Today I open the last big door of my special Xmas calendar. Today it begins. Japan V starts. And here are the boundary conditions of this trip:
- The weather is not good and not bad. Tokyo and Oosaka are reporting clouds and 50°F. Kanazawa is reporting 32°F with the chance of rain or snow.
- In Shirakawa we have 8″ of snow. In Kusatsu Onsen is no snow. The snow that was there a few days ago is gone. Arghh. Looks like the winter is already over. No winter holiday. And why I have bought all this winter clothes?
- The Yen is down to $1,17. YES. This reduces the cost for this holiday by 10%. Thid covers the additional cost for the hotels above the limit.
Just before the taxi arrives, it is getting hectic. I have to put my bike into the house and take out the garbage. Power is offline except for the heating, alle windows closed. The door is closed. Forgot my glasses. Open the door. Lights on. Then the holiday starts with a short taxi ride. The bus is leavong at 5:50am. It is dark. Surprisingly there is a passanger waiting at every single bus stop. On my last ride the first guest entered at Barsbüttel. The holiday before that there was a small group in Bad Oldesloe.
I arrive the airport at 7:20am; right on time. Now I have 2 hours for check in and the security check. Easy. The Slate causes a special check of my luaggage. To much “organic material”. I would say to much plastic. At 7:40am I arrive at the airport lounge. I like this all inclusive. Fruits, Sherry and a nice whisky. A nice breakfast. Boarding at 9:25 and take off at 9:50. The seat size is economy all over. Lucky that the seat next to me is empty. One hour later I arrive at Schiphol (Amsterdam airport). First stop passport control, then McD. The last burger (a “1955er”) for three weeks. I want to stay away from western food as much as I can. At 12:15 I check in at the airport lounge 42. The design is a little bit older but the seats are comfy. Perfect before the 10 hours of economy starts.
Boarding at 2pm. I arrive late. There is a long queue anyway and my luaggage is already in the plane. They will wait. The next 10 hours are boring. I try to sleep. But I fail. I stayed awake the whole night. But this didn’t helps. All that is left is the on board cinema. Madagascar 3 in English and Japanese. The Dark Knight Rises. MIB III. The route is like always. The last 2 hours are towards south, passing Beijing and South Korea, and then east again. Another turn let us pass Chuubu and leads us to Kyuhsu. We are completing the 270 and approaching Kansai.
Ich packe meine Koffer und nehme mit … einen zweite Koffer. Egentlich wollte ich gestern schon mit dem Packen anfangen und heute die Wohnung aufräumen. Naja. So viel zum Plan von gestern.
Jetzt türmen sich hektisch die Wäscheberge vor mir. Das muß alles in den Tatonka. Und ich sollte unter 25kg bleiben. Das wird angesichts der Winterausrüstung nicht einfach. Außerdem muß ich für die Rückreise einen zweiten “Koffer” mitnehmen. Ich Tokyo stehen seit 2010 Kendosachen und mein Fotostativ. Für den Rückflug habe ich einen zweiten Koffer angemeldet. Ich kann also grob 18kg Souveniers einsammeln. Aber denken wir nicht an die Rückreise. Ich muß erst einmal hin, damit es zurück geht.
Back to packing the luagguage. All the technical equipment is put togehter and will be put into my hand lugguage. This time I will store some cloths there too as a backup. Half of the shirts, socks, shorts is labeled “dump after use”. This will give me some space for souvenirs and cleans up my wardrobe. If I bring back this stuff, if will say again, that I can use it one more time.
I have reached 23kg. I hope nothing is missing because this is the limit. And I also hope that this little scale is working correctly.
The bus shuttle to the airport is reserved, my packing list is complete. My motorcycle is covered and protected against snow. The fridge is empty and offline and cleaned. The backup of my computer stuff is travelling with me. Everything is ready for take off. And there is still time to clean up the house.
Again I will stay awake thru the night. The bus is going at 5:50. I don’t want to risk to go to bed and overhear the alarm clock. My plane to Amsterdam is starting at 11:40. This time I will try to sleep during the flight to Oosaka, because I will arrive early in the morning. This is the first time I’ll try this approach. All the other times I arrived late in the afternoon, worked myself thru the rest of the day and went to futon (bed) at 10pm.
Today is shopping day, the most expensive day in the year. Winter jacket, gloves, funtional clothes for the winter. $470 are changing the owner. On the other side, this is the first winter clothes shopping since 2003.
Next stop is the health insurance office to get the famous Auslandskrankenschein. But for Japan this thing is not workung. I need a special insurance for that. Not a biggy. Just $10 for 1 year. Next stop is the bank. I need some Yen. But the exchange rate is worse than in the internet and they add several fees. I pick up 6000yen. That should be enough to get to the next ATM. There are no fees if I use my credit card.
And a stop at the pharmacy. I need some emergency equipment of drug. Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Laporamid, ACC, vitamines. Everything to stop an upcoming cold. Usually I don’t carry this stuff with me, but is no summer vacation at the beach. This time I stay during winter time in houses without central heating. There will be several hikings in the snow and some onsen. If I am not careful, I will end up with a cold, or worse.
Back at home, I check the KLM web page. I book a second bag for the flight back. This is cheaper than paying extra for overweight. And I still want to pick up me Kendo equipment and my tripod. Now I have to buy this second bag. It has to be something that is long enough for the Shinais, still has space for 15kg souvenirs, and fits into my duffel bag on the way to Japan.
Somthing else? Yes. Reserve the bus in Japan. So I wait until midnight. With the time shift it is 8am in the morning in Japan. The office of Nohi Bus should be open by now. The number is dialed. The “Hello my name is …” was easy. That much Japanese I can speak. The question if the other side is speaking english was negated. Ups. Now it gets complicated. But I think I can do it. After a few minutes I have booked a bus from Kanagawa to Shirakawa and from Shirakawa to Takayama … I hope. At least I have two reservation numbers. I don’t know if everything is correct. I will find out in Japan.
Just three days left until Japan and I still have no plan for Tokyo. At least no plan, that is even remotely as good as the plans for the other places. I am still reading the Lonely Planet and the Japan-Guide. Looks like I have visited all interesting places but some museum. All what is left are the Tokyo Jissha and Kagurazaka, a place a read about in the lp. And the Sky Tree has opened. But to be honest, this is the plan I set up a few weeks ago.
Looks like I have many time for Maiden Cafe and maybe a guided tour thru Tokyo. Could be funny to play the unknowing tourist.
If have plan for every place I will visit, even a raw plan for Tokyo. Today I have to care about Kyoto. If you remember, I posted earlier that I skipped some places Kyoto on my last visit. My plan will combine some suggestions from the japan-guide and the Lonely Planet. It seems I missed many places.
The Inari shrine and the Tokufu-ji are on the list for sure. The are south of the train station. This part of Kyoto I never visited. Also on the list are the old streets of Higashiyama, Gion and Pontocho. Close to Higashiyama is the Kiyomizudera I also want to visit. Nice if the single places fit so smoothly togehter.
But I have to remove the Kokedera, the famous moss temple, from the list. Like the emperor garden the visit requires an application, written in advance. The time is to short for that. I overread the part. Now it is to late. Looks like there will be a spot left for another visit to Kyoto. And it a place for a visit in the sumer anyway.
The last question is, will I get a Geisha in Gion for the evening. I know that it is not a cheap entertainment, but may be it is too expensive or not possible for me to book one. A lot of the “chaya” are for members only. Without knowing someone who is already a member.
But the list is still covering 2/3 of the day. There is still some time left. Maybe for an extended breakfast. Or I visit the big temples? They were construction sites in 2004. Or another trip to Ginkaku and Kinkaku? Maybe some Kabuki or No. This will I decide when I am in Japan.
Today I am checking my plans; spcially the plan for Asuka and Yoshino. I started with finding the optimal connection between both cities and Oosaka. Then I realized that the shrine and the temple I want to visit are not in Asuka, but far outside. There are 20km between them too.
This requires a change in train routes. Tennoji is not the perfect starting point anymore. This happens if a plan is to good, to optmized. There is no space for changes and deviations. This reminds me of my studies, the lessions about optimziation rules. Looks like I worked with a local maximum with steep flanks. Not stable if problems occure.
Now I have to live with it. I can manage, somehow. If necassary I will use a taxi to get to the shrine. The Hasedera temple is just a 2km walk from the train station. From the shrine to Asuka is a different story. There is a pass. A taxi should do the distance in 10 minutes. The new plan involves some money. Taxi are not cheap in Japan.
And another construction side is back on my schedule. Wakayama. There is only the castle and some stuff I am not interested. Kobe instead? I don’t want to think about it again. I skip the decission until I am at KIX. Just do a coin toss or something like that.
The packing list is created. With the stuff I already piled up it looks more like a shopping list to me. The technical equipment complete: Slate, charger, power cells, camera and all the cables. Socks and shirts atr also complete. But jacket, pullover, winter jacket, functional clothes, cap, gloves; even winter sockes are not in stock. For some things I could use my bicycle equipment. But this is heavy and not built for long walks.
Jack Wolfskin and GlobeCamp are just around the corner. Looks like I need some strong booze too. After I checked the prices I could use a drink. Thermo socks for $52, throme underpants for $91, a winter jacket for $400. Wow. Looks like I have to wait for the next sale. And I didn’t checked for gloves and pants. I have to solve this problem somehow. But how?
I move this isseu to next week. If the departure is close and time is short, decisions are made easy. Over the weekend I will search my closet for a solution. The cap was easy. $14. I will use the ski mask from my motor cycle. Also the pants; without the protectors. I have to buy gloves. But I need them anyway.
Bleibt Unterwäsche und Jacke. Als Hose nehme ich die Motorradhose; ohne Protektoren. Und der Rest … am Montag.