Traveling Japan, Part 1

Like most of the EAPSI fellows, I opted to have my return flight back to the US a week after the official end of the program, giving me some time to do some sightseeing.  In this post I’m just going to do a quick dump of a bunch of photos from my victory lap around Japan.

Fond farewells in Muroran

I went to karaoke with my friends in Muroran to have one last hangout before I returned to the side of the planet that I normally live on.

Biking across Muroran and back

I also wanted to quickly explore the far side of Muroran.  I didn’t think there was anything there, but I had to check to make sure.  There wasn’t.  I had a good bike ride though, and got to visit a really depressing aquarium.

Arrival in Tokyo

My first night in Tokyo I stayed at the Tokyo Bellclassic Hotel, right near the train station in the neighborhood of Otsuka.  After wandering around and finding dinner I headed to the neighborhood of Shinjuku based on the recommendation of Lonely Planet.


Akihabara is a Tokyo neighborhood famous for being a hub of otaku culture and electronics shopping.


It was raining due to a tropical storm hitting Japan not far from Tokyo.  Knowing I’d soon be returning to a city that has been afflicted with a drought for four years and counting, I didn’t mind it.

Meiji shrine

After wandering around Harajuku I went to Meiji shrine.  It was beautiful in spite of the warm downpour, or perhaps because of it.  In all my time in Japan  I never got sick of visiting shrines.  They’re really beautiful.

The hidden pool

In the evening I went walking to explore the tiny seaside resort town of Atami.  The most memorable part was when I saw a beautiful tiered garden on a cliffside and explored it.  Something about the meandering paths of the garden really reminded me of something out of a fantasy story.  It had an appropriately satisfying ending when I realized that the garden lead into a back entrance to a really nice hotel, and I was able to use their fantastic onsen.

Day two in Atami

The next morning I took a bus to Atami castle, which can be seen towering over the city on a nearby peak.   The forecast warned that the combination of highs near 100 F and high humidity would make it feel 118 degrees.

Along the way to the bus stop I saw a statue of a man kicking a woman, which was explained by a nearby plaque to be a depiction of the climactic scene of a 19th century novel set in Atami called ‘Gold Demon’.  Evidently star-crossed lovers are unable to wed after the woman agrees to marry a banker’s son for his money.  As they see each other for the last time, the man kicks his would be bride for being a gold digger.  No offense to Kozo Ozaki, but I’m pretty glad best selling lit has gotten a little more feminist since the Meiji era.

I took the bus to Atami castle, which I was disappointed to learn was not a real castle.  The interior is a normal building with a just okay museum inside.  Turns out it was built in the 50’s to boost tourism.  The view was good though, and it whet my appetite for some amazing castles I’d see a few days later.  I also had some great udon near Atami station before I left for Kyoto.


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