If you feel stupid then you should read this

Because then you will realize that there is someone who is even more stupid than you.. me :-D

I had this mad plan that I wanted to cycle from Seta (where I am living) to Kyoto and now I had a chance to make it happen. I wanted to sell my bike to another student who is studying in another campus, Fukakusa campus. So I had this romantic idea of riding my bicycle to Fukakusa.. my goal was to get an exercise, enjoy Kyoto / Japan differently and sell the bike. The distance was supposed to be around 19km.

To make you feel better already I can tell you that one of those things above didn’t happen! I am sure we all know what that is :-D yep, selling the bike. I didn’t mention that I didn’t have internet (because I was sure I could make it without it) and I didn’t have a proper map or directions. I had just taken few screenshots from google maps.. this is making me laugh so much now that I think about it afterwards.

Luckily I achieved at least two of the goals. Yep, I got a gooood exercise and I saw Kyoto differently. Weather forecast promised sun. I got sun, and also a bit of snow and snow grains. I thought that the mountain would be my biggest obstacle but no – it was Kyoto!! After I found my way to the other side of the mountain, everything became a bit more exciting. Too exciting. I wanted to take the straightest way to Fukakusa but I found myself from Yamashina… pretty far from Fukakusa. After that it was just impossible to find Fukakusa even though it seemed that I was all the time quite near. Every time I asked for an advice to Fukakusa, the answer was “around 30 minutes that way”. Well my 30 minutes changed into almost two hours and I was still just near Fukakusa :-D haha. So the last person who I asked help took me to a station and I decided to give up. I couldn’t find Fukakusa. And I couldn’t sell the bike to the person I intended because I couldn’t take the bike to the train. So I had two options…..

.. to either cowardlessly abandon it or give it to someone. So I decided to give my bike for free to the lady that walked with me to the train station that took me to Kyoto (of course passing the station near Fukakusa, “only” 2 stops away). She and her friends put lots of effort on understanding my very poor Japanese and walked me to the station so it was an easy decision. And she looked so happy and perplexed when I asked whether she would like to have my bike.

Even though the main point of the trip didn’t happen, I am still happy that I cycled to Kyoto. I spoke with many Japanese and they were all so nice to me and helpful. Also I rode the bike in places where I assume the people haven’t seen many foreigners in those areas by the way they looked at me. Today I got a reminder that what is best in Kyoto / Japan – the street scene, mountains and helpful and friendly people.

So here is the final moment of laugh – I cycled for four hours :-D So I really got the workout that I wanted.

Now I am getting ready for a “all you can drink and eat” party.. I need a drink!


Onsen beats sauna

Before coming to Japan and also in Japan I heard many times that I’d have hard time finding an onsen, a Japanese “spa”, where I could enter because I have tattoos and tattooed people aren’t welcomed to these places. Those things got into me and I didn’t even think about what kind of an experience going to an onsen could even be. Well, I managed to find quite easily a place that doesn’t exclude tattooed people. The onsen where I went was Funaoka onsen. I went with a friend who has also tattoos and although we have read that it is ok to go to this place we were terrified when trying to enter the onsen. So my companions in misfortune: at least in Kyoto it is not hard to find an onsen where you can enter with your unwelcomed tattoos. I’ve understood that foreigners with tattoos are not that bad as Asians with tattoos.. for me it is a relief but in general that is sad. Tattoos are art. But I will not go into that now….

I have never been a big fan of just floating in the water so I wasn’t specially interested in an onsen because of the spa but more because it has a big role in Japan’s culture. You go there to relax and let your body soak in the hot natural spring water. Funaoka onsen has many different baths, e.g. wooden bath tub, cold bath and electric bath. The electric bath was very bizarre :-D Of course I ended up there by accident and I was literally shocked because I got small shocks. Awful feeling when you get shocks out of nowhere. Didn’t enjoy that bath that much but the other baths were amazing. They even had a sauna which got me in beforehand really excited but in the end I didn’t even want to spend much time there because the bath water is hot. My face was as red as tomato after the bathing!

So what do you need when you go to a Japanese onsen? You need soap, small towel and self-confidence because before entering the bath you need to properly wash yourself and you bath naked. And don’t be afraid of doing something wrong because the Japanese will help you when you look like you have no idea what to do!

Funaoka onsen is said to be one of the best in Kyoto, and I will definitely go there again! You can’t take photos there but you can check Funaoka onsen’s photos here. I can take photo of my lobster face next time.

Now it is the best time in Kyoto to go to see the autumn leaves. We went yesterday to see the autumn colours in Ishiyama-dera. During this time there are many temples that are open late and they have illumination. All I can say is WOW! So beautiful.. I missed earlier the Finnish autumn because of the beautiful autumn colours but I can say that the Japanese autumn colours are also amazing. I took some photos but my phone’s camera isn’t good enough to capture the amazing view:

It is so strange.. It is almost the end of November and I’ve seen so many butterflies this week :-) at the same time I have a Christmas decoration on my window.

Fairly good fortune

Now it happened what I was afraid of. I got sick! I caught a cold and my nose is running and someone is tickling my throat. Here people wear masks to either protect other people from getting sick or they are trying to protect themselves from getting sick from others. I was wondering before that if I get sick should I wear a mask as well.. but I just can’t. Just the image of me wearing a mask seems bizarre and ridiculous. I hope no one is afraid of me or think I am disgusting when I am blowing my nose or sneezing… I try to do it secretly.. :-D

Anyways I am glad that I didn’t get sick when my friend was here visiting me. I was very happy that she came here although it made me a bit homesick afterwards. I miss my amazing friends! She was here 4,5 days and I think we were able to see lots of things. We spent half a day in Osaka and the rest of the days in Kyoto and Otsu. The best thing we did was definitely having a “photoshoot” in a special photobooth. 99% of the instructions were in Japanese so we had a blast while trying to succeed to modify the photographs and try to get them printed. We got two sheets of photographs which costed only 400 yen (2,9 euros). Here’s the result:

Beauty Photoshoot

The decoration got a bit out of hands but it was so much fun. We have also now very weird alter ego names due to the fact the we panicked and just pressed some buttons (Japanese characters) in order to get something on the screen. That’s how we became Seshike & Suekonefu.

In Osaka we visited the Pokemon Center, Osaka Castle and Shinsaibashi (the shopping street) which according to some people and internet pages are the main attractions in Osaka (in addition to the Universal Studios Japan). I was so surprised how “silent” the city was because it is the third biggest city in Japan. But later we found out that the main action was under the ground. I’ve never experienced such a thing that there are more people underground than on the ground! During the daylight the city didn’t impress me but I’ve heard I should experience the nightlife so maybe my next visit will be directed to experience the bars and the clubs of Osaka.

In Kyoto we visited the Golden Pavilion Kinkakuji, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Heian Shrinethe Bamboo Forest, the Gion area and the downtown. I knew that I wouldn’t be the best guide here but I was surprised how challenging it actually is to move around the city. It is hard to manage time and sometimes even the public transportation. When to go and where to go… This is definitely the most challenging place so far in my life where I really can’t understand anything around me, the signs, the language, and so on…. Although living is at times a bit tiring and challenging here, it offers memorable experiences and adventures :-)
And we saw five Geishas!!! I don’t know if they were Geishas or Maikos (“Geisha students”) but we were so lucky. At least once I am in the right place in the right time.

I have also managed to use my nonexistent Japanese language skills and had even a small conversion which didn’t last long but encouraged me enough to believe that one day I might be able to actually communicate in Japanese in complete and clear sentences, haha.

I made a mistake and bought a ticket of fortune forecasting. How depressing :-D It says that I should give up about love, haha. Apropos… Let’s all cross our fingers and say a little prayer that hopefully the two nice persons are still ahead and that I haven’t met them. And that I won’t lose anything…

Fairly Good luck 2 Fairly Good luck

Here are few pictures from last weekend (Kyoto & Osaka):

Tomorrow we will have a Halloween party! My “costume” is still a work-in-process.. I couldn’t find today what I was looking for but I am hopeful that I’ll find it tomorrow.. Hopefully I succeed finding it and hopefully I will succeed in what I am trying to do :-D

I’ve been also surprised how excited the Japanese are about Halloween. At least having parties with the Halloween theme because I saw already last weekend many people wearing Halloween costumes in the nightlife.

Anyways.. Happy Halloween everyone :-)

Study, Explore & Experience

My weekdays are almost the same every week. I just go to the classes and then do the homework and study Japanese a lot. Finally I’ve learned hiragana and katakana and last week we started studying kanji. I am terrified… Assumably by the end of the semester I will know around 200 kanji characters. There are thousands of them in total… But it is very rewarding to study Japanese because the feeling is so great when you understand even a bit and specially when you find something new from the supermarket that you are able to eat. I don’t eat meat (red & white meat) so sometimes it is really depressing to try to find food because you can’t surely tell what’s inside the food.But now I am also able to ask ;-)

I also went to the university gym and the gym was quite well equipped so I think I’ll start going there weekly. I am also thinking about going to play basketball but it is not easy to find basketball shoes in my living area. Even one of the players said they buy their shoes from the internet. I actually have ordered shoes but the process is still not clear :-D I’ve been receiving long emails in Japanese from the online store so I will let you know if I actually succeed in getting the shoes.

Couple of weeks ago we went to Arashiyama where we visited Monkey Park and Bamboo forest. The Bamboo forest was breathtaking, and also the Monkey Park was great! The monkeys live on a mountain and visitors can visit the park and hang around with the monkeys. I also gave them bananas :-D They were so cute.