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Japan and China - 2007

Hello - thanks for dropping by! We'll try and keep a record of our travels. First Ed is going to Osaka to watch the World Athletics Championships before Kriste joins him for two weeks in Japan and a week in China.

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

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.

Go Beavers!

Thursday, 06 September 2007

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!

Monday, 03 September 2007

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.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

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.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

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.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

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!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

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.

Friday, 24 August 2007

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!

Thursday, 23 August 2007

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.

Photos - Click Below

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Recent Messages

From Damon
Hi Kriste & Ed,
great to read of your progress, imagine China will be fascinating, especially as it gears up for the Olympics. Piero and Sarah's wedding in Broome was amazing, beautiful location, great weather,so memorable. Will send a few pictures when you return.
Look forward to your next instalment,
Response: Hi Damon, yes there's a lot of 'facelifting' and new buildings going up in Beijing. I'm sure the air in Broome was clearer than China!
From Mum & Grandma
Hi Kriste & Ed. Grandma here and checking out your trip details She hopes you are enjoying yourself and sends her love. ALl well at home, raining and windy. Love Mum
Response: Hi Mum (and Grandma!) We've had a great time in Japan and saw a lot for the time there.
I see that the Eagles lost after a draw at full time and Judd is leaving.
About to board the flight to China now.
Bye for now.
From Raj
Hi Ed,

Did you see Powell smash the WR for the 100m while slowing down over the last ten metres in a heat race in Rieti?! Yet the best he could manage in Osaka was bonze. What's the go?
Response: The consensus is that when there's no pressure he seems to run faster. Also the thrill of bumping into me in Osaka must have inspired him.
From Matt
Hi Edmund,
Thanks for the YHA breakfast menu appraisal, it sounds like the sausages require some development.

I don't suppose you've managed to get to a baseball game over there?

For info, the highlight of the last couple of weeks in Canberra was an ALF question in Thursday night (Science week) trivia. It was a "who am I style question", starting with "I was born on the lower-east side of the Planet Melmac..."
I managed to get the question and won a free beer and a nice set of 6 DSTO coasters.

Happy travelling,

Response: That's like you going on holiday and missing the trivia night where there was a question on Steve Malaxos. Not sure if we are going to get to a baseball game here, however you will be pleased to know that the Hawks won on Tuesday night.
From Mum
Dad sends his best wishes. He is on his way to Tanzania. Travel Safely.
Response: Thanks Mum - will be arriving in China very soon.
From Tight Reigns
Hi. Long time reader, first time messager (???).

I heard a rumour that a Croatian womens high jumper was freakingly tall. Care to comment?

P.S. Beavers are minor premiers.
Response: Blanka Vlasic is indeed quite tall. Good luck to the Beavers in the finals.
From Steve
Was Khadevis Robinson wearing a white towell when you bumped into him?
Response: He was far too classy to be doing that!
From paul and fiona
Hi Ed and soon-to-arrive Kriste.
Sounds like an eventful meet Ed! Given your enthusiasm, I wonder if you'll become a bit of an ath-groupie like your Finnish friend!
Paul and I are off to Melbourne this am, me for study and a conference, and Paul because he can! He's masquerading as my chaperone. Anyhow, hope you have a great time travelling together and we will keep track of your journey.
Cheers, F,P, Tom and Will
Response: Have a good time in Melbourne, try to leave some time for shopping Fiona!
From Patrick
Hello Edmund
Have you been seeing much of the athletics whilst you have been on holiday?
Response: Bits and pieces, here and there.
From Mum
A great week -some highs and lows.
Keep well and enjoy the next three weeks.
Response: Thanks Mum - also thanks to Dad for his detailed comments, which were a bit long to publish here...
From Raj
Hey Ed, how's it all going? Pity Mottram didn't get up in the 5km last night but it was good to watch my good mate Bernie Lagat do the double. Other highlights for mine were Warriner's 43.46 and Blanca Vlasic in the high jump.
Response: I thought the way the race was run didn't suit Mottram but it obviously suited your mate Bernie. Our other good mate Borza got a bronze as well.
From Judy & Ray
Hi Edmund, We are enjoying the athletic on SBS & look out for you. We were hoping last night with Jana's win we may see you...Thomas had his sports today, a little more training needed before we see him at WAC! Enjoy. Judy & Ray
Response: Thanks Judy and Ray. I'm not sure if it will come up on TV but I was waving an Australian flag when Nathan Deakes won the walk this moning and on his victory lap he had a quick chat to me and thanked me for coming to watch and cheer for him. I hope Thomas recorded some new PBs!
From Mum
An Ashtray!!!!
Response: Quite ironic. Today's gift was better - a thermos.
From Sarah
Was that your voice I could hear in the background, singing the national anthem while Saladino was preparing for his last jump?
Response: I was singing (quietly) but it would have been the Australians on the other side of the stadium - you could hear them pretty clearly.
From Dave Powell
Ed - -how was Spa World? Apparently they swap floor levels daily to give everyone a chance of sitting in the glass bottomed onsen while sharks swim right under you? Looking forward to some potato fry coverage (it beats Osaka takoyaki hands down eh)

Stay well

Response: I missed the sharks, but the Atlantis super detox spa had a mini aquarium. There is a 10th anniversary special at Spa World and entry is only 1000 yen. Had a Mos Burger and some takoyaki yesterday as well
From Steve
I see Raj's good mate Bernie Lagat got home in the 1,500. Great stuff.
Actually visited the zoo in La Paz... I'd imagine Tennoji is a positive shangri-la compared to that. Like being drafted to the East Devonport Swans reserves.
Love the blog - highly entertaining. Go Tero!
Response: Tero was a little disappointing in qualifying this morning but made it through. Finland have three in the final on Sunday night.
From Nick
The updates are a bit slow - I was hoping for your full account of Jana´s victory before reading it on the smh.
Response: I'm about to do it now...
From David P
Hi Ed, nice blog site. I'm sure some of the Aussies will get up eventually. On other news my sister just had a baby so I'm a proud uncle.
Response: Congratulations Uncle Dave!
From Sarah
Hi Ed, enjoying the updates. Can you have a word with the SBS commentators and get them to agree on how to pronounce "Osaka"?
Response: Given that it is rare to hear someone pronounce Kyoto correctly, I don't fancy my chances.
From Mum
Still haven't spotted you in the crowd. Wear something "bright"!!!
Response: I'll wear my Beavers singlet and wave an Australian flag when Jana runs in the final on Thursday night.
From Christine
Not good news re. Donna MacFarlane. Hope Melissa Kay has a better day. Have you caught up with Mark Nichols?
Good luck with the coffee tomorrow. Maisie is calling out so I'd better check her!!!
Response: Hi Mum! Donna had some bad luck - I didn't realise she lost a shoe until I read it afterwards. I met Mark by chance on the street and it turns out we're all staying at the same hotel!
From Steve
Hey Ed. Hope you are having a blast in Japan. Look forward to seeing some updates here soon. Watch out for those pandas.
Response: Thanks Steve! I'm about to do my first update.