Before Tokyo I spent a couple of nights in Hakone. There’s a well-known daytrip that you can take, where you go up a ropeway then a cable car up a mountain to view Mt Fuji on a clear day (it wasn’t), then go down and get a pirate ship across a lake to a town, where you can wander or get a bus somewhere. To be honest, it really did feel like a pump-the-tourist-through kind of place and I did want to go back to bed halfway through.

With Tokyo, I was here ten months ago and had done most of the tourist things. I’ve been to Shinjuku, Shibuya, Akihabara, Senso-ji Temple, the Robot Restauant, Mirikan, Harijuku etc., and a lot of that was better the first time around. If I’d been better prepared I could’ve seen some sumo, gone Mario Kart street racing (couldn’t apply for an International Driving License whilst in Australia with my UK one) and visited the Digital Art Museum, which I wasn’t aware that sold out heaps in advance. There was another Pokemon shop here too which was laden with cretins, so I’d definitely recommend Osaka’s over Tokyo’s.

I did come with the intent of buying a new, good camera and to try it out in the city, which I’ve done. I took it out to Senso-ji at night and a few other places. My favourite was Gotokuji Temple, which has a shrine to cats.








This time around, I do still think that Tokyo would be best done with company, and it’s been difficult to get around. Relying on offline maps has been useful, though I’ve made a spelling mistake which added an extra 40 minutes onto a journey. I’ve also found that when using the Metro and to change station, I feel like I’ve gotten off the platform, and into the depths of Narnia to find the next station, taking upwards of ten minutes sometimes. It makes changing at Bank/Monument on the London Underground seem like an absolute dream. With that said, I know I’ve been in Tokyo for too long this time, though I still would like to spend a couple of days here with some company.

Tomorrow evening I’m off to Vietnam, and how long I stay there depends on whether or not I get a visa for more than 14 days approved before I arrive in the country – me being as organised as usual.  I’m looking forward to eating Banh Mi, Banh Xao, and being in relatively small cities. Honestly, I don’t know much about the country so hopefully like being in Seoul, I’ll learn heaps.


Whilst travelling I have a few personal rules, including why I will never put anything in a hostel bathroom sink, the amount of people in a dorm (though this is a bit different in Japan) and staying in a hostel near public transport so I don’t damage my back so much. Another one of mine is not letting hungry become hangry, so I set off to get some lunch straight after arriving in Osaka.

Best ramen ever.


One of the travel bloggers I follow described a bowl of pork rib ramen as one of the best dishes she’s ever eaten so I went out to eat exactly that. This was also the one time the GPS on my phone decided to work too, so I took that as a sign. All I can say is that the bowl of ramen was glorious; the pork so delicious yet I knew it was so bad for me; the broth was the best I’ve ever had and the noodles were perfect. Sometimes I describe my life as a series of first world problems, and I couldn’t decide whether or not that made the top 5 or 10 of best dishes I’ve ever eaten, as I’ve eaten three-Michelin-star standard food.

I didn’t really fancy being a tourist, so I went back to the hostel and chilled. I noticed in the corner of the room that there was this metal post with a rope, so I took a closer look and it seems like instead of a fire escape, we have a harness and if we need to make a quick escape we are expected to teach ourselves how to abseil down a building. Obviously 100% safe.

Yesterday was a bit of a meh day, but I was in a good mood. I started off at a Pokemon Center – if I did not have a budget for this trip and wasn’t living out of a backpack for the next 3+ months, I would’ve totally bought everything in sight. It was nice to see other people who were older than me having a moment whilst in that shop, because I was too.


View from the ferris wheel

After, I set off for lunch and a walk, then opted to travel on the ferris wheel in the tourist area. As my day trip was going to be Himeji Castle which I did last week, I thought that I’d go to Osaka castle, and go to a much better castle for a day trip for the following day. Osaka castle wasn’t much on the inside, just a museum with a view from the top, equal to the view from the ferris wheel.


So, today, I was going to go to another castle. I’ve wanted to go for the past fourteen years; I’ve kind of been twice in England and the one I can actually visit was built whilst I was in high school. After a Google search, I found out that not only could I not visit Hogwarts at the Japanese version of Wizarding World of Harry Potter, there was in fact a typhoon destined to hit near Osaka today. Brilliant.

This morning I headed off to a convenience store to stock up on some food and booze, and I’ve been a grown up today, finalising my India trip, forgetting to pay off my credit card bill and researching a couple of things for when I get to Tokyo and beyond. Unfortunately, I have not yet managed to end up on BBC News like I did when I got caught up in Cyclone Debbie, but I should be able to move on towards Fuji tomorrow.


Hiroshima is primarily known for having an atomic bomb dropped on it by the USA army in August 1945. At the end of 1945 it is thought that the bomb had killed 140,000 (+/-10,000) people. In school I’d learnt about World War I and II and visited areas in France and Belgium and got a better understanding about what actually happened during the World Wars. As I’m in Japan and have no fixed timeline as to where I want to be and when, other than a flight to Vietnam the week after next and to end up Egypt and Jordan by the end of the year maybe, I thought I’d come here to get a better understanding of why the atomic bomb was dropped, and how the city was effected as a result of it.

I’ve been staying in hostels in Japan, which are more often than not capsule style. It’s like living in a drawer.
Bento Box on the train up to Hiroshima

Upon arriving, I got to the hostel before it started pouring with rain. I’d given up my seat on the tram to an elderly woman and couldn’t help but think if she grew up in the area, what affect the atomic bomb that was dropped would have on her, her family and the people she knew. I ditched my backpack at the hostel and headed for the Atomic Bomb Dome, having a look around before heading to the Peace Memorial Museum.

The museum went into great depth about the events that occurred both before and after the bomb was dropped, and the effects that it had on the local people, families and area. One thing that really surprised me was how severely injured people who were as far away as 9km from the bomb were, some dying from the radiation that they were exposed to that day, or by the following week.



After being in the museum, I went back to walk around the Dome, and whilst I’m only 24 and arrived in Hiroshima a few hours before, I got a sense of how much the area must have changed in that one second when the bomb exploded. The Peace Park had once been a busy street but now serves a purpose to inform people as to what atomic weapons are capable of, as well as the upsets and damage that they can inflict.

Today, I started off at Miyajima Island which is known for having a shrine and deer on the loose, and with my Japanese Rail ticket I could ride the ferry for free. I didn’t really find that there was too much to do – I chose not to ride the cable car up to the top of the mountain as I didn’t really fancy that, and I had a deer try to eat my hand as I’d just eaten a pasty. There’s pastries known as Momiji Cakes on the island, flavoured I think with maple syrup from the island and I even saw some Kit Kats in that flavour too.






It started pouring with rain so I decided to get the ferry back and go to Osaka Castle, around 50 minutes on the tram. Spent an hour or so there – there’s a museum inside and a lookout on the top, though I wouldn’t lose any sleep if I’d missed out on the museum.

Tomorrow, I’m still staying in Hiroshima for the night, but I’m thinking of heading to Nagasaki as I’ve done pretty much all there is to do in Hiroshima and have paid for my bed for the night. After Nagasaki will come Osaka, then I’m back in the Fuji area, though I have really researched being in that area this time. After Fuji will be Tokyo, I think with a bit too long a stay, but I have a few options for day trips.


Last year when I flew to Japan I got taken aside by a customs officer, shown a section from a folder in English asking if I had any narcotics, gold bars, wads of cash, etc. on me. This time was no different; I got my passport stamped, picked up my backpack from the carousel, went to get my passport checked to leave the airport and I got stopped. The Botswana stamp on my passport raised concern so after having all my luggage and phone swabbed, looked at, being presented the English page of a folder with pictures of contraband,  and questioned about my time in Japan, why I’m there and what I’m doing, I was free to go.

Upon landing in Fukuoka I felt excited to come back to Japan; I hadn’t been a huge fan of China, and in Seoul I felt as though I was dossing as opposed to travelling. Japan feels familiar to me as I’ve been here before and I’ve really planned the next two weeks. Last time I was in the country however, I had worked for around 20 days with just one day off on day five or six, and the night prior to leaving I went out and the hangover wrote me off for about a week. This time, I’m really going to make the most of my stay.

Travel days I try not to do a lot; I use them to Google what’s about and to be a grown up. Last night I went to some Yatai stalls – there’s a few in a row next to the river here, which is basically an outdoor restaurant with a few seats. I opted for a beer to celebrate being in Japan, and a few meat skewers. One of the options I went for was just chicken skin on a stick which was glorious – if the world needs more of one thing, let that be bbq’d chicken skin.

Today I woke up at a semi-reasonable time and made it to the reclining Buddha, 20 minutes from the city on the train. I have been trying to not rely on my phone so much but it is so much easier just to Google what platform I need to be on when I cannot read the language. The Buddha is in quite a large area with a few statues, taking about an hour to look around the site before heading back into the city.




Once back in the city I went to the Ramen Stadium – basically a food court of ramen restaurants, and you don’t need to talk to anyone to order. It’s potentially one of my new happy places. I’m aware and very OK with the fact that my diet for the next two weeks will consist of ramen, so I went back there for dinner too. During the day I went to a couple of temples and also had a nap before going out for a walk. One temple was pretty impressive and the other not so much, but no photos allowed.

Tomorrow I’m off to use my Japanese Rail pass for the first time. I’ve really enjoyed today in Fukuoka, and excited for the next couple of weeks ahead of me.

Fuji & Kyoto

After Tokyo I went to Fuji via bullet train. As my luggage is tiny, I straight away bought a bus ticket up the mountain to go around the lakes. Well, it well and truly pissed it down for at least twelve hours; with a laptop and kindle in my bag there was no way I was going to risk getting them wet. And once at the last bus stop, I found out that there was no bus downhill for four hours. Marvellous.

The next day I went to Kyoto. One thing that I have to say about the transport system, in particular the Metro, it is so confusing with private railways. I was confused enough on my first day in Tokyo but Kyoto has been on a whole new level and is actually better to get around via bus.

Green tea and tofu ice cream…

I ended up going to a temple that I can’t remember the name of then went off to the Fushimi-Inari shrine. Since arriving in Australia, I have picked up a fair bit of the Australian-English: I find it difficult to say ‘yoghurt’ like you would in England even after having a good think about how to say it; I swear a fair bit more if anyone thought that’d be possible and I say ‘heaps’ despite spending my whole first year taking the piss out of it. The only way to describe the amount of people there would to say there were heaps, and I think the amount of people ruins it a bit.

Yesterday, I went to Nijo Castle – not too sure about the history of it but it was pretty cool. I spent an hour or so there and in the gardens before going to the Kinkakuji Temple, or if like me you can’t remember the name – the Gold Leaf Temple. It is one of the things that you have to see for yourself – definitely one of my favourite travel pictures, but like Fushimi-Inari, there are too many bloody people. I then intended to get the bus back to the station, but it stopped at a train station that connected with the JR Line to the Bamboo Grove, which was nice to talk through.

For dinner I went to Gion as it’s meant to have some bloody good food. I was knackered and just wanted a bowl of ramen for £2, but the restaurants were charging around £20 for a meal. Instead, I stopped at this restaurant that had a big line outside and an open kitchen with one thing on the menu. It was a tempura pancake filled with food that I either don’t like (egg, shrimp) and food that I have no idea what it was. It was actually pretty tasty.

This morning I went to Kiyomizu-Dera Temple. It was alright but I’m pretty over temples, having to take my shoes off and dealing with big crowds, but this one provided a nice view over Kyoto, despite being way too crowded. It was quite a trek to get there – a 30 minute walk, a fair bit of it being uphill, in 30 degrees.

Expectations vs reality

After getting to Kyoto station, I somehow navigated the trains to get to Nara – famous for having a deer park and a few more temples, and it’s quite a nice place to walk around.

Tomorrow, I’m off to Tokyo for one night and then I’m back to Melbourne. It’s been quite a nice trip, I think it’s what I needed after the shit time I’ve had over the past couple of months, and I’m going back home where it can only go uphill from where I left off.

A lot of people speak of Tokyo as though it’s the place you go to, then you compare it to everywhere else you go. For me, that doesn’t work out as I feel as though Tokyo is just a crazy version of London which is more or less what I’m used to. From now, every place I go I’m sure that I will compare it to Budapest. Kyoto has been nice, there’s a lot to see and do, but I feel as though a lot of it has had a negative impact due to tourism. A lot of places here are UNESCO World Heritage sites, yet it seems as though a lot of people go to these sites without having the respect for what they are seeing. For sure, I’m glad that I came here but feel as though it’s somewhere to go with someone else.

Tokyo: Days Five and Six

Had a pretty chilled couple of days. Yesterday, I went to Mirakan and got inside this time – I saw the famous little robot in action which is pretty cool to see, another which is borderline creepy and got to step onto a spacecraft. As a whole, the museum is pretty interesting but gets a bit boring when it comes to the physics exhibit.

After, I popped to Akihabara again and looked around the shops – floors and floors of anime and various character toys. Also went to a massive electrics shop, straight to the toy section – most of my time was spent in the Marvel and Pokemon sections. After, I went to one of the arcades with six or so floors and played heaps of games – probably threw £10 at least away, but it was fun.

There’s a few travel blogs that I follow, and every time I visit somewhere new I always check them out before as someone has already been there. One of the recommendations was to go to the basement in Asakusa main station and try some sushi – it’s such a popular station, but I did not see another white person eating. I ended up in a small restaurant, being served sushi by someone who spoke no English which was pretty neat. In the past, I’ve never really had fish sushi unless it’s salmon as I’m pretty sure that I can’t stomach it too well and I was right – I can handle glass after glass of wine (or I like to think so) but I can’t handle mouthful after mouthful of fish. Truth be told, that’s the way I’d prefer to keep it.

Afterwards, I headed to Shinjuku and went to the park there, via a 7-11. There’s this thing, and I’m not too sure if it’s just a backpacker thing or just everyone in general, but in Asia you should go and pick up something strange from there and try it out. You can get whipped cream and berry sandwiches here, but I opted for this green tea dessert and it was so gross it was fascinating. It was a green tea jelly stuffed with whipped cream and dusted with green tea powder, and had the consistency where you had to slurp it to eat it.

This evening, I had a ticket for the Robot Restaurant – pretty pricey, but well worth it. Just sat there wondering what on Earth was going on for an hour or so; it just gets to the point where you wonder if it can get any weirder and then it well and truly does. For dinner, I didn’t actually eat at the restaurant because I’ve heard that it’s not worth it so instead I opted to go to Golden Gai, had some Karaage chicken which was pretty good as well as a few other snacks, before heading back to the hostel.

Tomorrow, I should be off to Fuji for a day before heading to Kyoto for the rest of the trip, before nipping back to Tokyo to get the flight back. I’ve heard a lot about Tokyo being out there and just crazy which is the opinion of people who haven’t lived in a big city. For me, it has been a lot like London – nothing that I can’t handle, just a bit more crazy, though with that said I have enjoyed it.

In hindsight, I probably should have rested a few days from work before coming here, or just not have had such a crazy night when I left work as I have found myself very tired over the past few days. This trip so far has been the reminder that there is more to life than work and my priority should be just having a good time and not worrying about text messages or phonecalls about bloody microherbs on my days off.

Tokyo: Days Three and Four

Over the past couple of months when I’ve had two days off work in a row, I’ve slept for at least 30 hours over two days and can really feel my body just wanting to do that. I’ve tried to power through, but the past couple of days I have really felt it so haven’t really done a lot.

Yesterday, I started the day at Tsukiji Fish Market. I really had my hopes up for it being great, but had seen better markets whilst travelling through Europe – La Boqueria in Barcelona, for example. It was alright, but nothing spectacular, so I moved onto try and find some sushi in Ginza but couldn’t find anything that I was up for. Instead, I found a conveyor belt restaurant but have had better in Sushi Hub on Swanston Street in Melbourne CBD.

I then went to Akihabara, walked past the worlds biggest sex shop and popped in for fifteen minutes or so – couldn’t really help myself, then went through the electric city. When you’ve seen one shop, it’s kind of all the same, so feeling underwhelmed, I went back to the hostel for a nap.

During the evening I went to Tokyo Tower. I was under the impression that it would be surrounded by places to eat, like you would find in Europe, but apparently not. I found a place round the corner that did food in a Japanese tapas kind of style which was great. I also wanted to have a look around Shibuya during the night but as it was raining I just picked up a bowl of ramen.

Today,  I went to Miraikan, supposedly an insane science museum. I say supposedly because it was shut, so I’m going back there tomorrow. I went to the Imperial Palace after which was nice to look at but didn’t really fancy going on a guided tour of the grounds as I was wearing all black and it was bloody hot.

When I returned back to my bed/drawer and had a google as to what I could do this evening, though I had already decided that I would mainly chill out. On google, I found a restaurant that specialises in Onigiri (rice balls, or rather, triangles) which is Tokyo’s oldest Onigiri restaurant. To be honest, as someone who has been known to be late to work because I can’t find a matching pair of shoes, and someone who struggles to find the combination of phone/purse/keys, it is one of the great mysteries of the world as to how I found it. It seemed as though they don’t regularly have people from western culture in, and the sushi I had there was bloody good.

Tomorrow, I’m planning to go to Miraikan and actually get inside this time, then not too sure what I’m doing afterwards. On Thursday, I’m going to end my trip with a visit to the Robot Restaurant and have my mind blown in a ‘did I really just witness that’ way.

Tokyo: Days One and Two

A few things that I’ve missed about England: proper bacon, not having to work on a farm to be there and of course, Nando’s. I found out that the international terminal at the airport has a Nando’s; I’ve walked past a few in Melbourne CBD but not really bothered as I’ve heard that it’s not the same. If I flew into Australia and that was the first thing I’d eat, I’d consider not leaving the airport and getting a flight out of the country, it was that bad.

The flight to Tokyo was just under ten hours long. I was pretty knackered as I hadn’t really slept well for two weeks prior to coming here; some of it self-inflicted, some of it from working two six-day weeks back to back. Despite having a baby sat in front of me, I managed to watch a movie and slept for the rest of the flight.

First impression of the country was spectacular. As my back is buggered I only brought my work bag and am just going to do my laundry two or three times whilst I’m here, all I really need is clothes and toiletries which fit pretty easy into the bag. The customers officer let the five or so people in front of me go pretty easily, but when it was my turn started asking about my luggage and how long I’m here for, then took out a folder with pictures of drugs and bars of gold, asking if I was carrying any of that on me. Of course, I wasn’t, but I wasn’t too sure whether or not to be offended or amused.

I’m staying in a capsule at the moment which is pretty cool, although technically is a dorm bed/glorified drawer. It took ages to get to as the metro here is hard to get to grips with, but after arriving and freshening up I headed towards the Sensoji Temple, first getting some food and having a look at some of the shops. The temple itself is alright, it just seems that the meaning of it has been lost and caters mainly for tourists. I did, however, take a fortune telling where you pay 100 yen to shake a box of sticks and one comes out a small hole, assigning you a drawer to pull a fortune out of. Naturally, a combination of figures assigned me to the drawer that I was supposed to open so I’m hoping that I’m not dyslexic in Japanese.

After, I looked through the market then headed to Shibuya, around half hour away on the metro. By this point I was absolutely knackered, so had a quick look around and decided that it was time for a nap. After, I headed for some food – a ramen shop next door which was bloody good. I don’t know who made the rules here – it’s illegal to smoke walking down the street, but the woman in the restaurant can have a crafty smoke whilst doing her job. After I walked back to the temple then returned to bed.

On the way to Harajuku, I stopped at the Meiji Shrine, it’s nice but just like the Sensoji temple, just seems to have lost its meaning a bit.

After, I went to Harajuku which is like Camden Market on steroids. I didn’t take pictures whilst I was there as it’s pretty much a lot of shops. However, there is this one thing called purikura, where you go into a themed photobooth of your choice with your mates (or not in my case) and you just pose for a picture as some models do on the screen. The Japanese girls were looking at me like wtf – it probably is something that I wouldn’t have done a year ago but I just thought it’d be funny so I did it.


I went back to Shibuya after to experience it, this time not trying to stay awake. First, I had some ramen at a restaurant where you place your order on a machine, then gave the ticket to a staff member who brought the meal to me. Pretty tasty.

There seems to be this thing with arcade games and there’s heaps of arcades here; it is a bit uncomfortable being in the room with so many people being so into losing their money but I guess whatever makes them happy. I went into one with claw machines and so narrowly didn’t win a prize – it was hanging onto another toy by just its tag.

I went to Ueono, then off to Shinjuku afterwards to see what the fuss is about, and it’s just like any other place in a big city with heaps of lights. I ate in a few restaurants, had some gyoza, fried chicken, and the name of the meat on sticks I can’t remember. I managed to end up in a restaurant in an alleyway that had room for just the bar and some seats with a tiny BBQ.  Here’s some obligatory food pics:

Tomorrow, I’m off early to the fish market and will probably end up having a sushi breakfast, then off to Akihabara, and from there will decide what to do for the rest of the day.