Japan – Day 11 – New friends

I met up with my new friends Lovisa and Magnus at the hostel’s bar/cafe for breakfast. We weren’t feeling great after yesterday so it was a slow start of this day.

Lovisa was very keen on going to the Kyoto Aquarium, so that’s what we did.

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These guys were my favourites
These guys were my favourites

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I wasn’t planning on watching a dolphin show, but they had one, and I have to admit it was pretty cool.

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After some lunch I felt better so me and Magnus went to see the Fushimi Inari Shrine and the 1000 torii gates.
On the way there we got invited to a local show and stopped to watch for a bit.

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My favourite bit was to listen and see this, a group playing Japanese drums, Taiko. So powerful and so in sync it gave me goosebumps.

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Girls who play guitar is one thing, but this is on another level.
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Magnus

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It was a weekday and the sun was setting, but there were still a lot of people visiting the gates. But the further up the mountain we got the more people dropped off.

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View of Kyoto from the top

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When we got down the evening sky and light was beautiful.

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I was exhausted (but very happy) after today so I sat down in the back of the hostel bar to read my book.
There’s something special to read Murakami in Japan. To now be able to related to the places he’s mentioning.

Although the rainy seasons had not been declared officially over the Tokyo sky was intensely blue and the midsummer sun beat down on the earth.

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To have even more effect I always listen to the music that’s mentioned in the books. Which usually is a lot of classical pieces or jazz.

I prefer listening to something when I read, otherwise I can’t get into a book.
Ever since I read my first Murakami book I’m always listening to the same soundtrack. A album that is very precious to me, Aoi Hana – Yuko Sasama & Ryozan Sakata. To me this is a perfect match to the feeling I get from reading anything from Murakami.

Japan – Day 10 – Temples

When I woke up all my room mates were out of bed and gone already. So I thought I should do the same. Let’s go explore Kyoto!

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Cute to have the menu painted on the wall

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I found this hidden french/japanese cafe, Cafe Kocsi, where I had a really nice potato soup for lunch.

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It was pouring down again, but after a long break I decided to continue to the first temple (To be honest, there are so many shrines and temples so I can’t remember the name of it)

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Before I was on my way to another temple a group of school kids approached  me, reading from a paper “Can we ask you some questions?” Like the people I’ve met before they wanted to know what I was doing in Japan and where I was from. I guessed they had a school assignment to go speak english to people.

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I’ve always found traditional Japanese architecture beautiful. I would have liked to see the construction of a temple in the old days.

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I walked around in this area for a bit, I just found it so relaxing. There weren’t many people around. But there was one more temple I wanted to see today, and I decided to take a longer route there because I found these stairs. I couldn’t resist finding out where they would take me.

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They led to an abandoned water park. But the road continued up hill form there and I decided to follow it until I hopefully reached the top of this mountain.

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The road got smaller and smaller until I reached what sadly was the top of this mountain, a car park. But on the way there a couple of cars had stopped on the side and I wondered why. I had a quick look. An old man sat in the drivers seat drawing Hentai.

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To get to the temple I was planning on going I had to go down half of this mountain and then back up on another one.
I came up on the wrong side, but that was worth it, just because I got the see the temple from the distance.

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I’ve heard about this, if you can walk from this stone to the other one with your eyes closed you’ll be lucky for the rest of your life. Or something like that.
Correction: They’re love stones. If you manage to walk from one to the other, you’re suppose to find true love.

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With a tired mind and feet I ended up at the bar at the hostel, planning on having a early night. But instead I met two swedes who reminded me it was Midsummer in Sweden now.

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Looking up lyrics to schnapps songs

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So we went to a karaoke place near the hostel to sing some ABBA.

Japan – Day 9 – Kyoto

We left the Ryokan early in the morning and went to get to tube, but in different directions. Tobias was flying back to Stockholm and I was going to Tokyo station to take the Shinkansen to Kyoto.

Since I did’t buy the Rail pass in advance I started to get a bit worried how much it would cost me to buy the ticket the same day. I recommend you to actually look in to that, might be worth it even if you’re only going to one more city…
A good thing though is that I got to try the fastest train (Nozomi N700), which the rail pass doesn’t cover.

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I checked in at my hostel, K’s House. I’m going to spend 4 nights here, sharing with 7 other people. I hadn’t read much about it, but trusted the high ranking.

I left most of my stuff and went on walk to find a quiet café to spend the afternoon in, avoiding the rain. Because rain season have now started.

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I found a place called efish overlooking the river, people sat there to work, read, and to write their memoirs. It was quiet and friendly.

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I ordered a tuna sandwich and to my surprise it was served with potato mash, realised how miss potatoes.
I spent most of the day there, gathering my thoughts and planning what I should do next. I still needed to find a place to stay in Osaka after these four days.

When it got dark I went back to the hostel to see what the bar was like.
Such friendly staff, I sat by the bar and chatted about living abroad over a beer for a while. Until the girl a couple of seats away from me said that East London was no good. So we ended up chatting. Until a older man walked in and sat down next to me. I spent two hours listning to his stories, he didn’t really want to hear my view of things. An interesting man, but I felt a bit sorry for him, he seemed to regret a lot of things in his life.

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Japan – Day 8 – Moomin

We had a really chilled morning with some green tea that is prepared for every guest.

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I’ve only packed my backpack for a week, so it was time to do my laundry.

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It wasn’t very confusing but it took the chance to speak to the only person in there about what washing powder I should get or how the machines worked.

Tobias was patient
Tobias was patient

One thing that was on my list of things to do was this, visiting a Moomin cafe (there are two main ones).

Moomin cafe

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I got (a bit strange) rice omelette with the face of Moomin drawn in ketchup, with sort of a goulash and a Bechamel sauce. It was alright.
The best was the music though, they were playing music from the soundtrack and repeated Snuffkin’s (Snusmumriken) harmonica melody. I was happy.
They also had a little shop with Moomin merch. I wanted to get a cute iphone 6 case even though I don’t own one. And Moomin mugs I haven’t seen before.

We continued to Ueno park which was close by.

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I really need to go back in the spring, because all these trees are cherry blossom trees. I couldn’t really imagine everything being pink. It must be magical.

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And another nice cafe called Kayaba Coffee

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Lovely designed menu
Lovely designed menu

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After a nice break here we went in to Shibuya. And as it happened to be my birthday we met up with my new friends for dinner and drinks.

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Before we had to catch the last train back we went in to get some purikura shots taken.

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Thank you once again for tonight, and for the gifts. Hanging out with you all has been the best part of my visit to Japan.

Japan – Day 7 – Ryokan

We left our cosy Airbnb and headed in to town to work for a bit. We found another really good coffee place called The Roastery.

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On this trip I wanted to try a couple of different accommodations. And I was excited about our next place we were going to today.

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First things first. Get the Mac Books out.

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The best thing was that it was only us who stayed here (and someone else who we never saw). To walk around in the night in this house really felt like something out of Spirited Away.

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I love the sliding doors and sleeping on the tatami floor. But to change from shoes into slippers and into toilet slippers got a bit annoying in the end. Especially because all slippers are too small.

After we’ve taken it all in we decided to take a little trip – To the Pokémon Mega Center!

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The quality of the merchandise was high. There was so much stuff you could get. Unfortunately most from the newer series/games… Sorry Agnes, I tried to find Blastoise.

I ended up buying Pokémon cards, but was so disappointed when they didn’t smell like they used to…

Japan – Day 6 – Akihabara

As I mentioned before I didn’t plan my trip in detail, so I never looked into areas I wanted to visit until I was here. But one place I’ve always heard about was Akihabara. The nerd mecca.

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The sound was overwhelming when you entered the stores, all arcades blasting out sound in full volume. The businessmen and students who spent their Monday here looked like they’ve been doing it for a long time, just by looking at their pro skills in these games.

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10 years ago (when I was only 17) I would have wanted to buy everything here. Every manga and every single piece of anime merchandise. Things have changed and I grew out of that. Probably a good thing, otherwise my non-existing house would have been full of shit. I was still tempted to buy my favourite manga from that time, but in Japanese. I’m restricting myself to buy anything until I’m back from Kyoto and Osaka.

We headed back to Shibuya to chase the last sunlight of the day.

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Tobias was easy to spot

 

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Japan – Day 5 – Tobias

After only a couple of hours of sleep I was getting ready, because today Tobias was going to join me for a few days in Tokyo!

Luckily he wasn’t as jet lagged as I was when I first arrived, so we went out to get lunch straight away.

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These streets felt like something out of The girl who leapt through time. Or something from Ghibli.

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We found this really nice place to have brunch, called Hoff. Tbh I was tired of noodles and rice so it was a great idea to have pancakes.
I don’t think I’ve taken a single picture of food yet, so I can’t show you those delicious pancakes.

We headed towards Harajuku through Yoyogi park.

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We spent the afternoon having coffees and it felt no different from what we usually have been doing in London and Stockholm. Just picked up conversation were we left it. But on the other side of the world.

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It’s amazing to be able to walk around in the night in just T-shirt and shorts. I wish Sweden was like that in the evenings.

We decided to head back to the Airbnb to have some noodles and watch crazy Japanese TV.

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Japan – Day 4 – Party time

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After I said bye to these lovelies I went to my next stop, an Airbnb in Hatsudai.

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My friend Alex moved to Tokyo a couple of months ago, so I was meeting up with him and his friends for a local Japanese festival and dinner in Asakusa.

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After hanging out on my own during the days it was great fun to meet this lovely group of people. Most people in this group had been living in London at some point, so much of the conversation was around that and I realised how much I miss it.

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Arisa who shortly after this went out clubbing. in a Kimono.

A weird thing in Tokyo is that before midnight you have to decide to either take the last train home or to continue until the trains start going again in the morning. Or to pay for a expensive taxi. But a couple of us decided to continue and we ended up at Womb, which I’ve heard fun stuff about.

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Shibuya crossing at 5am

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Thanks everyone who was there for being so awesome, Alex for inviting me and Yyenki for organising.

Japan – Day 3 – Roppongi

I met up with Jangboo in Roppongi because we were meeting a korean/swedish family for lunch, that he met over a Facebook group “Koreans in Sweden”.
It was a traditional Japanese restaurant, 御曹司きよやす邸, with really good food, I definitely recommend it (if you eat meat). The lunch prices are really good but for dinner it will get expensive.

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We stayed with the family for a bit, walking around Roppongi we found a pet shop. I’ve never seen dogs in a pet shop before and it felt weird, but we couldn’t help but to stay there a while – look how cute the dogs are!

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We wanted to go to the Tokyo City View, but it was closed because of “bad weather”. It was just cloudy. I’ll do that another day instead.

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I walked to Shibuya and Harajuku, I felt far from finished with that area.

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My goal was to get my first coffee of this trip at a coffee shop I found on foursquare, Omotesando Koffee, said to be the best coffee in Tokyo.

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Minimalistic and hipster with a touch of traditional Japanese interior. Loved it. And the coffee was great. So passionate about his coffee.

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I walked to Yoyogi park, because I completely missed that it was so close to the Meiji Temple yesterday. But before then, when I was walking down the streets of Harajuku, someone tapped me on my shoulder “Sumimasen, excuse me”.
This guy called Kenji wanted a little interview. He was chatting with foreigners like myself to figure out what made us choose to go to Japan. I said yes of course, it’s not everyday people want to film and interview you.

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Kenji

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It was my last night at Jangboo’s place so I went back to meet up with him for dinner. My suggestion for a place to eat was anything local with a vending machine to order from. There was one on the same street we live with only a few seats, and I felt like the only western person who ever entered that place.
They served Ramen but without the broth, at first I find the idea strange. But was really good.

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We went back to the house for a couple of beers. Anna was still working but me and Jangboo had deep conversations about life when Veronica Maggio’s song “Jag kommer” starts playing and Jangboo starts to sing the Swedish lyrics. I was impressed. He’s saying it’s his favourite Swedish song (Possibly after Små grodorna).

Japan – Day 2 – Meiji Temple

After a good nights sleep (until 11.30am) I was ready to explore Tokyo. Walking in my opinion is the best way to explore a new city. But I decided to take the tube in to Harajuku. 28ºC and even in shorts and t-shirt it was too hot and humid from what I’m used to.

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Harajuku Station

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As soon as I walked onto the path towards the Meiji temple I got this weird but wonderful feeling. The same feeling I get when reading Haruki Murakami’s books. The smell I get when I read it sort of just appeared now. It was strange but very relaxing. The sound of the birds and the protection of the tall trees felt calmed me.

 

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I had a small lunch at the cafe in the park, and just enjoyed looking at people and try to take it all in. I still felt jet lagged and could do with another nap. But I decided to go explore Harajuku.

 

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On the train back home I got to experience rush hour. I’m happy that I’m tall, otherwise it would have been hard to breath. And thankfully Tokyo’s subway got good air conditioning too.