I am nomad. Hear me roar.


Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Just any other night in Dotonbori

Inconspicuous to Ikea

The first time Diglett and I went geocaching was in the mountains near Yao, where although we still had the difficulty of the treasure to contend with, there were no other people around to encumber us. The other day we decided to up our caching stress levels and attempt some urban caching, in some rather populated areas.

Now the trick to urban caching is stealth, speed and looking as "I'm totally meant to be here" as possible, which, as a very obviously western girl in Japan is down right impossible. So instead I went for the Little Girl Lost tourist look, not blending in but appearing completely harmless whilst standing out like a sore thumb.

We began with a cache that Diglett had already found at a previous time, that I still needed to retrieve to warm up. We then moved on to the magilla of populous caches.

Right in the middle of an overpass that probably has more people traffic than anywhere else in Tennoji, it sits, out in the open, visible to anyone looking, but unseen by the multitudes of muggles passing daily. Appearing to find the photos Diglett was taking exceedingly interesting, but also needing a drink, I dropped the Mini-Turtle to mask my movements and snatched the cache, impressing both Diglett and myself with my lightning hands.

If only the rest of the day had been as successful, we had a pot luck kind of day, finding about half of the treasure we were after, but once again the trail lead us around some strangely beautiful destinations which otherwise would have remained unseen. We caught cable cars and ferries, we traversed bridges, ramps and man-made mountains. At the end of our travels we toddled over to nearby Ikea and helped ourselves to a well earned hot dog and a shuttle back to Namba but not before discovering the awesomeness that is the Ikea Gingerbread House, which like all other Ikea products are purchased flat-packed.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Urban Caching


A traditional New Year in Japan is celebrated in a very similar manner in which Christmas is celebrated in many western cultures. It's all about family, almost the whole population returns to their home town to spend time with their loved ones. For those who are that way inclined it is also a religious holiday, with many making the pilgrimage on New Years Day to their local shrine, to literally ring in the new year by making the shrine bells chime.

This year by dancing the night away in Kyoto, I had what would be considered a very traditional Australian New Year, not a Japanese one. There was one aspect of Japanese New Year still open to me, a fukubukuro.

A fukubukuro is a type of lucky dip bag that almost all the shops offer over the New Years period. They range in price between stores, and can be anywhere between what would equate to $10 to around $300, depending on the store and the size of the bag. The bags are sealed and opaque, so you have little to no idea of what you will end up with when you purchase it, but there in lies the fun.

Now, for my little foray into the world of fukubukuro, I enlisted a friend of mine, Miss Manga Masque, to show me around her favourite shopping haunts. We had two objectives in mind, firstly to experience the above mentioned fukubukuro, and secondly to find me a souvenir in the form of a Harajuku-esque maid outfit.

Miss Masque and I spend an impressive 6 hours shopping, and came away with a myriad of items from Ame-mura and Namba, including a 1050 yen fukubukuro each from an accessories shop which spouted a flood of wares that would normally retail for 3 or 4 times what we paid, and a fabulous floral plum yukata style maid dress for me.

Mission accomplished.

Monday, 10 January 2011

New Years Day in Arashiyama

NYE Night Clubbing

Protective arms encircled me whenever I was in danger of toppling due to the rough movements of the dancers around me. At one stage it became more mosh than rave, the arms held me steady. The body that accompanied the arms, rocked and swayed, at one with mine, at one with the beat, and the music, and the crowd.

On stage, showgirls in yukata style mini dresses, vogued their way through the dance tracks. The intense violet of the club's black lights mesmerised, as it played strangely on the bright red and gold of their costumes. Their blank bored expressions, contrasting the atmosphere of the entire club. An atmosphere that was jovial but frantic.

Thursday, 6 January 2011


We visited a smattering of bars before the group split, some deciding to ring in the New Year belting out karaoke. While the rest of us hit the dance floor at a club called World.

The place was packed, the music throbbing in anticipation of the New Year which at this point was only minutes away. Bodies pressed so close the crowd moved as one, a great undulating creature, as the projections on the walls flicked to numbers. The crowd-creature began to scream itself hoarse as each decreasing number flashed in light on the plaster.




The dancing beast with a thousand voices, a thousand heads but only one thought, cried "Happy New Year" and it was done. The monumental 2010 was over, the infinitely promising possibilities of 2011 had just begun.

New Years Snow

After sleeping in and unsuccessfully running a few errands, I withstood the intoxicating smell of french fries, that was permeating the station entrance, and jumped straight on a train. I was bound for Kyoto, to spend New Years with a friend Just E, who I met one time whilst moonlighting at the Kyoto office of my company.

As the train barrelled towards its destination, careening towards the end of 2010, I noticed a slight white flurry in the air. At the first stop the doors clunked open, allowing the warmth to escape the carriage, to be replaced by a freshness, bite and electricity that can only mean one thing.


Sure enough, as the train hurtled on the few flakes that had been dancing in the air were joined by an entire troupe of frozen ballerinas floating their way delicately to the ground. Station after station, the snow began falling heavier and heavier. Until it reached the point where the flakes began to collect and blanket all the branches and roofs visible from the train.

So it was, when I met Just E, we started our New Years Eve trudging off through the snow in search of snacks and umeshu. Both of which we consequently found and devoured before setting out for the night.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Happy Japan-niversary!

Today, I have completed my sixth full month in Japan. I've met so many wonderful people here and made some great friends. Every day I still find new things to see and explore but this month has mostly been about spending special days with fantastic people.