Montag, August 14, 2006


Just a short one, to let everyone know, I safely landed in Cairns, more to come as soon as I get my computer running. Maren is arriving in a couple of hours, so I better get ready to go to the airport. Weather isn't too great, and Cairns is pretty boring, but the surroundings are amazing. Really looking forward to checking out the area ..... to be continued....

Samstag, August 05, 2006


Yep, we made it up Mount Fuji, only from station 5, about halfway, that it was still quite a climb, starting at about 2300, and going up to 3776. First of all, Dan and me (Photos will follow soon) took the bus directly to the 5th station, which was already full of foreigners, and half of them in shorts and t-shirts, which we had been told by a couple of our housemates is kind of suicidal, as the temperature drops to about 0 degrees every night, and quite often you spend quite a while in the middle of the clouds, which, surprisingly enough, are not particularly dry. However, we were well prepared and John and Ruary let me borrow some of their things. The flashlight and the snowboarding jacket were quite essential. Stephen and his brothers had failed to reach to top a few weeks ago because they were wearing shorts, t-shirts and rainjackets, which meant that they had to turn around just before getting to the top, cos they were freezing to death, and that was during the day...
We started the climb at about 22:30, and after going a bit too fast, and even after slowing our tempo down a bit, we were still way too early to reach the summit in time for the sunrise. So we waited at each of the stations on the way, talked to some of the other gaijin we met. The higher we got, the more crowded it was getting.
The Japanese seem to love queueing, maybe even more than the English. It ended up being a "take few steps, wait a few seconds" kind of ascent for the last few hours! Luckily it was a weekday, I wouldn't wanna queue up that mountain on the weekend.
Then Dan started to get a headache, and didn't look too good anymore, and when we reached the top (beautiful sunrise, a few hundred meters above the clouds, lots and lots of people still coming up, at least a few thousand, and all kinds of souvenirs, food stalls and even beer, which wasn't more expensive than beer in Tokyo) after having a bowl of ramen/ udon, Dan had to lie down for a bit. That gave me the time to round the crater, try and make a phonecall, which didn't work, but only because I didn't have any credit, really good reception up there, and take a few more pix (soon) with my great disposable camera.
Then I woke Dan up, but his altitude sickness was just getting worse and worse, so we slowly started our descent, Dan starting to feel nauseous, while we were crawling down the mountain. A few hundred meters and some painkillers later things started to look a bit brighter. In the end, Dan was almost jogging down, while I was trying to keep up, so that we could still get tickets on the first bus. Which didn't quite work out. The first 2 busses were already sold out, so we had to wait for more than 3 hours, during which we slept a bit on the stairs next to the bus stop. Und wennse sich nich gestorben sind, dann wartense noch heute....something like that anyway

Mittwoch, August 02, 2006


That's where I'm living. The house. The documentary is only slowly making progress, but you'll be the first to find out when it's ready, and I have to finish it before I leave. But who cares, we're all having a good time, drinking in the Park on the bridge across the lake (though it's too dark to see the water), hanging out at the house, watching films, going to bars and karaoke. It all feels like being on school trip, a very long one, where it's no problem to get hold of alcohol and everything else we need. The teacher, or manager (Minami-san), pops in every now and then to remind everyone to be quiet. And to only smoke in the smoking room. Well more photos of my housmates to follow, or on the photoblog, and loads of good stories in the documentary. I present the Parkside bike gang: Stephen (UK), Joel and Ravvi (Oz).

And now I've gotta go, gonna climb Mount Fuji tonight, will hopefully get to the top tomorrow for the sunrise, so more to tell and maybe a few nice photos when I get back!

What have I been doing...

In my spare time? haven't really been working too much, and as I already quit my job (leaving Japan in 10 days!), I now have even more time to somehow waste.
Well, for a start, I've been
pretty lazy, not doing too much sightseeing, been to a few museums though, the most interesting was definitely the Yushukan war memorial museum, next to the Yasukuni shrine, which even the people who don't knwo anything about Japan might have heard about. This is the shrine the current prime minister (Koizumi, who is going to quit his job in the next few months) is visiting on an annual basis, which apparently is one of the main reasons for the bad relationships between China, Korea and Japan as a few "class A war criminals" have been enshrined there sometime in the 70s. The shrine was built to honour those wo have died for their country, and a couple of million people are enshrined there. I guess if Germany was to build something in honour of Addi, Goebbi and a few of their mates, and Angie would come for a visit once a year and maybe put some flowers down at the memorial, it would a have a similar impact in Europe. So I guess I can understand the rest of Asia being a bit pissed off.
Anyways, even more interesting is the museum, which shows the long history of wars that were waged in and around Japan, from the Shogun fighting the emperor, to fighting the barbarians (Europeans and Americans) to the wars with China, Korea, Russia and obviously the WWs. What's interesting is the perspective, quite different in some cases to what I learned in school. And although a lot of it is supposedly very toned down in the English translation (obviously I couldn't really tell), some of the suggestions and "truths" about e.g. WW2, such as Germany not really having a choice but to attack the rest of Europe, Japan only trying to establish peace when they invaded China or that the US forcing Japan to attack Pearl Harbour where a bit worrying. I'm sure there is a bit of truth in these aspects, but whoever built this and is responsible for the texts on exhibition, has definitely a very different way of dealing with their past.
Most Japanese I've met here have never been to the museum and have no intention of ever going there for precisely these reasons, and because they know what to expect, so I'm not saying that this represents Japan as a whole, but quite a large number of people must still see it this way, and quite a few of them seem to be in power. Though a few of the new canditates for the post of the prime minister are already distancing themselves from the shrine. So I guess there's hope.

On a lighter note, I also went to Disneyland with Ayako, who's still working there. Hope she'll send me some pictures.
And to Kamakura, which used to be the capital of Japan around 1200. And that's where the big Buddha is. Bought myself some disposable cameras, so from now on there'll be a few pictures every now and then. I'll also upload a few more to my photoblog. They also have a few hundred shrines in Kamakura. Or at least that's what it felt like. After getting a bit bored of those, and going on a little hiking trip with a Canadian guy (Alex) I met on the way there (also waiting for him to send me some pix), we just went down to the beach and watched the surfers. Obviously we didn't watch the girls. And I managed to take a beautiful little picture. In the background the guy with the tiniest speedos I've ever seen. Pretty hot!