Archive for the ‘Tokyo’ Category

The straight girl’s guide to LGBT Pride festivals

June 23, 2010 Leave a comment
Main stage at Denver Pride 2010

Main stage at Denver Pride 2010

At some point, a straight girl with a best gay will find herself at a pride festival. It’s win-win: Your ‘mo will celebrate himself and probably hook up. You’ll be supporting your friend, seeing a lot of eye candy and hot guys will tell you you’re “gorge” and “fabulous” every crowded, sweaty step of the way.

As a fledging fag hag, here’s what you need to know to have a good time:

  1. Carry cash, cab fare, gum, sun block, hand sanitizer and toilet paper.
  2. Alternate cocktails with water, especially on hot days.
  3. Don’t break the seal. If you do, learn to pee quickly or standing up. Drunk boys and toilet seats don’t mix.
  4. Some places are men-only. Deal with it.
  5. No guilt-tripping when your ‘mo wants to hook up. (See #1: carry cab fare.)
  6. If a girl hits on you, be honest but do whatever two consenting adults wanna do.
  7. No hitting on the boys. If he’s bi and wants you, he’ll let you know.
  8. Slather sun block on your face, neck and shoulders, no matter your color or the weather.
  9. No whining.
  10. No outing people. That’s their story to tell; not yours.

Upcoming 2010 Pride Festivals and Parades

San Francisco Pride (June 26-27)

Twin Cities Pride (June 26-27)

Barcelona Pride (June 18-28)

London Pride (June 18-July 3)

San Diego Pride (July 17-18)

Tokyo Pride (August 14)

Southern Decadence (September 1-6)

Atlanta Pride (October 9-10)

Rio de Janeiro Pride (October 10)

For more pride festivals, check out Passport Magazine International Gay Pride Calendar. stats for wordpress

Busy Little Bee

Arrows at the Pier in SF

It’s been awhile since I posted anything not related to travel. I’ve been working on trying to get freelance work and more permanent work.

It’s been a bit more challenging this time around but what can you do but keep on keeping on.

My airline just announced a merger agreement. Although I haven’t been “on the line” in months, Facebook has been crucial for gauging employee temperament regarding the upcoming major changes. People are optimistic though a little anxious.  Mergers are not known to be employee friendly but we all have a vested interest in being the best, not just the biggest. I have a feeling those of us on lay offs will be recalled before the end of the year. So, good things, yeah.

Four of my poems were published in a college literary magazine. One poem won best poem.  Not the one I am most proud of, but the one I wrote while sipping Scotch on a cruise ship in Italian waters.

Leaving tomorrow for a short trip to Seoul and Tokyo. Oddly slightly apprehensive about leaving home right now.  I’ve been grappling with an issue I didn’t know existed until I started this blog: the time it takes me to produce a blog post is entirely way too long. I’m glad that I’m not the only one.  My friend, Angie, just posted this on her blog. I was relieved to see I’m not the only one dealing with the time issue. Trying to figure out a method to streamline the process. Practice, practice, practice and write daily seem to be up there.

I do feel more focused in my goals and more comfortable settling into a niche. I didn’t expect to feel relief when I finally decided to focus on one narrow field rather than spreading myself thin being open to everything.

So, yeah. Am curious to see how this trip goes, with a travel writer mindset rather than the just traveling one. At the very least, I know I will be taking pictures of the most mundane things as these are the photos I wished I had when I write my blog posts.

Tokyo train tips

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Women only car signage

Trains are plentiful and the best way to get around in Japan. The Japanese are a polite society and train etiquette is a must. Follow these tips and you’ll be a seasoned rider in no time.

When waiting for the train to stop, stand along the lines on the ground. Wait for passengers to disembark. If the train is crowded, you can push your way in — be firm but you’re not playing football.

When disembarking a crowded train, you may have to push. Let people know you are getting off and the crowd will give a little. “Sumimasen” (“Excuse me”) and “Orimasu” (“I’m getting off”) will go a long way to getting you off the train.

The first and last trains during rush hour can be reserved for women only. They are usually denoted by a sign on the car or platform or color. Make sure you are the appropriate gender before boarding. Also, don’t be a part of the problem.

Japanese trains are quiet. Turn off your phone or put it on vibrate. If you have to answer your phone, keep the conversation to a maximum of five minutes (that’s pushing it), talk low and cover your mouth. Or even better, text. Keep volume on your iPod low. If your music can be heard through the headphones, it’s too loud.

Stand. Feel free to sit if the train isn’t crowded. Be prepared to give up your seat immediately to any elderly, pregnant or disabled person.

Don’t eat or drink on the train. Vending machines are plentiful in the train stations but the Japanese only eat and drink next to the vending machines. Notice trash cans and sitting areas are all located next to the machine. Eating and drinking while walking around is discouraged. People will think you’re a heathen if you do it on the train as well.

Keep your items within your personal space. If the train is crowded, take off your backpack. There are storage racks above the seats just for this purpose. If you are wearing a full backpack, take it off and hold it. Newspapers should be folded length-wise when read.

If riding a shinkansen (bullet train), gather your belonging before the train stops. Be ready to disembark when the train stops. The stops are brief and it allows people to let you disembark before they board.

Avoid morning and evening rush hours (6:30 am- 9:30 am) and (5:00 pm-8:00 pm) for an easier trip.

Avoid crowded trains if you’ve been sweating a lot. Someone’s going to be nose level with your armpit.

Ja iterashai!

Additional Resources:

Wandering ABC

Japan Now

Unraveling Japan Rail for first-time travelers

March 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Kyoto JR Station

Looking at a Japanese railway map is analogous to looking at a kitten’s handiwork in a basketful of yarn.

The cool thing is that you can get anywhere in Japan by train, bus or ferry. The not-so-cool thing is trying to figure out what you actually need.

Most of this country is crisscrossed by shinkansen (bullet train) lines. A mere two hours can get you from Tokyo to Osaka in comfort and lots of sightseeing along the way.

Major cities have subway systems. Some cities like Hiroshima and Nagasaki have streetcars, making impromptu stops much fun.

The Japan Rail system is the most comprehensive train system in Japan, obvs, and is pretty much what you will travel on. It consists of six regional systems of trains, buses and ferries. The shinkansen lines will get you from one major city to the next in a flash.

If you are planning to cover a lot of ground in Japan, the JR Pass is your best bet. You can use virtually all the trains, buses and ferries in the JR system except for the Nozomi line and the ferry to Korea.

The pass comes in increments of 7-, 14- and 21-days. You can get either an Ordinary (economy) or a Superior (first-class) pass.

There are strict guidelines for buying a JR pass; but most foreigners meet them readily.
You have to buy the pass outside of Japan. You can buy it from any Japanese travel agency, such as JTB, from JAL or ANA if you book airfare with them or through an online travel broker.

You have 3 months to validate your ticket. The day it’s stamped is the first day of your day pass.

You must be traveling on “Temporary Visitor” status.

Hikari Bullet Train to Osaka

You’ll get an Exchange Order that you will exchange for the actual JR Pass once in Japan. There are numerous stations that exchange the
order for a pass, including stations in Narita and other major airports.

If you plan to stay in one region, a regional pass makes more sense, allowing you greater flexibility and resources in that region.

The cool thing is that all signs and maps have English translations. The announcements are also often accompanied by English announcements.

Most JR lines have names that aren’t related to their destinations, like Nozomi (“Desire”) and Hikari (“Light”). Each train name is associated with only one route. Maps and timelines will list out the train name with their major stops but station departure monitors will list the trains by name.

Sounds difficult, but once you know that you want to go to Osaka from Tokyo, all you have to remember is take Hikari.

There’s plenty of luggage storage, on-board snack sales and plenty of ekibens (station food stands) for an enjoyable ride.

Ja, iterashai!

Up Next: Tokyo Train Tips


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