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Japan! July 6, 2009

Posted by ayasawada in Japan, Travel.
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Kyoto Gion Matsuri

Kyoto Gion Matsuri

I’ve fallen rather behind on my posts the last few weeks (got a stack of Japanese films I’ve seen to write about, not to mention the end of the Spring anime season, several volumes of manga and a few new albums and singles CDs). This is largely because of — what else — real life getting in the way, particularly conferences and events for work. However, I’ve also been planning and preparing for my upcoming trip to the mother country. That’s right, ayasawada’s going to Japan 三回!

In case I didn’t say that correctly, this will be my third time visiting Japan, following a couple of weeks in 2007 and my month long stay back in 2003. It’s really not enough for someone as obsessed with Japanese stuff as me, but travel is expensive.

Anyway, the planned trip is an ambitious one. We’ll be flying into Tokyo and after a day to beat the jetlag, it’s off to Kansai for the main part of our trip. Basing ourselves in Osaka (central and where I’ve only ever spent a day and a half), we’ll be taking in the famed Kyoto Gion Matsuri before a whole weekend hanging out with friends in Osaka. Drunkenness and karaoke will out, no doubt, not to mention lots of food and hopefully live music in Osaka-jo koen (if they still do it). Am also looking forward to revisiting some of the places I enjoyed on my brief visit last time, like Dotombori and the amazing Osaka aquarium, as well as new sights like the ‘Akiba of Osaka’, Den Den Town.

After the public holiday (Children’s Day), it’ll be off to Shikoku for three days for the ‘cultural’ part of our trip. No idea what to expect, or how much we can realistically see in such a short time. But I figure it’s somewhere we’re unlikely to visit on a normal route. Our aim is to get over to Matsuyama to see its old temples and enjoy the famed onsen (as well as eat plenty of udon).

We’ll be bombing it back to Tokyo after that, in time to meet Kanto friends for the famed Tokyo Sumidagawa Hanabi. I hear this is an AWESOME display of pyrotechnics lasting well over an hour (so not your typical UK 10 minute affair). I also hear it gets hideously crowded (and in the stifling Japan summer heat no less). Nevertheless, I am looking forward to sampling the atmosphere of a Japanese summer festival at last, and hope there are traditional stalls selling masks, soba, takoyaki and games where you can win goldfish or other useless merchandise. Yes, it will be just like in an anime… it will…

There are four of us going (almost all friends from my old Japanese school) and we’ve got a ton of friends out there to visit; a combination of ex-sensei, conversation club friends, ex-classmates now ex-pats, and London friends who just happen to be traveling at the same time!

We’re flying standby thanks to a friend who works for Air France. This means packing light so we don’t have any check in luggage. I will, however, be packing a bag within my bag for the inevitable loot I will be carrying back.

I’ve cleared my Sunday for the standard a day of impulse buying in Akihabara (got my shopping map ready). It’ll be a bit mad, as I hear Sundays are the otaku’s shopping day of choice. I hope to see plenty of cosplay and crazy parades, as well as the new additions to the Voltz gallery of Gunpla. Must keep my spending down too, so restricting myself to a MG Exia Gundam and possibly some Figma figures (and maybe a handful of gashopon’s… oh, this is a slippery slope…). That is, if I haven’t already spent my savings on Jpop CDs and funny T-shirts….

Other things I’m looking forward to immensely are seeing the 1/1 scale Gundam in Odaiba (possibly the highlight of the trip!) and hopefully seeing Evangelion 2.0 in an Osaka cinema somewhere (sans subtitles, so a real test of my nihongo).

All in all it’s going to be a really jam-packed trip from which I will probably need another holiday from afterwards. But I don’t get to visit Japan every year, and particularly not with friends. Any travel tips much appreciated.

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1. Japan trip 2009 « Canned Memory - August 9, 2009

[…] 2009 Posted by ayasawada in Japan, Personal, Travel. Tags: Japan, Travel trackback As mentioned a few weeks ago I was soon to take my third trip to Japan. Well those two weeks came and went in a flash, and boy […]


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