Kinobesuch #5 – The red Turtle

Letzte Woche zu gleich zwei Filmen im Kino gewesen, dieser hier war der Erste und der Zweite danach ‚Koe no Katachi‘, dessen Beitrag auch bald online erscheinen wird. Lese mir derzeit nur noch schnell den Manga dazu durch =).

‚The red Tutrle‘ war ein wirklich grandioser Film, sollte er es nach Deutschland schaffen, womit ich rechne, werde ich mir die DVD auf jeden Fall zulegen! Schaut mal rein, auch in den Trailer. Vielleciht ist es ja was für euch =).

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Deutsche Version:

War heute im Kino, zu gleich zwei Filmen die mich sehr berührt haben! Beiträge dazu folgen in den nächsten Tagen. Ansonsten erstmal der recht kurze Beitrag zu Nara, dem letzten aus meiner dreiwöchigen Urlaubszeit. So denn, ran ans Werk und lesen!

English Version:

It took a bit of time, until I was able to do write this blog post (quite some bit of work to do right now, which is a good thing! :D), but finally I’ll present you an update, even if it is a rather short one.
However. Together with my friend and her daughter we did a short trip to Nara, from Kyoto coming. It took around 40 minutes by train if I remember correctly. In Nara, it takes another 20 minutes to walk to the entrance/beginning of the big Nara Park which is one of the major attractions down there. The way is rather easy. Just follow the shopping road, all the way down and you’ll meet your destinantion eventually. The weather was hot as usual and while my friends spent some time in an owl-café, I did buy myself a parfait and cooled down a little.
Reunited again, we arrived at the Nara Park where we encountered heaps of wild deer. The Nara Park itself is no Forest or any kind of wilderness reservoir, but a park in the classical sense. Nevertheless are the deer down there native and pretty much patible. They don’t fear the humans at all, and let themselves be fed by them. You may buy a pack of deer cookies for 100 Yen, to be able to snap a good shot for your family album, or rather walk on by (even in the middle of the way, deer are lying around, not bothered the slightiest bit) to the main attraction of Nara, the big pagoda including the biggest buddha statue of Japan (with 16 m in height if I remember correctly). What a sight! Seriously! Though I’m not quite sure, what Siddharta would have said, if he would know about all this splendor and pomp. It was worth the experience for a tourist, but for a serious buddhistic monk it’s probably not the right spot, especially with these many tourists around.

After that, we spent some more time inside the Nara Park and walked around, partly so that the kiddie was able to clamor around and partly to kill some time until our nightbus to Nagasaki would depart.
Aside of the mentioned stuff, nothing worth mentioning did happen. Some nice pictures to be seen in here, if you like. The next post will cover the One Piece Tokyo Tower I guess, though I’m not sure when I get some time to visit it.

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Kinobesuch #4 – Your Lie in April (Live Action Movie)

Ich war mal wieder im Kino (nächstes Wochenende dann vorläufig zum letzten Mal^^) und habe mich an der Live Action Fassung zu ‚Your Lie in April‘ der gleichnamigen Manga/Anime Serie gelabt. Mein Statement dazu findet ihr – samt Trailer zum Film – hier. Bis demnächts =).


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Deutsche Version:

Hatte mich nun am Sonntag ran gesetzt und den Kyoto Beitrag geschrieben, hier einzulesen. Bis dann

English Version:

After Shirahama, we went up to Kyoto where the problems of finding some affordable accomodation started. I wrote to a Hostel in Shirahama, but didn’t get a rpely upon departure. So I thought we should just go there and ask driectly (I’m a non mobile-phone user by the way). Arriving in Kyoto, everything looked different to me compared to the image in my head from 3 years ago. I spent a day there coming from Tokyo, together with my mother using the Japan Rail pass. But it seemed that the trainstation got a makeover. However everything was very clear and we could find our way through very easily.

Taking the Bus to the downtown area and getting in our chosen Hostel, we found no one around. After about 1 hour, I used the Hostel phone to call someone in charge just to find out that he couldn’t accomodate us and didn’t read my mail…
Getting out again, the next Hostel didn’t have space for me, and the third one didn’t take either kids or was fully booked, I cannot totally recall it. We spent about 1 hour looking for a Hostel which was very stressful for me. I completely underestimated the situation in a big city. Traveling in Kyushu was easy because I usually didn’t have to look much for a Hostel to take me in. It’s not as popular than Honshu. But here on the main Island, with Kyoto being one of the major destinantions, it totally slipped my mind to put some more attention to the matter.

The third Hostel where we’ve been just rejected told us about the Piece Sanjo Hostel to ask there for accomodation. After another 15 minutes we found it and luckily they took us in, providing a double room, for three people, which is usually not allowed (though 1 of us was just a child, but still). It was already night, and we told them about our ordeal and they probably pitied us and showed mercy. Quite expensive though, but at that moment I would have almost paid anything^^. What a relief. Hereby I would again recommend this Hostel.
Our plans for Kyoto included a climb on Mt. Inari, a walk through the Bamboo Forest and a temple stay. Unfortunately the temple stay wasn’t possible. Everything was eitehr full, only for woman, or a shitty concrete building, instead of a real temple. Such a shame, because this would have been one of the major reasons for my visit to come to Japan.
However did we go to Mt. Inari on the next day. This is a true tourist spot. People everywhere. People doing photos with these questionable selfie sticks and people on the trail, making the progress slow and the passage quite thick. Mt. Inari is located in southern Kyushu and it takes about 20 min. by Bus from the main Station (well, if you get through the very dense traffic around there…). It’s famous for its probably thousands of Torii gates. The red wooden ones, you usually see in front of temples or shrines. Basically all the way up you walk through these gates, which is really something new. The further up you go, the lesser the traffic gets. There have been parts where we didn’t run into anyone for 10 minutes. Up there it’s really quite. The bigger chunk of the tourist mass is probably just interested in some picture with them and the Toriis, instead of the cultural aspect; and leaves right after the task is done.
The climb itself is very easy and usually you follow low steps through the gates. It happend that we met an old japanese man, who did some Origami, a paper crane, for the kiddie, which totally mesmerized, and captivated her. He seemed to be really happy, and loved to make other people happy. I felt a sincere satisfaction watching him. We met him again, twice, and every time he made some little origami for someone. Upon the third meeting I wanted to thank him, by buying him a water bottle (it was a really hot day, with almost no clouds), but he humbly declined. In fact he sprung away when I offered it to him, he really didn’t want it. 5 mins later, he came back to us, to give ‚our‘ little girl a Lotus which she could spin, made out of paper. For me a really defining person.

Finishing our trip, we got back to the train station, from where we took another Bus to Arashiyama to see the bamboo forest. The trip took us one hour and it was already quite late. When we arrived at 5 pm the sun already began it’s descending, which but illuminated the sky in beautiful yellow/orange hues, and generated a beautiful scenery. At Arashiyama there was a huge river and lots of nature, trees, and old-fashioned japanese houses. Just if you would be brought back in time, right to the former Kyoto. It was marvelous and probably the most relxing place in Kyoto itself.
We walked a little around and made our way to the bamboo forest before it would get too dark. Luckily we made it in time, because the Bamboo forest was quite thick and didn’t let much light through anymore. The Bamboo was huge. First time for me to walk through this kind of setup. A recommendation to everyone going to Kyoto. Arashiyama is your spot if you want to escape the big city life in Kyoto. We couldn’t leave the path unfortunately. But still the sight was gorgeous. I wish I could share more of this feeling but it is just not possible. You may have a look on the uploaded photographs by clicking on the Link in the German Version.

With the sun already gone, we made our way back to the Hostel. The next morning they celebrated their one years anniversary with a huge party in the evening, and a selfmade cake, for everyone to eat. All food and drinks were for free and many people joined the celebration. It was a huge feast, and certainly the only Hostel I came across until now, which did anything of this kind. The staff is so nice and helpfull, speaks very good english and the Hostel itself is very clean. check it out if you have time to!
On the next day we planned a day trip to Nara, and taking the night bus to Nagasaki then. Nara will be the last article I publish in regards to the trip I had with my guests from Germany. Someday around the beginning of next week it may be expected. Until then!

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Shirahama – Wakayama Pref.

Deutsche Version:

Wie bereits angekündigt ist hier der Beitrag zu Shirahama. Zwei weitere Artikel die während meines Besuches entstanden sind, werden in den nächsten zwei Wochen noch folgen, sehr wahrscheinlich immer gegen Wochenende. Ansonsten werde ich im September auch den One Piece Tokyo Tower besichtigen gehen, sowie das Ghibli Museum, wofür ich beides bisher keine Geld hatte. Dazu kommen noch die zuvor angesprochenen zwei Kinofilme und dann reicht das auch fürs Erste, bis ich dann für zwei Monate komplett von der Aussenwelt abgeschnitten sein werde :D. Bis nächste Woche!

English Version:

Still on my way (or better right at the start) with my Friend from Germany and her 5 years old daughter, did we make our way down to Shirahama in Wakayama Prefecture. East of Oosaka and Kyoto. Originally we planned to do some free camping about half way to Shirahama, from Nagoya coming, but because we were quite late, transportation proofed to be a problem to reach our destination before nightfall. Hence we decided to take the train to Shirahama instead, a destination we wanted to go to anyway. Because of our ever changing plans we reached the station quite late, when the night already spanned over the sky. It was about 8pm when we arrived. Additionally we missed our bus and the next one would depart one hour from then. So we had some time to spent. Unfortunately there was no conbini or Supermarket around, just some buildings and behind there a huge nothingness.
We haven’t had a place to stay yet, but what we wanted was to camp outside, if possible for free. So I looked for a map of the area and managed to find a campsite, which is not far from a bus station. It was decided then. Eventually we arrived somewhat around 10 pm. and discovered that it was more like a car campsite. There where only two tenants, so we asked them about the reception, but they said it was already closed and we could pay the next day. We looked for a nice spot to lay down for and prepared ourselves. The weather was really hot the whole day over, and even during the night, the heat didn’t fade away. But at least we somehow reached our destination =).
The night was horrible to begin with. Not just was the heat unbearable inside our sleeping bags, we literally sweated an ocean inside, but also were there heaps of mossquitos, which wouldn’t give you peace of mind or just a 5 minutes break. No, they were merciless and stung as often as they could. If all comes together, I probably slept for about 2 hours the most.

Next day, we packed our stuff and were eager to see the beach and skip into the ocean. So we parked our backpacks under the roof of a small dining hut, right next to the campsite and fucked off to the beach. There was no one who we could ask about our stuff, so we just left it there, for the next hours to come. From there on down to the beach, it took about 10 to 15 minutes. And even from afar we could see why this area is named Shirahama (white beach). First duty was to buy some ice cream for the three of us, and after we ate it, the warm water awaited us. Especially our little girl had quite some fun and I was surprised on how enduring she was until then. She even managed to get some rest and sleep during this horrendous night^^. Besides swimming (there were also school classes who had swim lessons at the beach) we played Frisbee and had a good rest.
After some hours I went off to look for an alternative stay for the night. We weren’t very keen to spent another night under the open sky (though we ended up not paying anything^^). Hence I went back to where our stuff was and discovered that the diner staff took it inside to keep it safe from the rain. This is something you’re probably only able to experience in Japan. You can leave your luggage almost everywhere and you’ll find it at the same spot hours after. I asked the lady, if she knew some affordable accomodation around here, which would also host children. After some calling, the only good spot she recommended to me, was the Hotel right next to the campsite (in fact does the campsite belong to them too^^).
In the end we decided to go there, but also discovered two small huts outside the Hotel. They would be 10.000 Yen per night (around 85 Euro), 5.000 each, while a night in the Hotel itself pays for 4.000 Yen. Despite the high costs, we decided to stay in the small hut anyway. It was just one room, but a nice one and for one night plenty off space to begin with. Toilet and bath were inside the Hotel, addiotionally we received free entry to the Onsen, which we happily accepted and had it all for ourselves. We definitely slept way better than the night before and on the next morning after check out, took the Bus to the station, from where a train to Kyoto should depart. As we wanted to pay for our tickets we were told that no train would leave Shirahama, because some flooding happaned along the line. We were in the middle of the rainy season, so it didn’t surprise me, but it messed up with our plans nevertheless. I tried to find an alternative, like a bus to Kyoto, but in the middle of negotiating a JR Staff Member came to me and told me about a free shuttle Bus to the next possible train station from where we would have a safe connection to Kyoto. Great! Good that we didn’t buy our tickets beforehand, we saved around 1.200 Yen (which is about 10 Euro)! Nevertheless did it take around 4 hours until we made it to Kyoto, and unfortunately I was a bit careless in terms of booking a hostel in advance. But this is another tale and will be told on a different occasion. The blog post concerning Kyoto will follow next Sunday. Till then!

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Kinobesuch #3 – Kimi no Na wa

Heute ein ganz besonderes Schmankerl, auf das ich mich seit Monaten gefreut habe! Heute war der Eröffnungstag zum neuen Kinofilm von Makoto Shinkai! Yihaaa~! Wie sehr mir der Film gefallen hat und weitere Infos findet ihr unter diesem Link!

Damit bin ich jetzt schon öfter in Japan im Kino gewesen, als die letzten 3 Jahre zusammen gerechnet^^. Und weitere Gänge werden folgen und das auch schon recht Zeitnah! Am 10. September kommt der Live Action Film zu Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) heraus, dessen Anime ich vor kurzem erst geschaut habe und mich total begeistert zurückliess. Im Gegensatz zu anderen Live Action Adaptionen halte ich es diesmal sogar für möglich, dass ich total überzeugt werde. Der Trailer ist zumindest sehr vielversprechend. Beim Ende des Animes kamen mir sogar die Tränen, da hoffe ich, dass der Film das Gefühl ähnlich gut rüberbringt.
Am 17. September wiederum kommt der Anime Film zu Koe no Katachi heraus. Die Serie ist mir nur beiläufig mal im Buchladen aufgefallen, ohne sie jetzt aber zu kennen. Dennoch gefiel mir der Trailer ausgesprochen gut, weshalb ich da mal jungfräulich rangehen werde, was sonst weniger bei mir der Fall ist :). Da kommt also noch ein bisschen was auf mich zu! Ich freu mich tierisch drauf =).

Da ich letzte Woche nicht viel Zeit hatte, folgt der nächste reguläre Blogeintrag am Sonntag dieser Woche, da ich dann wieder einen freien Tag habe *grrrr*, so wie heute übrigens auch… Naja, hat auch alles seine guten Seiten :D.

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Reisen mit Kind / Traveling with a child

Deutsche Version:

Hier der Beitrag zum Thema mit einigen nützlichen Tips und Erfahrungen =). So langsam denke ich dann auch an die bald bevorstehende 2-monatige Pilgerung. Dazu habe ich mir gedacht, nur das allernötigste einzupacken, was aufgrund der immensen Distanz durchaus ratsam ist. Mir schwebt da ein ähnliches Gepäck, wie zur Besteigung des Fuji vor, maximal 12 kg. Darunter natürlich hauptsächlich Klamotten. Demzufolge werde ich auch mein Netbook zurücklassen, da ich ihn sowieso nicht großartig nutzen werden kann. Das wiederum bedeutet, dass ich zum Rest der Welt und zu den Nachrichten generell keinen Kontakt haben werde, was ultra interessant werden wird. Der Fokus liegt dann wahrlich einzig und allein auf mich und die Bekanntschaften die ich mache. Ein vollkommenes eintauchen in mein inneres und die Umgebung. Bin gespannt mit welchen Erkenntnissen ich dabei herauskomme!
Derzeit spiele ich noch mit dem Gedanken, davor eine Woche nach Nagano zu düsen um mir im Herbst ein wenig die Region anzuschauen bevor dort alles unterm Schnee begraben liegt. Alternativ würde ich es anschließend machen, jedoch reizt mich ein buntbelaubter Wald mehr als ein kahler im Schnee versunkener. Ich liebe Schnee, aber der steht für Hokkaido auf dem Plan und da ich in Neuseeland keinen wirklich bunten Herbst hatte, wäre das mal was schönes =). Zugegeben wird es sicher auf Shikoku noch genügend Möglichkeiten geben, den Herbst in vollen Zügen zu genießen. Mal schauen =).

English Version:

Traveling with a child – a 5 year old – was the first experience of its kind for me. Not a bad one by any means, but totally new anyhow.
My collegue from University paid me a visit almost 6 weeks ago, together with her daughter. We should travel throughout half of Japan as I previously wrote. My picture of kids up till then was usually one sided negativly, though I’m not quite sure why, for I never had bad experiences with kids. I though it might get really trouble- and tiresome, but in the end it was a real great experience, which is because she is very good educated and has a open mind and puts almost neverending trust and faith in her mother and that everyting will work out – somehow – in the end =). That said, I was already really astonished as I met them in Nagoya. I came from Tokyo, taking the Bus, while they waited near the station for some hours already. 32°C in the shades, burning sun, and a total new environment with strangers all around after a 12 hours flight + several waiting hours in Helsinki might be really harsh on a child, but as I met them it surprised me to see her really energetic and grinning all over her face, despite sweating as hell. And in fact, it was her who always calmed down her mother, not the other way around^^. I found it quite amusing but also very cute :D.

If your child is below 6 years old, you’ll meet a lot of conveniences regarding travelling. The biggest plus is the transportation which usually eats up the biggest chunk of your money, especially when using the train network of Japan. If you carry the Japan Rail Pass, which is very recommendable, your child (under 6 years of age) is allowed to ride for free in all trains, even the Shinkansen! But even without the pass this rule is valid throughout Japan in every train we’ve been on. For children in the age between 6 and 10, half of the respected fare is to be paid, while kids from 10+ need to pay the whole amount, if I’m not wrong on that.
The situation for the buses is a bit different. Usually you pay half the fare of an adult, but if you take your child on your lap during the whole ride (meaning, that you do not occupy a seat), you do not need to pay the price. This concerns long distance buses and/or night buses, where there is a limited offer on rides anyway. If you do not have the JR Pass, or going to use it later on, Buses are the cheapest transportation method in Japan, but still expensive (if you do not hitchhike that is^^). In city buses – as far as I remember – the same rules apply as to the traintickets. Meaning childs below 6 do not pay a single Yen. Same goes for the subway and tram services. That said it is advisable to visit Japan with a child below 6 years of age, however, is it also important to find accomodation where we encountered some hardships. If you – as we do – travel on a budget, it can become hard and frustrating to find some affordable stay for the night. About 50% of the contacted Hostel would host children at all. Some of them but only children who are at least 10 years of age.
If you’re lucky and find a Hostel which is willing to host kids, then, in most cases, you would be required to take a single/or double room. Something private at least. I can totally understand and see the reason, for no one wants a crying or loud child in a dorm room. Nevertheless is a single/double room in a Hostel much more expensive than a dorm. If your mom and dad, you can split the costs, which is a bit more effective. We stayed in 4 Hostels which would allow children in a dorm room, which I hereby dearly recommend.
The first one was the Wasabi Hostel in Nagoya, with its capsule like beds. Big plus for families: There is the option to lift the seperating wall bewetten two capsule beds, hence a family can sleep together instead of seperated. The Hostel is very hidden and we struggled to find it actually, but the stay was really good. For the orientation, it’s located in front of the Train Station, in one of the side roads.
Another one is the Beppu Guesthouse, a 3 min walk from the train Station and my former workplace. Depsite the rather simple character of the Hostel the dorm rooms are 4 to 6 bed size and cheap. 1.700 Yen per night, and you can take your child into the dorm room. At least we could =).
The third one is the Ace-Inn Shinjuku. They also provide capsule-style Beds in their dorm, but a bit more high class ones, hence the price is quite expensive. For 3.240 Yen per Person and Night you can rent one of these cosy capsules. The child can sleep (as in all of the Hostels by the way, for free, if it sleeps together with one of the parents in one bed.). All the staff speaks english, which is not the case for the above mentioned Hostels. They speak enough english to check you in and also give some advices but not enough for descent conversations.
Last but not least is the space riverhouse Hostel in Nikko. Among all of them my favourite, despite being the most expensive one. 4.000 Yen for one night in the dorm (children no problem). It’s run by an american all on his own. There is a free shuttle service and also free and handmade breakfast (if you stay for at least two nights). The most delicious one I’ve ever eaten, honestly. He makes it all by himself, Pancakes for example. awesome scrambled eggs with bacon and french toast. On each moring one of these dishes. It was really fantastic. Moreover, the landscape, and even the house itself are beautiful. The furniture is made out of tree trunks, tree roots, and is really smooth. It is a real eyesight. Despite being a bit far off of Nikko Station, there is the free Shuttle which brings you to Nikko Station. Scott (the owner) knows all about the region and can help you with all of your pleas.

For other stays wer always had to take single or double rooms. On average we paid around 4.000 per Person (not including the child, for she did sleep for free than).

Trvaeling with both of them was really entertaining and a good experience for myself. If I ever become a father, I wish to be one as good as my friend is a mother. If there are any more questions about traveling with children in Japan, I’m open to any question. One advice for the end. You should always plan ahead and reserve a room/bed as soon as possible. Especially in the season and the big cities all the Hostels can be fully booked easily. We had a hard time in Kyoto for example. The fourth Hostel took us in, after 3 refusels. So be prepared!

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