthouse where I stayed is one block from here.

Here, you can see how a temple looks along side a modern city street. Wow!!! It's incredible!!!

This temple was just renovated.

This temple is still being renovated. As you can see, whatever is inside that thing is large!

This guy couldn't wait until 2011 for the renovations to be complete, so he just took a picture of the picture. :)

Here is it, the (not so) famous Kyoto Tower! Behold, it's splendor!

Anyway, up the tower I went (fee included...). Wow, this really was a cool view! You can even see Osaka in the distance. I was impressed.

By this point, I had a couple of travel companions; two American English teachers from Korea. We set out to explore the Gion area, where the bars and nightclubs are. Apparently, this is also the area where geisha entertain their clients.

This was a cool little shrine tucked away between come buildings.

I took a picture of the moon. Then I barked at the moon and went crazy train, just like Ozzy.

I don't remember taking this picture. I must've had fun! Just like Ozzy!

Day 2

On this day, I made my way to southern Higashiyama, where most of the famous stuff in Kyoto is.

This street is looking onto Heian Shrine, and it's massive torii gate.

Here's a closer look at the gate.

This is the gate to Heian Shrine. It was built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto. The buildings at this shrine are 2/3 replicas of the Imperial Palace of the Heian period (794-1185) (following this period, the capital was moved to Kamakura up until the 14th century).

A view of the other side of the torii gate, as well as the back side of a girl dressed as a geisha, who seemed to be seeking attention.

Hey, it looks good to me!

The right side.

The left side.

The top of one of the towers.

A covered bridge within the gardens.

Here's the impressive gate to Chion-in Temple. It was huge.

A graveyard.

This was an eeiry Buddha statue.

This was a big Buddha statue!


I love this scene.

The Kyoto skyline.

Classic Japan, isn't it?

This is the entrance to Kiyomizu temple, one of the most famous temples in Japan. It's currently being nominated for of of the 'new 7 wonders of the world.' The group that is doing this promotion is holding a massive online vote, to decide what the new 7 wonders should be. Feel free to cast your vote. :)

Looking onto Kyoto from Kiyomizu.


I love it.

Geez, I hope that doesn't fall down.

Fire is bad, fire is bad, fire is bad...

What a scene! This poor guy needs a lovely lady to sit in his rickshaw.

Christmas oranges!

I'm not going to write any more comments for these pics, unless I have something other to say than, "wow" or "awesome."

Sexy. :D


I like the contrast from old (temple on the right) to new (everything else).

Day 3

Day 3, continuing along with my Higashiyama tour, saw me walking around in Northern Higashiyama.

This gate, called Sanmon gate, leads into Nanzen-ji temple.

Here's Sosui aqueduct, which once acted as a train bridge. It was a pretty cool sight.

Through Sosui aqueduct, behind Nanzen-ji, and around the back corner of the grounds lies this path; leading to what became my favourite spot in Kyoto. The path leads to a serene little water shrine called Nanzen-ji Oku-no-in. It features a cute little shine and a little waterfall behind it on a mountain trail. It was breathtaking in the snow.

Up the steps...

I was one of only three people that I saw at this shrine. It was a chilly day, so that would explain the absense of people.

This has to be one of the most beautiful scenes in all of Japan.

Here's the little waterfall; directed from a mountain stream.

Apparently the local monks like to stand under this thing in prayer. I guess they prey that they won't catch cold...

Smrt as I am, I thought it'd be a bright idea to get myself wet in the freezing temperatures. I'm from Canada, so this was like a warm spring day to me. :)

If I ever get sick of Japan, I can just look at these pictures to cheer me up.

This is a scene from Eikan-do Temple.

Quite pretty!

The old artwork inside the buildings was very nice.

This is Ginkaku-ji (The Silver Pavilion). The original plans held for this places to be covered in silver, but it never happened.

The sand designs were interesting.

This place is called Fushima Inari-Taisha. It's famous for its thousands and thousands of torii gates. If you've seen the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, then you've seen this place.

There are literally trails like this that go on for kilometres, completely covered by torii gates.

They even give you a choice!

Every now and then, the trails of gates opens up to souvenir shops (where you can buy a walking stick like these ones), small restaurants, restrooms, etc.

As you can see, there are trails that are 4 km long... of torii gates! Insane...

Day 4

Here is Sanjusangen-do. It houses over 1000 statues of the Buddhist goddess of mercy.

It's big.

There are many, many statues in here. There was probably a sign saying "no photos allowed", but I took one anyway.

This is one of the most famous places in Japan; Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Pavilion). It's, well... it's covered in gold.

It's also covered in a bit of snow from the day before.

It's a waterfall.

From Kingaku-ji, I headed for west Kyoto; to Arashiyama. This little place is called Honomiya-jinja. It's famous because it's mentioned in the book, "Tale of the Genji."

This cute little garden is at the shrine mentioned above.

Just a scene.

A train going into the mountain.

Here are the bamboo groves that Kyoto is known for.

They are pretty indeed.

Oh, wow, it's tourists! A shocking thing to see.

Cool house.

Some tourists riding a rikushaw next to a field.

The same field.

Let's have a look at the memu...

Pretty, like so many other things around Kyoto.

This house is called Rakushisha. A famous poet, who's name now eludes me, lived out his life here.

Behold! The bamboo of Kyoto!