So, two of us arrived from Malaysia, the other two from Barnsley. United we all were, tired and weary in a strange land of short legs, black hair, slanted eyes, funny writing and a very weird mother tongue. All was not lost, Boothy had packed his trusty well worn Japanese phase book albeit it resting safely in the bottom of his bag. Nevertheless, we managed to validate the rail passes, sample our first porcelain sit down to music and board a sooper dooper train armed with our first beer to transport us to Tokyo.
All aboard the bullet train
When in Rome an all that
With Boothy and Bryn spurned on by excitement and not their 32 hours of lost sleep, there was only one thing which would get us all sleeping comfortably in our capsule beds…………… booze and lots of it. After calling at a computer generated bar where all ordering was in Japanese on a touch screen, we scoffed whatever had been brought to the table and made a move to the next port of call. Having called into a Jail come pub, the neon lights of Shinjuku lured us quickly into an ‘all you can eat and drink’ spectacular for two hours. With the stop watches at the ready, we drank until the final buzzer and even argued another beer for the last 30 seconds. Downing a beer in 8 seconds, Claire only recollected a few extracts of the night, one of which was Danny pipping her to the post at a narrowly better 6 seconds.
Hmmm lets press all 10 options and see which we get?!?!?
Ok, next time we’ll get the dictionary out before you press the button
Just a normal after work drinking night
All these were bars and we had no idea!
Ring for service………JUST ONCE else you will get one angry waiter
Yorkshire tight asses through and through
Two minutes left, down it and one more for the road
No sleep for 36 hours and look at em
Wriggling into our capsules in the early hours, the booze and 36 hour stint for the weary Barnsley venturers still wasn’t enough to knock them out for a few hours. With curdling stomachs and sore heads, 4 hours later we were up and off in search of what Shinjuku had to offer.
At least only he gets to smell his farts in the night
The only Hilton this came close to was the Bangkok variety
Walking off a breako of greasy tempura prawns and weird looking soup with bits floating in it, we boarded a train to delightful Ueno, an old fashioned Japanese village scattered with temples, ornate houses and an impressive graveyard which seemed to have lots of folks buried there with a passion for skiing. Wandering around lapping up the history, it was clearly time to move forward a good few centuries and head to Akihabra the famous electric town.
He might drive a top of the range car, but he has one shite camera……….apparently retro is in
Temple at Ueno
Must have been soup on the menu for lunch
Just how much snow is there in Japan?
As soon as we stepped foot off the train it was apparent this place was a tad strange. For some reason, the Japanese have a freaky fascination for anything bright and electrically generated, be it a geeky warcraft computer game, a yen chattering pachinko machine, glasses which make you see everything upside down and a sega toilet which allows you to measure up your power and accuracy against anyone else who cares to visit. Wide eyed, we tramped up and down the streets mesmerized by what makes these folk tick.
Red ice and a wafer fish anyone?
So loud your teeth chattered!
One Gay unhappy fish monger
Even the instructions in Japanese didn’t put him off
Meanwhile, Claire was fathoming out how to flush and not receive another unexpected ‘rear wesh’
And no, it wasn’t as easy as pushing the red button
After a wash it was time for a burger
The boys checking out the local pussy
Yep, totally normal evening stroll
Dinner was looking interesting
After a snack of whatever it was we got, the heavens literally burst open and we were stuck in a little Japanese boozer with four old men who couldn’t speak a word of the queens. Fearing the worst, we needn’t of worried as out popped the landlord with 4 ‘universal street umbrellas’ and we quickly legged it across the road to the sportsbar for a spot of darts and some very large beers.
If only those large beers had been the death of us, unfortunately they weren’t, and a visit to a downtown 70 yen bar saw us bedded in for the night, drinking until ‘some of us’ puked and eating as much ‘Japanese tapas’ as the poor chef could make. Getting kicked out with beer still in our glasses, we weaved our way in and out of the morning joggers and salary men on their way to the office.
The next day, feeling ‘on top of the world’ (or maybe not), we were train bound again but this time to Harajuku, home of the most fashionable district in Tokyo and also the Menje shrine. Fitting in like 4 square pegs in a round hole, not only did we tower above everybody in the suburb, but 3 hungover Barnsley lads and a lass radiating a tinge of green and a tongue like a carpet we think we certainly set our own trend for the Tokyo autumn/winter catwalks. After dragging the fellas into every conceivable shop, we called it a do and headed into the cheapest bar we could find for a well and truly earned beer.
Sake barrels – a gift fit for a king
Wedding bells at the Menje Shrine
Write it down and make a wish
Green but still smiling
Menje Shrine entrance
A not cool person drinking a very cool drink
Only for the Fashionistas
Not sure how the old bird on the right got in……..
No picture food in Japan, its all plastic food galore
A right tit
Knickers? A stamp? Some Sushi? A beer? A hotdog? Some socks? Everything is available via a vending machine
Shibuya by night
One of the many love hotels
Wrong place, wrong time
A different type of beer, Dannys was frozen, Claires was pineapple
Taking a break from the booze just for one night, we were up bright and early elbowing the kids to the ground and pushing our way to Disney Land. Boarding the Disney monorail, we yet again felt like fishes out of water in the fashion stakes as every bugger sported either Mickey Mouse ears, a Pluto nose or a Donald duck ass – It was official, the Japanese really are nuts!
Maybe Elmo would do?
As nuts as the rest of em
A Japanese Brazilian?!?!
Water show, and yes you did get wet
Barnsley on tour
Ready for some Toy Story mania
Swallowed up with all the excitement
Prats in the Hats
After three…….we all love Mickey Mouse
A way to a girls heart hey Danny?
After being thrust around by Indiana Jones on what felt like our last ‘ever’ crusade, shot by Woody in the head and dropped from the Tower of Terror, we were completely exhausted. The finale spectacular of fireworks, laser show and every Disney character singing their hearts out, was the perfect ending for our fun filled day in the Disney Kingdom.
3.45am the next day some of us (not mentioning any names) were up to visit the Tsukiji fish market. Arriving at 4am we just managed to secure the last 2 places on the tour. (Just imagine getting up at that hour and being turned away?!). With matchsticks propping Danny’s eyes open and a peg secured to Claire’s nose, we donned the fluorescent jackets and trudged our way through the working fish market to see what all this sushi fuss was really about.
I wonder if they use sweet corn for bait?
$1.76m for a fish??
We were wondering where he would stuff his torch next……….
Plenty more fish in the sea? In this case, unfortunately not
What Wasabi really looks like!
So, despite Claire inability to swallow raw fish without gipping, Danny lined up in the queue at 7am and treated us both to a mouthwatering (and for Claire) an eye watering Sushi breakfast. Looking in anguish as our personal sushi chef chopped, skinned and rolled up our raw and almost twitching delicacies, the familiar green tinge returned to Claires cheeks and the sushi chef was in for a viewing spectacle of his own.
Queuing up for his breako
No HP sauce required for this breako
Armed with a tissue in one hand, her fingers firmly pegged onto her nose with the other, and a mouthful of green tea to wash it down, she closed her eyes popped it in and wished it would just go away. A few gipps, tears and stomping of the feet later it was gone and apparently, not too bad at all. After that, in true Barnsley style and to the delight of the chef, she couldn’t wait to get it down her. Then came the sea urchin……………
Coming to a greasy spoon near you
Peace out Sushi chef
And of course, he couldn’t leave without a Sushi knife souvenir….
Fuelled up on a breako of fish, we returned to the capsules and shook the lazy buggers awake in anticipation of our next train ride to Nikko, the home of the golden shrine. Arriving at our Ryoken (basically a cute little room with futons and a hot onsen), it was clear none of us were sad to see the back of the capsules. The only thing we had to contend with now was floor space and Bryns snoring.
Nikko is a nice relaxing little village. We took a walk around the intricate temples, saw the national treasure of Japan (a wooden sleeping cat) and basically chilled out a little. Too much booze and fun in Tokyo had taken its toll on the weary travellers, so much so that when visiting a small restaurant for tea, Boothy seasoned his plate instead of his food.
Getting into character in the Ryoken
The bridge…… but is this the one on the Lonely Planet cover Booth?
Dragons galore at the temple
Not a bad street light
Don’t upset this fella by wearing your baseball cap or else
Shoes off inside please
Outside the Golden temple
Ancient History preserved
Another Barmy Jap
Reyt burger van
Smoking is just for old cowboys in Japan
Drunk and confused Boothy
Just incase you were wondering, this escapade wasn’t going to be a relaxing holiday for the 2 Barnsley boys on tour. Dannys agenda had lined up a delight for everyone, a cold, miserable sleepless night trek to the summit of mount Fuji – well, if another 300,000 folks were going to do it each year then we should.
Arriving on the train at Fuji
Taking part in his School questionnaire
The sunset before the hike
The peak behind the cloud
Ready for off!
A little bit chilly at almost 4000ft
Sleeping it off halfway up
Just like the M1 in rush hour
We all made it, 4am and we were at the top
Sleeping it off yet again
Weaving our way down in the rain
Drying out at the bottom
Following a sleepless night on an unsheltered mountain face, a hard uphill trek, the heavens opening at the top, Claires leaking boots and paying over a quid for a piss, we were all glad to be at the bottom. Although we never actually got to see the picture perfect top of the peak we had just climbed, once it was over we all enjoyed the fact that we had done it. But, as the agenda goes, there was no rest for the wicked, with eye bags like a group of junkies and limping like a dog with three legs, we all boarded yet another train to Kyoto.
As anticipated, the first evening was a bit of a wash out. Showered, tired but hungry, our rumbling stomachs enticed us into a great restaurant where we ate some cracking snap before falling into our bunk beds and listening to the ongoing chorus of Bryn’s never ending snoring.
Enjoying his cracking snap
Finally, delighting in the fact we had no hangover, it was time to hit yet more temples (yes basically Japan is full of em), and sample some local Japanese traditions. These mainly consist of praying a little, eating a few noodles and drinking alot. Oh dear, another night on the town it is then! Wandering in the soaring heat around the huge temple complex, we found ourselves in the depths of a ‘womens womb’ (a very very dark corridor where you basically trod on everyones heels and had to carry your shoes around in a plastic bag), drinking the local stream out of a ultra violet cleansed metal cup, and sampling the stomach churning green tea ice cream from the many hordes of souvenir stands.
The only non alcoholic drink Bryn drank that day
Chiming out melodies from the heights
Thankfully Danny can’t sing
A sneaky shot of the locals
Burning the temple down
Please Mr Buddha, let tomorrows hangover be mild……oh and please bring me a wife
Sampling the stream from ultra violet cleansed cups
Looks like Soup for tea again
The beautiful temple from afar
The aptly named red pagoda
Entrance to the temple
A local Geisha on a tea break
Lanterns and love hearts with prayers galore
Templed out, it was time for a drink and to search out some local Geishas. Mr agenda had also noted the most beautiful street in Japan was in the district so we headed over there. Regrettably, we walked along the wrong street so headed to the offy instead. It seems that the Japanese are big fans of alfresco drinking so, not wanting to ever miss out, we stocked up on some tinnies and headed to the river front with the rest of em.
Not the most beautiful street in Japan but a nice one all the same
Cooking up Octopus balls
Doing it local style
Only wish we never found the boozers afterwards……..Parents look away at the next few snaps
You can take a lass outta Denby Dale but……
One for the road – or at least the road to the next pub
Oh dear, is that beer in those bowls?
Oh dear oh dear
Its gotta be hometime
It’s definitely home time
As you can see, another eventful night in some random Japanese bar. Remembering very little the next day whilst sat in McDonalds devouring our big mac breakfasts, the only real recollection was the fact that the bar bill was mistakenly only about 10 quid and apparently Bryn had become entrapped by some strangely even more drunk than us Japanese fella who he ‘thinks’ he might have paid off.
After a whole day nursing hangovers from hell, we had a day of lost time to make up for according to Dannys agenda sheet so yet again it was off to yet another temple but this one was Golden.
The Golden Temple
The Golden Temple and beautiful Japanese gardens
The not so beautiful ‘zen’ rock garden which, we actually paid to see……….crock of shite but still, memorable
The Bamboo grove
Dazed and confused
All aboard the snazzy train, but we didn’t actually get on this one for once!
Bit better than Barnsley Interchange
Then for a spot of Cormorant Fishing
Tied to leads they catch the fish, wring its neck, get the fish out then send it in again – RSPB look away!
The fire lights the way
Just like training a dog to catch really….
Pulling one in
All this fishing made us hungry so off to catch the sushi train we went. Being a man of culture, Bryn couldnt wait to tackle the roast beef and yorkshire pudding sushi as well as the duck a la orange. Culture vulture indeed.
Halt that train! Roast dinner coming your way Bryn
Leaving the resident snorers in bed again, me and Danny hit the Fushimi-mari-taisha temples. A huge winding complex of red and black shrines twisting through the hills (and the bloody mossies!).Walking and walking as far as we could before almost fainting with blood loss, we found refuge in the local Mos burger joint whilst awaiting for the Barnsley venturers to turn up in Nara.
The biggest one of the day
Sweaty work this walking
Like a row of dominoes, thousands and thousands of em
Temple on temple, this place was pretty amazing
And the exits as good as the way in
Raring to go after a good nights kip, the Barnsley boys on tour strutted through the train station with a new lease of life. Nara was a beautiful little spot and Danny had planned just what we all needed…………a Nightingale Walking Tour. The tour, enjoyed by all, wove us from temple to temple and took in the best sights Nara had to offer. Home to the Tadai-Ji temple, the largest wooden building in the world, it was hard not to appreciate such a sight. It also offers the opportunity to literally crawl through the buddhas nose. Sizing up this chance of a lifetime, we all decided that due to the recent beer consumption, none of us would make it out the other end alive. Roaming and coursing havoc throughout the day were of course the resident Deer population of the town. These beggars literally roam the streets uncaged and unfenced, a bit like the sheep up on the tops. With a liking for not only Claires ass but also her sunglasses (like those bloody sheep all those years ago), it was more of hindrance than a novelty.
Free as a bird
Caught in the act………..biting her butt from the rear
One of the Temple gardens, thankfully not zen
THE biggest wooden building in the world
Us outside THE biggest wooden building in the world
Us outside THE biggest wooden building in the world again
Walking down from a view point after a free cold drink courtesy of the Buddhas
Another blighter on the loose
Lamps to light the way, except it was day time
Another uncool man with another very cool drink
The day took its toll on the walking tour guide
Boothys bride to be at the Geisha show back in Kyoto
Goodbye lovely Kyoto hello Koyasan. This time it was a rural train ride through the countryside and rolling hills up into the mountains. The journey was scenic but somewhat tarnished by Claire’s desperate need to pee. Screeching into the station, it was a mad dash to the bogs then onto a very steep funicular which transported us even higher as the normal train couldn’t. Staying at a Buddist temple, this was sure to be an experience and a half. No meat, no eggs and no clothes in the Onsen, should be a laugh if nothing else?!
You served me for 8 whole years and uncountable miles, but now your shite so goodbye trusty walking boots
Journey to the clouds
Mr ‘afraid of heights Boothy’ do NOT look down!
Its like Fuji all over again
View from our room over the Koi carp pond
Strolling around yet another graveyard…….but why do they all eat soup??!
Impressive at sunset
Sat down for dinner – this place was an experience to fondly remember
If Boothy had remembered his boxers, Claire would have remembered the whole experience for a different reason
A great city with a heart breaking past, this was a must see on the agenda and it didn’t disappoint. Hiroshima was a short train journey away and after another weeks allowance of Buddhist veggies for breakfast, we were glad to finally get to the backpackers. Scorchingly hot, we boarded a tram to the national museum where our eyes were opened and we learnt more than we ever did in 6 years of History lessons. An absolute eye opener, we all enjoyed the displays and information which were, to put it bluntly, quite frank and a little upsetting. Outside the museum, the park and epicenter of that fateful life changing bomb has been transformed into a great park and memorial grounds, preserving the atomic bomb dome which now stands of a painful reminder of that day.
Paper cranes, a sign of peace
Sad but true
Memorial gardens with the Atomic Bomb Dome in the background
Now a world UNESCO heritage site
Following an eventful day, it seemed only right to join the locals down the Okonmiyaki shop and knock back a few local beverages.
With the Salary men
Another train, another 45 degree day. This time though, we had a ferry to board which took us to the Miyajima floating shrine not to mention the worlds largest rice spoon. Sauntering about in the un relentless heat, we sought refuge in an ice cream cafe and basically, after Boothy had been chatted up by a friendly old deer, called it a day.
The floating shrine, except its not floating at all
Paddling out to the shrine
Boothys friendly old deer
THE biggest rice spoon in the world
Back to where we finally started and the trip would sadly end, Osaka. Having found our digs, which basically seemed to be some fellas flat which he shoved some bunk beds in, me and Danny did some window shopping in the mind boggling shops whilst Boothy and Bryn checked out the local aquarium to see what exactly it was they’d been eating. Tomorrow was the first day of the Summer Sonic music festival, the main reason the trip to Japan even happened. It was nice to sleep in the same bed once again for more than one night and funnily Osaka felt a bit like home.
Train to Osaka taking its toll yet again
Wandering around the streets
Fitting in with the crazy locals
An electronic pen ordering system.whatever next
Having spent a night on the town in Osaka, we were up early to catch a train to the Summer Sonic Music Festival. A festival of all festivals we had 2 days of absolutely scorching, mind blowing heat with little else than a beer and a water fan here and there to cool us all down. Nevertheless, we bopped to the Stone Roses, Linkin Park, Metallica, Bullet for my Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins, Fall Out Boy, Stereophonics, and the unforgettable Muse. Sadly it was the opening songs of Carly Rae Jepson than sent Claire into a spin and saw her narrowing missing a bust nose as she somersaulted to the ground in the mid day heat. This was closely followed by Danny part way through Bullet for my Valentine, and even poor old Boothy took a turn for the worst, but we think that might of been when it was his turn to go to the bar. Despite the terrible terrible heat, we had a blast and those crazy ass Japanese sure know how to have a good time.
Green is mean
Cooling down in the water fan
Hulk Hogan taking a break from the mosh pit
Too hot but still Japanese
Waiting for the Stone Roses
The Legend, still at it but looking a bit old
Muse on stage
Bullet for my Valentine, before Danny took a turn for the worst
Grooving at the silent disco
After 2 days of boozing and enjoying ourselves too much, we had one final day and one final night in Osaka before we sadly waved goodbye to our pals and caught the plane to South Korea. Strolling Osaka trying to find last minute magnets and souvenirs, we quickly found ourselves back in a boozer and soon stumbled into a well trodden Karaoke bar. An end to a night of all nights, we blasted the tunes out, sang until we couldn’t speak anymore and pissed off all the neighbours at the break of dawn as we stumbled home. Well, being the birth place of Karaoke it would of been rude not to………………
Danny hitting the comic book shop in Osaka
Dunno who they were but we stopped
The bright lights of Osaka
It had to finish on a Portugal rematch
Third man was required
Laying down the law
Don’t go in………you just KNOW you’ll sing
Righteous brothers belting it out
You were warned
Here they go again
Voice of an Angel (being hung)
Looking at these now, we realise we drink far too much
6am Octopus balls all around for the singers
After a night on the tiles it was the final day of our whistle stop tour around Japan. Exhausting, expensive and a whole heap of fun, it was sad it would be all over very soon. To finish on a high, we all headed over to Kobe for a taste of the famous Kobe beef to celebrate Bryns birthday. Cooked to perfection and washed down with a drop of red, it was a perfect ending to a perfect trip. The Barnsley boys would be travelling back to tarn the following day and were no doubt relieved that they would finally get a full nights kip and their wallets would get a well earned rest. Japan is as expensive as hell but jeez was it interesting and a real good laugh. Sad to say bye to a couple of true mates, we were off to catch a flight and thankfully not another bloody train to Seoul.
A very excited Danny
Kobe chef making his magic
Vegies look away
Gettin it darn thi
Japan, you’ve probably cut 6 months off our travelling time due to your over priced beer and numerous opportunities to enjoy it but, we might just see you again some day.
Our route on this post:
|1||Kansai Airport, Japan||July 26, 2013|
|2||Tokyo, Japan||July 26, 2013|
|3||Shinjuku, Japan||July 26, 2013|
|4||Ueno, Japan||July 27, 2013|
|5||Akihabara, Japan||July 27, 2013|
|6||Shinjuku, Japan||July 27, 2013|
|7||Harajuku, Japan||July 28, 2013|
|8||Shibuya, Japan||July 28, 2013|
|9||Shinjuku, Japan||July 28, 2013|
|10||Tokyo Disneyseas, Japan||July 29, 2013|
|11||Shinjuku, Japan||July 29, 2013|
|12||Tsukiji, Japan||July 30, 2013|
|13||Shinjuku, Japan||July 30, 2013|
|14||Tokyo, Japan||July 30, 2013|
|15||Utsonomiya, Japan||July 30, 2013|
|16||Nikko, Japan||June 30, 2013|
|17||Utsonomiya, Japan||July 31, 2013|
|18||Tokyo, Japan||July 31, 2013|
|19||Shinjuku, Japan||July 31, 2013|
|20||Otsuki, Japan||July 31, 2013|
|21||Kawaguchi-Ko, Japan||July 31, 2013|
|22||Mount Fuji, Japan||August 1, 2013|
|23||Kawaguchi-Ko, Japan||August 1, 2013|
|24||Otsuki, Japan||August 1, 2013|
|25||Shinjuku, Japan||August 1, 2013|
|26||Kyoto, Japan||August 1, 2013|
|27||Arashiyama, Japan||August 4, 2013|
|28||Kyoto, Japan||August 4, 2013|
|29||Nara, Japan||August 5, 2013|
|30||Kyoto, Japan||August 5, 2013|
|31||Osaka, Japan||August 6, 2013|
|32||Shinimamiya, Japan||August 6, 2013|
|33||Gokurakubashi Station, Japan||August 6, 2013|
|34||Koyasan, Japan||August 6, 2013|
|35||Gokurakubashi Station, Japan||August 7, 2013|
|36||Shinimamiya, Japan||August 7, 2013|
|37||Osaka, Japan||August 7, 2013|
|38||Shin Osaka, Japan||August 7, 2013|
|39||Hiroshima, Japan||August 7, 2013|
|40||Miyajima, Japan||August 8, 2013|
|41||Hiroshima, Japan||August 8, 2013|
|42||Shin Osaka, Japan||August 8, 2013|
|43||Shinsaibashi, Japan||August 8, 2013|
|44||Kobe, Japan||August 14, 2013|
|45||Shinsaibashi, Japan||August 14, 2013|
|46||Kansai Airport, Japan||August 14, 2013|