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Jet lagged but exited

And so we're back here again!
Just a quick update of things so far.

We landed Wednesday afternoon in the rain with a bad case of jet lag.
Then we met up with Angie and Kees who were in Tokyo at the same time as us and then we had an amazing dinner on the top floor of Takashima Time Square in Shinjuku (as we promised ourselves last year).
It was an enormous feast with numorous courses and I loved the main dish which was shabu shabu.


Thursday we heard about the typhoon raging in Tokyo which kinda freaked me out. We didn't get caught up in it but I heard it was pretty severe in Osaka earlier. There were some very strong winds in the evening though.
Bandai Namco called to cancel Farieds interview because of the trains not riding due to the typhoon, but called again an hour later that he could come in anyway.
Their building is AMAZING. It's incredibly large and very high, with a terrace with lots of green and a waterfall (!) in the lobby (I forgot to take a photo). Farieds interview went well and he got a callback for next Tuesday.
After wards we met up for coffee with one of the producers, Motoyama-san.

Then today was a busy day as well.
We visited the Vocal Academy of Tokyo (VOAT) and had a chat with one of the staff and a tour. The place is small but looks amazing, and there are so many options for recording and auditioning.
Then we went for a bite in our favorite lunch-place Club Studio and a quick shopping spree in Harajuku, where I somehow ended up buying a lot of stuff in a small amount of time. Here's some;


I will post pics of the great Engrish sweater I got later.
After wards we met up with Ayu and had a quick meal at a great Chinese place in Shinjuku. Then we walked to Motion, a Live House where SiMoN and artists selected by him performed. We particularly enjoyed Ennui Pickup Van, their sound was awesome and I don't think I've ever seen a better stage performance!
Then we opted for cheesecake and coffee at Renoir, but decided to drag ourselves back to the hotel.

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Lights




The lights here in Shibuya are really pretty.

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Tokyo!

Today we left Kyoto and set off to Tokyo!
We had our suitcases sent with takyuubin, which is a service that delivers your suitcases at your hotel so you won't have to drag them around. It proved to be a good choice to do so!

This is the view from the hotel in Kyoto and a photo Faried took of me this morning.

 

We had lunch at Kyoto Central Station and then bought our tickets for the Shinkansen (or bullet train).
Leaving for Tokyo with only our bags and Faried's guitar seemed like a scene of NANA ha ha!! Just need a pack of cigarettes ^^
The train ride took about 2½ hours which I used to relax and read in some of the books I took with me, and a rather obscure magazine I bought here called Nail Up! I had hoped to see Mt. Fuji but it was too foggy ._.



We arrived in Tokyo at 3 o'clock and took the JR (Japanese Railways) to Shinjuku where our hotel is located. We stay in the New City Hotel for 3 nights and then move to Asia Center hotel. On the way there I could get some views of Tokyo and it is truly amazing to see it in real!
I know it from the movies and drama's, but I was still surprised how high the buildings were and how many people are hurrying down the streets.
The underground station of Shinjuku is huge and has 6 exits and we got totally lost. In the end we took the subway and arrived at the hotel an hour and a half later. By that time we were very tired, and very thankful we didn't have our suitcases with us.
We rested for a bit and then met up with Kayoko at six in front of our hotel for dinner. Kayako is a friend of Mariana, who is a colleague of Faried at work. Neither Faried or I had met her before, but we got along really well.
Faried was very tired so it was mostly me and Kayoko talking, but I managed well and Kayako even complimented my Japanese a few times. This is a supermotivater to study more and improve lots!
We talked a lot about our favorite (Japanese) series and such and we have a lot of interests in common.

She took us to a great Sushi restaurant called Sushizaban in Tsukijishijo. It is right beside a famous fish market, so all the fish they used were super-fresh! We ate sitting at the bar, with the chefs making the sushi right in front of us. You order a few at a time and the chef makes it for you. Kayako ordered for us and told us a lot about different kinds of sushi and whats special about them. The chefs put wasabi (a very hot green spice!) on almost all sushi, and normally I don't use so it's was a bit of a trial for me, but I took a liking to it in the end. Most sushi we had I've never even seen in Dutch sushi-bars and they we're all incredibly delicious!! We even had Ootoro! (the fattest part of the belly of tuna, and very expensive) Ootoro definitely ranks among the most delicious things I've ever eaten.

 
Left photo: me en Faried enjoying our sushi  Right photo: Ootoro

I loved how the chefs we're very genki (energetic) and yelled welcomes together at every guest that entered. The chef that prepared our sushi recommended us many good things and it was obvious in how he enjoyed doing his job.
At one point one of the chefs took a very large fish from an aquarium and held it up for everyone to see. Apparently today was a special day, and they would make ready the fish right away and you could order it. It thought of making sushi super super-fresh and serving it immediately I found very fascinating, but when they actually stabbed it and prepared it I was also somewhat shocked. We didn't have it in the end.

Then Kayoko took us to a government building close to our hotel (I forgot the name) where there was supposed to be a great view of the Tokyo skyline. The elevator took us 45 stories up in less then a minute! It made my ears pop.
When we got up there was an beautiful space with a cute Toy Shop shaped like a garden and a beautiful cafe. And behind the windows... the beautiful skyline of Tokyo.
It was so incredibly beautiful and inspiring.. again photo's just don't do it justice.




Me and Kayoko with Tokyo Skyline in the background

It is really very wide, all around you the view is amazing. Just magical.
We took photos and walked around the Toy Shop and had fun looking at the many extraordinary things they sold there. We also squeezed into a purikura booth together. ('Print Club', little photo stickers you can make together and funky up a bit with decorations)
After that we went into this absolutely stunning bar that was amazingly lit up and had a view on the most beautiful part of the skyline with Tokyo Tower. We had cocktails (I had a grasshopper) while enjoying beautiful live piano music(!) and the million lights that are Tokyo.
The atmosphere was fabulous, almost ethereal and I was very thankful to be there.

A fantastic first impression of Tokyo!
Kayako-san, thank  you so much for a great evening!
 

Nara

My first post of our trip in Japan!
We've been here for almost a week now, but we've been so busy that the report of the beginning of the trip (Osaka, Kyoto) will have to wait for now.


Today we took things a little easy so we could properly rest up for Tokyo.

We had ramen for lunch in Kyoto and then headed for the Central St.

It still amazes me, it’s so grand and spacious and really incredibely clean!

We we’re heading for the ticket booths when I noticed a sign with ‘Sky Garden’ on it and we decided to check it out. We took the escalator and when we got to the first floor there were sets of absolutely enormously long stairs!


  



Down on the platform there was an actual stage where performances can be held, there were even stagelights set up as a part of the architecture. I love how there are things like this everywhere in the big Japanese cities!

We hopped on to another set of escalators and after that we came at the top of the roof, where there was a cute little garden with a view on the city.
 

   

 

We relaxed here for a bit and then headed for the train to Nara.

Nara is a bit different from what I have seen up till now, it’s smaller and the atmosphere is different. We arrived at about 2 and since we didn’t have much time we decided to make for the Todaiji Temple right away.

On the way we passed a fabric store, the first I have seen here, with some beautiful kimono fabrics.
 



We passed through largest part of Nara Park where we first saw the second largest pagoda of the world, which has 5 stories and is over 50 meters high.

Crossing the road we came to the bit of park where the famous Nara deers walk freely about. I thought it would be nice to feed them and bought some crackers and got assaulted by hungry deer immediately. You’d think they’re really nice and cute but they we’re quite aggressive! They came running after me for cookies. I chickened out and threw them at Faried, but when he started feeding them even more came on to him, including one ferocious male deer. When all the crackers were gone he started bumping into Faried and pestering him for more. Faried kept his cool but I ran away yelling totally scared, haha. (It reminded us of that one episode of Lucky Star where Tsukasa is attacked by deer ^^)


 

We passed through more of Nara Park and the Nandaimon Gate, where there were even more deer everywhere.

Then we finally arrived at the gates of Todaiji Temple. It was already late and it would only by open for half an hour by then, so we bought are tickets hastily and hurried inside. And there I laid eyes on the most incredibly building I have ever seen.

It is now a lot smaller than it used to be, but the Great Buddha Hall (or Daibutsuden) is still the largest wooden structure in the world. It is the home of the Vairocana Buddha and an important place of prayer and Buddhist doctrinal research. Centuries long Todaiji had produces many famous scholar priests, and I was very excited to be there and see it with my own eyes.



We entered the fenominal building and there was the Virocana Buddha. Photo’s don’t do this statue justice, it was absolutely breathtaking. (Faried told me later that my mouth was actually hanging wide open) I threw some 50¥ coins in the offeringbox and prayed for a few minutes, trying to take in some of the infinite light and wisdom.



Around the Buddha statue were other statues of gods, and in one corner there was a special pillar that was a part of the building structure. It was a thick wooden pillar like all others but at the bottom there was a small square hole. It’s said if you crawl through the hole to the other end you will be eternally blessed. I wanted to try it but it was really very small, and I couldn’t even get my shoulders through at first try. But then I saw people that were much larger than me get through with some effort and I tried again, this time twisting my body sideways. It was pretty hard and very scary, but I got through and it felt amazing. Because I thought it was impossible at first, but then I changed the odds in my favor and it worked out all right. I am thankful for this lesson at this amazing place.




Outside we saw the statue of Binzuru, one of the sixteen arahats, Buddha’s disciples. It’s believed in Japan that when a person rubs a part of the image of Binzuru and then rubs the corrosponding part of his own body, his ailment there will heal. I made another prayer, clapping my hands and touched his feet and then my own.

By that time it was already 5 o’clock and we headed for the exit.

We took off for the station and ended the day with a chococornet. (I ate it Miyuki style ^^)

 

 

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