Heaven on Earth – or at least in Japan

Asia ~ Japan ~ Hachijo Jima

Flying in low over Hachijo Jima, it is immediently apparent why the few snippets of information about this remote yet close island found on the internet are so glowing.  Only an hour south of Tokyo by plane (and not all that expensive, about $110 AUD one way), the island gives off a strong tropical, hippy, carefree vibe.  Just the way to relaxing after spending time (even if it was only 2 nights!) in Tokyo.

The owner of the guesthouse I was staying in, Keiko, picked me up from the airport with the news that “Qantas rang, they’ve found your luggage”.  And that was it, I fell in love with the island.  A quick tour showed a tiny island – the main drag was easily walkable (ok, only easy if it wasnt so damn hot!), and there was greenery everywhere.  Birds singing, water visible from every standing point, and hey, it has an Aussie pub!

Keiko’s place, the Galaxy Guesthouse, was gorgeous.  Perched on the side of one of the mountains, it overlooks the ocean, with fantastic night views.  Run by two gorgeous cats (one of whom spent each and every night on my bed!), it was the perfect place to unwind to of a night.  Keiko is the perfect host, and speaks impeccable English, making it all that much easier for a non Japanese speaker!  She also knows the best onsens!

Tomo, asleep on my backpack

Tomo, asleep on my backpack

My first day was spent on a bike – as my luggage had not yet turned up, I didn’t have my international drivers licence, which meant I couldnt hire a car.  In any case, I headed down to the waterside, found some shade and read my book for a while.  Eventually I headed back to Keiko’s office, only to find myself completly lost.  I approached a guy, and asked him where I was, and how to get back to downtown.  He threw my bike in the back of his car, and drove me in, everyone is so incredibly friendly.  No-one locks anything, including cars – a little hard to get used to!

The following days were spent at onsens (the island has a heap of them, some free, some not, one at the bottom of a waterfall, amazing), the ‘Anchor Pub’ (owned and run by Steve, an Aussie who has found ‘the better life’), and swimming (the water was so fresh, great way to cool off).  My bags eventually turned up about halfway through my stay, so I was able to hire a car to see the island – a must for anyone who is considering going, whilst it’s small, it’s also extremely hilly, combine that with the heat (its mid-summer at the moment, so about 30-35 celcius each day, plus extreme humidity) and you have more than enough reasons to warrant hiring a car.  And it’s only 3000 yen (about $30 AUD) per day.

Sunset over Ko Hachijo

Sunset over Ko Hachijo

Eventually I had to leave, but I will be back for sure.  I’ll be writing up a ‘how-to’ about Hachijo Jima (as I found so little information on it before I went), so watch out for it.  Am now in Hakone, the area below the bottom of Mt Fuji.  Hopefully it will clear tomorrow and I’ll get some good pictures.

Love to all xoxo

Nimotsu-less in Tokyo

Asia ~ Japan ~ Osaka & Tokyo

And once again I’ve made it back to Japan.  Although not without a few tiny weeny little incidents.  These last couple of months have been so hectic that planning for this trip was left to the very last minute – literally.  I finalised accommodation details for my first couple of nights only 1 night before I left!  Problems for the trip began when, two days before my flight, I received a phone call from Jetstar.  “Eeek”, I though, “at least I have travel insurance”…  Turns out they had canceled my first part of my flight – the Melbourne to Sydney section – and so had booked me on an earlier flight.  As I’m not known for my awareness early morning, I begged them to put me on a later flight, which they agreed to.  Little did I know…

Wednesday morning saw dad and I at Tullamarine Airport awaiting my (first) flight.  When they began announcing that there were technical faults, I knew straight away I was to miss my connecting flight in Sydney to Japan.  Several hours later I finally got on a (new) plane, getting into Sydney waaay too late for my connection.  Qantas (it was a Qantas domestic flight) put me up at an airport hotel, which was fine by me, meant I got another nights sleep…  Bags hadn’t arrived yet, as they didn’t want to delay our flight any longer (so they said), they would come in on the 2pm flight we were told.  So we toddled off to the airport hotel with just our carry on bags.

Needless to say, the bags didn’t arrive that night.  When I went to check in the next day, my bags still hadn’t arrived, so I checked in, then went to the Qantas counter to beg for some vouchers to get essentials.  The guy at the counter asked if I’d checked the ‘baggage room’ – not one person had mentioned this in the numerous times I was on the phone the night before.  So off I went to the ‘baggage room’, where you have to knock on a blank wall three times, wait three minutes and knock two more times to be allowed entrance…  Wasn’t expecting to find anything – after all, I had been chasing the bag for nearly 24 hours, and assumed it hadn’t left Melbourne yet – however, sitting right on top was my familiar backpack.  “It’s mine!” I shouted with joy to the staff.  As I had already checked in, they promised to get it on my flight for me.

On the way to the boarding gate, I grabbed some deoderant and earplugs, because I had forgotten to grab some out of my backpack.  Although I had spent half the night thinking about what clothing I would buy at the airport, I bought none, as my bag had been found, or so I thought.  How wrong I was.  Flight was uneventful, I had 3 seats to myself, so I got a decent rest.  Arrival in Japan bought an unpleasant surprise – my backpack wasn’t on the flight.  About then is when I went into panick mode.  No change of underwear?   No pajamas?  I’m in Japan, where the average size is toothpick.  Eeek!

Much of the next couple of days were spent attempting to find clothing – although I did ok with some tops (surprisingly!) underwear and skirts eluded me.  In any case, I was sure that my bag was going to arrive “tomorrow”, and didn’t want to over-buy, just in case.  In Australia, mum was spending almost every waking moment attempting to locate my bags, screaming her head off at incompetent Qantas staff.  Amongst trying to find clothing, I have also spent a good amount of time trying to buy a mobile phone in Tokyo, a near impossible task.

Crazy Shibuya at night

Crazy Shibuya at night

Never fear, my luggage did arrive, but not without dramas.  On my fourth day in Japan, I headed off to Hachijo jima, a hippy island an hour south of Tokyo.  After being assured by Qantas staff in Australia that my bag would be at Haneda airport, I spent an hour and a half trying to communicate with staff there, only to find the bag hadnt even left Australia yet.  But I was over it, I was heading to a tropical island…