The struggle to finish this section of the travel blog

So here I am missing many days of posting, and it all comes down to the fact I don’t know what to post as the final entries.

The trip was for 11 days not 8, but three of those days I spent without really taking many photos, or sick in a room, so it wasn’t compelling writing. I didn’t count those days as parts of my trip. It’s funny but 2.5 days of my trip were spent in Non-japan transit, so yes, that is my confession, and I am sorry if my labeling of these things was a bit off. Mostly I got confused where one day’s photos ended and another’s began.

But then back to my main issue, the issue I have with trying to end this little adventure.

Their is a haunting conversation that goes on in my head when I am about to finish things, it goes like this.

“I am almost done! I am really happy with how this turned out.”

“yeah but now what?”

“what do you mean?”

“how do you top this? Grow your fan base? Get approval?”


Approval. I find myself more and more disgusted by the idea of it. or at least the search for it. Nonetheless, the feelings of ineptitude, and fraudulence creep in, and I leave the ends loose, because god forbid I have to start again.

Where do I go from here? I don’t know. I’d love to lie to myself and be positive, but Japan was a highlight in my life, and now I find myself doing little to nothing.

I am being overly harsh. Part of me knows this, part of me is still struggling with just getting up in the morning, and dealing with that annoying voice in my head that tells me I can’t do anything.

I want to finish, and I will. I just am not ready yet. But thanks for being there. Thank you for reading. If you have it to give, please leave me some support in the comments. I could use it. Thanks.

Osaka Night 7: The visual styling of Downtown Osaka.

2013-10-29 18.49.02Osaka was lovely at night, and seeking wilder things I strode out on the town.

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I found a cat! IMG_1410 IMG_1411 IMG_1412 IMG_1413 IMG_1414 IMG_1415 IMG_1417

I was tempted to stay in this cube hotel but then I remembered my comfy hotel room bed. IMG_1418

Little America at night is quite fun, and is full of Japanese hipsters. I ran into a Frenchman on the street and we discussed our travel visa’s. Interestingly, his from France was 6 months without even proof of employment, while most people from the US can only have a 90 day. IMG_1420 IMG_1421 IMG_1422

Some seriously great lighting. IMG_1423

The statue of liberty on top of an apartment complex…okee. IMG_1424

Not sure what this was. IMG_1425 IMG_1426

Hipster bookstore with that kitty outside from before! IMG_1427

He meowed at me. IMG_1428

There was another stray hiding in the Shadows.
IMG_1433 IMG_1432 IMG_1431 IMG_1435Visual spectacle overload overtook me as I took these last shots, and so I sent myself off to bed. More next week dear reader!

Day 7: The Redlight District at 10am

Not knowing Japanese has its downsides. Like stumbling into the red light district. Luckily, Japan’s red-light districts are not like most places, even the seediest areas are unusually safe. While some might claim this is because of Japan’s naturally low crime rate, others point out Japan’s notorious under-reporting of crimes. The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

But I am getting ahead of myself. I found myself in little America. It’s a section of Osaka that is meant to mirror the United States. It was quite early still so it was mostly empty. That being said a fountain had been vandalized with soap bubbles and the scattered remains of a party were evident in the main square. Being oh so cultured, I bought a Japanese Coke and found it tasted only slightly different, with an emphasis on spice over sweet.

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The Fed Ex of Japan!

F#$k the rules!
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My friend translated this to be literally fat entertainment. It was a brothel dedicated to those who enjoy the company of overweight women though the women on the poster aren’t all that fat in comparison to people from the states.
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This is a Christmas-themed love hotel. Love hotels are not brothels believe it or not, most of their customers are actually couples who can’t get privacy otherwise. Japanese culture is both lax and strict about sex
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Japan’s or Osaka’s version of a most-wanted poster. I like that the people they caught had little X’s put over them, like some version of criminal bingo.
IMG_1321I got  a Japanese handkerchief. These are mostly used to wrap things in order to carry them more easily!


A seemingly abandoned school archery range. IMG_1340

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One of my favorite things about japan were all the little shops tucked in places that were completely out of the way. It added to the sense of mysticism.
IMG_1347 IMG_1346 IMG_1342 IMG_1338One of Osaka’s famous stand up sushi parlors!


These adorable little fish…these are the deadly delicacy known as Fugu. I refrained from eating any during the trip as A. I didn’t want to die, and B. It was 60-80 dollars for the small edible piece of an otherwise adorable fish.

After a quick foray back to my hotel, I decided to catch a subway train and soak up some of Osaka’s history. More, tomorrow dear reader.

Day 6: Osaka

I approached Osaka with a bit of a heavy heart, I knew this would be the final city in my great journey. Kyoto had left me feeling a little solemn and lonely, and so I arrived.

I’d taken one thing from Kyoto that’d kept me in high spirits! This Game of Thrones deck box for Magic the Gathering!


Despite having my awesome deck box I was totally lost, and for the first time I received help from a random Japanese couple. Osaka is known as the South of Japan. Osakans love good food and are known for being much more social than the rest of Japan. The couple who helped me spoke perfect English and even went so far as to call my hotel. It was a breath of fresh air, and I wish I’d gotten their emails, but the punk rock couple, he had a mohawk if I recall, was gone before I could even so much as say thank you.


I should say I dug the feel of the city immediately.  It reminded me of Tokyo, but it felt somewhat less distant. The whole city seemed less formal, less imposing, and more open. IMG_1168I should say I felt more at home in Osaka than ever before, and being the final leg of my trip I decided to take fewer photos.

IMG_1172The hotel actually had a laundry which was welcome as I was running down to my last pair of socks. That being said when I visit Japan again I am going to bring a classier wardrobe, I swear I was the most underdressed guy in the country.

IMG_1181 IMG_1182I enjoy nerdy culture, and I’d heard Osaka’s nerdy district was on par with or better than Tokyo’s so I headed out, and found a department store section completely dedicated to build-it-yourself Gundam Models. 13-year-old me owned a few of these.
IMG_1183 IMG_1187On a hunch, and a hasty google search, I roughly ventured to the area of a hidden card shop. Well not so much hidden as tucked into a highrise along with other such shops.

I arrived to find the place in disarray. I would later figure out that the place was closing, and this was the last day of their operation, but at the time I was wholly confused.

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Walking back I passed a lively cafe, and in the warm weather here, people congregated, but they congregated with each other, smiled and spoke earnestly. The whole feel was completely different to the hustle of Tokyo or the imposing nature of Kyoto.IMG_1193
2013-10-27 21.20.34I returned to the hotel with the spoils of my geek Journey, I got nearly 150$ in magic cards for 1 dollar. It was amazing. I am only sad I didn’t realize that they were closing the next day forever. Nonetheless, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and amazing first day in Osaka.

Day 6: The Tea Ceremony and Goodbye Kyoto

2013-10-27 10.22.12Looking back I wonder if I should have spent more time in Kyoto. While my gut says no, my mind wonders what it would be like to live in such a foreboding place, a place steeped in culture and tradition. The city seemed to echo a certain type of inner loneliness. When the Shogunate controlled japan, the Shogun rarely visited. The emperor lived in the palace but was little more than a puppet on a string. Then when the Edo period ended, and the Meiji restoration began, the emperor moved the capital to Tokyo.

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The key word here is ceremony. The whole city was and is a ceremony, a clever deception of power. Everything about Kyoto seems to emanate foreboding, yet the city played only a ceremonial role in the power politics of Japan for most of its existence. Even during World War 2 the city was largely unimportant and as such was spared from he same level of bombardment the rest of Japan withstood.

2013-10-27 10.57.31 2013-10-27 10.57.36 2013-10-27 11.05.52 2013-10-27 11.06.10 2013-10-27 11.06.18 2013-10-27 11.10.56 2013-10-27 11.20.35 2013-10-27 11.21.41Kyoto’s train station is an amazing and has a fun little Cafe in it. I took the plunge and ate some Oyakudon despite knowing I would have a reaction, and I had a little bit of one, but it was freaking worth it!

Speaking of ceremony, I decided to attend a tea ceremony.

2013-10-27 11.30.27 2013-10-27 11.41.50 2013-10-27 12.23.34 2013-10-27 12.23.32 2013-10-27 12.24.08 2013-10-27 12.24.41Now, it actually wasn’t a full tea ceremony, but instead a class on how to properly give one. A proper tea ceremony can be difficult to find, and can take anywhere from 3 to 12 hours.  None the less, I had the place to myself and my hostess was pleasant. 
2013-10-27 13.02.57The last photo I snapped in Kyoto. There was a small mall behind the train station, and I decided to burn off some time before I was due to make it to Osaka.

Japan Day 5 Part 3: Even More Gion


As I emerged from the depths of the shrine, I walked in a daze grateful for having survived my journey. I happened upon some young school girls as they attempted to lift a metal pole from its socket though I don’t know why.


The temple I was visiting is the famous Kiyomizu. Legend has it that jumping from the stage and survive the 80-foot drop will grant you a wish, that being said, I kept my feet firmly planted.


The temple’s name translates to Clear Water, referring to the waterfall that can be seen in the picture below.


Across the pavillion, a Pagoda stood stark red against a sea of green.

IMG_1025Modern Kyoto is far off here, and even though surrounded by tourists I could feel the lingerings of the past around me, a city lost to time.

IMG_1028Curious as ever I wandered the area behind the temples, and quite on accident  I found myself heading into the hills behind Kyoto. Luckily the common sense part of my brain went off and I headed back when I met this staircase.

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Quite on accident I found the Pagoda from the other picture. It ws beautiful, and with that I began winding my way down the hills.

IMG_1039As  I left the shrine I felt eyes on me and looking up I found a whole class of Japanese students smiling down at me. I waved, and they waved back, and I smiled, and they smiled back. It was a breath of humanity in an otherwise sterile and inhuman place.


Kyoto Day 5 Part 2: More Gion

I hope your memorial day went well dear US readers, and your normal, not long weekend non-US readers.

After a brief stop for lunch, courtesy of another 24/7 style establishment I decided to visit a pagoda in the hills surrounding Kyoto, but to get to that pagoda I had to venture through one of Japan’s oldest, and biggest graveyards.

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I don’t have much against graveyards. Many people see them as scary or morbid. Some have a deep fascination with them. I grew up with ghost stories, yet I find nothing but serenity in the rituals pertaining the dead. Graveyards evoke rest, not restlessness to me.  Nonetheless, the sheer scope of this particular burial ground was breathtaking, even more so, when you postulate that many of these graves were family graves, with several generations of families being buried all in the same plot.
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What was perhaps the most curious was the direct contact people had with the burial ground. Houses like the one in the picture above lined the sides of the road and protruded into the grounds. I wonder what life would be like growing up so close to the dead. Would the person be immune to the fear of death? Reminded to live each day fully? Simply scared all the time? I had no idea, and my mind wandered.

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Halfway up the hill I took a rest in a small temple. Much of it stood decrepit, with fading painted murals and sculptures. I never did found out what the place was for but the view was nice.

Again more of the yard. I stopped snapping pictures as I got higher and higher up, as the scene simply repeated itself. IMG_1014

By chance, I visited this very touristy place on a school field trip and snapped a few shots of the students, who did something many of their adult counterparts did not, they acknowledged my existence.
IMG_1015 IMG_1016Behind me, as I came in off a back path, was a street lined with souvenirs, and replicas, but I set my eyes forward, I had a duty to perform.

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I took a picture of this place because it was here I had a nearly religious experience in self-reliance. Within the temple above is a small passage that led into complete darkness, the passage can only be navigated by walking through the dark with your hand on a rail. It is stifling, claustrophobic, and  not something I would do again. With that said I knew that if I panicked I would cause a problem, the people behind me couldn’t see me, and so I drove ahead despite every bone in my body telling me to head back. I emerged into the light, relieved and yet proud that I’d kept going.  

Japan Day 5: Gion

Gion is a mystical place. It is an area of Kyoto that is frozen in time artifactually as well as culturally. While Xenophobia is a problem that Japanese culture faces, it is apparently extremely rampant in the tiny private restaurants of Japan. If you don’t know someone the people in the restaurants will simply ignore you, and if you are a foreigner, well even if you do know someone getting served might be an issue.  That being said I saw no trace of Xenophobia when I ventured the alleyways of the Historic District, but that might have just been me.

The place’s main pathways are very touristy. This is a place that the Japanese come to visit to engage their culture, and gift shops abounded. The main reason for this is that Japanese culture dictates you give gifts to your colleagues or schoolmates after you return from a trip. The gifts don’t have to be expensive or personalized but to not give them is a Major Social Faux pas. IMG_0960

I was able to navigate the bus system! I surprised myself there. IMG_0958 2013-10-26 09.24.06AH, HA! I found a snack machine! IMG_0961 IMG_0962 IMG_0963 IMG_0964

Dood the uniforms. So cool. IMG_0966 IMG_0969 IMG_0970 IMG_0972 IMG_0974 IMG_0978 IMG_0980 IMG_0983 IMG_0990 IMG_0991 IMG_0992 IMG_0999 IMG_1002These pictures mostly speak for themselves! ^_^  More Gion Tommorow.

Day 4: Kyoto

IMG_0915Kyoto’s vibe as a city is imposing, isolating, a little lonely, and yet cloaked in curiosity. The City was the home of the emperor until the Meiji Restoration, but during the time before the Meiji it was like the emperor, ceremonial but functionally unimportant. Unlike Kyoto, Tokyo, and Yokohama, the city was not all that important during world war two, no major manufacturing plants were built, no bases stood imposing, the city was simply a quiet place in a sea of turmoil.

IMG_0918 (1)One of the distinct advantages to this arrangement of relative un-importance, was that the city was left largely intact after world war 2. Buildings some of them hundreds of years old still stand in Kyoto. There are shrines, and parks beyond counting.

IMG_0920The city as such maintains its attitude of Imperiality. The royal power seems to seep through the pores of the city. The nature of the buildings here is shorter, flatter, and more reclusive. The privacy unavailable in other cities of Japan seems to flourish here.

IMG_0917I found another rarity. While most local governments are quietly removing them there still exist beer vending machines on the street. It seems change is slow to come to Kyoto, even now.

IMG_0923 IMG_0922 IMG_0921The long driveways at first seem out of place in the city, but then as you walk along the nicer neighborhoods, you realize that these driveways, which could easily fit a house or two in them, are a subtle showing of wealth, and power.


Traditional style Japanese artiecture is quite common in Kyoto. IMG_0938 IMG_0935For a city that seems so serious, however, there are a few bright happy spots. During my time in Kyoto, I visited the Manga museum!


When I finally left the museum, which is a lovely place to while away the hours, and full of Gaijin like myself, it was night out and the city seemed, unlike Tokyo, quite content to turn in early. 
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My stomach rumbling,  I stopped off at what I can only describe as a supermarket without produce. While I seem to have lost them at the moment, I found bottles of Jack Daniels that were at least two gallons.  IMG_0940As I crept through the streets of Kyoto a certain timeless quailty gripped me, and I imagined it hundreds of years ago when nobles and samurai met in private restuarnts and discussed the day’s polotics. Sleepiness had me now and so I settled back to my hotel room, excited to venture to Gion, a very well preserved section of Kyoto.

IMG_0947The view of the hotel overlooked a school, even now at 9 o’clock the students practiced Martial arts, and I watched them as I drifted in and out of consciousness, wondering what it’d be like to grow up and such an imposing place.