Summer in three parts

4 09 2010

September is here, and that means a few things, but mostly – it’s back to school.

This year’s summer vacation was Busy.  Hot.  Exhausting.  But good 😀

For most of my summer I’ve had guests visiting, because it was pretty much my last chance to have people stay before I leave Japan sometime next year.  From now on life in Japan for me will be focused on passing the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT) level 2, and then selling my stuff before moving, and I just won’t be able to dedicate myself to visitors like I usually would.

For the first part of summer I had Angus visit, which I talked about in Blessed are the geek, D-days, and Gundam is Back.

On the day Angus left, I started working for a friend, covering his lessons while he was overseas.  It was really refreshing to teach students who wanted to study English, unlike teaching at a school were they are forced to learn.  It was only night lessons, so during the day I had time to chill out, watch tv, and sort out my house a bit before my next set of guests.

For the final part of the vacation I actually had my friend Michael come for a week to climb Mt Fuji, followed by my father visiting for 10 days just because.  By the end of August I had been expecting the weather to start cooling down, but this year has been most unusual with temperatures continuing to reach up to (and occasionally over) 37 C even into September!  It’s actually been the warmest August in Japan since 1946, so I had started to slow down a bit because of exhaustion.

Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing

Despite slowing down a little, I still did a lot of sighting seeing with Michael and Dad.  With Michael we went to Shibuya and Harajuku to see the cosplay kids hanging out there, and Asakusa and Odaiba to see a bit of Tokyo’s history and skyline.  With my Dad, his main requests were to go to Tokyo Tower and Odaiba, so we spent a couple of days doing that.  We also saw Inception, went to the National Nature and Science Museum in Ueno, and probably most exciting for me – went to Disneyland for my birthday!

Rainbow Bridge and Himiko Ferry

Rainbow Bridge and Himiko Ferry

So, overall, this vacation was busy, hot, exhausting, but fun!  (and I went to Disney 3 times! win!!)

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two weeks in tokyo

13 05 2010

Finally I’m almost finished blogging about Lauren’s visit.  We really did fit a lot into 2 weeks!  So this post is devoted to miscellaneous things.

The first weekend that Lauren was here was all shopping.  I’m pretty lucky that I have the largest shopping center in Japan only 30 minutes from my house, so after meeting Lauren at the airport and forwarding her bag to my house, we went there.  We walked around for a few hours before deciding to head home and crash on the couch for the evening.  Wayne’s World 1 was watched, and then quoted numerous times over the next 2 weeks.

The next day was spent in Akihabara, and Lauren managed to get the majority of her souvenir shopping done.  She also bought a new video camera, and I bought a new compact digital camera.  My new camera, a Nikon Coolpix S570, isn’t the latest model, but I’m really happy with it.  It takes really great portraits, I think the automatic face detection software softens the face (always a plus).

Next was our trip to Hakone, followed by the Cat Cafe and Yokohama.  On the 27th of March, we actually attended the YouTube Hanami party in Yoyogi park, which accounted for our slight hangovers on our trip to the snow.  The Hanami party was lots of fun, but I got far too friendly, and the lines for the toilets were really really long.  In the evening the party moved from the park to the Hub in Shibuya, but we were only able to stay for a few hours since we had to be up early to catch the train the following day.

After we arrived back from the snow, we needed a bit of a sleep in and easy day, so we went to the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku for high tea.  The Park Hyatt has the hotel bar that is featured in Lost in Translation, but personally I went for the food (big surprise there…).  I’ll be doing a blog about that next (^-^)v

A full day at Dinsneyland was next on the agenda.  We spent 14 hours there that day, and it was lots of fun.  Of course being the school holiday it was really busy, but we got to ride most of the ‘big’ rides, and a few of the classics.  It was also interesting as, for the first time, they were holding Easter celebrations.  So the decorations were really nice.

Disney's Easter Wonderland

Disney's Easter Wonderland

By this time, the cherry blossoms were starting to bloom, so we went to Ueno to see the flowers (and the crowds!).  Ueno is one of the most popular places to have hanami, and it’s super crowded all the time.  However, you can understand why, as it’s very pretty.

Ueno park in bloom

Ueno park in bloom

Ueno park was actually just a stop on our way to Alkatraz ER in Shibuya, a medical dungeon themed Japanese bar.  I do love going to themed bars in Tokyo, but this place was a bit of a let down.  There were some cool and weird things, like drinks served out of severed heads, drinks with banana’s that looked like… well…  and then there was the vibrator drink…  Where the waitress (in short nurses uniform complete with g-string) mixed the drink with a vibrator while moaning (0_o)….  But overall it was over priced, as we had to order the all you can eat and drink menu, and they neglected to inform us that drinks from the special drink menu weren’t included in that deal.  Next time I would prefer to go to the Lockup.

Our last couple of days were spent wandering around Costco (Japan is all about shopping at American stores…), singing karaoke, and looking at the local cherry blossoms.

Check out my album on flickr for all my photos, and of course, check out Lauren’s YouTube channel for all of her videos!

Pink and White Sakura

Pink and White Sakura