Blogs from Tokyo, Japan, Asia

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Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Chiyoda June 28th 2019

Onsen Explorer. Day 13. Thursday. After sleeping like a log we needed a more European breakfast so had a egg and bacon tea cake at Cafe Delice before a trip on the Ginza underground line to Asakusa. Whilst this is a big tourist destination it is well worth the visit, full of tourist stalls down both sides of the street with the exquisite Senso-Ji shrine at the end with people milling around everywhere. There are several shops selling and renting out kimonos so there are girls and ladies parading the streets wearing them - very nice. The restaurants are good too if you get away from the main area selling traditional Japanese fare and Italian etc. From there a walk to Ueno Park is possible where you will find a zoo and several shrines of Shinto ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Tokyo June 25th 2019

So our first morning in Tokyo started with an earthquake tremor. Yes, you read that right. An Earthquake. We were downstairs in the hotel lobby exchanging pleasantries with Akito our guide for our first day in Tokyo, when all of a sudden the whole room/building starts shuddering. It's a strange moment, because your brain wants to classify it as something familiar, but it just isn't. After a quick glance at each other, Philippe and I turned to the guide, to gauge her level of panic. Our assessment: zero. And no one else in the room was even batting an eyelid. 'Oh, it's an earthquake. It happens in Tokyo. Often we don't even realise it is happening, but the buildings are built to handle it' . 'So, eh, is it going to happen again?' (i.e. do we ... read more
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Asia » Japan » Tokyo June 23rd 2019

If you’ve been following along – thanks! – you know that I very much like horse racing. So much so that when I travel I will check to see if there is a race track close to where I’m going, and if there is I will make plans to visit. I regularly attend races in southern California, so it is always fun for me to see the differences between racing here and in other countries. Of course, the basic premise is the same – sleek horses with small jockeys competing to see who can cross the finish line first. But the tracks themselves can vary widely, as can the customs around the meets. I was in Tokyo during the spring race season. Horse racing in Japan is a big deal. There are ten nationally sanctioned race ... read more
train station to race track
garden
entrance

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shinjuku June 16th 2019

Exploring Kagurazaka There were several maps containing attractions in the neighbourhood at the hotel. We decided to visit Kagurazaka near Iidabashi station. We took the Sōbu (yellow train) line from Shinjuku. We got off at Iidabashi and used West Exit. We saw a lovely shopping street, Kagurazaka, soon after we left the station. Miyagi Michio Memorial Hall We planed visiting Miyagi Michio Memorial Hall. This museum was standing in the middle of the residential area. We paid ¥400 for the admission charge and started looking round exhibition rooms. We could hear his masterpiece ‘Haru no Umi (Spring Sea)’ playing in the exhibition rooms. Miyagi Michio is known as the composer and the distinguished ‘Koto’ performer. The exhibition rooms housed the outstanding 80-string Koto – reproduction of the instrument invented by Miyagi, Brail... read more
Kengyo no Ma
Kagurazaka
Chikudo Yahata Shrine

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shinjuku June 16th 2019

Shinjuku Gyoen We met up with my mother and my aunt at South Exit of Shinjuku Station at 11 o’clock, and as planned, we went to Shinjuku Gyoen. Before I came over to Britain for marriage, I’d lived in Tokyo for 25 years and have come to Tokyo several times since I started living in the UK. However, I had not visited some of the sightseeing places including Shinjuku Gyoen. I’d heard that Shinjuku Gyoen is one of Tokyo’s most popular parks. It wasn’t far from Shinjuku station. We each paid ¥500 for the admission fee. Having looked through the map, we understood that this park consists of three parts: Japanese traditional garden, landscape garden and formal garden. We started ambling through traditional Japanese garden. We followed the footpath and board walk along three large ponds ... read more
Mr & Mrs Goddard in Shinjuku Gyoen
My mother and my aunt
rhodondendron at peak

Asia » Japan » Tokyo June 14th 2019

Onsen Explorer Day 14. Tokyo-Friday Today a visit to Asakusa and the large and busy Senso-Ji Temple. The road down to the temple was something else, lined with wooden stalls selling everything any tourist could ever want. I didn’t say ’need’ you note. Very touristy of course but very interesting. There were many Japanese girls dressed in Kimonos, which I found were available for hire at 2000 JPY (£14). Many were posing for photos whilst most were just enjoying being dressed up. The socks were split at the big toe so that flip flops, or wooden clogs called Getas, could be worn. The western people stood out as more plump than the locals but even here in the city the girls are looking better fed than the country ones, who look rather undernourished. On our way ... read more
Uneo
Incense burning

Asia » Japan » Tokyo June 13th 2019

Onsen Explorer. Day 13. Thursday 13 June. Tokyo City Sightseeing today, but a sandwich and coffee breakfast first at Cafe Veloce. The Imperial gardens were visited after a long walk in the heat. The gardens were very green with few flowers and magnificent stone ramparts with stones well over one cubic metre in size. And a view over the city. A day train ticket was obtained so that we could explore the city and we went to the Tokyo Tower, which is like a mini Eiffel Tower. From there a spin on the underground got us to the Tokyo Government Building where we went up to the 45th floor for a free view of the city. Unfortunately it was a little hazy and Mt Fuji was not visible but the skyscrapers were very impressive. My feet ... read more
Gong
Buddhist Temple
Shibuya street

Asia » Japan » Tokyo June 11th 2019

Tokyo My first impressions of Tokyo? Huge and overwhelming, grey and unattractive, clean and safe. Getting everywhere you want to go takes a long time. We tackled a trip to Shinjuku Station on our first morning to validate our rail passes and then managed to negotiate our first subway trip using a Suica card (recommended if you are staying for a while). Negotiating this took quite some time. We got tickets for one of the hop on hop off services and an uninspiring 90 minute sightseeing bus ride ensued. However, in the afternoon, a visit to Asakusa (historic area in eastern Tokyo) lifted my spirits. There were people dressed in traditional kimono, stalls and shops a-plenty, tasty things to eat and beautiful Sensoji temple as well. Day 2: We visited a beautiful and large park at ... read more
Out for a stroll in Asakusa
Sensō-ji temple
Tokyo streets

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shinjuku May 31st 2019

SC writes: After the relative disappointments of Mito, yesterday we headed for Tokyo, and the very popular area of Shinjuku. We dropped our bags at the hotel, eventually, and headed off to Kappibashi Dori, a street famous for catering to the restaurant trade. Here you can buy crockery in any style you like, chefs’ knives, and plastic food, which the restaurants use to display their wares - very helpful when you don’t understand a word! See the photos for a couple of spectacular examples. Cathy was shopping for dinner plates but, despite looking at hundreds, came away with nothing more than a side plate. I on the other hand went looking for a plastic fried egg but came away with plates and pasta bowls. (We are taking advantage of the fact that our baggage allowance is ... read more
“The great wave” of rice, in plastic - Kappibashi-dori
Pork Tonkatsu
Giant temple - Nikko

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Minato May 11th 2019

Friday 10 May 2019 - erev Shabbat Today, Friday, we decided would be our day off. So we spent the day writing up the travel blog and generally relaxing. Don was feeling athletic so he, being a good boy, went to the gym. He found the Sheraton hotel health spa to contain a good variety of facilities including a large pool. He did not swim, but worked out with the exercise equipment. This evening we walked to the Chabad for the Friday night Shabbat service. As usual they had to wait for a minyan (ten men). After the service we were all invited upstairs for a meal. As expected, many more people appeared upstairs than prayed downstairs. The rabbi and his wife had prepared for fifty people and there were at least fifty there. The rabbi ... read more




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