Tokyo - Osaka, Japan

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In Tokyo I woke up to yet another terrific breakfast made by Keigo. We played a couple of rounds of shogi with his nephew as spectator and then went to his sister’s cake shop. We needed a birthday cake for Izumi.  We were going to celebrate in a park with some of Keigo’s friends. Turns out one of them had birthday as well. It was a great evening and we spent it eating cake, snacks and drinking beer.  

The next day, the last day in Tokyo with nice weather, I spent inside making origami. I had loads of fun and impressed myself with some of the results which you can all admire in my pictures.  The next day would be my last and hectic day in Tokyo. Keigo and I got up early. On our two hour trip to Chiba we picked up Izumi so that we could play shogi on her lap in the subway. In Chiba we went to a theme park with stuff from the late Edo period. The buildings and everything was cool, but I was there solely for one reason; to dress as a samurai. Izumi got her Kimono and Keigo and I got our armor. We played around for an hour or so, having shit loads of fun.  We had a last supper together at my favorite place, Family Mart. They watched me hitchhike off onwards to Fukuroi.

After some interesting rides with an old couple, a Bolivian and (maybe) an old school Yakuza guy (he missed his pinky) I arrived in Fukuroi at my hostess Emi Suzuki. Her father does not make cars. His daughter, however, makes good food and that was exactly what was waiting for me when I got inside. Nothing says “Håkon will be your friend forever” like having a warm meal with a cold beer waiting for him. I repaid her by beating her 6-1 in connect-four.

The next day Emi was ready to hitchhike. She made a nice sign and we hit the road. We easily got two rides which was all we needed to get to the barbecue.  It was a brilliant day and we enjoyed good food and company under a glowing sun.  Emi got a wonderful red tan.  Back home again, she got to play Super Mario on my computer while I was making a photo album. Somehow Mario gets girls more excited than I’m able to. This is kind of sad, since I’ve been spending a major part of my life playing computer games. I should have gotten some tricks from the Italian stallion.

In the morning I left for Osaka, hitchhiking the last stretch. My last ride turned out to be a kyukushin fighter and was going to Poland to compete. He ended up driving me all the way to Tennoji Osaka although he was going to Nara. What a guy! In Osaka I met up with Aska again. The last two days in Japan I spent with her at the elementary school she went to, playing with kids. It was fun and they got to carry my bag and receive some stickers.  Aska and her mother made some more delicious food for me and I made an origami penguin to show Chris off. Before I left Japan, Yuichiro from the party bus met me and Aska at the station. I gave him the photo album and a bottle of Sake before I parted with the two.

Japan was awesome and a remarkable country to visit! I had so much fun and met so many nice people! Germans are generally not like Mengele anymore and in the same way the Japanese are far away from unit 731. Thanks to everybody who hosted me and everybody that picked me up all around Japan! I hope you will get your reward in whichever heaven you believe in. If not, come to Norway and I’ll give you a beer! Domo arigato gozeimas!



Gero - Tokyo, Japan

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After the police left us, Rocky and Ikumi invited me in to the local community house where they work. We chatted a bit and then went for the local onsen. After a long weekend, it was good to go to bed early. Rocky works with local tourism and the next day a Japanese couple wanted to do some canyoneering. I came along as his Norwegian assistant and we brought them safely up a small creek and back again. We had a good dinner together at the center before Ikumi and I went to the Onsen. This mountain town is very nice and relaxing and it felt good to have some rest. The next day would be very slow and I didn't do much. I made another Perl script that compresses my GPS coordinate files. I also went to the onsen hehe.

Third day in mountains would be pretty sweet. A local school class with kids was coming and I was the assistant again. The kids were very cute and polite and it was a joy taking them through the course. They were always laughing and smiling and some of them were climbing better than monkeys. And they were all nice to each other; they even held hands with the weird ones and stuff. After we were done we had lunch together and took the bus back. At the center they lined up and greeted us and then sang us a song. It was like a different world from a screaming school class of thirty kids at home.

For the fourth time in four days I went to the onsen. This time I went with the kids and teachers.

After a last good night sleep in Maze, Rocky sent me off with lunch from Ikumi, who fed me well every dayJ. On my trip to Tokyo I had no less than seven rides, not counting Rocky. One guy was nidan in karate and one crew from Nagoya was really cool and got four in the backseat to make room for me in their massive Toyota Tundra. Two funny guys got me to a service area where a guy picked me up in a Mercedes S550. Why not arrive in Tokyo with style? I got to my first host Mika in Oyama area of Tokyo. She was working in the evening so I met up with my friend Keigo that I met in Fukuoka and we had some family mart beers and watched football.

Unfortunately my host got sick during the second night, but I invited myself to Keigo and he let me stay at his place. After a trip to the museum the following day, I waited for him at Roppongi. There, a student called Shota approached me with some ramen questions since he saw I was eating my daily instant noodles. He was a cool guy and I invited him to join us for the bar. Soon Keigo came with his friends Izumi, who smells remarkably good, Sayaka, Yasutaka, Mutsumi and Kenta, or Tokugawa as I call him. At the bar Shota was too young, but we got him in and everybody had a great time with “drink as much as you want for 1000 yen”. I appreciate the help I got from Sayaka and Keigo on the way home.

The next days in Tokyo were very relaxing. Keigo, Izumi and I went walking around downtown on Sunday. Monday we added Sayaka and went on a daytrip to Kamakura. We had a great time and Keigo took us walking forever. We also saw a big Buddha and played a lot of shogi, Japanese chess which Keigo has taught me. When Keigo was busy looking for work, Izumi and I went to Akihabara to celebrate that she got a job. In the evening we met up with Keigo to watch the football match between Japan and Australia. It was cool to see all the enthusiastic Japanese in a crowded pub.

That’s it from Tokyo now!


Osaka - Gero

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After yet another delicious breakfast in Osaka, Aska and I headed up to Kyoto with the train. Kazu, my next host, met us at the station and we dropped off my stuff in his apartment. We then went to Toei studios to see how samurai movies are made and enjoy the little theme park. On the way home we dropped off Aska at her friend's university and went back to Kazu's place. He is a super fast walker and we criscrossed the city's east side for the sightseeing highlights. We finished with a beer with one of his entrepreneur friends. Regular Japanese work a lot but this guy had hardly time to breath.

I got to borrow Kazu's bike and went cycling the next day. I visited Aska and her friends at the university and then I headed to the golden temple. Kyoto has loads of nice houses and old buildings and it's fun just to get lost in all the streets. When Koza came back from work, we went to a big electronics mall and then for a nice dinner. My last day in Kyoto was spent checking out Nijo castle with the nightingale floors and cycling south in the city checking out a hill with loads of Toris (Japanese shrines). It was nice and I got lost in the hills there so I got myself some exercise getting back to my bike. In the evening we did something cool. Kazu took me to a ninja restaurant. You had to go through a maze where ninjas snuck up on you and you got to eat shurikens and stuff. It was sweet.

I parted with Kazu Saturday morning and thanked him for a great stay in Kyoto. I took the subway to the end of the city and hitch hiked with a mother and daughter up to the highway. At the service area a great guy came over and asked me if I wanted a lift. He then took me to a bus that soon would be filled with 11 happy Japanese guys and me. They were on a weekend trip and had coolers with beer and snacks ready for me. After a couple of beers they asked me if I could change my plans, which I certainly could. One guy had cancelled so I got to be the twelfth samurai. I joined them for the weekend and headed to Takayama. 4 beers b4 12 o'clock - I knew it would be a great Saturday! On the way we stopped at the biggest water wheel in Japan and had lunch. In Takayama we checked out the city and float museum. The city has big floats on wheels that are pulled through the streets when they have festivals. They are up to several hundred years old. The town is very nice, built in old Japanese style. A lot of places we could test the local sake. At the bed and breakfast, we had a million dish course where we could drink as much sake and beer as we wanted. I ate more fish with these guys this weekend then I have my entire life.

A night with many snoring room mates and little sleep didn't stop any from having beers at breakfast. A second sightseeing in Takayama followed and then we left for Shirakawa. It was a beautiful town with houses that look Swiss to me. We enjoyed a stroll around and then had a great lunch. The guys gave me two beers and some snacks and wished me the best of luck hitch hiking down to Gero. I parted with the brilliant crew and now even more people on the planet walk around with Norwegian flags on their cell phones. I should get an embassador job or something. I feel like I'm doing a good job spreading a positive image of Norway haha. Everyone that stopped to pick me up in Shirakawa were going in the wrong direction. Eventually a guy from the parking spot came with a bus ticket to me. I'm not sure if he was super nice or had gotten orders to get rid of me. Nevertheless, I gave him two beers and went with the bus. An exciting weekend was drawing to an end.

I thought this would be the end of this post, but when I was trying to walk the last 11 km from the bus stop in the rain, a police car stopped in front of me. After some chatting I got in the back and they got their pineapple candy. They drove me all the way to the fishing center in a village called Maze. There my new host Rocky awaited me! His wife said the police tried to be serious, but she felt they enjoyed driving me around. Also, the rookie driver needed training hehe.

Truly an exciting weekend!

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