A Travellerspoint blog


The Hot Spot For Culture

Last Sunday I had once more a private tour guides in Kyoto, a city about one hour away from my place. Kyoto is THE place to go for culture. There are many handcrafts done and almost countless shrines.
With Makoto-San and Tomoko-San we first had a walk thru the market where crafts and food is sold. Some of the food looks very yammi, some less...
Market, Kyoto

Do you need a bowl or something ...?

Funny guy at the fish stand

We had a look at the Aritsugu blacksmith shop where they sell expensive kitchen knives. This family makes these knives since over 400 years! I guess they know their business. www.aritsugu.com
Tomoko and Makoto at the "Aritsuge" knive store

Then we went for to this very exquisite restaurant and had delicious tiny dishes to taste. That was best! Could unfortunately not take pictures... not very polite in the restaurants... but I'm sure you can imagine.

With a full belly we walked in direction to the shrines. Quite impressive. Tiny streets, traditional houses, little stores and plenty of religious buildings. There quite many Japanese and foreign tourists on the street. Even some fake "geishas" were touring.
Entrance of the main temple.

Main temple of Kyoto.

The cherry blossom is shyly starting.

On the way back we had quite the unique chance to see a "maiko" "apprentice geisha" and an older "geisha". I was told the this was that this was her first time wearing the "kinomo" for performance. Ehmm, could you walk in those sandals?
Maiko and geisha

Close up's with a Japanese touch.

Of courses during this one day I could only have a first impression. I'll have to dig deeper next time!

Posted by oliver_f 04:37 Comments (0)

The language or...

... Lost In Translation

Well, the truth is that there is much more learning I have to do... buuuuuhh
I knew that it would be tough but in the "first phase" but it seems that this "first phase" will be very, very long lasting. Fortunately I have two hands to help expressing my self. I can here and now confirm, unfortunately, that an English speaking Japanese is difficult to find. Even the guy at the "foreigner registration" didn't speak a single work of English!
It is quite impressive to be surrounded by a world of information overflow but not being able to read a fraction of it. And if I might be able to read some, I won't understand. Hmm...

Posted by oliver_f 21:31 Comments (2)

Ever heard of "hanko" or "inken" ?

Japanese signature

In Japan, you have to possess a little seal that you will to "sign" a document in exemple if you want to open a bank account, get a flat, etc... This is used as a signature. In some places a "regular" signature is accepted for "gaijin" (foreigners). It is possible to by them all finished in "hanko-stores" or you can get some more personalized ones. So right now I'm trying to design my "hanko". It is quite fun to do. This is a object that is possessed a lifetime. So I have transcript my last name into "katakana" (Japanese alphabet for non-japanese words). My name is now "オリバ− フランツ" (oribaa furantsu)
Most poeple possess two "hankos", one for every day paperwork and a second one for very official situation. The second one has to registered and is stored in a safe.
Well, I guess I need just the first one for now...

Posted by oliver_f 21:23 Comments (0)

Made it!

finally in Osaka

After four boxed lunch, three boring movies and two sore legs I finally landed in Osaka.
At the custom I was gently invited for a full luggage control - fortunately not a full body control. Huu huu how cool was that...
It was actually quite funny since the officers had to laugh so bad when they saw among others all the chocolate is was carrying.

Luckily my future coworker, Makoto-san and his girl friend Tomoko-san were waiting for me at the airport.
They "escorted" me to Makoto-san's place. The neighborhood is nice since there are mainly small houses around and maybe half of them are in traditional Japanese style. The area reminds me a bit of San Francisco since there were many ,many small houses side by side too and no skyscraper... but of course with a Japanese touch...
Makoto-san lives in a small but cosi "apato" (apartment) with a "tatami" room in Toyonaka, in the north of Osaka. For the next month I'll be living at his place.
Tomoko-san, me and Makoto-san

View from Makoto's flat

His girlfriend took me to different real estates to get a room/flat for me. It is quite a sport to get a room in Japan. But after we had visited half of Toyonaka's vacant flats I found this lovely and tiny flat with a "tatami" room. The guy from the real estate was really friendly, he even promised me his old fridge! You might have to know here that flats are rented without fridge and stove, that as a foreigner you have to go there with a "go in between Japanese national". So all the papers you'll see on the picture are just the ones from the real estate - the actual contract will be signed someday soon with the land lord when I've gotten my "Non-immigrant-resident-card". But that's another story.

Paperwork from the real estate

Posted by oliver_f 21:06 Comments (0)

All Set!

I'm Counting My Days

So! Finally I'm ready: I got my Visa, a bunch of yen and my ticket.
I'm flying out on February 21rst and will be landing in Osaka on the 22nd.
I made my first attempt speaking Japanese for the visa interview at the Japanese embassy in Bern... well, I guess I have to study some more : )


The famous document I had to wait 7 months for...

So, that's the last blog entry written from Switzerland. The next one will be fed with some exiting shots from Osaka.

Posted by oliver_f 02:27 Comments (3)

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