Friday, May 25, 2007

Japan



We finally got into Japan, but due to our fantastically bad luck with Northwest Airlines my bag never left CT and had to be placed on the following flight to Osaka. Due to further plane delays it took three days before my bags were even in Japan and one more day for delivery to our apartment in Nado. To say the least if it I was a very frustrated camper because I had to buy new stuff and also because I realized that Japanese fashion is ridiculous and I didn't want to wear anything they sold.

The trip itself was great. We ate a ton of really great food. We had rice bowls with salmon, shrimp, fish roe and egg that cost only about $4, ramen bowls, rotary sushi, restaurant sushi, yakatori, tempura, katsu, gyoza, and my top favorite Green Tea soft serve ice cream. The salmon was unbelievable in Japan. I could be very happy eating like that everyday, plus it was unbelievably affordable in comparison to American dining out prices.

The touristy stuff we did included walking all over Nado, Osaka, Namba, Kyoto, Kobe and Mino Mountain. Due to our very packed full itinerary we literally walked miles every day and as a result Trevor had at least 4 blisters on his feet.

The old temples were beautifully well kept up and the gardens surrounding them were green and healthy looking. If nothing else the Japanese take a great deal of pride in the appearance of their things.

My feet were pretty tired after walking so much but you can't get anywhere fun without walking and taking the train. The train system was really huge. Almost no one has a car and everyone takes the train for regular commuting so the public transit system is complex but seemingly very efficient if you can read Japanese. We had some issues with the JR line, but overall got around the area without too much drama and without having to take a taxi.

I was particularly fond of the Rotary Sushi. There's no real comparison in the western world, but it's very much like sitting at a round bar with a rotating selection of food in front of you that moves on a conveyor belt lined with marble. In the middle of the bar is a guy (or a number of guys) that just make sushi and plate them in small dishes. The dishes go on the belt and you pick which ones you want. At the end of your meal they count the number of plates you went through and you pay a fixed price per plate. It's like the fast food version of sushi, except since they're always making it and it's always spinning around it's very freshly made and you get to try weird things you wouldn't have otherwise gotten the opportunity to do so. For example, on this trip I tried raw horsemeat sushi. And while that sounds sick, it's delicious...very much like rare roast beef.

On our last day we hiked up Mino Mountain and saw the waterfall. We had some snacks and ice cream and spent the rest of the day at the apartment letting our feet relax. After a small nap on my part, we got dressed and went to Sushi at a place Trevor's friend Masa recommended. The Toro (Belly Tuna) was unbelievable. It melts in your mouth like creamy butter. (In the states it usually runs about $12 per piece, if not more.) And we had miso soup with clams in it.

After dinner we took a spin on the Hep 5 Ferris Wheel on top of the Hep 5 building complex. From the top you can see the entire cityscape and since we took our ride around 9pm it shone with the lights below. It was also where Trevor proposed to me.

He had been acting weird for a while before our trip, but during the trip I was so wrapped up in being uncomfortable and bug bites and sore feet that it came to me as a surprise. At the very top of the Ferris wheel he got down in one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes, of course. And I cried. And we celebrated with green tea ice cream. lol

The next day we left Japan for home but of course due to our fantastically bad luck we had a very difficult time leaving. We took a plane from Kansai Airport to Tokyo. That went fine, but we didn't know there were two (or more) airports in Tokyo and we had to go from one to another to make our connection to Detroit. We find out that we have to take an hour long busride to get to the right airport and by the time we get there we're literally running to get through customs and security to make our flight. To top it off due to our missing luggage we had to claim what we paid for in new clothes so that we could be reimbursed for our trouble but since all the receipts are in Japanese we had to sneak that in Tokyo before we boarded for Detroit.

So after a lot of hassle with Northwest we're finally home and after we use the travel vouchers they gave us for all of the frustration we plan never to fly Northwest again. Although on the bright side, it'll always be known as the trip where everything went wrong, and when we got engaged.