Update from Japan
Will only be a short one as I’m pretty tired from all the walking and travelling around.
Got into Fukuoka and spent a few days exploring and a few evenings being entertained by Jo who also gave me some pointers on Japanese culture etc. I also subjected his friend Hitori ? to my incredibly poor attempts at Karaoke although my rendition of Franz Ferdinand’s Take Me Home almost veered onto the side of not quite making ears bleed.
We ate the fabled delicacy Ramen – noodles in a meat soup – and visited a cool local bar as well as trying out a DVD of some Japanese comedy set in a hotel that was rather good – plenty of set-up and bringing the various elements together for the final wrap up.
After a few days I took a train down to Nagasaki which was hit by the second atomic bomb during World War II just a few days after Hiroshima. Went to the monuments and peace garden there – it’s a stark reminder of too much power too little responsibility.
Then decided to head all the way up to Tokyo on the Shrinkansen bullet train and have spent a few days in a haze of neon.
I’ve visited shrines, temples, gardens, parks, stores, markets but far too many subway stations and their rather long connection walks (about 0.5km much of the time).
I feel like I’ve walked to the ends of the earth between that and all the walking around parks, shops, streets etc.
I also visited a geek paradise known as GoraGora – you get a small cubicle with a sliding closing door, padded floor, bean-bag, pillow, PC with net access and games pre-installed, TV, lamp and somewhere to put your shoes. Nearby is the free soda machine, showers and comic library (Japanese only – doh!). You can also have food delivered to your cubicle – all for the price of 980 JPY for 3 hours (about £5 GBP or $9 USD).
Hit the Sony Building which Jo’s generally-good TimeOut guide to Tokyo claims has a whole floor of PlayStation gear and games. It no longer has any such thing and indeed I couldn’t find a single PlayStation 3 in the building although I did see a Wii and the associated bits in a store but it should be out in the UK by now.
Tomorrow I’ll be taking another fast train down to Kyoto for a couple of days to get some more Japanese gardens and wild-life done. I think I’ve reached my shopping and bright lights limit – apparently Tokyo is one of the two biggest cities in the world depending on how you measure it (tied with Mexico City).
Everybody I’ve met is incredibly nice and polite – I’ve had Japanese people running out of their stores/hotels to help me when I spend more than a few minutes outside staring at my map and a kind lady in Nagasaki held her umbrella above my head for me. Which reminds me – I’ve left my newly purchased umbrella in the last hotel.