We haven't been as fruitful at finding all the wifi spots just yet- they're sort of confined to where we stay, and are definately not always accounted for. The past week has been quite hectic, with us trying to get over our jetlag and see stuff at the same time, and so it was almost too much to concentrate on to get the blog up and running properly as well! But we are now staying in a Buddhist temple (!!!) in Takayama, where it is VERY peaceful and EXTREMELY quiet (just like me, I hear you all say!) and so the time has come to show signs of life.
We were just trying to sort out the pictures, but Daniel-san has just fallen asleep so I might add some now, but expect more later when he's agreed which he wants to publish ;)
SO- what have we been doing? To be honest, it's good to see the pictures again because with so much to see and do you forget what it was you did the day before yesterday, let alone a week ago.
We ended up having quite some time in Tokyo, which we originally hadn't planned on. We booked two extra nights after we ended up sleeping for waaaaaaaay too long on the second day, meaning we virtually lost a whole day of seeing and doing. That was when we decided to prioritize and buy an adaptor, so we could set the alarm. Otherwise we would be seeing Tokyo mostly by night, and judging by what our American neighbor at the hostel looked like, we were looking to skip that. Late-night karaoke does one's looks no good, that is one thing that is certain. Either that, or this guy was just really unfortunate. I am going to let the pictures speak for themselves as far as Tokyo is concerned, except for our piece-de-resistence: Daniel was allowed photograph a traditional Japanese wedding in the Meiji temple, which was very special.
Tokyo is, in one word: prettyfreakincrazy! I never knew what the proper meaning of metropolis was until I experienced Tokyo.
In need of a break from the chaos of big city life and tipped off by a sake-slugging American (who was 'in the movie business': we both agreed it was probably the porn movie business.) in the Park Hyatt Hotel (where we splurged for the fantastic view- 40 euros just to BE there, and then there was the cocktail -we needed- as well), we validated our Japan Rail (JR) Pass and headed out to Nikko. Nikko sounded like a scenic, cute little village outside of the monster metropolis of Tokyo and its suburbs, but it turned out that it was a rather touristy hub. Cute and scenic, but we were certainly not the only camera-toting folk there. It was, however, worth every shot: Nikko is home to a group of UNESCO World Hertitage Sites, all shrines and temples dating back to Edo times and run by Buddhist monks. It was absolutely breathtaking. We have also been able to enjoy the very last remnants of what must have been spectacular autumn colors, which apparently the Japanese go gaga over so we've been lucky in missing the big autumn tourist season by a few weeks and still seeing some golden and crimson foliage. It's certainly a beautiful backdrop for all of the shrines and temples, which seem to seamlessly fall into the same palette, as if they were meant to be visited solely at this time of year.
From Nikko we took the JR back through Tokyo on the Shinkansen (which is one of the things in life you must experience- when they arrive at the platform you feel like you are stepping into the next century, and then when you get in all of the seats recline, have oodles of leg space, and there are vending machines on board. The vending machines in Japan have cold and hot canned drinks, which can be quite shocking if you're not paying attention. AND people have their phones off, which is a nice change) and up to Takayama, where we are now. We have been sticking to the Lonely Planet pretty religiously, since we can't read very much here, and it was what brought us to this little gem: a Buddhist temple that houses an inn. We feel like we've found a pretty spectacular spot- fortunately for us, it's not so busy and so our Japanese tatami floored room has a sliding screen door that looks out over a beautiful little garden. We're sleeping on futons and practising our Japanese... Man, before you know it, we'll be mistaken for locals! We had breakfast accross the street in a tiny, cost little coffee house where we were greeted warmly by a lovely little lady who then made us coffee in the most interesting contraption I have ever seen, followed by a good honest breakfast for only 395 yen. Whatta deal.
Today we visited the town of Takayama- the markets, shrines, an old governmental complex from the Edo period when all was run by the shogun and at the end of the day we went to Hidanosato, which is a village that is made up of various traditional types of Japanese houses. they've all been moved from their original surroundings to this place in order to be preserved. This form of architecture is disappearing fast due to property development. We got a tour from a lovely guide who had a great sense of humor (and must have learned her English in Australia because every once in a while she would say a word like a proper Ozzy in my opinion), and we were able to pelt her with difficult questions all the way round.
All in all, we're keeping ourselves busy. We're tending to all of our spiritual, creative, gastronomic, historical, physical and retail therapeutic needs, and have decided already: Japan is a place we want to come back to.