Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's been quite some time

Heya! お久しぶりだね! Not sure if anyone is still reading (actually I just had a look at the comment tracker and it seems there are still a few of you!), but I just wanted to let you all know quickly...
The blog will be starting again- I have purchased a domain name- and will soon purchase web space to go with. Jesse's Japan is comin at ya new baby, with a new design, new layout (should be good), and I'll be living in Japan again as of June next year (posts will start before that).

Can't wait to see you all on the new site- I just need to save a little bit of money to buy the space, and then we will be set for 3 years!

See you soon!


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dusk and Night from the hotel

Dusk to Tokyo

Asahi dusk

Asahi night


Half Price Tuesday

My goal for this morning was to eat the cheapest breakfast possible. The results were rather successful- $2.10 anyone? Mmmm shichkin mayo onigiri (that translates as Tuna, Mayonaise rice balls). In all honesty, nobody, and I mean nobody, can beat the tastiness of a Family Mart Convenience store, Shichkin mayo onigiri- no really, I've tried them all- 7 Eleven, Lawson, Daily Yamazaki, none of you can beat the tastiness of Family Mart! At least I know where to go for a rice ball......

Currently my jaw is aching on account of gaping half the day due to shock at how cheap camera gear in Japan is (hence the title), and the copious amounts that each store seems to be holding. Jan (pictured left) and I had promised each other that today was the day- we were going to Shinjuku to buy camera gear, and we were going to spend so much of our holiday funds that we would need to return home early...... or just drop a good amount of the ole mullah on some camera gear (no way am I leaving Japan early!). So, hitting the Subway system at 9am, Jan and I (pronounced Yan) headed to Shinjuku chattering away excitedly like schoolgirls (what place could be more appropriate than Tokyo?).
"Oh I'm getting a battery grip"
"Well I'm getting a wide angle lens!"
"Don't forget my Canon 5D!" it continued on this way for the entire trip. Jan and I needed each other more than we knew for this expedition; Jan is a freelance photographer, so he knows his gear inside out, hence a good companion for camera shopping. Jan also speaks no Japanese what so ever, hence he needed me to translate everything for him- including conversations between himself and the shopkeepers.

First up was Yodobashi Camera- probably the largest camera chain in Tokyo in terms of size, store numbers, and hmmm, price. The prices were much cheaper than Australia, about 30%, and they had every accessory and piece of equipment you could poke a stick at- 7 floors worth! After Jan and I managed to finally pick our jaws up off the floor (Yes it would appear that we are camera geeks, yes?), we headed for Map Camera, where once again everything was about 40% cheaper than Australia, and I, hehe, got tax off too. 2 hours and $300 later, I emerged with a beautiful battery grip, hand strap and a spare battery. Jan on the other hand emerged with a
Stinky attitude on account of his credit card's security feature not letting him purchase the expensive gear for another 48 hours.

"I need a cigarette! Ahh, stupid banks, how can they do this to me in a foreign country" Jan said to me in anguish, as he chain smoked his way down the street- I told him it was really much to early to dancing around the store, singing "I've got a new toy, I've got a new toy" you really do need to let the payment process first. "Jan, when you have a problem, eat some food. It may not fix the problem, but at least you'll feel better", and with those words we headed for a big, cheap, bowl of Oyakodon (that translates as Chicken, Egg and Rice- oh so scrumpcious!). Not only did it taste great, but that cheesy line about food that I so shamelessly plagiarised from a 3rd rate, Disney channel show, proved correct- Jan did feel better, so much that he was ready to drop a few hundred dollars on a new ipod, ipod dock, digitial camera and some underwater housing- what a fun afternoon in Akihabara electric town!

After killing ourselves through camera shopping, we returned to the hotel, where we picked up our friends Charlotte (From France), and Lotta (From Finland) to enjoy a meal. Dinner was rather funny thanks to the crazy (yes he was crazy!) man sitting at the table next to us. This guy talked non-stop throughout his meal.... to his imaginary friend supposedly sitting opposite him- he was using hand gestures and everything! Charlotte had a hard time keeping a straight face. It was slightly freaky, but great entertainment for a cheap night out! As usual the night closed with us all chatting away at the hotel bar until the early morning (seriously you would think we were all characters from the TV show "Cheers").


Monday, December 04, 2006


SO here are the first shots for you- these go with "Erin on a Monday"


shop exterior

shop inside



Shibuya crossing

Shibuya crossing(black and white)

Shibuya streets


crossing crowd



Government building2

Government building

Tokyo view





Erin on a Monday

Well once again history has been made for Jessesjapan.... a reader has been met for the first time ever in a foreign country (that country obviously being Japan)! If you have been reading the comments page at all, you may have noticed a reader going by the alias "Erin" or "Ez" leaving comments, and it was this "Erin" that I met while in Tokyo.

"Erin" is currently an exchange student in Japan, and after having exchanged emails for most of this year, we agreed to meet while I was in Tokyo. Now please note, meeting readers site (sight?) unseen is not normally my style, but in this case there existed various links and acquaintances between "Erin" and I so that it was safe enough for us to meet in confidence knowing that the other person was real (Maybe I Should attach a disclaimer reading "warning: do not try this at home, let alone in a foreign country").

After having a breakfast for one at "Denny's" (how on earth does this American junk food make it to every corner of the globe?), the worst bacon and eggs I had ever eaten for $8- the pot of green tea was great though!- I left to go meet "Erin" near my hotel. I'm not sure if you know or not, but meeting someone you haven't really seen before in an area you don't know very well, is at the best of times, well, difficult. It was about 6 degrees Celsius and "Erin" was running 20 minutes late- it was time to investigate. Running back to my guesthouse so that I could call Erin, I managed to run into her- almost literally. She had come from the wrong direction, and was now practically standing outside my lodgings- why did I even try to organise a complicated meeting spot in the first place? It is amazing how familiar we were with each other- emails can do wonders! After exchanging niceties "Oh it is so good to finally meet you" "How was your trip here?" etc. we decided it was time to hit up Harajuku- without the crowds.

Harajuku certainly is a different place when no people are there (damn I forgot to take a comparison shot), no crazy dresses, no crazy people (actually scrap that), and no crowds make Harajuku merely a collection of crazy shops and...... Well lingerie stores actually. Are the Japanese youth pointedly focussed on sex? Girls in lingerie by any chance? Because a walk through Harajuku would suggest this when you see the window displays in the 10+ lingerie stores (also the gothic lolita stores too) that line this short shopping street. I also pose this question after an encounter I had last night at dinner. While my foreigner friends and I were eating dinner, there were 2 Japanese couples (aged about 21) sitting next to us. When couple no. 2 arrived, the guy slid a lingerie catalogue across to his friend and says, "yo check this out" (in Japanese of course). Throughout the course of the evening I picked up bits of their conversation and their actions (ok! I eavesdropped alright- how else do you think I get material for this blog?), and it went like this:
Guy 1: Hey what do you think of this?
Guy 2: Oh that would look hot on your girl! Do you think mine would look good in this?
Guy 1: Oh for sure! Hey baby don't you think Michiko would look cute in this?
Girlfriend 1: Of course! giggle giggle

Yes the women were in on it too! Now while this was definitely a strange occurrence, my foreigner friends thought it was quite funny as I explained to them what was happening at the table next to us. Ok, breathe- back to Harajuku.

So Harajuku is great for photos! So many different crazy and zany elements that my itchy shutter finger kept clicking- be careful of the scenery though- it may just jump out and bite! I was lucky enough to encounter this. As I was walking down the street, I noticed the strangest collection of Goth boots and shoes- Vivian Westwood and the like. I kneeled down to line up my shot and just as I looked through the lens I hear someone start screaming "YADA! YABAi!YADAAA!" who is screaming? I wondered. Just as I am about to shoot, a hand appears in front of my sight- I looked up to meet the gaze of 22ish year old woman. "Yada" she said. Have you ever had a moment of enlightenment? I did at that moment, as a number of pieces of information clicked together in my mind like a puzzle:
1. She was angry
2. She was a shopkeeper
3. She had come from the shop front that I was about to photograph
4. There was a murderous glint in her eye
5. She was way too close for comfort

"Oh I'm so sorry" I said to her in Japanese. She simply glared at me and walked off without another word- honestly the look she gave me could have frozen ice- AND IT"S ALREADY FROZEN!!!!! "What was that about?" "Erin" asked
"I don't know, but I don't feel like taking anymore photos today" I replied.

You'll be happy to know that the rest of our day was not that eventful, except when I would randomly comment "wow that was freaky back there"- yes perhaps I am revealing my naivety about this big bad world- but honestly I have never expected a Japanese person (let alone a Japanese woman- that is not a chauvinistic comment) to yell at me like that. "Erin" took me to MacDonald’s in Shibuya to rest my weary body and jangled nerves- I don't think MacDonald’s has ever tasted so good. The rest of the day "Erin" introduced me to various areas of the city:

Shibuya- has the busiest intersection in the world and is a bustling youth district

Shinjuku- Government offices and skyscrapers- great view of Tokyo from free sky decks in buildings

Akihabara- geek capital of the world, if you want electronics or anime.....come here. Please be warned, never will you be exposed to so much anime perverted ness in one place (throws up)- I would hate to see what they were keeping in the restricted 18+ sections!

Well "Erin" went home at 5pm and I went to hotel, dinner, and then my good friend Jan from Denmark accompanied me to the bar until 1am- what more can be said? Oh, I only drank wheat tea and everyone thought it was hilarious!

More to come,


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Singin' on a Sunday+ Hangin' with the Harajuku kiddies

So maybe 3.5 hours sleep wasn't enough- normally that is, but for a first timer in Tokyo even an hour would have been plenty. Throwing the covers of the bed back, it was time for some breakfast and for photo taking, the day was young at 7am and I was like a bridegroom on his wedding day......Basically what I am trying to say is that I was feeling fresh (no dirty connotations intended). It was then that I came to the shower....oh the shower. Now, when we think of a shower room you think of cleanliness (it was clean), but you definitely don't think of a toliet- a toliet, 2 urinals and half a bath for that matter. Yes I'll give it to you that they were shut down (is wrapping foam what you call shut down?) and they were clean, it's just that showering above a closed toilet lid tied down by rope doesn't appeal to me- that aside, I am digging the cheapest accommodation house in Tokyo very much.

Feeling even fresher than when I woke up I was now walking down the street to get breakfast, with my jacket zipped up and a rather professional looking camera hanging around my neck, I was ready for action- oh how obvious to the many Japanese around me that I was a tourist. Heading up to the main street I arrived at kaminarimon gate (Sensoji Temple), one of Tokyo's must sees' for the visitor. Thinking "ooh, it is 8am and no other tourists are around, I can get all the shots I want without anyone in the way" (yes the photos are coming I just don't have the software yet), I began to fire away so to speak- 2 hours later my memory card was full, I realised that Breakfast had never actually come around, and that I was due at Church in about an hour.

After stopping by the hotel (Khaosan-Tokyo) to drop my photos onto the hard drive, I was off on my first subway lin adventure to get to a place I didn't know, in a city I had never been in before. Jesus Life House Church was fantastic! Guys if you are ever in Tokyo get there and check it out! Whether you a Christian or not I recommend it because it puts church into a modern, understandable, fun structure that you will have never experienced before. Got to talk and meet a few people, and then it was off to Harajuku.

Harajuku is almost incomprehensible- you can look at all the pictures on the internet and read about it all you want, but you will never fully get it until you experience it for yourself. Sunday in Harajuku is packed with people walking everywhere, trains leaving the station with people cramped like sardines in the carriages and strangely dressed sub-cultures on display for the world to see. Once again apologies about the photos, they are one their way. First off I found where the strangely dressed Harajuku kids were hanging for photos. I came to an interesting conclusion about these cosplay kiddies- the reason they dress the way they do is to attract attention to themselves, they want love or popularity because no one has ever given it to them- within their own social circles they are generally the quiet kids or the ones who are bullied at school, and the costume is their creative outlet and way of expression. They want you to take photos of them, but when I asked if I could (in japanese mind you), they would run away and pretend it wasn't what they wanted- strange.

That aside I also got to see the Meji Shrine (another must see) and take lots of photos- there were 3 Japanese wedding ceremonies and processions while I was in the shrine, so I got some nice photos of the couples. The Meji Shrine is amazing, it is so peaceful and so massively huge- I don't think my photos can do it justice. I finished the afternoon walking the packed backstreets of Harajuku taking in the amazing sights, crazy fashions, and even getting to talk to a group of Australian school students that I bumped in to.

Can't really think of what happened in the night, and I can't tell you anyway people need the computer!

Until another day,


A week has passed already?

You bet! And now........... I AM IN JAPAN!!! Oh yeah, that is right (yes, I am just slightly excited). SO last night and today have been jam packed already, so much that I cannot tell you now- I need to sit and gather my memories (and edit my photos) in order to tell all. Unfortunately unless I start taking photos with my point and shoot camera, you won't be getting any pictures until next week, as I have been shooting in Raw Format and won't have the editing software until next week- sorry.

Anyway I will sit down soon and write out a recount for of the last 36 hours for you all, but right now I need to eat= I got so carried away shooting photos today that I literally forgot to eat breakfast and lunch- no way am I missing dinner.

Until tomorrow,


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Your first night in Japan and you what???

Got lost? no. (ok slightly). Got mugged?no. Met many interesting people and stayed out until 3:30am? YOU BET! But that comes later in the story. So let us start at the beginning, at 4:30am on Saturday the 2nd of December (too early for you?).

4:30am brought the rather loud, unbearable, teasing beep of my alarm- time to get up, shave, shower, dress and lock my bags, head to airport. Waking your parents at 5am isn't normally an easy task to accomplish, but they promptly rose, and my Father drove me to the airport- incessantly giving me tips about safety while abroad- "Don't let anyone see you have money on you", "keep in touch every day", "watch out for the traffic,we don't have anything like it in Sydney"- I guess it is the little things like these comments that let you know they care.
The flight from Sydney to Melbourne was rather uneventful, minus the crying/screaming babies that inhabit economy class across the world (I have a theory that they are planted by the airlines to make more people upgrade to business class in the future), but it was the flight from Melbourne to Japan that held a some interest. (figures that an international flight is always eventful)

After settling myself in to my seat I met my neighbour to be, an ex-pat from Russia who was returning to oversee a building project that he was in charge of- I never actually got his name, we just talked the whole time, then the fun began. About half way into the flight a man who had drunk too much began to chase the hostesses around the plane, grabbing a few bottoms that he shouldn't have- that is when a small amount of raised voices could be heard. He tried to slap a hostess on the rear, she turned around, pointed at him and said "don't you touch me!"- the male host's had to step in and tell him in Japanese to sit down- he kept wanting more alcohol. Other than that, I got to watch some thought provoking movies: "Solo"- an Australian movie about a hitman who wants to retire, "X-men:The last stand" (though I wouldn't call it thought provoking), and "Lucky Slevin"- A movie starring Bruce Willis, Josh Hartnett and Morgan Freeman.

By 9:30pm (Japanese time- 11;30pm Australian) I had managed to make it from the Airport to my hotel in the middle of Tokyo- promptly dropping my things in my room, meeting a guy from Denmark by the name of Jan (You'll get to see a photo later), heading to the bar owned by the hotel with him, and then meeting A LOT of other people. The guest house I am staying in has another 2 guest houses in the local area, so it opened a bar so that everyone could meet and get to know one another. After Jan and I had been there for 10 minutes, the entire population of guests from each hotel managed to find their way to the bar, it was packed. within an hour I had managed to meet 2 Aussies, 3 Canadians, 4 Americans, 1 New Zealander, and 3 people from the UK- within an 1.5 hours a group of 10 of us had left the bar and was heading towards a Karaoke booth- let the fun begin. It was great! Though no offence to some of my Karaoke partners in crime- you can't hard feelings. Ladies and gentlemen, you may think that $27 all the alcohol you can drink, all the ice cream you can eat, and all the Karaoke you can sing go hand in hand, but don't believe the myth- especially the alcohol one- you are bringing pain upon the nations with your drunken slur!!! The next time I looked at my watch, it was 2:30am- I had now officially been awake for 24 hours- I hadn't realised because I had changed over to Japanese time- I needed a bed. I promptly paid and left the others at 3am, many of them stayed on until 4am- at least I was able to pick myself up out of bed at 7am. More stories (and photos) to come- sorry if this post was a little long and boring, I just wanted to fill you in before it was too late.

Take care,


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A week!

That is right! Only a week until JessesJapan is really live from Japan!! Everything is moving along, money preparations are in the works but the bloody Japan rail pass is taking forever!!! I ordered it two weeks ago on Thursday and it still hasn't arrived. It is meant to arrive at the Travel Agent's office in 2 working days, their response when I call is "Oh I'm sorry it still hasn't arrived, we have the courier order tag but it still hasn't arrived for some reason- I'll get right on it"- Do you think they are really getting on it?

Anyway all accomodation is booked, itinerary is loosely in place, I think that I am going to ride with current on this trip- wherever the wind blows me, photos shall be provided.... an experience lurks around every corner!

Well that is my heads up for you guys, I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!! OH YEHA (see I'mm so excited I'm not even spelling properly :D)

catch y'all at the Airport,