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高尾山 - Mt. Takao

After a long Saturday night with karaoke all night at some yakuza place in Shinjuku, I went home, slept two hours and then went to climb Mt. Takao in the outskirts of Tokyo with Natsu on Sunday. The weather was cloudy but very humid and about 30 degrees, which set it up to be a perfect sweat fest.

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Takao-san is only about 600 meters high and is probably the most crowded mountain in Japan. We took the toughest, steep course up, but even then we had to queue almost all the way up. I brought my GPS logger, but I forgot to turn it on until we had actually climbed Takao and were continuing on to another mountain. Here is a map of our route from that point anyway:


View Larger Map

After Takao-san and Shiroyama, we hiked down to Sagamiko lake. It was a nice place, but it was getting dark and the weather was turning worse.

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It was a good day. Afterwards I was really tired, so I went home and then me, Kasimir and Nobuya went to a super sento for a hot bath. I slept like a baby that night, until ten o’clock Monday morning.

Random Things

Today we had a barbecue on the roof of the dorm. We had a good time. I grilled some beef steaks, sausages and onions while the others made chicken and yakisoba. Viktor had found some strange half-spheric metal thing, almost like a outdoor lamp cover, that was stuck in a bush, so we picked it up and used it for a grill.

A few days ago one of the Korean guys was cooking some food in the middle of the night (around 1.30 maybe) and managed to burn it so bad that the fire alarm went off, waking everyone in the dorm up. He was a bit embarrassed afterwards… lol.

The other week we also had a party on the roof. It was Chris’ birthday so we also had some fireworks. Apparently it was too much for the neighbouring people since the police came and told us to be quiet. Now they have Viktor’s telephone number. :P Denton made a film of the party. Apparently, they started really early. I came later so I’m not in it, and there’s no footage of the police because Denton ran away from them.

In the real world, I had my first presentation at the lab seminar this Monday. Of course, since I wasn’t nearly finished with my thing, it was just crap. Me being tired, having a headache and not having had any lunch (the presentation was at 18.30) might also have had something to do with the crapiness of it.

Saturday I went drinking with some Japanese friends that were on exchange in Linköping a few years ago. They all work now, but they brought some students from their old uni who are going on exchange to Linköping in August, so that was a lot of fun. Hopefully, we’ll have some more time to hang out back in Sweden. It feels like it’s a lot easier to make new Japanese friends in Sweden than here in Japan, since they’re a lot more open when they’re over there. Here, people are just so busy all the time.

登山靴 - Mountain Climbing Shoes

Since it’s the rainy season the rain was pouring down for most of the weekend. However, today (Tuesday) the sun is shining. Yesterday it was just cloudy, this is what I saw when I got out of my afternoon signal processing class:

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I spent my Saturday with Natsu. We were going to visit her family in the afternoon, but before that, we managed to do some shopping. Her family (mother, father and younger sister) lives all the way out in Tokorozawa in Saitama. It’s about 45 minutes west-northwest of Ikebukuro, which means it’s about two hours away from my place - good thing Natsu lives just 10 min away from Ikebukuro. Close by their place there is a factory outlet mall, so we decided to go there for some shopping before continuing on to her family’s place.

Since we both are going to climb Fuji-san, we needed some good shoes, so that was our main priority and that’s about what we had time for. I managed to find a pair of shoes that fit my big feet so I was happy. They seem to be quite nice shoes, made from leather and with calf skin lining and was 23,000 yen (about SEK 1,400), which isn’t too expensive I think. I am thinking about doing some more mountain climbing when I have some free time in August, as well as later back home in Sweden. Hopefully these boots will carry me for a while.

Dinner was good. We had temaki-sushi which means something like “roll in your hand sushi”. As usual when the Japanese have guests over for dinner, there was an abundance of food and we couldn’t finish it all. She has nice and relaxed parents and it was nice to meet her sister.

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When we went back to Tokyo, I joined my exchange student friends for clubbing until morning in Shibuya. The weather was terrible.

江ノ島 - Enoshima

As it is in the middle of the rainy season here, yesterday the sun was shining and it was a comfortable 27 degrees in the air, so me and Natsu decided to go to Enoshima. Enoshima is a small island just off the coast of Kanagawa-ken. It’s very close to Kamakura, but doesn’t suffer the same crowds. That’s not to say there weren’t any people there, there are people everywhere in Japan and it’s impossible to escape that fact. Nevertheless, Enoshima is a nice place to retreat the madness of Japanese cities (particularly Tokyo). It has a feeling of countryside to it, despite being just an hour away by train from where I live. Some photos are available.

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This was also an excellent opportunity for me to try out my new toy. I bought an GPS logger about a week ago. What it does is that it logs the position every x (according to the settings) seconds by GPS sattelites. Later, I can download this data to my computer and correlate the times with my digital photos to geotag them, or visualise a route onto a map so I can see where I have been. For example, this is how we got around Enoshima:


View Larger Map

Of course, the data is dependent on the signal strength for accuracy and as you can see it’s not always very accurate, but it’s good enough to get a general picture. Especially if you are staying in the same place for a while there seem to be some discrepancies, and it might also be true when being around tall buildings, but that’s just my initial observation. I geotagged the photos in my computer too, but apparently my software doesn’t support this when uploading to Flickr, so if you look at my map on Flickr, they won’t show up. I’ll have to put in a request for that feature in Digikam.

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On this hill, at Lovers’ Bell, with a view out over the never ending Pacific Ocean, people come from all over to seal their love with a lock in the fence. There are literally thousands of them. Some of them are so old that they’ve fallen down and that’s a little bit depressing.

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The Japanese claim to love nature and live in harmony with it. I highly doubt that. Here’s a bridge to a cave, so that they don’t have to walk on the actual nature. Looks so funny, but I suppose it is so that they can reach the cave even during high tide.

The Time Has Come…

… for me to write something new here. I haven’t written anything in a while, but that doesn’t mean I’m dead or anything like that. A terrible thing, the thing that happened in Akihabara. Apparently one of the other exchange students I know was there when it happened, and stood only a few meters from one of the stabbed victims. That must have been awful.

The rainy season is here now. Good thing I have so much to do at the lab that I hardly notice it, except the humidity. You can’t escape that anywhere. I haven’t really done much lately outside of the lab and the weekends are usually spent with my girlfriend. Oh yeah, in the beginning of May (yes I know it’s over a month ago) the Japanese have some consecutive holidays, so we went to Mie-ken, a prefecture to the south of Nagoya. It’s a nice and pretty quiet place in the country side famous for their good seafood, especially oysters and a lobster they call ise-ebi. I have some photos from there that I will upload later. I took them with a film camera, but the quality of the scans are not very good in normal stores. I don’t understand why they can’t just scan them at a higher resolution than 300 dpi. If anyone knows a place where you can get scans good for large printing, do tell!

The Euro 2008 has started too. They only show a few of the matches at the TV in the dorm, so I have to go to bars to watch the other ones. I stayed out all night in Roppongi to watch Sweden’s first match against Greece. Good result, but Spain will be harder. Spain played a great game against Russia. I’m not used to seeing Russians, but I think that was the most Russians I’ve ever seen in the same place. Lots of tall slim girls. Rumour has it they were models, but what do I know, I just wanted to see the matches. :)

Hopefully there won’t be such a long delay until my next post. Take care!