Published: May 5th 2007May 5th 2007
Thought it was about time to finish off Japan and get this blog up and running again!
My last 2 weeks in Japan were great. The weather finally warmed up above 15 degrees which made it easier to get out and explore.
I checked out Yokohama, Japan's second biggest city behind Tokyo. It's on the coast about a 20 min train ride from Omori. There's a massive stadium there where the soccer world cup final was played a few years back. There's also a Chinatown, apparently one of the biggest in the world but it didn't look that much bigger than ours back home. I tried these steamed dim sim type things in Chinatown from a shop that had a massive crowd of locals. I thought it must of been good if the locals were lined up! You could see about 10 workers all dressed in white coats at the back of the shop standing in a circle preparing the dim-sims ...one after the other like a production line. Kinda weird but great food! I also went up the Landmark Tower, Japan's tallest 'building', in the world's second fastest elevator...it was crazy, it only took like a minute
to go up 70 or so floors (nearly 300m!). Pretty cool view from the top but was real hazy so couldn't see that far. Usually Mt Fugi is pretty obvious but not this day!
Another day I went down to Kamakura. There's a lot of temples down there and the Great Buddha. The temples were interesting but I reckon you really only need to see one. They all look similar. The Great Buddha was (as it sounds) massive (about 13 m high) but there's actually a bigger one somewhere else in Japan. There's also a beach there but it's not much of a beach as the pic shows. A few interesting shops down there too. They sell all these martial arts weapons and battle axes. Kinda the stuff that makes the news back home for being smuggled into the country!
My sister and I got caught in this freak storm at Asakusa one day too. The weather was pretty good when we got there. We were looking around through the markets and the temple there and in a matter of minutes this wind picked up out of knowhere and the sky turned black. There were massive lightning strikes
and it started pouring. Everyone hurried for shelter around the temple like us. Some of the marquees looked like they were going to be carried away or fly into people but the owners did well to keep them on the ground. It didn't last long though. The wind died down and the lightning passed in a few minutes. Pretty crazy storm...for a while we didn't really know what was going to happen!
One of the best days I had in Japan was down at Hakone. It took about an hour or so to get down there. First off we went on this cable-car trip up and over the Great Boiling Valley. Amazing. It's like a smoking volcanic valley and you cross right above it on the cable car. The next hour and a half wasn't so much fun. We waited in a queue to catch a bus onwards to Lake Ashi. It was Japanese Golden Week (a week of public holidays) so everyone was out doing the tourist thing. Suprizingly, luxury coaches rather than buses were running, so even though it was a short bus trip, each coach couldn't fit many people on, and for some reason they wouldn't
Yokohama Landmark Tower is on the left.
let people stand. We waited for about 4 buses before we finally got on. Frustrating! Anyway, the wait was worth it. We had a great ferry trip across the lake. Awesome views...especially at sunset (thanks for waiting Al, it was worth it yeh?). Though, one of the drawcards for going was to see Mt Fugi. All during the ferry ride we wondered where and when it would emerge. It was a sunny day, with only a patch of cloud in one corner of the sky. Surely that one patch of cloud wasn't obscuring Mt Fugi was it? Well, as one of the locals said, 'Mt Fugi was on Golden Week vacation', meaning yes, the clouds were in the way! Dissapointing, but just as we were about to give up and head home, the clouds cleared a little and with the changing light at sunset, Mt Fugi was finally unmasked...or at least a faint outline which my sister was trying to convince me was Mt Fugi! In the end I think she was right, you could just see the faintest of outlines of Mt Fugi. Well, that's my story! I couldn't go all that way and say I didn't see Fugi!
Nearly impossible to make it out in the pics though.
Odaiba was awesome! I love the harbour! I headed there on my last day. A real futuristic look and feel to the place, and as its other name, 'Tokyo Teleport Town' suggests. In some ways it feels like Darling Harbour back home but on a much larger scale. Everything in Japan is on a much larger scale! There's a small sandy harbourside beach there too...and out of all the things you expect to see in Japan, nothing could be nearer the bottom of the list than a beach volleyball tournament! Couldn't believe it. Massive temporary stand set up for the finals court and about another 7 or 8 courts along the beach. Great day and a great end to a great month in Tokyo.
Things I won't forget about my month in Tokyo...
* packed trains, on-time trains, trains every 2 mins
* bright lights
* black suits and brown pointy shoes
* Yoshinoya (did i finally get this right?)
* So Be Chu (interesting night)
* after 9pm half price food
* 100 yen
* 5 day weather forecast
* 'on a guy she must...'
* umbrellas at the baseball
There are more photos below