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Hello everyone! Tuomas desu

I have to admit before I get to the point (if there is going to be any) that I am really bad at writing blogs. I started my own blog to collect thoughts and keep my friends posted about my life in Japan, but eventually I only managed to write two entries there so it died of really fast.

Ok, so My name is Tuomas Mikkonen and I am a 23 year old Finnish lad. Now doing my exchange year at International Christian University in Mitaka. It is a great international surrounding where one can really meet people from all over and study Japanese language and culture. In Finland my major is Marketing. Other than studying various things I really enjoy traveling, circus, roleplaying, computer gaming, sports (like tennis, basketball, running, etc...), snowboarding, Igo, reading, conversing, drinking, arguing and a thousand different things. So I can say that I really am a generalist. Knowing something about everything but not really anything really well. I always thought that specialization is for insects.

I could tell you about some of my escapades here in Japan. One thing that has really been interesting to people was my hitchiking tour at my spring vacation. Me and my friend Eiji, a half Japanese half English fellow, thought about really experiencing Japan so what better way to do that than getting into peoples cars and spend time with them while covering good distance with minimal price. We started our adveture from Ebina service station and I have to admit that I didnt know if its gonna work or not. Will people really give us a ride? Will some crazy old axe murderer hack us to pieces and dump us into a gutter? Hopefully not. So with courageous hearts we went to the side of the road and lifted our thumbs. Some awkward minutes passed and people were smiling and laughing at us but nothing else really happedened. But the day was spectacularily beautiful so we just joked there and waved to people who passed us. After some 30 minutes a car pulled at the sidewalk and two smiling faces popped from the windows. These smiling faces blonged to two kind Indonesian people who were joy riding on their free day. I cant tell how relieved I was to get a ride so fast with so nice people.

The next couple of hours went talking about our lives in Japan and other aspects of Japan. It felt like two minutes and then we were at our first destination: Shimizu station. They gave us a ride to exactly to where we were going to. Lucky us! There we had to do first thing first. What would be the most important thing for couple of thirsty travellers? Well a big pint of beer to sooth our dry throats and burning hearts. The next couple of days we spent with our friends Max`s grannys old farm house near a orange orchard. Such a good way to get to know Japanese culture.

After our hospitality was used we packed our huge bag (16 kilos, including vital items like sleeping bags and a tent) and hit the road. We took the bus to the closest service area where we raised our thumbs again. This time the place happened to be a lot smaller than Ebina so the trafic wasn`t so lively. After some time we were still standing there with our thumbs in the air but nothing really seemed to be working so we had to think of different tactis. How could we approach the right person and bu right I mean a person who is going to our destination? Well license plates of course have the place imprinted in them. So the first Nagoya plate we saw we jumped to change and went to ask this middle aged salary man where he was heading. To Nagoya? Yes were going there also. Would it be possible to continue the trip together? It is. Excellent! Lets go.

As we sat on the car and talked to this awesome guy who had to courage and kindness to help two strange gaijins on their hour of need we found out a lot about this man. About his family, work, life. These are the people that I would never otherwise meet unless I would take chances like these. Well after we got to know the fellow and he got to know us he gave us a ride in to our destination: Nagoya Central Train Station. So we said our farewells and continued our journey to take care of the most important thing. This time we found a really nice restaurant that served one litre pints! Probably the first time I saw those at Japan.

For the next couple of days we spent probably the best time I had in Japan as my friend Shuns and his familys guests. They were so kind a gave us amazing lodging at their house, rides to where ever we were going and awesome meals. Besides this they provided us even tickets to Nagasima Spaland, a amusement park with a wicked rollercoaster, The Steel Dragon. Here I want to thank them once more: Thank You!

After this experience in Nagoya we got a ride from Shuns dad to a near by service station were we asked this nice Japanese couple to give us a ride to Osaka. They first denied us but somehow they came around and gave us the ride we needed. It only took us 5 minutes get the ride! Well this ride was a bit more awkward and quiter than the other two rides and we didn`t get exactly to where we were going but all in all it was an ok ride.

So Osaka + two young travelers + capsel;hotel = night of mayhem! We had an absolut blast on our short trip to Osaka. The night was our for the taking and that was exactly what we did. Series of restaurants and bars were on our way towards that small ramen place in the midst of the night. Before we reached there we had the great privilidge to be shown around by a salary man (who kindly dumped her wife to show us a bar), to drink with two different group of young japanese (nihon go dake) and enough alchohol to stun a elephant or two. Then we finally reached that small ramen shop but unfortunately I don`t remember anything about it so let us move on with our story.

Next morning. Or more suitably said "The Morning After". Beign kicked out of from a capsule hotel before ten in the morning with a huuuuuuuuuge hangover and a batalion of gnome smiths smithing something inside your head wasn`t the most enjoyable of mornings but now in retrospect I found it quite hilarious. First in order was to find a cafe where to rest our broken spirits... or our bodies which were broken by spirits (damn Jack! I curse you Jim!). We found this nice organic cafe whrere young career missiles were having their brunch. And then there were also two smelling, snoring gaijins with a huge bag taking the best seats of the cafe for some two hours. They must have loved us. Well after we got our asses out of the chair (we had a good reason not to rise just yet) we moved towards Kobe and Eijis friends. After sleeping in yet another cafe we found our way to Kobe. Some more sleeping in benches and parks we found Eijis friends and started a new evening of mayhem.

I took the night easy, Eiji didn`t. So next morning hijacked by Eijis friends I found myself wondering the sights and feeding the dear of Nara. Really beatiful place with a really nice athmosphere. We took our time to look the places and returned to Kobe. There we found Eiji and his friend already starting another night (of mayhem) so we had to start reaching the gap to get to same level as them. After some food we went to our friends favourite club. This really small club in a back alley where we got awesome live music, dancing and the atmosphere was so friendly that we just partied the night away. Eiji showed his skills with the quitar and mike and Mc:ing.

After all these turns and twist we found ourselves in the night bus taking our tired but happy souls back to Tokyo. And all this was done with a minimal budget. We only paid for the bus back and one night of lodging at the capsule hotel. if we weren`t full alchoholics the budget would have been like 10.000yen.

Thank you all that have come to Melting Pot over the months I`ve been here. You still have couple of weeks to come and see me before I continue my voyage back to Europe.


Tuomas "The Prince of Europe" Mikkonen

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