An Aussies Goes to Japan

It was a busy day sitting in the Office when a voice echoes across the room “Daryl do you have a spare $500 dollars?” Sure what’s the catch? Return airfare to Japan. Well at that moment whispers echo through the air “Daryl you should totally do it” before the sentence ended the flights were booked I'm off to Japan...

Well after I get my holidays approved from work... But now the questions starts to pile up;

Where to go? What to do? What to see? Have I just pulled off the adventure of the year? Am I going to pack enough socks? So the list begins.. Places were finalised to; 

  1. Narita
  2. Kyoto
  3. Nara
  4. Takayama
  5. And of course Tokyo

Now it was onto what to do?

Firstly, The insane thing that popped out at me was Mt Fuji, I found out that it was the perfect time to climb the mountain over a 2 day trek yes I'll be sleeping in a hut with no beds on a mountain 4,000 meters above sea level and its snow most of the year but at the end of it all with the tour guide with "Japanican company" I’ll get to enjoy a relaxing dip in the hot springs of Lake Yamanaka That's after the 18 hour walking trek and no cloths are allowed in the springs either (hope its not to cold)

Now that I got at least one thing under my belt for an awesome 12 day adventure to the land of the rising sun, I started to work on planning on the tough questions like, what’s the currency compared to the dollar? How am I going to get around? and How in the world am I going to learn another langue in 3 months? actually the first 2 months I was booking the trip ONE months to learn more than "Kon-ni-chi-wa" meaning Hello..

To help you out there’s a couple of GREAT apps for iPhone;

Triposo" also there's “Triposo Japan” that works offline once loaded so it’s perfect for maps, currency and also knowledge of the country and town.

Now Langue I have found; I found a "Japanese pocket lingo" app, that isn't to expensive and it also speaks, So find the phase and push play, this will be in highly valued over there, might be a little strange as it only has a females voice but neither-less it will be used, a LOT... 

Now for travelling around this amazing country any international visitor can't pass up a JR rail pass, one ticket, unlimited travel around Japan, too easy right?

10-08-2016 (Day1)

4am wake call and the last time I will be touching Australian soil for 13 days, Tho it's the start of my journey to the land of the rising sun, First stop Cairns a little jump of 2 hours from Brisbane and then a wait for 3, so I did a bit of a money exchange $645 Australian to 44,900 Yen and it was boarding time a 7 hour flight was ahead of me, It was such a clear blue flight across the barrier reef and over Papa New Guinea, 6 hours and 45 minutes and a bit of drawing in my comic concept book has passed and I start to see clouds thinking it was just starting to turn night time it may be cold and raining in Nipon but when those doors opened to Narita airport it HIT me 300% humidly, WOW was not expecting that where did that come from? Isn't this place meant to be cold?

But, now the adventure has only just begin first now on the hunt for my JR rail pass (a must have for any tourist) and a data sim it so worth buying a data card over here $5,500 yen for 3GB over 30days Optus my data provider back home offered me 50mb a day for $10.. Now that I'm covered it was onto conquering the trains system, your first train might seem scary and furthermore I know no Japanese, but everything is in English as well and you'll soon master them they're awesome trains by the second stop you're fluent.. I wish we had this setup back home... So my first night a success found the hotel and as it was only an hour difference from home and I was SO excited I grab the camera gear and went to get lost, 1am I returned back to my hotel the "APA Keisei Narita Ekimae" with some great photos CLICK HERE...

11-08-2016 (Day 2)

An early wake again cause, I about to jump on one of their famous bullet trains the Shinansen Hikari 467 bound for Kyoto, 582kms away from Tokyo. This train was AMAZING reaching speeds up to 280.6kms an hour and going around bend like it was skating on smooth ice, and the scenery outside stunning mountains in the background, blue skies above, rice fields along the rain lines edge and their house only 2 stories high allows you to see for miles across their lands it was only 3 hours from leaving Tokyo when I arrived at Kyoto. now when you think for a place known for its snow and cold weathers nothing prepares you for the heat during the day 37 degrees average it was also a wet heat your body drains energy very fast, so if you do adventure through summer don't get fooled when people say "you going skiing? or better rug up it gets cool there" pack light very light and drink plenty of water, pack the sunscreen and bring a towel to wet to lay around your neck cause you're in for a culture shock, now I've said all of that it still didn't stop me from i walking 7kms with all my luggage to sight see Kyoto I found hidden little gems along the way like the "Nijo castle" but now it was getting very close to checking in to my very first AirBnb at 5pm and it was fabulous house they were very welcoming and freely I would very much recommend them when staying in Kyoto (Thank you - Arigato Gazaimasu, Yasa & Fuyu) It's a 60 year old house traditional 2 story Japanese dwelling and so close to a train station (Hanazono, "sobon-line") that has access to some awesome areas. But first, it was a very cold shower to cool down and bed to start day 3 of Nipon...

On a good note, I have mastered the word "Suminasen" meaning Excuse me the Japanese people are very friendly to help..

12-08-2016 (Day 3)

After a good night's rest in my first cultured house I set out for the days adventure, first it was to Saga- Arashiyamya to the find the Monkey Park oddly enough I turned left and stumble a pond the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove..

Wow, what a place I walked around for a good few hours looking in all the nocks and crannies, finding shrines, temples and bamboo walkways and the peaceful river up-stream from the tourist hot spot of the town, My advice in this country take the path not travelled.. It's amazing you can turn let find some great places with no-one there, if you turned right you run into thousands of people hassling around its magical in its way but if you want to see the real Nipon take the road lest used. I followed the river downstream and across a little Island park. Lunch time was here a bite to eat at riverside restaurant I picked a mouth watering Nishin set, a simmered herring and noddles severed in a hot soup sided with a tempura prawn on rice and Japanese pickles, plus multiple refills of cold ice green tea a well welcome to the hot day outside and only 900 yen bargain..

After my belly was full to the brim it's time for Iwatayama Monkey Park a left turn here and a right turn there I handed over 550 yen and walk thru the gate oh wow I'm staring up a cliff face this isn't a stairway this is rock climbing just smooth after about 30 minutes of walking straight up I was at the top. A well worth walk cause you will not find a better view overlooking Kyoto city and the Japanese Macaque "Snow monkeys" playing in the water and jumping around the trees absolutely stunning I watch from about an hour took in all its worth and started to head down, going down was some much easier got love gravity sometimes... Now you think what a day But I had something install as soon as I landed in Kyoto and that was becoming a Samurai and my dreams where made thanks to Samurai Kembu studio where I watched a hour long performance and then got dressed up and was given a sword (yes I know oh no) and learnt some tradition Kantian flighting styles and how to honour the clothing, what an experience and yes for everyone that saw the photo I still own the socks... But today I was taken back Japan is extremely tidy and there's no graffiti it makes the whole ordeal of the country beautiful...

13-08-2016 (Day 4)

Another beautiful day in Kyoto, I got up with a spring in my step today as I'm going to Nara deer park. Yes, they're as cute as you think little deer no higher than your waste. What fun, but they're so tricky little creatures for 150 yen you get some deer food and the rest of the time you're fighting them off they will eat anything so many tourist maps were demolished and one sneaky critter stole my ice cream there are thousands of deer's roaming freely in this park and it is a Massive park at that I spend a good 5 hours walking around didn't see the same thing twice, now as I said before take the road less travelled. Some places you couldn't move but just around the corner no one insight and it was so calming I even sent a few videos to my family of just the tress, lanterns with the sounds of only sicdas and birds in the background. It was worth a full day in that park weekends are extremely busy (for a short time-lapse video of the park to see the beauty and the amount of people) but now the days of my adventuring around Kyoto are nearing the end, what a marvellous place...

Tomorrow is a new destination Takayama a very small tradition village. My Airbnb place has no showers and but there are famous osens down the road. For those who know me in have a few large tattoos Japan culture considers them tattoos tabo, let's see how friendly they're with my tattoos as you can not wear anything but your birthday-suit in these bath house.. Fun times ahead...

14-08-2016 (Day 5)

Takayama, What can I say the train trip alone was worth every second fro Gifu to Takayama, even if you get the chance to catch the train there and back to your destination you should, the train runs along rivers and tunnels through mountains for 2 hours breath taking views of the rural side lands of Japan & the train conductors even give you a guided tour explaining places national land marks and townships i fell in love with the rivers and mountain ranges long this trip, a great surprise and magnificent adventure, So I finally arrived at Takayama and was greeted by a small town hardly any overseas tourists around they are there and I meet my first Australians from South Australia too an I was their second Aussies they’ve meet in 2 weeks, we all set a pond climbing this hill to see the Takayama ruin castle at the top it was just unfortunately just a stone marker these days the photos on the net must have been taken some years ago but it was a beautiful walk thru the forest until you come to a bear warning sign, things that you should probably have at the start of the parklands.. But i was talking to my host later that night that they wonder through the village all the time.. But before we get to the night walking guess what I had? A tradition fried pork ramen and cold sake what a better place to fill the body with an awesome cultured meal than a tradition village in the mountain ranges. So it’s night time and the real adventure begins, that right going to an Onsen, I unfortunately am unable to going to a spring driving Onsen due to my tattoos doesn’t matter if they’re large or a little anchor tattoo on your heel, it’s a No ENTRY, tho they are still public Onsens that you can go to, now the way to have one of these baths is that you must get completely undress in the change rooms and only take a small face wash towel and you soap cannot cover up and shower down first then jump into the bath with about 10 other naked guys showering or bathing, once down shower down dry yourself of with the small towel then walk back into the change room to dry and change.. What an experience...

15-08-2016 (Day 6)

It’s RAINING, what a feeling that was I walking around in the rain well i danced around, but i had a relaxing time in the cafe I was staying at did I mention that my host (Hormi, Thank you –Arigato Gazaimasu,) cooks the best breakfasts in town it was awesome, some nutella cussions and potato bake with cherry tomatoes and a strawberry yogurt, and a mint tea to wash it all down with.. After a bit of photo editing and movie making i adventure out again and had a look around the old town village found a good sake shop and brought myself a present for home, but time slipped away it was nearly 3pm that’s 4pm for my Australia friends, better get lunch and you guess it Ramen again, this time deep fried chicken and pieces with soft pulled beef snow peas and with a side of rice and Japanese pickles, after a very slow walk home it was a call home and a snooze.. Night time came pretty quickly this time just had such a relaxing day.. But i packed my bath bag and headed to the Onsen again, this time I brought the camera, NO your not that lucky or unlucky which every way you want the think, I went night photographing around this amazing town.. Now this is a town that you want to go to if you want tradition and to relax in walking around looking at temple, Shires through large wooden parklands and try beautiful food, Sake and just be lost in the countryside, there’s not flashing lights, no main stream world shops it’s all locals, they live in their shops hence why I stayed in a cafe for today it was a person home it was a shop for-most but not all house are shops of course. But it’s goodnight to day 5 of my trip...

16-08-2016 (Day 7)

Goodbye Takayama it’s a full days trip ahead of my I planned to go from Takayama to Toyama and swim in the Sea of Japan, but however time did not work in my favor and the distance from the train station was 10ks little bit too far to walk there and back in 2 hours with a swim.. So it’s all the way to Tokyo for me, bring on the big city....

4 hours into the bullet train Shinkansen Hakutaka 564 I get this email from my AirBnB host for my stay in Tokyo **** WARNING**** today’s evening comes a typhoon, Please come back to the facility as soon as possible...

As I was passing through Nagano at the time I was a good 2 hours away but it was amazing how the clouds changed from a beautiful blue and white sky to a dark grey and black horrific sight, tho still speeding at 280kms plus towards Tokyo there was no stopping this train an getting to its destination.. We reached Tokyo I jumped straight onto another train didn’t really get to see outside as I was running from platform 34 to platform 2 to make it to Shinjuku station where I’m staying for a couple of days.. Once I walk out from under the Shinjuku station protection, it was like the skies lifted and it cleared it was just a light shower... Part of me wish I saw it another part, But I made it to my place got the low down of where the hot spots of the city were and went out for an adventure, first making it up to the 42nd floor of the Government building to their Observatory area to see how HUGE Tokyo was everywhere you look there were building Tokyo was massive you could spend a whole day just walking from one end to the other.. But before I attempt that in the morning I decided dinner and a rest as the rain was coming I settled in for the evening listening to the pour raining outside and watched a movie and snuck in an ice cream or two...

17-08-2016 (Day 8 )

It was a light rain in the morning but by 11am the sun came out the sky was a clear blue and the grass was washed and shining from the dotted drew drops... I set out for day stroll around the city found an amazing park with tradition Japanese gardens, restaurants and grass fields for miles, being an Aussie I found it strange that they have signs keep off the grass, No sporting games allowed, no alcohol (that’s a bit of a given) no loud music and no picnics allowed in their parklands, you have all this stunning area to use but cant step of the track, probably why it’s so lovely and green but it was also SO inviting just to lay in the fields and watch the clouds float bye and have a good afternoon with friends, like we all do an do in the park down the road from me New Farm.. So after a full day walking around I found myself a few miles away from where I was meant to be, but that’s the whole fun of travelling getting lost, so I jumped on a train and the fabulous cold air con was a welcome but now it was time from again to get home and relax as I have a date with the highest mountain in Japan tomorrow and it starts at 4:30am.... Good night everyone...

18-08-2016 (Day 9)

Day of days some might call today, but I couldn’t stop smiling I’m on my way to trek the highest mountain, Mount Fuji a 3774 meter volcano, I found some lockers at the Shinjuku station from 300 yen to rent (you also have up to 72 hours that you can store you luggage in one of these lockers you only need to pay 300 yen for every extra 8 hours used, the whole locker usage cost my 1,600 yen) from the night as I’m going to sleep on this mountain as well, I am so over the moon about this trip. So it was 7am I get picked up at a hotel by the Japanican company and we are on our way 10 climbers in this group, 2 ladies from Sydney, 3 Americas, a Swedish couple & a young married couple from Dubai originally from Melbourne, with our 2 tour guides and we set off at 10am at Mount Fuji meeting a Japanese lead climber for the journey this guy walks the mountain everyday... like WHAT...

It was so foggy you couldn’t even see 3 meters in front of you but that doesn’t stop us as long as we are heading upwards we are going in the right direction, and we just keep going stopping for 5 minutes every hour to rest, drink some water and put our backpacks down, for hours this went on for till we reached the 7th station on the hill some 2940 meters high at 4pm, we check in to our cabin throw our bags in the sleeping area, had some dinner of Hamburg patty rice minos soup then it was bed time but trying to sleep at 5pm wasn’t easy so a few of us walked around and started to take in the sight of the mountain as it was becoming clear it was spectacular seeing the clouds disappear and realising how high you already are builds below look small the gains of sands only the lights shining lets you see where they are.. but we must really sleep as the trek starts again at 11am if we want to make the summit at 5am, but all I could do was toss and turn I normally get to sleep at midnight and you want me to sleep at 6 o’clock? But before I knew it was 10pm and we all start moving around getting ready we all know it rained while we were trying to sleep so we got ready for what we thought was outside, but nothing could prepare you for what was about to come... when those doors open it was perfect you could see clouds below a full moon above and the stars shined bright, we get out head touches on and start making the trek up the hill again hours and hours walking in the pitch black night not knowing what was but at midnight we stop... and sang “Happy Birthday” to one of the Americas what a perfect way to spend a birthday and of course they did it in style by bring a bottle of champagne to the top, but that’s a story for later...

19-08-2016 (Day 10)

3000 meters above sea level and still climbing I would love to be able to say it’s like 2am or something but its 12:01am as we didn’t stop but a few hours of trek again has pasted and the light is starting to shine on the mountain an unbelievable sight all around, its magical up here the view still gives me goose bumps and every step higher makes it even more worth the struggles of a 10kg backpack and no sleep you can feel every muscle and ache as you keep trekking to the top the air so thin that some need oxygen bottles to breath, but there it was the summit entrance 3710 meters above sea level, tho this is the part where you decide, is this all or do you walk around the crater to other 2kms and to the highest part of the mountain at the weather station (3774 meters) you are only here once (but I would like to do it again) 5 of us set off to walk around and we did is a pace that was made it feel like we were running it was easy trekking, so surprise surprise I have reception up here, guess who I woke up, good morning mum & dad get out of bed your son is standing on top of the highest mountain in Japan and the view is speechless a dream, standing so high that you can see the sunrise and the moon set the clouds below you bouncing the sunrays off them and the peaks of other mountains looking like little ripples in the fields below, breath taking... But up the top of this mountain was like a world on its own & yes there where vending machine, huts, toilets and shops everything a city needs but elevators... Don’t ask who I gave up when I saw a 10 tonne excavator parked up there...

But we only stayed up there for an hour because now it’s a race to get down, I have 4 hours to make it down don’t mind it took 15 hours to trek up that’s excluding 4 hours rest, but it was a straight down decent and we were moving fast 1500 meters in 45 minutes we get to a check point and then spilt to go you own pace as the top 1500 meters any think can happen and is the most dangerous of falling rocks, but we are all on a mission and I was slipping a sliding down this mountain in style that’s until I came across my tour guide who had a nasty tumble and yes it looked like a horror scene blood everywhere but it was nasty, there was a few people washing here down with water and giving her tissues to cover the cuts, but these no way any of this is going to help in the long run, I help her up onto her feet and picked up her backpack, it’s a good thing I’ve been carrying around 21kgs of luggage for the last 10 days and walking a good 15ks each day, as now I’m carry a load been walking for 19hours used every bit of energy I have and still have kilometres to go, but I wouldn’t leave a man down.. we after a few more hours we make it to the first aid unit at base camp she sets in and I walk to the meet point grab bottles of water, power aid, ice cream, and past out the tee shirt come off the shoes are thrown and I just sit there on the rocks, watching hundreds, thousands of people walking back who may or may not have made it to the summit... My dad later informed me that over a million people make the journey between July and September and only 20,000 ever make it to the top...

Our journey doesn’t stop there we make it to the Onsen spa at lake Yamanaka most of us, are too tired and just relax have a good laugh together and a gossip about everything and anything but once we all got back on the bus to make it back to Shunjuku I swear that there wasn’t one open eye on the bus apart from the driver of course... But we made it back said our thank you’s Arigato Gozaimasu” and went our separate ways, Me that was to Tokyo – Chuo to sleep in a capsule hotel wow they are awesome and convince, first thing on the agenda was a long shower then it didn’t matter what was happening it was lights out for me... what a day, if you ever come to Japan and you what to experience something wonderful and magical adventure to Mount Fuji..

20-8-2016 (Day 11)

Exhausted, yep legs didn’t want to move body didn’t agree with single function, it was raining and I was hungry I made the effort to get up become human and set out for a daily walk around Chuo looking at a few streets and ordering a meal and just having a day of relaxation.. I must have lasted about 3 hours out and about, came back and went back to sleep the only adventure I did that that evening was start up the computer and edit some magnificent photos from Mount Fuji..

21-08-2016 (Day 12)

It was a new day and experience awaits I pack the bags checkout of the capsule hotel I ended up heading out to Shunbuya wow what a busy and I mean busy place, but this place has everything 24 hour nightclubs the large amine shop in Japan, Prada to forever 21 and places you’ve never thought off, I walked around taking in some eye opening shops and weaving in and out of the sea of people, but after a few after I need to travel again its back to Narita to check in to the Richmond’s hotel, I nearly cried when I saw my room, it had a bed not only a bed but a double bed that felt like a cloud I wasn’t moving well until I need dinner that was, it was strange when I was first here I was lost and didn’t know their lifestyle, this time I felt at home knowing what to look for where to go even tho I haven’t been there before I knew what to say, it felt like home.. Japan is a beautiful place and a place that everyone should adventure to one day... I cannot do it justice with words not even with my photos but you must visit...

22-08-2016 (Day 13)

It was here the day of departure and the day of the cyclone I didn’t leave my hotel until 11am and only made it up the street to seek refuge at MacDonald’s it was so windy outside that people were walking at a 45 degrees angel and the rain never seen it come down so fast and think before, So it was a day of writing this memoir of my travel around Nippon..

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