Odaiba, Ueno, Nagano and Hell's Valley

Last Friday and Saturday I hung out with Rowensage from the forums. We went around Odaiba and Ueno. First, on the way to Odaiba I shot a picture of Hachiko, the ever faithful dog outside of Shibuya station.

Upon arriving on Odaiba (which is the reclaimed land area of Tokyo bay), we headed to Joypolis, which is a large game center with big games, such as the Initial D racing game

and the best game of all, the treadmill game!

After hanging out there for a bit we went and saw the Statue of Liberty

and then headed across the transport (really just a long walking bridge) towards a shopping mall with a Caesar’s Palace-like shopping mall

that had, among other things, a lego store.

After that we headed over to the Toyota showcase where I sat in a smart car (really tiny)

and saw lots of other cool vehicles. Our last stop was the “Super Power Amusement!” center that had DDR, DJ Beatmaster and Taiko machines along with lots of other games and activities. This included batting/pitching/golf cages, ping pong tables, etc…

The next day we went to the science museum in Ueno park, which was pretty cool, and then upon re-entering Ueno station stumbled across a Taiko performance.

Then Rowen had to go and head back to the states. Full album below:

2008UenoOdaiba

Then, after a day off, I headed up to Nagano to check out Zenkoji, the most famous temple in the area.

It was a pretty sweet temple complex with many surrounding buildings, and inside the temple you could go down into the “corridor of enlightenment”, which is a long U-shaped corridor underground that is pitch-dark. I mean really pitch-dark. I kept bumping into the people in front of me. Supposedly you are supposed to reflect in the dark while searching for the “key” to enlightenment. I thought it was pretty cool until some woman turned on a little light she had on her key ring. Did she get the memo?

Some cool things were the doves carved into the Kanji letters on the Sanmon gate

The six Jizo statues (Bodhisattvas)

And the “Nagano is happy to see you” sign on the street by the station.

Many more pictures in the full album:

2008Nagano

And then today I went up to Jigokudani in Nagano prefecture. Jigokudani literally translates as Hell’s Valley. It is so named because the original people there thought that the sheer cliffs and jagged rock coupled with the superhot water gushing up from the ground reminded them of hell. Why it’s important is because this is where the Japanese Macaque are abundant and like to enjoy the hot springs. So I got lots of monkey pictures.

First off though, was the approach. It’s not a super easy place to get. First I took the Shinkansen to Nagano station. Then I walked over and caught the Nagano Dentetsu (electric rail) train to Yudanaka (a resort town at the very base of the valley). Then I caught a bus that took me up to Kanbayashi Onsen and then from there about a 20-30 minute walk up the valley into the park. I left my house at 6:25am and got to Jigokudani about 10:30am or so. Getting back took about the same amount of time. So It was about a 10 hour trip for 2 hours or so of monkey watching. But totally worth it. Plus on the train I got to watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (Side note: If you haven’t seen this WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!? It’s got everything to love, Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion and Joss Whedon) again and again. I swear, I’ve ridden more mass-transit in the three weeks since I’ve come to Japan than I did in the past 12 years combined… and I love it. It just proves what I’ve always said. Give me a convenient mass-transit system and I don’t need or want a car.

Anyways, back to the story. I got off the bus and took a couple pics of the valley I just came up.

Beautiful country. And because I was up in the hills the heat wasn’t as oppressive. It was hot, but I was the most comfortable I’ve been so far in Japan. This is why I want to live in Nagano (One of many reasons). The trail up to the valley was beautiful.

When I finally got there I was actually a bit worried. “It’s really hot”, I thought. So why would monkeys be hanging around a hot spring if it’s already hot out? Turns out my worries were totally unfounded. On the map it should just read “Here there be monkeys” with a little monkey face.

There were monkeys sleeping

Monkeys cleaning each other

Monkeys diving in the water

And monkeys leaping (I actually waited about 5 minutes for this shot, with the zoom in and the finger on the button. I knew he was going to jump back out from the middle since he jumped there, I was just praying I got it. This pic is my pride and joy from this album)

Monkeys hanging off wires

Pretty much monkeys going bananas. It was a good time. So the trip was completely worth it. Many more monkey pictures here:

2008Jigokudani

On a more personal note. Wednesday morning I decided to finally bite the bullet and start looking for work. Since I hadn’t had any bites for computer jobs (no one wants to sponsor a visa, only renew one) I decided to throw my hat in the teaching ring. So I put in about 20 applications for jobs from Nara to Yamagata, with one reservations job in Hokkaido. Then I went out for the day. By the time I got back I had three requests for interviews. So tomorrow I head down to Nara for the first one. The 2nd one will probably be in Nagoya, maybe on Saturday, and the 3rd in Matsumoto (Nagano), hopefully on Monday. Matsumoto is my first choice, just for location. Nara would be cool to live because of the historical/deer aspects, and Nagoya is a good city that is right on the shinkansen line, so very accessible. Anyways, wish me luck.

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0 thoughts on “Odaiba, Ueno, Nagano and Hell's Valley”

  1. Awesome, so what about the monkeys? Why were they there if it was hot?
    Did you try the Hot Springs? Did you get a treatment? Which kind of treatment?
    Hope you succeed in your interviews and it’s great to read that your prospects are good.

  2. The monkeys just live there. And the hot springs were not for people, just for the monkeys. Even if they were for people I wouldn’t have gone in. It’s freaking hot out already.

  3. I love looking at the Japanese Arcitecture (sp?) new and old. Also the landscape looks really pretty and fresh! lol Those monkey pictures were pretty awesome! I think I’d prefer the puplic transportation as well, but I’ve never had the chance to try it. Anywho, Hope you find a good job! bai bai

  4. Hi Ichigo,

    I know you’re still getting settled in Tokyo but man seriously give me a call sometime. you should so come up and visit I’d love to show you around the Amori area. just give me a call. 63-7885
    Well have fun in tokyo. Iam sad that Iam about to leave Japan. But hey I might get to come back in a few years.

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