1 - 19th July 2006 - Flight Day
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!
2 - 20th July
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.
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.
3 - 21st July
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.
cool at Kobe Harbor
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.
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
of street devastated by earthquake serving as
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
Kaikyo Bridge - The longest suspension brige in
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.
4 - 22nd July
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
A-Bomb Dome - Hiroshima
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
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
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.
5 - 23rd July
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
6 - 24th July
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.
at capule hotel in Akihabara
Tonight we stayed in a capsule hotel, which was really
cool. We went
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.
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.
7 - 25th July
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
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
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.
8 - 26th July
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
9 - 27th July
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
queue at 5.30am
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!
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
peckish I ate a bit of Tokyo Tower
quick look at Tokyo Tower which is taller and modelled
on the Eiffel Tower.
about see Imperial Palace with nice bridge in
the imperial palace you only get to get so close it and
not inside at all.
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.
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
(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!
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.
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
11 - 29th July
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
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.
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.
12 - 30th July
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.
dinner with chopsticks
We went out to eat with her wearing it and ate I used
chopsticks to eat my raw fish.
saturated Shinjuku in Tokyo
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.
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.
13- 31st July
remember what we did today as Debra has lost our notes
14 - 1st August
in the park in Narita
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.
15 - 2nd August - Day of Departure
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.
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
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.
dressed in her bargin £5.12 Yakata back
made a Japanese meal including shushi and served it on
her new Japanese serving chinaware dressed in a Yakata
she had bought.