I have a habit of getting lost (私は迷子になる事習慣があります)

My days typically start like this: I decide I want to go somewhere, I look up decided location online, I memorise the route with my goldfish brain, I set out to said location and immediately forget where I am going and continue to walk around until I happen upon the location by chance. I usually get to the right part of town with my memory map, but it’s the fine detail that seems to get me into a pickle. You see, I lost my phone several months ago and have been making do ever since (before you go ahead and think ‘Umm dah use a phone’). I actually really enjoy getting lost and see it as an opportunity to familiarise myself with an area. I am also really stubborn and don’t give in very easily so if I’ve set out to go somewhere, I will walk around until I am at that place and have the pictures to prove it. On this particular day, I visited the Forever Museum in Kyoto’s Gion area. OH MY GOSH, Yayoi Kusama was exhibiting and I was in complete paradise. Even though I had to spend the second half of my Christmas Day as a lone traveller, I managed to have a great time getting lost in Kyoto, chilling out with Kusama’s works and choosing my OWN Christmas present and buying it for myself. (I decided to gift myself Yayoi Kusama’s illustrated version of The Little Mermaid. It’s written entirely in Japanese but her illustrations are worth not being able to understand the text. I mean, everyone knows the story, there’s a mermaid and she’s little and she swims around and tells everyone to call her the little mermaid. So I obviously don’t need to actually be able to read it….) Also, before you judge me for not being able to find literally the biggest building in Gion, understand that the point is that I got there and it’s all about the journey not the destination, folks.

Woah, I knew people in Japan had small gardens, but this is inhumane. I hope they don’t have a pet.

Which came first: the van or the house. Did they buy the van to fit the house or the house to fit the van. It’s a close shave regardless.

Pumpkins are forever. Kusama is forever. Love forever

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Christmas Flea Market in Kyoto (クリスマスの日〜京都のフリーマーケット)

This Christmas we traded Jesus Christ for fried octopus balls and Japanese handmade ceramics. Being a grown up human lady, this was not a difficult trade as my belief in Mr and Mrs Claus disintegrated many a year ago (along with my hopes and dreams). Nah, just kidding, that was a cheap joke. Sorry, mum. In all seriousness, it was a nice shake up to the old Christmas Day tradition of going to Church, complaining about having to go to Church (but secretly enjoying it against all of my agnostic odds) and then getting super drunk at home and texting everyone on my contacts list a merry Xmas. I also didn’t have to slave over a mixing bowl, preparing baked goods that are always too hot to eat during Australian Christmas anyway. Instead, we strolled through a Kyoto flea market, did no dishes and reported zero signs of anybody caring that it was Christmas Day. I wished one couple a Merry Christmas in the elevator of our hotel and they responded with a “Oh shit, yeah, that’s right, it’s the most important day of the year for Australian retailers, haha, Merry Christmas!” Okay, that wasn’t what they said, but they said it with their uncomfortable body language. It could also be possible that my extreme willingness to converse with almost ANYBODY without ANY reason could make people slightly UNEASY. Wow, we went from a ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ to a ‘Mary, I want a divorce’ rather quickly, didn’t we? Enjoy the photos of this gloriously unimportant (in Japan) day.

Even Shrek showed up to the festivities!

21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (金沢21世紀美術館)

I had this sudden urge to start writing my blog in Japanese but it’s hard enough to string my English into comprehensive sentences so I think we will stay cool and keep this English train going. Speaking of trains, last week we caught one to Kanazawa! The last time we went to Kanazawa (2015), the train situation was a relatively new one and we felt a bit like invaders. Two years later and we felt very welcomed and ready to look at ART. I had such fond memories of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art the last time we visited so I was so excited to go back! BY THE WAY…some of the art was definitely from the twentieth century and I just wanted to express my disappointment and confusion to the people of Kanazawa. Anyway, jokes (not a joke) aside, this is a beautiful gallery. HOLD UP….I’m sitting in a cafe as we speak, or as we type rather…and a kind Japanese man just stood up and said “good luck” to me and some other English words along the lines of international and very good. What a gorgeous man. I have NO idea what to make of his well wishes but I shall continue to work hard and use all of the wifi in this small cafe.

What was I saying? Ah, who cares anyway, nobody reads my blog. The exhibition we saw was a series of works by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller and the museum also has a collection of permanent works like the infamous swimming pool, a bit of James Turrell and some classic Anish Kapoor ‘very black paint business’ (actual title of Kapoor’s work). I particularly enjoyed waiting 45 minutes to experience walking into a dark room and have people whisper ‘there’s a briefcase under your seat’ while listening to opera music as performed by what I can only describe as a hologram but was probably a projected video. ART IS MAGICAL.

Train spotting

Gazing through an Olafur Eliasson Sculpture

‘The Swimming Pool’ by Leandro Elrich

This had all of the ingredients for a great photograph and I’m too stubborn to NOT include it on my blog.

‘Wrapping’ by LAR / Fernando Romero

‘You renew you’ by Pipilotti Rist

(a permanent installation located in the bathroom which is very A R T)

Dotonbori, Osaka (道頓堀、大阪)

Two words: lights and people. Two things Dotonburi has a plentiful supply of at night time. I’m sure there are lights there during the day time but I’m assuming most of the external lights come on at night. I felt like I was in a little European city that just happened to be full of Japanese restaurants and Japanese people and also happened to be in the middle of a Japanese city. I have also never been to Europe so my experience of European cities is quite non-existent. But I feel like that’s a comparison a more worldly traveller might draw. Ahhh okay I’m really starting to show my true colours with all of this word spaghetti. Let’s let the pictures do the word spaghetti-ing instead!

ANOTHER fabric store we visited. Unrelated to the lights and magnificence of Dotonburi but it is very close by and some of my two regular viewers might be specifically interested in fabric stores in Osaka. You never know.

Upon further evaluation of these pictures, I’ve decided that Dotonburi is absolutely not European it just happens to have a large canal running through it and lots of people hanging out. Such a gorgeous night! My mum and I sat in a restaurant, eating a giant plate of pancakes and watched the boats go by. Super delicious (the boats, not the pancakes, although they were pretty yum too).

Arriving in Kyoto (京都に着いて)

There is never a dull moment when I travel with my mum. As soon as we dropped our bags in our Kyoto hotel (well, I suppose our bell boy did the heavy lifting for us), mum was ready to go fabric shopping. She wasn’t phased by the early wake up time for our flight, the flight itself including the additional two hours of sitting on the tarmac, and the train journey to our hotel. Mama Quinn was on the HUNT for FABRIC.

Backstory to this particular fabric designer: mum discovered the tranquil, lush fabrics and prints of Nani Iro during our last trip to Japan in 2015 and she has not shut up about her since. (Soz mum, I’m not being rude, I’m just being dramatic to make this post more exciting for the three viewers of this blog, one of which is you). So we went to the atelier of Nani Iro and honestly I couldn’t tell you where it is or how on earth we got there because I was absolutely delirious and hungry for a nap. However, I DID remember that I can understand a bit of Japanese and managed to ask for directions which was very confusing. I was like ‘wait, did I just communicate to a complete Japanese stranger in the middle of the street and successfully follow their directions?’ Wow, always believe in yourself guys because you might just go into complete shock when you realise what you can achieve.

Moral of the story, DON’T question your mum when travelling. If your mum wants to go to an obscure Japanese fabric atelier in the middle of bloody nowhere, YOU GO THERE (and make sure you go to the cute bar next door and guzzle down some fancy craft brews and smoked nuts BUT only once she has bought enough fabric to clothe the entire von Trapp family).

Was there any point to this? We couldn’t take photos inside of the Nani Iro store so, just take my word for it, it was very VERY good.

On the way to the fabric store. I have no idea where it was.

The view from our hotel. I must say, extremely convenient to be staying in front of what appeared to be the tallest tower in Kyoto. Who needs google maps? Just look up and use the tower as a reference. Genius.

Ninja train!

The vicinity of the fabric store. Again, not entirely sure where we were at this point.

THE cute aforementioned bar!

Bar Tender who very happily obliged to be in this photograph

Kobe Animal Kingdom (神戸動物王国)

After arriving from Seoul in Kyoto, my family and I decided that it was probably best that we spent our first full day in Japan petting animals and watching pelicans fly – which came as a complete shock to me too when I found out that they could fly. They just have such large beaks, it didn’t seem like it was in gravity’s plan to allow these hugely disproportioned, beaks with bodies to fly.

After petting rabbits and making awkward eye contact with Kangaroos (I think they could tell we were Australian), we all decided that Kobe Animal Kingdom is just like any other zoo but without the gross animals. There must have been a lengthy audition process to determine which animals would make the cut and proceed to be pet and annoyed by small Japanese children and big foreign adults who get far too excited about rabbits.

It was also really fun to do something new and different in Japan. For some strange reason, I really enjoyed the train trip to the zoo. I have inserted pictures that show the port of Kobe and the groovy train track we travelled on. So if you’re a cute-animals-only enthusiast and you like trains, I would highly recommend a half-day trip to the Kobe Animal Kingdom. If nothing about this blog post enticed you then I highly suggest that you neither continue following this blog nor go to Kobe Animal Kingdom the kingdom of the elite. If you’re staying in Osaka, it is worth going to the Animal Kingdom JUST to see the Capybaras taking a steamy spa in a pool of floating citrus fruits and loose capybara hairs.

The Capybara Spa

Tortoise Feeding

This Tortoise was trying to make a very very slow and unsuccessful escape. Keep trying, Mr.Tortoise.

Koi fish gasping for anything but the fish flakes they are fed by literally every visitor. Look at the size of these guys! I think they need to go to Koi Boot Camp. Or would it be Koi Fin camp? They don’t really wear boots, you see.

So a sloth, a parrot and my mum walk into a bar. The parrot and my mum sit down and they’re just sitting there like ‘where did the sloth go?’. Then the sloth shows up 30 minutes later and they all laughed and realise what a terrible joke this is but continue to regularly read Jopan without question.

This Pelican was coming in for landing but looks like the least confident pilot ever. “Larry (co-pilot), passengers, cabin crew, I love you all dearly but I’ve misjudged the length of this runway and the illuminated seatbelt sign is just useless at this point. Tell my pelican family I love them and that I left some fish in the freezer for dinner.”

“Oh no it’s all good, scratch that memo about the stash of fish in the freezer, lol”

I stared at this flamingo for a good 10 minutes wondering how on earth it origamied itself into this situation.

I went back to Naoshima for a day (1日直島に帰った)

I’m back in Japan after a gruelling two year hiatus from the country. I have many a photo to post from the things I have been up to while here but I was desperate to share these photos from Naoshima. A few blog posts ago, I posted photos from my visit there in 2015. Unfortunately we didn’t get much time to travel around because we didn’t realise just how many galleries and sculptures there are on this magnificent art island. I decided to make the most of my JR Pass and head down there yesterday to visit the galleries I missed out on. Look here to see what I got up to last time!

Side note: If you’re travelling in the Kyoto or Osaka area, I highly recommend you take a day trip to Naoshima! You don’t have to stay there to get the full experience. Wake up super early to allow enough travel time (Instructions on how to get there in that link I shared above), rent an electric bike to get you up those hills and around the island and enjoy the art! You must visit all of the Art House galleries, the Lee Ufan Museum and the Chichu Museum (and of course see all of the sculptures and architecture that are spread out along the way).

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the sovereign hill of japan

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Ferry from Miyajima-Guchi Port (Take the Iwakuni Train from Hiroshima Station)

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Samurai doing that thing that they do

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I don’t think anyone gave a shit about these gates, so long as they got their selfie

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I love myself

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The queue to take a selfie

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A valid use of a selfie stick

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Despite the ubiquity of selfie sticks and the leashed-kimono-wearing-monkey standing before an applauding audience, this place was actually quite beautiful. It did have a bit of a Sovereign Hill vibe, which kind of gave it a tacky touristy atmosphere (kind of like when you are forced to go on a sovereign hill excursion for the sixth time because your teachers don’t know what else to with you) Read about my previous experience here

xx