Thursday, January 26, 2012

 

Tokyo, Japan - Day 3 & 4

November 20 - 21, 2010

Day 3

Started the day by going to Tokyo Anime Center. They don't have the robots that we were looking for but they referred us to other shops where we could possibly find one. So we just bought some other items instead. We then headed to Akihabara and checked out the anime shops. Yey! We could take Voltes V and Daimos home at last! Not for us but for our friends back in Sydney. We almost brought Gundam home.. hehe. It's just everywhere!

 

We went to Ueno Park afterwards. The colours of the autumn leaves are just awesome! We stayed there up to before the sun set.


Then we caught a train to Takadanobaba, an area in Shinjuku where large Astro Boy murals are painted across the street of the station. Takadanobaba Station plays the theme music from the TV series on the JR Yamanote platform to signal that a train is about to leave.

 

While in Shinjuku we hopped from one mall to another taking our last chance to shop before flying back to Sydney the next day.

Day 4

Our holiday is almost over. We had our baggages ready, brought them downstairs and left them at the reception area.

It is only on our last day when we tried sashimi and sushi. I'm not a fan of raw fish but a visit to Japan won't be complete without giving it a try. :)


After lunch we went back to the hostel to get our baggages. Then we headed to Tokyo train station to purchase Shinkansen tickets to Osaka. Then we grabbed some food before boarding the train so we won't starve during the 3-hour trip. I think we left at past 3:00pm. We just hoped we had enough time to check in our baggages and catch our 7:00pm flight to Sydney. Yey! We made it just in time.

Our 9-day holiday in Japan was a very enjoyable one. I'm gonna miss the food, politeness of the locals, beautiful views, cleanliness and even the sights of small cars and bicycles going by. :)


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

 

Tokyo, Japan - Day 1 & 2

November 18 - 19, 2010

Day 1

It took us 3 hours to travel from Kyoto to Tokyo via Shinkansen (bullet train). Upon arrival, we had lunch then proceeded to Tourist Information Center to get some maps and brochures. We had to make our way to Khaosan Tokyo Ninja hostel. The train arrived but I did not get on the train as quick as Beng did. The train door closed while I was still on the platform. Oh no! So I just waited for the next train and hoped to get to the hostel easily. I reached Bakurocho station and walked towards the hostel. When I learned from the receptionist that no one came before me, I went back to the station but there was no sign of her. After awhile I went back to the hostel and she was there. Whew! Found out that she got off the next stop and went back to Tokyo station to get me. :)


We carried our luggages to the room upstairs, had a little rest then decided to go to Akihabara - a major shopping area for electronic, computer, anime, and otaku goods. We spent most of the time at Yodobashi-Akiba - the largest electronic store in town! After browsing the megastore, we looked for a place to eat and fortunately found Japanese Casual Dining around the corner. This is our fave restaurant when we were in Kyoto. Yey, we could have our fave yummy scallop dish again!


Full and satisfied, we walked back to the hostel taking a shorter route this time.

Day 2

I reckon a visit to Tokyo won't be complete without going to Disneyland. So off we went though we did not really plan to go inside. The big souvenir shop, the cute mickey mouse train and the view of the beautiful castle in the Disney Resort were enough to make our visit an enjoyable one.


After some picture-taking at the theme park, we proceeded to Harajuku - also a fashion capital of the world which is renowned for its unique street fashion. The main strip is full of fashion shops and fast food outlets with costume players a.k.a. cosplayers - young people dressed in a variety of styles.

At night we went to Shibuya - known as one of the fashion centers of Japan and as a major nightlife area. One of the most well-known stories concerning Shibuya is the story of Hachiko, a dog who waited on his late master at Shibuya Station every day from 1923 to 1935, eventually becoming a national celebrity for his loyalty. Now I know, this is the story behind a touching Japanese movie 'Hachiko'. However I could not remember if we ever had a chance to see it's statue beside the station.


Shibuya is famous for its scramble crossing. It stops vehicles in all directions to allow pedestrians to inundate the entire intersection. By the way, aside from getting to see Hachiko Square, one of the most famous pedestrian scrambles in the world, the purpose of our trip to Shibuya was to find Voltes V, Mazinger Z and Daimos. We went to the malls and toy shops but it seems that these characters no longer exist. We were holding their photos when a lady approached us. Haha that was funny. She advised us to go to Ikebukuro - another commercial and entertainment district of Tokyo.


To our delight, we saw Sanrio shop in Ikebukuro. Finally we found where Hello Kitty novelties are. We grabbed some souvenirs and made our way to Toys R Us. Still no sign of Voltes V.



Saturday, February 12, 2011

 

Kyoto, Japan - Day 4 & 5

November 17 - 18, 2010

Day 4
 
On our last whole day in Kyoto, we planned to do more shopping, visit Pontocho again and go to other temples that we haven't seen yet. So we went back to Shijo Kawaramachi first thing in the morning and I happily grabbed the things that I've been eyeing since day 1. As we walked in the narrow side streets, we found Nishiki Market by chance. Known as Kyoto's Kitchen, Nishiki Market is lined with shops selling fish, meat, dried goods, side dishes, yuba (dried bean curd skin), pickles, Japanese sweets, sushi, and fresh seafood and vegetables. There is a saying in Kyoto that goes "There is no kind of food that you can't find at Nishiki." We tried some goodies of course. The cleanliness in the marketplace was very impressive, you wouldn't see anything that litters the floor and the place doesn't smell like a market at all.


After walking from end to end of the market, we went to Pontocho to see it's view at daytime. It indeed is a beautiful alley.


In the afternoon we walked from the city centre towards Yasaka Shrine. Also known as Gion Shrine, it is one of the city's best known landmarks.

 

As we've been to a lot of temples in the previous days, we couldn't remember what they are called. We were advised by the owner of the inn to go to Kiyomizu Temple to see an event at night with beautiful display of lights. So we got on a bus and walked uphill only to realise that this was the same big temple that we just visited the day before.. hehe. So we did not stay any longer and just headed to Gion instead.

Gion is located just in front of Yasaka Shrine. The district was built to accommodate the needs of travellers and visitors to the shrine. It eventually evolved to become one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in all of Japan. Gion remains dotted with old-style Japanese townhouses and tea houses.


We were so craving crepe that night and that was the time that we could not find one. So we just carried on with shopping. :-)

Day 5

We bid goodbye to the owner of Chita Guest Inn, walked towards Kyoto station pulling our luggages, and bought train tickets to Tokyo. Yes we travelled on board Japan's famous bullet train. :-)


 
 


Sunday, January 30, 2011

 

Kyoto, Japan - Day 3

November 16, 2010

Day 3
 
On our way to Kyoto Station, we visited Higashi Honganji Temple, the one just opposite the hostel we were staying in.


By the way the station is just 10-minute walk from the inn. Opposite the station is the Kyoto Tower, an observation tower that stands atop Kyoto Tower Hotel.


We purchased City Bus All-Day Pass and after having breakfast at Caffe Veloce, we got on a green bus to start our journey. Our first stop was at Higashiyama area. We dropped by at a temple close to Kyoto National Museum and then proceeded to Sanjusangen-do Temple in front of the museum.

We hopped on a bus again and got off at Kiyomizu-michi. Access to the temple is a 10-minute uphill walk along Chawan-zaka (Teapot Lane). On both sides of the narrow street are handicraft, omiyage and sweet shops and food stalls. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is the largest and most famous temple in Kyoto with its massive entrance gates and huge grounds with many grand, elaborate structures built on them.

 
 
 

Our next destination was Heian Jingu Shrine in Okazaki District. The torii before the main gate is one of the largest in Japan. The beautiful colours of maple trees in the fall along the path to the shrine made our walk a pleasant and enjoyable one. We also had a short stop at The National Museum of Modern Art and other temples in the area.

 
 
 

We took a bus again and hopped out at we-did-not-know-where. At this time we did not know where we were going. We just kept on walking following the arrows pointing to different temples. We've been walking for at least 15 minutes when we found out that we were trekking the Philosopher's Path. The pleasant stone path follows a canal which is lined by hundreds of cherry trees. We continued walking all the way to Eikando (Zenrinji Temple) and fortunately reached the temple before sunset.

 
 
 

Although it was already dark and despite a not-so-short trip by bus, we still wanted to see Kyoto Imperial Palace. It might really be hard to find the palace at night so after a long walk in vain, we gave up and just went back to Shijo Kawaramachi and hit the shops. We did not stay too long though due to lack of energy. It had been a long day and my feet and body were longing to lie down. :-)

PHOTOGRAPHS