Perhaps my favorite shrine in Japan. It has played host to the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, and snakes up through a mountain just outside of Kyoto. It’s home to thousands of Torii or gates. Each one of these has been donated by businesses in hopes of please Inari or the god of business. These torii are placed extremely close to each other and form a tunnel of pure orange and red. As i entered this tunnel of torii, I was left speechless by its beauty and the share amount of gates. It’s a remarkable place to visit and see first hand.
I spent about two weeks in Osaka, Japan. Osaka is the third largest city in Japan and the second most important. I personally liked Tokyo better, simply because Tokyo was more vibrant, clean, and had more energy to it. I however loved the people I met in Osaka, from the people i stayed with to those I encountered on the street, I’d say Osaka is the more friendlier city. It’s residence are more laid back and willing to talk to the lone gaijins or foreigners. People don’t mind having conversations on the train no matter the time of day. Also I believe there isn’t as much pressure to dress as best as possible as in Tokyo. While I was in Osaka, people just dressed however they felt and wore what ever they felt comfortable in, where as in Tokyo for the most part, people dress as trendy as possible. While in Osaka, I explored Den-Den Town, Umeda, Namba, and Shinsekai.
One of my friends that I stayed with lived in Shinsekai and one memorable thing I remembered doing while staying at his place was getting lost. It was my first time venturing out on my own and I still wasn’t sure of exactly how to get back to his place from the metro, so I started wondering around the neighborhood that he lived in. As it’s Japan and violent crimes especially those against foreigners are nonexistent,i had no problems going through alley ways and after wondering through a myriad amount of alleyways and backstreets, I was getting no where but soon I wondered into somewhere oddly different from all of the alleyways I had been wondering in. Everything became clean, there were no ads, or posters anywhere on the wall, and pink lights replaced the regular street lamps. Soon enough I passed by small storefronts, with older women in their 50’s and 60’s standing next to pretty and young Japanese women, As soon as I saw this, I knew where I was. My friend told me he lived near the red-light district in Osaka, and seeing this, I knew I had wondered into it. The red light districts in Japan are all controlled by the Yakuza or Japanese Mafia, and as I had my camera on my shoulder, I posed a threat. So i decided to hasten my steps to make my way out. Soon though, some of the older Japanese women, who were in charge of the younger women, say my camera on my shoulder and started yelling at me STOP NO PHOTO, in Japanese. I eventually made my way out of the red light district and to my friends place, but one thing that shocked me was just how out in the open prostitution is in Japan.
Also during my stay, I went to the Osaka Aquarium which was truly amazing. To see massive whale sharks up close and other exotic sea creatures. I’ve been to the Sea World countless times, but hands down I preferred the aquarium in Osaka. It was a bit pricey to get into at 2000 Yen or 20 Dollars and a bit crowded but none the less I enjoyed my time there.
Food was also another thing that Osaka is known for, especially Okinomiyaki and Takoyaki. Okinomiyaki is sort of like a pancake with whatever you want on top of it, usually consisting of cabbage, batter, octopus tentacles, shrimp, and other bits it’s very tasty and Osaka has it’s own distintive style. Also in Tokyo, you make your okinomiyaki yourself, where as in Osaka, the restaurant prepares it infront of you. Takoyaki, is a flour batter and octopus diced together in the form of a ball and then deep fried and then topped with fish scales and okinomiyaki sauce and it’s absolutely tasty. Osaka is known especially for its takoyaki.
I enjoyed my time in Osaka, while the city it self didn’t offer anything too special, the people I met has made a lasting impression.
I went to the last showing of Avatar in 3D IMAX at Pointe Orlando, last night Tuesday, and I’ve never been more floored by a movie in my life. The visuals, the visuals, my god, are incredible. Cameron went beyond anything I’ve ever seen before in my life and taking it all in on an 80 foot wide IMAX screen just blew me away. To see Pandora in such detail and in 3d is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The battle scenes and just pans showing the gorgeous alien landscape has really left me speechless, while Nolan’s, The Dark Knight, made extensive use of IMAX cameras, Cameron has really pushed everything to a whole different level. Also the story while featuring a plot that’s not very new, Cameron and the actors he chose for the roles do an incredible job of pulling audiences in and holding them on the edge of their seats. I know for one, me and my friends had a few moments where we were right on the edge of our seats rooting for the Na’vi. There are a few tear jerkers in the movie as well and I’m especially not one that gets emotional at movies. There were a few parts in the movie that seemed to make it draw on a little bit, but was soon remedied by either more fantastic shots of Pandoran scenery or intense action scenes. In all this is perhaps one of the best movie’s I’ve seen in quite a long time and had my jaw on the floor the entire time. Walking out the theater, myself and other film viewers all walked out with smiles on our faces and remarking just how good this movie is. If there is just one movie you see this year, make it this one and make sure to take it all in on a 3d IMAX screen. Ticket’s may be a bit pricey, but by all means, it’s worth it.
With one of the most impressive skylines in the world, Hong Kong is truly a visual play ground for the eyes. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places on earth and with it’s skyscrapers tower above your head, neon lights, and the sound of managed chaos everywhere, it is a completely disorientation and amazing city. I can see why Christopher Nolan choose Hong Kong and Two IFC for one of the key action scenes in The Dark Knight. Even after having lived in one of the worlds megacities, Tokyo and seen pictures of Dubai, I still firmly believe that Hong Kong possesses one of the most amazing and beautiful, skylines of the world. It may not have any record holders in terms of skyscraper heights but that doesn’t matter in the sheer amount of creatively designed skyscrapers in such a small and dense place.
While I was in Hong Kong, one thing that absolutely amazed me was the land reclamation projects the government had going on. While talking to a native I found out that quite a bit of Hong Kong island used to be completely underwater and that where the native I was talking to had lived, used to be underwater some 20 years ago. The amount of construction work going on is mind blowing and to see the actual effort that man is making to change earth is astounding.
What is it like being a double minority? During the Fall of 2009, I followed such a person, Wilton Mui as he journeyed to Washington D.C. to march for equal rights. During my time following him, I was able to see the issues he faced, the changes he hoped for, and how he dealt with life.