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Do you think women are treated as equals? What changes would you like to see?

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I think the fact that we still need to ask this question probably means we haven't fixed it.

There are so many changes that are needed. Firstly, the culture of entitlement we have around women's bodies (which is usually called "rape culture" but I think that misses a few subtleties) needs to stop. Second, employment discrimination is stupid. Related to that, I hate being the only woman in engineering meetings, so let's encourage young women to look into "non-traditional" fields. Finally, let's stop devaluing "women's work" like cleaning and childcare and share in them together.

Yep, that'd be a good start.

Writer's Block: See you on the dark side

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If you won a free trip to the moon, would you go? Why or why not?

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Well... I'd like to say "SHIT YES SON" but if I don't do well on an airplane for anything over 5 hours, I don't think I'd do very well in a spacecraft for a couple of DAYS... :(

Japan Honeymoon Adventure: Last Day in Tokyo

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Ah, it has all come to an end. I'm writing this entry at Narita Airport as we wait for our flight to Seoul to board. (Good thing we decided to get a flight that connected instead of a nonstop - judging by the departures board, it seems like no direct flights to Sydney are actually running right now!)

Yesterday we enjoyed our last full day in Tokyo. First, we went to the beautiful Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden. Then we went to Tokyo Tower, which is just as silly and touristy as one would expect. After that, we took the train up to Harajuku. After exploring Yoyogi Park a little (spoiler alert: it's gorgeous) we went to the streets of Harajuku, where I stimulated the Japanese economy some more. ^_^; But hey, I got some amazing pairs of leggings! And also Desiree got a shirt that says "Wander Cat." Perfect. We also ate the best katsu curry I have ever had in my life.

For dinner we had sushi, which was delicious. Then we went home and began the packing frenzy (and I began the "Dina Freaks Out" process, but oh well).

I wish we didn't have to leave! And that's only partly due to the fact that I always get sick on planes. :P

(as always, more pictures can be found here)

Japan Honeymoon Adventure: Nara

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(As written on the Shinkansen between Kyoto and Tokyo)

This morning we decided to go to see Nara before heading over to Tokyo. We enjoyed a delicious breakfast featuring the fresh, beautiful eggs they sell here in Japan. (P.S. Anyone in Sydney know someone who keeps chooks and has some extra eggs they want to sell me?)

Nara is famous for its park full of tame deer. They remind me a bit of the ones on Jones Island, only less sad because people actually do feed them in winter. They are very cute, and they'll come right up to you (although they tend to be a bit miffed when you show them you don't have any food).

I decided to spend the 150 yen to buy some biscuits to feed them. That turned out to be a bad mistake. See, the deer here are not shy about trying to get their food! I was immediately surrounded by four or five deer, all clamoring for a biscuit. I even had one bite me hard enough that I felt it through two shirts!

After that, we headed back to Kyoto. There was a bit of worry about which locker we had put our bags in, but we got that sorted, and now we're on the Shinkansen headed back for Tokyo!

(as always, more photos can be found here)

Next entry!

Writer's Block: Get up

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If you had to eat the same breakfast everyday for a year (and it would be prepared and served to you), what would you choose?

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EGGS.

DELICIOUS, SOFT BOILED JAPANESE EGGS.

YES.

Japan Honeymoon Adventure: Osaka, Kyoto

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Yesterday we went to Osaka. Osaka is generally considered not to be the most exciting part of Japan, and I kind of have to agree - it's just a big city. We did go to Osaka Castle, though, and I ate some delicious yakiniku and banana crepes!

Then today we just did a bit of shopping around Kyoto. Desiree wanted to buy some art that we saw at a shop near Kiyumizudera - I'd take a picture, but it's all wrapped up for transport. (It's a glass piece, so it needs extra careful handling!)

We also stopped by the Imperial Gardens. They're very beautiful! It rained a lot, however. (Luckily we both remembered our umbrellas.)

This evening we had a wonderful meal in Gion - seafood miso hotpot. The seafood was beautifully fresh, and the vegetables all soaked up the miso and seafood goodness. Another of my top meals of our trip. (Even though we went and had some more of that magical salmon for lunch today. ^___________^)

Tomorrow we head back to Tokyo. Our time here is coming to a close soon! T_T

(as always, more pictures can be found here)

Next entry!

Japan Honeymoon Adventure: Inari, Arashiyama

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Today was the day of many stairs! Kyoto is surrounded by mountains, and the only way up is up the stairs.

First, we climbed up through countless torii gates in Inari. Inari is full of fox shrines, and the paths are practically covered with torii gates. It's pretty breathtaking to see!

Even with all the gates, we somehow managed to get lost coming down from Inari and ended up in a residential district with no way of seeing how to leave said residential district. Luckily an older lady and a gentleman we ran into took pity on us poor confused foreigners and helped us get back to Inari. They even walked with us! (I hope they were going that direction anyway!) So friendly!

Back at Inari, we had a wonderful lunch of udon with aburaage (fried tofu) - also called kitsune udon - and inarizushi, which is sushi rice wrapped in aburaage. Aburaage is said to be the favorite of foxes (kitsune in Japanese). It must be my Fox blood, because it's one of my favorites, too!

After that, we went to the other side of Kyoto to Arashiyama, a beautiful area on the banks of the Ooi River. There we climbed up to Iwatayama Monkey Park, which is filled with Japanese macaques. They are the monkeys with the northernmost range and the most polar-living monkeys in the world. They are also goddamn cute. One of the babies even jumped up onto a bench right next to me! We fed them apples - I was amazed at how gently they took the food from my hand. I thought they would be much more grabby!

After that, we went to the Moss Garden, which was smaller than we expected but still quite beautiful. At that point we were quite tired, so we headed back to Kyoto Station to help stimulate the Japanese economy a bit and to have some dinner.

The weather here in Kyoto is extremely unpredictable. At one moment it'll be sunny with a blue sky, and then suddenly, out of nowhere - thunderstorm. It's like Melbourne! -_-

Oh, and also - I had a fight with the robot bathtub today, and the robot bathtub won. I had it draw a bath for me, (the "hey I'm finished" sound scared the pants off me like it always does) and when it was done, I went to shower off. I'm not quite sure what happened next, but somehow, the robot bathtub decided to fill the bath. Again. While the bath was already full. Which, of course, ended in the bath overflowing. (Thank goodness a traditional Japanese bathroom has a drain on the floor.) Instead of me going, oh crap, better turn it off, I thought a much better response was to throw the door open, fly out of the bathroom and start yelling for Desiree. Haha, poor girl didn't know what she was in for when she fell for me, huh? :P

Stupid robot bathtub...

(as always, more photos can be found here)

Next entry!
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We arrived yesterday afternoon in Kyoto. It was raining... hard. I got really overwhelmed in the train station, so rather than try to figure out the subway and stuff, we opted to take a cab. Luckily it was close! (Although the cab driver did get slightly lost. However, it was more of a "which building is yours?" issue rather than a "we're on the wrong side of town" issue...)

Since it was so wet, we opted to chill out in our apartment a little. Through the magic of the Internet, Des found us a vacation rental on the outskirts of Gion, which is the (fairly touristy) geisha district. It's in the middle of an apartment block that I'm pretty sure people actually live in - aka not 100% vacationers. It's kind of nice, actually! We have a small kitchen, a scary robot bathtub and beds upon which to sleep (although my mattress was very uncomfortable last night - we flipped it, so hopefully that will help).

Speaking of scary robot bathtubs - I think I've developed a phobia of automated devices. I keep being afraid that the toilet with its 8000 buttons is going to start spraying me with water randomly (it doesn't help that the toilet here sounds like a demon velociraptor when you flush it) or that the auto-fill feature on the bathtub is going to try and drown me or something. Yesterday Desiree decided to take a bath, and she discovered a button on the bathtub that would fill it up automatically. When it finished, it beeped very loudly (from the panel by the tub as well as one in the kitchen) and yelled something in Japanese, which made me jump up from the couch and start running around in terror. I wish I was exaggerating.

Today the weather report was favorable, so Desiree and I decided to go for a walk to Kiyomizu-dera (a very famous temple that is pretty much down the street from our apartment) and then up to the Philosopher's Walk. Yes, that is a long walk. Yes, right as we got to the start of the Philosopher's Walk, the heavens opened up. Again. Yes, Desiree did decide that since the weather report was for mostly sunny skies, she could leave her umbrella at home. I'm sure you can see where this is going. We took the bus back to the apartment to get Desiree's umbrella and regroup.

After we got the umbrella and Desiree changed into dry pants, we walked up to Gion proper. From there we wandered across the river into Central Kyoto, where we went to some shops (I found an amazing polka-dotted skirt, and Desiree finally found a hilarious Engrish shirt) and had what I seriously think was one of the best meals we've had in Japan, if not *the* best meal - broiled fatty salmon over nori (seaweed) and rice. The salmon was only just cooked on the top - underneath that, it was practically sashimi. It melted in your mouth and tasted like sunshine and rainbows. It's one of the only times I have finished a meal more quickly than Desiree!

After we ate, we wandered along the river, walked down Food Alley (which was full of extremely expensive restaurants - good thing we already ate!) and then wandered back home. I took a bath in the scary robot tub, and now I'm writing on the less scary robot computer. ;)

(as always, more photos can be found here)

Next entry!

Japan Honeymoon Adventure: Hakone, Odawara

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(as written on the Shinkansen between Odawara and Kyoto)

We have spent the last day and a half in Hakone, which is a mountain retreat just outside Tokyo. We rode on the Shinkansen from Tokyo to Odawara, where we switched for a train to Hakone-Yumoto. Our hotel was just a bus away from there.

We stayed at a ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) that boasted its own onsen (hot springs). The hosts there spoke very little English, and as we speak even less Japanese, this was an adventure. However, we made it work!

One of the specialties of the hotel we stayed at was its food. They actually bring your breakfast and dinner into your room for your enjoyment. It was gourmet traditional Japanese food, which is a far cry from the teriyaki, ramen and gyoza that we think of in Australia or the US. We had some amazing things, like rare-cooked pheasant (a local specialty), pickled lily root, ikura (salmon roe) and heaps more things I don't even know the name for. And they brought us so much! Honestly, we probably would have eaten like kings on just one portion between the two of us. (There was even a little drama when they thought we didn't like our breakfast because we didn't finish it. We wanted to try a bit of everything, and by the time we were through tasting it all, there was no room left! Really! We promise! ^_^;)

By the way, the young man who spoke the best English of everybody told us to tell our friends that Japan is not dangerous. So there you go. NOT DANGEROUS. (Unless you're on Mitake-san, but that's another story...)

There were some things I liked a lot and some things I didn't like so much, but I guess that's the same as Western cuisine...

The onsen were wonderful! I tend to overheat easily, so I wasn't able to stay in them for terribly long, but they were very relaxing. Our hotel had two types of onsen available - one traditional bath and one outdoors bath. The outdoors bath was right next to the river - superb! And because there weren't heaps of people there, we always had them to ourselves. Which is good because Desiree is shy. (I'm not. Too many years of synchro for that!)

During the day, we went sightseeing. There were many wonderful things to see! We went to Owakudani, aka "Hell Valley." Hakone is on an active volcano, and Owakudani is a valley filled with sulfurous steam vents. The water in the streams coming down the sides of the valley were murky with the various minerals in the ground. It looked like some kind of alien planet!

In Owakudani they make eggs by putting them into sulfurous hot springs. The shells turn black, and eating one of the eggs is supposed to add seven years to your life. Des and I both ate two, which I'm pretty sure means we're going to live forever.

We also met our new friend Kutama-chan in Owakudani.

We rode on a pirate ship (what a galleon is doing in the mountains of Japan, I have no idea) and saw beautiful parks and temples. We walked a lot, which was good because otherwise all the food at the hotel would have made us weigh 800 pounds!

Today after breakfast, we had one last soak in the onsen before heading back to Odawara to catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto, our next stop. We had an hour and a half between trains, so we decided to walk to a local castle. That turned out to be a repeat of Mitake-san, but this time with no ugly ponchos and only one umbrella! I am still damp from that. ^_^

More on Kyoto later!

(as always, more photos can be found here)

Next entry!

Japan Honeymoon Adventure Lite: JISHIN!!!

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Yes, there was a magnitude 6 earthquake offshore from Chiba last night. We are down to the southwest in Hakone, and while it was a literal kick in the pants (as we are staying at a traditional sleep-on-the-floor Japanese hotel and had just gone to bed), we are fine. Japan is not going to fall into the ocean or anything. Promise. ;)

More on Hakone tomorrow! Internet access is spotty here.

Next entry!

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