Thursday, May 24, 2007

Japan Travelog vol.1 ?

Didn't mean to have a break so long... well I am back to blogger after 6 weeks. Many things happened - or rather, I was engaged in many projects during these past weeks.
I did quite a lot of Tokyo guiding as well as interpreting, went to Australia for a week accompanying a filming crew as an interpreter (now that was one awesome trip: we traveled parts of Cairns, Brisbane and Gold Coast). Then I played in an orchestra for an operetta, and after another Tokyo city tour I traveled around Kobe, Osaka and Kyoto, all pretty big cities as well as tourist attractions in mid-west Japan.

It was my very first time to go to Kobe. Quite honestly I didn't know what to expect.
The overnight bus from Shinjuku (Tokyo) to Kobe was surprisingly comfy with considerably wide space and relaxing recliner seats. Though the price can't exactly be described as cheap, it's a whole lot more affordable than bullet trains when traveling this country for such long distance. The downside of it, however, is that the bus arrives at the destination pretty early in the morning (7:3o-ish) when not many of anything in town are open. Two more friends and I had to kill time in a cafe, but it was okay cuz this way we could plan the route for the day.

We only had one day in Kobe and that day had been pretty miserable weatherwise. It poured and poured and poured all day and I got myself soaked on the first day of my trip.
Kobe I imagined prior to this trip was a classy stylish town: the impression I actually got was that the town resembled a lot of the int'l port town of the east, Yokohama. Of course these two cities are different, and if I had more time to explore the town I probably could have gotten more different impressions, but it seemed to me that the types of attractions... or districts they have are quite similar. The former foreign (western) residential area, China town, the shopping/commercial district, the port area - I thought that the two cities shared a lot of common elements.

What interested me the most, or gave me the biggest impact, was the remains of the dock located in the port area. The dock known as Meriken Hatoba had been damaged severely (almost destroyed) just like how the entire region was by the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake back in 1995. As a remembrance of the tragic disaster of more than 40,000 casualties the dock is preserved in exactly the way the earthquake left it.

Afterwards we went to a Chinese temple (by chance, kind of) and made an interesting observation on Japanese uni students and professor. I looked like a class on religious studies or art or sociology or one of the kind was visiting this temple, one professor and about a dozen students. At first they were just looking around the small temple and its grounds, but (unfortunately, to them at least) they were caught by an elderly (yet more energetic than any of the class there) worshipper who literally started a lecture that went on for half an hour. The lecture was actually pretty good, though the attitudes of the students were by no means nice. They looked like they as well as the teacher were terribly annoyed and wanted to leave asap. No comments, no questions. My two friend coming from overseas were amused by the situation. They said they couldn't believe what they were seeing, the silent and annoyed group, because if this was the case in their country there would definitely be a shower of questions and the professor would have to stop them because otherwise they'd run out of time, not because they wanted to leave any second.

The day ended with good Indian dinner followed by a businessy conversation with the Indian owner of the restraunt, and after relaxing in a jazz bar with live performance we left the city for Osaka.
So much for today. I will write about Osaka in the next entry.

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