By ◆ Juppie on Wednesday, December 24, 2008 @ 11:43 PM

All those Ss must make me sound like a snake. Or the Sidney guy in the Neopets Deserted Fairground. Think of it whichever way you like.

I am relieved to be able to get on the Internet. I have been attempting to the get the Winter Site Theme on Neopets, which means I need to get on the Internet everyday. But I have apparently missed yesterday's, which makes me sad. :( So I guess I am probably not going to get it this year after all. Oh well. I suppose life does not revolve around the Advent Calendar.

I must talk a bit about Japan. It is interesting since everyone speaks Japanese (but they can understand a little English because they have to learn it in school). It is actually quite dry and cold at this time of year. My skin is so terrible looking. Earlier it was all reddish and my mom was panicking since it seemed like I had allergies. It's better now, but my skin is still extremely dry.

The toilets are the scariest thing here in Japan. They have two types of creepy toilets. 1) The ground toilets. 2) The complicated toilets. The ground ones are scarier since you have to squat to use them. So basically you never "sit down" when you're using them. And then the complicated toilets... They have buttons next to them. Apparently you can do things like "spray" and "bidet". And some toilets even have a button for playing "flushing sounds". Really, really weird. The toilet seats are warm, too. Must be a waste of energy.

At first, the highways also freaked me out. That's because in Japan, you have to drive on the left side of the rode, not the right. And since we're going with a tour a group (called Signet Tours), we have to ride in a tour shuttle, so it feels like you're going to fall off the road or hit the walls.

That reminds me, I should mention my tour guide. Her name is Namiki Mariko (so we call her Mariko). She actually was born in Taiwan, but moved to Japan when she was older. So she knows both Chinese and Japanese. Her voice is scratchy. Actually, I hear she caught a cold, that's why. (She is a chatterbox, so she has to drink green tea to soothe her throat.) She said she hates it when people call her "Monica" instead of Mariko. She gives us all sorts of strange papers, such as maps and instructions and information, about Japan.

So far during our tour we've visited several temples. Before you go in the temple, you have to put water on your hands using these things that look like a cross between a stick and a measuring cup. (That reminds me, beware of Japanese restrooms because sometimes they don't have paper towels, dryers, or hand soap) Then you can go inside the temple. A lot of people throw money into this vent/box thing and make a wish. Apparently this is how temples get enough money. (Besides vending machines, of course.)

Which leads me to say, there are few water fountains to be found in Japan. Since there are plenty of vending machines, if you want a drink, just use those. I suggest getting hot cocoa if the machine has it. (But I guess I just like hot cocoa, because I don't drink coffee or tea.)

Anyhow, back to the tour...We've also been to this big Buddha statue. The statue's eyes are closed and he seems very weathered. (Kind of like the Statue of Liberty.) If you look at him from the side he seems to have a bent back, like an old man. And he has a strange expression (Although I think he is meant to be praying?). I think that's because people keep burning incense near him and taking pictures of him, so he is tired of it after all these years.

We've also been to Mount Fuji. We didn't actually get to go on the mountain but we had some opportunities to snap photos of it. Basically it is a big mountain with snow dumped on the top. It's hard to believe it's a volcano (unless you look at the weird steamy stuff on a nearby mountain). There is a lake next to Mount Fuji and it is very beautiful. We rode a river cruise on it. Two people, dressed up as Santa Claus and a pirate, took pictures with people if they paid.

Since I'm such a glutton, I shall mention food. So far I have eaten at various hotel restaurants, plus a "soba house". For today's lunch we ate at Hakone Hotel's buffet...
- Two white rolls (You are supposed to put sauce, vegetables, etc. inside it but I eat it plain.)
- Noodles (I guess you would consider it spaghetti)
- Fried potatoes (These are salty and rather filling so don't get too much)
- Croissants
- Strawberries (They are really cute!)
- Strawberry Mousse (This counts as dessert. Comes in long thin cup or shorter fatter cup)
- Fruit sherbet and vanilla ice cream combined (It's like strawberry ice cream! It is very good, you should try it.)

Oh, and I shall talk about the hotels we have visited so far. Hehehehe.
- Hilton Narita (Near the airport. Looks fancy although it is actually pretty old, but has been remodeled. Does not have scary toilet.)
- Hotel New Akao (Not actually new, it is 35 years old. XD Has hot springs and view of ocean. You can wear their sandals and kimonos, and sleep on tatami mat. Has a scary toilet. Small rooms.)
- Hakone Hotel (We didn't get to stay the night here, just ate. Very pretty. Has nice shiny bathroom for visitors. Apparently has hot springs too. You can get married here.)
- Keio Plaza Hotel (Fancy place. I hear it is expensive. Has scary toilet. But not bad anyhow.)

Maybe I had better stop writing...Well, hope everyone has a good Christmas and New Year's. :) Over here we have a 17 hour time difference so it's the evening of December 25.

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