Jul 31, 2013

Sumidagawa Fireworks APOCALYPSE! And hide Museum.

When I found out that the hide Museum was being temporarily re-opened (it was initially open in Yokosuka, Japan from 2000 to 2005) I knew I had to go.  I was crushed when I found out they were closing the original museum back in 2005 and didn't think I'd ever get a chance to see it.  BUT luck was on my side.  Ash agreed to join me last Saturday on my pilgrimage to respect The Man- The Man who was (and is) a huge musical influence to many, who wrote such awesome amazing songs as "Dice", and who may have been part of the main reason I almost always had pink in my hair.  Until work no longer allowed it, that is....

Dice- the first song of his I fell in love with

If you had any qualms about my pink hair, parents, it's him you have to blame

The museum was a bit smaller than I expected, but filled with greatness nonetheless.  So many of the outfits he wore for photo shoots and shows; memorabilia; personal items like his contacts prescriptions and fake nails (ew?); handwritten lyrics, notes, and doodles by him; his many many guitars (including the famous yellow hearts one you see in the picture above)...  And at the end you were seen off by a life-size replica of him, made with such intricate detail that if you looked close enough you could see each individual eyebrow hair and even the fine hair over his face.  If cameras had been allowed I would've taken a picture.

I didn't buy any souvenirs, as the ticket stub and memories were enough for me.

After the museum, we met up with Roomie at Asakusa Station and decided to rent a karaoke room so we could change into our yukata (summer kimono) while we waited for Yuu.  When he showed up, we walked around trying to find a place to eat, ended up over at the Solamachi shopping area around Sky Tree (after stopping by this awesome park to slide down the really long roller slide, which was really fun but made me feel like I got rug burn on my butt), then headed back to the river to try to get a decent spot to watch the fireworks for the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. You should read about it, it's got quite a history.  And as the article says nearly a million people show up for it annually so it's a bit of a madhouse.

The spot we ended up getting was worthless as the buildings blocked our view.  However, when the fireworks started, they started taking groups of people across the bridge so everyone would have a chance to see them.  Our plan was to cross over the blue bridge, find S who was meeting us there after she got off work, then cross back over on the red bridge to see the fireworks being set off further down the river.  The bridges become one-way for pedestrians during the event, so if you cross over and then want to get back to the other side, you have to walk over to the next bridge.  However, just as our group started getting led across, a crazy typhoon-like storm blew in, complete with thunder and lightning and wind and torrential downpour.  We did get to see some pretty cool fireworks up-close as we were crossing, but by the time we had reached the other side they had cancelled the rest of the show.

We had already gotten completely soaked during our short walk across the bridge- umbrellas worthless against the wind- and had to tread through the flooded streets and sidewalks along with hoards of others trying to make it back to the main area of Asakusa.  We finally met up with S, and tried to decide what to do from there.  The station was so packed, the lines of people were gushing up the stairs and out of the station and down the street.  There were police officers shouting that the crowds were so bad they didn't know how long of a wait it would be to get on the train, and were suggesting people to walk "about 20 minutes" down the road to Ueno Station.  We took the suggestion and herded off with tons of other displaced, soggy people.  The streets were still barricaded off, police were running around trying to direct the crowds, trampled mushy trash littered the street, people were still huddled and taking shelter under store awnings...  It was like a scene from some doomsday/apocalypse/disaster movie.
The "20-minute walk" was more like 40, but when we reached Ueno we all went to grab some food before we parted ways.

I think it was a first for me to really want a nice hot shower in the summer, but ohhh it felt so good to take one when Roomie and I finally reached home!  A bit disappointed we didn't get to see more of the fireworks show, we at least have our amazing story of survival to tell instead.  And there's always next year. :)

Jul 22, 2013

Cheerblasting Mt. Fuji

Saturday the 13th, I was up at 8am (after going to bed at 2am) to finish the last of my packing for Mt. Fuji!
Roomie and I headed off to meet up with Ash and Yuu and to go pick up our rental car.  After some more last minute shopping/food run we were off!

There are a couple different trails you can take up Mt. Fuji, and we decided on the Subashiri Route.  We parked our car at the parking they have near the base of the mountain and took the shuttle bus up to the 5th Station (五合目), which is where most people begin their hike.

Mowgli along for the ride, at the sign for the 5th Station!

Back when we were so full of life, so full of hope...
It was raining a bit for a good part of the first half of our hike.

Nice view, maybe an hour into the climb.

There are "ten" stations total along the trail.  I put ten in quotes because it's not really ten.  There's 6th Station (六合目), Original 6th Station (本六合目), New 6th Station (新六合目), etc...

At the "New 6th Station"
We stopped at each for a short rest.  We didn't want to climb too fast for fear of altitude sickness.

Mowgli at the 7th Station

"Original 8th Station"
There was no picture taken at the 9th Station, for the 9th Station wasn't even really a station at all, but merely a torii gate along the trail.  That, and I was too cold and tired and miserable to be bothered with pictures anymore.

Blurry night pic, but all those lights down below are flashlights/headlamps from other climbers

Blurry pic of sunrise

Panorama of the sunrise.  Almost to the summit (we were just past the 9th Station).

We made it!  Kind of dying...

And kind of crazy!
I told myself I would probably not ever do it again, but now that I'm not feeling like death on the mountain I kinda feel like I would do it again, since now I know what to expect and can plan better!
It took about 12 hours to reach the top, and about 6 hours back down.  The way down the Subashiri Route is mostly thick loose dirt and gravel.  They say you can run down this trail (須走 [Subashiri] actually means 須 "ought"; 走 "to run"), and while it seems a bit treacherous, at parts it's better just to do it.  You fall down and bruise your butt on rocks whether you walk or run anyway..
We finally reached the 5th Station and were greeted by other hikers and by the sales guy who sold us our walking sticks the day before (you purchase these wooden hiking sticks for 800 to 1000 yen, and can get them stamped/branded at each station along the way.  A neat souvenir, and they're actually pretty helpful during the climb.)  
We took the shuttle bus back to our car before heading to lunch, then to our onsen hotel.  The onsen felt amazing, and we relaxed in the hot baths and in our room before heading out to dinner that evening.
Roomie and Ash went to sleep at a semi-decent hour, but Yuu and I stayed up.  I think we were just past that point of feeling sleepy.  Finally went to bed around 2am Monday morning.  That was about 42 hours for me, on just 6 hours of sleep.
Then!  We all woke up around 8am to head to Fuji-Q.  Last time was a bit of a bust, if you remember, but this time we were able to ride aaaall of the major coasters, and finish it off with a crazy funner-than-expected water ride and a peep inside the Evangelion exhibit, before we had to head back to Tokyo to return our car.  

And that was our insane, sleepless Fuji-filled weekend.  Work last week was a bit hard to get through, what with the sunburned nose/scalp, muscle pain ALL OVER, and sleep deprivation.  But it was quite worth it!

Jul 20, 2013

Fancy and Exciting Dinners

Getting a little behind on updates again.  Here are some pictures from the end of June.  Roomie, S, and I were invited to a very fancy dinner by one of S's old students.  She's a very nice lady and she and her husband are pretty well off, so they like spoiling us. ;)

megami7's Fancy dindin album on Photobucket

And then Ash just arrived at the end of June for her summer study abroad, so we met up the day after Super Fancy Din-din, for a Super Exciting Din-din at a cool jail/haunted house-themed restaurant called The Lock-Up.

They have crazy food like black spaghetti..
..and crazy drinks like this!

And here is a video I took.  You can't really see much but flashing lights and hear a bunch of screaming, but every hour in the restaurant all the lights go out and workers come out dressed as monsters and go around scaring everyone, then the waitress police women come out and "rescue" everyone and round up the monsters.  There are a few locations around Japan, and while it's not the cheapest place it's still a fun experience.

Next up: pictures and stuff from my Fuji weekend!
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