"Get your little ass back to the penitentiary, motherfucker. You know what you did last time you was here."


Filed Under Newspost

I managed to salvage most of the old Kansai blog of ’08-’09 after some tremendously dull reuploading. Maybe next time I will remember to backup my database before it gets hacked and subsequently deleted.

Some pictures are not where they are supposed to be and the reader comments could not be retrieved either, but the stories will never fade.


Last Gig in Okinawa

The second and last day in Okinawa dawned and I had absolutely no idea what to do. It was warm, naturally, but the sky was cloudy so going to the beach did not really come up as an option. Alas, Tim had come up with a solution while I was enjoying oversleeping so I was forced to get up. Our destination was Cape Manza, a scenic coastal area located in the same region, pretty close to our cottage. I didn’t really know what to expect besides seeing a cliff, but soon it became clear that the area is being fully exploited for touristic purposes. Albeit it was low-season, there were a few buses full of Chinese tourists ready to conquer Manza. In front of the actual path that led to the edge were several stalls of useless stalls selling traditional Okinawan Hawaii shirts and other stuff that had close to nothing to do with anything. Behind the vending booths we could perceive two paths leading towards the sea. There were no signs to tell us which path to take to enjoy the cape but apparently we took the “ignorant gaijin path” because everyone else was walking in the opposite direction.

It's difficult to stand on both feet, isn't it

One thing that immediately surprised all of us was the lack of fences over the clearly dangerous edges of the cliff. Back at home, whether it had been the US and A, Germany or Finland, such a place would have been heavily fenced at least 15 meters back from the border and there would have been dozens of guards patrolling to make sure nobody does anything stupid. In Okinawa though, it would only have been a matter of a quick leap if someone wanted to end their life quickly and painlessly. Actually, even without that grotesque motivation, one misstep in the wrong place and one could have found himself pushing up the daisies. The scenery was great though, and was worth the risk of venturing closer to the edge than my doctor advised me to.

The Elephant's Trump

Dozens of pictures and a few stupid jokes later we were back at the place the path was supposed to start, the tourist shops. In the middle of all the cheap tourist crap everyone was selling I was able to locate something I had long had the conviction of trying in Okinawa…

Sata Andagi

Saataa Andaagii! Saataa Andaagii!

I had already tasted a few pseudo-andagis during the Gaidaisai but this was the real thing. Essentially it was a donut. It provided me some comfort when our departure from Manza was delayed due to Sayumi receiving important phone calls from different moving companies. There was a cartoony map of the On’na region standing right next to the parking lot and from the information presented to us we were able to effectively choose the next place we wanted to visit.


Ryukyu-mura or Ryukyu village was a re-creation of a traditional old fashioned Okinawan village. Outside the actual village was a small restaurant, some stage performances of traditional Ryukyuan music and dance as well as a tourist shop. I’ll come back to the shop later. We were intrigued by the news that there were snake vs. mongoose shows organized inside the village around every one and a half hours. No, actual animals were not killed or harmed in the process, how the hell could they even afford that six times a day with hardly any spectators. All they did was show us the animals, explain some of their characteristics in Japanese and show a “beautiful” 3D movie about a mongoose killing a snake. Now I’ve driven myself into an anachronical cul-de-sac so I’ll jump back to the point where we entered the village. With blogging everything is possible.

Aika ottaa lääkkeet.

We drove to have lunch at Okinawa Malibu Beach before going in because we had a bit of time before the next snake show. Nothing really worth mentioning about that, but I like to write about eating and engrish so you’ll just have to bear with me.

Bah Humbug

Back at the village we received a free sugarcane drink coupon along with the tickets to the inner village and the snake show. Also, the first thing to do when being retarded is to take a jumping picture with a 10-second timer. It took us about five tries to get this right and it’s still not right. We moved on to get our free drinks before entering the snake show room. The room was covered in meticulously bad straight-from-babelfish translations about something I was not able to decipher. The show itself consisted of watching two snakes and a mongoose in separate glass cages trying their hardest to get out, in vain, while listening to a knowledgeable jii-san babble in Japanese for half an hour. It was a mind-numbing experience but an experience nevertheless. Afterwards we were given free samples of ground snake and habushu, the latter of which I bought a bottle to take home. I didn’t have the monetary resources to buy a large bottle with a snake still residing inside though, so my notoriety took a blow.

Tonde tonde tonde!

We finished the tour of the village quickly and I bought a Ryukyu style jinbei with a scary shiisaa face on the back as well as a screen-cleaning yamamayaa plushie for my keitai in the tourist shop. The next sentence will be without meaning so you have the time to click all the links and wonder what in the world I’m talking about. Without meaning, there is, the following sentence therefore all links are sounded the dust, there is a time when you think that I have expressed in doubt. That was poetic.

Iriomote wildcat on a phone

Anyhow, after being done with the village the sun was still up and we had time to find ourselves a beach. We drove to the Moon Beach Resort’s parking lot and walked in through the entrance that we later realized must have been for employees only. The beach itself was only for paying customers but nobody ever said anything so I guess we pulled off a proper Gaijin Smash by mistake. We played beach ultimate for a while before returning to the hood where we were finally able to have dinner at our neighborhood soba restaurant.

Spam Spam Spam Lovely Spam! Wonderful Spam!

I don’t understand how the Okinawans have been able to implement Spam (introduced by the American occupation after WWII) into their traditional cuisine, but it worked relatively well with the Yasai Champuru and Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam Ryan and I ate for dinner. The owner lady was very nice and asked us if we can handle Okinawan food so I politely told her to keep the goya as far from us as humanly possible. As for evening plans, our flight was early in the morning so there was no time frame for a drinking party or anything else time consuming. We packed our items and cleaned the place in preparation and enjoyed Japanese TV-shows for the rest of the evening.

In theory, the trip was over. That did not restrict me from buying a Goya Dry for an astronomical price at the airport the following morning to see if they can ruin a beer with goya. Although I was sceptical about the taste, it was fine. More than fine. The Goya Dry was a very good brew and now I’ll need to go out of my way to try to find some in mainland Japan. Thus concludes the Okinawa chapter and the general public might have to wait a couple months for new entries as laziness kicks in again. (Turns out it was a couple of years)

The last candle


Fine Colorday

After a good night’s sleep on incredibly squeaky beds we were back on the road again. Like wild beasts driven by hunger alone, we jumped in the car and tried to find a place to eat breakfast. The Okinawan soba place recommended by Yuutatsu earlier was not yet open, however, so we decided to drive north “until we run out of gas”. Fortunately, north was the exact direction in which was located the Ocean Expo Park, home to one of the biggest aquariums of the world, the Churaumi Aquarium. After a short brainstorming session it became our unanimously chosen program for the first full day. It took us a while to reach the place but once we arrived it became clear that there was no reason to leave before the day was over: The park was huge. The sun was shining. The scenery was magnificent.

Ryan ruining the scenery with the Japanese Cool Walk (c)

We walked through the entrance taking copious amounts of photos of the sea, the island in front of us and the colorful flower animals that had invaded the area around the central gates. We did not have a clear plan on which way to walk in order to reach the aquarium but quickly found sign posts that offered directions to the dolphin pool (!), turtle lagoon (!!) and manatee lagoon (!!!). As if that information enough hadn’t made my day, the actual aquarium was a thing apart and the outdoor pools were just a free bonus for even entering the park.

Random Obaa-san took this picture. Doomo.

I forgot to mention the One Thing that enormously affected the whole trip: It was low-season in Okinawa. Beaches were closed or empty, there was road work in progress everywhere and tourists were nowhere to be seen. While this was a very good thing in a few places, it also meant that the dolphin shows at the ocean park were rare. That added to the fact that the dolphins were really lazy in-between shows, only showing themselves to breathe, I did not manage to get good photos of them.

This is what a dolphin looks like when you can't see it

Following the Usual Route ™ we arrived to the next stop, the turtle pools. These guys were much more interesting, as I don’t really recall seeing big sea turtles live ever before and also because there were incredibly many of them. I was even able to get a picture with Mr. Cool Guy, one of only three Eastern Pacific Green Turtles ever found in Japan. The best was yet to come, however.

Mr. Cool Guy

Dugong, Dugong, it’s the cow of the sea-ea-ea!

In the last batch of outdoor tanks were specimens of probably my favorite animal of all time, the manatee. These plushie-looking lazyass creatures are so harmless and slow that I wonder how evolution has allowed them to survive this far in the first place. I would’ve stayed there staring and smiling at them for the rest of the day if Tim hadn’t dragged me out by the ankles after a while.

Dugong, Dugong, also known as the manatee!

What's not to like?

We were all getting really hungry at this point but happened to Stumble Upon a small food stall that sold snacks for tourists at tourist prices +1. The playful beach was also just around the corner so we went there to get some sunburn and play beach volley for a while. No pictures from the volley ball, so instead I would like an answer to the riddle that the information poster presented us. Why is the playful beach “calm” while the calm beach is “no swimming”? This is some zen shit.


This post will be crazy long so this is the time for a short intermission. Be-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop. All right, back to the story.

Ryan had noticed someone drinking juice out of a whole coconut earlier so he absolutely had to get in on that. He ended up paying 900¥ for maybe the equivalent of one glass of juice and a few pictures of Sayumi sticking the straws up her nose. Soon thereafter Ryan also tried cracking the outer shell of the nut open by tossing it mercilessly to the ground.

Coconuts are fun!

By that point the Hands of Time were nearing three pm and since none of us had eaten an actual meal until then, we opted to go eat at the only restaurant on the premises. All they offered was a buffet of Okinawan food for a reasonable price of 1260¥. With the laws of supply and demand quickly reviewed, we accepted the deal that seemed to be the only option with a positive result on Leivo’s Starvation – Happiness-scale. The food was, with the exception of spaghetti naporitan, typically Okinawan. In addition, it was very mediocre. The deliciously greasy rafute pork cubes were mostly cold, and the goya champuru was probably the bitterest meal I’ve ever eaten and made me reconsider my old statement of “there are no vegetables I can’t eat”. I finished all of it, but not before I had thrown up my left lung.

Goya Champuru is the green stuff on the far right. I would avoid that side of the plate altogether.

Tell me have you seen the marvelous breadfish

Koko ga pointo! Once we were all stuffed with food nobody immensely enjoyed, we were able to enter the lair of the dragon. That main reason to drive north in the first place had been the aquarium in the expo park and now we were finally about to take the last step of paying the entrance fee to be able to see everything about sea life we had never even wondered about. The Churaumi Aquarium was worth every penny of the entrance fee. Right after the entrance was a small open aquarium full of starfish and sea cucumbers people could continuously torment by “touching gently” as the instructions explained. I don’t know about you, but if I was a sea cucumber I’d feel very disturbed if people were constantly moving me around and touching my private parts.

"Merimakkara, eiku banaani!"

From that point onward the corridor we were following was surrounded by aquariums ranging from small to huge and I could not help constantly wondering how it is possible to keep that many species of fish in the same tank without them devouring each other. I also met my favorite sea dweller in the aquarium, the Giant Sadfish (Surullisus Surullisus). One of the tanks was home to thousands of fish and one sea turtle, who was obviously the gaijin. Soon the exhibition rooms began to be filled with smaller aquariums:

Teenage Mutant Gaijin Turtle

Giant Sadfish not enjoying his time, as usual

Lobster has antennae but don't you grab it!

Happy Eel (That guy was stuck in his tiny excuse for an aquarium but it didn’t seem to bother him in the least.)

Random Stupidfish

Kuroshio Aquarium & Shark Research Lab

Yet even after all of the aforementioned, we weren’t prepared for the main attraction of the inside aquarium. The largest fishtank contained anything from whale sharks to manta rays and also held the record for largest aquarium window in the world. The acrylic glass had to be 60cm thick to handle all the pressure. Due to the poor functionality of my camera in the low light environment, the pictures from the Kuroshio tank and the Shark tank are blurry and tell too much about my photographing skills to publish. But I was able to see the fish live anyway. So there! Antti 1 – Readers 0

I bought myself a beautiful manatee T-shirt as a souvenir as well as a few postcards that I will never send as we left the aquarium and headed for the other big attraction of the Ocean Expo Park, the tropical dream center. (Yes, I’m not done yet. I really hope I was because it’s 4 in the morning right now but I gotta finish this.) We walked through a “village” built around a few ancient ryukyuan houses I was too tired to care about in order to examine the entire beautiful flora in the dream center. Unfortunately, after having seen so many new things and done so much during the day up to that point, I just could not forcefully arouse my interest to look at flowers for hours. I mean, they are just flowers. They don’t move and they don’t do anything cool except be there. There is a limit to how cool you can be if you just are.

I can see flowers forever!

The park as seen from the Obeservatory (Their engrish, not mine)

The rest of the evening was spent home playing international and Japanese drinking games until we all slowly passed out from fatigue, and, I cannot stress this enough, not the booze.


“We have long lain dormant, and the time to awaken has come.”

Spring Break

Our eagerly awaited Okinawa trip that I had taken no part in organizing began on the Tuesday of our one-week long Spring Vacation. We had agreed to meet at Hirakata station at noon in order to have enough time to transfer to Kansai Airport to catch the flight to Okinawa at 15:05. We had an international party of five people: me, Tim the Doitsu-jin, Chicago no Ryan, Ryan’s friend Jeff and Ryan’s Japanese girlfriend Sayumi who had planned the whole trip alone, withheld all the information about what was going to happen as well as our plane tickets, and who was 40 minutes late. I have absolutely no problem keeping my cool in force majeure situations, but just thinking about missing the highlight of my spring break made me break into a cold sweat and I promptly collapsed on the floor crying like a baby. Maybe. I felt almost ashamed when I saw how the others didn’t seem to be bothered at all while I was in an inner turmoil trying to hold myself back from spouting something nasty. Apparently there was nothing to worry about.

And in the end there wasn’t. We were at the airport a bit later than what we were supposed to, but luckily, so was the plane. After meeting our gaidaisei friend and Okinawan native Yuutatsu by accident at the gates and getting a few tips about where to go, we boarded the plane around 15:30 and spent the following two hours hoping for a meal that never materialized. Short story shorter, the plane ride was boring.

The airport and the Laugh & Peace Festival

Okinawa Drift

Once at Naha Airport, the first logical step was to find the car rental where we were supposed to get our motorized carriage for the few days to come. Casting away all thoughts of hunger or hurry, we first proceeded to be mesmerized by the small aquarium situated in the arrivals lobby. Remember, tourism starts at landing, and real tourists take pictures of airport aquariums.

Airport Moray was not impressed...

We got a bus ride from the airport to the rent-a-car and after a bit of paperwork were able to get our hands on the cutest green car I’ve ever ridden in in Okinawa. As Sayumi was the only person with a Japanese driver’s license, she was appointed as the driver, while us other small gaijins (average height 185cm) had to stuff ourselves in the bright green sardine box and prepare for what was to come. In order not to offend anyone I will not comment on the two-hour road trip to the cottage we had rented, but instead, I will leave those acquainted with Azumanga Daioh with one last thought: Yukariguruma.


Thanks to the GPS that seems to be standard equipment in all Japanese cars, we were able to get to the cottage on time to get the keys. We were physically and mentally exhausted from the trip, but decided to go to the nearby Lawson to buy some drinks and walked to the nearby beach to enjoy them. We didn’t get to see much of Okinawa on the first day, but the fun was just beginning. How lame was that for a last sentence, huh?

The cottage was incredibly spacious for a Japanese building

From left to right, party people

(All the names mentioned in this article were changed and then randomly changed back to their original form in order to preserve the privacy of the people in question)


People keep on complaining about the amount of swearing on the blog. And I can’t have people not happy on the internet. So no more swearing from now on, if you see profanities it’s just your imagination. Now piss off.

The 28th was my day off from traveling around, so in order to waste enough money by the end of the year I decided to reserve a bed in the same hostel in Kyoto where the others were staying. In addition to making my wallet lighter, it also meant that I would not have to wake up as early in the morning and waste two hours in transit just to catch up with the others. The following day I was back on the road again and led our battalion to places I had already visited twice, Tenryuji and Iwatayama monkey park. I will not write about them again, but photos are available below. The second to last day of the 20th year of the Heisei-era begun with visiting a pagoda Tommi had chosen, after which we returned to more déjà-vu, Kiyomizu-dera. Long story short, it looked the same as before.

Pagoda. Nuff 'said

New Year’s eve actually brought something new, although on a general level it was all I’ve come to expect of Kyoto: temples. We went to the Kinkakuji, Ryoanji. Both very beautiful places. Also, those who are divinely skilled in pattern recognition might have noticed that the Japanese “ji” stands for “temple”. I’ve grown so weary of visiting temples lately I don’t even want to write about them anymore.

Kyoto Temple - Gold Edition

Stone garden at Ryoanji. Supposedly you can only see a maximum 14/15 stones at once but due to photography-related issues you can see even less in this picture. Isn't that grand?

Joona taking a break

As the sun came down we began our westernized New Year’s Party. It started in an izakaya somewhere around Kyoto’s Shijo. We ate lots of different Japanese snacks, drank some alcohol and took a set of awesome purikura while preparing to take it to the next level, Jumbo Karaoke. Thing is, karaoke on New Year’s Eve is not actually the cheapest thing to do. It took us a while to find a suitable spot, and we had very limited time as well, as it was practically 2009 before we found a place that wasn’t a complete ripoff, although it was. The previous sentence makes perfect sense. To me. We “checked in” into Jankara at 11:50, just in time to observe one of the coolest manifestations of Japanese work ethic. Picture this: There was a huge HD screen at the main entrance of the building. Around 15 seconds before midnight the Jankara staff gathered in front of the screen (that was showing some kind of New Year’s concert) and handed us all some confetti cones to celebrate the new year. As the clock hit 00:00 there were a few seconds of vigorous omedetoing and exchanging of Happii Nyuu Yaa’s wishes before the staff got back to work behind the desk. There were about 10 people behind the desk and 0 customers checking in at the time but it didn’t seem to mean they could slack. According to my calculations, the incredibly unoccupied personnel celebrated New Year’s for something between 23 to 31 seconds. Good for them.

Epic Purikura feat. President Kekkonen

30 Seconds From Work

After we got into our karaoke room I proceeded to get smashed with the umeshu and Ryukyu awamori we had smuggled in so the recollection of what we sang that night is vague. In addition, the whole karaoke party ended up costing a fortune, namely ¥4400 per person. When added to the izakaya bill and transportation costs it definitely amounts to the most expensive New Year’s I’ve spent in Japan, ever.

Inward Singing

Lauri was as festive as ever

We bought some munchies-countering snack from a 24h convenience store and went to eat into the empty Kyoto Imperial park before catching the first metro to go back to the Kyoto station to see the sun rise. We never saw anything worthwhile though, because someone had summoned so many clouds all we could distinguish in the distance were shades of gray. After the worst disappointment of 2009 until then, we dragged ourselves back to the hostel and wasted the following day in bed.

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