Japan day 7 – Monkey magic, toori gate madness and pancakes!

Good MORNING EVERYONE!

Yeah I bet you didn’t expect to see THIS right? Sorry for the shock, but James insisted on this picture – and I guess in the end who am I to complain? After all…I LOVE melon pan! It’s sweet throughout but not overly sweet. It’s not too soft, and has just that little bit of crunch to it. I mean shit yes it’s only bread – but it’s GOOD bread! The choc chips only add to the awesomeness.

By now, you might have picked up the fact that I use the word “awesome” and its variants a lot.  Yep by this time HIMYM fever has truly seeped in and awesome’s the new buzzword. Naturally, awesome’s the word :D

That of course, wasn’t our entire breakfast. That was completed by the Ramen we bought (we bought four bowls if you recall from yesterday). Yes yes, as usual you want to shoot me for being that lazy…SHOOT ME. Nah seriously don’t  – the rest of this trip’s pretty interesting :)

For a change, we got to wake up a fair bit later than usual tour procedures – 9am! Which in tour time, is considered sacrilegious as we could’ve done two more hours of stuff with the 7am time!

Right? Right? NO WRONG DAMNIT. We were dead tired from climbing all those temples and “hunting” all those Geisha (oh man this will not sound right to you guys…shieet). You only go on for so long before you burn out. That day was the day. And so 2 hours sleep in sweeeet. It also explains why I required the sugar rush from the melon pan om nom nom.

So now, on the 7th day of the trip (and the 5th day of the tour), the highly astute may be wondering how we’re dealing with laundry this time. Had we left it, we’d have a stinking pile of clothes now and James might have wished he’d have packed more. Well…that’d be me actually James managed to pack more than me in terms of usable clothing >.<

It’s a good thing the hotels we went to have showers and sinks! LOL. That’s how we did the laundry. No dodgy (well it’s Japan so I doubt it’d be dodgy) expensive coin laundry for us! Although shower rail space is prime real estate :D. Eventually James just gave up and only I continued doing laundry on a daily basis.

Problem was, since they’re hand-washed they don’t dry in just one night. As such, I’ve had to rewash several things since we had to check out of the hotel which mooted the whole point. Lesson: always allow yourself two days for hand-washed laundry. I can’t freaking believe it took a trip to a foreign country to realise that. I’ve got to stop taking the washing machine for granted.

Yeha, 3 paragraphs for that. Sorry to do this to you. I really, really, am.

Not.

Moving along now…today’s the day to check out. Once we’ve completed the process and left our luggage for later collection in the lobby, we had free reign over the entire day in Kyoto.

Now, although the concept of “free time” appeals to many people, it doesn’t really work when taken in the context of a tour in a foreign country. After all, how could you, with your limited knowledge, know where to go? Pffffft man…yeah that’s my main complaint with the tour. We are supposed to be “toured” around. Nevertheless, we were at least recommended locations to which we could visit, and made the most of it.

Actually, that turned out pretty awesome. First stop – MONKEY MOUNTAIN!

It’s pretty much what it sounds. A mountain that’s on the outskirts of the city region in which wild monkeys live. The awesome thing is unlike a zoo, the monkeys roam the mountain so it is possible to make direct contact with them. Not that it’s recommended. But you can essentially walk up to them and take pictures. They’re not rare either – one will eventually see plenty :)

First of all was a fair trip time by train to the edge of the city, took nearly 40minutes. zzzzzz. Yeah heated train seats tend to do that to you (DID I MENTION THAT? HOW AWESOME IS THAT EEEEHHHHH? I guess toilet seat technology carries to train seats too hehe).

Then, we make our way past a river and then a bridge…and we’re now at the foot of the mountain. This place looks quite traditional only marred by cars.

The journey to the mountain was pretty cool in itself. It’s really calm and all. A feeling of peace :)

We buy the 500JPY ticket to go up the mountain and the hike begins!

It feels…very very quiet. Tranquil, really. It’s a really good place to just take a walk I reckon. Apart from the initial flight of stairs, it’s quite a relaxed pace. The mountain’s not too steep, nor is it too high (a large hill????)

Zomgosh, sif we didn’t have enough stairs to climb yesterday GODDAMN IT. My legs haven’t recovered yet!

Anyways, while listening to the light chirping of the birds…a rustling sound. WUT? But there was nothing there…we walk on a few paces. – DASH – was that a tail just then we saw? We carefully continued up the steps, eyes peeled for any signs of activity…LEAVES CRACKING? HMMM? I swear we’re being played with! MONKEY ATTACK!

Well, not really. But, I finally saw a monkey in the gully down beneath. How to describe them…perhaps pictures do a better job. Just my guess.

And now for a closeup:

NGAWAWAWAWWAWAWWWW.

But yes, these are the pink-faced monkeys that reside on this mountain. At first, they keep ducking away, just out of sight. They rustle the leaves around as they move, always leaving us wondering. As we go further up though, we begin to see more and more of them and thus are able to get better pictures (like the one above). Man, this is pretty cool. It’s an open zoo essentially! Though with only one animal on display haha. I sure wouldn’t prefer tigers though. I like cats though…

Digressions aside, we get up to about halfway and um…

MONKEY MAGIC

Yeah well MONKEYS HAVE TO DO IT TOO. Alrighty then. Moving along, as we reach the top of the mountain, the number of monkeys grows frighteningly numerous. Of course when we reach the top we realise why…

As we climb, we reach this sign:

The mountain’s about 170-180m high. We’re getting there!

Basically there’s this “base” here at the top, where all the monkeys congregate. The staff here feed the monkeys occasionally. It seems like they eat fruit the most – apples really.

What’s awesome is that we get the chance to feed them as well! Inside the shack, 100JPY gets you a bag of apple slices and you can feed the monkeys. Omgg, it’s probably one of the cutest things you could do. Especially when the little ones grab the apple from you. There were also some big fat old ones hmmph. So selfish, those ones are.

LOOK! I’M FEEDING A MONKEY!

Yeah, pretty awesome stuff ehhh. The little ones are just so awesome. Until they get bullied away by the big ones :(

Some more pics:

The one on its back sure is getting a high class treatment!

The additional benefit of this mountain is that if you turned around…you can get a panoramic view of pretty much the entire city. Epic coolness. We’re about 200m up from sea level. It’s enough really. Naturally, pics to follow:

The above pic truly showcases the power of the telescopic lens :)

Mmmm, this was a morning well spent. Man, who doesn’t love monkeys. Sheldon Cooper would be disappointed.

That odd reference aside, it was time to train it to the very famous INARI SHRINE. Sure, the name might not be anything to you – but does the image of several thousand toori gates going on for what seems like forever trigger your memories? Yeah, it’s that place. This is also the place where that section from Memoirs of A Geisha was filmed. Yeah, we went there alright. It’s an excellent place.

As usual, there were the shrines and temples that dotted the place before we arrived at the beginning of the gates.

And then, to take the first steps…

Tchyeaaahhh.

Now that’s going to stretch into the distance.

Well, it turns out that:

1) There’s over 8000 toori gates at this shrine. Yes, that’s a huge number.

2) After a few hundred meters the paths split into 3-4 and then converge again at the top of the mountain (this shrine’s on a mountain btw)

3) It’s freaking hard to climb after awhile. In fact, we never got to the top. Only the halfway point. Though I hate to say it – you do get tired of it after awhile. It’s a LOT of toori gate.

4) But, for first-timers – it’s epic. Eeeepic.

^There’s a LOT of such shrines. Over 10000 iirc.

Actually, every single toori gate has an inscription on it. For the pics where you see gates that have no inscription – they’re on the back. As usual, apart from certain numbers I can’t make sense of them.

Eventually, dragging my tired and wasted body down the temple again, I finally decided to buy a mini-toori gate as my first souvenir. As usual, anything we could buy with a credit card – James whips out his trusty Visa…

…yep, whip out that Visa James…

…why aren’t you whipping it out…?

…hmm…

…OH SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII

WHERE’D IT GO? WTFF? YOU HAD IT ON YOU THIS MORNING RIGHT? WHAT HAPPENED TO IT? WHAT?

Okay, Houston, we’ve a SERIOUS problem here.

And that’s the story of how James found out he lost his credit card >.<

Sigh, goddamn man. This actually has serious implications:

1) We never did carry too much cash to begin with (with the cash that Felix gave us to buy his camera, we only had about 140-150k)

2) James barely exchanged any cash – he was intending to rely on his CC most of the time.

3) I could not withdraw cash because I stupidly forgot my pin several months before the trip and never remembered to visit the bank to get it reset.

Options became tight as soon as this happened. We could only rely on Danny now…to bring a heap load of cash when he comes.

Feeling rather worried, we made our way back to Kyoto. It was already late afternoon by this time.

As we’re on our way back to the hotel…LIGHT BULB! I’ve a debit card! No need to use passwords or anything like that. Just a signature. Hell to the yeah. To try this out I went to a random food souvenir shop and bought some sweet soybean paste dumplings and…CHECK. Debit card works! I was a bit disturbed at how they didn’t even ask for me signature though. But, as long as I don’t lose my card it shouldn’t be a problem…:D

(just in case you get foreshadowing thoughts – no I never lost the card :P).

Time for lunch. Getting real Hungary here.

Yeah, sorry I had to do that.

Ahem. We had maccas again – don’t even bother – we had:

Yes. A Salt and Lemon burger.

This is a chicken burger. Remember what I said about chicken here in Japan? Yeah – you gottit – a freaking AWESOME burger. It tasted interesting due to the lemon zest flavour that went with every bite. In the end, it could be described as tangy. A unique burger indeed.

Alrighty, it’s nearing dinnertime, but not quite there yet. Kyoto…over. Riggght? Yes, right. It’s time to leave :(. Though I would’ve loved to visit more places (Kyoto’s also the heart of the Japanese Anime industry!) it’s time to move along. Our next stop? HIROSHIMA!

WE RIDE!

Ah, but this is still the same day. Blog’s not over yet! So, we take the Shinkansen (hell yeah, so many Shinkansen) to Hiroshima which takes about 2 or so hours. We step out…

Okay I’m going to take a moment to kind of apologise because I wisecracked too many radiation jokes at our time here. A bit of black humour, really. Soz guys but it happened so can’t do anything about that…

With that out of the way…the city itself is quite alright (nothing standout though). Apart from deliberately protected areas you won’t see any trace of the terrible bomb that was dropped 66 years ago. As I later found out, radiation levels are also completely safe – 1/millionth of the strength it was back then. Barely higher than normal atmospheric radiation.

As it was dark, we proceeded to the hotel to check in and dump our luggage.

Not a bad room. But I’m going to have to suffer James’ snoring again. By now though I’m somewhat used to it. I just have to fall asleep faster than him! But not likely considering he can fall asleep within literally 2 minutes while taking me hours…

Just before dinner, we held an Origami folding session. I made my first crane here! It wasn’t too difficult to pick up, but sadly several days later I forgot how to do it sigh. I’ll be sure to pick it up again at some point. We then penned a wish onto each crane and then donated them to the crane collection for the tour (reaching 1000 now), after which they’ll be hung up in a certain place in Hiroshima…anyways no pics, since our hands were all busy.

After that interesting exercise, we went out to have dinner. It was something special called Okonomiyaki. Wiki it for the whole deal. Basically, it’s like a massive (massive in the sense that it’s tall) pancake where you start cooking the base and layer stuff onto it. Lettuce, meat, cheese, soba noodles, etc. All cooked in front of you. Essentially it’s a big savory cake of many layers. This is a must-try while you’re in Japan. You’ll get a lot of this where people cook what you eat in front of you. At least no worries about what shady stuff goes on behind the kitchen right?

Frying the soba!

Put the lettuce and soba in between 2 pancake layers!

Fry the egg!

Put the Okonomiyaki sauce, shallots and egg on top! Afterwards it’s topped up with meat and a final pancake put on top. For some reason there’s no picture of the final product?  WTF…well you can imagine what it looks like. Well, serve to taste! UPDATE: THERE ARE PIC NAO.

^That don’t look like much but it’s tastier than you think! 8/10

The one bad thing though is that it takes awhile to make 10 of them. So long that we had played with pancake batter ourselves haha:

SHEN FACE SHEN FACE SHEN FACE. Oh man Keiko you do have a sense of humor :D.

“Hmm”, James might be thinking. “Innnnnnnnteresting!”

And then, nom nom noM nOM NOM!

After dinner, we braved the chilly air (it’s near 0C here) back to the hotel and there was free WiFi! Yeah it’s that amazing. Exploit exploit exploit :D

That marks the end of that day. Time to rest one’s loins in preparation for a brand new day tomorrow. It’s going to be an awesome history lesson kekekeke.

Gentlemen, WE RIDE!

P.S. this is random – but wow, the girls are pretty in Hiroshima. I’m not sure why that is – but ’tis true (proportionally speaking and in absolute terms).

Just had to say that.

About Michael @ I'm Still Hungry
I blog. Therefore you read. imstillhungry.net

7 Responses to Japan day 7 – Monkey magic, toori gate madness and pancakes!

  1. ekayy says:

    I love reading your blog. So detailed. Definitely going to do one for my Hong Kong and Singapore trip.
    Just a few questions…
    Can I get exact specifications of James’ ‘telescopic’ lens? I think you may have been misusing the term.
    And so many pretty girls in Hiroshima yet I don’t see a single photo of you with them….I’m so disappointed….

  2. nclfrk799 says:

    All I remember is that it’s 55-250mm. I’m pretty sure it falls under the definition of telescopic…

    Hah – I should mention (just for you) – not exactly within my “balls-y” range to do that kind of thing LOL. I mean, just seeing how many times Danny failed later on (you’ll read all about it) and I knew I made the right choice :P

  3. ekayy says:

    Oh…I believe that is a telephoto zoom lens…Because telescopic lenses are literally telescopic…As in…You view the universe…Not for everyday use…

  4. nclfrk799 says:

    Oh snap. Yeah I didn’t know such a distinction existed lol!

    Yeah, telephoto zoom. Well that does give more clarity to the hundreds of 50cm+ long lenses I saw in camera stores /drool/

    Even I, as a non-camera enthusiast – but a hardware enthusiast – can appreciate the epic power of those lenses. They really did look like telescopes haha.

    There was actually a place in Pentax Square where they advertised they had a 1200mm super telephoto lens you could try out…but that was a dead end :(

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