Saturday, 11 April 2009

I don't think I'm turning Japanese

Well I’m back from Japan, as I’m sure you can tell, and it was incredibly awesome. The reason I was there (if you didn’t already know) was a rugby tour with my school. We were the first school from England to tour the country, so it was a pretty unique experience. We stopped off in Dubai for three days before flying to Osaka. We stayed there for a few more days, and then spend some time with some host families in Kyoto before moving on to Tokyo. We did a couple of excursions, one to Himeji Castle and one to Hiroshima, which was fucking depressing. Anyway it was a fantastic trip and I promised some photos, so here goes.

Our first destination was Dubai, which is horribly overrated. It just feels so fake. The city was just build from nothing in the middle of a desert and it feels like it. The city has no history, no culture. A city is more that just a collection of buildings, built in the space of a few decades by oil magnates with nothing more to do that build 7 star hotels and indoor ski slopes in the middle of a desert. It has no history, no culture and hence no character. It felt like any generic western city with no defining features apart from its sheer scale. The only thing that makes it different from any other city is the fact that it is bigger and more excessive; it has the biggest building in the world, the best hotel, the biggest indoor ski slope, the biggest ego, and it’s not even finished yet. The place is half building site half city and neither is all that pleasant. If the entire city were to disappear overnight, leaving only the desert on which it is built the world would not loose much of note.

Sorry I got distracted for a minute there; I didn’t like Dubai very much. Here’s a photo of the 7 star hotel.

Our next stop was Osaka, which was nice enough I guess. The main highlight of this city was the day trip to Himeji Castle, which is one of the biggest and most well preserved castles on Japan. As a historian it was really interesting to compare is with European castles, but I won’t bore you with the specifics.
Anyway here's the castle. It was pretty large as you can see and these photo's speak for themselves a bit but a feel obliged to write something here so I'll just ramble.

And a close up of the main keep which was about 6 stories high or something, and very hard to move around in because it was built for small Japanese people not large rugby players, but we managed.

It's a big bird, it looked cool. I have nothing else to say.
Castle enthusiasts should be jizzing in their underwear at this next one. The rest of you can just admire the stonework or something.

I don't have so say why I put this next one in; it's a fucking zombie samurai.

Ok so that was Himeji Castle, The next place we visited was Kyoto, which was my favourite city of the ones we visited. My host family took me to a temple in the hills above Kyoto which was really interesting.

I didn't get many good photos of this place as i was running low on battery life at the time.

Easily the most depressing place we visited was Hiroshima. This one of the buildings in the city which remained standing after the blast and has been repeatedly restored as a reminder to everyone (as if we need it).

This is called the 'peace bell' it has a map of the world and some writing in Japanese, Greek and Sanskrit engraved on it.

Here's the bell with the dome behind it. How profound of me to take that photo.

Similarly for this one. The flame that is between the arch and the dome (in the middle distance) is only supposed to go out when we have full nuclear disarmament, which will probably be never.

This rock has been turned black by the nuclear radiation, I assume.

That was the last of the excursions that we did. i have a few more general photos, such as these cherry blossoms which the Japanese have an obsession with which borders on the fetishistic. Seriously, they'll just stand there and stare at them for no apparent reason.

We also went to Disneyland Tokyo which was a uniquely Japanese experience, ha ha irony.

The Tokyo skyline... at night.

And some hilarious innuendo to finish off.

That's all folks! I'll be back next week with fewer photos.

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