A JANUARY ADVENTURE

It’s safe to say that if you travel, you are bound for adventure.

I’ve had quite a few adventures during my Tokyo trip. I bumbled my way through Kamakura and Hase without a map because the tourist office was closed for holidays. I was swooped by a sea eagle (it’s not funny! Those birds are huge…especially up close) and had to use a public bathhouse in the traditional Japanese-style. However, my biggest adventure during the trip was when I went snowboarding with my sister.

With only two days off work, my sister suggested that we got out of Tokyo and tried snowboarding somewhere cheap. As I have never tried any snow sport (I’m from Brisbane remember), I was totally keen.

So here were my first impressions of our little snowboarding adventure:
1. Overnight bus was squishy and the old ‘get what you pay for’ saying came to mind.
2. Overnight bus took forever. Reason being that we travelled past Nagano…apparently cheap does not mean close-by.
3. It was snowing heavily when we got off the bus a
nd tramped into a small ski cafe. Here we realised two things: that we had gotten off a stop too early and that no one here could speak English.

4. Got lost in heavy snow trying to follow Japanese directions we didn’t really understand. By this point it was 6.30am. We’re soaked, cold and hating this stupid snowboarding idea.

Togari…and a whole lot of snow

I want to pause here because this made me think about writing adventure stories. (Is that a normal reaction?) What this first impression cemented for me was that characters don’t always want adventure and it’s not always fun.

I’ve read a few books lately where the lead character whips out a gun, kills someone and then comes out with some ‘witty’ one liner. I’m not interested in those sort of stories unless the character also shows some real reactions and emotion. In life, adventure can be hilarious and quirky but sometimes it’s stressful and frightening. I believe that this needs to be reflected in fiction too.

So how did the snowboarding adventure fare? Eventually a shuttle bus found us and after a few more mistakes we were on the ski slopes and booked in for a snowboarding lesson (yes, in Japanese).

Proof! I can snowboard and pose for the camera…kind of…

My sister, Julia, and me with our pretty pink snowboards.

I did much better than I thought and I would love to try it again. A few of the staff told my sister that they had been watching us and that we were doing really well. We were also asked by the manager of the ski school, the shuttle bus driver and two friends on holiday if they could take photos of us…

We’re pretty sure we’re the first gaijin to turn up at Togari for a holiday. Who knows? We may go back some time.

(Yes, I’m back home and slowly adjusting to my Brisbane ways.)

TOKYO NATIONAL MUSEUM

There are an insane amount of museums in Tokyo, let alone the whole of Japan. I’ve been reading up on all kind of museums from the Sumo and Old Edo Museums in Ryogoku to a Parasite museum in Meguro-ku. But yesterday, I set out for the Tokyo National Museum wanting to visit before it closed for the New Year holidays.

All through Primary school I wanted to work in museums, either as a paleontologist or a curator. I think there was even a point when I wanted to be the Big Cheese of the Queensland Museum. Needless to say, I can make a museum visit in to a full day trip. For 600 yen (about $6), I got entry in to three different museum buildings (one was closed for renovations to make it earthquake proof). Though many of my photos are of samurai armour and swords, I was suprised to see not only Japanese artefacts but pieces from Egypt, Iran, China, Korea and Germany.



All through school I was disappointed that the Queensland Museum didn’t have the cool artefacts from the Middle East or Europe like the big international museums did. Admittedly, it’s only in the last two years that I realised how controversial ownership of artefacts is. Many of the artefacts on display were gifts to the museum from other governments but there were other acquisitions from countries that, perhaps, should not have owned it in the first place.

Having said that, I was so excited to see this piece.

These are glass beads from a necklace of the Myceneaen culture of Ancient Greece. The Mycenaean’s took over from Minoan Crete (whether by force or mutual agreement to assist the Minoans lifestyle crippled by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, no one knows). I just couldn’t believe that in the middle of Tokyo, I had been given a little reminder of my current project.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM TOKYO

Merry Christmas!


This Christmas I’ve swapped my thongs for ugg boots. I’m blogging from Tokyo (technically, I think I’m actually in Chiba) where for the first time in my life Christmas is below 30 degrees celsius. Not a White Christmas but an 8 degree one nonetheless.

Today is only my second day on holiday in Japan and my blogging might be sporadic over the next few weeks, but I wanted to share some Christmas cheer with you. I spent Christmas Eve at Tokyo Disneyland, so here are a few of my favourite photos…

Me and my sister with Belle and the Beast.

A girl playing peek-a-boo with one of the Country Bears.

Hope Santa was good to you this year!

FIVE THINGS I LEARNT FROM MY LAST TRIP TO JAPAN

I’m visiting Tokyo for Christmas/New Year and it’s going to be totally awesome!

While trying to organise myself for the trip, I’ve thought about what I learned from my previous holiday to Tokyo in 2008. Here are five realisations I had during my last visit:

1. My winter wardrobe is absolutely useless.
I’m a Brisbane girl and in my part of the world, winter exists for about a week rather than three months. Who knew thick socks and chuck taylors would not pass as snow shoes? If I had been anywhere else in the world I would have gone shopping and righted my winter wardrobe but unfortunately 99% of japanese women are a size ‘enviously thin’. I am size ‘normal’.

2. I look funny.
My sister and I were in the line up for a ride at Tokyo Disney when a little boy turned around and gawped at us. He pointed up at my face and screamed, “Gaijin!!!!”. That’s when everyone in the line up (all Japanese folk) looked at me and my sister and giggled. Yes. We foreigners are very amusing (but you guys are so adorable).

3. Japan loves carbs.
So I expected to go to Japan and lose weight from all that sushi and sashimi. Yeah. Didn’t happen. I ate so much rice I thought I was going to turn into a rice ball. Anything I thought to be a vegetable dish ended up being rice, sauce and three slivers of carrot. Also, Tokyo seems to have a french-style bakery on every corner which really surprised me.

4. I can’t afford the shiny, pretty things in Ginza…even on sale.
Ginza! So shiny! So pretty! Ginza is where all the upmarket stores are like Chanel and Minimoto pearls. It is heaven…or would be if I could fit into the clothes and uh, afford them.

5. The people are lovely.
I’ve never had such amazing customer service in shops or resturants as I did in Japan. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t speak Japanese or if I was in a shop in Ginza or a tiny souvenir shop on Myajima island, these people were proud of their job. Also, some of them wear really cute hats and outfits for their work uniform which is so cool.


Oh yeah. The countdown to Tokyo is on!

HOLIDAY PLANNING

I’m in the process of planning my trip to Tokyo for December/January, which is fun and a little nervous-making. The fun part is making the big list of things I need to see and do this time around. It’s only the budgeting and currency converter that makes the whole process a little frightening.

But while I’m planning, I think of the funny moments I had on my last trip to Tokyo and laugh out loud at completely inappropriate times. The following is not one of my photos (obviously) but it reminds me of some of the awesome signs that I saw in Japan…

I love Japan! If anyone wants to add to my expensive list of sight-seeing and activities in Japan, please do.