+japan++shikoku++shikoku new year++2005/2006++mail rob sullivan coderot@gmail.com+
Welcome to the account of my holiday in Tokushima Prefecture, Shikoku, Japan, 2005 and 2006
On my trip I was to able to see authentic old style Japanese festivals like the ebisu mochi nage
I was also able to see how Japanese celebrate New Years Day
This is how they do it
Here is the tatami floored comfort in which I stayed
And here is the family shrine all duded up for New Years
Yakuoji Temple in Hiwasa Shikoku Japan
A view from the bridge towards shore
There are glass plates built into the floor of the bridge to allow one to look down on the whirlpools

s h i k o k u ... n e w - y e a r s

New Year in Japan ---- FOREIGNERS have a lot of misconceptions about Japan, but the biggest misconception of all, I believe, is the belief that Japan is an expensive country to get around in. It might be true that 15 years ago, at the height of the Bubble Economy, you had to shell out $10 for a cup of coffee in a cafe, but those days are long, long past. Since the days of the Bubble Japan has gone through a long period of recession, and the prices have come tumbling down. You can still find those legendary $100 melons and the hostess bars where a "few drinks" will easily set you back your monthly salary -- but Japan has a big economy, there is a market for everything, and if you happen to comprise the market segment known as "cheapshake penniless backpacker", there are plenty of companies and products in Japan vying for you. The sad thing is that, in my observation after living for five years in this country, foreign tourists rarely take advantage of the potential for really budget travel in Japan. Foreign tourists always grumble about the supposed high costs of transportation in Japan, but I rarely see them using the very cheap tickets which can allow you to travel from one side of the country to the other for less than 2000 Yen (around US$20). You can't imagine that you can cross Japan for less than US$30. Well, there is a way to do it -- as I will presently explain. But first, I want to explode some of the myths about "expensive Japan", which in my mind were created by the international media in the late 1980s. The times have changed, but the myths live on -- to the detriment of both tourists and the Japanese tourist industry. In this article I also want to educate prospective tourists to Japan about how they can save money and exploit the numerous budget travel opportunities in this country. It all comes down to knowledge.

It also comes down to having local contacts. I can honestly say that on my last couple of trips around Japan, I spent so little money I virtually made a small profit! This was partly due to the kindness of friends and strangers who put me up for the night or shouted me lunch or dinner in some noodle restaurant or sake bar. I understand the average visitor in Japan can't expect to meet a local who will pay their way, or shower them with gifts the way I have been showered. But nonetheless, if you are shrewd enough, you can find bargains. My premium piece of advice is: if you want to travel long distances in Japan, use the Seishun 18 Kippu. If you want to drink, go to an izakaya, not a western bar. If you are buying souvenirs and gifts for folks back home, shop at the 100 Yen stores.

Anyway, this is the account of a virtually free holiday I undertook in the New Years period of 2005/06, to the southern Japanese island of Shikoku. I had marked the previous New Years Eve with my buddy Garnet Mae at a sleazedive Roppongi club in Tokyo dancing to cheesy house music with a bunch of rough American soldiers, and observing a handjob which was taking place on the dancefloor besides me. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I like sleaze as much as the next dog, but for this New Years Eve at least, I wanted to experience the real Japan. Not that Roppongi isn't the real Japan, but as we all know, some Japans are realer than others. This New Years Day I wanted to eat mochi rice cakes and osetchiryori and drink warm sake rice wine under a warm kotatsu. I wanted to learn from the elders about the ancient gods of Japan and how to honor them. I wanted to surround myself in authentic oldschool Japanese culture, with neither a strobelight nor covert handjob in sight. In short, I wanted to escape. I headed to Shikoku.

[japan -- new years holiday]
shikoku japan 2005/2006

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