Overview Fall 2004
This time around was much more relaxed and free of problems than last time...and I really didn't even plan anything out! I was in Japan for exactly two months this time, with a week in Tokyo and the rest of the time spent around the Kansai region.
This time around it was a little strange. Upon retuning back to Otsu I felt like nothing had changed. It was kind of...normal. I guess since it was my fourth time back there it isn't as special as it once was. It's still great to see friends, reminisce about the 'old times' and visit the places you know so well, but I guess it just loses it's luster after however many times. But of course, I still had a great time overall.
First off, I spent some time in Tokyo again, partying every single night for more than a week with my old roommate Eric (who had gotten a head-hunting job in Tokyo and had just moved in to his new apartment). We visited a bunch of clubs in Shibuya (Harlem etc.), got interviewed for NHK at a release party for DJ Kaori, met a cool dude from Poland and hung out with him for a few nights, got back together with some friends we had met in the states and hung out, met a wild group of guys at an izakaya in Akihabara and started ragging on the other patrons, ate some bomb ramen (Jyangara Ramen rocks!), shopped around the electronics stores and bought a new super-laptop for a lot of money, and was miserable while the strongest typhoon to hit Tokyo in more than 10 years just happened to be on the first weekend I was there (more about the strange weather later). Because of all the partying (we would go to bed at 10am and wake up around 6pm then start preparations) we both got really sick and felt awful...but refused to stop partying! So when I went back to Shiga Prefecture I wasn't in very good shape...
Upon returning back from my Tokyo adventure one of the largest typhoons to hit THAT area was just approaching (number 23 or so that season), which made for about straight five days of wind and rain. But I was sick during that time, so it didn't matter very much anyway. After that I just went around eating, visiting friends, partying in Kyoto on the weekends, and seeing a few DJ's and live shows. I was going to visit my friend Drew again after Tokyo but a MAJOR typhoon had come a few days after I got back to Japan and literally destroyed his entire town (read about it on his web page here). The water level came up above his head, flooded his entire house, a sewage pipe burst covering everything with an unpleasant mixture of waste and refuse, and all of his stuff was destroyed (with no insurance covering it). So in short, I decided that it wasn't really the greatest time to visit.
That brings me to: the weather. For some reason, when I came to Japan there happened to be huge earthquakes (especially in Niigata, killing quite a few people and causing millions of dollars in damage) and no end to the typhoons (about three or four hit just where I was at). It was pretty freaky weather.
I went to Shanghai, China in mid-November (read about that here) for a bit more than a week and returned in time to go on a crab-eating trip with my friend's family. We went a few hours north of Shiga to Fukui Prefecture and stayed at a ryokan along the Sea of Japan. Jumped in the onsen, had an all-you-can-eat all-you-can-drink crab dinner (caught fresh a few hours before), and spent the next day sight-seeing.
Well, that's the annotated version of my trip. A good time all in all.