Apr 252002

Hello all. It’s been a few days since I last updated the diary/blog/journal/ramblings. I didn’t end up dying from a fire in the place I was staying in, in Kyoto. They had lots of signs up saying things like “Beware of Fire Hazards” next to fire extingishers with years of dust on them. The one place you could smoke, in the dining room was so smoke filled my phlegmy throat didn’t get any better. It was the cheapest place I staying in, but I’m glad I left in the end.

Went and had a night in Nara in a real Ryokan. Very comfortable place. Large room (probably the largest I’ve seen,) really confortable Futon (for a change) and a private bathroom, which although small wasn’t like the space shuttle ones I’ve had so far. Shame it was so expensive, but I think it was worth it.

Nara was a lot better than Kyoto. I went and saw most of the sights. The big, big, huge Buddhist temple and hall was swamped by school kids. It was like there was a machine that excreted these kids with about 4 variations of school uniforms, pushed them through the gate with identical tour guides carrying a microphone, flag and speaker. It was actually quite fun really. There are deer that wander around pestering people for food, and you can buy deer biscuits for 150yen. There was also a carp pond where food for them was 100yen. I fed the carp, they were big suckers. Make a tasty meal, but they’re probably involved somehow as religious icons, and so eating them would a really, really bad thing.

So now I’m in Osaka. I discovered the Japan Rail Passes I bought are next to useless. The area they cover is so small, and the Australian Dollar value was so much, and they don’t allow Shinkansen use, that unless I spend all day on the train (which I might do for a day,) they aren’t worth it. The other rail pass I have for Kyushu (which is 7 days,) should be okay, but I don’t think they have Shinkansen down there, so I miss out big time. Must come back one day with a 7 day pass, and just go by Shinkansen up and down the country every day, for 7 days.

I’ve finished reading Catcher in the Rye. I picked up a lot more this time (compared to before when I was 15 and forced to read it in High School.) Holden Caufield is seaching for meaning in his life, and is surrounded by what he calls “phonies.” But the trouble is, almost everyone is a phony. Which makes it very hard for him to understand what is important, and what he wants to do. He’ll probably find what he wants, but won’t know it. Then leave it behind, and sometime later realise the mistake. Considering he’s only 16 or so, he’s got a lot of living to do. His story is one of constant travel, he never stops, never takes time to really sit and stop.

It also means I’ve only got High Fidelity and the Kafka book left to read and 5 weeks to go. Might have to think about buying another one or two over here. Books aren’t that expensive, or I might re-read No Logo.

My Japanese is still going okay. Every now and then I’ll come across something that I really like. Take for example street names. A lot of smaller towns have a street outside the train station: “Eki-mae dori”. Eki = station, Mae = in front of, doori = street. So, it’s the street in front of the station. The one I like better is for a runny nose: “hana-mizu ga demasu”, hana = nose, mizu = water and demasu = to exit. So it’s “My nose water is exiting.” Just makes it sound so much better than “I have a runny nose.”

Osaka is a real commercial city. It has the electronics section called Den-Den town, trendy Amerika park where the kids/fasion victims hang out. It has a castle, and the park around the castle. In the park there are lots, and lots of homeless people living in blue tarp tents. It’s the first place I’ve seen homeless people on this scale, and the first time I’ve seen graffti.

I should probably post more, but I’ve been quite sick with this throat, and haven’t done much on the internal reflecting, wandering, just thinking things. I didn’t really like Kyoto. It was the first place I didn’t feel safe in Japan. It also rained when I was doing the sight seening things, which meant all the picture perfect sceens you’ll be seeing on the post cards and books didn’t happen for me. Kyoto was like Tokyo (and they are anagrams of each other, wow.) But this time I made sure there was only a few things I really, really wanted to see. And the rain didn’t help, nor being sick or staying in crappy accommodation. So for me, Kyoto sucked, and being in Nara for only a night meant I had to keep moving as well. And having to go from Nara to Osaka, tramping around the Kyoto station tring to find the right JR Office (of 5) that would accept my JR Pass, only to discover it was usless, and then travel to Osaka … walk for ages to get to the Youth Hostel … so I’ve not had the chance to stop for a while. Which I can do now, so I might just go and do that.

Oh, and I’ve got postcards written and will be sending most of them today. If you want a postcard, or “e-hagaki kado,” send me your address. I’ve already got quite a few written, and yes, they are personally created for each person/couple. These aren’t like Christmas cards with the same message for each of you … oh, maybe I wasn’t meant to say that … but it’ll be a Kyoto card, probably sent from Osaka or Himeji.