05.06.2015 28 °C
We arrived in Hiroshima (HiROshima!) at around 7am and following their instructions, made our way to our hostel.
K’s House has many hostels throughout Japan and just like Kyoto, we thought the Hiroshima branch was just as good. Comfy beds with great storage space, kitchen, common area and laundry room, plus it’s only a 5 minute walk from the train station.
We decided to go straight out to the Atomic Bomb Dime and Peace Memorial Park with our sightseeing bus passes I ordered with our overnight bus tickets.
We walked around the whole park admiring how well and how beautifully the people of Hiroshima had preserved the past destruction of the town whilst creating a beautiful community area. Of course, the physical damage, aside from the A Bomb Dome, has been gone for many decades now, but there is something about the whole place that still stings of an attack long passed.
We went back to the hostel for a nap I so desperately needed before getting dressed and heading out to the restaurants and bars area for dinner.
We went to Kanak Indian Restaurant for a delicious meal that Ricky was salivating at the very thought of before going to Mambas, a Latin Salsa Bar.
We watched Japanese Salsa dancers for as long as we could before going downstairs to Barcos or some foo music and incredibly entertaining Japanese youths!
We checked out the following morning, but left our luggage at the hostel and got the JR Local Train to Miyajima and then a ferry to the island where a whole horde of deer were freely roaming around, trying to eat people’s jackets!
After walking around the island, enjoying the sights, we took the ropeway to the top of the mountain where I only wished the sky had been clear, but even so, the views were truly spectacular.
Ricky returned from his solo adventure to the summit as I knew I wouldn’t make it in time to get the last trip ropeway carriage back down the mountain and walked back to the pier to get the boat back to the mainland.
We took the train back to Hiroshima Station and went back to the hostel to eat a quick dinner before walking back near the station to get the overnight bus back to Tokyo. Luckily, it was similar bus to the first one we’d taken so it as more comfortable!
12 hours and several bathroom breaks later, we arrived at Shinjuku station in Tokyo, got the metro to Asakusa and left our stuff at the hostel we stayed at before.
We booked our Mt. Fuji bus tickets with them then made our way to Harajuku for more shopping….!
I met up with an old friend from China who had moved to Tokyo over a year ago and then we went to find Ricky who I’d left in one of his newly acquired stores, then we went to get a drink before walking to Shibuya to find another shop Ricky wanted to go to.
This store was in Shibuya 109 shopping heaven, specifically, the men’s shopping centre where Japanese fashion knows no bounds!
After spending an inordinate amount of money on clothes, we went back to the hostel and my friend went home. We organised our stuff, charged our various electronic devices and then went to the metro to get the long ass train to Narita airport!
We arrived at Narita around 21:15 and were desperate for some food, only to discover that the food court closed at 9pm! Boo!
We found a comfy set of chairs near our check in desk and made our nest for the night, as our flight didn’t leave until 6:15am. Thank god for airport wifi! And books!
I woke up around 4:30am, brushed my teeth and made myself semi-presentable and then woke up Ricky so we could check in for our flight with the other large mass of passengers!
We went for a quick smoke before going through security where once again, I should have had at least a drink bought for me given the touching-up I experienced from airport security! I either looked like a criminal or a think person trying to smuggle stuff in a fat person suit!
Our flight didn’t leave until 7m but Ricky was asleep the moment he sat down – I followed suit shortly after take-off and didn’t really wake up until half an hour or so before we landed. Unfortunately for us, rain had followed us from Tokyo and Okinawa greeted us with swelling clouds.
We remained undeterred however as we watched the US Marines collecting their luggage… silver linings!
~ Okinawa ~
We got the monorail from the airport to Miebashi and found our hostel to be told that check in was at 3pm and we couldn’t sit in the common area until we’d checked in. So no sooner had we arrived, we were turfed out again without so much as a map or suggestion of where to pass 5 hours!
We wandered around in search of food, finding a little café somewhere, ate, found a bathroom elsewhere as they didn’t have one and the walked by the pier for a little while.
Disheartened at only having used an hour and a half of our waiting time we decided to embrace the gambling culture of Japan and went into a Pachinko (gambling, slot machines etc).
Thanks to the lovely woman who worked there and her helping me to understand the games, I paid 1000 yen and came out with 6000 yen! Yay! Pachinkos! ^_^
We walked past the hostel in the opposite direction and discovered a whole host of stores and restaurants, even a Starbucks and were more than slightly annoyed to not have been directed this way in the first place!
We looked around the multi-story tax free shop before heading back to the hostel to check in and shower before napping for a few hours and heading back out for dinner.
We decided to go to Sam’s Maui, which although expensive, turned out to be great food, cooked in front of us and being provided with lovely sailor hats by the jovial owner! Very nice indeed!
We went to Starbucks to steal their wifi so Ricky could continue chatting to the homosexual marines via Grindr before heading back to the hostel to look at a map of the area.
The hostel wifi was pants so we couldn’t really find a lot of information and all of the hostel maps were in Japanese – not the greatest hostel…
They closed the common room at midnight so I went to bed and Ricky went to a bar as he doesn’t go to bed usually until at least 2am.
The next day I woke up late, Ricky was still asleep so I left him to it!
It wasn’t until around 12:30pm when I messaged Ricky to see if he was up that I discovered we’d both been awake the whole time – this is the problem with staying in separate dorms!
We went back to Kokusai Street with all the shops and restaurants and found the only place open and relatively cheap (1500 yen) was an “Italian” buffet. To be fair, it was filling and not that bad in regards of taste but not really Italian and not Japanese – for some reason, people in Okinawa, and in fact, most of Japan, don’t seem to eat between 12 and 5pm…!
Ricky had drunk 3 coffees so was wired, but my caffeine-free body required a nap so he did his own thing whilst I grabbed 40 winks!
We went out around 8:30pm for dinner and to hunt down the gay bars which we found, eventually, and were, having spent 2 weeks in Japan already, not surprised by the tiny bars we found.
We first went to the Banana Café, which we found purely by chance, despite looking for it, because I spotted a small sign with a banana on it, to which I shouted, “I FOUND A BANANA!”
We had a drink and enjoyed some mash-ups of current musical hits, all the while looking at the videos asking “who are these people?” as we’re a bit out of the loop in China with peoples’ faces. More often than not, we know the songs, but can’t put a face to the singer!
We went to DQ after that, run by an effeminate, petite Japanese man, who informed me that my name means flower in Japanese! ^_^
I went home around midnight and left Ricky to his hunt for boys and made my back to the hostel.
The following morning, I got up at 8am for a shower and to organise my luggage, realising around 8:45am that Ricky was nowhere to be seen… I went to his room to find him fast asleep so I had to rather violently shake him to wake up as we had to leave at 9am!
He eventually resurrected and came downstairs, suitcases banging out a discord down the stairs as he went, we checked out and then walked round the corner to the ferry port.
We bought our tickets to Zamami (2,120 yen one way), had a cigarette, then climbed aboard where Ricky promptly found a spot on the floor and went back to sleep.
I went out on the deck to enjoy the open water and the sun just in time to see a whale shoot water into the air in the distance!
Just over 2 hours after leaving Okinawa, we arrived at Zamami Island and it was beautiful!
~ Zamami Island~
I gently woke Ricky up and we got off the ferry.
I had the address of where we were staying, but no idea how to get there. Now, I know the island was small but…! I asked at the information office by the ferry if they could tell me how to get to our accommodation; the guy showed me a map and we were about 50m away…!
The whole village was right in front of us, with its 3 or 4 small restaurants, 2 shops/grocery stores, a few diving and fishing places and that was pretty much it!
A dirt track on the street was a road on the map so within less than 3 minutes, we arrived at our home for 3 days and checked in!
The owner was great, amazing English, super helpful, he talked us through the map and told us what was good, where to go etc. We were staying in a traditional style room which was empty when we walked in, apart from a small square table and 2 legless chairs.
Our “beds” were in the cupboard – a roll out futon, no thicker than a cushion, a pillow and a duvet.
Japanese island life!
The owner knew we were western and luckily for me, he’d put extra futons in our room in case it was a little too hard to sleep on, which was really considerate of him.
He told us where we could rent bikes from and snorkelling gear, so Ricky and I got changed and I put my bathing suit on under my clothes and off we went to get a bicycle from just round the corner.
I think for a few seconds at least, I forgot how to ride a bike…!
I was so wobbly and kept darting from one side of the road to the other. Eventually, I got the hand of it, just as we started going up a steep hill to get to the beach.
Well I quickly gave up trying to cycle up it as my bike had no gears so I slipped off and pushed it up over the top.
Down was easy and really fun!
We got to the beach in no time at all and headed straight down to the waters’ edge – not the warmest water we’d been in, but definitely not the coldest!
We were soon all ready to go in, mask and snorkel on, flippers tied up tight – in we went!
Ricky had never been snorkelling before and did an amazing job – so proud of him!
We swam around in small increments so he could acclimatise to not being close to the floor, and after a while he was loving it!
I saw a jelly fish, nothing too scary but I didn’t go after it, and lots of other fish swimming in and out of the coral. I particularly enjoyed the tiny, electric blue fish that were dancing around beneath us.
It was quite late in the day when we eventually went in the sea and Ricky was pretty cold after 45 minutes to an hour, so we decided to call it a day and went back for a nice warm shower!
We cycled to the shop and bought some bread and cheese and juice and put them in our bicycle baskets before reaching the guesthouse, then dropped off the bikes and had a nap before going to one of the only restaurants that did dinner, to eat!
By the time we went for dinner, the island had been plunged into a beautiful darkness, still and silent, like it forgot it was a place with living people on it!
The following day we got the bikes and snorkels gain and headed out to a different beach to try to catch a glimpse of sea turtles – the clouds were rolling in and the wind was getting the waves all flustered but I was determined to swim with sea turtles, so we pushed on. Snorkelling on a wavy sea is always interesting, but without the sun to warm it, the water was colder than before. I saw another jellyfish but not much else so headed back to shore. Ricky had said he wouldn’t go in if there were no sea turtles!
I saw some divers a little way up the shore so headed towards them, only for one of the guys to tell me there was a sea turtle there! Yay!
Well, I basically ran across the beach, put everything back on and as in without a second thought!
I powered through the now even bigger waves as they crashed into me until I saw it.
Luckily, Ricky and I had stopped at several diving shops until we’d found an underwater camera so I was even privileged enough to document this elegant creature.
My favourite animal, and somewhat of a spirit guide was gliding through the tumultuous waters effortlessly, not minding in the slightest, mine or anyone else’s presence.
Shortly after that, we felt the rain in the air and know we didn’t have a lot of time. We went back to the guesthouse to get out of our wet things then cycled to a different restaurant for lunch and only then did the heavens open.
My, my, my, what a downpour – no wonder this island is so green!
It only lasted maybe 10 minutes or so but the wind hadn’t died down as we returned the bikes and snorkels and set up shop in our room with cards and hairpins for poker chips and made sandwiches later to tide us over until dinner.
I had an unwarranted nap for an hour or so before we went for dinner in the same restaurant as before, different food choices that time, then came back to our room for poker and reading – very civilised!
The next day I had a shower and did some laundry whilst Ricky went snorkelling to use up the rest of his pictures on his underwater camera. He went off on his own little adventure to a peace memorial at the top of the island and I finished reading the last book I bought with me.
After a quick nap, we went for dinner in the same place, but once again, ate something different.
We made sure everything was packed so we didn’t have to worry about it in the morning and then went to sleep.
The following day, we travelled the 3 minutes walk from the guesthouse to the port to get the fast boat back to Okinawa but had 6 hours to kill.
We went to Starbucks to get some lunch, Pachinkos to win some money, then decided to just go to the airport on the monorail and do nothing for 4 hours.
Our flight was pretty standard and we arrived in Narita Airport, Tokyo around 8:40pm. We went to get our train tickets, knowing we had time to buy them rather than being ushered onto the last train by screaming Japanese workers again. We bought the right ticket but “thanks” to the women “helping” people, we ended up on the Ueno Skyliner and ha to pay again for the privilege!
We finally arrived at the best hostel ever, Khaosan Kabuki and checked in to the fancy private room again.
I love this place and the amazing staff who are super helpful and just lovely to hang out with ^_^
We set our alarms to get up super early for Mt. Fuji but when my alarm went off I checked the live webcams from Lake Kawaguchi, there were so many clouds, you couldn’t even see the bottom of Fuji san, let alone its peak! With this information in mind, I turned off my alarm and went back to sleep! Whoops!
In my defence, everyone told me that visibility is key for Fiji as it gets covered in a blanket of clouds and becomes invisible.
We got up eventually around 1pm and had some lunch then did even more shopping before going to Don Quixote (tax-free, 4-floored mega store) to buy new suitcases… because of all the shopping…!
If you’re considering coming to Japan, bring a half-full suitcase because you will definitely take advantage of the incredible fashion!
I went to meet from friend from China again for dinner in Ikebukuro in a beer buffet place where you pay 2000 yen for 2 hours of whatever you want to drink and whatever you want to eat. We had a Russian Roulette Octopus Ball Dish where one of the 8 or so balls is laden with spice and you take one each at a time and eat it, hoping you don’t get the spicy one!
Luckily, I didn’t get it!
I made my way back to the hostel and re-packed my suitcases then went downstairs with Ricky to sit with some guys and hang out.
The following morning I got up around 9:30am and showered then went down to get my life in order!
We went to the metro to get the airport train to Haneda airport, checked in, spent the last of our money after we exchanged the large notes we had left (between 30-40 thousand yen each!) and made our way to our gate!
Our flight was delayed by 30 minutes so we didn’t arrive in Shanghai until 5:20pm and had to collect our bags and go to a different terminal to get our connecting flight to Beijing. We got to the check in desk at 6:15pm and our flight left at 6:50pm.
~ Airport Ninjas! ~
We got to Beijing at 9pm and got a taxi to the same hostel we stayed at 3 weeks before and had some dinner then went to bed, ready to get up and go in the morning.
We went to the foreign bookstore at Wangfujin where I spent almost £70 or more on books before getting our luggage from the hostel and went to Beijing West Train Station to get the fast train back home.
We were sat on our sofa feeling depressed by 7:30pm
I already miss Japan and want to go back!
We really didn’t spend as much money as I thought we would.
I took £2000 and came home with just under a thousand, even after buying clothes (in abundance) and splurging on fancy dinners every now and again.
If you’re sensible with your budget and pay for flights/buses in advance, Japan really isn’t that expensive.