Japan, August-September 2011

18. My first time sleeping alone in six weeks. I slept so good that first night. In a big bed too. A small business hotel called "super hotel" in Yokohama near Chinatown. The room was just big enough for a small desk and bed. The hotel was kindly reserved for a few nights by my internet friend from Yokohama, who I met in person for the first time that day.
19. I finally experienced a very Japanese space called "Manga-Kissa" (manga = comic; kissa is short for kissaten = cafe) which is a comic book cafe where you can rent a cubicle space with a couch and a computer. They have a huge comic book library and are full of otaku types. Manga-kissa include a non-alcoholic drink bar and have coin showers. Some people spend the night there if they are homeless or need some space and it's around the price of staying in a hostel. After a couple hours of shopping with my friend I was exhausted so we went there to rest. We got comic books but didn't read much and just fell asleep.
20. Another online friend wanted to host me at her studio apartment in Tokyo for a night. It was really nice of her to offer and I was happy we were both trusting enough to agree to this before meeting in person. It went really well and I enjoyed talking with her. (It wasn't through couchsurfing.com, but I imagine it would be similar. I've yet to be hosted by someone from couchsurfing. The site I made these friends through is World Friends by the way.) The next day she took me to a tree house cafe that was really great.
21. I didn't have a plan for the rest of the afternoon when my friend had to leave for her appointment, so I took a nap at that 'Hideaway' tree house cafe. The woman working didn't seem to mind at all. It was a really relaxed place and not busy.

22. Stayed in a 'hotel' in Asakusa, Tokyo for two nights. It was inexpensive and it was technically a youth hostel with a bunch of foreigners. I think it was a 'capsule hotel' that had been sold and marketed as a hostel though. It had a women's only floor and I was in a room with four 'bunk beds' that were capsules. It was a great hostel in a really convenient area, and more private because it was capsules instead of normal beds. The capsules were older and reminded me of the inside of a car from the 70s. 

23. I was invited to stay at my friend's place (mentioned in 18.), as he has a two bedroom (including the tatami room where I stayed) place where he lives alone. It's around an hour and a half from Tokyo by train and really close to a station. It's also about ten minutes walking from the beach. It was a great area to relax in, and so nice to have one place I could stay for a week.

24. I took a night bus to Osaka to finally see Kansai. It wasn't easy to sleep on the bus as it had frequent stops where I got off the bus to use the bathroom. Plus sleeping while sitting up isn't as easy as it used to be. I did have short naps throughout the night though.

25. After meeting a new friend from couchsurfing.com in the morning, I decided I was too tired to do anything and needed a nap. We had a nice conversation, but I just felt irritable and wanted to sleep. So we made plans to meet later then I checked into my 'hotel' and had a nap. This was another really inexpensive business hotel or hostel. The room I reserved was on a women's non-smoking floor, and it had a shared bathroom and shared showers we could use on the ground floor. There was also a sento (public bath) that we were able to use in the evenings - different times for men & women because there was just one room. It had only one big bath, but it was really nice to have it anyway. I found myself watching or listening to TV in Japanese often because I was alone. I stayed there for two nights.
26. My childhood exchange student is from Kobe, so I finally got to visit her for a few days. She's like an older sister for me. She had reserved a hotel for me and said she was paying for it, so I felt bad about it being a nice place that cost more than I would want to pay. I'm not so picky about where I stay, but I guess as you get older you want a nice place. I just keep getting younger and don't mind to sleep on a friend's floor at all. I had a bad attitude about it when I checked in though. It was a big fancy hotel where a lot of business people from out of town stay. Though when I checked in the staff didn't try to speak English (maybe because I was using Japanese). Plus it was less convenient than the place I stayed at in Osaka. There was no sento, but there was a bathtub that I used often. It was about a ten minute walk from a station and in a business area with only convenience stores around. So I often walked towards the station where there were department stores and a big market with a bookstore upstairs. It was nice to see my sister and do some sightseeing, but I liked Osaka better. Somehow the people were more friendly and it was easy to walk around and find interesting things to do.
27. Again I took a night bus back to Tokyo. I slept a little more this time, but still felt retarded the next day. After putting my luggage into a coin locker, I wandered around for over an hour trying to find a sento I had seen online. When I found the place, it was closed down. So I went to meet my friend for coffee still stinky, but we were waiting for each other in different places somehow and missed each other. So I just walked around and found a museum I thought looked good, but I felt too tired and short on time to enjoy it. I checked out their shop instead, then found a nice bookstore before I had to leave for the airport. Not a bad day considering how tired I was.
In Transit:
28. Maybe I slept on the airplane? I really expected to sleep the whole flight. I think I did for a short time at the beginning, but I was hungry and they gave us dinner. I watched a really sad movie and was crying when we landed.
Next: Hong Kong

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