Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Wrapping up the tourist life

What a(n expensive) day! I toured around the most controversial Yasukuni shrine (very beautiful), visited the possibly equally controversial Yushukan museum (ie. "We didn't actually start any of these wars and behaved in a just and civilised manner at all times"... then again, most of our history – or at least most people's perception of it – is quite similar in terms of "We're the good guys. We occasionally screw up, but overall our cause is glorious and good"). A most entertaining afternoon. I also picked up a copy of "I am a cat" by Sōseki Natsume, which I read on the train. I'm just 47 pages in, and it's been very enjoyable thus far. It makes me wonder why I didn't get a book to read on the train when I got here, given how much train-riding I've been doing. Actually, I have been dragging a copy of Stewart Shapiro's "Thinking about Mathematics". It's a very good read as well, but not exactly the ideal book for short bursts of reading on the train (not many philosophy books are... except the Tractatus, perhaps?).

After that, I went to an onsen/o-sentō (not sure how "mineral" the water was) in Kabukichō (in/near Shinjuku), of all places. The baths were nice (until I accidentally stepped into the electric one – again. They're relaxing, but you have to be mentally prepared for the weird sensation, and the even stranger feel in your limbs afterwards). And I had the pleasure (?) of having a hot bath in an o-furo shaped like a swastika. These symbols are very common in Japan, in the counter-clockwise form, to indicate Buddhist temples on maps (and on the temples themselves). However, this bath's shape was in the clockwise form, which an modern-german-history-aficionado friend of mine might be more familiar with. I wish I could have taken a picture, but – the place being full of naked people (as is generally the case in onsen and o-sentō) – that was unfortunately quite impossible.

I also had a 40-minute massage, which varied between interestingly pleasant and surprisingly painful, but in the end it left me feeling very relaxed (success!). Also, I think this place is probably the only place (or one of the few places) in Shinjuku where you can get the sort of massage your mother wouldn't disapprove of (unless she's very liberal minded about these things).

Anyway, got some nice photos and pictures of the Yasukuni-jinja experience, and a few random shots from around Shinjuku. I've been really lazy about posting these on the blog, but seeing as how I have nearly 400 high-res photos and a few hours of film, it's becoming a bit hard to cope. I'll upload the galleries onto my web page eventually, but I fear a lot of these (especially all the photos of my class) are going to remain for private use (and friends and family – those whom care to watch, anyway). If I get a more powerful computer (maaaybe... I have been bleeding money left and right these days, so that plan's on hold) and/or another external hard-drive (a bit short on storage these days – yeah... I probably shouldn't have spent another ¥2500 on pachinko this evening) I might patch all the footage together and upload it (at a lower res) onto the site (seeing how youtube probably won't accept a 3hr video, and it would be a pain in the behind to splice it up).

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