Jan. 3rd, 2012

Yesterday we went to Higashiyama Koen, a park with a zoo, botanical garden, park, amusement park, sky tower, and probably other things I don't know about, and walked around a lot. (On a random note, we've walked about 40 miles since we got to Nagoya, which is pretty impressive, especially since we've only been here for six days!) The zoo was pretty depressing, since the large mammals (an elephant, rhinoceros, polar bears) had the tiniest spaces ever, and there were a bunch of large birds in tiny cages, too; but the botanical garden was really cool, lots of interesting plants. No ice plants, sadly, but many many cacti, agave, aloe, and a bunch of monocots, too (including some commelinoid monocots!). I've got lots of pictures of those that I'm going to try to sort through to figure out what the plants are.

The day before we pretty much just went to shrines; since it was おしょうがつ(お正月)absolutely nothing was open, and everyone was just hanging out with their families. This means that when we tried to go get dinner, we walked through several completely vacant malls and eventually ended up at a CoCoIchibanya, which we'd already eaten at. But at least we knew the food was good; and more importantly, we actually found food. My brother and I learned our lesson and bought lots of melon bread for emergency meal situations, though now that お正月 is mostly over (or at least, the stores are opening up again) we probably won't have any trouble finding food. I am a little disappointed in our hostel, because it's very difficult to cook in there; for one, it's freezing in the kitchen, and for two, there are no chairs to sit on while cooking. I think they mostly expect us to heat things up rather than actually cook, which we weren't fully aware of when we booked this place.

Anyway ... I'm getting a little concerned about how much money we've spent, though a lot of that money has gone to hostel. But we've probably been spending about $10-15 a meal (except for breakfast), which isn't what I was expecting to pay. I wish my brother and his girlfriend seemed more excited about going to panya for lunch, because I personally would TOTALLY be happy just eating pan for lunch. They don't seem to consider it a real meal, which it probably isn't; but at the same time, I can get a delicious, amazing lunch for less than three dollars rather than for $13. What's even better about the panya is that when we go together, we can buy six different types of bread for about 115-130 yen each, and then we get to try ALL OF THE DELICIOUSNESS.

In the last few days, we've basically been going to tons and tons of shrines. We went to Susanoo, Kawahara, Atsuta, Gosha ... probably more that I am forgetting. We also went to a few temples, including one with an enormous green Buddha. It was pretty awesome.

On a completely unrelated note, I had a huge story idea this morning while I was attempting to sleep but failing. It is only in the very earliest of stages, but so far I am liking it. It might even be my 2012 project!
Today we went to Nagoya Castle. It was pretty cool, though a little cold, and since most of the signage was in Japanese, I didn't get quite as much out of it as I could have. But the castle itself was really cool, and the paintings very pretty; I have lots of pictures of the Nagoya skyline, too, because the castle was seven stories tall. We also walked around the gardens for a little while, which was nice, though it got really cold.

After, we had to find a place to withdraw money from so we could pay for our Kyoto hostel place, which took forever. The Family Mart allegedly had an ATM that took Visa, but it actually only took Visa that was issued in Japan. So, we finally traipsed around and found a 7 Eleven that took Visa, and possibly also took 50,000 yen more from my mom's card. Oops. (しまった!) Hopefully that didn't actually happen. Anyway, it worked out, after a bit of stress, so.

Then we started playing Dominion and creating a Doctor Who Dominion set. Yay! I am so totally making this happen! Which means I need to learn how to use Photoshop, but whatever!



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