June 25, 2009

The Story of Love and Hate

Posted by wrjacobs at 3:33 PM

June 21, 2009

Japan 2009

Well, it's been a week since I returned from Japan, and I still think it was an amazing trip! Here are a few overall impressions in this final blog entry on the subject.

  • I love the juxtaposition of the old and the new in a very cosmopolitan seting.
  • I was surprised at how infrequently the gaijin (foreigners) acknowledged each other's presence. Even the other Black folks averted their eyes when we came near (!).
  • I did not stand out as much height-wise as I thought I would. Although I did not see anyone taller than me, there is a considerable height variance among Japanese folks, plus there were a bunch of tall Aussies around.
  • Although 7 out of 8 days were in Tokyo, we only saw a portion of the city. There are many other neighborhoods we want to visit.
  • One can get around the city fairly easily with just a knowledge of English: there are plenty of signs in English, and lots of people speak English too. In order to get around better next time, though, I'm taking Beginning Japanese in fall 2009!
I can hardly wait to return next summer....

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:28 PM

June 14, 2009

trip to Japan

From June 4-12 V and I visited Japan. We were primarily in Tokyo, but also spent a day and night in the Hakone area. I posted pictures and videos on my facebook page. The videos are embedded in today's previous 4 blog entries. Pictures can be accessed via a public facebook photo album link. I also made daily blog entries about our activities. Scroll down below the videos to find those postings. Overall, the trip was fantastic, and we can hardly wait to return!

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:20 PM

Japan video 4

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:08 PM

Japan video 3

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:06 PM

Japan video 2

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:06 PM

Japan video 1

Posted by wrjacobs at 1:04 PM

June 12, 2009

Japan day 8 addenda

I wrote the day 8 summary just before heading to the airport to fly home. I should have waited until I got home, as I just added some info to the list.

June 11, 2009

Japan day 8 (June 12)

  • Visit to the Central Fish Market.
  • Sushi brunch in the Central Fish Market.
  • At brunch witnessed a plate prepared where the fish was still alive when presented to the customer (!).
  • Took the subway and JR Narita Express train line to the airport. (Took a bus and taxi to the hotel on day 1.) My scheduled train was initially delayed and then taken out of service due to mechanical problems; the next scheduled train packed in two loads of passengers.
  • Arrived home before I left (departed NRT at 4:25 PM on Friday the 12th; arrived MSP at 1:00 PM on Friday the 12th).
  • Did not receive an exit row seat on the flight. Luckily the guy in front of me did not recline.
  • Decided that Steerage (Economy/"Coach") is OK for domestic flights, but I'll have to shell out for First Class or World Business Class on the next international flight.
Posted by wrjacobs at 9:46 PM

Japan day 7 (June 11)

  • Self-guided tour of the Tokyo Open Air Architectural Museum.
  • Another unsuccesful search for an eating establishment in Ginza. The guidebooks need to improve the maps of that area!
  • Found a building I missed on an earlier tour of Aoyama architecture. It (the Spriral Building) was not one of my favorites.
  • Saw some cool buildings in Shinjuku.
  • Visited the Imperial Palace park.
  • Had a late dinner in Shinjuku, and dessert in Aoyama.
Posted by wrjacobs at 10:29 AM

June 10, 2009

Japan day 6 (June 10)

  • Visit to Roppongi (Roppongi Hills mixed-use real estate complex) and Akihabara ("Electric Town").
  • Lunch at an order-by-prepaid ticket Ramen bar.
  • Guided tour of Studio Ghibli Museum.
  • Called out as a gaijin by a couple of giggly school girls.
  • Could not find a Lonely Planet-recommended noodle restaurant in Ginza for dinner, after a 30 minute search; ended up in a great Chinese restaurant.
  • Waited over 5 minuites for the first time for a subway. This is not a complaint; normally they arrive every 2 or 3 minutes, it seems! 5 minutes is still way better than a 10+ minute average wait in some other cities I've experienced...
Posted by wrjacobs at 9:34 AM

June 9, 2009

Japan day 5 (June 9)

  • Visit to Asakusa (THE hotspot for tourists).
  • Had lunch at a restaurant with no English signage. We recognized the 3-letter Kanji symbols.
  • Went on a self-directed tour of Aoyama architecture (using a guide in the Lonely Planet Tokyo guidebook).
  • Visit to Waseda University.
  • Met up with a friend who is also travelling in Japan.
  • Had a fabulous sushi dinner: patrons select plates that slowly cruise past on a moving track. We had 16 plates for a total of $40 (!).
  • Visit to Shibuya (New York City's Times Square on acid).
Posted by wrjacobs at 9:20 AM

June 8, 2009

Japan day 4 (June 8)

  • Took another dip in the outdoor onsen at the Fuji-Hakone Guest House.
  • Rode the Hakone Ropeway (gondola car lift); fantastic views!
  • Rode the Gora Cable Car.
  • Visited the Hakone Open Air Museum (sculpture garden).
  • Took the Shinkansen back to Tokyo.
  • Ate at a Tokyo McDonalds. Food tastes a bit different, but everything is recognizable. We ordered standard American stuff, not Japanese twists.
  • Checked back in to the Tokyo hotel, and received the room next door to the first one. The second rooom appears to be a little larger than the first.
Posted by wrjacobs at 6:39 AM

June 7, 2009

Japan day 3 (June 7)

  • Observed Cos-Play (Costume-Play) kids at Harajuku.
  • Rode the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to Hakone.
  • Rode a bunch of buses in Hakone using the Hakone Free Pass; unfortunately the pass itself is not free.
  • Took a ferry ride on Lake Ishi.
  • Discovered a memorial that has a twin in San Francisco's Japantown.
  • Checked in to a Guest House with an outdoor onsen.
  • Had great soba noodles at a restaurant to which we were shuttled after a Guest House call to the owner.
Posted by wrjacobs at 7:07 AM

June 6, 2009

Japan day 2 (June 6)

  • Walked Omotesando Blvd.
  • Visited Harajuku and the Meiji Shrine.
  • Walked past Jingu Stadium, and visited Aoyama Cemetary.
  • Lunch: Noodles and sticky rice with shrimp from a corner supermarket.
  • Dinner at a restaurant where everything was written in Japanese.
  • Bought PASMO cards from a vending machine after an unsuccessful attempt to get them from a ticket agent who did not speak English.
  • Initial rides on Japan Railways (Yamanote line) and the Tokyo Subway (Marunouchi and Ginza lines).
Posted by wrjacobs at 8:39 AM

Japan day 1 (June 5)

V and I are in Japan from June 5 through June 12. Highlights from day 1:

  • Arrived in Tokyo at 5:00 PM without incident.
  • A Japanese colleague was on the same flight, and helped us reach the hotel.
  • Saw a 3-story McDonalds (!)
  • Got a room on the 25th floor; great view!

Posted by wrjacobs at 8:24 AM

June 2, 2009

3008, not 2000 and late

My 10-year old niece introduced me to this song. She says that she is 3008, not two thousand and late, just like Fergie!

Posted by wrjacobs at 5:21 PM