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Photo by Michael Jordan, enjoying a meal at sunset, Zangskar Valley, India

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Michael Jordan
enjoying a meal at sunset,
Zangskar Valley, India



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  #2071  
Old 7 Jan 2020
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Most onsens in hotels are just swimming pools, fed by hot springs water piped up from the ground. However, the nicer establishments make their onsens look as natural as possible.


Oooh, so fancy! Yes, I brought a camera into a public bath house... What could possibly go wrong?

I figure if Neda will be kicked out for her tattoos, I might as well get into the gangster action as well. Thankfully, the onsen is empty when I go in, so I'm able to snap some shots.

Just like most things in Japan, there is a strict etiquette in how to onsen. The pools are not chlorinated at all, so everyone who enters has to wash and scrub their bodies vigorously before they go in so there are no stray hairs or body oils floating around in the onsen. There are many wash stations situated around the onsen, equipped with soap, shampoo, wash clothes, buckets and a little shower head.

When you enter the onsen, you're supposed to put your towel on your head so it doesn't get wet.


Performing the pre-onsen cleansing ritual. And then... aaaaaaahhhhhhh!

Onsen etiquette is a very good example of the Japanese culture of conformity.

These wash stations are always situated around the onsen in plain view of everyone in the pool. They're not hidden away. This is so everybody can scrutinize you scrubbing your body clean before you enter the onsen - a sort of policing by peer pressure: "Hey Gai-Gene.. you missed a spot!"

Everyone's behaviour in Japan is always for the benefit of society, whether it's wearing a facemask in public so you don't spread your own germs, using an umbrella condom so you don't drip water everywhere when you carry your brolly indoors, or scrubbing your butt clean so you don't pollute the onsen. Disregard for others is seen as deviant behaviour and there is huge pressure to conform to this code. And extreme shame and ostracism if you don't.


Japanese Proverb

This is in stark contrast to the western way of thinking, where personal liberty is placed ahead of the common good. There, the prevailing attitude is: "Everybody's got rights - and my rights are more important than yours!"

I hate that kind of mentality.

In Japan, there's a pendulum swing to the other extreme, where there's a narrow set of behaviour that's tolerated in this society. Maybe it stifles individualism, creative thinking, experimenting with different ways of doing things. But personally, I prefer that over the rampant selfishness, callousness and disregard for others that I see in the west.

Rant over.
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  #2072  
Old 7 Jan 2020
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In this Japanese version of Turn Down Service, the maids come in and actually make the futons for you! So cool!!!
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  #2073  
Old 15 Jan 2020
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We decide to take another rest day to explore Obama. Because it's raining once again.


Not fog. The city is shrouded in steam on this cold spring day.

It's like the entire place is sitting upon a lid covering a cauldron of boiling water. Steam escapes through vents and short chimney stacks set right on the sidewalk. It even seems like it billows out through open windows in the buildings around us. All of it hangs heavy in the air around us, indistinguishable from fog.

It all feels so... volatile...


All the businesses here make good use of this geothermal activity. Here we walk by restaurants using it to steam cook their food.
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  #2074  
Old 15 Jan 2020
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We find a nice seafood restaurant. Kind of ironic with all this geothermally cooked food everywhere, we're opting for sushi. So goooood!!!


After lunch, we continue walking through the steamy city. More vendors, keeping their food warm by geothermal heat


We head down to the shore, to Obama Marine Park. So funny seeing Obama everywhere,
it almost seems like they are milking the relationship to the US President


I just found out that in front of Obama Onsen, there is a mannequin of Barack Obama welcoming visitors in. Totally milking it!
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  #2075  
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At Obama Marine Park, we stumble upon a long roofed structure...


It's a 105 meter long foot bath called... Hot Foot 105 - of course! There's a little stand where you can rent a bucket and a towel

The geothermally-heated water is piped in from the ground and it feels super hot when you first dip your feet in. But on this cold spring day, it takes no time at all before you get acclimatized to the heat, which then radiates up through your entire body making you feel warm and cozy all over!


Haha! What a way to spend a cold rainy day outside! We didn't want to leave!
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  #2076  
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Back in our hotel room, Neda chows down on a cup of noodle soup while reading her Kindle. This is our go-to quick-prep meal here in Japan. My personal favorite is the Big Curry Noodle Cup - I'm addicted to it! Everytime we stop for the evening, we make a pit-stop at the konbini and pick up a couple of noodle soups for dinner. Cheap and delicious!


The theme for this blog post is "Steam", like on Neda's glasses!
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  #2077  
Old 13 Feb 2020
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/405.html



The fog has turned to rain as we pack our stuff onto the bikes to leave Oabama-cho. We could stay another day, but the clock is ticking on our motorcycle rentals and we're only half-way through our travels across Japan.


Neda surveys the light drizzle from the shelter of our warm and dry hotel

Our route today will take us out of Nagasaki Prefecture, north to the neighbouring Saga Prefecture. Due to the rain and fog, there aren't many pictures of our wet ride up.


In just over an hour, we arrive in the town of Kashima. And cherry blossoms are everywhere!!!
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  #2078  
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Of course we have to stop and take lots of pictures


Getting ready to suit up again, we spy a Miko walking down the street


A miko is a shrine maiden, which means there must be an Inari shrine nearby
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  #2079  
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Riding around Kashima beneath a wonderfully pale pink cherry blossom sky


Despite the cold and wet weather, Neda is absolutely loving the cherry blossoms!
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  #2080  
Old 14 Feb 2020
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We find the shrine and the parking lot is covered with a welcome mat of pink petals. Arigato-gozaimasu!


Spider caught my eye
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  #2081  
Old 27 Feb 2020
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What an inspiring story, I can't believe you've made it so far! Keep up the adventure!
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  #2082  
Old 27 Feb 2020
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Thats amazing, and stunning how beautiful. Save travels
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  #2083  
Old 28 Feb 2020
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Thanks! Appreciate the kind words!
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  #2084  
Old 28 Feb 2020
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Inscription in the stone


Kashima-Jingu Shrine


Before we hit the shrine, we walk around the manicured gardens
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  #2085  
Old 28 Feb 2020
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Cherry blossom season is regretfully short. It takes one week for the flowers to bloom and then another week for them to fall from the branches

A light wind is already taking some of the petals off the trees and scattering them on the ground. The short sakura season is such a spiritual time for the Japanese, it symbolizes the ephemeral nature of life - brief and fleeting. During WWII, Kamikazi pilots painted sakura flowers on the side of their planes, the falling petals mirroring their own suicidal dives - the young pilot's lives just as brief and fleeting.


Walking underneath the torii gates and up towards the temple


Yutoku Inari Shrine across a narrow river
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