Tokyo and mountains
November 2007

Welcome to my second vacation in Japan

Diary

There are about 3-4 days per page, to reduce loading times, and the days can also be directly accessed fromt the menu on the right.

Continuing here with the last 4 days.

Thursday, November 15: Tokyo - Ginza, Komagome, Yanaka

Arrived fairly early and bought tickets to the first part of a Kabuki-za theater performance.

It is definitely something I will do again and next time buy a ticket to a whole performance. Tne only problem with this time was that I was really tired, so it was not as enjoyable as it could have been. I wonder if one can get DVDs or CDs with performances.

Anyway it was interesting also to watch how some of the locals got their binoculars out to watch a specific performers performance. Note, to self, next time remember to bring binoculars.

After the show a quick lunch and tea at Starbucks.

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Then continuing towards the local train station where we saw some quite interesting buildings on the way. Like the above. Although Tokyo has a lot of high rise buildings, they are rarely boring.

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And another.

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Arriving at the station I took a quick shot of the repair man at the bottom of the escalator - and not because of the woman with the very, very short skirt at the back.

We took a train to Komagome station and Rikugien garden. Which we visited last time as well, but I was feeling a lack of greenery on this trip.

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Back at Komagome and Rikugien park, I was trying for a John Ford shot, but even Helle was a bit too tall for that.

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Love this park, so much that I am repeating my shots (somewhat) from the spring trip. It is very beautiful Japanese style park that is highly recommended. There is not much else in Komagome, but it is nice to visit what feels a bit like a suburb.

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Some colourful red leaves again, did not see too many on this trip, the timing was a bit off.

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And a red tree. Did not get the nice mirror in the water shot that the others did.

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Overview of the garden.

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Teahouse in the background and people relaxing.

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The pond is back - but without ghost girl this time.

Drop me off in this garden and I will happy for the most of a day, there is even a small tea house in the garden so no reason to leave for sustenance.

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An apartment close by Komagome station had decided to have a couple of figures outside, they remind of something but I am not quite sure what.

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Got a iew from the back of the train while we were on route to Yanaka. The plan was to walk through the cementary and into the 'old' area and then down towards Ueno.

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A Buddha in the cementary in Yanaka.

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One of the famous cats from the cementary. Unfortunately it was getting late and we ended up not seeing very much more (very little in fact) of Yanaka. Well it had been a long day.

We ended up taking a cab back to the hotel, and with a bit of research the driver managed to find the hotel (he called the hotel and got directions when he got lost at some point).

We then had dinner at an Italian restaurant, quite nice although a smokers heaven.

Unsorted photos can be found here.

Friday, November 16: Mt. Fuji

A bit cooler than the previous days. Early in the morning we walked down to Tokyo Central Station where the Suntours pickup place was.

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On our way to Tokyo station I got a few shots at Nihonbashi bridge, unfortunately the only ones this time. Would have liked some night pictures, but there is always a possibility for the future.

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We got picket by a great new tour bus, nice seats, nice space. Driving towards Ginza and the Tour bus station, I got a shot of Tokyo Tower.

At the station we had to switch to another, much older bus, that was also somewhat more uncomfortable and filled up with tourists (might be hypocritical, but I tend to want to avoid tourist traps, but in this case that was not possible).

As a variation we this time got a group of Hungarians which talked all during the tour, loud and usually repeating what the (trying to out do) tour guide just said. Only time they shut up was for a while after lunch. Sigh.

After a short stop at the nicest highway toilet I have ever seen. In general the toilets in Japan are clean and neutral smelling compared to anywhere else.

We arrived at the first way station, and the place where we could get the best view of Mt. Fuji.

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Mt Fuji in the clouds, unfortunately it was very cloudy and misty at the ground.

Coming to the halfway station, it became clear that it was bl**dy cold. Bought a lot of small souvenirs cause the moment we got out of the bus it was a rather quick walk to the one of the shops and quickly inside before one got frozen. Anyway Fuji was not visible in the clouds.

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That is until we got out again, but it was still very cloudy and with a white sky, so it was a surreal 2-dimensional look of Mt. Fuji at the half-way station. Anyway it was freezing so a couple of quick shots and then a rush back to a warm bus.

The tour then continued downhill to a hotel where we were served a Bento box lunch. Quite good in fact and the first bento lunch we have had, so actually not much to compare it with.

So onward for an hour or two to the lake.

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Ship at Hakone, looked surreal when it was 'sailing' without hjaving set sails. But it was not one of those we got onboard. Again some nice oppertunities to shop for goods, well it was still very cold and what to do when in the warm shop - shop.

The trip on the lake was in fact also very cold, but I as the only one braved the whole tour on the top deck of the boat, and got a couple of pictures. Happy the lens had image stabilizer as it was a bit difficult not to shake quite a bit.

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A torii gate in the water, with some nice colours on the trees.

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Got a picture while we were still on the lake of the cable car we were going to take.

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All the way to the end station at the top.

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Follow the tour guide with the flag, he was actually having a bit of fun with it, and rather enjoyed it. One will notice that often if a group, children, grown ups are guided around the leader will carry a flag, so everybody knows who to follow.

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View from the cable car of one of the fake sailing ships. The cable car was not a problem in relation to my fear of falling from a great height. Although the swinging at the midway point was a bit uncomfortable and in my view the car was loaded to the brinck. I think with normal Japanese it would have been comfortable, but with an improper amount of fat Europeans and Americans it was probably on the border.

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At the top a buddhist temple, that is actually a guess, as the Chinese tourists rushed up to it.

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Most of the rest of us looked at the view from the top - it was getting dark. So lights were coming on, but it was still quite misty.

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The end station, which looked like it may have had a different funtion at some time. Airplane spotting tower or something, maybe.

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Quick shot on the beginning of our way down. It was a bit worrying that the cable car controller had a lucky charm at the controls.

From here on it took a couple of hours to get back to Shinjuku station, where we got a bit lost, found the station and took the train back to Kanda station and the hotel.

All in all a worthwhile tour, we were a bit unlucky with the view, but it could have been so much worse. But I must say that I can only handle one day in the company of tourists, so it is not something I will do more than once on every trip.

Unsorted photos are available here.

Saturday, November 17: Tokyo - Hamamatsucho, Akihabara

The last saturday had reasonable weather, although a bit cold compared to the rest of the week, but not much energy. We went to a new garden not to far away and situated close by Hamamatsucho station. So close in fact that the track jingles from the station could be heard quite clearly all over the park.

The entrance is at the north end which makes it a bit of a walk (all around the garden, which fortunately is not that big) if you go out of the south entrance of the station.

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A new garden, this time in Hamamatsucho. Very close to the station. Although totally enclosed by station and buildings it was a very charming small Japanese style garden which can be recommended as a quick stop, and I certainly plan to revisit this place on a future visit. For building mirrorred in the water photo shots it was a perfect place.

Like in the park in Shinjuku last time, there were here also several people drawing the scenery.

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As it can be seen the water was very calm, nearly no wind blowing. But that might also be due to that the garden is nearly fully enclosed by tall buildings.

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Make sure the tree can survive the snow, or making sure it keeps it nice form. There were a couple of these.

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Persistent, a small plant growing on a rock in the water.

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Tokyo Tower to the left in the background, so we were not that far away.

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It seemed to be a garden chosen for wedding photos, there were a number of more cars arriving as we left. While we were in the garden this couple (he is hidden by the tree in the middle as is the photographer) were having their photographs taken. One can hardly believe the rudeness of people as everyone were snapping photos of this event. Well I have a nice zoom on my camera so I got a couple of discreet shots as well.
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The garden is a place where one can drop me off and I will be happy and busy for the next 2-3 hours.

After that we went to Akihabara and took a walk up the other side of Chuo dori street, but frankly I am not sure what has happened since spring but there were really no interesting shops left, on this side of the street it seemed more like the discount shops had taken over. I only got a wireless (meaning without wires in this case) IR sensor bar for the Wii (one of the cats had molested the cable beyond repair for the original included with the Wii).

Bought some pastry and lunch in the Vie de France bakery. Among other things a chili dog that did not want to go away, I think I ate it again upwards around 20 times (it did not go away until I ate a Teriaki Burger late in the evening), some milk bread (which tasted exactly like it is called and sweet as well) and some Danish (sweet cream filling with bean paste), the later is an acquired taste but a couple of bites and one is used to it. I am sure I will try Milk bread and the Danish again some time - not the Chili dog though.

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The evening was used to pack which turned out to be a bigger problem than anticipated as I had not really bought this much this time, but obviously more than I thought.

A parting shot of the toilet controls in my hotel room, I will miss the toilet.

Unsorted photos can be found here.

Sunday, November 18: Tokyo

Lesson, give exact specifications on whether it is the train or the Narita bus you want to get to with the cab. Otherwise one can get a small tour of the (eternal rebuilding) that is Tokyo Central Station, and that is not fun if you are lugging some rather heavy luggage around. Well this time we found out where the JR entry point is on the map, so hopefully next time I will have less problems.

Got to buy a few souvenirs at the Airport, among other things a Kokeshi doll (more about this later on) and a little load of different Pocky's.

As on the trip over, the plane was filled up, so no extra spare seat.

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A lesson from this is to write the diary soon after coming home, otherwise it gets less and less detailed and much of the interesting stuff has been forgotten.

A fair amount of the suggested trips (around half) were 'touched' and fully or partially done. I regret not seeing Kamakura, but Mt. Takao was a quite worthwhile exchange.
Next time it will probably only be partially Tokyo, but there is still Kamakura and Nikko (this might be a possible tour guided one). There are still lots and lots of small gardens and parks for me to find, also did not get to see 'old' Tokyo. One thing is sure though that Akihabara is not quite worth so much of an effort, might as well just visit Yodobashi and maybe Sofmap and one of the other shops there, the rest was much less interesting this time. Then there is the seeing crafts part that has not been touched yet... And I will definitely walk/climb Mt. Fuji at some time.

 Totoro42Blue