Totoro has a plan
Next visitation of Nihon

Welcome to the second page with my grand plans

Suggestions for the next vacation in Japan

This page contains the trip suggestions 6 to 10.

There are listed about 5 suggestions per page, to reduce loading times,  and the suggestions can also be directly accessed fromt the menu on the right.

Trip #6: Yokohama

The city of Yokohama has grown in the last 140 years from a village of some 100 houses to the second largest city of Japan with a population of almost 3.5 million. It now has Japan's largest international port and has a large international community with the largest Chinatown in Japan.

Arriving at Sakuragicho Station, one can take a moving walkway, that connects the station with the Landmark Tower in Minato Mirai. Minato Mirai is a high tech looking area filled with high rise buildings. The Landmark Tower is Japan's tallest building, there is an observatory on the 69th floor, Sky Garden, from which one can enjoy another 360 degree view of the city (compared to Tokyo Tower last time). The tower contains the world's second fastest elevator, which travels at more than 1 floor per second, taking about 40 seconds to the Sky Garden. An alternative is one floor up, a Sirius Sky Lounge. Around Minato Mirai, there are several shopping malls, and the Yokohama Cosmo World, an amusement park spread along both sides of a canal. The park has one of the largest Ferris wheels in the world. A number of museums, like the Yokohama Museum Art showing works of Western and Japanese artists since the 1850s. The Yokohama Maritime Museum concentrating on Yokohama's history as a port, beginning with the arrival of Perry's 'Black Ships'.

Walking along a waterfront promenade toward the Yamashita Park, passing along the way the Red Brick Warehouse (Renga), which contains shops selling crafts, furniture, housewares, clothing and jewelry, as well as restaurants. The park was laid out after 1923 earthquake, and although a fairly new park should be worthwhile a visit.

Across Yamashita Park, there is the Silk Museum and the Yokohama Doll Museum. A bit further on is then Chukagai, Japan's largest Chinatown with hundreds of souvenir shops and restaurants.

At last there is Sankeien Garden, which contains historic buildings brought here from other parts of Japan, including Kyoto and Nara.

So an observatory, some gardens, a shopping area and chinatown. That should give a day worth of sightseeing.

On Earth, Yokohama can be found here.

Trip #7: Kawagoe

Kawagoe, located about an hour by train from Tokyo Central, is typical of the suburbs that encompass the city. Located in the center of Saitama, Kawagoe City flourished as a castle town in the Edo period (1603 -1867). Today it is designated as a preservation area for groups of historic buildings, where rows of merchants' houses in a historical storehouse style from the 19th century stand side by side. The survival of these buildings is due to the Great Kawagoe Fire of 1893, which destroyed a third of the city. While rebuilding, consideration was taken to use more fireproof materials and building techniques. Kawagoe is called Koedo, or "Little Edo", because of its city architecture, and it is one of the oldest towns in the Kanto region.

Most of the storehouses are located along one road, Ichiban-gain (ten-minute walk from the Hon-Kawagoe train station). The storehouse buildings are intermixed with western-style buildings erected in the beginning of the 20th century. Other sights are the bell tower, the Tokino Kane Tower, looming over the other buildings with its three storey height! The bell tower has been rebuilt several times since its origin in the 17th century.

A specialty of Kawagoe is Kashiya-yokocho, a confectionary lane. Shops of Japanese candies, sweet potato cakes, rice crackers and other snacks stand in a row on both sides of a stone-paved lane. There are some interesting restaurants as well.

From Ikebukuro station it takes 33 minutes on the Tobu Line express to Kawagoe Station.

It is located here on the map.

This might be a nice change from Tokyo, and a chance to see some old-style suburb. It could be a half-day trip combined with the other half-day being used in for example Ikebukuro.

Trip #8: Mt. Takao

Takao-san, located in the western Tokyo and at the eastern edge of the Kanto Mountain Range, is a sacred mountain. It has been designated as the Meiji-no-mori Takao National Park. The Yakuoin Temple halfway up the mountain was build in in 744. It has been used for worship for more than 1,200 years, and still over 3 million worshipers visit it yearly, even today.

There are six well-maintained hiking trails with different themes from the foot of the wooded mountain to the 599 meter-high mountaintop. It is possible get halfway to the top by cable car or lift. Near the terminal of the cable car is the Takao-san Natural Zoo and Botanical Garden, where monkeys are ranging freely.

It is particurlarly popular during the second half of november as it is one of Tokyo's most popular koyo spots. So it is advised during that time to visit the mountain during the week unless crowds are your thing.

Its location on Google Earth is here.

To get there take JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku to Takao Station, where one can transfer to the Keio Line and ride one more station to Takaosanguchi Station.

This could be anything from a half-day to a full-day trip.

Trip #9: Shibuya

Best exit from Shibuya station is the into the Hachikō square named after a dog. Hachikō was a truly persistent dog born in 1923, who every evening waited for his master coming home from work outside the station. When his master passed away (at work) he continued to come and wait at the station for next nearly 11 years. The dog got so famous even in its lifetime that a statue was erected shortly before Hachikō's death.

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The famous Hachikō statue. I think the cover may be due to the winter or the spring equinox (a period where one should, among other things, be good to animals).

The statue stands in the corner of the square.

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Just across the square was a Starbucks and Tower Records (I think, or it may have been HMV) with 6 or 7 floors of music (CD) and films (DVD and the occasional Blu-ray and HD-DVD). Got to get back there.

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Shibuya 109 (10 means To and 9 means Kyu, a play on words as the store is owned by Tokyu) department store which primarily offers womens clothing. There should be an 109-2 which is doing mens clothing also. There are competing stores owned by a number of the large railway companies, another one Seibu can be seen in the background to the left in the picture above.

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Got our morning coffee at Starbucks and a few pictures of the famous crossing, where there is green at the same time for all pedestrians.

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We choose to go to the left of the Starbucks, as seen from the square and ended up in a street with small shops and restaurants, but nothing out of the ordinary really. A single electronics shop caught my interest and I returned there a few days later and bought a few things.

We missed a number of museums, there are a number of concert places, NHK Studio park where we can get a tour of the TV studios. Two large shops, Book 1st, one of the largest bookstores in Tokyo, as well as Tokyo Hands, everything gadget or practical (Home decorations) that is very Japanese (like a rubber duck department) can be found there.

Want to visit at least the music store and Tokyo Hands.

Shibuya's location on Google Earth is here.

Trip #10: Shimokitazawa

Anders wants to visit a bar in Shimokitazawa, so it is now on the list.

Shimokitazawa is typically visited by university students. It is an old style area with very narrow streets and highly intersected with many small alleyways. There is nothing special there, except the bar, and lots of small shops, bars and restaurants. The center is the small square by the south exit of the station.

Should be a good shopping area for china, cheap clothes and character goods (no idea what that is), and it should be a good place to spot interesting shop names. Not many non-Japanese tourists so time to make a wild guess on the menu card.

The advice is: 'Carry a mobile phone and try hard to look under 25'. There is a bit more information here.

From Kotaku directions to 'Mother':

Take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku or the Inokashira line from Shibuya and get off at Shimokitazawa. Take the south exit from the station, and go straight down the main street keeping McDonalds on your left. Walk for about 2 minutes (Mr Donuts is halfway there) until the road opens out wider. About 20 meters after that (and just before you get to Osho chinese restaurant's red sign) there is a very small intersection. Turn right and Mother is the first building on the right with the mosaic wall outside.

It is definitely worth a visit to take in the atmosphere, and it is very close to Shibuya and Shinjuku so easy to get there.

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