Japan Adventures – the alpine route and Toyama

From Omachi we traveled across the Tatayama Kurobe Alpine Route. We planned our trip to avoid the route on a weekend though it was still busy when we went.

The mountains were shrouded in cloud, which was both good and bad. The clouds at Kurobe Dam and Murodo created a magical quality. Whereas the view from the ropeway was white nothingness. A little disappointing but the entire experience was wonderful.

Most people left the bus at Bijodaira and made a bee-line to the cable car. We chose to spend an hour walking down a forest trail. It was muddy in places and there were a few parts I had difficulty with but it was a lot of fun. The forest itself was stunning. Taking the alpine route was definitely worth it!

We stayed one night in Toyama, where our luggage had been forwarded to. In the morning we visited the Toyama Glass Art Museum. The permanent exhibition contained breathtaking works from Dale Chihuly. There was also a temporary international exhibition which also contained beautiful works (though sadly photography was not allowed). Glass really is a beautiful medium for art.

The afternoon was not what I envisioned. We had been planning our train trips using Google maps and sadly it failed to mention that our train line was closed due to landslides in August. The lady in the ticket counter had a useful diagram that explained the replacement bus service but it did significantly increase our travel time. And for some strange reason there are less replacement services compared to the usual timetable so we had to hang around for an extra hour. This also meant we just missed the last bus to our accommodation. 😦

nintendo · travel

Japan Adventures – Tokyo National Museum and Maricar

Our third day in Japan was hot and sticky. I’m still accustomed to chilled mornings and evenings so 30C and humid was not nice. A good day for a museum.

Tokyo National Museum is located in Ueno Park along with a variety of other museums as well as Ueno Zoo. But the National Museum is extensive and more of an all day activity. There are three main buildings – one focusing on Japanese art over time, one on archiological findings, and one on art across Asia. I found it really interesting to see how Japan changed over time and was influenced by surrounding regions. Most of the museum was accessible to English speakers.

I did get annoyed at the silly tourists. They were loud and totally ignored the no photo signs on some individual pieces. Show some respect guys.

The next day was lovely weather, which was perfect for our Maricar booking. From culture to geeky! We spent three hours go karting around Tokyo in costume and it was such an incredible existence. Even if you aren’t into Mario, this is definitely worth doing (except on a Friday. Our guide told us Fridays are horrible).


he costumes do show their age with rips and stains, which is to be expected. What I was disappointed in was the lack of girly options. I nabbed the only Princess Peach dress so all the other ladies had to make do with a Luigi dress.

Our guide did ignore speed limits. We did go 70km/hr on Rainbow Bridge, which has 40 and 50 limits! But it did feel really date and above all, lots of fun.


Japan Adventures – Shibuya and Mitaka

I am in Japan for three weeks! One been wanting to go for 10 years now so this trip has been a long time in the making. I hope to blog on the go but I’m only using my phone so the photos are not edited. I’ll fix them up once back home.

Our flight was 9 1/2 hours and I spent the time resting on my boyfriend’s shoulder with a headache. I thought I was going to throw up during the descent. It was only when we landed and they switched the air on the plane that I can’t better. I guess it could be worse – we could live in a different time zone to Japan and have to deal with jet lag.

Tokyo is incredible with its masses of people, bright lights and random noises and voices spewing at you. So many people.

Our first few nights were in Shibuya. Of course there was the obligatory crossing and dog statue. There was a lovely old man taking photos of tourists the statue. We wondered around and it didn’t take long for us to leave the hustle and bustle and enter the quiet residential area. It is so different from home and I find the layout of Tokyo really fascinating. Just a single train stop from Shibuya took us to a place with vastly different demographic and clothes – young Japanese (and silly tourists) with the quirky clothes and lolita dresses that the internet has primed me to expect.

We also had our first shrine experience. There will be many more shrines to come in our adventuring.

I absolutely hate the train stations. Entering the station and finding the right train was fine. Getting out of the station was another matter entirely. Those stations are massive monstrosities and we often structured to find a exit, let alone the exit we wanted. Once we tried followinging the crowd but they ended up taking us back to where we started! I ended up putting my foot down for entering stations to get to the other side. It never worked and we always had to backtrack. I don’t understand how these stations work. Better to go around.

The next day we were off to Mitaka for the Ghibli Museum and Inokashira Park. That park was so beautiful! I’d love to have one like that near my home. There was a little zoo there too (work a sculpture museum included) but a lot of the enclosures were not adequate so it was a little saddening.

The Ghibli Museum was a whimsical magical place. If you are into Studio Ghibli then this place is worth visiting. It was fascinating to see the storyboarding and study of things such as the movement of liquids within a bottle. And panels just depicting the bubbles from sizzling meat! Such detail and care goes into creating Ghibli movies, it’s so beautiful to see. A few of the scenes were recreated so that you could walk in and feel what it was like in kitchen of an airship. I loved the experience.


A taste of sun

Maybe it’s because I’ve switched to a predominantly desk role (in a chilly office) but this winter has felt particularly cold and oppressive. So I escaped the Melbourne chill and spent five nights in warmer Brisbane. Ah sun, how I’ve missed you!

The flora in Brisbane is beautiful. I love the city’s green spaces and the walkway along the river. I walked, kayaked, snorkled, and cycled. All the while soaking in the beautiful sun.


graduate · travel

Beach conference/holiday


After almost four years, I’m now officially a doctor. Woohoo!
Now to find a job…

A few days after I submitted my thesis, my friend and I headed to the Great Ocean Road for a conference. We left a few days early in order to hit the beach. Except it was cold. And wet. We did check out the cafes, admire the birds and dogs, walk along the beach, and check out a waterfall. But mainly we hid out in our cheap cabin.

The weather turned good just as the conference started. Both of us felt out of place. It’s not so bad attending talks that aren’t your field, provided the speaker is good. If not, you end up spending the time playing with your phone, falling asleep, or (in my case) drawing people who are falling asleep. So my friend and I attended the morning talks and then spent the afternoon on the beach (we didn’t actually pay for our registration, otherwise we’d feel too guilty). The water was amazing. It actually turned out to be a nice cheap holiday.

It’s dangerous to sit in front of me during a lecture. I will draw you.