Day 1 - 19th July 2006 - Flight Day

We flew from Heathrow to Malpensa then had a long flight from Malpensa to Narita near Tokyo. We watched 3 films and a documentary on our tiny screen. We had limp asparagus with both lunch and dinner as part of our airline food. The good thing about ordering veggie meal (or any special meal) is you get yours before everyone else. Debra was given extra sweets for me, the only thing is she gets to eat them and I just get them put under where my mouth would be if I had one and have to pretend to eat them by going Yum yum yum yum, which is really Debra doing it in a teddy bear voice pretending its me!

 

Day 2 - 20th July

It was 10 - 10.30 am (8 hours ahead of UK) when we arrived at Narita Airport near Tokyo. We met 2 nice policemen on the train and some other humans who thought me so cute.

Hello to everyone I met today and thanks to the nice ladies in the tourist information at Uneo? station. Most of the afternoon was spent looking for a bank to get money exchanged, some banks stop exchanging at 2pm and we were 10 mins late. Luckily Debra had changed £40 before we left the UK so we had some for the first night.

 

Day 3 - 21st July

Debra exchanged her JR voucher for a JR pass (the office JR exchange opens about 5.30am) and we got the next train to Kobe. It was our first time on a bullet train and it was fast and noisy. The Japanese train stations are murder for Debra's sensory overload and the train has stupid noises and music from its PA system.

photo of bearsac sitting at kobe harbor
Looking cool at Kobe Harbor

Explored Kobe spending time at the harbor. Debra embarrassed me by rolling up her trousers and paddling in the ground fountain with a demented duck that wouldn't stop quacking. She then climbed over the railings to paddle in the sea on the rocks; I didn't know where to put my furry face.

We then went to Rokko island but didn't spend too long on there as there was not much to do there but was just cool to be on a man-made island. It is quite big so it's hard to tell you are really on an island. It is Kobe's second artificial island and is reclaimed land. It was constructed between 1973 and 1992. It is oblong and measures 3.4 km by 2 km and covers 5.80 km≤. The Great Hanshin Earthquake left the island to be one of the hardest hit areas in Kobe.

 

photo of bearsac looking at kobe earthquake memorial
section of street devastated by earthquake serving as a memorial

On Tuesday, January 17th 1995, at 5.46 am (local time), an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 struck the Kobe region of south-central Japan. There is a section of ruined street with caved in paving and lampposts which has been turned into a monument to the people that were effected by an earthquake.

 

 

photo of bearsac looking at kobe akashi kaikyo bridge
Akashi Kaikyo Bridge - The longest suspension brige in the world

The hostel is near the longest suspension bridge in the world. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge was opened on April 5, 1998, and had taken 10 years to build.

 

 

Day 4 - 22nd July

photo of bearsac looking at himeji castle
Himeji Castel

Himeji Castle is a Japanese castle and is one of the oldest surviving structures from medieval Japan. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Japanese National Cultural Treasure. It is occasionally known as Hakurojo or Shirasagijo ("White Heron Castle") because of its brilliant white exterior.

 

 

photo of bearsac at the a-bome dome
The A-Bomb Dome - Hiroshima

We took the train to Hiroshima and a tram to the park which homes the The A-Bome Dome. Also known as Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and Gembaku Dome, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was established as such in 1996. The building was originally designed by Czech architect Jan Letzel. It was completed in April 1915, and the new building was named the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition (HMI).

The 6 August 1945 nuclear explosion was almost directly above the building (the hypocenter was 150 meters / 490 feet away), and it was the closest structure to withstand the explosion. The building has been preserved in the same state as immediately after the bombing, and now serves as the reminder of nuclear devastation and as a symbol of hope for world peace and elimination of all nuclear weapons.

 

 

 

photo of bearsac looking at dog for sale in a capsule
How much is that doggy in the capsule


In a dog shop there were puppies in glass capsules with cage openings at the back for feeding and cleaning; it was like a capsule hotel for dogs.

 

 

Day 5 - 23rd July

Got a sushi meal for our 8.43am train to Takayama. Japan is a bad place to be if you have sensory overload issues like Debra, train stations are particularly bad and Debra was very badly overloading from all the sounds; I looked after her though, what a good teddy bear I am.

 

photo of bearsac by some japanese thatched roofed houses
Gassho-zukuri housing in beautiful Ogamachi

Ogamachi is a village in Shirakawago in the country between mountains and has lots of gassho-zukuri (grass houses) some more than 250 years old. With its steep praying hands roofed gassho-zukuri farmhouses, rice paddies trimmed with pretty flower beds, roaring river, and pine-covered mountains rising on all sides, Shirakawago is said to be one of the most picturesque regions in Japan, and we stayed there, cool!

 

photo of bearsac outside our grass-roofed minshuku
Yokichi in Ogamachi


We checked into a gassho-zukuri (grass house) minshuku (family-style Japanese guesthouse). The roof of Yokichi was about 1 meter thick. Debra had to do all the shoe business and put her rucksacks on a plastic hello kitten mat. Yokichi is right next to the Sougawa River. The river could be heard from our room on the other side of the house.

 

photo of bearsac by a bridge over the sougawa river
Suspension bridge over the Sougawa River


The suspension bridge from the bus teminas to the main part of the village gives a terrifying walk over the gashing river for a small teddy bear like me, but I bravely sat on the rail of the bridge tied securely by my straps so Debra could take photos, I was a little worried about falling in but could not show it in front of the dogs that passed me on the bridge.

.

 

photo of bearsac sitting on the table with japanese food
Part of our yummy feast at Yokichi


Dinner was a feast and the mountain vegetables were so yummy yum yum that I cannot tell you what they tasted like there was one in particular that was extra extra yummy yum yum and we saved it til last after the yummy salted fish and lots of other stuff. It was lots for one human and a teddy bear but we ate it all between us as it was tooooo good to waste.

 

 

Day 6 - 24th July

Breakfast in the grasshouse was big and yummy and we were happy teddy bear and owner. The lady of the house gave us lift to the bus so we didn't get rained upon.


 

photo of bearsac sitting inside a capsule at a capsule hotel

photo of bearsac sitting outside a capsule at a capsule hotel

capsule at capule hotel in Akihabara


Tonight we stayed in a capsule hotel, which was really cool. We w
ent out for food, noodles in soup with some fried stuff and spring onion. I couldn't wait to get into our cool capsule to watch Japanese TV with its crazy programs and adverts. It was quiet as there were only about 3 or 4 other women and we had no direct neighbors to our capsule. It was cool in the capsule like being in a rocket with our own capsule to sleepand relax in.

 

Day 7 - 25th July

photo of bearsac outside motsuji temple
Motsuji Temple in Tazawako


Got a bullet train from Tokyo to Ichinoseki and then local train to where we were staying in temple lodgings. We were checked in by a very nice monk who laughed at my passport.

Motsuji Temple is also known as "The Temple of Flowers. Its gardens are one of Japan's few remaining Pure Land Gardens, which are intended to reproduce the Buddhist concept of the pure land or "paradise". This style of garden were popular style during the Heian Period (794-1185). Motsuji was founded in 850, and under the Northern Fujiwara grew to become the Tohoku's largest temple complex with several hundreds of subtemples during Hiraizumi's heydays in the late Heian Period, before being drastically reduced with Hiraizumi's fall.

 

 

photo of motsuji temple pond
beautiful tranquil pond of Motsuji Temple


After Debra washed our smelly clothes (well, her smelly clothes, and my non-smelly clothes) and hung them to dry and we finally went to see the pond in the Jodo Garden of Motsuji Temple which we had so longed to see after seeing pictures on the internet before we came to Japan.

 

Day 8 - 26th July

We got up 5.30am and went for a slow walk and quiet sit down around the pond before our 6.30 meditation in the temple. I sat next to Debra on the floor but could not close my eyes, (no eyelids you see). The monk used a great big wooden weapon to bang Debra on the back on each side of her spine with precision, it sounded really quite hard and I thought about getting up and beating up the monk but Debra sent me a teddypathic message to say she was fine and it was part of the meditation and felt really good.

 

 

photo of bearsac sitting on cushion in front of japese food with a lit Irori to one side
Deciciding where to start with the starter


Tonight we stayed in a beautiful Ryokan called Yamanoyado-brekkan, which is in the middle of nowhere. We ate dinner in a typically Japanese setting sitting on a cushion on the floor in our own compartment sectioned off by sliding doors, the food was even better than the grass house place and we cooked fish and vegetables over the little coal fire as it was brought in.

We got the Ryokans minibus to the onsen at the sister Ryokan 1 km away. We did want to walk to the sister Ryokan so we could go in our own time and not rush dinner but were told it was very dangerous in the dark as there were bears in the woods. I demanded to know what was wrong with bears, but they just laughed.

 

 

photo of debra naked in onsen with a drunk looking bearsac on rock
Me slacking during lifeguard watch at the onsen, good job Debra didn't drown


The onsen are natural hot springs and have a milky aqua colour. One has to wash before entering them, I didn't try it though, looked a bit yukky to me.

The Ryokan has Yakatas which you can change into wear around the ryokan and to the onsen, the only thing was that there were none for teddy bears; discrimination or what!

 

 

Day 9 - 27th July

photo hung on a bamboo stick at fukuura-jima
Matsushima from Fukuura-jima


Spent the afternoon in Matsushima Bay. Matsushima Bay has lots a small islands dotted around, they are said to be shaped like animals. We went over to one of them called Fukuura-jima and Debra drew me and wrote my URL in the sand on the small beach. When we got to the top of the island we could see people looking at the picture of me and filming it and the long www.bearsac.com bit, probably so they could have a look at the site.

We had booked to stay in the new Koyo Hotel in Tokyo; it looked more like prison! Our room was Japanese style and so small that a cat would get splattered if you swung it, but for 2700 yen (about £13.17) it was the cheapest place to stay in Tokyo and have your own room. The staff are helpful and that was the Koyos saving grace really, we weren't too keen on the biting insects in the bedroom.

 

 

 

photo of bearsac with shibuya crossing backgound traffic's turn

photo of bearsac with shibuya crossing backgound pedestrian's turn -mayhem

The famous Shibuya crossing


We next went to the Shibuya district to see the famous crossing, we filmed from the station and zoomed in with the lens. It is so crazy when pedestrians from all directions cross the road at the same time going diagonally and everything.

Next we checked out the fish market and took lots of photos as it was such an interesting place to take photos and we met a nice Japanese man and wife who are with me in my photo album.

 

photo of bearsac at tsukiji fish market by tuna bidding
Tuna bidding at Tsukiji Fish Market


Day 10 - 28th July

We were up and out at 4.40am to get to the fish market to join the queue for the reputedly best raw fish in the world. A woman showed us the way to Daiwa but advised us to go to see the bidding first before it ended, which we did and it was interesting to watch and film.

 

photo of bearsac and queue of daiwa sushi bar

Daiwa's queue at 5.30am

photo of bearsac inside daiwa with raw fish topped sushi

Raw fish and sushi worth the queue and 3500 yen


We breakfasted at Daiwa, in the fish market, with the set 3500 yen (£15). It had inch thick raw tuna including, we think, Oo-toro fatty tuna which is the highest quality and in the UK costs £40 kg. It was rich and creamy and it would hard to eat a lot of it raw. There was other raw fish and large orange fish eggs aswell. We were full up after as it is all protein. We met some young men in the queue who are in my photos album, hello boys!

We exited via the back of the shop fueled up for the day, we had done quite a bit already and it wasn't even 7am yet.

 

 

photo of bearsac eating tokyo tv tower
Feeling peckish I ate a bit of Tokyo Tower

 

A quick look at Tokyo Tower which is taller and modelled on the Eiffel Tower.

 

photo of a bearsac peeping into frame with imperial palace and pond
Just about see Imperial Palace with nice bridge in foreground

 

At the imperial palace you only get to get so close it and not inside at all.

 

 

photo of bearsac drinking asahi and eating a snack
A well needed can of beer


Back at the hostel I rested and had a much needed can of Asahi beer and break from Debra whilst she had a shower before we went out again.

 

photo of bearsac by sensoji temple
Sensoji Temple


Sensoji (also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple) is a Buddhist temple. Legend has it that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built there for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo's oldest temple.

 

photo of bearsac at kaminarimon and man with sedge hat
Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate) and man with cool hat


Before entering the temple we first entered through the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the outer gate of Sensoji and symbol of Asakusa. A pathway of stalls, called Nakamise, leads from the outer gate to the temple's second gate, the Hozomon. Debra bought me a Japanese outfit from the dog clothes shop, well it fits me so who cares that it was made for a dog!

In the evening we returned to Asakusa for the firework festival. There were so many women dressed in Yakata, it is something they wear alot to firework displays.

 

 

photo of crowd at tokyo firework festival
Tiny section of the million plus crowd at firework festival


We found a spot by the riverside with hundreds of people sitting in lines down the riverside eating and drinking. As the fireworks started great ooohs and aahhhhh filled the air and facial expressions of sheer joy shone through the night.

 

Day 11 - 29th July

Can't remember what we did during the day as Debra has lost our notes for today. From late afternoon we went to Tokyo Bay via the monorail. It was beginning to get dark as we arrived and the giant Ferris wheel lit up, changing colours, its lights were reflected in the glass buildings opposite and everything.The lights of Tokyo looked cool and planes flew low overhead to and from the nearby the by airport.

We went into the Toyota car show and had a go in the funny looking squashed car around the track that goes in and outside the building. I did the steering and Debra the pedals but she was only pushing her foot down enough to do about 10 mph, I kept yelling at her to put her foot down and she pretended that it was just automatically set and that we wern't really driving it. The car was a bit poo though as it didn't always drive the direction I was steering it to. Debra didn't tell them she didn't have a driving license, but then they didn't ask.

 

 

photo of a ghostly bearsac at rainbow, bridge tokyo bay
Me haunting Rainbow Bridge at Tokyo Bay


We spent some time on the boardwalk looking at Rainbow Bridge lit up over the water and spoke to dogs dressed in traditional japanese wear before leaving and going back to our infested cell.

 

Day 12 - 30th July

Debra bought a yakata, we thought we might get one cheap as we thought they might have them on sale as the festival was over. There was only one place we saw that had them on sale and Debra got one for 1050 yen (£5.12) which was very very good. We went back to New Koyo and Debra showered and changed into it having difficulty tying it.

 

 

photo of bearsac wearing a jinbei using chopsticks
Tackling dinner with chopsticks


We went out to eat with her wearing it and ate I used chopsticks to eat my raw fish.

 

photo of bearsac with neon lights of shinjuku
Neon saturated Shinjuku in Tokyo


We got to Shinjuku as it was getting dark as that's the area to go for the building covered in neon lights. We met 2 lovely ladies in a clothes shop, one of them the designer of the clothes and had my photo taken with them, it is in my photo album. Debra got asked to go for a drink by a middle aged Japanese man, she declined him politely in Japanese and we went on our way.

We returned to Shibuya to see the crossing at night Debra got asked to go for a drink with more men but declined. I spoke to lots of people on the train back to our part of town. We watched more corny chatshows and gameshows and got bitten by bedbugs all night.

 

Day 13- 31st July

Can't remember what we did today as Debra has lost our notes for today.

 

Day 14 - 1st August

 

photo of bearsac sitting on rock with greenery and flowers behind
Chilling in the park in Narita

 

Checked out of New Koyo and headed for Azure in Narita which is 7 mins from the airport. Azure hostel is nice and clean and has no biting insects unlike the New Koyo. Dropped off our bags and headed out to explore the beautiful park with temples. Met more people on our travels and lots of giant fish.

 

Day 15 - 2nd August - Day of Departure

Debra bought some chinaware and food and packed it carefully away before we left the hostel for the short train journey to the airport where we got a some Japanese Vodka, Japanese sweets to take home and a belated birthday present for Debra's friend Ellen.

 

photo of bearsac sitting in aeroplane cockpit
Me in the cockpit of plane on way home


I got to sit in the cockpit of the plane and have my photo taken which was well cool. Thank you to the crew on the plane.

We got home some time after midnight greeted by a sleepyeyed Alan who had been flat sitting for us and we all tucked into Saki and sweets.

 

photo of debra at home wearing yakata with japaes-style food
Debra dressed in her bargin £5.12 Yakata back at home

Debra made a Japanese meal including shushi and served it on her new Japanese serving chinaware dressed in a Yakata she had bought.

 

   

 

 


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