Tokyo and mountains
November 2007

Welcome to my second vacation in Japan

Diary

Due to lack of stable internet connection I was actually only able to document the first 2 days in Tokyo while on site. The rest was added after coming home, and I found out that it is really a good idea to keep a diary while on vacation, because when you first do it after coming home, stuff tends to fade away. Below is what remained.

There are about 3 days per page, to reduce loading times, and the days can also be directly accessed fromt the menu on the right.

Starting here with the first days.

Friday, November 9: Tokyo

After one of the worst ever SAS flights, which I think we would rather prefer to forget everything about.

I will certainly look for alternatives to SAS in the future, rather than travel again with a bunch of inconsiderate, arrogant, self-centered, middle-aged and drunk group of men, and SAS personnel that refuses to do anything about it, but instead continues to serve alcohol to them.

And we are not talking about the 2 guys in the front of this picture.

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A much nicer picture taken out of the window.

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The 2 above pictures are courtesy of Helle.

Enough about the flight.

Unfortunately on arrival in Narita we were more or less totally bushed. Though we had a good timing for the limited express from Narita to Tokyo Central. After an interesting walk across the Central station not during rush hour, but there were quite a lot of people, and the subsequent walk to the Hotel Gimmond. Following a quick move by Helle and Anders to another room, as the first room had been inhabited just previously by a heavy smoker, otherwise we had the same rooms as last time. Which means I have the same room and they have moved to a different and a bit more noisy floor. Some people have all the luck.

After a couple of hours rest (not all that much sleep), we proceeded late in the afternoon to Akihabara, where Anders began the shopping spree. As we were wearing down we only managed 2 shops, the Yodabashi and the largest Sofmap. Going back home I decided to skip a restaurant visit and go directly for the local 7-11.

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The other 2 gave up fairly quickly after realizing that it was after 8 in the evening on a friday, and the chances of finding a restaurant with room might require some search. So they ended up like this.Though it is my rice triangle (with seaweed and chili on the table in the back, that was all I could get down with my stomach trouble.

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All in all an eventless arrival in Tokyo. Tomorrow we will (probably) have a go at Ikebukuro, Harajuku and Shibuya.

Raw and unsorted photos from this day are available here.

Saturday, November 10: Tokyo - Ikebukuro

Woke up at 3 o'clock in the middle of the night, starving. Ate 4 sandwiches, one of them was a potato sandwich, hm. I get to watch a lot of late night Japanese television again this time:-) I found out how much I had missed the toilet. Nice to have a warm breeze cleaning up the private spots:-)

Saturday morning: Rain, rain and even more rain.

So we went to Ikebukuro. Arrived early before the 2 big shopping centers opened, so we walked on to Sunshine City, and after a few missteps we had a look at the Planetarium (nice, could have fallen asleep during some parts as it was quite relaxing), the aquarium with some nice pictures of an ecstatic female diver swimming with a big large snake (Yes I know what it is, but this sounds better - and actually not my idea).

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Unfortunately most pictures are only so-so from the aquarium as the settings were not so ideal for taking photos.

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On to the observatory (via the fastest elevator in the world) and although hazy, it was still raining, still quite worth the look.

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A view of Ikebukuro station with Tobu and Seibu shopping centers on each side of the station.

By now it was getting very crowded everywhere. A quick visit to BIC Camera (electronics shop) and after that the 2 shopping centers were skipped.

A short stop in Shibuya on the Yamanote circle line home bound, but I really just wanted a bath to clean of the sweath from the humidity, so no CDs or DVDs were bought. I have bought nothing!

Raw and unsorted photos from this day are available here.

Sunday, November 11: Tokyo - Ueno, Akihabara

Sunday morning: Prospect is rain.

With the prospect of rain we chose some indoor sight-seeings, and the closest were the museums at Ueno park. The umbrella I bought the day before, to remain somewhat dry from the downpour at Sunshine City, came in handy shortly after we left Ueno station walking towards the National Science Museum.

Even though we were there quite early it was already filling up with people. As luck will have it there was a special robotics exhibition at the moment, so we bought a combination ticket for both the museum and the exhibition, that turned out to be very wise as the robotics exhibition was the most interesting.

The 'lady' (her design left no doubt about her 'gender') below was the first that greeted us at the exhibition. I have no clue if 'she' was able to anything at all or was just there for show.

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There was an ongoing show as we entered with some small biped robots (they seemed to be controlled remotely, so not self-contained), where they would act as goalie and some young boys from the audience got the chance to kick a goal. The robots were able to quite nicely throw themselves sideways and block the ball.

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This is after the show and notice the guy at the table just to left of the guy in the reddish shirt. He is repairing one of the robots from the show. The red tank like one to the left was going to perform next but as they started to doing some repairs on one of the middle wheels, we decided not to wait for that and walked on to the ASIMO show.

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Honda's ASIMO robot doing a show, although it was predefined what it (somehow I see this one as a male althought his walk is distinctly female - like walking in high-heels, at least the way many young Japanese women walk in high heels) should do, it was still quite interesting to watch how sure 'he' looked walking and running about, putting down stuff and picking up stuff. I am beginning to think that there is limited practical use for this within a decade or so.

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After the exhibition we had a bit of a walk around until we found the technology part of the museum. It was a bit disappointing for a museum called a national musuem as this section was rather small. Only airplane on display was a Mitsubishi Zero from World War II. We skipped the rest of the museum as there was a lack of interest and the museum was getting really filled up. It was a sunday after all.

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Walking out of the museum we ran into this full-sized mockup of a sperm whale.

We then continued into the park, skipping, sniff, the art museum and an Edward Munch exhibition there. Well, it was probably as full as the science museum, so it would have been no fun.

Walking back through the park towards the station we encountered a number of colourfull tents stringed together. Inside was a market with quite a number of interesting stuff like pottery and porcelain. Did not buy anything as I did not have high hope for its survivability back to Denmark on a plane.

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Outside the market I ended up alone doing my usual fiddling with the camera and looking around for motives, when an elderly Japanese gentlemen asked me if I was a tourist, in very good english by the way. So we ended having a nice chat about why Japanese are a bit shy around foreigners, why it helps to know a few Japanese words to break the ice, and what the differences are between Scandinavia and Japan.

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On our way home around Nihonbashi I noticed this small house (compared to the ones around it) or rather the weatherhen on top of it. Because I dont think the odds are good for that to actually show the wind direction.

We split up and Helle and I went shopping in the local supermarket PORoROCA to stock up on some supplies (drinks, candy, chocolate and youghurt-like stuff). So we ended up early at the hotel and we all went out in the evening for Akihabara, where we decided (but did not buy) on the Fujifilm F50fd camera instead of the Canon Ixy 2000 as replacement/supplement for the Canon Ixy 1000 we bought last time in March. The only thing I got was Dualshock 3 rumble controller for my PS3.

On our way home we found out that it seems, at least in our neighbourhood, the restaurants are closed on a Sunday. So we tried to the local McDonalds, where I made the bad choice of not buying a Teriayki burger but instead going for the standard Big Mac, bad choice.

Spend some time coming back to the hotel in the evening with telephone calls to get my mobil phone account reopened, as it had been closed by Telmore - due to their fault, although they of course tried to blame it on everybody and the kitchen sink. The bad part was, that they had not even SMS (which they do normally) that there had been a problem, but had just sent an email and immediately afterwards closed the account. Really usefull when you are halfway around the world with limited access to email.

Unsorted photos from this day are available here.

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