The Meiji Jingu is within a big forest park next to the station Harajuku. It is a peaceful and calm place where people pray for luck and wedding ceremonies are held. The shrine had been built for the souls of the Meiji Emperor and his wife almost one hundred years ago and the forest surrounding it is like a natural grown one with big trees. It is a famous landmark for the Meiji Period which started more or less in 1868, when the Meiji Emperor opened the country for trading with the western countries and lead Japan into a modern age. This shrine seems to me as the biggest homage to one of the most important changes in Japans history. Continue reading “DAY 9: HISTORY MEETS KAWAII”
We didn’t do much on Sunday. Writing, reading, watching tv series. Sometimes you need a day off. Traveling over a long time can be exhausting, because you’ll be confronted with new things everyday and you move a lot from town to town. So we stayed in our flat and literally did nothing. We even had dinner at home. But later in the evening we wanted to go out for a walk and ended up in a small district called “Golden Gai”. A friend gave us the tip to go there. We didn’t know what we could expect and were surprised to find a small area with very small bars on the first and second floor within very small houses in narrow streets. We found a Whisky bar where almost only Japanese Whiskys were served. “Bar Asyl” was the name. And the owner Abe-chan welcomed us very friendly. Continue reading “DAYS 6 – 8: RAIN AND HANGOVER”
Our days in Akihabara were intense but short. For the following eleven days we had booked an apartment in Shinjuku, close to the Gyoen Park. This part of Shinjuku is a little bit quieter and not as crowded as the streets surrounding the station.
On our first night we met an old friend of us, who we had last seen 8 years ago. Time goes by so quickly…. We had some beers in a pub in Shibuya and then he took us across the famous crossing to a sushi place, where you order the sushi via iPad and after a few minutes it’s delivered to you automatically. Continue reading “DAYS 3 – 5: GOOD DAYS IN SHINJUKU”
Staying in Akihabara and having our first contact with Tokyo here is overwhelming: Akihabara is the electronic and games district of this immense city and therefor everything is colorful, noisy, jarring and fancy. Neon lights, video screens, shops enlighted in all colors to attract customers, music everywhere (in the shops, at stands of special products) and people outside the shops speaking through a loudspeaker to get attention for their products. The shops we were passing by were filled with electronics, pc games, mangas, technical equipment, mobile phones, pachinko halls (a kind of entertainment we didn’t understand), UFO catchers, etc. Every shop was so heavy packed with stuff that our eyes and brains didn’t know where to look or what to think. So adrenalin took over and we fell into a state of excitement we hadn’t encountered before. We jumped from store to store, from gadget to gadget, laughing, squeaking and being astonished. Continue reading “DAYS 1 – 2: AKIHABARA/SHIMBASHI”
Actually we are in Japan for 79 days. And subtracting the days of arrival and leaving it’s „only“ 77 days we’ll spend here. But that are almost 80 days and our plan is to travel from Tokyo to Okinawa, it’s merely through all of Japan. We skip Hokkaido – it’s too cold – and Fukushima. We really wanted to go there, see the abandoned towns and find out how returned people live. But it is difficult: you need permissions which we can’t get and we don’t know anyone from that region we could ask for help. But nevertheless the parts we want to visit have a lot to offer: Traditions, Culture, temples and food. A country so rich of everything, it amazes us at every corner.
We start in Tokyo where we probably will see the famous cherry blossom. It’s predicted to be early this year, so we might be lucky to visit the famous Ueno Park for the blossom. Close to Tokyo is THE mountain: Fuji. When I visited Japan in 2008 I wasn’t able to see Mount Fuji, because it hid behind clouds. Maybe we’ll be lucky this year.
Where we’re going to go after Tokyo isn’t decided yet. Maybe Nagano or Nagoya. But then we’ll follow the route to Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Okinawa and whatever is in-between or beyond. The last two weeks are planned to be spend in Nara, where we’ll meet Torbens Sojutsu-Trainer and they are going to train with their teacher.
Months full of adventures are awaiting us: The Japanese are so different and so similar to us in the same time, we hardly speak the language but are learning constantly and not to mention the rules of behavior we try to learn as best as possible. But all of that is a wonderful experience we are so happy to make. So let’s find out, what will happen!
The plan for Australia was to travel along the east coast starting south in Melbourne up to Brisbane and maybe flying to Cairns. But at first we wanted to drive along the Great Ocean Road, which starts southwest of Melbourne. We rented a car (Hyundai Accent), named it Uma (japanese for horse) and hit the road (Jack).
The Great Ocean Road starts right after Torquay – where we spent a night in a campground-cabin for 200$ (!!!!) and called it a lesson learned for late arrival – and follows winding roads along the coast or through the hinterland to Allansford. We didn’t drive all 243 km and made it just to the Twelve Apostels. I always wanted to see these rock formations of lime stone, but when we arrived there late that afternoon there were still hundreds of tourist and three helicopters taking of every five minutes to fly people along the coastline. It was so crowded that it was hard to take a photo without people. The noise of the talking tourists and the roaring helicopters in the air were so annoying that we didn’t want to spend more time than needed. We saw the the Apostels, took a few photos and headed back to our car. There was no special atmosphere and so the Apostels were just rocks in the water. Continue reading “GREAT OCEAN ROAD”
Australia – Land of my childhood dreams! I wanted to visit this continent since I was two years old. Back then I wanted to have a kangaroo and jump with it through the australian bush. This childish dream faded, but still, the fascination for this country remained and you can imagine how enthusiastic I was when we landed in Melbourne. I got even more excited when we saw our first kangaroos on the way from the airport to the city. A moment that filled my heart with joy and my eyes with tears of happiness.
We arrived in Melbourne on a lovely evening. After two months of traveling in a Campervan and sharing the bathroom with many other women I was looking forward to a real bed and bathroom privacy. Also was I longing for a vibrant global city with all it’s amenities. New Zealand was amazing, but two months of nature had made me wanting to be a city girl again. Continue reading “MELBOURNE”
My first impression of Christchurchs CBD was: Ugly. Boring. Broken. We were on our way to Kaikoura when we first visited the city. But as we were only driving through and stopping at a supermarket, we didn’t see the „real“ CBD. At the end of our holidays, two days before our flight to Australia, we stayed in Chrch. And that is where we met the real Citys spirit.
THE LAST DAYS
But before that we stayed the last two nights we had with Hector Constantin in Lyttleton–a small suburb from Chrch parted from the main City by a hill and only reachable via a tunnel (Ok, you could also reach it via a road from the coast, but thats a long way from Chrch). Lyttleton’s town center was almost completely destroyed during the earthquake in 2011. But some cafes and bars have already returned and the cute little main street is alive and filled with locals and tourists. We had a drink on the deck of a restaurant with live music and chatted with a local who joined us at our table. Moments like these are what I love about traveling.
After we had a rather calm Christmas, we wanted to spend New Years Eve in a more vibrant surrounding. So we decided to go to Wellington–the windy city!
When we arrived it was sunny, warm and without any wind! We didn’t expect that–or anything at all and jumped right into city life.
The waterfront with bars, a food market and parks is the place to be on a sunny day. Relaxed and perfectly dressed people were sitting close to a water basin, drinking local craft beer or NZs famous wines and enjoying the sun. And so did we. Global city life after only a few hours in this city and we were happy and had already forgotten Auckland. Compared to NZs biggest city Wellington is much more of a global city with cultural life and city flair. Breweries, cafés, shops for all kinds of things, lots of students and other young people who seemed to just have started their own business. The whole city was pulsing and full of energy. A feeling we had missed in Auckland. Continue reading “WELLINGTON”