Posts Tagged With: Japan

H-Bomb’s Sunday photo, week 56: a capsule hotel in Tokyo

After illness forced the postponement of my trip to Rome (previously scheduled for late November 2014, and now planned for mid-February 2015), I’m still not sure whether I’m sufficiently recovered for my East Asia trip for which I’m supposed to leave on December 24. I’ll be seeing more doctors between now and then, and will also continue to monitor how I feel physically. I really really really want to go ahead with my trip to Bangkok, Singapore, Siem Reap, and Seoul, and I don’t bail on travel plans lightly; after all, you’re talking to the person who flew to India two days after having a wisdom tooth removed. 🙂 But of course my health comes first, and we’ll see how things develop in the next week and a half.

In the meantime, this week’s featured image comes from my very first visit to Asia: my trip to Japan in April 2008. Certain Japanese cities such as Tokyo are known for having “capsule hotels” — incredibly space-efficient places of accommodation, in which your room is a minuscule pod. (Apparently the concept originated in the 1970s as a type of place for famously workaholic Japanese men to catch emergency accommodations when they missed the last train home. Even today, capsule hotels tend to be restricted largely to a male clientele.) Here’s one such capsule hotel that I visited in Tokyo in ’08; at the time, it was known was the Big Lemon. It was situated in the Kabuchiko section of the Shinjuku neighbourhood.


And here’s a bonus photo from inside the Big Lemon, so you can see just how tiny the “rooms” were:


I didn’t actually lodge in the Big Lemon; I paid one night’s rental charge (which my records indicate ran just over US $40 in 2008) just so I could gain access and take photos. I did also climb inside and lay down for a while, but was unable to nap because a dude who was legitimately lodging there, in a pod across the aisle from me, was coughing. I only lingered for about an hour before I returned to my actual hotel. The woman at the front desk of the Big Lemon was confused about my leaving so soon. She gave me a receipt and instructed me to show it to her upon my return. I tried to explain to her that I wasn’t coming back.

You won’t find a minibar in your room in one of these understated places of lodging. But there are surprising luxury features such as a color TV and a clock/radio (and I understand that in the present day, high-speed internet is common in capsule hotels). All guests of the facility also enjoy complimentary access to a sauna. And while closet space in each berth is limited, lockers are available on-site in the building to store your valuables.

Would you stay in a capsule hotel?

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Categories: Asia, H-Bomb's Sunday photo, travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, week 35: a gilded temple in Kyoto

Happy Friday, friends. I was preoccupied this week, as I was preparing for my latest game show audition, which took place yesterday evening. But now I can turn my attention back to this blog — and just in time for a new Friday photo!

This week’s featured image comes from Kyoto, a former imperial capital of Japan. It’s a temple called Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Gold Pavilion.

gilded temple

The two upper stories of this magnificent structure are covered in pure gold leaf. The temple is situated on the Kyoko-Chi, meaning “Mirror Pond.”

This photo was taken during my visit to Japan in April 2008.

Incidentally, the game show I was trying out for last night was “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”. I was told that I’ll find out within a week or two whether I’ve been chosen for the pool of potential contestants for the show. The tryout was a lot of fun, and the producer who interviewed me seemed to like me, but there are never any guarantees in this situation. So I need to keep my fingers crossed; and while I’m waiting to hear back, I will distract myself with thoughts of future destinations on my World Karaoke Tour. 🙂

Would you like to visit Japan?

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Categories: Asia, H-Bomb's Friday Photo, travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

H-Bomb’s Saturday Photo, week 27: giant fishes in Tokyo

Happy Saturday! I had a good reason for not getting this weekly photo up yesterday. I’m currently chilling on a Boeing 747-400, 35,000 feet above the North Atlantic, headed to Frankfurt. From there, I’ll catch a connecting flight to Moscow. As you know, I have big plans for the next couple of weeks — for both karaoke and sightseeing — in Russia, the Ukraine, and Moldova. But this trip almost collapsed at the last minute, due to a booking error by United Airlines that left me ticketless on the eve of my departure — even though I’d made my flight reservations all the way back in July 2012. So last night I had to spend hours on the phone with, and tweeting with, United customer service agents. I’ll have more to say at a later time about the bad experience that I suffered at the hands of United; but finally, at about 11:00 pm last night, they got me rebooked on the flights that I should have been on all along.

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to share with you this week’s featured image from my prior travels. That image comes from Tokyo, Japan. One of the most unusual things I did there was to visit the morning tuna auction in that city’s famed Tsukiji fish market. The giant tuna that are auctioned off can weigh hundreds of pounds, and their prices are commensurate with their size; earlier this year, a Bluefin tuna at Tsukiji fetched a record $1.78 million US. Here, you can get a sense of just how supersized those fish can be:

sleeping with the fishes

I had to wake up at 4:45 a.m. to see this auction, and it was so worth it! I’ve never seen anything like it.

This photo was taken during my visit to Japan in April 2008.

Categories: Asia, H-Bomb's Friday Photo, travel | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, Week 12: an endless gateway in Kyoto

Happy last day of the world to you! Today’s featured photo comes from Kyoto, a former imperial capital of Japan. Pictured here is an avenue of contiguous torii (ceremonial, vermillion-coloured gates) at the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto.

Torii!  Torii!  Torii!

This photo was taken during my visit to Japan in April 2008.

Categories: Asia, H-Bomb's Friday Photo, travel | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

H-Bomb’s Friday Photo, week 2: a scenic Japanese view at dusk

The second edition of our new weekly photo series finds us in Japan — specifically, on an island called Itsukushima, popularly known as Miyajima (Shrine Island), in the Seto Inland Sea. Miyajima, which is an easy day-trip from Hiroshima, contains a Shinto shrine, and is most famous for its “floating torii” seen here:

A torii is a ceremonial orange gate found at a shrine. What makes Miyajima’s floating torii unique is that, except at low tide, it’s partially submerged in the sea and fully surrounded by water. But at low tide you can walk right up to it.

The view seen here is regarded as one of the three most scenic vistas in Japan. It’s a particularly popular place to watch the sun set. Most tourists come only to watch that sunset (and admittedly, the sunsets behind the torii can be spectacular); they then immediately skedaddle to catch the next ferry back to the mainland. I was glad that I lingered, because I thought that the floating torii looked even better at dusk, as shown above.

The shrine complex, including the floating torii, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This photo was taken during my visit to Japan in April 2008.

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Country no. 14 on my World Karaoke Tour: Japan

Almost from the time that I began singing karaoke regularly, taking the H-Bomb show to Japan had been a prized objective for me. The Land of the Rising Sun was, of course, the place where karaoke originated. How could I not want to experience karaoke in the land of its birth?

I finally made it happen in April 2008. After singing in 13 other countries, I prepared to make my long-sought pilgrimage. That journey to Japan — my first foray into Asia, and my first time crossing the International Date Line — proved to be an outstanding vacation in many respects. Surprisingly, however, as you’ll see, I found the Japanese karaoke scene a letdown in comparison to my soaring expectations.

Like most visitors from overseas, my point of entry to Japan was Narita International Airport. That airport is located in the city of Narita, about 35 miles east of Tokyo’s city center.

Disaster almost struck before I even made it out of the airport. Right after I cleared customs, my passport fell out of my backpack without my noticing. But just a few minutes later, a young American man ran up to me in the ground transportation area and asked if I’d lost my passport. “That’s impossible,” I confidently replied, adding that I had just placed it in my bag. But then I noticed that the zipper was partially open on my backpack, and the passport was missing from the compartment in which I’d inserted it. The young man then ran back to where he’d come from; and shortly thereafter, he returned with my passport. Disaster averted.

This wasn’t the first time that I lost my passport while on the road. But this blog isn’t about my irresponsibility; it’s about my love of karaoke and travel. So, onward!

Anyway, once I recovered my passport, I didn’t immediately board a train to Tokyo. Instead I headed to a nearby hotel in Narita. Why did I do that? you may wonder. Continue reading

Categories: Asia, travel, World Karaoke Tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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