Life in progress


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eXpedition – #AtoZChallenge

I like to think of myself as a world traveller, but there are only two places I regularly go – around my own province of Ontario, and Japan.

Yes, I know “expedition” doesn’t start with “X.” I cheat on this letter almost every year. It’s just the way I roll. Apparently also the way I roll is to post when I’m falling asleep, and this entry is no exception. So, tonight, I’m just going to post something really neat about my last trip to Tokyo.

If you were around for my 2014 trip, you might remember a video I posted: the traffic camera at the Shibuya intersection, made famous in the movies Lost in Translation and Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift among others.

Since I stayed a five-minute walk from the intersection last time I visited, I set up a “meeting” with my family at home. I emailed them early one morning, just before I left my hotel room, and had them watch the traffic camera. Although I walked around the intersection in almost every direction, only one screenshot was captured. This was me just before the lights changed–I walked directly across, towards the camera. Apparently it’s surprising that I didn’t hear Alex scream with excitement when Mom waved to him from across the other side of the globe.

I’m beside the lamp post in front of the yellow store front.

The only picture anyone took of me while I was in Japan was taken from 6,447 miles away. That’s one hell of a zoom lens. HA!

Here’s the traffic camera. It’s fun to watch:

***
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“A delightful read!!” ~ Cheryl Lynn Roberts, 4 stars, Amazon Canada review

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Click the picture to find it on Kindle, or get it on Kobo here: https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/all-good-stories


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Wordless Wednesday and #LoIsInDaBlog – The Eye and Palette Town

From the top of the Eye. Recognize anything?

From the top of the Eye. Recognize anything?

 

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

2007

 

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Apparently I only visit places with giant wheels

Brought to you by Wordless Wednesday and The Bee at Just Fooling Around With Bee for LoveIsInDaBlog


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One-Liner Wednesday – They Lied!

In downtown Shibuya, Tokyo, there are small transport trailers driving the streets with advertising for musical groups, plastered with pictures and songs blasting. I saw one such truck last week, promoting the band “One Direction.” When I saw it twice, the second time going the other way, I called bullshit.

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Anyone who would like to try it out, feel free to use the “One-Liner Wednesday” title in your post, and if you do, you can ping back here to help your blog get more exposure. To execute a ping back, just copy the URL in the address bar on this post and paste it somewhere in the body of your post. Your link will show up in the comments below. Please ensure that the One-Liner Wednesday you’re pinging back to is this week’s! Otherwise, no one will likely see it but me.

As with Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS), if you see a ping back from someone else in my comment section, click and have a read. It’s bound to be short and sweet.

Unlike SoCS, this is not a prompt so there’s no need to stick to the same “theme.”

The rules that I’ve made for myself (but don’t always follow) for “One-Liner Wednesday” are:

1. Make it one sentence.

2. Make it either funny or inspirational.

3. Use our unique tag #1linerWeds.

4. Have fun!


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A Directional Nightmare

This is my excuse for not getting anything done today: I had all my hotel bookings set for my trip to Japan – had some fantastic places to stay. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this when I booked them (or in particular, the one I had booked for the nights of the concerts), but I thought I’d check the directions today to see how I’d get from the concert venue back “home.” I planned to do it on foot so I stayed fairly close, just like I did last time. After all, the trip will be made alone in the dark. With that in mind… hahaha… here are my directions from Google:

NHKホール
Japan, 〒150-0041 東京都渋谷区 神南2丁目2−1
Head northeast
400 m
Take the crosswalk
24 m
Take the crosswalk
100 m
Take the crosswalk
66 m
Take the crosswalk
110 m
Take the crosswalk
47 m
Turn right
55 m
Slight right
18 m
Cross the road
33 m
Cross the road
40 m
Cross the road
18 m
Take the crosswalk
12 m
Cross the road
19 m
Cross the road
40 m
Cross the road
47 m
Turn left
22 m
Take the crosswalk
130 m
Cross the road
55 m
Take the crosswalk
120 m
Cross the road
52 m
Take the crosswalk
33 m
Take the crosswalk
100 m
Cross the road
25 m
Cross the road
38 m
Cross the road
110 m
Take the crosswalk
50 m
Cross the road
68 m
Take the crosswalk
38 m
Take the crosswalk
36 m
Turn right
110 m
Take the crosswalk
63 m
4 Chome-5-9 Aobadai

It’s THAT EASY!!! I shit you not, that’s all I get for directions. Because as I explained in this post, there is no such thing as a street name in Tokyo. Needless to say, I canceled that booking and made another one closer to the train station, from whence I can get a bus. Or at the very least, since it’s the closest station to the venue, someone has to know how to get there. In fact, I’ll follow the crowd. It’s in Shibuya, arguably the busiest part of the city.

So this is where I’m staying now – a gorgeous hotel three minutes’ walk from the famous Shibuya intersection, for a measly $140 Cdn. per night, breakfast included. Can’t beat that.

Not too bad an excuse for getting nothing done today, eh?


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Tokyo, Japan – My Final Day

Though after eleven days I’d had plenty of time to miss my family, it was with a deep sense of sadness that I packed up all of my belongings and set out from my hotel room on the morning of December 17th, 2014. Since my flight wasn’t scheduled until 5pm, I was pleased that the hotel agreed to hang on to my luggage, so I was able to wander about for a while before I made my way to the airport.

I figured, why not go on a little adventure? I’ve been on the London Eye, so I figured I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to go on the Giant Wheel in Palette Town. Among many pictures were these:

From Daiba Park:

Here’s what I wrote in my notebook:

Palette Town, ODaiba, Tokyo – Tanto Tanto Restaurant, Venus Fort

Spent the first part of the morning packing and checking out of the hotel. They kept my bags so I’m out wandering. Went on the Giant Wheel where it was VERY windy. I think I may have prayed a little not to die. Walked a lot after that – to Daiba Park and then back here for lunch. The solitude in Daiba Park was almost overwhelming. I felt like I was alone at the ends of the earth.

The restaurant and the Venus Fort mall were pretty amazing. Here are some pictures – the first two were taken from my table in the restaurant:

It wasn’t until I got back outside that I found out I could have had the “dog.”

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For Jason

 

And finally, Haneda Airport.

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I had an incredible time in my eleven days of wandering, getting lost, meeting some wonderful new friends in person – Jay Dee, Susie, and Shigeyoshi – (please click on their names for links!) sightseeing and taking pictures and really just re-discovering who I am and what I’m capable of. And of course, the spectacular concert which was the reason I went.

I was there!!

I was there!!

Japan is a truly amazing country. Its people, its culture, its natural beauty… all of it. Rather than try to write something new, I’ll leave you with a journal entry I wrote the first time I left there. For me, nothing has changed and as I said at the end of this, “Japan, I will return.”

October 31, 2005 4:58pm, Kansai Airport, Japan

Well, this will be my last entry here in Japan. I’m sitting at the gate with my Starbucks tall mocha looking at the plane I’ll be spending the next 10 hours in.

What am I going to miss about this place? The fact that you can smile at anyone and they’ll smile back. The bowing. (There’s nothing quite like having a gorgeous young man bow to you, particularly when he’s a tough looking goth type.) Eating with chopsticks. The endless *different* scenery, both natural and manmade – for the natural scenery, you can’t look in any direction without seeing mountains. And of course the faces. Amazing how many Japanese people there are here!

I really do feel home here. I feel like I belong. Is there time in my life to find this place as I should, and everything that belongs to me here? If it is within my power I will return

Nihon ni kaerimasu.

 

 

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Tokyo, Japan – Part 3

Remember waaay back in December when I went to Japan? Yeah, I’m finally almost finished writing about it and sharing my pictures. Queen of Procrastination… it’s me.

On my last full day in Tokyo I had plans to meet a friend for dinner. They’d been forecasting rain–100-120mm of it–and that scared me a little. That’s more than we get in an average month here in Ontario. In fact if they forecast more than 30mm in a day we start filling up sand bags and check our canoes for leaks. So it was, on the 16th of December, that I headed out with my umbrella, silently bemoaning the fact that I hadn’t brought water wings or a pool noodle to Japan with me.

I stopped first at a Doutor coffee shop in my local train station for some breakfast. Here’s what I wrote in my notebook:

Kokusaitenjijo Station, ODaiba

Tuna sandwich for breakfast… but the coffee’s good! Actually, so’s the sandwich.

I went everywhere yesterday. First to Shibuya, then Akihabara, then to Shinjuku to meet Kellie. Today I’ve decided to go to Asakusa. It’s raining a little – more to come. I hope, regardless, to go shopping a bit more.

Noted: the trains don’t have whistles. Everyone just obeys the signs.

And.. I’m listening to the theme from Sesame Street on the overhead radio. No shit. It’s hard not to laugh out loud.

Oh thank God that’s over.

“We’ve Only Just Begun…” not the Carpenters.

At least it’s not Earth Wind and Fire belting out Christmas carols.

Coffee’s finished. Time to go.

So with that I boarded a train and went back to Shibuya to meet with Susie, who I missed, then on to Asakusa.

It’s a quaint little district of Tokyo most famous for its Sensou-ji Temple. I walked around for a while in the pouring rain and took some pictures.

From there I went shopping. In Asakusa there are narrow streets, some covered, some not, with vendors down both sides. I wish I’d taken pictures. I managed to finish my Christmas shopping there but I still had some time left before I had to meet my friend, so I went into a Starbucks for a coffee and a drip-dry.

4:50pm – finally made it to Starbucks – looking out the window at the rain coming down. It’s very close to freezing out there – probably about 4 or 5 degrees. I’m in Asakusa waiting to go to Ueno Station to meet Shigeyoshi at 6. I can’t believe this is my last evening here. Did I get what I came for? The 5:36 certainly. The experience – the knowledge that I can still travel alone and be happy and content to do so is invaluable.

Do I want to come back? Definitely. This is such a fascinating country. Yes. But next time I’ll be more prepared. I’ll come back with a plan when I’m rich from the sale of my novel…

Off to meet Shigeyoshi.

…with whom I had a wonderful dinner. We ate in a Japanese restaurant right in the Station and he was kind enough to be patient with me as he watched me struggle with my chopsticks. I ordered a plate with shrimp and something else… when I asked him what the something else was he looked up the translation on his phone – which meant nothing to me. So he went looking for a picture – and showed me one of a sea urchin. I must say it was delicious!

I regret not taking any pictures at our dinner, but you can get to know him yourself by visiting his blog here:  https://sotacf.wordpress.com/ which is where I first got to know him myself. His interest is in cars, but he also has some gorgeous pictures of his travels around Japan on his blog.  Please do go and say hi – I owe him for waiting so patiently for me to get to this post!

One more post to go before the reports of my adventures come to a close…


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Tokyo, Japan – Part 2

Since I’ve already written about the day of the amazingly awesome Buck-Tick concert I attended, I’ll skip that day and go straight to the next.

Being Christmas time, and still having to do a fair bit of shopping, I decided to make my final two full days in Tokyo shopping days. I started out going to Shibuya – an absolutely fantastic place to go if you like crowds of people. I can’t stress enough how overwhelming it is just to cross the street there. I found this:

It’s a live camera at Shibuya crossing. (I swear I could watch this video for hours, especially when it’s crowded at lunch time. Is it just me?) On the far left side, outside the shot, is the train station. It is from that side of the street that I took this picture:

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and here are two photos I took

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facing the train station

 

at the end of the crosswalk on the far right of the youtube video screen

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I went from there just a short way up the block to Tower Records

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and bought a CD by, you guessed it, Buck-Tick, as well as a Christmas present for my best friend John – the new AC/DC CD with a bonus poster. He’s now likely the only person in this little town of ours to be in possession of an official AC/DC poster in Japanese.

Its funny, here in North America McDonald’s seems to me to be generally the most garish thing in any cityscape. In a place like Tokyo, the golden arches get all but lost.

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Can you spy the McDonald’s?

amongst the karaoke bars and cartoon characters. But there it doesn’t seem garish. It just all awesome scenery.

From there I went to Akihabara, the area of Tokyo which is famous for anything gadget-like or to have anything to do with anime, to shop for my kids. As always, the store lights are stunning.

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With so little space, a tiny shop is expanded by going up – some of the stores have seven floors of retail area. I would have liked to have gone back to Shibuya to see it all lit up, but by the time I finished having dinner with my friend Kellie (who I’ve known for about seven years through LiveJournal but never met in person before) in Shinjuku, I was too tired to make the extra stop before going back to the hotel. It had been yet another nine hour day of walking around.

To be continued…