Posted on Jun 23, 2012 in Travel

Eoin and I made are way via bullet train to Kyoto from Tokyo this morning sometimes topping speeds over 175 miles per hour.  We were going to so fast that are ears were popping from the speed.   It was nice to make it over 300 miles in probably a little over 2.5 hours.  In the US that would be a drive of about 8 hours for us. Japan is very efficient.

We are in Kyoto and it is a historic and beautiful city.  We saw some great things today including a magnificent bamboo forest and went to the old part of Kyoto which still has cobblestone streets.

We are staying in a very traditional Japanese hotel called a Ryokan.  It is very minimalist hotel with just a table for tea and then some futons that you pull out of the closet and sleep on.  This is the type of place you think of when you think of Japan.

Eoin navigated us from Kyoto to the Bamboo forest which was no small task since he needed to figure out how to get us through one of the busiest train stations in the world and onto one of 100 platforms.   Everything was in Japanese but he did a fantastic job and has now won the job of official navigation man for the trip.

Tuna Fish, Fried Chicken, and Shady Capsules.

Posted on Jun 22, 2012 in Travel

Today was an interesting day.  It started at 3:00 am (almost 17 hours ago). It began with big tuna and ended with the realization that somehow we managed to book 3 hotels for the same night. Let me explain.

This morning began in a torrential downpour as Eoin and I headed out to the Tsujiki Fish Market in a cab hours before dawn.  The fish market was one of the highlights of our a day and we took some cool pictures of huge frozen beheaded Tuna that were being auctioned off to the top sushi restaurants in Tokyo and the rest of the world.   We came back to the hotel after the auction because there was simply nothing else we could do.  It was raining hard and in spite of that there was probably nothing we could have done anyway since it was still 6 in the morning.

Here is a picture of Japanese guys poking around frozen tuna at 5 in the morning.  Hard to believe but some of them were taking pick axes to the tails of the frozen tuna and eating bits of frozen tuna meat out of them.

After a few hours of rest – I went to the gym and did some laundry and Eoin finished up season 1 of Breaking bad – we were out on the town again.  Eoin put together this little video blog which explains our encounter with Fried Chicken.

The rest of the morning was spent wandering the cool shopping districts of Shinbuya and the famed Hirajuku District.  The Hirajuku District actually took us about 1hour to find since the taxi driver dropped us off from it many blocks away and told us it was right up the street.  I find that the taxi drivers here in Tokyo do that quite a bit – drop you off a few blocks from your destination which might as well be miles since it is almost impossible to tell where exactly you are. Well the Hirajuku District was pretty cool but I think that the days of the Hirajuku Girls (made famous by Gwen Stefani and her songs and clothing line) are waning. It seemed like the Hirajuku fad wasn’t as evident as we expected it to be.  We did see a pretty cute kid there though.  Check out this guy walking in his rubber rain boots and umbrella.

While walking back from Hirajuku and attempting to find a cab to take us back to our hotel, Eoin decided to do a little light reading and explore in his mind the magic of Japan.  Pulling out his trusted book “Japan Day to Day” he managed to annoy a few of the locals.   In any case, he did find some nice recommendations on where to stay in various parts of Japan.

Well the day got pretty interesting when we decided to go to check into our capsule hotel. Now the capsule hotels seem like a pretty cool and quirky concept.  Instead of checking into a hotel room, you check into a small pod which provides just enough room to sleep and not much more.   The Pods are stacked one on top of each other – usually 2-4 pods high. It seemed cool and space age and all so Eoin and I decided to try it for the night. This place got high marks on trip advisor so we booked it  We took a Taxi and when we got to the hotel the cab driver looked very surprised that we were going there and made some X sign with his arms.  Usually that doesn’t mean something good.  Well we went to the lobby to check in and the place just seemed super strange.  It was all old Japanese guys and there was some sort of Spa attached to it.  The guy at the front desk asked how old Eoin was and I said 15 and he said that you had to be 18 to stay in the capsules.  Well that was enough and we were convinced it was shady.  But we had no hotel at this point so we were walking up and down the streets to find a hotel.

This is the neighborhood with where the shady Pod hotel was and where we walked around trying to find another hotel.  It looks a bit like Time Square.

Well we did find a hotel eventually.  We actually checked back into the same hotel that we have been the last two days. I found a Wifi and just did a little searching online.  The funny thing during that search was that I realized it was Friday. I thought it was Thursday earlier in the day so I had booked a hotel in Kyoto for Friday since that is where we were planning to be the next day.  In any case that made a total of 3 hotels that we had booked and paid for the same night – Friday.  That’s a first for me.  Well in any case we are safe and happy and above all happy to not being staying in any shady old Japanese man Pod hotel.  We’re going to steer clear of those for the rest of this trip.

We’ll keep posting on this blog as long as we can find internet access here in Japan which appears to be pretty regular so far.

Rainy Day in Tokyo

Posted on Jun 21, 2012 in Travel

Eoin and I awoke at 3:30am to get the Fish Market to watch them auction off huge Blue Fin Tuna.  The Tsujiki Fish Market is one of the most interesting auctions in the world where a Tuna can fetch over $100,000.  It is an incredible place.

The rain has been coming down like crazy today.  We got soaked something fierce while trying to find a cab.

Energy Drink Extravaganza in Tokyo

Posted on Jun 21, 2012 in Travel

Eoin and I spent the day traveling through two districts of Tokyo – Shinjuku and Akihambara.  The Shinjuku district is the quirky shopping district and Akihambara is the electronic area.

Eoin was drinking and even won many different energy drinks.  He wanted to try every energy drink in the vending machines.  He even won a contest and got a free energy drink.  This city is an extravaganza of energy drinks.

Yakitori Chef prepares grilled skewers to perfection

Eoin just loved all of the video game shops.  The variety is incredible.

Eoin wins another energy drink.  This guy coulldn’t wait to take a picture to advertise this energy drink.

The Yakitori Chef loved Eoin’s shirt and kept laughing.  He thought it was so funny.

Eoin making friends all over the world. The Japanese are so friendly and nice.

All the kids laughed like crazy when they saw how their classmate looked in this shot.


Are you traveling with a Cat and a Mouse?

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 in Travel

As we checked into our flight with Air Nippon the gate agent turned to Eoin and I and asked if we were traveling with a Cat or a Mouse because for some reason it said on our itinerary.  Needless to say we weren’t sure if this was a stow-away situation with a cat and mouse that were attempting to get a free ride or an honest mistake.

Needless to say , we are back on our way to Japan after first day fiasco’s involving catering trucks launching into our plane and wreaking havoc.  The hotel and other accouterments were appealing to our high standard of travel and both Eoin and I were pleased.

Wish us luck as we continue our grand escapades to the country of the rising sun.

This is my new Iphone App.  It can help you see better.

Eoin reflects on possibly our last Starbucks run for awhile.  At this point, getting to Japan is a waiting game.

Eoin tries out my new Ipad App.  He tells me he thinks he can see to infinity and beyond and also mentioned it seemingly helps him digest foods better. Less gassy and more regular.  Put’s him a better overall mood and provides sense of well-being.

Eoin takes a bite of a donut which makes him turn upside down. In utter disbelief,  I catch the moment on camera. wowzers.

Lost in Translation

Posted on Jun 19, 2012 in Travel

Well, we didn’t quite make it off the ground.  The catering truck apparently ran into the plane that we were supposed to fly in and they spent 3 hours trying to fix it. By the time they got the plane in working order – the flight promptly announced that they needed to de-board the plane because if they flew to Japan it would take too many hours and according to the union they couldn’t do that.

After de-boarding us and our luggage and about 5 hours we finally got new flights and a hotel. And what a hotel it was – A 3 Star beauty called the Marriott – maybe you have heard of it.  Nice beds, warm showers and to top it all off they gave us $10 vouchers for dinner!  What a wonderful treat and fantastic way to end the day.  The best news of the day is that Eoin became a bit more famous on Reddit by posting an incredibly insightful and hilarious Meme. Were hoping for a better day tomorrow.

This is not Eoin in Japan.  This is Eoin in a hotel – still in Los Angeles.  He is passing the time becoming a Reddit Karma Hero and posting some fabulous stuff.

We flashed these to the Maitre D with the instructions to keep the plates of food coming until we had burned through these little suckers.

Oh look at that.  It’s my suitcase, sitting in a hotel in Los Angeles when it should be on a plane to Tokyo,  Good grief United Airlines, what will you think of next?

Off To Japan

Posted on Jun 18, 2012 in Travel

And we’re off.  Sitting in LAX at the moment and Eoin is reading up on how to say No Fish Eggs on My Sushi.  But the book only has the translation for Fish.  So he is going to say Fish in Japanese and then mime a chicken laying and Egg and then say no no no and wave his finger from side to side.  We are wondering if this is going to work.  We will keep you posted.  Over and out from LAX.

Shooting Elk

Posted on May 31, 2012 in nature, Travel

It’s fun to shoot Elk.  By shoot I mean with my camera and of course never with a gun.  I knew a pretty bad guy once and that was his hobby – shooting and hunting Elk.  He was so bad in fact that he was locked away in jail in Montana and called the worst Poacher in US history.  He was actually accused of hunting Elk in Yellowstone National Park. That is pretty outrageous if you ask me.  This guy, his name was Steve, was supposed to do a bunch of work on my house.  He ended up taking a bunch of money from me and never doing the work.  I knew he was pretty much a con-man and a crook but I never knew he was such an idiot to shoot and hunt Elk in the most protected National Park in probably the world.

In Yellowstone, while we were there. Keven spotted two Elk crossing a river and drinking from it.  We were on a hike and it was a pretty amazing moment to be so close to wild creatures and they didn’t seem so afraid of us.  I thought back to Steve and how he hunted perhaps these very same animals and how he possibly damaged the serene wild calm that they called home.  I guess that is why he got locked up for the next 25 years.  Good riddance. In any case I was really happy to come across these Elk in their natural habitat.