A new "first" for me this week -- I drove a car in a foreign country for the first time.
I've never really felt the need to drive when I travel. Most places I go have great public transport and, since I travel alone, the cost and bother of renting a car isn't worth it. But, I'd been to Kochi before and knew it wouldn't be so easy so my sister and I rented a car. I love in Japan that you can rent a car for a short period of time. We booked it for 8 hours which meant no bother about finding a hotel with parking.
It was all pretty simple really, apart from me leaving my international driver's licence at the hotel and having to run back and get it.
Because we had the car, we could head out of town to the Sakamoto Ryoma wax museum. I'd not been there before because it seemed like a a lot of bother but the drive was easy. Well easy-ish. I was expecting it to be much more tacky than it was. Still, it's a wax museum and totally creepy.
The wax museum is in a place called ACT Land, which is a bunch of random museums in one complex. When we arrived, an old man with a pen light directed us down this very narrow road with a deep ditch on one side to the car park. Totally scary driving and, once we got to the car park, we could've totally entered from the main road. Plus we were the only car parked there. Note: there were at least three old men with pen lights working in the empty car park. So Japan.
As well as the random museums, the place had a weird playground thing going on and a bulldog!
That night, we went to a restaurant with katsuo and clacker dancing. Woohoo!
The katsuo tuna in Kochi is so super delicious. It's seared over a hay fire then served with yuzu, rock salt and other stuff. We ate so much of it I had a sore mouth from the salt and yuzu for days. But I'd do it all again.
We'd actually walked by the place the night before and seen photos of the clacker dance (not the real name for it and not the kind of clacker dance you'd get in some areas of Bangkok) so decided to go back. After a few hours, we thought we missed out and asked for the check. The staff told us to wait a little while.
I'm like a 5 year old child -- happy with anything that makes a loud noise. So, when they handed out the clackers to everyone, I was darn pleased.
The next day, we headed to Tokyo. For the first part of the trip - Kochi to Okayama -- we had the Anpanman train! Woohoo!
So, after many hours of travel, we arrived in Chiba. The Tokyo-Chiba leg was the worst part of the trip, which makes sense considering it wasn't on a shinkansen or Anpanman train.
So then we had the whole Airbnb nightmare. Because we wanted to get out of there, STAT, well, faster than STAT, I booked the first place I could find online. We ended up at the APA Hotel in Kudanshita which I cannot recommend highly enough. The only criticism of the place was that my single room was a bit squishy for a five day stay. My sister had a small double though and that was tops. The staff were awesome, the rooms were great and it had the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. In future, all other beds will be judged by that one.
As a bonus, we were 10 minutes walk from Tokyo Dome for the Arashi concerts!
The Christmas Eve concert was tops. After being to concerts at all five domes, the atmosphere in Tokyo is a whole different thing to anywhere else. People are just more pumped and ready to have fun. In Fukuoka, I felt at times like I couldn't cheer too loud because no one else was but no risk of that in Tokyo.
We also went to the last night, December 27th. We'd debated going or not but the last night is always special and I'm really pleased I went.
So, after 10 concerts and 5 domes, I thought I'd be sad to see the end of it but I really felt like I'd had sufficient concerts. Not too much, just the right amount.
Then they announced an arena tour! The same concert (Japonsim), I think, but at smaller regional venues!
So tempting but I think the tickets will be VERY expensive. Very, very out of my budget. I am going to ballot for tickets through the fan club but, if I don't get them, I'm not going to make the scalpers rich. I will be in Seoul when some of the concerts are on so it's not like it's a huge distance to travel.
Anyway, after the concerts, we moved again. Initially, my sister and I had planned to stay in the hell Airbnb in Chiba while she was in Tokyo then I'd move to another place in Chiba once she left. But then she decided to stay for NYE so she is here with me. The second Chiba Airbnb is nowhere near as bad as the first one but still very disappointing. The listing did not mention the host lived in the apartment and just went somewhere else during our stay. The place is cluttered and grubby (is bad housekeeping a Chiba thing?) and it seemed like she'd just walked out of the place, leaving it as is. The fridge was full of her food, the bins were full.
We both have bad colds now so have not being doing much but sleeping the past few days.