I took a trip to Japan at the end of November through the beginning of December. I spent most of my time in Tokyo visiting friends and my old haunts, but also took a short trip to Kyoto. This post contains the story of my trip with a few important photos. I will put more photos in a separate post for those who want to see more. Thanks to all my hosts in Japan for planning the meals and hanging out!
十一月末から十二月始めまで日本に旅行をしました. ほとんど東京に友達を訪ねて好きな所に行ったでも京都にも行きました. この更新は旅行の物語と大切写真があります. 別の更新に写真をもっとポストしましょう. 日本の友達にごちそうさまでした!
For more photos, click here.
Getting There is Far Less than Half the Fun
Getting to the airport proved to be a bit of a problem. Uber drivers do not enjoy working early, so none were available. A few cab companies also turned me down before I found one with an available car. The dispatcher said that the cab would arrive in 10 minutes and my estimated fare would be around $20. The cab arrived 10 minutes late, the driver misunderstood his GPS application and took two wrong turns, including getting on 480 going the wrong direction, and he charged me $40 when we finally arrived. When in Ohio, do not use Ace Taxi.
空港へ着くのが問題になりました. Uberというタクシーのドライバー朝に働きたがらないから入手不可能でした. 一二タクシー会社も予約できませんでした. それからタクシーを一つ見つけました. ディスパッチャによるとタクシーが後十分着いて料金は$20ごろです. タクシーは十分に遅れてミスを二つして料金が$40ごろでした. オハイオはAce Taxiというタクシーを使わないでください.
For this flight, I splurged on Economy Plus tickets because my last flight was so uncomfortable. This paid off in spades as I had an entire row to myself from Cleveland to San Francisco and back from Narita to Chicago. On the crowded flight from San Francisco to Tokyo, I proved wrong the old addage “No good deed goes unpunished” when I agree to trade my aisle seat with another aisle seat so a family could sit together. By doing so, I traded from a full row to a row with an adjacent empty seat. Sweet.
この旅行Economy Plusのチケットを買いました. クリーブランドからサンフランシスコまでと成田からシカゴまで座席の列が空いていました. サンフランシスコから成田まで家族となりに座るために通路の席をトレードをしました. でも, 私の新しい座席がとなりの人いなかったです!
Hello Front Desk? Send Me Up Some Room!
My Tokyo hotel was the very reasonably priced APA Hotel in the very centrally located Sugamo. The room was hilariously small, with a desk that was like a ledge with barely enough room between it and the bed for an uncomfortably small chair. I could only sit at the desk by turning completely sideways. However, directly at the foot of the bed, hung a giant TV.
The architecture was also interesting. Each floor was a single rectangle hall that was open from the ground floor to the sky. Once you left your room, you were actually outside. The place was very clean, the service was excellent, and the train station was almost next door. For the price, I was quite pleased.
建物のアーキテクチャが面白いです. 各階は一階から空まで開いている長四角です. 部屋の外は本当の外です! きれいでサービスが良くて駅の近いです. 値段にいいホテルと思います.
Tokyo Design Festa
I hit the ground running as my favorite art festival, Tokyo Design Festa, took place the weekend after my arrival. I enjoyed the usual array of illustrations, costumes, and performances. Back when I lived in Tokyo and attended this even twice a year, I complained that, every year, it became more and more of an arts and crafts festival, rather than the avant guarde festival it used to be. The intervening two years have not been kind to the show, especially in the case of the performances, which were largely fashion shows or dull dance numbers. I was still happy to be there, but I do not how many more years that will be true.
始めよ週末に東京デザインフェスタが起こりました. 普通なコスプレと絵と公演が楽しかったです. 毎年このイベントは前衛美術から美術工芸まで変更しています. 特に公演がつまらなくなりました. 今年まだ面白いけど将来ちょっと.
I spent three days in Kyoto. I visited some of my favorite places from my first trip and added some new favorites as well. (My hotel room was a completely unremarkable apartment about 15 minutes away from Kyoto station.)
京都に三日泊まりました. 大好きな所と見たことがない所も訪ねました. (ホテルが日常的でした.)
On my first day I focused on places close to my hotel. I revisited the Nishiki Market and enjoyed the dizzying array of wares, including lots of whole, gross fish. I found the stand where I bought a delicious bacon and onion pastry 6 years ago. I also tried black sesame ice cream, which is every bit as bad as it sounds.
始めて錦市場でたくさん買い物を見ました. 六千前食べたベーコンと玉ねぎの食べ物を売るスタンドを見つけました. 黒ゴマソフトクリームがちょっと…
Next I strolled around the old Pontocho area. A brief rain forced me inside for a impressive lunch of Japanese beef.
On my second day, I returned to one of my favorite spots in the world, the Ryoanji Buddhist temple. The famous Kyoto fall foliage was still on display in the gardens around the temple. But my goal was the equally famous rock garden. I can not adequately explain why I find this garden so beautiful, but for me it is a shining example of “the right thing in the right place” Japanese aesthetic. (Which is the opposite of the “everything everywhere” Japanese aesthetic, observable in their city and web-site designs.)
龍安寺は世界の中に一番好きな所の一つです. 京都の紅葉を見えるけど私の目的が有名な石庭でした. 美しさの説明ができないけど[完璧の場所に完璧の物]日本のエステティックの例えばです. (逆は日本のインターネットデザインと町のデザイン[どこでも全部]エステティックです.)
(I spent quite a long time quietly contemplating this garden. I was highly amused to see how many people, from many different cultures, make it a point of counting the rocks out loud.)
(Beginning here I need to admit that my knowledge of Japanese history is unsatisfactory and the following explanations will reflect that.) Ginkakuji is one of the most famous sites in Kyoto and I missed it on my last journey. Because you can not enter the building, I was underwhelmed.
(ここから私は日本の歴史があまり知らないとあやまらなくちゃいけません.) 銀閣寺は京都に一番有名な場所の一つです. でも入れないからちょっと面白くないと思いました.
The Philosopher’s Path
Sometime, some famous scholar supposedly walked this path next to a canal from his home near Ginkakuji to some university. I walked it as well because that’s what one does.
This was my first time to this giant temple and I wish I had alloted more time to it. It’s wooden gate is big on a scale that defied photography. The peak and slopes of the mountain were echoed in the architecture of its many buildings, giving the entire complex an amazing visual theme. It’s rock garden gives Ryoanji a run for its money. It’s other gardens presented amazing scenes no matter which way I turned. Fantastic.
南禅寺に初めて行きました. 時間をもっと割り当てればよかったです. 写真が難しいかぎりに山門が大きいです. 山の峰と坂は建物のデザインに見えます. 龍安寺の南禅寺の石庭のきれいさが近いです. どこでも見るすばらしいです.
This ancient Buddhist site was largely burnt down in the 1200’s, then rebuilt by the shogun of the era. It is Japan’s longest wooden building and the outside is quite striking.
三十三間堂は1200代にほとんど壊せれました. この時の将軍は再建しました. 日本の一番長い木製建物でとてもきれいです.
The interior, however, is breathtaking. Of course, photography was prohibited, so my clumsy words will have to do. The 800 meters of the building is filled with 1000 wooden statues, each with 20 or so arms, each hand holding different symbols. In front of this army are about 15 human-sized wooden statues of various Buddhist deities. In the center of all this is a 20 meter tall statue of a god with numerous arms, heads, tools and weapons. The beauty of the scene is surpassed only by the amount of human effort it must have taken to accomplish it.
でも建物の中にすごく立派です. もちろん写真は禁止です. それから私の単語だけ使えます. 建物の中に木像が1000ぐらいあります. 各木像は物を持っている手が20ぐらいあります. 木軍の前人の大きさの木像が15ぐらいあります. 全部の真中てがたくさんある20メートル木像あります. すごく面白いです.
Gion is famous for Geisha and old, wood architecture. Because the Geisha avoid paparazzi-like tourists, I have plenty of photos of wooden buildings for you.
My on-line guide suggested another photogenic spot north of Gion along the Shirakawa canal. It was not kidding. Not only were the buildings along the canal beautiful, but it turned out to be a very popular spot for the kids in their kimonos to take selfies. (Oh, the number of selfie-sticks I saw.)
インターネットによるといい写真の所は祇園の北でしらかわの水路の隣です. 冗談じゃなかったです. 建物と広葉がよくて着物を着っている若者がたくさん写真を取っていました. (セルフィースティックがたくさんありましたよ!)
And with that, my three days in Kyoto were at an end. I still feel I have barely scratched this surface of this ancient city.
Tokyo Comic Con
This was an admirable first effort at replicating the western style of comic convention seen in San Diego and New York. The displays were quite interesting and many big players from America were there, including Disney and DC. The Japanese cosplayers embraced western characters, especially the Joker and Harley Quinn. The only negative was the size. The entire convention fit inside the same space that Tokyo Games Show uses just for cosplay.
このイベントは欧米らしいコミックイベントでした. 大きい会社はDisneyとかDCとかのブースが面白いです. 日本人のコスプレイヤーは欧米っぽいコスプレをしました. (特にHarley QuinnとJokerです.) でも大きくないです. Tokyo Game Showのコスプレエリアの中にTokyo Comic Conが全部収まりました.
Yanaka is a famous town in Tokyo littered with old temples. Navigating all the side streets is tricky, but the effort is rewarded by some very nice buildings. Bring your best shoe leather.
古いお寺がたくさんあるから谷中が有名町です. 小さい道をナビにくいです. いい建物が見えるから探すごとに価値があります. いい靴を履いてください.
Kanda Myoujin Shrine
I have walked the streets of Akihabara about 100 times, yet I never visited this beautiful shrine. The weather made a fine backdrop for photos and it is difficult to believe that the cacaophy of the Electric City is just a five minute walk away.
秋葉原に百回ぐらい散歩したことがあるけどこの美しい神社見たことがありません. いい天気だから写真がよかったです. にぎやかな電気町が近いことが信じにくいです.
Shinjuku Samurai Museum
I was surprised to find a well-reviewed Samurai Museum in the heart of Shinjuku, Kabukicho. Surrounded by “host clubs” where women spend exorbitant amounts of money to drink and chat with well-coifed young men, the museum was expensive, small, and a little too touristy for my tastes. The fact that all of the guides spoke English probably has something to do with the good reviews. Every tour group I saw was made up of entirely foreigners. I also could have done without the 20 minute sword demonstration and lesson. Still, there were some very cool original suits of armor and weapons, so it was not a total loss.
かぶきちょにいい批評をもらうサムライミュージアムがあることに驚かされました. ホストクラブに囲まれているミュージアムは高くて小さくてツーリストっぽいだと思います. ミュージアムのガイドはみんな英語が話せるからがいこくじんに書かれた批評がいいと思います. 見た客がみんながいこくじんでした. そして20分の刀の発揮がいりませんでした. でもかっこいい鎧と武器がありました.
Sometimes, It’s Just about Your Friends
I could not have been more thrilled to see so many of my former students on this trip. I think I had a total of 11 meals with friends I have maintained contact with over the last two years. I am deeply grateful that everyone was willing to spend some of my vacation with me. Thank you very much.
嬉しいに前の生徒とたくさん会いました. 最後の二年に練習を続けた友達食事を11したと思います. 感動して本当にありがとうございました.
Sometimes, It’s Just about the Little Things
This vacation was filled with small moments of nostalgia and joy:
- Sitting at the Hachiko exit of the Shibuya with chocolate bread and cold green tea, listening to the madness of the four giant screens and people watching.
- Listening to a killer play list of music from the 70’s while sequestered in an Internet cafe, slightly queezy from too much free soda and soft serve.
- After studiously researching a really cool cafe/photo opportunity, showing up to find it entirely booked by an office’s end-of-the-year party. Things do not always go as planned.
- Is that pretty waitress laughing at my poor Japanese or with my poor Japanese?
- カフェと撮影場合をじっくり研究するから着いて忘年会があるから予約不可能でした. 時々予定が無理です.
Kawaii Monster Cafe
When asked why I love Japan, “it’s really weird” is high on the reason list. Thus, I have saved the weirdest for last, the “Cute Monster Cafe” in the alternative fashion district of Harajuku. Electronic remixes of classic Christmas songs, eye-popping furniture and decorations, and, of course, the fantastically cute monsters.
[日本が大好きどして?]と聞く時[ちょっと変ですから]とたくさん答えます. だから最後は原宿のかわいいモンスターカフェです. クリスマスの音楽の電気のリミックスとカラフルの家具とかわいいモンスターがあります.
For more photos, click here.