Poyo 43

New volume awaits!

Poyo 42.5

End of volume 2!

Poyo 42

A bit early for the holidays, but better than waiting 4 months for this. Enjoy!

Poyo 41

Back with more fluffy goodness

Poyo 40

What hasn't poyo been mistaken of at this point? Enjoy

Poyo 39

Shedding all day, everyday.

Poyo 38

Enjoy

Poyo 37

Enjoyyyyyyyyyyyyy

Poyo 36

Today we get to see a new side of Poyo. Enjoy!

Poyo 35

Always be prepared for dangerous weather! Enjoy!

Poyo 34

Is this heaven? No, it's more Poyo! Enjoy ch 34!

Poyo 33

Let's keep the ball rolling! Here's ch 33

Poyo 32

Long time no see! Enjoy ch 32

Poyo 31

Here it is!

Poyo 30

Enjoy!

Poyo 29

Here's 29. Sorry about that one page (You'll know when you see it...) TOO MUCH TEXT

Poyo 28

28 is here~ I hope the pun meets your kneads.

Poyo 27

Here's 27

Poyo 26

It's finally here!

Day 29 - HIROSAKI - castle, flowers, and garden

Wasn't an eventful day, but great weather and great scenery. got nothing to complain about.
Today I headed to Hirosaki which is well known for apples in the aomori prefecture.

Hirosaki is also known for sticking with old buildings. almost to a point where it almost becomes a hazard to everyone that lives in the said building and areas around it.

See how great the weather is? the city is the nearest to the iwaki mountain. so you'll see me taking pictures of the mountain. a lot of pictures actually.
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Within the city, there are 2-3 streets lined up with temples and shrines. It's a pretty relaxing walk when passing by these old infrastructures.
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Next is off to the memorial garden.
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Now off to the castle! one thing to note. the castle is essentially a big area. what I usually take pics of is the honmaru (usually the main area of a castle)

now, the building has actually been moved in order to repair the stone foundation that the building rests on. in one of the panos, you'll see the honmaru and construction site. what actually got me thinking was how they managed to move the building from one place to another.
for them, the answer was easier than expected. using rails .____. 
of course, the entire process isn't as easy. given you're moving a physically big piece of a historical building.

one of the gates into the castle
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construction site
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think these two are the best pictures i've taken in a while.
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now onto the bontanical gardens within the castle grounds.
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Like I said earlier, old buildings. which does give the city some charm I guess...
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now that wraps up my entire vacation! I still have a few days in japan but not for vacation. perhaps I can upload some pictures during my breaks, but doubt it'll be much.

panos and videos here.

now, for some trip statistics:
29-day trip | 497100 steps | 242 miles or 390 km walked
all costs are in yen.
hotel: 13000 per night (main reason being the first hotel got overbooked and i had to look for another one)
food: 3000 per day
admission fees for castles, parks, gardens, observatory, etc.: 12000 overall
transportation:
1) jr rail pass: 55000-ish overall (amount i saved from using the rail pass: 131000. in other words, it would've costed me 186000 yen on train rides if i didn't have the rail pass)
2) not using the rail pass: 32000-ish overall (as some forms of transportation is not covered by the jr rail pass such as ferries, private railways, taxis, etc.)

if you have any further questions, ping me via the communication platform you usually contact me with. otherwise, ask in the comments section by adding this symbol after your question: ゑ

Day 28 - AOMORI - nebuta!

mainly a pic dump as I'm starting to get busy with work and stuff. and boy am I tried from the 7.5 hour train ride down to aomori...
today was a trip to a museum that talks all about the nebuta festival. it's a pretty fun experience given you can see how those floats are made. the floats and faces you see in the pics are the actual things from past festivals.

first, boarding the kamui from asahikawa to sapporo.
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Then the super hokuto from sapporo to shin-hakodate-hokuto
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then a shinkansen (hayabusa) from shin-hakodate-hokuto to aomori
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That wraps up for today. tomorrow would be one of my final days of vacation in japan. won't have the energy to end things with a bang so it'll be light traveling.

panos and vidos here.

don't forget that you can click/tap on the photos to see the full size (presumably) to see them in better detail.

10370 steps | 5.07 miles or 8.16 km walked.

until tomorrow!

Day 27 - FURANO - lavenders galore

Almost coming to a close on my vacation! Time for well-spent relaxation.

I board a seasonal train called Norokko. It's a classic-looking fancy train.
Again, I'll let the pictures do the talking.
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Although you may see bundles and vast numbers of lavenders, it's a pretty unlucky time to see them as I'm told they'll fully bloom later next month. aka late-june is too soon to be viewing lavenders. But hey, I'd rather see partially bloomed lavenders with more elbow room than to be in a crowd of tourists and photobombing all my pictures I take.
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Oh right. If you really don't mind the rain, those days are the best time to go sightseeing as everyone usually stays in on rainy days.
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An actual boiler they use to make lavender oil for fragrances, soaps, and etc.

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In case you were wondering, yes. I'm still on the farm. (it's huge)
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the norokko btw
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Time to head back
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Got this nice tontoro shio ramen. pretty good, but not sure what the hype about this is.
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then skewered chicken
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And that wraps up my days in hokkaido. it's been really fun.
tomorrow, it's time to head down to aomori to finish up some stuff. in other words, tomorrow will essentially be my last day of vacation in japan. 

panos and videos here.

9330 steps | 4.39 miles or 7.07 km walked

Day 25 - BIEI - flowers and flowers

Biei. Where there are hills and flowers. Since it's still the end of June (early in the summer), there aren't much flowers. But enough to spend a whole day here.

Best method of transportation: bicycle or car. there are no buses or trains that run near the flower fields.
 
I'll let the pictures do the talking for this post

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vanilla/lavender ice cream
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Now off to the blue pond!
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After a good day of biking and walking, time to eat
500 yen curry. The owner of the small food truck was a pretty cool guy. He's been overseas to become a sushi chef just to come back and make curry. Sounds like someone I know too.
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Asashikawa-styled Shio Ramen
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That's it for today.

Tomorrow, it'll be time for a half-day at Furano where there are real lavender fields.

panos and videos here.

10840 steps | 5.22 miles or 8.40 km walked | 37.16 miles or 59.80 km biked

Day 25 - ASAHIKAWA - ice pavilion and more ramen

Asahikawa! A nice hub in the middle of Hokkaido for transport of all sorts.
What drew me here initially was the Asahikawa ramen which is known for its different ramen used and the shio soup base. But there's also plenty of stuff to see around Asahikawa such as the lavender fields (which I'll get to another day)

Asahikawa platform sign.
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Central Gate Entrance shot
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First off is to visit the Hokkaido Ice Pavilion (it's a tourist trap really...)
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One thing my high school chem teacher always said: "Enjoy the ride to Disneyland as the destination might not be what you are expecting."
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And inside the ice pavilion...
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"Chillax, breddah"
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Within this area, there are two "warm rooms" where if the area is too cold for you (oh yeah, the entire area is -20 degs C (-4 degs F)), then you would go into the smaller rooms where there are heaters blasting on high. However, it helps but warm has a different value here...
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There are many fun experiments you get to do in the pavilion, but the one that's the most fun is...
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Seeing how it feels to be in a -41 degs C (-41 degs F) for 10 seconds. Any colder than that and they won't be able to guarantee the generals' safety. For the record, I pressed it thrice. Coz y'know. Carpe Diem.
Now, why -41 C? That's the coldest temperature Asahikawa has experienced in the (recorded) pas t. Specifically in year 1902.

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Another odd one is to use a frozen oxidized banana to hammer in a nail into a block of wood.
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Another interesting exhibit are these sea angels
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After chilling for a good hour-ish, time to head to the ramen village and try out the Asahikawa ramen!
A train station = a waiting room with one set of rails runing right beside it with no one manning it. Hokkaido level. 
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It's actually a building with 8 well-known ramen restaurants.
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There's actually a shrine here as well
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First up is Shio Ramen (700 yen)
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Next up is Spicy Ramen (880 yen)
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That's it for today.

panos and videos here.

8820 steps | 4.35 miles or 7 km walked

Day 24 - WAKKANAI - endpoint

If even the countryside shtick has info boards with this, then I seriously hope y'all should know at least this much.
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In short, always make sure your connection is encrypted with ssl/tls no matter if you're using public or private wifi/wired internet access .__.

See that ferry right there?
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That's the one I was supposed to be on :D
This calls for a change in plans. Onward to the northernmost point of Japan instead of going to an island that's vibrant with rare types of flowers (is what they always advertise)

By the way, Hokkaido is known for its melon and dairy (since the climate isn't fit for growing rice)
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It's pretty damn good.

Cape Soya. The furthest north you can go in Japan.
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Ain't it beautiful. See that seagull flying in the background? It makes this picture meaningful.

I didn't take an hour bus ride just to see that monument. So I stroll around the cape.
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Even though the weather ain't pretty today, it still gives off a nice serene feel to the small town.
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Next are some statues/monuments/sites
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This is very similar to a big red button that has a "Do not press." label printed next to it. Check out the video :D
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This is a pretty interesting piece of architecture. if the waves are too high, the pipe will spit out the water. Didn't get to see it in action however. quite a bummer.IMG_8078

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What to do after a half day of strolling? Food. Duh.
Here, we have the famous Soya Wagyu on a skewer. Pretty damn good.
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Then we got some good Maguro Yukke Donburi. (Tuna with raw egg yolk over a bowl of rice)
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Not a very bad day. It's about 57 degrees F (excluding wind factor which would make it roughly 52-ish F/11 degs C)
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And when in Hokkaido....
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Always go for melon-flavored stuff :D

That's it for Wakkanai! Tomorrow, I head down to Asahikawa before I end my 2017 summer in Japan.

videos and panos here.

11940 steps | 5.99 miles or 9.64 km walked



Day 23 - RISHIRITOU - small island and lotsa fog

Today, I set off for Rishiri Island. It's a small island off the coast of Wakkanai.
Original plan was to bike around the island which would take roughly 8 hours. But realizing the weather wasn't too great for scenery-viewing, I've shorten my trip just to following the cycling road.

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The mountain that's most famously known as the mountain you see on Shiroi no Koibito chocolates. (search it up)

But you can't see it. coz of the fog. Just barely...
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For lunch, I tried out the Yaki Shouyu Ramen
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Now back to cycling
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Cape Peshi. Gives a very good view of a part of the island. Just minus the fog.
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What a day to be biking. After waking up at 3:44 to see the sunrise, then went back to sleep just to wake up 6 to board the ferry. Planned to sleeping on the ferry. But old people have a lot to talk about. Especially if you're a foreigner... Aka, no sleep.
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But hey, a good bowl of ramen always delays exhaustion :D
Rishiri Ramen! It's miso ramen with scallops, mussels, shrimp, konbu seaweed, fish flakes, and some good cha siu.
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No seats on the ferry but just carpet flooring
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For dinner, Miso Canton Ramen! Miso ramen with chinese stir-fry.
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End the day with some games of bowling!
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That's all for today. Tomorrow, either a rest day or another island!

videos and panos here.

15430 steps | 7.42 miles or 11.94 km walked | 34.7 miles or 55.84 km biked.

Day 22 - WAKKANAI - monuments and sunsets

Day 22! Wakkanai! Finally at a location where it feels like home.

In line for my train. Soya!
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After a good 5.5 hours on the train, I'm finally here!
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1547.9 km away from tokyo station :D
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Dome used for protection against the weather
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The calmest body of water i've ever seen

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Hyousetsu no Mon!
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Bench with a magnificent view :D

Taking the scenic walk to a nearby lighthouse (nearby aka an hour walk away)
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At Noshappu Cape! 2 more hours until sunset
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Uni-Ikura Donburi at long last!!! (2000 yen) everything here is cheaper compared to mainland japan ._. )
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Last glimpse of the sunset. the clouds blocked out the sun right at the horizon.
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I'm told it's supposed to be lively here ._____.
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Another glimpse of Wakkanai Station sign :>
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That wraps for today. 

Tomorrow, I aim for the nearby island Rishiri Island! Only a 10 hour walk around the island :>
Here's to hoping there will be bicycle rental...

videos and panos here.

24000 steps | 12.48 miles or 20.08 km walked.




Day 21 - SAPPORO - historical village of hokkaido

Day 21 is rather short but very fulfilling. Today, I visit the historical village of hokkaido which showcases some dated houses and buildings that were made over the course of hokkaido's history.

I go from sapporo to shinrinkoen station to get to the open-air museum
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and while I walk there, I go past this odd tower. pokemon battle tower y'all :> 
(it's actually the centennial memorial tower)

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Now I arrive at the village! (kaitaku no mura)
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now's a big pic dump of the buildings :>
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Now back to sapporo city! onto the old government buildingIMG_7838

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Then lastly, another bowl of ramen. this time it's buttercorn miso ramen!
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that's wraps up for today. tomorrow, I finally head up the northernmost city of Japan. Wakkanai! it's a 5 hour train ride there. gonna be a total joyride :D

videos and panos here.

21420 steps | 10.67 miles or 17.17 km walked.



Day 20 - OTARU/SAPPORO - canal and nightlife

Westward for the day to Otaru! Famous for its canal and the warehouse-converted shops along the canal.

On my way to the station to board the train bound for Otaru, I pass by the Odori Park and see the Sapporo TV Tower.
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And here's the long-standing clock tower
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onwards to otaru
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now the canal
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then some random views around the city
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And the old railway that was used back in the day
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For lunch, I tried one of the more famous dishes in Hokkaido: Nama Uni Donburi! (essentially sea urchin all over a bowl of sushi rice) 3000 yen.
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Now back to Sapporo before rush hour. to the pokemon center .____.
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Then off to susukino (the entertainment district of Sapporo. combines the red light district, a few gambling centers, and food. lots of restaurants)
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Now, in Sapporo, the food you should eat aim for is ramen. Sapporo ramen takes regular ramen to a whole new level in several ways, but the most obvious one is the usage of white miso soup instead of other bases.
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Here's a white miso ramen
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But what's better than that?
Another bowl of ramen. a bowl of kiku miso ramen.
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Here's a bulletin of the ramen restaurants here
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that's all for today. tomorrow, it's off to the historical village of sapporo and more rounds of sapporo ramen!

videos and panos here.

32880 steps | 16.34 miles or 26.30 km walked.



Day 19 - SAPPORO - the very long and winding road to sapporo

Now begins my slow and very very entertaining road to sapporo. (note: shinkansen only runs up to the southernmost area of Hokkaido. so i'd need to take some other types of trains to get to sapporo. in short, a 5 hour trip managed to take 8 hours :D )

I first take the shinkansen from Honshu to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station which is the end of the Tokaido Shinkansen Line.
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The many things (mainly museums and attractions to do in Hokkaido)
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Got a 3 hour stopover at this station before I transfer to the one and only Hokuto train line
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THE HOKUTO! FJ#*:%H#*(T@
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For those that read manga, look up Yuri-Tetsu.
For those that don't, just know it's the only train line that'll get you to Sapporo.

The scenery is beautiful
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As you've noticed, the sky slowly gets darker (coz i'm on a 3.5 hour train ride :> )
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Finally arrive at Sapporo by nightfall (it's pretty much late at night though...)
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That wraps up for today. Way more stuff to do tomorrow!

videos and panos here.

4500 steps | 2.21 miles or 3.56 km walked.

Day 18 - GONOHE - lake and scenery

I headed up to Aomori yesterday to visit a friend and take in some views of the greenery that was less prevalent around Tokyo.

Could see the weather getting nicer and more clear
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Hachinohe!
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First thing you do in Aomori? Onsen!
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And the tradition of downing milk/coffee/w.e. right after a good 30 minutes in the onsen. 
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Then some typical scenery while cruising through the prefecture.
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Then we arrive at Towada Lake!
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It's a rather calm location. very very tranquil. without a single person in sight ._.
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Next up is the shrine that's located right by the lake (within walking distance). Towada Shrine
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Then a statue of two maidens
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Then we slowly wrap up for the day
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That's all from yesterday.

videos and panos here. they're pretty damn cool.

6920 steps | 3.39 miles or 5.46 km walked

Day 17 - TOKYO - akihabara and shibuya

Not much today. Just laundry day and relaxation.

Decided to hit akihabara. told myself to not buy anything.
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Then proceeded to buy some merchandise that didn't catch my eye until I saw it. orz
Impulse buy is a very dangerous and effective strategy against consumers like us...

Then dinner round 1. beef bits with half udon and half soba.
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Then shibuya
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then dinner round 2. chicken gyoza. where they stuff a chicken breast with gyoza filling.
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That's it for today. Tomorrow, I head north to the other end of honshu!

Day 16 - SHIROISHI - foxes and castle

Decided to head north again to Shiroishi where the fox village lies deep in the mountains and the Shiroishi Castle

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15 minute taxi ride into the mountains. About 4000 yen ._.
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Admission is 1000 yen. In addition to foxes, there are rabbits and goats.
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and badgers
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And crows
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There are several cages for the young and baby foxes as they aren't ready for the wild just yet.
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As you've noticed by now, they are all taking their afternoon naps.
Now, there is a bigger area of the sanctuary where you are allowed to walk into it and see the foxes with no barrier between the two of you. There was about a million rules you have to follow as they are classified as "wild foxes"; not domesticated (although, I do think that they are somewhere between wild and not wild). So do watch yourself. The location holds no responsibilities if the foxes do bite you or your finger off :D
There's so many signs saying to not pet them, don't feed them anywhere other than the feeding grounds, or walk off the paved path. So if you do get bitten, you probably deserved it. 
Some rules were to:
-not wear anything with loose strings as those tend to get the foxes' attention. Even loose items like your wallet or phone. They will take it and bury them into the ground.
-don't stand in the same place as they will sneak up behind you and bite you in the ankle.
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This my favorite one
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The types of foxes that are raised in this sanctuary (ain't gonna mention all of them, just know there's a few types)
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here's an artic fox
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After the fox village, it's off to the local castle, Shiroishi Castle!
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Admission for this castle is only 300 yen. It's not as grand as the other notable castles, but the view at the top is always a treat.
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That's right. This is where you just drop rocks onto intruders.
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The stairs are pretty steep in any castle, usually they are greater than 45 degrees.
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They actually have an AR app for this castle. Pretty fun to use. Shows how the original castle looked like.
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That's all for this castle and city. 
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This city is pretty rural. But it does give off that relaxing feel to it
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Lastly, one pic of tokyo tower
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Tha's all for today.

Videos and panos here. Since the foxes look cuter in action. And the cries you hear in the background in some clips is because the young foxes were getting their shots for the day.

Day 16: 14850 steps | 7.17 miles or 11.54 km
Total: 29660 steps | 143.83 miles or 231.47 km

Taking a break tomorrow before I begin my long journey north to the tip of honshu.

Day 15 - NIKKO/SHINJUKU - shrines, temples, and shinjuku

Cloudy and stuffy in Tokyo. The thing I do best on days like these is run away :>
Decided to go north where there is better weather. Revisiting Nikko today!

On the shinkansen between tokyo and utsunomiya (where nikko lies)
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While on the ride, this happens
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You can see the elevation difference with each station (going from right to left)
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better weather as I get closer to Nikko!
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ARRIVED!
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The Shinkyo (costs you 300 yen to cross... and walk back as the enter end of the bridge is blocked off. what a deal, huh?)
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Nikko offers a big group of shrines and temples. I'd say this is one big day trip. Unfortunately, I won't have time to hike up the mountains behind the temples and shrines. So this time, I'm going for the waterfall and shrine beside it. It's called Takinoo Shrine.
Oh yeah, if I haven't said it enough. Always expect nothing. Otherwise, you'll overhype a lot of things you look forward to. So when traveling, one tip is to hold no expectations.
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The path to the shrine and other important pieces of history along the way.
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After a good 25 minutes of walking up the trail, I've arrived at the entrance
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Sakura Gate. It looks gorgeous in the winter with the snow.
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Probably the most important part of the shrine is this grove (essentially three holy trees side-by-side)
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If you need a safe delivery prayer, this is the rock to rely on
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This one
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Time to walk back
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Then Shinjuku at night.
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That's it for today.

Videos and panos here.

Day 15: 21950 steps | 10.94 miles or 17.61 km walked
Total as of today: 281770 steps | 136.66 or 219.93 km walked

Should have no plans tomorrow. Depends more on weather. Rain, go north. Cloudy, go southwest. Clear day (which ain't happening), stay in Tokyo.

and videos here.

Day 14: 16870 steps | 8.36 miles or 13.45 km walked*

Total as of today: 259810 steps | 125.72 miles or 202.33 km walked*


*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

Time to take a stab at nikko and the biggest pokemon center in ikebukuro tomorrow!

Day 14 - YOKOHAMA - skyline

Finally arrived at my base in Tokyo. Since check-in is at 3pm, that leaves me with half of the day left. So I decided to revisit Yokohama.

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The yokohama skyline and chinatown is actually a few stations down at Kannai station
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One of the few chinatown entrances
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Dinner: Tsukemen set (large) only 900 yen.
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A bit lacking in pictures for today, but chinatown is a nice change of pace.
anyway, that's it for today.

Day 14: 16870 steps | 8.36 miles or 13.45 km walked*

Total as of today: 259810 steps | 125.72 miles or 202.33 km walked*


*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

Time to take a stab at nikko and the biggest pokemon center in ikebukuro tomorrow!

Day 13 - YAMADERA/YAMAGATA - mountain temple and yamagataaaa

Since it's a weekend, I head toward the mountains for some leisure hiking at Yamadera (literally means mountain temple)

We have thunderstorms today. Perfect for adventures.
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Finally into the rural region of the prefecture
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You can see the observatory near the top of the mountain
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The 30 minute hike up isn't as bad. It's all stone steps. Just be considerate of the other fellow hikers around you and let them go down/up first as some parts of the path is extremely narrow.
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As I said, narrow.
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Almost there
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annnnnd the view
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You get a much better view at the observatory deck
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Those aren't graffiti btw.
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The view looks much nicer in the videos. check them out.
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Yamagata is known for its konyaku dango. It's essentially konyaku made into a dango. Still tastes the same but perhaps better.
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Time for departure and to head off for Yamagata city.
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Main reason for going to Yamagata is essentially the Yamagata castle. But it's called Kojo Park now. As it's essentially a sports center.
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Ending the day with a very cheap yakisoba/okomiyaki set for 400 yen
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That's it for Yamagata city and the major tohoku city Sendai.
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That concludes my Sendai days for this trip.
I'll be going back south to Tokyo for a few days before I begin my slow northward travel to the northern end of Honshu and Hokkaido!

Panos and videos here.

Day 13: 15840 steps | 8.00 miles or 12.87 km walked*

Total as of today: 242940 steps | 117.36 miles or 188.87 km walked*


*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

Day 12 - ISHINOMAKI - cats, cats, and more cats

Do remember that yesterday was a rest day so nothing new.

Now that I'm in Sendai, it's time to go check out the not-so-famous-and-attractive Tashirojima. aka cat island.

The ferry "terminal" is located in the city of Ishinomaki. I should mention that the city is extremely rural and the only thing that's keeping it alive is the manga culture and Tashirojima. Through the streets, you'll hear classic theme songs from works created by Ishinomori Shotaro (Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, etc.) and you'll see statues of various characters of his works all across the town.

Ishinomaki was one of the cities that have suffered greatly from the 2011 tsunami, so it is not surprising to see many parts of the city under renovation or contstruction.

It's an hour train ride from sendai station to ishinomaki station.
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Front of the station
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The streets are extremely empty. but very peaceful.
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Miso soy sauce "factory"
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On board the ferry toward Tashirojima. That's actually the "ferry building" which is essentially a small house with a counter manned by only one employee on duty. The ticket is 2460 yen round-trip. The ferry schedule is very infrequent so be sure to time accordingly and not miss the last ferry back to Ishinomaki.
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The boat ride is roughly an hour long.
And we've arrived!
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The water is surprisingly more clear than expected. 
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And what we've all been waiting for:
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The roads are small and packed. But I guess that's what makes an island an island.
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One note: as much as everyone who wants to feed the cats, it'd be best to refrain from doing so as feeding some food into the cat's diet that they don't eat regularly will/may make them sick and cause problems for the residents on the island. Vet fees ain't cheap. Despite 90% of these cats are wild.
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Cat
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Cat
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island scenery
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cat
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more cats
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there used to be an elementary school here, but presumably the decreasing population forced this school to close up.
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cat shrine
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With some cats lying in the shade by the shrine.
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More cats
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Not too many cats today as the sun was beaming and not much wind to cool down the island.
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And that's it for Tashirojima. Last ferry that comes by the island is at 3:35 PM so no time for complete leisure.

Now back to Sendai and try out their signature dish: Cow tongue
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As odd as it may sound to some of you out there, it doesn't really taste that much different from regular steak, but it certainly is much more chewy.
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Panos and videos here.

Day 12: 19690 steps | 9.87 miles or 15.88 km walked*

Total as of today: 221770 steps | 109.36 miles or 176.00 km walked*


*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

That's it for today. Thunderstorms tomorrow, so planning anything will be difficult. Hopefully somewhere close...

Day 10 - UJI/NAGOYA - rain, shrines, bridges, castle, and more rain

Being my last day in Kyoto, I decided to head on over to the famous town where wondrous matcha is made and visit Nagoya as I didn't get to do much over there last time (everything closed up as soon as I got there...) ,_,

Uji River
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Uji bridge
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First up is Byodoin. A very famous buddhist temple. 
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The phoenix hall
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kannon temple
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Matcha soba!
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Next up is Uji Shrine and Ujigami Shrine.
Uji Shrine.

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Ujigami Shrine.
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In the place where you purify yourself before entering the shrine, you see a rabbit. Fun fact: Uji, other than the actual meaning, sounds similar to "a path that rabbits use." So you'll see mascots and images of rabbits here in Uji.
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Another view of the river.
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Now enough of that.
Time to finally head off to the glorious city that I was unable to enjoy in its full glory.
Nagoya!
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N-A-G-O-Y-A C-A-S-T-L-E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How do you know if it's nagoya castle? Only if you see two glittering kinshachi at the very top of the castle. 
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Here is the main hall with beautiful wall/door paintings.
I have raised the brightness in these pictures as the interior rooms of the hall is extremely dark and no flash photography is allowed. (in order to preserve the wood quality. it's made of hinoki wood)
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Now to enter the main castle!!
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both the female and male are made of 18K gold
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View from the top
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Assorted items on display inside the main castle
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One last view of the castle
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Off to Osu Kannon Temple
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Off to the main streets
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Whaaaaaaaaaale tempura and sashimi .-.
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Video and panos here

Day 10: 27110 steps | 13.46 miles or 21.66 km walked*

Total as of today: 199690 steps | 97.76 miles or 157.33 km walked*


*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.


That's it for Kyoto region. Tomorrow, off to Sendai! It'll be a rest day, so nothing exciting.

Day 09 - IWAKUNI/HIROSHIMA - bridge, mountain-top castle, and hiroshima

Today's plan was Iwakuni, Miyajima, and Hiroshima.
There were some complications (time-constraints) and did not have time to visit Miyajima.

on the shinkansen
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Arrived at Iwakuni.
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You know you're in the countryside when...
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the station is unmanned and everything is rusted.
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Only a small walk to the Kintaikyo.
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After the bridge is the park.
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After the bridge, I head off to the castle that's located at the top of the mountain. (You should see it in the videos)
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A scenic vantage point midway in the hiking trail.
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Only 23 degs
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Beware of pit vipers...
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but when they're this adorable?
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Iwakuni Castle
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Inside the castle is a grand showcase of the weapons, tools, etc that were used by soldiers in the castle.
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Katana specs
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Iron fan
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Now at the top of the castle... is this fantastic view.
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Another pic of the castle exterior
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Iwakuni is famous for its sushi. Called "Iwakuni Sushi"
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Now on to Hiroshima
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Shopping area
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Pokemon Center, coz wynaut.
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Lastly, Okonomimura (a tiny group of restaurants that offer Hiroshima-styled okonoiyaki) (where the ingredients are layered and not mixed togther)
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Videos and Panos here.

Day 09: 25050 steps | 12.49 miles or 20.10 km walked*

Total as of today: 172580 steps | 84.30 miles or 135.67 km walked*


*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

Until tomorrow!

JP Day 08 - KYOTO - silver, foxes, paths, bridge, and bamboo

Given some particular circumstances *coughweathercough* I decided to stay local and visited some other famous lcoations within the city.
Today, I've visited Ginkakuji, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Philospher's Path, and Arashiyama's Togetsukyo and Bamboo Forest Path.

Just got off the station
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This would be a mountain where you would be able to see the bonfire in the shape of the 大 character.
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Ginkakuji
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Next up is Philosopher's Path. A very peaceful and serene path with a small river flowing right by it
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Next up is Fushimi Inari Shrine. The entrance.
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Food stalls
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Front gate.
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Then I decided to climb Mount Inari. 
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Top of the mountain.
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Kannon
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Next is Arashiyama.
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Tenryuuji
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Kannon!
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By the river. You may be wondering why there are no pictures of the elegant bridge and river. Because I have deemed it to be useless to show it in static form. Thus, you will see it in video and panoramic format. See the link at the bottom of the post for all the videos and panos.
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Bamboo Path
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I've noticed that just showing pictures, panoramics, and video doesn't really help to show how much effort is required to visit these places. So I'll be including my step counter (rounded to tens) and distance walked to each post to give an idea what to expect if you do visit these places.

Videos and Panos here.

Day 01: 6720 steps | 3.29 miles or 5.29 km walked*
Day 02: 17020 steps | 8.35 miles or 13.43 km walked*
Day 03: 19450 steps | 10.04 miles or 16.16 km walked*
Day 04: 20600 steps | 9.86 miles or 15.87 km walked*
Day 05: 18120 steps | 8.83 miles or 14.21 km walked*
Day 06: 16360 steps | 7.95 miles or 12.79 km walked*
Day 07: 19150 steps | 9.05 miles or 14.56 km walked*
Day 08: 30130 steps | 14.44 miles or 23.24 km walked*
Total as of today: 147530 steps | 71.81 miles or 115.57 km walked*

*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

But finally, Hiroshima and Iwakuni tomorrow!

JP Day 07 - KYOTO - higashihonganji/kiyomizudera/hokanji/yasakajinja/gion

End of one leg of the trip, the beginning of the next! Kyoto!

Today, I head to the well-known Kiyomizudera and some other temples and shrines.

Kyoto Station!
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Higashihonganji (quite a mouthful). A massive temple with plenty of shade for weary travelers. Just remember to take off your shoes when you enter the main temple building.
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After that, it's Kiyomizudera. Do note that the main stage area of the temple is under renovation and won't be completed any time soon.
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As you can see, under renovation on the right.
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Nevertheless, the view is beautiful.
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The street that heads up the the temple.
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Next is Hokanji
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Then Yasaka Shrine. It's still too early for festivities, but many food stalls would be lined up inside the shrine with unique foods that you would only see in Kyoto.
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Lastly is Gion area. Mainly entertainment and shopping district. (the guy's face is priceless)
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The main street: Shijo Dori
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One of the side/adjacent streets that give a more historical feel to the districts.

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Riverside restaurants. Will most likely have a menu with pricey items.
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Unadon set for dinner. (unagi donburi) (grilled eel over rice)
Clockwise: salad, mixed unagi salad(?), and tamago with eel inside.
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Clockwise starting at 11: chawanmushi (egg custard in a tea cup), unagi tempura, eel liver soup, unadon
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Videos and Panos here

Day 07: 19150 steps | 9.05 miles or 14.56 km walked*
Total as of today: 117400 steps | 57.37 miles or 92.33 km walked*

*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

That wraps up for today. Tomorrow is Hiroshima and Iwakuni!

JP Day 06 - MINO - waterfall

Forgot to update it yesterday. It was a short day with a half-day trip to Mino Park again to see the waterfall at the end of the trail.


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Back to Shinsekai for dinner!
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Modanyaki! (Okonomiyaki topped with layer of noodles)
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Videos and Panos here.

Day 06: 16360 steps | 7.95 miles or 12.79 km walked*
Total as of today: 98250 steps | 48.32 miles or 77.76 km walked*

Until tomorrow!

JP Day 05 - KOBE/NARA - beef and deers

First off is kobe beef at Sannomiya (it's next to Kobe, so we'll call it Kobe.)

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To this restaurant called Steakland with a kobe beef lunch special. Lunch special is yours for 3180 yen.
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Appetizers for the lunch.
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Seeing the steak being cooked in action.
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Bean sprouts, fried garlic, and kobe beef.
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Next is Nara.
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Deer.
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Deer.
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Kasuga Taisha (within the Nara Park)
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End the day with shougayaki (Pork dipped in ginger and soy sauce before being cooked).
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Of course, be sure to check the google photos alubum here for all the panoramas and videos taken.

Day 05: 18120 steps | 8.83 miles or 14.21 km walked*
Total as of today: 81892 steps | 40.37 miles or 64.97 km walked*

Mino tomorrow!

JP Day 04 - SUMIYOSHITAISHA/OSAKA - shrines, sky bldg, and dotombori

Close vicinity sightseeing today. Sumiyoshi Taisha and Dotonbori.

Sumiyoshi Taisha again.
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pano here

After that is the Umeda Sky Building in Osaka.
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But this pic doesn't really do justice.
Check out the pano here and here and here.

In evening, I head off for Dotonbori. The main entertainment district of Osaka.
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pano here.

The legendary cake. De-fluffled because it took a while to get home.
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It's really really damn good. It's yours for 680 yen.
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Dinner: Tsukemen with spicy soup
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And that wraps up for today.
I've managed to work out a video album. It'll be a big mix of videos which will include all the locations i've been thus far. Be sure to check it out daily after each blog post. 

Day 04: 20600 steps | 9.86 miles or 15.87 km walked*
Total as of today: 63780 steps | 31.54 miles or 50.76 km walked*
*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

JP Day 03 - KOYASAN - hiking and scenery

Decided to head south from Osaka to Koyasan. It's a pretty isolated location with fascinating views.
The train ride is roughly $15 one way and about 2.5 hours to get there from Osaka.
Location right here.

Boarding from Shin-Imamiya
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Pretty far out in the countryside where there's only one set of rails.
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Final stop is Gokurakubashi station.
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There are two routes to go up Mt. Koya to get to Koya Town: hiking up the Fudozaka Trail or take the cable car. The cable car departs from the same station.

I, as always, prefer to take the much more scenic route. 
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There are actually two routes to the Fudozaka Trail. The old route and the new route. The new route (trail in red on the map below) provides a more stable walkway and is more recently built. The old route (trail in pink) is much more treacherous and has many areas where the ground is very unstable. Not recommended unless you're up the for challenge. (like me)
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As I said, the route is very subtle at times and anyone can easily veer off-trail :D
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The pagoda in the far background is Koya Town. Hike for either hiking trail is about 50 minutes. 
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"You know you're going in the right direction if you see some sign of civilization."
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First thing you see once you get to the entrance of the town is this.

Map of the town here.
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Town's main street.
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Another pic of the town here

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The road to one of the 3 main entrances to the town.
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Oh yeahhhhh, if there one thing I should mention about the Fudozaka Trail, it'd be the bears. Doesn't matter if you take the old or the new route, you have to be mindful of your surroundings and not over-immerse yourself in the beautiful mountainous scenery.
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And that's a wrap for today.
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Day 03: 19450 steps | 10.04 miles or 16.16 km walked*
Total as of today: 43180 steps | 21.68 miles or 34.89 km walked*

*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

JP Day 02 - OSAKA/HIMEJI/TAKEDA - castles and castles

Plans for today were to visit Himeji. Just Himeji.
In the end, it turned into mostly Takeda, then a bit of Himeji in the end.

Here was my route:
Entire traveling time is roughly 2.5 hours (doesn't include waiting for the trains which was roughly another hour)
Osaka -> Himeji, then Himeji -> Teramae, and finally Teramae -> Takeda
Screenshot at May 31 00-51-52
Headed to Takeda first as that area is more in the rural area (aka everything closes very early).

So off to the countryside!
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Taking in the view while waiting for the train at transfer


Switching trains at Teramae.
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A pretty classic train interior

Arrived at Takeda.
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Now, why Takeda?
Because there's a pretty damn good castle ruins that provide a very good view of the scenery. The ruins is roughly on top of a mountain. Right behind the station.
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Entrance to the trail to get up to the ruins is pretty conspicuous. There are no helpful signs that help you get there.
...Unless you keep walking in circles until you find it. (Or just asked the conductor at the station...)
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One of the many milestones on your hike up (roughly every 100 meters). Hike takes about 40 minutes.
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The steps get steeper than the ones you see here as you continue walking up.
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And once you get up here, it's quite a sight.
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The castle ruins itself

And more of the view:
http://imgur.com/VQbJzaz
http://imgur.com/jCkOlUb

Then on my way down
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Now back to Himeji to check out the Himeji Castle.
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And another panoramic

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Then after Himeji, I begin heading home.
But, this is one way inanimate objects, like trains, of saying "you need to be somewhere on time? I think not."

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Then that wraps up my second day.

Day 02: 17020 steps | 8.35 miles or 13.43 km walked*
Total as of today: 23730 steps | 11.64 miles or 18.73 km walked*

*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

JP Day 01 - OSAKA - rest day

Now that I'm back. Given the very early flight, didn't do anything intensive today. 

Visited Shinsekai again.
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Finally went to eat kushikatsu (skewered fried food)
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Until tomorrow!

Day 01: 6720 steps | 3.29 miles or 5.29 km walked*
Total as of today: 6720 steps | 3.29 miles or 5.29 km walked*

*Do note the number of steps and distance traveled does not include train ride distance.

site-wide problems

seems there's something not loading correctly on the site making the entire site unreadable. i'll fix it... somehow.
 

Poyo c20 Extra

Another chapter of Poyo! But... there's no Poyo in this one?
This is the extra that was at the end of vol 1.

Zero no Chukaima c02

Enjoy.

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