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A hungry mouse's (very sweaty) adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun

A hungry mouse's (very sweaty) adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun

Aug 4th, 2017, 09:55 AM
  #61  
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to Toyama is prettier imo. Gets less pretty around/after Toyama imo. Less rural.
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Aug 5th, 2017, 02:37 AM
  #62  
 
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I've not been to either Takayama and Hida, but those sound like the places we would very much enjoy when we go back to Japan. Thanks for sharing.
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Aug 7th, 2017, 02:26 AM
  #63  
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5 nights Kanazawa.

This part will be pretty lackluster, sorry, folks! I'm not going to claim I got a good feel for Kanazawa; I don't think I saw enough.

I stayed at Dormy Inn which is right next to the train station. If your priorities are similar to mine (onsen, clean, easy to reach, and a/c) it's just fine. I wasn't all that impressed, though. It didn't feel very clean to me, and at 9000 yen a night, it was the most expensive next to the Sheraton. By US budget hotel standards, though, it was above average. And the onsen was fantastic. Indoor/outdoor onsen, cold bath, and sauna. Loved the sauna!

But I had orgininally planned to stay at Hatchi, and I went to check that out- had I been feeling better, I would have been happier there. I prefer neighborhoods over train station proximity.

Kanazawa started out great. I found a terrific restaurant the first night, Plat home Kanazawa kitchen. More small plates than anything else. I usually take a book to read, but it was a really pleasant sort of place to watch the chefs and just float along in happy food haze. Well, come to think of it, the floaty feeling might have been due to their gin and tonics. At any rate, the food was fresh and creative. The server asked where I was from, and when I said Seattle, she got excited and handed me a business card for a coffee shop nearby. I thought why not- Japan is extremely hit and miss when it comes to espresso- and headed out the next morning. As it turns out, Curio is owned by a Seattle transplant. Not only did he make a truly excellent flat white, he also introduced me to an app called bean hunter. Basically chowhound for coffee. The founder is an Australian, which makes sense- most Australian backpackers I've met love their coffee as much as Seattlites!

So well caffeinated, I headed out to the fish market. This is probably the best one on my trip so far; unfortunately, I'd already eaten so I just had some fruit. Then I went to explore the Castle park. I think my first mistake was walking from Dormy to the Market. It really wasn't far, but by the time I got to the park I was overheated. It really is a lovely park, and probably my favorite castle so far, but I felt like I was dying, so I went back to my hotel.

Still heat sick the following day, and I just slept in and then headed out to see the 21st century museum at night. Although they list that they are open until 10 on weekends, be aware that they close the exhibits at 8, which was a major bummer. But as it turned out, it was fine. It generally was the kind of art that I don't understand, and I went through the special exhibits fairly fast. Although I did like the mutant rat exhibit! The pool is cleverly done as well- I found the technology interesting. The water isn't static- they had to come up with a way to "stir" it to maintain the illusion. My favorite exhibit was a room of empty artifact cases. The Beijing art museum has several empty historic cases that they don't really have provenance for because who cares about the cases themselves? So craftsmen, artists, and curators got together to ponder what those cases might have held. Giant butt plug? Insulated thermos? Ming vase? You be the judge!

There were also two great quotes from a collector and a historian. The collector said, roughly, I would be upset if my antique chair turned out to be a fake. The historian said even the fake has value because it tells you so much about its era, the original object, its maker. If you've been to the Gardner Museum in Boston, it reminded me of those empty frames that used to hold some art that was stolen from there. The frames themselves have value- they show visitors a void in the collection. I was fascinated by that, and I felt a similar fascination towards this exhibit. Nearby, there are shelves that have tagged objects. Humans save the weirdest things because we associate objects with people or experiences. You can leave an object with an explanation on its tag and you can take someone else's object, should it capture your interest.

Then it was 8 and I went to see some of the illuminations. I gave up fairly quickly, but definitely check that out if you're there on the weekend. There apparently is some sort of art projection display going on right now, and unfortunately I never did figure out where exactly that was. I think the information desk lady circled the wrong museum- she had trouble figuring it out in the first place.

The next day, I went to Kenrokuen Garden, and that was interesting from a historic and a garden perspective. Beautiful old trees, several water features, including the first Japanese fountain. The fountain looks simple but it's powered by the difference in levels between ponds. Very neat.

But again, just so brutally hot. I caught a bus that turned out to be the wrong bus, got hopelessly lost and saw a lot of unscenic areas of Kanazawa- ended up at a transfer station that was so far out, I gave up and caught a taxi back to my hotel. Ate at the mall next to the train station- a burger place called Oasis. Pretty tasty, great lemon squash, had a fun conversation with a lady who didn't speak much English. I've been fairly entertained- I've been approached several times by ladies who want to practice their English. If this was Europe, I'd be so paranoid, but here, they seem to have good intentions although their English is not good enough to get very far into a conversation. Anyway, I went back to my hotel and passed out.

The next day, I stored my luggage and headed to the geisha district, to check out Hatchi. I wish I'd seen the neighborhood at night; it was crowded and the shops didn't really interest me, but the buildings are great, and it would be a fun place to take photos when not crowded.

Last, I went to the samurai house and the memorial hall nearby. The samurai house is one of my favorite small house museums so far. Lovely woodwork. But the garden is stunning. Very small but so pretty. I sat there and watched the fish for some time. Certainly my favorite of the gardens I've seen here.

The memorial hall nearby has various exhibits of traditional Kanazawa crafts and household items. The bottom floor is a preserved pharmacy. The top floor has the crafts. I found this by chance, and I'm glad I checked it out. I've see the decorative balls of thread various places, and it turns out they are a craft form called temari. Young noble girls used to make them as toys out of silk thread; when the cotton industry took off, they spread to the lower classes as well. Mothers make them and give them to their daughters as good luck/wedding gifts. This display had the most intricate and beautiful examples I saw, and had I been in town another day, I probably would have tried to find the specialty gallery associated with them. Apparently the shop gives a class in how to make them. Very cool! Probably just as well that I'm out of time- the larger ones are more expensive and I'm sure the intricate ones are at least twice the price. But wonderful craftsmanship.

No doubt it helped that it was rainy and breezy today. It was certainly a relief! I think if I came back to Kanazawa in cooler weather, I would rent a bike. It would be more efficient and more fun than the bus system. The tourist buses are loop buses, so you need to know which you want to catch- right or left loop. They sell one day passes which do pay off, but they aren't accepted on some of the other buses.

Headed to Tokyo. I have a trip planned to Ito peninsula but apparently Japan is currently under threat of typhoon. Is there a good English site I could track that on? I'm trying to figure out if Ito is a safe bet or I should just hang it in Tokyo.
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Aug 7th, 2017, 04:10 AM
  #64  
 
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I would check the BBC, CNN, weather.com and NOAA.

https://metoc.ndbc.noaa.gov/JTWC/#_4...wp07170709.gif

Looks like you are in for a lot of rain.
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Aug 7th, 2017, 04:14 AM
  #65  
 
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Or here:

https://jp.usembassy.gov/security-me...one-noru-no-5/

This has a link to an English-language Japanese site. I was on Taiwan for a typhoon and was lucky most of it missed my area. Remember that a typhoon is a hurricane by another name.
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Aug 7th, 2017, 04:33 AM
  #66  
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Thanks, Thursdaysd. That is pretty much what the hostel told me tonight. I don't want to risk it, but that's unfortunate. It was a good chunk of money.
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Aug 7th, 2017, 04:52 AM
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Sorry mm, that's a real downer. But a typhoon is not something to mess with. I was very lucky on Taiwan, a coach load of Chinese tourists was swept off the road into the sea on the other side of the island, and not recovered. And it was totally luck, not planning, I had been out of touch with news in South Korea until the day before my flight, and then the typhoon was still heading to Hong Kong.
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Aug 7th, 2017, 05:47 AM
  #68  
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Yikes. That is terrifying. Yeah, I know, don't mess with Mother Nature. Hopefully the hostel will take pity on me. Probably not entirely a bad thing- I like this tokyo hostel and the idea of the ito trip seemed a bit tiring anyway at this point.

Got any favorite Tokyo sites?
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Aug 7th, 2017, 05:51 AM
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Tokyo was not my favorite place... I stayed in Asakusa which I quite liked.
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Aug 7th, 2017, 10:22 AM
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Hello! I've really enjoyed reading your posts. I'm thinking about a trip there next summer. I'm curious about the heat. About what temperature and how much humidity?
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Aug 7th, 2017, 02:16 PM
  #71  
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Hi, Tally. Low 90s, mostly.

Humidity is difficult to explain unless you've been to the east coast in the summer. Worse than DC, but not as bad as Florida mostly. The days where it is sunny with no breeze have been the worst- those are worse than FL. Go as early in July as possible. June is rainy season; August is beastly even if you're used to 100+ temps as I am. Also, apparently, typhoons happen in August.

If you have never been to a high humidity area in summer, it would NOT be good to visit Japan then. I knew roughly what to expect, and even though I know I've complained here, I haven't minded that much. But Japan is a pedestrian centered place, and you spend a lot of time climbing hills or stairs to see many of the famous tourist sites. Few elevators in those!
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Aug 7th, 2017, 02:26 PM
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I live in central NC, and summers here are miserably hot and humid. No way would I go to Japan in the summer! It was still a bit sticky when I arrived in mid-October last year, but it cleared up quite soon.
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Aug 7th, 2017, 02:37 PM
  #73  
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I hear you, Thursday. I have family in MO and a high school friend in NC and they've both been encouraging me to move out there for a lower COL which is so tempting...

But then I go on a trip like this and I'd almost rather move somewhere that gets a metric ton of snow and has no interesting bugs and I hate the snow with a passion!
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Aug 7th, 2017, 02:43 PM
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I'm thinking about Asheville....
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Aug 7th, 2017, 03:12 PM
  #75  
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Asheville sounds great but it also sounds as expensive as king county.
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Aug 7th, 2017, 07:12 PM
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I'm sorry to hear that the weather still hasn't let up for you. I live and work in DC, and barely try to do anything outdoors for any period of time from June through August.
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Aug 8th, 2017, 03:25 AM
  #77  
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I love DC but I hibernate in the Smithsonians if I visit in the summer. How do you like the Christmas season there? I'm thinking I'll go to NYC and Philly over Christmas, and I'm wondering if I should tack on some days in DC (mostly as another attempt to score tickets for the African American Smithsonian). Haven't been to DC for the holidays before.

The heat really hasn't been awful until about a week ago. That's when umbrellas, sunglasses, and hats just stopped being effective. It really isn't pleasant out until 6 pm. It reminds me of the first time I visited Boston- 100+ degrees, and we couldn't decide if we would melt or fry.

But on the positive side, the typhoon passed over Ito, so I went after all and wind does not stop the Japanese from partying or shooting off fireworks, so it's been an excellent night...although the food vendors did look a bit stressed.
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Aug 8th, 2017, 11:13 AM
  #78  
 
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Glad the typhoon passed and you were able to spend some time on the Ito Peninsula.

DC in December is one of my favorite times of the year, along with the fall and cherry blossom season. It is a good time to enjoy the Christmas decorations around the White House and Capitol. Book ahead for a visit to the White House; all the decorations will be up and the atmosphere is very festive.
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Aug 8th, 2017, 11:23 AM
  #79  
 
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Good to hear that you got to Ito!

At least the DC metro is more comfortable than New York's.
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Aug 19th, 2017, 04:49 PM
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marvelousmouse, thanks so much for your trip report. I've enjoyed it so much i'll be reading it again.
Really looking forward to reading about your time in Tokyo
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