Monday, 19 November 2012

BlackLOG - Battle Royale - Japan part 2

In case you missed it, Part 1 of our Japan trip - Memoirs of a Barbarian

Don’t worry no Japanese school children were hurt (or to be more precise forced to hurt each other – you probably need to be familiar with the film to understand this) in the manufacturing of this week’s blog it just happens to be the title of one of my favourite Japanese films   - (The inspiration for the recent book and film -the Hunger Games) and so ever since our trip to Japan I have been dying to use it as a blog title….

This week sees the second part of our Japanese adventure with more of my mis-observations on a fascinating country….

Raw fish and other interesting foods
I’m quite a fan of sushi but it was a step too far for Mrs B.  I had hoped she would be happy with eating the raw vegetables that I was never going to touch but it turns out it is not just the raw fish that Mrs B has a problem with but also the cold rice that goes with it.  For some reason not many of the restaurants we came across seemed to mix cooked and raw food on the menu – in fact it was only when we reached Narita (which seems to be Japan’s equivalent to Bishops Stortford – i.e. an airport town miles away from the centre of Tokyo) and not expecting much,  where we had one of our best meals of the trip. There was plenty of Tempura and noodle soup on offer but there is only so much  fried food and fancy soup that a body can take …..oddly enough Tokyo has the most Michelin star restaurants on the planet.  Somehow we failed to miss all of them …. 
Don't look Mrs B -

Please note - for those of you of a nervous
disposition, no food was cooked during the
preparation of this photo  although a
number of fish were hacked to death....
It wasn't raw but is was fishy 

- Poor Mrs B 
Tea ceremonies
We endured two tea ceremonies. (The first green tea we tasted was so bad that we thought it was a mistake….It wasn’t……I guess it must be a bit of a an acquired taste.)   The ceremonies were apparently used by Samurai Warriors in preparation for battle.  Quite frankly if I was a Samurai Warrior who had gone through more than one tea ceremony  I would have made damn sure I didn’t make it through the next battle for fear of having to face a third – I’m not sure that it is too much of a stretch of the imagination to link the demise of the Samurai culture to tea ceremonies…..

I think the umbrella is used to hide behind
as you up chuck the green tea....

Japan is a very polite society
There are two main religions in Japan, Buddhism (imported from China along with tea ) and Shinto (home-grown – makes it sound like some sort of Marijuana strain) – which historically was combined in Japan  into “Shinbutsu-shūgō”.  Towards the end of the 19th century the Emperor of Japan decreed that the two religions should formerly separate, pending divorce proceedings but, like a modern day Romeo and Juliet, they continue to meet illicitly behind the authorities’ backs. As far as I could see most Japanese like to practice both, cherry picking the best bits from each – generally Shinto for the good times, Buddhism for the bad – I guess at a funeral it pays to believe in reincarnation…..a kind of end of life hedge betting.
I sometimes wonder does religion use
 incense to disguise the fact that its
 priests don't like to wash
very much... 
As someone who has faced their fair share of, what British Rail laughingly described as train travel in the UK*, it was embarrassing to witness how efficient the Japan rail system is.  I’m not sure I would go as far as the Lonely Planet Guide who claimed the trains were so good you would be tempted to stay on past your destination but then again the Lonely Planet Guide has a tendency to wax lyrical about everything it covers - describing exiting the subway station at Roppongi (In Tokyo) as like entering the world of Blade Runner or Star Wars - personally I found it like exiting any mid town subway station, about as exciting  as a wet Wednesday in Wales...

* Shows you how long ago it was that I abandoned commuting by train and switched to car – In the UK it’s all independent private networks now, which I’m guessing are not a vast improvement other than the rather splendid opportunity to pay more money for less service….. 

Mrs B rocking the Japanese railways 
Sex education

The truth behind how little trains are made in Japan....
Mount Fuji
I never realised that a mountain could be so coy....But it turns out that Mount Fuji,  like a well trained Geisha,  likes to be alluring without actually putting out….
Mount Fuji showing just a glimpse of flesh (or whatever the
mountain equivalent is) as we entered Shin-Fuji
station for our  hours photo opportunity....
What Mount Fuji looked like for the entire
time that we were in Shin-Fuji....

Covered up like a Victorian Nun 
Fortunately we were lucky enough to see it from afar

Fuji as seen from the other-side of Tokyo
In all it's naked splendour....
Tune in next time for the conclusion of our Japan trip as we visit Kanazawa, Kyoto and Nara

Photo Finish 
Some more pictures of Japan

Kyoto sunset...
A truly golden part of the day...
The lovely Madori who I met
at Kanasawa train station...

She educated me to the fact that her hair
did not represent Mickey Mouse** ears
but a bear....

** In hind-site I probably should have gone
with  Minnie mouse.
Possibly the best sign in the world,
honest and informative.....
Like a bridge over troubles waters....

Only the waters weren't that troubled... hey at
least  it was a bridge.  Simon and Garfunkel
 never had this type of problem....  
Noodles, which were followed by  Okonomiyaki
a Japanese pancake.  It probably would have been more
balanced if I had not selected a Hiroshima Okonomiyaki
which turned out to be the noodle version of the
pancake......  Doh!
Bamboo Forest Kyoto
Path to enlightenment....
More Autumnal leaves
Foxy prayers at Fushimiinari-taisya shrine...
It's not the giant lizards that are a problem in Japan
its the giant spiders that will kill you....


  1. The Prawn is Definitely Cooked mate!

    1. Are you sure it’s not blushing through embarrassment at appearing naked…..

      I was hoping that no one would notice.... besides I was using a bit of artistic licence in the narrative, for the sake of entertainment....

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