Dessert Forest

Today has been a bit of a nothing day: we travelled from Kanazawa to Tokyo on a weekend preceding a series of public holidays, so the whole country is travelling and we had to have a couple of tries before we could find a train with seats available (thanks to Sim who managed to figure out how to tell on the Japanese website whether the trains were booked out or not). Most of the day was spent on trains, so we haven’t really done much at either end. Accordingly, I thought that instead of describing the day, I’d take the opportunity to discuss a subject very close to my heart.

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Oyama Jinja

Here we are in Kanazawa, city of traditional crafts. Haven’t seen any of those yet (except in passing). Perhaps upon the morrow.

Our vision in coming here was to have a few days between Kyoto and Tokyo when we didn’t have too much to do and could relax a bit. It certainly was nice sleeping in this morning, after all the running around in Kyoto.

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The Torii Walk

Fushimi Inari

We had a long list of things we had half planned on doing in Kyoto, and most of them didn’t happen. We didn’t get to the Imperial Palace, or see Ryoanji’s famous dry garden. I even had to miss out on the Manga museum, and the cinema dedicated to the works of Tezuka Osamu (creator of Astro Boy). But one thing I refused to miss was the walk to the Fushimi Inari shrine, even if it meant waking up at 5:30am.

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Gion Restaurant

Tonight for the first time we ate a Japanese meal without the benefit of any of the following:

– an English menu
– a picture menu
– plastic models of food we could point to when ordering (I don’t know who makes these, but they have them for everything, including non-Japanese food like pizza)
– restaurant staff able to explain our meal to us using verbal communication, written communication, pantomime, interpretive dance or any other means.

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Canal City

Canal City

Here in Fukuoka we’re staying at the Grand Hyatt (strictly in honour of our anniversary; we can’t afford three weeks of it), which adjoins Canal City. Canal City is a shopping mall such as only the Japanese can create: flamboyant, luxurious and bewildering. Instead of an information desk, information robots (infobots?) patrol the centre, automatically stopping and entering info mode if you walk up to them. A series of fountains rising out of the canal (which flows through the centre of the arcade) does a choreographed routine to music every hour on the hour: on our first day we were present entirely by accident when ABBA started playing.

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