Episodes 20-22: Tokyo Hyperdrive
It's been a long time since I came up with any fresh J2J material.
Partly this is because getting the massive episode 19 finished
up and online took so long, but mostly it's just because I've
been extremely busy.  Not only has almost everybody else at
work been on vacation, turning me into the Nokia 927 project
leader and making me actually do WORK every now and then, but
above all because my good friend E. materialized into town and
my apartment two weeks ago.  But now people are returning to work
and E. has just left for a 10-day visit to friends in Okinawa,
so I can actually concern myself with mundane things like
writing J2J.  Just the same, here's a taste of my life in the
past few weeks...

 7 A big day: E. arrives and I climb Mt. Fuji -- not with her
   though, but with Antti & co.  Lonely Planet's description
   of the 3776m climb as "a bit of a dusty slog" is a masterpiece of
   understatement, the journey reminds me of Dante's Inferno
   as wretched souls holding torches slog up the endless slopes
   of black boulders and red volcanic ash in subzero temperatures.
   But my Finnish ski hat and gloves save me from frostbite --
   even if they do make me look like Beldar Conehead -- and
   the sunrise is almost worth it.  (Check week 20 for the photos,
   Fuji_Sunrise (below) makes a kick-ass desktop backdrop.)

Our merry crew (before)

Sunrise at 3776m

Jani goes Conehead
 8 Hitchhike home, crash in bed, get up at 6 PM after 2 hours of
   sleep for massive fireworks at Odaiba.
 9 Whirlwind tour of Kamakura with E's friends, the Asakura family.
   Stuffed to bursting at dinner with them; first experience of the
   Calpis Sour, a lethal mix of Calpis & shochu.
10 At work, but a devious plot allows me to take 2 hours off
   for a Japanese lesson together with E. and my Japanese teacher
   at the neighboring Hie Jinja.
11 Old Japan tour in Yanaka and Ueno, culminating in a visit to
   see Rodin's "The Thinker" (yes, the original) at the Museum
   of Modern Western Art.  Price tag: 130 yen.
12 At work, but under the guise of field testing we go
   sightseeing in central Tokyo with the FT van and check out the
   Imperial Palace, Yasukuni Jinja and Shinjuku at night.
13 Heading south to Kawasaki Daishi and of course Wakamiya
   Hachiman-gu, fabled home of Kanamara-sama.  (Pictures in
   week 21, but E. won't let me put the best ones on the Net.)
   Return home via Yokohama and its Chinatown.

Asakura family portrait

The Big Fella!

Hamarikyu Teien
14 At work while E. snoozes at home all day.
15 Kappabashi-doori, Asakusa, Sumidagawa, Hamarikyu-teien in the
   morning, in the evening off to an izakaya with the Asakuras.
16 Harajuku cuteness overload.  Even I come home with a
   kawaiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Piyo-chanTM fluffy yellow chick towel.
17 Escape from sweltering Tokyo heat to the cedar groves,
   shrines and temples of Nikko.  Astounding.  Spent the night
   at ryokan Tokanso, quite nice if you can swing the 20000 yen
   for a night in a double.  The meal was good enough to deserve
   a picture, even the raw octopus was (for the first time!) fresh
   enough to be edible.  But if there's one thing I'll remember,
   it's sitting cross-legged on tatami facing the Japanese garden,
   at night while raining, sated after overeating and overofuro,
   while being exquisitely tortured by shiatsu-goddess E.

Detail of Toshogu Shrine

Lantern at Rinnoji

A light snack at Tokanso
18 More Nikko touring, rain cancels plans of heading to Chuzenji-ko
   so instead we, in a fit of brilliant randomness, head to
   Tokyo Disneyland.  Sufficiently surreal to wreck all my
   attempts at photography.  After returning home, shiatsu-pupil
   J. reaches rare form and the master is made to atone for her
   sins.  (Week 22 for the pictures -- of Nikko, that is.)
19 Back to work.  Dinner at a DIY okonomiyaki joint in Shinjuku,
   farewell to the Asakuras.

20 More work.  I take E. to Haneda and poof, she's gone.

She'll be back in September, just in time for my birthday at that,
but for me a more disturbing realization was that it's not just she
who's leaving.  I now have less than a month left, a mere blink of an
eye, and within weeks it will be time for a final trek through Japan,
this time in the south, taking in Kyoto and Nara.  And then it will
all be over, I'll be back in Finland facing another year of studies
and the long, cold Finnish winter.  A country where all signs are
comprehensible, all food is recognizable, with no holy mountains to
climb, no ancient temples or hypermodern cities to visit...  does
this mean that my life will actually become BORING again? <shudder>

But I'll worry about that later.  Now is the time to keep the
hyperdrive engaged and experience as much as I can while I still


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