The land of Hello Kitty AKA I ate a prawn head!
Trip Start Jun 30, 2006
42Trip End Jun 30, 2007
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Also, wooden floors and socked feet are a lethal combination (even more so when coupled with teeny stone stairs - luckily none of these were on hand when I took a tumble, bags and all)
Ona was a bit perplexed by the japanese shower system (for those who haven't encountered Japanese bathrooms - they're communal and the 'shower-head' is handheld - after you rinse, you bathe in a very large tub) but we got something worked out on our first morning using the shower room door and carefully averted eyes
On a side note - we're very curious as to the number of accidents that occur involving Japanese (squat) toilets. It's quite a large stride from one side to the other, difficult enough to manoeuvre under normal circumstances but I'd imagine it to be almost impossible if you were inebriated or wearing anything more classy than jeans and a shirt. Ona vows she hates them passionately.
Our first day was spent searching for the shrine at Asakusa. It took us a few hours and a few thousand souvenir shops but eventually we found it, even if in the grand scheme of japanese shrines, it was a little basic. Ona found Takoyaki though, and was mightily impressed.
Not surprisingly, Japan has a wealth of insane and fantastic clothing to buy - if you know where to look. It took some time (again) but when we eventually found Harajuku (and stopped confusing average Japanese by walking around in 'cosplay' outfits) we were almost speechless. Or as speechless as the two of us could ever get. Three hours, six hundred dollars and ten kilos even heavier, we'd both decided the only thing to be done was to return to Australia, dump our luggage, and come back again with empty bags and rich husbands.
Actually, we had a token husband throughout Japan. A Japanese friend of the family - Kazunori (Ona thought he was my Cousin Ori the entire trip! (ONA's BUTTING IN NOTE: Hey, I only thought so for HALF the trip. HALF.) actually decided to stay and show us around Tokyo even after we nearly killed him when he offered to help take our luggage to our Ryokan (hostel) on the first evening (50 degree incline!)
Anyone who knows me, knows I'm not very adventurous when it comes to trying strange foods. I prefer to stick to what I know, to the extent of buying the same meal every time I go to my favourite Vietnamese restaurant (this infuriates my aunties who, like Ona, like to try new and crazy things) however I had somehow managed to involve myself in a dare to eat Ikanatto (Raw squid with fermented beans) while in Japan. So, after putting off the dare for three days, our last night in Japan became a quest to find the horrid stuff. We didn't, thank god. But as a payoff I had to try squid and octopus - cooked, semiraw and raw. And it really was as horrible as I thought it would be. Ona, whose dream seems to be to try every strange and creepy food on the planet, ate a full prawn. Fully shelled, head to tail, egg sack included. I was nearly sick watching it. To her credit, I don't think she'll try it again.
Anyway, little munch-kin Charis has gone away now to find out about a debauched pub crawl tonight, so I guess it is my turn to write about Japan. I have little to say, other than BY GOD THE SOUVENIERS ARE HOLY AND MAGNIFICENT (on a side note, I've just consumed, like, 20 kilos of food so I shall probably make little sense).
We were at first perplexed by all the little sticks with the likes of origami and bells and figures and other cute ornaments attached to the ends by miniature chains- I bought some because we agreed they would look smashingly good as geisha-like hair decorations
The list of other incomprehensible and yet so very very compelling items in Japan goes on. 30 minutes after the ear-cleaners incident I also picked up a set of miniature sushi fridge-magnets, and the number of different dinky little things to attach to your phone available in Japan I would calculate as literally around 3 million. The only thing that would exceed their number, I should think, would be vending machines. It really was so comforting to know that if we felt thirsty in the middle of the night, 3 vending machines stood in the hallway downstairs, supplemented by the 8 vending machines all together in a row, 10 metres outside the Ryukan door. Oh, and also, if you ever stand in complete necessity of 8 different sushi sets, packaged in small wooden boxes, and made entirely out of sugar lollies, Japan is the place to go.
But really, the crowning glory of all the adorable miniature items available in Japan are the lucky-dip boxes of different miniature food items. There's Bakery stuff, Doughnut Shop stuff, Alcohol stuff, Traditional Japanese stuff, Fruit and Vegetable stuff, Grocery stuff, and all other stuff I'm quite sure I can no longer recall. I actually once got Alexander the Great in one of these boxes in an anime shop in Sydney, but the sheer range in this shop was overwhelming. I ended up getting 2 packets of Traditional Japanese food, which turned out to be Traditional Breakfast and Udon Noodle sets.
Squeeee They have little mini fish and mini sushi omelette and mini pots of tea and mini miso soup and 20 other mini things
So with 20 kilos extra between us, and all the richer for having the experiences of eating crispy prawn heads and miso-marinated raw octopus, we left the wonderful country of Japan. This time the trip to the airport didn't result in any near-aneurisms from carrying luggage up mountains, as Kazunori very kindly drove us in air-conditioned style, complete with a variety of refreshments that was better than the bollocks on JAL.