Greetings from Japan! We've been here for a week now and it's been amazing that much I can tell you! I thought I would post about our trip more often, but we've been on the move from morning 'till night. When we have returned home I've been so exhausted I've just collapsed on my futon and posted some pics to Instagram before passing out. :'D
This is our first "relax" day when we just hang out at home and do nothing special. Right now it's 13.13 P.M. in Japan as I'm writing this. I'm still in my pajamas and just ate a healthy breakfast of ice cream and cheese snacks. x'D Later we might go and take some doll pictures at a near-by Shinto shrine. And maybe go to Nakano's Mandarake, an otaku-paradise that is just one stop by train from us. I'll write here a little something about our trip so far.
I'll only write in English for now and add the Finnish translations later. ((Or if some kind soul would like to translate in Finnish for me so I could copy-paste the text here. It's exhausting and time-consuming to write everything twice.... I'm sorry! ^^;;;; ))
Terveisiä Japanista! Olemme olleet täällä nyt reilun viikon ja vielä kaksi viikkoa matkasta jäljellä. On ollut ihan mahtavaa, sen voin kyllä sanoa! Luulin että ehtisin postata matkasta enemmän ja useammin, mutta olemme olleet liikkeellä joka päivä aamusta iltaan. Kotiin palattua olen jaksanut vaan kaatua futonille ja päivittää vähän kuvia päivän seikkailuista Instagramiin. :'D
Tänään on ensimmäinen "lepopäivä" ja hengaillaan vaan kotosalla tekemättä mitään erityistä. Kello on tällä hetkellä n. varttia yli yksi iltapäivällä Japanissa. Hengailen pyjamassa ja söin juuri erittäin terveellisen aamiaisen joka sisälsi jätskiä ja juustosnackseja. x'D Myöhemmin mennään ehkä ottamaan vähän nukkekuvia läheisellä Shinto-pyhäköllä. Ja illalla ehkä mennään käymään uuestaan Nakanon Mandarakessa, otakuparatiisissa joka on vain yhden junapysäkin välin päässä meistä. Kirjoitan tänne hiukan matkasta tähän asti.
Huom! Kirjoitan ensin englanniksi ja suomennan myöhemmin kunhan jaksan ja ehdin! ((Tai vaihtoehtoisesti jos joku haluaa suomentaa nämä tekstit minulle ja voin copypastettaa niin arvostaisin kovasti koska menee tupla-aika kirjoittaa kaikki kahteen kertaan. Laitan krediitit käännöksestä. Olen pahoillani niille jotka eivät lue englantia kovin hyvin, mutta ymmärtänette että muuten ei tulisi ehkä postausta ollenkaan. ^^;;; ))
We had a good flight from Helsinki to Munich, Germany. On the flight to Germany there were obviously a lot of German people and I got to chat in German as well. It was good to have a stop in a familiar place around familiar people and language I'm more used to before taking the leap to the unknown. (I must admit, a little scaredy-pants version of me hoped I could have fled from the airport and stayed three weeks in Germany instead. ^^;; )
Apparently this year is the 60th anniversary of Lufthansa! Cool Warsteiner beer bottle in celebration. The first toast to our trip!
Then it was time for the thing I was afraid the most - the whopping 10,5 hours flight from Germany to Japan!!! I've never been outside of Europe before so I had no idea how it would feel and if I'd have a horrible jetlag. At one point I felt really nauseous during the flight but it passed pretty quickly after taking some medicine and drinking a lot of water.
The food on the flight was really good! You could choose between a Japanese and a German meal. I chose the German version which was deer stew with potatoes. I figured that I'd eat Japanese food to my heart's content over the next three weeks so let's have some German food before that!
Otherwise I enjoyed the flight in a giant Lufthansa plane and happily watched Wreck it Ralph!, The Amazing World of Gumball (awesome series by the way, I've never watched it before but it was super funny!), a Japanese document of fireworks in Japan and a Swedish movie "The Antboy" dubbed in German.
They also had a selection of German Schlager songs which always comfort me if I'm feeling sad, scared or sick so I listened to those. (They are familiar sounding songs from my childhood so I always feel relaxed when listening to them) It was a good thing we chose Lufthansa!
|A view to our home here in Koenji. Nekotalo is behind those bushes.|
We are staying in Koenji which is a nice and homely town in Tokyo. It has a distinct sub-urban feel to it, this is no tourist-hotspot and that's a good thing! We get to see how the Japanese live and being a Finn who is not used to the buzz of a giant city this is a relaxing place to stay. We have Japanese-style rooms in a detached house owned by a Japanese lady who has lived in Finland and offers rooms for rent mainly for Finnish people. The place is called Nekotalo and you can visit their website. Which is only in Finnish and Japanese but yeah. ^^ The name translates to "Cathouse" but they don't have any cats here despite the name.
Which is fine by me, just because as much as I like cats, I'm a little allergic to them. ^^;;
|A view from our home street in Koenji-Kita.|
Nekotalo is a 10 min. walk away from the Koenji station. It feels as if we're really living here and not just visiting for three weeks because we're not staying at a hotel and the walk from the stations looks just like the street views in school animes! And the houses near Nekotalo look *exactly* like Aoba' and Tae's house in DRAMAtical Murder! Wow! I'm impressed!
I was really nervous about how I would find Tokyo in real life. I've studied Japanese and been an anime and manga fan for a long time. I thought the reality might burst my bubble. I did not need to fret. The reality is different, as expected. But it's really awesome in a way I didn't think it would be! The air smells like spices. The first thing I noticed here is how fragrant the air is. It doesn't feel like it comes just from the food stalls and restaurants, I think this is the special fragrance of Japanese summer. Just as the air in Germany smells different to me than the air in Finland, Japan has its own distinctive fragrance. I like it, I wish I knew how to take that back home. :'D
|Night on a street in Koenji.|
There are people everywhere but they don't offend your personal space most of the time. The food is better than in the Japanese restaurants I've visited in Finland and Germany. There are really kind old Ossans (uncles) who you can ask for directions if you get lost! :'D *my favorite thing* ANIMESHOPS ARE AWESOME and there's tons of cute things everywhere. You get a bit overwhelmed by the amount of stuff for sale. Alas, no Alpacassos so far. And a giant pink Angel Kapybara plushie is held hostage behind the glass wall in a UFO Catcher machine. :P
The first few days were spent in a "WOAH! I'm actually here!!! I'm in Tokyo!!! What is this?!!!"-euphoria. I went a little crazy in Akihabara. We didn't even get too far from he Akihabara Electric Town exit at the train station when we already saw a Volks sign and spent the whole day in this giant complex "Volks Hobby Tengoku" Or Volks Hobby Paradise that sells anime goods, figures and - dolls!
There was a big Azone International shop too, so you can expect pics from there in later posts. ;)
The otaku-things I bought on the first visit to Akihabara. I found one of the things that I was looking forward to finding the most on this trip - the DRAMAtical Murder Chimi Chara fullset. Akihabara is a paradise for me. If I've ever felt grateful that I'm an otaku, it's now and here. I'm so happy I'm an otaku! This is the best! ^3^
I feel a bit embarrassed, but one of the main points of this trip for me is insane otakushopping! :'D Now that I'm here in Japan for the first time in my life, I'm not going to hold back. I'm buying all the things I've wanted and that I can afford if I find them. I'll just refrain from buying things when I get home then. (and yes I realize that they have weight-limits and what not for the luggage at Lufthansa but I think I'll send my clothes back home and fill the luggage with my shoppings. x'D
Of course we are seeing the sights too, not just spending the whole three weeks in Akihabara. x'D My favorite things so far have been visiting the buddhist temples and shinto shrines. I love the atmosphere in sacred places. Although I myself am a devoted Christian, still respect other religions. The ways of worship can be different but I think there lies the same otherwordly reality behind all religions. I sensed religious feelings in the temple and shrines, much like the ones I do in our own churches.
This picture is from the shrine I liked the most. The Juniso-Kumano Jinja in Shinjuku. Its main deity is a Yatagarasu, or a mythical three-legged crow. The yatagarasu have a special place in my heart so I was deeply moved that we happened by this particular jinja. I bought special omamori talisman from the jinja and the next day something good happened immediately. ;)
The first thing I ate here was taiyaki or a fish-shaped pastry with anko or red bean paste inside. I've always wanted to taste one and it was super delicious! I've had a lot of things with azuki or red bean paste here! None of the Finns I know like the taste of azuki but I'm crazy about it! xD I usually like the weirdest foods. A British person once told me he couldn't believe I was a Finn because I could eat all kinds of foreign things and even enjoyed them. (We were having a feast on fried squid in a Chinese restaurant) I was surprised but I guess not a lot of Finns like the same things I do.
|View over Tokyo from the big ferris wheel Daikanransha in Odaiba.|
Tokyo is a bit overwhelming at first but after a week you start to get used to it. London is the biggest city I've visited before now and I have to say you just can't compare the two. I still love it here and I'm already making plans for when I can come here again! ;3
We still have two weeks here and I'll try to post something during that time. I'm planning to make short "theme posts" after I return to Finland so that I can discuss my experiences in depth. Right now I have to go to sleep because we're meeting my friend early tomorrow in Akihabara. (It was daytime when I started writing this but we went for a walk from Koenji to Nakano before I could finish writing this post and now it's night already! :'D I'm glad we walked there though, I found something awesome!
If you want to follow my adventures in Japan, please take a look at my Instagram at http://instagram.com/spicanio/ I'll try to post something there every day.