Tokyo Damage Report

Japan trip 6: that sounds good!

TUESDAY 13 — BIEI AGAIN

Up early at the pension, then take a bus to asahigawa , the bus arrives just in time to miss the train. Assholes!!! Anyway I am in biei and by noon I have a bike again ! ride around eating pizza and drinking vast amounts.

After that, the “all-night” train to honshuu. That’s right — this year they actually opened up a train tunnel which connects hokkaido to honshuu! If you have a JR Rail pass, do NOT get a damn plane ticket to hokkaido!!!

I get on at 6 30, then a 60 minute wait in asahigawa and thence to Sapporo where there is no less than a 40 minute wait. I have come to the conclusion that Hokkaido only has one train and all the cities have to share it. How the fuck else is there a hour wait to go to the biggest city on the island?? Jesus. Finally I am out of there.

The overnight train was pretty funny. Of course being a ignorant foreigner I sit mistakenly in the “women only” section. The conductor guy tells me to sit in the other section; and as soon as I do, the grandma who was sitting behind me like jumps with panther-like speed into the seat I was just in. huh? I guess that was the seat printed on her ticket. This despite the fact that EVERY OTHER WOMEN-ONLY SEAT WAS FREE, but that was like HER SEAT, MAN. Japanese people are really anal about that stuff, I have noticed. Of course around 1 AM I looked over and she had moved to another seat, in the guys’ section no less! Meanwhile I set up shop and proceeded to get drunk fast. But an odd thing ? the more I drank, the less I could sleep. Despite having drank over 4 one-cups today I was still awake at 1 am, watching porn on the computer (shrunk down to like 20 pixels on a side) and eating japanese style foot-long pickled cucumbers. I want you to picture that for a second. God the whole ride was just purgatory.

 

WEDNESDAY 14 — LAKE TAZAWA

Get into honshuu by 5 am, then get on another train for morioka, where I am supposed to board a train to my final destination. Not only do I have to wait an hour for it, but when it comes, it is the wrong train. The guy on the train says, “oh, you just missed the one you wanted.” How could I have just missed it? I have been waiting here the whole time??? Eventually the lady at the kiosk explains– at this particular station, the train splits in half. the first 4 cars go to the right place, and the other 10 cars go the other way. WELL, HOW THE HELL WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW THAT??? So I had to wait another fucking hour. By the time I finally got to the pension it had been OVER SEVENTEEN HOURS. Just from Hokkaido to the next island. You know what else takes seventeen hours?? From my house in tokyo to my parents’ house in California. JESUS, PEOPLE.

Anyway, after 17 hours I am ready to hit the sack. But they say my room will not be ready for another 5 hours? Ok, so I can go for a hike? But it is raining. Um .. .. ok, so . . .i go to the restaurant next door for lunch and a hot bath. It is this herbal-themed new-age thingy where you can take a sento that smells like herbs while new-age music is piped in. and it is here, in the pool, where I first read chuck palahniuk’s Guts. Oops. Ok, so get out and go back to the pension where my room is ready. But there is a concert tonight there, so I try to sleep through the sound of pianos and drums being tuned for hours.

The concert in fact was pretty fun. Some European trio playing weird jazz. The drummer was amazing in terms of having 4-limb independence and never keeping steady time at all, and making just bizarre too-much-coffee faces. But he was playing waaay too fast compared to the other musicians so it did not fit in well I thought. The bass was also interesting, because he constantly looked like he was about to smack someone, plus he did not play walking bass but left a lot of space between the notes. The piano was kind of too melodic for me, though. The drummer did solos where he would stop in the middle and sort of look off into space for a second like he was listening to an invisible prompter, and then plow ahead again. I think the bass was the most interesting although all his solos sounded the exact same on every song. I was drafted into translating the pianist’s commentary. At the afterparty, I did not mind the band guys getting to talk to the “ladies,” but I was a little pissed that I somehow wound up getting all the drunk incoherent yajis babbling at me. I did not know how to politely say “ I have to face this way now,” so I just got up to leave. The pianist said, “don’t go, I think something about to happen. .. !” with a leer. Picturing a middle-aged-person orgy, I quickly concluded that this meant only to escape faster. But it turned out he was talking about a jam session. So I came back and it turned out to be a pretty fun party after that. Some Japanese lady spoke fluent Southern Alabaman, plus they pretty much ordered me to play some drums.

 

THURSDAY 15 — LAKE TAZAWA

 

Lake roads are awesome for so many reasons. . .

A ? flat!

B ? take you back where you started, no getting lost!

C ? always a good view

click here for the panorama please. it is too big to print here.

Borrow a bike at 8 30 and go round the whole 20 km lake twice! The weather is good. There are some cool temples. I make up a great beat, (in 7) and write some rap lyrics too. Plus the usual kanji study and book reading. Go for 9 hours. Come back and have an amazing meal of Japanese spinach. They fix it in some kind of sweet soy sautee so it does not even taste like spinach anymore. I am getting so I like it even more than j-pickles. If you want a good reaction out of your japanese pals, tell them you like pickles. They will freak out as if you said you liked natto. Huh??

 

FRIDAY 16 — NYUTOU ONSEN

Get up late and leisurely make my way to the famous, 1,000 year old mountain-top onsens. There are like 7, but I only have time to try one. The onsen is dead in the middle of the mountainside so you have to walk like a pilgrim up these narrow dirt roads to get there … excellent! Plus the little mountain triails have just incredible river views and little macguyver rope bridges and stuff, and the weather could not be more perfect.

 

Unfortunately the onsens close at 3 so I have to go in at 1 when it is still hella hot. The indoor bath is totally jampacked with elderly men and some yakuza guy with a full-body tattoo. It is not that convenient. But eventually I get hip and try the outdoor bath which has just incredible views of the trees and mountainside and is basically as big as a swimmingpool. The weird thing is, you have to walk naked outdoors for like 20 feet to get from the indoor bath to the outdoor bath, and all the grandmas can peep your junk. Whatever. I mean, funny.

click here for a 360 forest pan photo


japan page 1 — touya

japan page 2 —shikotsuko

japan page 3 — shirogane

japan page 4 – biei

japan page 5 – asahidake

japan page 6- tazawa lake and nyuto onsen

japan page 7 – miyako festival

japan page 7 and a half – miyako beach

japan page 8 – kinkasan

japan page 9 – osaka

japan page 10 – texture photos, can you guess what they are of?

japan page 11- engrish! (hokkaido edition!)

 

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