Location: Kitakyushu, Japan
Hi - when we last left you we were in the midst of some heavy rain in Tokyo. That heavy rain turned out to be the biggest typhoon of the summer which resulted in the closure of a lot of the rail lines out of Tokyo, meaning we missed out on going to Mt Fuji - a shame given that the weather didn't seem that bad. However this allowed us another day in Tokyo in which we walked around the gardens of the Emperor's palace, went to Ginza for a bit of shopping (well, looking given the prices!) and then out to Roppongi Hills. We went up the Mori tower and got to see Tokyo from all angles as afternoon turned to sunset and as the sky darkened the city lit up. Looking over the big city of Tokyo reminded me a lot of Ulverstone (Kriste disagreed). There was also a nice little aquarium in the tower.
On Saturday morning we went to Nagoya and met Cameron and Keiko for lunch and then headed out to Nagoya castle, before having dinner and watching the Wallabies scrape home against Japan by 88 points. We spent most of Sunday and Monday in Kyoto, checking out the best temples, doing the philosopher's walk and excitedly taking pictures of the statues of Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion outside Kyoto station. We had a big meal of traditional Kyoto food on the Sunday night (photos to come...eventually!)
On Tuesday we spent the day in Hiroshima starting at the peace memorial museum and park and the atomic bomb dome. We then went out to Miyajima, an island off the coast of Hiroshima famed for its huge floating gate (we should have checked the tides...). The island also has deer wandering the streets which are supposedly quite tame, however one did take a mouthful of my t-shirt when I tried to ask him for directions.
So we are now in Kyushu and stayed with the Kawasakis in Mizumaki last night. We have a few places to go and people to see before it's off to China on Sunday. But first things first - off to the Family Mart in front of Kitakyushu University for some fried potato.
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Since Kriste's arrival things have certainly taken a turn for the better : )
I arrived safe and sound at Kansai airport on Monday night and the hotel we stayed at in Osaka was cosy (i.e. small) but pleasant nonetheless. Went on a day trip to Himeji to see the castle, then dropped by Kobe on the way back (gotta love the JR pass).
Spent the last couple of days being chaperoned around Tokyo by Ed's previous host family's daughter's lecturer's grandson and his mother. Top sights so far have been Asakusa's Asahi building (actually looks like a glass of beer), Shinjuku's fondness for neon (and umbrellas in this weather) and Doctor Fish at the onsen (has anyone seen that episode of Ugly Betty?...gross but strangely leaving you wanting more). We're currently in the midst of typhoon 9 so had better return to the hotel!
Location: Osaka, Japan
The athletics finished last night and highlights from the last few days included:
- Jeremy Wariner's 400 (anybody notice the accuracy of my predicted time? I swear I didn't edit this retrospectively!)
- Following the decathlon action and realising how versatile and talented the decathletes are. Steve Ovett once said that the decathlon is nine Mickey Mouse events and the 1500 metres - but I certainly wouldn't agree with that.
- The relays are always good to watch. Not really surprisingly, the US won all of them.
The two best moments of the last two days at the track were wins to Nathan Deakes for Australia in the 50 km walk and some joy for my Finnish neighbour when Tero Pitkämäki got up in the javelin. On Deakes' victory lap I waved my flag and congratulated me and he thanked me for coming to cheer him on. He did this to the other Australian flag wavers in the crowd as well which was really nice of him.
Went out on the Saturday night for a while and met a few athletes. Had a nice chat with Khadevis Robinson (US 800 metre runner) and on the way out bumped into Asafa Powell (as you do) and said hello.
The closing ceremony was fairly subdued with a handing over of the flag to the Berlin committee who are hosting the 2009 championships, a few fireworks and a bit of dancing. So with the athletics all over and Kriste arriving tonight, the travelling soon begins. I'll try and get some photos of the athletics up in the next few days.
Location: Osaka, Japan
Well, Jana got up! She started a lot quicker than I thought she would and looked like she would win by a fair way with 100 metres to go. I was sitting right near the final hurdle and have to admit by that stage I wasn't confident that she was going to hold on, but she finished the race very well. I missed getting a photo on the victory lap but got a few good ones from the medal ceremony. The Finnish guy next to me was quite happy, so I'm hoping that Tero Pitkämäki gets up in the javelin for Finland so we can share another moment.
It was the best night so far with Tyson Gay winning the double and the men's long jump being an exciting contest, won on the last jump by Irving Saladino. Mottram looked pretty comfortable in his heat as did Steve Hooker in the pole vault (unfortunately Paul Burgess missed out). The only negative was that the special gift in the bag of goodies left a bit to be desired - an ashtray!
There was no morning session today so I went to Spa World and soaked in the spas, baths and saunas for a couple of hours, before heading to Tennoji Zoo. This was surprisingly good for a Japanese zoo, much better than the one in Beppu. If you are an animal and eligible for the zoo draft, then going to Beppu would be like gong to Carlton (good night to all the Carlton supporters). But Tennoji was on a par with the zoo in Canberra and only cost the equivalent of 5 dollars to get in. Some of the animals seemed to be on a go slow though - even the hippo didn't rise to the bait of my 'who ate all the pies?' comment.
I hope you are all well and enjoying the last days of August.
Location: Osaka, Japan
A summary of the past few days. I was considering writing a few separate entries and making predictions for events of which I already know the results, but thought better of it. Anyhoo, selected athletics highlights...
- Getting some good photos of Rutger Smith.
- Thinking that Keninisa Bekele was gone and then realising he was once immortalised in rap by Steve which undoubtedly spuured him to victory.
- Women's 400 and 800 finals were crackers - it was great to see the 800 won by someone who attacked the race, led all the way and run a good time.
- Wroe and Steffensen ran well in the 400 semis tonight but both unfortunately just missed out in getting through to the final.
- The special gifts in my daily bag of goodies are getting better (binoculars, a raincoat, wrist watch and alarm clock).
Jana is looking the goods for tomorrow night and Mottram runs his heat of the 5000 also tomorrow. In case anyone was concerned about the German photographers, you will be pleased to know that they got some good photos of Franka Dietzsch who was good enough to come right up to them for close up shots.
In other news, a camera crew showed up to the hotel as they had met the other Tasmanians and were going to film them on how a foreigner goes about enjoying Osaka and the world athletics championships. As I was the only one going to the morning session on the Monday, they filmed a mini-documentary on 'How Ed got to the stadium', which included me accidentally getting on the women's only carriage on the subway and the camera crew being harangued by a middle aged lady. They got footage of the other guys going to Osaka castle and having a meal. Not sure if it's going to be on TV or anything... apparently they visit the hotel reguarly and an English guy who stays here knows he ended up in a Korean guide book to Osaka.
Ed's tip for Jeremy Wariner's 400 metre time: 43.45.
Location: Osaka, Japan
Damn, I really thought Asafa was going to win - I should have listened to my Finnish friend who had predicted Tyson Gay! It was a good race to watch though, particularly from where I was sitting which was the point where Gay looked like he would run over the top.
I don't know if people reading this are tremendously interested in athletics, so as an aside, two other highlights were:
- One of the long jump officials had his fold up chair accidentally knocked by another official and the chair subsequently collapsed leaving him spreadeagled on the ground. The guy had a moustache which for some reason made it funnier (I wasn't the only one laughing!).
- I heard a couple of German photographers say "schiesse" repeatedly as they missed the chance of getting a photograph of the bronze medallist in the women's shot put.
Incidentally, the women's shot put was exciting with New Zealand's Valerie Vili winning on her last put. To be honest it was the event I expected to get the least entertainment out of but I was well wrong!
Location: Osaka, Japan
World Athletics Championships Day One
The morning session kicked off with the men's marathon and despite the 7 am start the guys had to run around in near 35 degree heat. The Kenyans in the stand were jigging about once Luke Kibet had it wrapped up and the Japanese were happy when Japan won the teams race. Donna Macfarlane got spiked and bumped early in her heat of the steeple which was unlucky - in fact all of the Australians didn't have much luck on the first day. The heptathletes put on a good show in their first four events and Felix Sanchez looked nice in the 400 metre hurdles. Asafa Powell had a crack for 30 metres in his heat then 60 metres in his quarter final. He looked quick but his demeanour was like a kid who'd been told to eat the rest of his vegetables.
The opening ceremony was an interesting affair - the parade of countries and taiko drumming was followed by an army of screaming 4 foot 6 cheerleaders and then a bunch of youths in baggy jeans doing urban dance moves. Then came a short rock opera on the IAAF Green Project with little kids holding branches and Sarah Brightman singing about being nice to the planet. I must say I'm getting mixed messages though given the amount of plastic bags they are handing out at the stadium for no good reason.
The seat I have is about half way down the home straight in the front row so it's a nice position. They give out a bag of goodies each day to the gold seat ticket holders as well which has made it worth it. The guy sitting next to me is from Finland and has been to all eleven championships and is a guru. The seats are also near the long and triple jump pits which means that all the coaches come down and talk to their athletes in between jumps, so I probably heard "more drive off the board" in fifteen different languages.
Location: Osaka, Japan
OK, now perhaps a more travel related entry.
I've arrived in Japan safely and am taking the day to settle in. I've found an internet cafe which appears similalry priced to The Barracks, but without the odours - plus there are free drinks!
The place I'm staying at is fairly cosy - the room is probaly 3 metres by 1.5 metres and I have to duck to get through the door. It's a bit like Harry Potter before he moved into Dudley's spare room. But it has a big Japanese bath which I used this morning. There is at least one other guy staying there who is going to the athletics as well. So things are good - even the Fukuoka Hawks won last night!
Location: Sydney, Australia
Hello - by popular demand my first entry contains a performance appraisal of the breakfast at the Sydney Central YHA from Thursday morning.
Breakfast appraised - Breakfast C (full breakfast)
Price - $7.40
Will this appraisal result in an increase in price? - No
Assessment against criteria:
Scrambled eggs - 2 - Lacked a bit of flavour
Bacon - 2+ - Solid effort. To move to a 1 will have to monitor fat content.
Sausages - 3 - Oh dear! Cold and rubbery.
Tomato - 2+ - Complemented the rest of the meal well.
Hash brown - 1 - Always a strength.
Toast - 2+ - Provided the meal with a solid foundation.
Fruit salad - 1 - Refreshing, juicy and tasty.
Juice - 2+ - Good, but would have liked more.
Coffee - 1 - Overcame some early difficulties (I spilled some on my tray as I was carrying it) to produce a nice result.