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Published: November 27th 2019
Tokyo East Side
Few into Tokyo Narita airport at about 6.30pm. Got the skytrain to Uneo then got a cab (took a few goes) to our hotel in Asakusa. We stayed at ‘The B’ which was really nice and the room was large with a big bathroom and in a great location. There was a big 3 day festival on around the Senjoji temple called Asakusa Sanja Festival where thousands of people carry hundreds of shrines around the streets with drums and yelling and often, no pants. We walked across and looked around. Stopped for a few beers where they served these little boiled eggs as a snack. Then called it a night.
After having a yummy buffet breakfast in the hotel where Johnny loved the sumo soup we got the subway then the monorail over to Odaiba where we met Celia to go to the Borderless Teamlab Digital Art exhibition. It was a myriad of rooms and interconnecting hallways filled with interactive light displays. It was like nothing you have ever seen before. We spent hours here trying to capture the awesomeness on camera…but really, you just had to be there. Afterwards we took a boat up the
river to the Tokyo Skytree to watch the sunset over Tokyo. The city goes on and on forever in every direction. From here Celia went home and we went back to Asakusa and stumbled back across the Sensoji temple where all the shrines were coming back in. It was accidentally great timing!
The next day we watched the green temple team which was next door to the hotel get ready for their big day and followed them around for a while. Then we went to Akihabara so Johnny could check out the anime shops. We looked for hours and hours there are so many shops filled with so many floors. The porn is quite open and available too. We also went to a BB gun shooting galley/cafe. Guns and cocktails…what could possibly go wrong! We were getting hungry and our feet were hurting so we stopped to have ramen. It was so delicious!
Later we went over to Celia’s for dinner and games.
Across to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
Next morning we started our JR pass and headed to Nagano, the home of the Winter Olympics but in spring is filled with flowers. The shinkansen is super
comfy and took about 1.5hrs. We had snacks and games so it was a really pleasant ride. We got out and went to the Zenkō-ji Temple temple. Then we took a local train to Yudanaka. It
is a cute tiny little tiny town at the base of the mountains. It was really really cold, the wind was icy. We had a drink at one bar but felt a bit weird there so we found another one and stayed there for ages. We had shots that were on fire and had a great old time. When we got back to the hotel we used the public bath and I nearly passed out from the combination of alcohol and heat.
Up early the next morning to go to the monkey park. We were dropped off there by the hotel then walked up the road to the sanctuary. It was spring and there were so many young monkeys playing together, teenagers fighting and mums and babies. They were adorable. They are really like human babies. Back to Yudanaka for a picnic lunch then train to Matsumoto castle. This is an original castle and is black. The gardens are immaculate and we went
through the castle and learned about the different floors, history, lifestyle and weapons. It is surrounded by a moat with swans. Next stop was Ogizawa which we booked to be close to the start of the Alpine route starting point. It was cold and rainy so we just went to bed.
The next morning was still cold and rainy and so I was pretty bummed. We rugged up and headed up to the bus station. The route consists of electric bus, cable car, train and ropeways. It takes you over the Japanese Alps where they were still covered in snow. The first stop was the dam and it was so foggy it was just white. Then the fog cleared and the sun came out! YAY
Johnny touched snow for the first time! The route consists of a rope way up the mountain, a electric trolly us through the mountains, a bus then cable car back down the other side. The rope way up the mountain took us to the snow plain where we played in the snow for ages. At one point this fog rolled in and everything was just white, you could see more than a few
meters…it was very eerie Then we headed over to the snow wall where a 14M corridor is dug into the snow so the traffic can get through. Back down to sea level where it was warm again and off to Kanazawa. I actually left it too late and was worried our luggage wouldn’t be there, but it was waiting for us at the station. It was an amazing experience.
In Kanazawa English was much less common and there wasn’t much around where we were staying. After walking around for ages we picked a cool teppanyaki bar where we cooked our own meat and veggies at the BBQ at our table. So that was fun.
The next day we got a bus out to Shirakawago, a unesco listed heritage village where they are built without any metal or nails. The roofs are thatched grass. There is a look out where you can look down on the village and was like a fairytale surrounded by snow capped mountains and paddy fields. It’s nice to experience the countryside to contract the craziness of the cities.
This time in Kanazawa we had a look down town and came across this cool
little restaurant where you order through the computer at your table the followed this pretty canal back to the hotel.
Thursday we got the Thunderbird to Kyoto and checked into another B hotel, the B Kyoto Shijo. We walked down to the Nishiki markets and had some sushi. We went to a Samuri and Ninja museum which was pretty cool. We go to dress up as samuri and throw ninja stars and blow darts. Learning the history was very interesting too and the guide was so funny and animated. Later in the evening we went over the bridge to the Ginza area but didn’t see any geisha.
The next day we hired electric bikes which was the funnest thing ever. I can’t believe I haven’t done this before. IT’s the joy of riding but easy. We rode out to the Golden Temple. Then to the next place. Afterwards we went went to the Philosophers walk for a beer. Then got lost and literally rode up a mountain range trying to get to the water temple. We ended up entering from some side entrance where it said no bike allowed so I was super paranoid but we weren’t
going back down the range so on the bikes we went. It was a bit awkward because we were trying to go over the circuit in reverse an the temple was under construction so the view wasn’t was it was supposed to be. But it was cool seeing the girls in their kimonos. Trying to park in the city was difficult as most areas were no parking and we didn’t want to get a fine but we found a sneaky car park by following some locals and went back to Nishiki market and did some shopping.
We couldn’t go to kyoto without seeing the Fushimi Tori gates so before our booked Shinkansen back to Tokyo we caught the train out to see them. There are 10000 gates that lead you through the Forrest with shrines and foxes along the way. We bought a fortune fox.
The train back was delayed, which I thought was unheard of in Japan so we had to run to get out luggage front the locker and Johnny ran our bag to our train carriage while I ran to the shop to get some bento boxes and the doors literally closed as we boarded
the train. That was cutting it fine!
Tokyo West Side
Back to Tokyo and this time we were not the west side in Shinkuju with the millions of people and neon lights. Next day was a Harajuku and shopping day. We met Victor, Mum and Celia out near Celia’s place for a nice family dinner. Johnny tried out batting at a baseball place then went into this massive big game pod.
Our last full day was Disneysea day. Disneyland is all the princes etc. Disneysea has Aladdin, Little Mermaid, ToyStory, Indian Jones etc. The first ride we went on as terrifying. After lining up for an hour you are taken up this pitch black building and they they open the windows for a second then drop you. Then they take you backup and drop you again! We went on the Indian Jones ride which was really cool too. We really wanted to go to the ToyStory one but the line up wait was 3 hours! We met back up with Victor and went out for a nice dinner in Shibuya.
The next morning was our last day so we just hung out in Shinjuku. We check out
a department store food court because they are so awesome and packed filled perfect good and so much beautiful packaging. Then back to Narita airport where our fireworks (I thought they were sparkler) were confiscated then we sat on the floor and had beers until it was time to board.
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