It was only a month or so ago, but I already feel nostalgic.
Having Poppy and Isabel join me in J-land was worth the 10 man it more or less cost (ouch - no wonder I've not managed to save any money here). I'll pause after only writing two sentences as I needs to dry my hair. I went on a hike today you see, and was in great need of a wash. Is it bad to put a comma before the word and? how about a question mark after it?
As I've now wrapped my wet hair with a t-shirt, or "plopped it" as the curly haired community on the internet is so insistently calling it, I will continue.
One of the biggest ego-trips someone who is failing to learn Japanese and feeling like a total loser every time they attempt to speak it gets, is when people who really don't speak any Japanese come here and need you to translate for them. For 10 days, I got to pretend that I could speak decent (well, better than basic) Japanese... and help my friends navigate themselves through the oh-so-once-mysterious land of the rising pun. Here's a rising pun for you: Ja-Pamalanderson. Actually, it was Yukiko (I think) who came up with that one. SO THERE YOU GO.
It's also really interesting to see what people are surprised or shocked by their first time in Japan. When I came here, there were loads of random things I found fascinating. Unfortunately I've become pretty used to this place. My threshold for Japan-culture shock has severely heightened. This actually makes Japan-life a little less interesting.
However, I did find something pretty weird today in the ladies changing room at an onsen in Hitachiota (as one does). I couldn't get a very good picture, as it is seriously frowned upon to take pictures in an onsen, but check it out:
If you're wondering what the hell you're looking at, I will explain. It is a pair of nail clippers attached to a rope, with its own personal nail clipping station. Odd no?
Actually, Whilst Isabel & Pops were here, they shamelessly managed to get a few shots inside of onsens. I will share these in a top 3 count-down style.
At number 3, you have three girls just about to go for a dip in the onsen, taking a cheeky bathroom mirror selfie:
At number 2, and a little more raunchy, but its fine because you can't see anything, is what you would expect to see exactly 15 minutes after this picture was taken. 2 girls, one onsen. Naoshima style:
And lastly, number 3, and quite shockingly, is a picture Poppy took of some poor old naked lady at the Nozumi onsen at Ajigaura:
Quite a lot happened when Poppy and Isabel were here. I will use a combination of mine and their pictures to briefly run through it, as I really want to go to bed.
Ibaraki -obviosly the #1 tourist spot in Japan. Chilled at my place a couple nights. Well, stayed at Robbie's the second, after a very odd night out at the worst karaoke bar I've ever been to. Found ourselves getting increasingly frustrated by an obnoxious Australian dickhead. This was taken down the road I live on featuring Isabel O'Cool:
Went to the Nakaminato fish market:
Spent the night at Tiffani's in Western Ibaraki near Chikusei for her leaving party. Next day, head out to Nikko National park and Utsunomiya (briefly stopped over for an hour to get some gyoza and chat to a fruit seller. She was a bit of an odd old lady, refusing to believe that Isabel couldn't speak any Japanese and kept throwing language at her in an attempt to make something stick:
Took a somehow very stressful shinkansen to Osaka, where we stayed at a hostel for a few nights. We shared a room with a woman from (hmmm... memory blank) who kept getting up at odd hours of the night and irritating the fuck out of everyone. Osaka was stressful in general, lots of fights, tension and beer. There was the one night where Poppy and Isabel had an argument in an empty underground bar and we had to chase Isabel through the streets of Osaka playing an adult version of the game "grandmas footsteps". But good times were also had. This thing was ridden on for example:
There was also a nice trip to the underwhelming bamboo forest of Kyoto. This was on the walk over:
Anyway, after a stressful last night in Osaka, we decided to all spend a day apart to cool off. They both went to Hiroshima (separately)... and I spent the day in Kobe. Here was the best picture I took:
After time to breathe we happened to all get on the same train to Uno, a port town in Okayama. Sorry, that's misleading. We had obviously arranged to all go there as we had booked accommodation, it was just coincidental and extremely lucky that we got there at the same time on the same train, as our arrangement had been very general and Japanese train networks are infinitely confusing.
We stayed at a tatami-mat guest house and stupidly had to pay extra for a room we didn't use, then we tried to find a late dinner, only to find everything closed apart from Macdonalds. TYPICAL. The next day was arguable the best, our day-trip to Naoshima. Poppy and Isabel both took an insane amount of photographs on the island, none of which came out.
It's OK, because the pictures from my ipad worked out just swell....We ate some massive polka-dot yellow fruit and went on our way. We also shared a 15 minute long day-dream together, which we later found out to be an experience-based art piece. Also known as Minimidera by artist James Turrell, and not the slow but sure descension to death some had suspected. It was basically like being in that tv show "lost".
After Naoshima, we stayed at Jonathans (airbnb host) in Tokyo. Spoiler alert: his girlfriend was on her period.
Spent a great day at the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art, one ridiculous night in Shibuya... After which Poppy miraculously caught her flight.
A day at Harajuku's Yoyogi park, enjoying the cherry blossom with Isabel. Isabel almost actually crapping herself, before dumping her off at Tokyo station.. and then back to Ibaraki for a messy one at Stormy Mondays, my local haunt.
ANNNNNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDDDDDD a couple more for good measure: