Friday, February 29, 2008

/Kamui = Epic Power Day

Japan trip fast approaching a 'ritardando'. Sitting in bed with my non-artificially frozen $2 Asahi beer on our last night in Furano. Heading off to Osaka tomorrow morning and then back home. *sob*

We decided to take a time out from Furano and head to Kamui Ski Links Resort for the day.

What greeted us what a day's worth of glorious, beautiful powder ... and the sweet part was that the mountain was, for the most part, desolate. At times, the conditions were blizzarly but the sun always managed to come out for a showing after each downpour.

It was a fantastic, 2 thumbs up day - wonderful crescendo to end the snowboarding part of our trip. Although there were 2 unfortunate events that marginally marred Kick-Ass-Kamui:

  1. I ripped a hole in my ski pants which equals cold, wet and uncomfortable. I had to ask the lovely steam buns lady to lend me some sticky tape to cover up my indecent exposure;

  2. I smashed into a massive branch which left a fairly decent dent on my helmet. My helmet definitely saved my fat-ass head today. I didn't even see the branch coming ...

Few nice pics of our last run, thanks to Dougie's supreme photo-taking skills ...

And one for the Arnie impersonator himself:

Did I hear "Get down, get down!" ??

PS: My fave is still "So you cooked up a story and dropped us in the meat grinder"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

OTH Night

Temporary Japan hiatus.

Tonight is over-excited fangirl SQUEE night aka One Tree Hill night.

There you have it. My dirty little secret is out.

Squee ...

A couple of photos taken at Inari Shrine in Kyoto to amuse you in the interim.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

/Furano - Snow Galore

Day 2 at Furano will be now known as Snow-rano - it was snowing for the entire day. Quite amazing when you consider how rare it is for it to rain ALL DAY in Sydney. Should be a fantastic day on the mountain tomorrow.

Here are our Furano mugshots. They have photo-sticker-esque machines when you purchase your lift pass. I had to stand WAY far back to fit my whole (even larger with helmet) head into the picture.

These mugshots would have lived up to its name if we were caught 'ducking rope' today. Going out of bounds is a no-no in Furano as a precaution to potential avalanches. We 'ducked rope' on our last run, right after we got yelled at for invading the downhill slalom course. How was I suppose to know that it was only for the little training kids? And because of the frequency of which I say "arigato gozaimashita" during the course of a day, I ended up yelling back "thank you" when the dude yelled at us to get off the course. You may call it a fright reflex.

An update on my food baby menu today: miso ramen and picked rice with vending machine coffee for lunch; 2 asahi beers and nuts before dinner; nabe, crab croquet and salmon with roe rice along with a ume shu sour for dinner.

Can you believe they had an anpanman snowman on the mountain today?! I am now searching for anpanman stomp pad for my new snowboard.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

/Furano = cold

It's bloody cold in Furano! Couldn't feel my face after 5 minutes in the sub 9+ degree cold last night.

We are back at the Ressha House Pension where you can leave your $2 Asahi can outside your room window and have ice cold beer in 10 minutes. Sure is a fine way to relax after a day on the slopes.

Today's food baby menu included: beef steak curry, azuki bean bun, octopus balls and vending machine coffee for lunch; and for dinner: 9 plates of sushi train plates. I could give you a visual depiction of my food baby, but I won't. Just imagine E.T but slightly more human.

Check out road works, Furano style i.e. with blow torches

First day of riding wasn't too bad either

Sunday, February 24, 2008

/Tokyo - Gochisoosama*

* to express gratitude for cooking and serving (just after eating)

It has been an eating spree in Tokyo. Traveling with 5 perpetually hungry boys with bottomless pit stomachs is helping me bring my food baby to full term. I suspect that our voracious appetite scared some of Binny's Jap pals at last night's dinner. Today was no exception with a visit to the inspiration behind the scene where The Bride battles Go Go Yubari. The chocolate pudding with black sesame ice cream was sublime!

This is our last night in Tokyo and our living abode - Oakwood Apartments Shinjuku - for the past 4 nights. The 180 degree views from our apartment are spectacular ...

... and pity we only discovered the "sky lounge" on the last night. The lounge is secluded and decked with an awesome view; has a bar system based on 'honesty'; and a computerised piano that has good enough taste to leave out Richard Clayderman on its play list.

We were yet again caught in the rush hour subway chaos coming back from Akihabara Electric Town (秋葉原電気街). If Sunday @ 5:30pm generates this much traffic, I shudder at the thought of traveling on a weekday at the major stations. Being stuck in the mob and contending with the surge of bodies en masse is similar to being stuck in a strong rip, i.e. there is nothing you can do about it ... you must just go with the flow and assure yourself that the poor old grandma that you knocked over will live another day (despite the additional food baby weight).

Yodobashi at Akihabara is indeed a geek's fantasy. Lucky for me, fantasy-land also had an impressive range of anpanman paraphernalia.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

/Tokyo Madness

Missed out on an update on Kyoto, aka Shrine Mania. There were good times in Shrine Mania, one of which was our stay at a traditional ryokan (旅館) which included kaiseki dinner and breakfast. It was a treat to be seen. The kaiseki required punctuality, which can prove quite difficult when there are 11 of us running riot. Other notable ryokan experiences were: wearing a yukata 24/7, and HT's favourite - having to shower in a common bath area (Ofuro).

More on Kyoto later.

Am now in Tokyo. As the saying goes, when in Tokyo...
  • Squeeze yourself in a sardine packed Tokyo subway. Seeing it on TV might be fun, but being caught in the midst of it is stressful and tiring. I was physically unable to lose balance because we were squeezed in so tight - I had bodies all around me to break my fall. Apparently some guy said to Nat that it was a case of 'survival until you have to get off'.

  • Eat at the Iron Chef's restaurant. It was a culinery experience well worth every dollar. 3 hours of delectable food and sake, all adding to this nearly full-grown food baby that I am harvesting this holiday.

  • See lots of dead fish; feel regret and sorrow for the dead fish only to eat some of it later. So yummy though ...

  • Buy a snowboard - tick! Not fun transporting the thing on the subway though.

Other Tokyo highlights to come later.

What I haven't done is try out the "massage" function on the bidet in our apartment. I will muster the courage before we leave on Saturday.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I am a big fan of the lost in translation signs, starting with the etiquette don'ts on the subway:

... to the tourist information signs at Miyajima Island:

But the most memorable Hiroshima experience was undoubtedly the Peace Memorial Park (the Peace Memorial Museum being the highlight). It was both educational and reverent. Highly recommended albeit the sombreness.

And topped off with oishii okonomiyaki:

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Arrived feeling slightly haggard in chilly Osaka.

Jetstar flight was not very pleasant: air-conditioning was pumped up to the max; witnessed first hand an old lady throwing up her spaghetti & meatballs (let me tell you, the gay steward was not happy about that projectile motion).

Then the correlation between the 2 dawned upon me: air con up, smelly cabin down.

Watched 7 episodes of 30 Rock (so funny! had to gag myself. thanks Gregan). Didn't managed to get much sleep. Everything attempt at leaning on those malleable head rest things was disconcertingly rebuffed. The damn head rest things kept giving way. I think the weight of my head was working against me.

Heading straight to Hiroshima tomorrow morning (at 6am). Meanwhile, a few of my fave familiar Japanese things: a) stumped (again) by the train system; b) massage chairs; c) vending machine katsu curry; d) vending machines with lost in translation drinks; and e) my all time fave (along with bidets and those funny anti-smoking campaigns) the return of the fogless mirror!

Off to bed ... need to get up in a few hours.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

/start Japan

This blog needs some defibrillation ... stat!

Doing last minute packing before my midday flight to Osaka, Japan, including packing BYO dinner - courtesy of the general no service/dinner policy at Jetstar.

I have been listening to my Japanese 101 podcasts on my iPod. At least time around, I can say "mama" (meaning average). Probably won't be of much use since most things are above average over there, including the bidets!

So stay tuned ...