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Taiwan4 March 17


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Korea2 March 15

Even More Trips

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Sichuan March 2013
Tokyo3 October 2012
China2 August 2012
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China November 2011
Korea September 2011
Taiwan March 2011
London3 June 2010
Japan May 2010
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London September 2009
SE Asia December 2005

Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Page 5

Day 13 - Thursday, 7 November 2019

Lagooning about

Walking a lap of Toyano Lagoon in Niigata

I read that Niigata is very proud of its Lagoons. That sounds like a weird boast. So today I went to check out a Lagoon. It was meant to be my rest day today, but walking from my hotel, to the station, around the lagoon and back again was about 18.5km.

The biggest and closest Lagoon to central Niigata is Toyano, its easy enough to get to on foot from the main station, there is no train that goes anywhere near it, I presume that buses do go there but every time I get on a bus I end up heading in the wrong direction and getting yelled at by the driver, so I walked.

The light today was really good for photos, which probably makes the Lagoon area look nicer than it is. There were a couple of nice gardens, a couple of museums aimed at school kids, and a bizarrely located mega stadium, one of the biggest in Japan, which is as far away from anything as possible.

The lagoon is not developed to be pedestrian friendly, there are parks at different points but not even a footpath connecting them. I was walking head long into traffic on roads barely wide enough for cars traveling in 1 direction (cool band) that actually allow cars traveling in 2 directions. Passing cars plus me = about 3x the width that was actually provided. More than once I nearly had to leap into the lagoon to prevent being run over. I actually saw a car hit its mirror on a light pole!

Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - This is crossing the Shinano river from my hotel towards the station. They are also very proud of this bridge, which has 6 archways underneath. For wh

This is crossing the Shinano river from my hotel towards the station. They are also very proud of this bridge, which has 6 archways underneath. For whatever reason Niigata likes to make lists of the things it is 'very proud' of. This is my favourite light for photos, squinty but not full sun.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - A view down the Shinano river from the city side. Not a lot to see.

A view down the Shinano river from the city side. Not a lot to see.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - I went through the station at this time to verify my plan for getting to Yamagata. I am going to take the slow train! There is only one per day! It ta

I went through the station at this time to verify my plan for getting to Yamagata. I am going to take the slow train! There is only one per day! It takes 4 hours total to Yamagata, even though its not even 200km of track. The rapid (sic) Benibana listed here takes 3 hours and goes on 3 different lines, across the mountains to Yonezawa where it is timed to connect to a train that runs much more often than once a day to go the rest of the way to Yamagata. Expect photos from a moving train on that day (Saturday).


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here I am at the start of the lagoon, excellent light!

Here I am at the start of the lagoon, excellent light!


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - I passed this very unusual hotel, it looks like you get a car parking garage with your room on top. There were a few hotels around this lagoon, most l

I passed this very unusual hotel, it looks like you get a car parking garage with your room on top. There were a few hotels around this lagoon, most looked like they were boarded up, this was the most interesting one and looks like its still operational.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The lagoon is not a popular tourist attraction, not even one car in the car park.

The lagoon is not a popular tourist attraction, not even one car in the car park.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Across there is the main stadium, very remotely located, 10km from the nearest train. The gardens were quite nice in this bit.

Across there is the main stadium, very remotely located, 10km from the nearest train. The gardens were quite nice in this bit.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - I was lined up here taking a photo... look closely and you can see something just to the right of the middle of the ledge about to pop out!

I was lined up here taking a photo... look closely and you can see something just to the right of the middle of the ledge about to pop out!


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Surprise turtle! He was a bit camera shy when I was close to him, always going back under the water when I raised my camera.

Surprise turtle! He was a bit camera shy when I was close to him, always going back under the water when I raised my camera.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - I ran a few laps. Really enjoying the light here for some reason.

I ran a few laps. Really enjoying the light here for some reason.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - If you sit here long enough you turn into a field worker made of straw.

If you sit here long enough you turn into a field worker made of straw.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - A bit more garden, there are a couple of people in this photo. I walked into a huge spiderweb here, and spent the next 10 minutes removing my clothes

A bit more garden, there are a couple of people in this photo. I walked into a huge spiderweb here, and spent the next 10 minutes removing my clothes convinced one of the huge Japanese spiders was somewhere down my shirt / pants.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here, have a bit of color, me and 2 guys with tripods were taking the same photo.

Here, have a bit of color, me and 2 guys with tripods were taking the same photo.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The garden was very small, but had a few nice angles for photos.

The garden was very small, but had a few nice angles for photos.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - On the other side of the lagoon, I passed this hoarders house. The photo does not capture the scale of the rubbish, it gets higher and higher the furt

On the other side of the lagoon, I passed this hoarders house. The photo does not capture the scale of the rubbish, it gets higher and higher the further back it goes. There was a cave through the rubbish to a house within. I am pretty sure the roof of the house was supporting tonnes of crap.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - As I got around the other side, cloud had rolled in, ruining my day of awesome light. From this side you can see how strangely located that huge stadi

As I got around the other side, cloud had rolled in, ruining my day of awesome light. From this side you can see how strangely located that huge stadium is.


Bus rapid transit

Taking the BRT to dinner

It is raining a bit, so instead of walking to the station I took the BRT. I have now studied what the BRT is, it is a bus that goes every 3 minutes along a bus route. It uses normal roads. This is not a BRT. Other parts of the world have a BRT, in those places its at least a dedicated lane, and often an entirely separate elevated or underground road without any traffic lights. Here in Niigata, its a bus painted red.

Regardless of the false advertising of the BRT, it does come often and takes me to the station to avoid the rain.
Once in the vicinity of the station, I paced around briefly as it started to rain and took some photos of men fleeing to not be in my photos. So forget what the internet says, the red light district of Niigata is no longer at Furumachi, its at the station. Everything is at the station.
I know I keep going on about red light districts a lot, but in Japan that is where the people, shops and restaurants all are. They are the brightest, busiest and most interesting parts of town. It does look weird to me when you see men and women who appear to work together, in their blue suits carrying old fashioned briefcases, staggering around at 8pm in and out of girly bars together. Just like Australia, its the only way to get the BIG PROMOTION. The key to business success everywhere is to know stuff about your boss that he doesnt want everyone to know. Dont ask dont tell? #metoo, #mentoo, OK BOOMER! OK ZOOMER!! #greta! SMH.

Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - This is an establishment where people fled in terror as I positioned myself to take a photo.

This is an establishment where people fled in terror as I positioned myself to take a photo.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here is an older style restaurant. Smoky meat on skewers place like most places around here.

Here is an older style restaurant. Smoky meat on skewers place like most places around here.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - I dont know what was being cooked inside here, but it was very rustic looking. And by rustic I mean, probably rat infested.

I dont know what was being cooked inside here, but it was very rustic looking. And by rustic I mean, probably rat infested.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - One of the colorful streets near the station. There are a few on both sides of the station.

One of the colorful streets near the station. There are a few on both sides of the station.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - For my dinner, I had Xiao Long Bao in soup. Chinese food. Pretty good. The soup buns were quite authentic, they definitely had soup in them as well as

For my dinner, I had Xiao Long Bao in soup. Chinese food. Pretty good. The soup buns were quite authentic, they definitely had soup in them as well as pork, so yeah, soup filled buns in soup.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - This company came to Australia for a while. For an unknown reason they chose Adelaide as their launch location. They lasted there longer than any of t

This company came to Australia for a while. For an unknown reason they chose Adelaide as their launch location. They lasted there longer than any of their other locations, but unfortunately the Adelaide one burnt down and they have not opened anywhere since. I thought of having one to reminisce, but no, I had a banana instead.


There are currently 4 comments - click to add

bobule on 2019-11-08 said:

I like turtles (not for dinner)!


adriana on 2019-11-07 said:

Dont think i would want to eat in the one in the alley way.


adriana on 2019-11-07 said:


mother on 2019-11-07 said:

see it was only 5 degrees this morning in Niigata. Nice photos today. We like the slow trains - will it be a diesel one man car?



Day 14 - Friday, 8 November 2019

Full range

Yahiko station to Mount Yahiko to Maki station

Today I walked almost a full mountain range. The smallest mountain range in Japan!
The people of Niigata are very proud to have the smallest mountain range in Japan, and they should be, its great. It is situated along the coast a bit south of Niigata city, pretty easy to get to but you do have to change trains once. I was expecting the station to be very basic and have just a vending machine, but actually Yahiko station is a very touristy spot, with shrines and lots of shops. It reminded me of a mini Kamakura.
I was a bit early for things to be open but I had a good look around before starting my climb. They seemed to be setting up for some kind of festival, probably flower related.

The actual hike today, to the top of Mount Yahiko and beyond was quite short. I also did not need to run unlike the previous couple of hikes, so I got a bit snap happy and took too many photos of trees and leaves and what not.

I probably should have studied the map a bit more, because when I came down from the mountains it was about an 8km walk to Maki station. A lonely walk through fields of rice. There was a bit of traffic to contend with and a couple of Lawson convenience stores to rehydrate at. All up it was just over 35k steps station to station. About 15k more steps than I was expecting.

Now onto the pics.

Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here is Yahiko, and the small mountain range in the background. The train went through a smaller town with a ridiculously huge Torii gate on the way,

Here is Yahiko, and the small mountain range in the background. The train went through a smaller town with a ridiculously huge Torii gate on the way, Yahagi. I think this area has something to do with a deer and a rabbit. Probably an anime.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - You know you are in a tourist area when the station is painted red.

You know you are in a tourist area when the station is painted red.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Steam was coming out of various little shops to herald my arrival.

Steam was coming out of various little shops to herald my arrival.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The little streets of Yahiko are lined with shops. Most were only just putting up their flags as I got there.

The little streets of Yahiko are lined with shops. Most were only just putting up their flags as I got there.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - People have made a real effort with their gardens. It is now illegal in Japan to take a photo like this. People recently got arrested for doing this i

People have made a real effort with their gardens. It is now illegal in Japan to take a photo like this. People recently got arrested for doing this in Kyoto! True story.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - There is a gate at the end of the street.

There is a gate at the end of the street.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Behold the gate, and flowers.

Behold the gate, and flowers.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - So many flowers.

So many flowers.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Ridiculous amounts of flowers.

Ridiculous amounts of flowers.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - There is no end to the flowers.

There is no end to the flowers.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Finally after hiking through displays of flowers for about 2 weeks I got to the shrine. I would walk along all those mountains behind it.

Finally after hiking through displays of flowers for about 2 weeks I got to the shrine. I would walk along all those mountains behind it.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - It was a really nice area. Old people would love to visit here. Also just out of the picture was a huge public toilet made out of enormous intricately

It was a really nice area. Old people would love to visit here. Also just out of the picture was a huge public toilet made out of enormous intricately carved old growth forest, with heating and a seating area to admire the toilets.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - MORE SIGNS LIKE THIS PLEASE! Very helpful.

MORE SIGNS LIKE THIS PLEASE! Very helpful.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The first half of todays path, which roughly follows the cable car, was all steps with signs everywhere, and lots of people.

The first half of todays path, which roughly follows the cable car, was all steps with signs everywhere, and lots of people.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - About half way up a view appeared. This mountain is only 640m high, but you start at 20m, so its still sweat inducing. It is located very near the coa

About half way up a view appeared. This mountain is only 640m high, but you start at 20m, so its still sweat inducing. It is located very near the coast and as you can see the farm land is dead flat.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - It was quite colorful, but the very grey sky prevented me from having a retina explosion.

It was quite colorful, but the very grey sky prevented me from having a retina explosion.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Behold the Ocean, the East China Sea, and Sado Island.

Behold the Ocean, the East China Sea, and Sado Island.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here is the view down the coast. It never rained once all day despite threatening to for most of it.

Here is the view down the coast. It never rained once all day despite threatening to for most of it.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - I have done well to hide the communication towers. This spot is a little bit away from the top cable car station, but theres a concrete path up to her

I have done well to hide the communication towers. This spot is a little bit away from the top cable car station, but theres a concrete path up to here, so quite a few people hanging about hacking up phlegm and chortling snot while eating cup noodles, and a mini shrine with a priest inside selling blessings.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Now I will walk all the way along all the ridges of the entire range. Whats that strange pole on the left?

Now I will walk all the way along all the ridges of the entire range. Whats that strange pole on the left?


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Before we go look at the mystery pole, here is my head. Also a mystery as to how a head so large stays on my shoulders. That vein in my forehead still

Before we go look at the mystery pole, here is my head. Also a mystery as to how a head so large stays on my shoulders. That vein in my forehead still hasnt reappeared!


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - So flat.

So flat.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - OK, this pole has a cylinder full of people that goes up it very slowly, its near the top here. It rotates as it goes up. I dont really understand how

OK, this pole has a cylinder full of people that goes up it very slowly, its near the top here. It rotates as it goes up. I dont really understand how its a better view than where I am standing, except that you get to go inside a strange contraption that looks like it was made 50 years ago. The cylinder thing is large, it has 2 levels of stadium seating. There were quite a few people trapped inside of it. To get down to the base of it you take a little step train thing. It seems like a lot of effort to go to so that you can enjoy the same view.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Theres also a lot of restaurants as you shall see. Here is the view from the roof of the restaurant complex.

Theres also a lot of restaurants as you shall see. Here is the view from the roof of the restaurant complex.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - All the standard Japanese fare. Very reasonable prices too. They dont serve dog meat according to the sign. Disappointing.

All the standard Japanese fare. Very reasonable prices too. They dont serve dog meat according to the sign. Disappointing.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - There are 3 levels of restaurants. Each with roughly the same menu.

There are 3 levels of restaurants. Each with roughly the same menu.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here I have walked a bit along the ridge away from the popular area. It is a semi manicured garden for a while. There is also a road up here, a Skylin

Here I have walked a bit along the ridge away from the popular area. It is a semi manicured garden for a while. There is also a road up here, a Skyline as they call it. Skyline is not just a type of Japanese car, its a type of Japanese road. Generally it means theres a high toll to pay to drive on it. Look at all the communication towers!


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Soon after, the path became excellent. There were only a handful of people for the next few hours.

Soon after, the path became excellent. There were only a handful of people for the next few hours.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Summit #2, which is only about 1 metre lower than the main summit, has almost no view. Theres a large weather station thing with the golf balls attach

Summit #2, which is only about 1 metre lower than the main summit, has almost no view. Theres a large weather station thing with the golf balls attached blocking the view.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Then it became my favourite kind of path. Colorful, silvery trees, gently sloping downwards. I love steep uphill, but prefer gentle down hill.

Then it became my favourite kind of path. Colorful, silvery trees, gently sloping downwards. I love steep uphill, but prefer gentle down hill.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Every time the sun poked out, I was too late to capture the color before it disappeared again. The sun was teasing me.

Every time the sun poked out, I was too late to capture the color before it disappeared again. The sun was teasing me.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - I passed a number of mini shrines and graves on my way down. Heres a low down view looking back towards Niigata. A good spot to urinate I decided.

I passed a number of mini shrines and graves on my way down. Heres a low down view looking back towards Niigata. A good spot to urinate I decided.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Once down from my small mountain range, I had a long walk back to the station. There were a few abandoned looking hotels, and this colorful place on i

Once down from my small mountain range, I had a long walk back to the station. There were a few abandoned looking hotels, and this colorful place on its own that looks like Pachinko Parlour. I suspect it too is abandoned.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - That is a smaller bit of the range I did not climb. I think I should of. I came down too soon and walked too far along the road.

That is a smaller bit of the range I did not climb. I think I should of. I came down too soon and walked too far along the road.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - As you can see, I had to walk a long way away from the mountain to get to the station. I walked all the way along all of those ridges. The angry geese

As you can see, I had to walk a long way away from the mountain to get to the station. I walked all the way along all of those ridges. The angry geese in this photo chased me, but I am fast. I only had to kick one of them (in self defence of course).


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - After an unexpectedly long walk I arrived back at Maki station. During my 20 minute wait for the train the guard came and checked my pass 3 times. I s

After an unexpectedly long walk I arrived back at Maki station. During my 20 minute wait for the train the guard came and checked my pass 3 times. I suspect he had not seen one before? Today was a much longer and much more interesting day than I thought it would be! I used too many exclamation points!!


Once more to the station

Coco curry in Niigata

Last night in Niigata. I was late heading out after attending to an urgent work situation. Where to go? Oh I know, the station.

If you face out of the busy side of the station, head left, its more interesting and busier than heading right.
Despite heading to the busy side, I still ended up at the old favourite, Coco Curry. I like it there, plus I was starving and I know they have big serves.
On my way back, I got back on the BRT rapid commuter bus service, and watched a drunk salary man negotiate the difficult task of boarding the bus, swiping his card and sitting down. After plenty of staggers and a thankfully vomitless attempt at vomiting, he sat in a priority seat, a block of 3, then fell sideways and laid on all 3 seats. Me and my crew of fellow bus riders kept out distance.
Unfortunately this included a little old lady, who now had no seat, the seats up the back require walking up a couple of stairs. So of course, when the bus stopped, she went flying, landing on drunk man, who popped up suddenly, yelled once, then immediately laid back down and kept sleeping.

Tomorrow, the long slow train ride over the mountains.

Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The train station has a diorama of the train station. This is 100 percent accurate.

The train station has a diorama of the train station. This is 100 percent accurate.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here is the bus catching area. Always a hive of activity. A team of brave men with whistles stand behind buses as they reverse in and create a deafeni

Here is the bus catching area. Always a hive of activity. A team of brave men with whistles stand behind buses as they reverse in and create a deafening cacophony of bird like noises emanating from their metallic shiny mouth pieces.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The busy side of the busy side of the station.

The busy side of the busy side of the station.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The quiet alleys are nicer here too.

The quiet alleys are nicer here too.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - This restaurant has a koi pond that goes inside the restaurant. The fish can decide if they want to be outside or inside.

This restaurant has a koi pond that goes inside the restaurant. The fish can decide if they want to be outside or inside.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Coco curry always has a seasonal menu, in among (amongst?) their plethora of menus. The current seasonal offering, liver.

Coco curry always has a seasonal menu, in among (amongst?) their plethora of menus. The current seasonal offering, liver.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - I have forgone the liver, and gone with vegetables, 10/10 spiciness. They always ask you, I always say 10 and point at the 10 chillis on the Japanese

I have forgone the liver, and gone with vegetables, 10/10 spiciness. They always ask you, I always say 10 and point at the 10 chillis on the Japanese menu. They always go and get the English menu and make me point and say it again.


There are currently 3 comments - click to add

bobule on 2019-11-09 said:

looked like a really good walk!


jenny on 2019-11-08 said:

I'll have the rousukatsu thanks


adriana on 2019-11-08 said:

According to the info I studied on Yahiko, you were supposed to hop in the onsen and have a good soak after your hike.



Day 15 - Saturday, 9 November 2019

A bridge between two tunnels

From Niigata to Yamagata on the slow train

Slow train really wasnt that slow. All up about 4 hours door to door.
The first train went from Niigata to Yonezawa, through spectacular scenery. Some of the mountains had a lot of snow on them.
This was a diesel 2 carriage train and a 3 hour journey that seemed to last about 1 hour. The scenery was spectacular enough that most of the Japanese people were standing taking photos just as I was. The best scenery was generally when you went over a bridge between two tunnels, however I could not ever properly capture that! A lot of the ravines had bright blue water.

There were 2 issues. There was a guy on the train that stank of 3 week old beer and urine. He drank 5 cans of beer at 9am within the first hour of getting on the train. His wife was mad at him every time he opened another can, and he would then yell at her. It was an uncomfortable situation, but not as uncomfortable as the temperature.
It was about 5 degrees outside, and yet it was actually 31 degrees celsius on the train. I took my fancy watch off and accurately measured the temperature, I could not believe how hot it was. Everyone was fanning themselves.

Once at Yonezawa, there was only 5 minutes to change trains, which involved running up one platform, heaving my bag over the overpass thingy, and running back down another platform.
Generally you can follow the crowd, but it seemed a lot of the crowd were taking the Shinkansen towards Tokyo. I only made the next train by a few seconds.

The second train was about an hour from Yonezawa to Yamagata, this was just a regular electric train, traveling up a highly populated yet mountainous corridor. Also, because I went from JR central to JR east (I think), the gates wouldnt let me out with my ICOCA card. I had to go to the window and tell them I got on at Niigata and they had to look up the fare and deduct it with their machine. I dont know if they could tell where I got on or if it works purely on the honor system.

Yamagata first impressions, its a tourist town, near Mount Zao where I will go to tomorrow. As such theres a lot of restaurants and shops etc. It seems busier than Niigata city, which allegedly has 3x the population of Yamagata.

Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here comes my small train to collect me. Its features included, a volcanic heating system powered by pure lava, a squatter toilet, and a lot of rubbis

Here comes my small train to collect me. Its features included, a volcanic heating system powered by pure lava, a squatter toilet, and a lot of rubbish bins.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The inside of the train looks just like any other Japanese train.

The inside of the train looks just like any other Japanese train.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Soon after we left Niigata, the scenery became great, however I did not do a great job of capturing it today.

Soon after we left Niigata, the scenery became great, however I did not do a great job of capturing it today.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - At one stage I was called upon to drive the train.

At one stage I was called upon to drive the train.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - I spent most of my time looking out the back window like this. Reflections in the glass were making it hard to take photos in the bright sun. This is

I spent most of my time looking out the back window like this. Reflections in the glass were making it hard to take photos in the bright sun. This is an example of where I missed the ideal shot from a bridge between two tunnels.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Most of the journey was very colorful, this BODES WELL for my activity for the day after tomorrow, assuming theres some sun on that day.

Most of the journey was very colorful, this BODES WELL for my activity for the day after tomorrow, assuming theres some sun on that day.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here is a snow plow train. The driver of this is one of the luckiest people in the world.

Here is a snow plow train. The driver of this is one of the luckiest people in the world.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Those mountains you can just see in the distance have a lot of snow on the top, despite not being that high. I missed 3 earlier opportunities to get a

Those mountains you can just see in the distance have a lot of snow on the top, despite not being that high. I missed 3 earlier opportunities to get a better photo while the train was much closer to them.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Eventually we came out the other side of the mountains into a very flat valley.

Eventually we came out the other side of the mountains into a very flat valley.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Now in Yamagata, the street from the station to my hotel is quite busy.

Now in Yamagata, the street from the station to my hotel is quite busy.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Out the front of my hotel there are a series of street bells strategically placed to keep me awake all night.

Out the front of my hotel there are a series of street bells strategically placed to keep me awake all night.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Too early to check in of course, my next activity was to head to the Yamagata castle, one of the top 100 castles of Japan!

Too early to check in of course, my next activity was to head to the Yamagata castle, one of the top 100 castles of Japan!


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here is the castle.

Here is the castle.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Wait... HERE is the castle.

Wait... HERE is the castle.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Hmm, actually here is part of the castle wall, last reconstructed in 1890 something. I am unsure if all the construction going on is for a castle reco

Hmm, actually here is part of the castle wall, last reconstructed in 1890 something. I am unsure if all the construction going on is for a castle reconstruction. If they do reconstruct the castle hopefully they use modern construction techniques and install a fire sprinkler system, unlike the castle that recently burnt down in Okinawa which I visited last year.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The Addams family museum is nearby. Actually its an old hospital. It looks like it was probably a mental asylum, but the signs did not say that. Now i

The Addams family museum is nearby. Actually its an old hospital. It looks like it was probably a mental asylum, but the signs did not say that. Now its a folk museum.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - This cat on the grounds of the former haunted mental hospital collects the souls of the dead. And actually he or she was the ONLY cat I saw. Which is

This cat on the grounds of the former haunted mental hospital collects the souls of the dead. And actually he or she was the ONLY cat I saw. Which is unusual, where theres one cat in a park there are usually 50. Not here, just this scary looking cat.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The mountain over the city, Mount Zao, is actually many mountains, 20 cable cars, an Onsen, a volcanic lake etc. I plan to go there tomorrow and not u

The mountain over the city, Mount Zao, is actually many mountains, 20 cable cars, an Onsen, a volcanic lake etc. I plan to go there tomorrow and not use the cable car. Sunshine is forecast, so hopefully I get to see the turquoise crater lake.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Back near the station, I think this is the council building. It also has shops, and a Nepalese school orchestra playing Vivaldi?

Back near the station, I think this is the council building. It also has shops, and a Nepalese school orchestra playing Vivaldi?


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The view from the station was quite good.

The view from the station was quite good.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The view from the balcony in my hotel room was better.

The view from the balcony in my hotel room was better.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - My hotel room is fine. Usual sort of thing. An older building, room slightly bigger but a strange angle situation. The bathroom seems to have been red

My hotel room is fine. Usual sort of thing. An older building, room slightly bigger but a strange angle situation. The bathroom seems to have been redone. Internet is ridiculously fast as ever. In other news, I have discovered that 'google lens' is great, I can just point my phone at signs and it translates them on the go. Now I can 'read' all the weird APA propaganda in my hotel room.


Jacket time

Nanukamachi in Yamagata

Yamagata has 2 areas full of shops and restaurants. The station area is like most station areas, focused on business men and travelers, but Yamagata has more than just that.
About a kilometre away from the station is an Nanukamachi, which is a series of really nice tourist shopping streets. Lots of boutique stores, department stores, restaurants, ice cream shops, hiking gear stores, bike shops, cafes, cat cafes, hedgehog cafes, but no girl bars. Its the family friendly tourist part of Yamagata. I liked it. I was surprised it was so large and vibrant. There also seems to be new buildings under construction.

It was raining a bit, but there was still people everywhere, so I am ready to cast my vote, Yamagata > Niigata.

Now for my key rant. I have done this rant before. The hotel I am staying in makes you hand your key to reception every time you leave the hotel, so they know you are not in your room and can go through your stuff.
They even showed me an English laminated card explaining I must do this for security reasons. Fine, I dont really want to carry around the Alcatraz jail sized key anyway.

So this evening I arrive back at the hotel, go to reception, different girl from earlier is at the desk. I ask for the key to my room, tell her the number slowly and clearly. She asks for no ID, hands me a key for room 711 instead of 701. I checked the photo I had wisely taken of the key on my phone, showed her it is 701, which is what I said. She just takes back the wrong one and hands me the right one.

This is idiotic. Not only is it a security issue for me, as anyone can walk in and ask for a key and get it, but its also likely to get me thrown in jail. Allow me to explain.
Lets pretend I had not taken a photo of my key, and vaguely remembered the number of my room, incorrectly, and asked for 711 by mistake and was given it. Then I go and open the door to 711 and a Japanese female is in there getting undressed, screams, people come running, I get arrested, I try and explain the hotel screwed up and gave me the wrong key. I am a single white male traveling in Japan who entered a naked Japanese girls room. Life in prison.

Sort this shit out Japan, its the second time I have been given the wrong key!

Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here is the main street in Nanukamachi. A lot of places around here are called Nannas this, Nannas that. Does Nanu mean Nanna in Japanese? Nanu Nanu?

Here is the main street in Nanukamachi. A lot of places around here are called Nannas this, Nannas that. Does Nanu mean Nanna in Japanese? Nanu Nanu?


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - This complex is full of little arts and crafts shops, staying open late on Saturday.

This complex is full of little arts and crafts shops, staying open late on Saturday.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - There is a warehouse complex converted into little alleyways of restaurants.

There is a warehouse complex converted into little alleyways of restaurants.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - The far end of Nanukamachi.

The far end of Nanukamachi.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - There are 3 or 4 little department stores, all busy, all with basement food areas. Some with little restaurant areas too.

There are 3 or 4 little department stores, all busy, all with basement food areas. Some with little restaurant areas too.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Unfortunately its raining, so only one fool is standing in the rain watching these 2 children receive some kind of an award from the mayor.

Unfortunately its raining, so only one fool is standing in the rain watching these 2 children receive some kind of an award from the mayor.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Another street full of shops and restaurants.

Another street full of shops and restaurants.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Many of the restaurants were busy, generally they were welcoming of customers. That might sound strange, but lots of small restaurants and bars in Jap

Many of the restaurants were busy, generally they were welcoming of customers. That might sound strange, but lots of small restaurants and bars in Japan are not looking for new customers. They are semi-private, you are not supposed to go in unless someone has invited you. A lot of Niigata seemed to be like that, no sign saying open, no indication of what was being served inside. Here in Yamagata its setup for tourists, no one is a local.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - My dinner tonight was particularly great. Yes its noodles of some kind, but I had no idea what it was, and still dont now after eating it. I think it

My dinner tonight was particularly great. Yes its noodles of some kind, but I had no idea what it was, and still dont now after eating it. I think it was called everything noodles, and it was delicious. It definitely contained potatoes! Possibly pineapple? And lots of big chunks of chilli.


Japan for the 9th time - Oct and Nov 2019 - Here is the key from my above extended rant. The existence and concept of this I despise.

Here is the key from my above extended rant. The existence and concept of this I despise.


There are currently 3 comments - click to add

Winanda on 2019-11-09 said:

David your blog is making me feel much better while I am going through some heavy duty chemotherapy. Your photos are always interesting and your descriptions make me smile. You see what a lot of tourists miss.


mother on 2019-11-09 said:

Yes those keys are very annoying - you have to talk to the staff and of course they know all your movements.


mother on 2019-11-09 said:

Hot trains are very annoying. You need to dress for the summer even in the middle of the winter when travelling on some of those country trains.



On page 6 there will be ice and views.

Contents

Day 1 - Saturday, 26 October 2019
  I do not care if I am late
  Bike pump
Day 2 - Sunday, 27 October 2019
  Still not in Tokyo
  Killing time in familiar places
  Finally ran out of puff
Day 3 - Monday, 28 October 2019
  Expensive trip to small mountain
  Sky Soba
Day 4 - Tuesday, 29 October 2019
  An entire forest just for me
  New and undercover
Day 5 - Wednesday, 30 October 2019
  Three peak party
  All the neon in all the places
Day 6 - Thursday, 31 October 2019
  The quiet river
  Busy but not as busy
Day 7 - Friday, 1 November 2019
  Au naturale hiking trail
  The station is so station
Day 8 - Saturday, 2 November 2019
  Surprise Buddha
  The town that got bypassed
Day 9 - Sunday, 3 November 2019
  A walk in the volcano park
  Takasaki has a lot of shops
Day 10 - Monday, 4 November 2019
  Staying the course
  Walkway to nowhere
Day 11 - Tuesday, 5 November 2019
  Quiet coastal city under construction
  Early night
Day 12 - Wednesday, 6 November 2019
  Fast run up an icy mountain
  Still quiet
Day 13 - Thursday, 7 November 2019
  Lagooning about
  Bus rapid transit
Day 14 - Friday, 8 November 2019
  Full range
  Once more to the station
Day 15 - Saturday, 9 November 2019
  A bridge between two tunnels
  Jacket time
Day 16 - Sunday, 10 November 2019
  Ice capades on magic mountain
  A rare event indeed
Day 17 - Monday, 11 November 2019
  Repeat visit
  Rain the other way
  The end