The Japan/Hanois/Laos trip emails - you asked for it

Discussion in 'Living Room' started by Depreciator, 3rd Dec, 2019 at 1:46 PM.

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  1. Depreciator

    Depreciator Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, Redwing asked for them. And a few others. I got into the habit some years ago of sending emails home to people when I was away. Originally it was just my dad, who didn't travel much. Then it grew. He died, but by then there was an expectation. Interestingly, now that the girls are older they have started asking to read some of the emails from trips they went on when they were younger.


    Tokyo

    I’ve been remiss. A few people have messaged me asking for my smartarse musings on Japan now that I’m here, so I thought I had better knock-up a few emails. I'll skew these for you, Steve, because you’re going there soon with your gang. It’s a bit 'random' to use teen parlance. Not to be cool, but because I've been tardy. I’ll even try and bung in a few photos.

    I’m a week into the trip, so it's a good opportunity to think back over it.

    So, backing up a week and a half....


    Lisa and Lulu the 16 year old left Sydney for Hanoi before Mimi and I - it's a long and slightly annoying story. We were all meeting up at the airport in Hanoi three days later at midnight to fly to Japan together. What could go wrong with that plan - or 'Japlan' as Lulu has called the whole thing.

    The day before Lisa and Lulu left, I laid out on the studio table four plastic sleeves. I wrote each of our names on a sleeve and listed on the sleeve the contents of the sleeve with permanent marker. I put inside each sleeve a printout of everyone’s electronic tickets, visas, insurance details, passport and hotel bookings. I handed Lisa the plastic sleeves for her and Lulu and watched silently as Lisa immediately took everything out of the sleeves and distributed the bits into various places in her luggage.

    It was a proud dad moment when Mimi and I eventually left Sydney three days after Lisa and Lulu. Sure, Mimi has had a few wins in the last year. She got her drivers’ licence, went well in her final year of high school and topped a subject, wrangled early entry into the university course she wanted and was presented with her Queens Guide Badge by the state governor at Government House.

    But nothing could have made me more proud than when she hoiked her backpack onto the scales at the check-in counter at the airport and the weight came in at 9.9 kilos. Imagine an 18 year old girl heading overseas to a winter climate with so little stuff.

    Of course, as a consequence it seems she doesn’t really have enough warm clothes and if she gets a bit smelly toward the end of the trip we'll know she cut a few other corners with her packing. But 9.9 kilos was pretty impressive.

    Amazingly, the four of us met up successfully at midnight in Hanoi airport and flew overnight to Narita airport in Tokyo. It was not what I expected. Sure, the airport was huge. I expected that. But it was a bit tatty - sort of like they lost interest and stopped improving it in the 80s. I was expecting it to be much more high tech with robots whizzing around, but it was tired like most airports, and manned by people who looked pretty unenthusiastic and disappointed in the direction their life had taken them. Everything worked, though. And the signage was in English as a concession to one of their major tourist markets, so it was easy to navigate.

    We hung around the airport for a while waiting for two members of the Fitz family, our occasional travelling companions, to arrive. Suzie and Bella were coming in from Sydney via Melbourne. Two days later, Fitz member three was due in from France after a six week student exchange, and member four - dad James - was coming in from Seoul later that night on a circuitous route necessitated by the use of frequent flyer points. What fortunate people we are.

    Seeing as how there were initially six of us at Narita airport, Lisa had the brilliant idea to get a people mover with a driver to pick us up. The cost per person wasn’t much more than the fast train and we were delivered to our hotel door in Shinjuku.

    Tokyo is of course huge and busy and we were staying in Shinjuku, one of the busier bits. But everything was orderly. Nobody seemed to get angsty in the traffic and pedestrians all waited for the lights to change to work. Even if there were no cars coming, they waited. And waited.

    Also waiting were the taxis - invariably ageing Toyota Crowns with drivers wearing ties and white gloves. They seemed to be allowed to park anywhere and often lurked near pedestrian crossings. The drivers can open the back doors with a lever beside their seat and when they see a likely fare walking towards them, their door swings slowly open like a Venus Flytrap.

    Taxis are not too expensive and a good way to make short trips with a few people, but the train system is fabulous. And huge. There is a plastic card like the Opal in Sydney that can recharged, or single tickets can be bought (from machines with instructions in English). People told me before we went to take note of which end of the train to travel in for a specific destination and which exit to use. It wasn't until I was there that I realised what sage advice that was. If you get out of the wrong end of the train and start heading along corridors and up escalators to the surface, you can end up a long way from where you wanted to be. On the day when I went to the fish markets, I caught the train back to Shinjuku and didn’t pay attention. I figured I would just head to the surface and recognise where I was and be okay. I got to the surface and nothing looked familiar so I walked for a few hundred metres and around a corner. Still nothing familiar. I found a subway entry and headed back underground. I saw a sign for the West Concourse and walked for five minutes and headed up to the surface again. Then when I couldn’t work out where I was, I headed back down again. I was standing looking at the station layout on a big wall map trying to work out where I went wrong when an American woman walked up to me and asked in a slightly brittle voice if I could help her find her way to her hotel. I said, 'Maybe not. I've been down here since yesterday.'

    I just asked google and it said Shinjuku station has over 200 exits and 3.5 million people go through it every day. On one day the week before last, I was half a dozen of those 3.5 million people passing through Shinjuku station as I criss-crossed it.

    Tokyo is a two week city at least, and we were there for only five days. But we packed plenty in thanks to Lisa and her diligent research and the fact that the girls are now 16 and 18 and better at walking.

    We went to Shibuya and that crazy intersection that is the Tokyo equivalent of Times Square. Lulu made the observation that some of the streets around it are like sideshow alley at the Easter Show.

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    We went to Team Lab - very good. Immersive sound and light art. You'll need to take the gang there for sure, Steve.

    And we went to the Mori Art Museum. It’s at the top of a very high building. Great exhibition - called something like Catastrophes and the Power of Art. Not very cheery, but Japan has had a few catastrophes. It wasn’t just Japanese catastrophes, though. There was a video work from New York where an artist set up a camera that took one frame of the New York skyline every five or so seconds. He set that camera up a couple of days before those planes went into the World Trade Centre. That artist would not have set out to capture a catastrophe, but he would have been pleased and horrified that he did exactly that. It would have been an awkward boost to his career and now nearly 20 years on his video is still doing the rounds. I wonder if he did much else?

    That building also has a viewing floor, which is great. We could see Mount Fuji, which really is a perfectly shaped volcano. Hopefully it’s never going to do something catastrophic because it’s pretty close to Tokyo. There is also a bar on that floor called the Moon Bar - great spot for a drink at sunset.

    We ticked off the Golden Gai area - a few impossibly narrow streets with little 10 seater bars in old two storey buildings nestled up against eachother. I’m sure the space downstairs used to function as a waiting room and upstairs a working girl did her thing until prostitution was outlawed in the 1960s.

    Of course we went and had a stickybeak at the New York Bar that stared in Lost in Translation, but there were eight of us and we felt a bit out of place. The next floor down was the Peak Bar Lounge where we had a few drinks and somehow ordered $50 worth of nuts. The girls are still gobsmacked at that. I am a bit, too - perhaps more at the fact that I don’t think we finished them.

    A lot of Tokyo is all about the food. I suspect average Japanese people rarely entertain at home - their kitchens and flats would be too small. So they meet up and eat out. Many people also get prepared food on the way home for dinner. Food is everywhere and it’s easy to spend a lot, or not much at all. We tested the theory about the food halls in department stores and ventured into Isetan in Shinjuku - there is an underground exit from the station. It’s apparently the best of the food halls. It truly was amazing and made the David Jones Food Hall seem like a corner store. It would have easily been twenty times the size and had everything imaginable - and some things impossible to imagine. There were fresh and cooked foods, a bakery, butcher, sweets, and the seafood area was beautiful. Everything looked fantastic. Behind the seafood counters were people in ties finely slicing fish. I bought some mixed cooked seafood to eat and was able to identify two of the three things I selected. The third one I suspect had resided in a shell and probably didn’t realise it was a food. I had a few too many of them and didn’t much feel like dinner.


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    Tipping is a tricky thing. It’s not done in Japan, apparently, despite the fact that they try so hard with their service. On our second night we went to dinner at a small local restaurant and they were very accommodating. I paid cash and when the waiter brought the change back I said he could keep it – about $8 worth. He looked confused. We had one of those awkward exchanges where neither of us was sure what the other was saying, but eventually he walked back to kitchen counter with the change held out in front of him on a plate. He carefully piled the coins up on the counter and the waiter and two blokes from the kitchen stood looking at them not saying a word.

    I’m not sure the Japanese particularly like tourists, they certainly don’t court them like people in other countries do, but they are solicitous and very polite and helpful. I got the feeling tourists from China are their least favourite, though I suspect there is some lingering resentment of Americans because of that whole bomb thing. Americans are also loudly proprietorial in most places, but particularly ones where they had a win. That probably grates on the Japanese who tend to be more circumspect. Australians are just clumsy.

    The Japanese are mostly polite to eachother, too. I have seen no antisocial behaviour at all. There is no graffiti, no rubbish and no ********s. People are not allowed to smoke on the streets, either. Goodness knows where young people go to misbehave, but it’s nowhere we have been. Drivers all behave, too - our taxi driver today had a TV on his dash that he had half an eye on while he was driving us across town. Try doing that in Sydney traffic.

    The absence of rubbish is an odd thing. On one of our first days in Tokyo, Mimi bought some fast food and ate it walking down the street - something we found out later is not done. Then she looked about for somewhere to throw out the wrapping. There was no bin in sight. Without exaggeration, she carried that rubbish for over an hour. I was beginning to think she might need to take it back to Vietnam with us and toss it on the street. We finally found a bin next to a drink vending machine. That is a requirement, apparently. If you provide a vending machine, you need to supply a bin beside it. And we learnt later that shops are obliged to take back from people the wrappings from the food that they have sold them.
     

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  2. Lacrim

    Lacrim Well-Known Member

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    These kind of emails kind of differ slightly in tone, complexity and length to the ones I typically send my kids whenever I'm away. For example:

    "Be home later. Get your homework done. If not, you're in trouble".
    Dad
     
    Last edited: 3rd Dec, 2019 at 2:42 PM
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  3. Terry_w

    Terry_w Lawyer, Tax Adviser and Mortgage broker Business Member

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    Good stuff

    I will be going to Osaka in Feb next year, anyone want to join me?
     
  4. Truly Exotic

    Truly Exotic Well-Known Member

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    The japanese have a totally different mindset ingrained into them, from a young age, and this is taught at school,

    its all about respect, respecting elders, honesty, have pride in your environment eg no leaving rubbish, graffiti, customers are your god, etc etc amongst other things

    with tips, the general belief is , they should be doing a perfect job regardless of whether you tip or not, so its just generally not in their nature or culture to tip, which makes sense

    as for tourists, tourists in general have been getting bad wrap over recent years, especially the chinese ones, no prizes for guessing why

    if youre a white person, they will look up to you, but if you are asian, south east asian, african, you'll come a very distant second, if you get what I mean
     
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  5. Mumbai

    Mumbai Well-Known Member

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    What dates? I am planning Haneda
     
  6. Terry_w

    Terry_w Lawyer, Tax Adviser and Mortgage broker Business Member

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    Not sure yet. I won't get to the Tokyo side though
     
  7. Player

    Player Well-Known Member

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    We were in Shinjuku in early September for a week. Sumo tournament was on at Ryogoku. Absolutely fantastic. I liked Tokyo. We left Miss Player there as she embarked on a semester at Uni there. She is still in Tokyo and having a ball. Returns back home in January. Shinjuku train station was definitely biiizzeee......
     
  8. Truly Exotic

    Truly Exotic Well-Known Member

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    sumo is absolutely fascinating, ive never seen one close up in the flesh,

    its funny how many people sumo wrestlers are just fat people who just eat,

    their training regime is phenemonal, they are flexible, strong, disciplined,

    obviously not the most physically attractive!
     
  9. Depreciator

    Depreciator Moderator Staff Member

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    I learnt a lot about the Japanese in a short time from chatting to them - I'll talk to anyone. I'm looking forward to going back to Japan. As for the Chinese tourists, there were a lot of them and they weren't liked in Japan, Hanoi or Luang Prabang (Laos).
     
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  10. virgo

    virgo Well-Known Member

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    I recommend this little book
    "Ikigai" the Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life"
     
  11. Depreciator

    Depreciator Moderator Staff Member

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    Tokyo – the fish markets

    Airbnb have a thing called 'experiences'. It’s a service where people list an experience they offer, as opposed to accomodation. I found an experience offered by a local called Toshi that involved a tour of the new fish market, the old one, and lunch in his tiny restaurant. It was expensive - $210 - but I have always wanted to see the Tokyo fish market. And it meant getting up at 4am, but I’ve done that plenty of times to go fishing.


    They moved the commercial fish market in October to a new building down near the port. It’s huge and $20m in seafood is sold each day. Around 1,000 tuna are sold every morning in the huge chilled tuna auction hall. Most are frozen - they lie in rows and the hundred licensed buyers walk the rows deciding on which ones to bid on. A core of flesh is extracted from each fish and the buyers rub their fingers on it to gauge the oil content of that fish. Depending on the time of year, the tuna can come from the pacific, or off Canada or elsewhere. They get caught, killed, snap frozen and stored on board for months sometimes till the ships come back to Japan. The tuna that are sold unfrozen are mostly caught locally and taken to market as soon as possible. Some of the unfrozen ones come from overseas, though. A prize tuna caught close to shore can be air freighted to Japan from our part of the world and end up on the auction floor 14 hours later.

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    The blue tarps on the floor represent different buyers. They lay out their tarp, and drag the fish they buy onto it for collection later. The bigger the buyer, the bigger the tarp.

    There were five of us on the tour - two American couples and me. We were upstairs at the viewing windows at 5.30am and when the auction started, Toshi watched the auctioneer intently and echoed his patter in English. I thought perhaps he had an ear piece or something and could hear what was going on, but then I realised he was making it up, he was looking at the action and surmising what was being said.

    After watching the tuna auction for a while, we headed downstairs to the floor where the other commercial vendors were. Toshi gathered us together for a bit of a low-key team talk before we went in. He said that the public weren’t allowed in there and that the story if asked was that we were a bunch of local restaurant buyers he was showing around. I suggested that people would work out pretty quickly we weren’t Japanese, but Toshi was off and running. Really. It was hard to keep up with him as he darted down rows dodging forklifts and people. I caught fleeting glimpses of things I recognised and lots I didn’t. We stopped a few times at the stalls of people Toshi knew and bought five crabs, five of the biggest oysters I have ever seen and some tuna, of course.

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    Then we caught a bus back to the old market for a wander around there. In the more modest seafood part of that market, we bought some prawns and Toshi selected a live kingfish from a tank and a vendor stuck a rod down its spine to kill it but maintain the quality of the flesh - I think they call the technique 'ikejime'. Then he filleted it in the blink of an eye.

    Another stall had tuna eyeballs for sale in its tuna display case. I can’t remember eating an eyeball before, but I’m not averse to the notion. Toshi asked if I wanted one, but these eyeballs were huge fist sized things. They would have taken at least half a dozen decent bites to consume and I wasn’t up for that. I think an eyeball is the sort of thing you probably need to pop into your mouth whole and have a bit of a chew on and swallow before you think too much about it. Sitting there and taking half a dozen bites would allow a bit too much thinking time. I wonder what happens when you bite into a huge eyeball?

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    And yes, I tasted whale. But for purely scientific research purposes. It was hard to find - Toshi had to go looking for someone who was selling it. So that’s an indication of its popularity. People have always said whale 'tastes blubbery', but that’s a texture not a taste. My research confirms that the texture is indeed blubbery. Perhaps like the inside of a tuna eyeball. As for the taste of whale, all I could taste was the marinade it was in. I had to be a bit coy taking the photo below in case they thought I was a pesky western journalist - those market stall vendors have huge knives. In the photos you can see there is a chart on the wall with a dozen different types of whale, which I thought was a nice touch. I guess it’s no different from a fish and chip shop having a poster with fish varieties or a butcher having a photo of a cow with arrows pointing helpfully to the origin of various cuts of meat in the window.

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    Next stop was a huge shrine on the way back to Toshi's tiny restaurant. It was packed - can’t remember why. A group of ten schoolgirls maybe aged 12 were hovering around us and Toshi said they wanted a photo with us. He introduced us to them and pointed out the couple from New York and the kids clapped. Then he pointed to me and said, 'Scott-san from Sydney'. The kids cheered. He pointed to the other American couple and said 'Denver, Colorado'. There was an awkward silence and we parted ways with the kids.

    Last stop was Toshi's restaurant. We were there for over two hours and ate a seafood meal better than I have ever eaten before. He and his wife prepared all the seafood we bought at the markets and more. We had tuna from three different parts of the fish and he explained which was most prized. We had the kingfish killed that morning, and some kingfish killed the morning before to taste the difference - the day old fish was better. We had the oysters, crab, some salmon and prawns. And of course miso and vegetables. We also bought some fresh wasabi and he got us to taste the difference when it was grated on a steel grater and one made from shark skin - much hotter with the latter. He also told us stuff like never to leave chopsticks standing up in a bowl of rice - something only done at funerals. Never to pass food from chopstick to chopstick. And at the end of the meal, it is polite to assemble the bowls as they were when the meal began. He shook his head as he told us how if drives him crazy when he sees foreigners mix wasabi into soy sauce - he said that just in time. Maybe he sensed I was about to do just that.

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    There is an Airbnb experience I might do in Tokyo if I go back. Somebody is running tours and a workshop at one of the places that makes those plastic models of food that restaurants display in their windows. Those displays are everywhere and very elaborate and convincing. If I did one, I would make a huge tuna eyeball.

    After 5 days in Tokyo, it was onto Kyōto. We barely scratched the surface of Tokyo, so we'll be back - ideally when we’re only buying two plane tickets and accommodating and feeding two people.
     
  12. Terry_w

    Terry_w Lawyer, Tax Adviser and Mortgage broker Business Member

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    Interesting Scott. I didn't know about the experience thing with Airbnb. $200 sounds reasonable for that.

    after a cremation family members pass bones of the deceased to each other chopsticks to chopsticks to put in a container - thats why they don't like it when people pass food to each other like this.
     
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  13. Depreciator

    Depreciator Moderator Staff Member

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    Airbnb experiences are a growing thing. There are many being offered in Sydney - walks, brewery tours, kayaks on the harbour, photography etc.
     
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  14. Truly Exotic

    Truly Exotic Well-Known Member

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    $200 per person??
    and dont forget sticking and standing your chopsticks up in the food as well
     
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  15. Depreciator

    Depreciator Moderator Staff Member

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    Yep. $210 per person.
    We started at 5.30am and the best seafood lunch I have ever had finished around 3pm. We had a guided tour of the new fish market, the old one and some other stuff. When I go back to Tokyo, I will do that tour again.
     
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  16. hammer

    hammer Well-Known Member

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    Sounds totally worth it!
     
  17. Depreciator

    Depreciator Moderator Staff Member

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    Worth it especially with a group of 5 people. In summer, there would be more people on the tour, though the restaurant only has a dozen seats so there is a cap on mumbers.
    With Airbnb Experiences, one of the rules is that people need to run the experience regardless of how many book it. I was talking to a bloke who runs one in Sydney and he said that it was difficult until he got some reviews and the numbers crept up. His tour is a walking tour around Chippendale in inner Sydney and in the early days there were times when it was him and one other person.
    When I extricate myself from the workforce, I'll think about doing one - as much for the interaction as anything. My wife the ceramicist has an idea that involves a session in her studio making something, a walk down the road for lunch at one of the many local Vietnamese restaurants, and then a second session in the studio.
     
  18. Truly Exotic

    Truly Exotic Well-Known Member

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    im going to guess that airbnb probably take about 20-25% off that figure
     
  19. Depreciator

    Depreciator Moderator Staff Member

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    20% I think.
     
  20. Depreciator

    Depreciator Moderator Staff Member

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    Kyoto

    All eight of us caught a train together to Kyōto. That meant firstly getting to the main station in Tokyo. Starting at Shinjuku station. In the morning peak hour. I shuddered at the thought of eight tourists wrangling their luggage in crazy busy Shinjuku station and onto an even busier train. It was going to need the precision of a military operation, so I went down first on a reconnaissance mission to work out the best plan of attack. The station was completely deserted. It was a bit post-apocalyptic. Then I realised it was Sunday. So here’s a tip: if you are going to travel on the subway in Tokyo with luggage, do it on a Sunday.

    We caught the Shinkansen to Kyōto. Shinkansen translates to New Trunk Line, which is a lot less exciting than the old name - the Bullet Train. They go about 300klm per hour, but it doesn’t feel that fast at all because they are so smooth. I sort of wished it had rocked around a bit and felt bit precarious.

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    Kyōto is very different city from Tokyo. It has a CBD that is smaller than those in Australian cities (except perhaps for poor Adelaide) and much cleaner. And nobody jaywalks. Or else. We are staying in a very flash small hotel on the edge of the old part of Kyōto that Lisa found. Her research efforts have been gold. I have not stayed in a hotel this nice since I've had to pay my own hotel bills.

    The rooms are perfect and the bathrooms beautiful - with toilets that have a panel of buttons that offer all sorts of experiences. It’s worth spending some idle time there even if you don’t necessarily need to go to the toilet.

    On the ground floor of the hotel is a beautiful lounge and bar. It’s not going to happen, but if I ever commissioned a house, I would use that foyer as the brief. On the lower ground floor are the bath houses - onsen. One for males and one for females. It was one of the most pleasant spaces I have ever spent time in - the one for blokes, that is. I had studied up on the rules and knew how it all worked so I would not look like a dill or offend anyone. The first room is for disrobing - there were lockers to leave clothes. Then you take a small towel and go into the sit-down shower area and wash yourself. Only then do you get into the big shared bath. It was probably about 8 metres long and 5 wide. The water was hot and when sitting it came up to my neck. The first time I went there was one Japanese bloke in the bath. He left as soon as I arrived - clearly intimidated. The second time there was nobody. There was low lighting, beautiful background music, perfect joinery, if they had served drinks in there I would have never left.

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    The old part of Kyōto is beautiful. Small streets with two storey timber buildings that house restaurants and very small guest houses. All of them look expensive. Mimi's lightning fast ability to convert yen into dollars saved the four of us walking into a place where we would have walked out about $600 poorer after dinner. There are lots of more modest but very good places to eat a ten minute walk away. The draught beer in every eating place we tried in Tokyo and Kyōto is great with a perfect creamy head every time. Lisa has developed a taste for it, too. Strangely, Lulu has developed a taste for expensive gin and tonic as a 16 year old. She has skipped right past those sweet teenage drinks. She might skip back to them when we get home and she needs to pay for her own drinks.

    People in Kyoto seemed less rushed and harried. The whole city is less rushed and harried and much easier to navigate. It’s all very orderly. There was a bit of construction work going on and the blokes managing traffic were all about my age. They did it with such professionalism - so different from the pretty European backpackers who do it in Sydney and possess only a vague understanding of the traffic rules and are more focussed on their phones anyway. Japanese men seem to love a job that involves a uniform.

    We went to the manga museum one day. The Japanese take manga very seriously. There was a portrait artist there doing likenesses of people in manga style for a fee. How could anyone resist that? The family version cost about $60 I think. It’s uncanny, but in our portrait, it looks like George Clooney was sitting in my spot.

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    We ticked off the Nishi market in Kyoto. It’s an under-cover food market right in the middle of the CBD. I couldn’t tempt the girls to an octopus head stuffed with a quail egg.

    Nijo Castle was great and in the middle of Kyoto. On the outskirts of Kyoto was the Golden Pavilion. It’s that temple on a lake that has been photographed so many times I didn’t bother taking a photo. James had the idea of hiring bikes to go there. His 18 year old daughter, Bella, was keen. Then Mimi, my 18 year old put her hand up. So I thought I had better go to keep Mimi safe – we’re not a bike family. I imagined a lazy scenic ride through parklands. I was disappointed. We rode through scrappy and crowded urban areas on busy roads. It was all on a slight incline, too. Still I consoled myself with the thought that on the way back it would all be downhill. It rained. Then Bella took a tumble from her bike.

    We went to the bamboo forest on the outskirts of Kyoto one day and walked up to the monkey park. It was a bit of a slog up the hill and I was feeling a bit intrepid till near the top where we caught up to a girl who had done the climb on crutches. I hope she thought the monkeys were worth it. It was a good day. Lots of tourists, though. It would be impossible in the summer.

    Five days is about right for Kyoto and on day six Mimi and I headed to Osaka en route to Hanoi, while Lisa and Lulu headed to northern Japan for four days skiing with the Fitz family. Our train to Osaka took an hour and a half. It wasn't a Shinkansen, but it was pretty fast. The whole trip was mostly through urban areas. Looking at the backs of those houses flicking past, it was like one of those 'second a day’ compilations that people do.

    We had a 10am plane to catch the following day so I had booked a hotel not far from the airport in Osaka just to be safe. We found ourselves in a pretty sad and soulless area filled with dozens of DFO stores, a car yard and a couple of petrol stations. Oh, and we found where all the street litter that was not in Kyoto ended up. We headed back into Osaka to get some dinner - nearly an hour on the local train - and went to the Korean part of town. We went into a Korean BBQ place but managed to not be tempted by uterus, gullet, tongue root and tracheal rings - I did wonder, though, whether the latter would be like calamari.

    Then it was an hour back to the hotel and a 20 minute walk from the station because we couldn’t get a taxi. It was a night time walk I would have not been keen to do in a country other than Japan. So my Osaka experience was a bit of a flop, but it’s never been on my list anyway.

    As I write this, I’m on the plane to Hanoi listening to the Johnny Cash album At Folsom Prison.
     
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