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Published: January 25th 2009
Well this is the first Blog of our travels. Left Heathrow in drizzle on the morning of Friday 23rd January - landed in Tokyo the next day in snow!! Widebodied jets very comfortable but inflight entertainment not working on our 2 seats (OK for everyone else!) for a couple of hours. Still all fixed and free champagne for the inconvenience - can't be bad - must carry on like that!!
Arrived at Shiba Park Hotel which is brilliant - very comfortable and luxurious compared to our usual camping hoidays.
Tokyo certainly different - only seen 8 Europeans in the whole of 2 days. All signs including menus in Japanese which makes a challenge. Anyway we thought we'd try a traditional restaurant on our first night - Lyn had soup and noodles - soup very tricky with chopsticks. Only when she had finished the soup and was eating cold noodles did the waitress rush up to tell her to cook the noodles in the soup!!
Tony less adventurous had battered squid tentacles and chips!!! Still we both survived.
After a good nights sleep we started our sightseeing as today dawned with clear blue skies and cold. Went up Tokyo Tower
(Japan's answer to the Eiffel Tower) and had brilliant views of the city skyline, Tokyo Bay and Mount Fuiji. Then on to the 14th century Zojo-ji Temple - quite amazing. Just inside the gates was a huge bell made entirely from melted down hairpins donated by the court Geishas (Brian & Carole have included a photo). There are temples and shrines dotted about all over the city inbetween skyscrapers and all of them are well attended and used by devotees. We in England seem to have lost that reverence.
By then we were finding our feet and beginning to feel more confident so thought we would try our luck on the Yamanote Railway line. Nearly all signs in Japanese however the train announces the stations in English as well as Japanese. This is a circular route where a one day pass will allow you on and off at any number of stations. So off to see another Shrine in Ueno Park - a fantastic place for families with buskers, museums, art galleries and even a Zoo! all surrounding the inevitable central shrine. Although again this is an early 17th century temple there was a very moving tribute to the
victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an everlasting flame encompassed in a dove of peace. Back on the train to Shinjuku the so called entertainment and red light area - didn't see any red lights but the skyscrapers were amazing - another fascinating area. Getting weary after that so back to the hotel for Sushi and a hot bath.
Tomorrow we plan to go to the Imperial Palace before we depart for the Airport and on to Auckland via Brisbane. Would like to go the fish market but that starts at 3.00am so might not make that!
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