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Old 05-05-2012, 08:15 AM   #61
Aussie Wendy
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Continued

We wandered north from here and came across Oyama Shrine, built in the early Meiji period and famous for its stained-glass windows that is a fusion of Japanese and Western architecture.





Really scary looking guardians here





Some important dude on a horse with what looks like a pumpkin behind him



Mix of old and modern sculptures and a garden with bridges- finally one where you could play on them-yaay-so we did!











From here we popped out at the back of the castle. Kanazawa-jo dates from the 1580’s but the main keep and most of the buildings have been burnt and not rebuilt. They are slowly rebuilding some of the historic buildings but have no plans to rebuild the main keep. It’s built up on a high hill overlooking the town (and those snow capped mountains.) It was getting close to closing time for many of the buildings and since we had been inside Hikone and these were just rebuilds we didn’t go inside but its distinctive white tiles were impressive. It is said these are not only fireproof but if under siege, they could be melted down and cast into bullets.









How the walls are made








As we were leaving under the impressive Ishakawa-mon Gate we could see large birds of prey (eagles?) circling over the keep-quite atmospheric.





We walked back to the hotel-it was now getting on for dusk-and checked in. DD had her own single room here and we had a twin bedded room (because I had read Japanese doubles are mostly semi-doubles, for us westerners not much bigger than a single). It was small but still fitted a desk and small table and chair with the usual step-up wet room style bathroom. We loved it had an openable window so we could get fresh air in the night. This is the view.



and inside







We were also enchanted by the origami birds left on the beds-a signature of this hotel (maybe the chain?).



Dinner tonight we headed into the back streets and found a place I had read about that was recommended – a German style bar with an upstairs restaurant called Pilsen. It was great-German style timbers and beer steins (I KNOW-why didn’t I take any pics? Why haven’t I learnt by now I want all these pics when I get home??).

We sampled some beers (of course) and shared a plate of German style hot potatoes and bacon while waiting for our meals (OK I thought these as side serves might come with the meal-but anyway). As usual DH got his meal first-a very good pizza (German style??) and had finished it whilst we were waiting and waiting but when DD and I meals finally arrived piping hot they were excellent. We both got lamb chops done in some delicious creamy herby sauce and served with a small salad on the side. No pics sorry but they tasted very good. Thanks to the fizz from the beer and all those potatoes couldn’t fit in desert though they had several options I liked the sound of (and can’t remember now-see I should have learnt from Princess in Oz and took a pic of the menu as an aide to others-ah well-guess we’ll have to go back…).

Walked back through Katamachi fascinated by all these slick Japanese youth in black suits handing out “girly club” cards to all the straight-faced Japanese business men. Yes we were in the middle of the club district and guess where all the business hotels were….on the Thursday night it sounded quite lively outside at one stage but it was all perfectly safe and for sightseeing was handy to everything including a swag of great restaurants.
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Old 05-06-2012, 05:53 AM   #62
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DS is reading a series of books by Chris Bradford...The Young Samurai series and the follow up series (Ring series). It is set in 17th Century Japan, with the samurai and ninjas in the castle towns.
Just seeing your pictures reminds me of the series and how cool it would be for DS to go and see one of these towns.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-06-2012, 06:33 AM   #63
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Your DS might be too old now or the book a bit girly for him-but maybe not. All these wierd things keep happening to them including a young boy who is a ghost and we loved the samurai suit of armour that was in the corner of her host family's shop that puffed smoke-red for danger, yellow other times. The suit in the samurai house looked just how we imagined it. You could always get DS the book out of the library to see-or read it yourself-its a good read! except they are always eating delicious-sounding donuts. Which I forgot to mention-from the Mr Donut chain -and we also sampled quite a few in our 2 days!
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Old 05-06-2012, 06:29 PM   #64
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Day 9 Thurs 5 April Kanazawa

With only one full day in Kanazawa instead of the two planned had lots to fit in and knew there would be compromises. The day started off with pouring rain so we ducked up the street a few doors to the German Bakery which a local had recommended. (There was also a branch of Seattle’s best coffee in the foyer of our hotel which offered a buffet breakfast-mostly Japanese that looked OK but we didn’t feel like that). Again I so wish I had took pics because this was the best breakfast ever-we shared a mix of creamy quiche, French toast stuffed with melted ham and cheese, giant almond pastry things and something like a danish and lots of good coffee. When we came out the rain had pretty much stopped and the sky looked a bit lighter so we figured we’d risk touring the garden first.

Kenrokuen is ranked as one of Japan’s top 3 gardens. The name means “garden of the 6 sublimities” which means it has all 6 attributes in complimentary pairs-seclusion and spaciousness, artificiality and antiquity, abundant water and broad views. It is rare one garden has all 6. This was the garden of the castle and was finally finished in the Edo period. In winter the branches of the trees are tethered by ropes to prevent the heavy snow breaking them. These had been taken down by the time we were there. There were lots of examples of what we saw everywhere though- of supporting overhanging tree limbs with bamboo posts rather than letting them break off or cutting them off as we do. (We have one big limb on a tree at home I am thinking we should do this to). The water in the gardens was piped many km upstream to fill the streams and ponds before filling the castle moat-considered a feat of engineering when completed in 1632.

The garden of course featured heavily in our book Hannah’s Winter (when they visited before dawn to wake the “dragon”). Here are some pics

The Rainbow Bridge (it glows red after rain-so was pinky as it was drying out when we were there).



The Kotoji Toro (with its legs one on land, one in water) on Kasumiga-ike Pond (the biggest pond in the garden) with one of the tea houses in the background.



Karasaki Matsu, a black pine tree planted by the 13th Lord Nariyasu, with a seed brought from the shore of Lake Biwa



Gankou-bashi Bridge –made from 11 red Tomuro stones laid out to look like geese flying in formation



The Meiji monument-statue of Prince Yamato Takeru and next to it a memorial to soldiers who died in the civil war of 1877. The statue stays clean as it contains arsenic and tin so birds don’t sit on it.



Hisago-ike pond and Midori-taki Waterfall





Just a fountain but famous as the first fountain ever in a Japanese garden and operates on natural water pressure



Our most important rock in the garden, if you look carefully can you make out the shape of a dragon’s head and rocks curling round like its tail? In the book it comes to life as a dragon and flies away with the spirit of the little boy ghost but they nearly don’t make it as the evil women who wouldn’t let the little boy go free tries to stop them.





The plum grove.



After the garden we caught a flat bus to the Ume-no-Hashi Bridge over the Asanogawa River (rebuilt in the traditional style after the original one got washed away).



This led to the Higashi Cheya (Geisha) District. This area of narrow streets was established as the centre for geisha to entertain wealthy patrons. Still contains operating private chaya (tea houses) but also a lot of restored houses turned into shops and teahouses open to the public.





There were lots of tour groups here though (mostly ooing and aaing over all the gold leaf products in the speciality shops) so we crossed back over the river and wandered through the Kazue-machi Cheya, where the book was mostly set. Similar in style (but no operating tea houses I think) and even narrower lanes but an area where locals lived and worked so felt more atmospheric to us. Remnants of snow here too-at first we thought it must be ice emptied out then realised it was non melted snow.



We strolled beside the river (lots of unopened cherry blossom buds) to the Kobashi Bridge and the nearest flat route bus stop.



(There is also a tourist sightseeing bus that does a circle but it wasn’t convenient for what I wanted to do. A 500Y pass was valid all day on the circle line and all flat route buses in the inner city or flat buses were 100Y per trip). We caught it around to the station so we could buy tickets for Tokyo the next day and then as much as I would have liked to visit the Omichi market-which I figured would be like Nishiki in Kyoto, the troops were tired and just wanted 5 min noodles in a cup for lunch and a rest.

More pics of the station





It had also started raining again. So we caught the train back to the hotel. I bought a delicious salad tub and rolls from the German Bakery, the others raided the 7-11 store, and we all enjoyed an indoors lunch and nap as the rain poured down outside.

Around 3ish I stirred the pot-DD and I wanted to go back and just “see” if our ninja house was open and she wanted to go back to a store in the Nagamachi district and buy some chopsticks she had seen. (We spend half our hols doubling back somewhere ‘cos she can’t make her mind up to buy while we are there-the big Simba in the Disney store in NYC comes to mind-and we got soaked going there in pouring rain our last afternoon too!)

The rain had eased again so off we set and found the shop DD wanted. It was bitterly cold and the girls were handing out hot Japanese tea-delicious to warm us up. Purchases made we headed up into Teraamachi again and YES-the ninja temple was open and we could join the next tour just starting. There were so few tourists there was no need for reservations. It was all in Japanese but they gave us an English book to briefly explain most of what we were seeing. We also had to sign an indemnify page that said we understood the tour was totally in Japanese, would involve walking around for 45 mins with stairs, no photos, and we could not talk or translate out loud for the benefit of others as it would disturb other guests.

It was a pity we couldn’t understand it properly as I am sure the extra details were fun but it was easy to understand the gist and you could see everything of course. There were all sorts of tricks to the place-it looked small from the outside and at the time the Tokugawa shogunate prohibited the construction of buildings higher than three stories. Inside though the temple is four stories with seven layers. It has 23 rooms and 29 staircases with a stain glass window lookout right at the top from which they could signal to the castle and spy on troop movements on the plain. There was also a central well that every room practically led to. One room even had a curved bridge leading from it to make the guests at tea parties imagine they were on the banks of a river. The offertory box in the main entrance floor could be turned into a pit to catch enemies as they ran in. There was a secret room for the Lord to attend prayer in the main temple without others seeing him and a one-way mirror made out of bamboo. There were hidden passages accessed from under a floor board leading to the guard’s room, others leading to a secret room to hide in, or sliding panels that hid various exits from rooms so you could be being chased and nip behind one and nip out elsewhere behind your enemy. One set of stairs looked like solid wall from outside but really were made of paper so the shadow of your enemies legs could be seen through them and stabbed from inside as they ran up them. There was even a sepukku (ritual suicide) chamber with a one way only revolving door. Supposedly there was a secret passage to the castle under the river from the temple but it’s never been found so probably a myth.

The simple exterior of the temple



Anyway we thoroughly enjoyed the tour and were so pleased it was open. I had missed the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art which is the other thing Kanazawa is famous for and whilst we don’t like modern art all that much I wanted to just have a look-see at the unusual circular building. It was after 5 by now but we headed back through Katamachi and along a modern shopping street that had been tempting me – Tatamachi. This was a youthful shopping mall lined with teen clothing and record stores and had rock music playing out of loud speakers.



DH was sure I was getting him lost when we turned off and headed into a maze of tiny winding streets but I popped out only a little past my destination.





Parts of the art gallery and the grounds are open for free so we had a look at these – DD and I checked out the shop where looking at postcards I confirmed that I wouldn’t much care for most of the art inside.

The sinks in the art gallery-had hand dryers built in as well as automatic soap and water dispenser



We then walked back “home” collecting more Mr Donut donuts en route (forgot to say we pigged out on these yesterday too but they had such intriguing colours and shapes and we had no idea what flavour we were buying so each one was a surprise-turned out about 3 different types of consistency too. Can’t remember all the flavours we sampled now but included cherry (in a cherry blossom shape), caramel, chocolate dipped chewy chocolate, coconut, strawberry, green tea…of course we didn't take pics of any-groan.)

Dinner tonight we had to try Wonderful Burgers which had come recommended by several trip reportees and locals on other travel sites. The chef was a friendly Lebanese Italian who loved to travel and had worked everywhere including Melbourne. It was great ‘cos he could tell us what everything was (there was a picture menu but that doesn’t give away a lot) and what we might like to try. We ended up DH with-no surprise here- yet another spaghetti bolognaise, and DD and I ended up getting the same-a Japanese vegetable curry that came with a side salad of lettuce and sweet spicy red things and rice. It was SOO good.





The flavours were just brilliant without the heat that you get in an Indian or Thai curry which neither of us can tolerate (our mouths can and like the taste but we are both allergic to chilli). We only ate a little of the red stuff (that chilli allergy fear) but they were very sweet. Our chef told us how everything is grown on the owner’s farms and the pasta etc all hand made. We wished we had had time to try their burgers too as all their buns were home baked. The store was struggling though to compete with the new McDonalds that had opened a few doors up the street where all the Japanese youth now go to and which was a bit cheaper. So if you are in Kanazawa (and they are still open) you have to have your burgers (or their excellent other dishes) at Wonderful Burgers!

From here it was time to head home and reluctantly pack-the town being smaller I guess, it had a nice welcoming feel to it. It would have been nice to have had more time just to wander and explore the winding streets, the temples, the many museums of local arts and crafts (we didn’t get time/energy to fit one in) and the little cafes and restaurants. Outside was noisier tonight-those business men playing up but with the window shut we couldn’t hear a thing and slept like babes in the wood til our alarm woke us.
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:13 AM   #65
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Day 10 Friday 6 April Off to Tokyo

The train left at 9.15 on time-it was a rapid train to Echigo-Yuzawa and then a change to the shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo. Compared to our trip to Kanazawa the train was half empty and very quiet. The hostesses walked up and down the aisles with carts of food in smart grey outfits. Like the ticket collectors they bow to the passengers as they enter and leave-so polite.

The train travelled along by the sea shore for the first part of the trip-with pine trees it looked like a beach in Aus.





Views of fields from the opposite side of the train



Then we went through the tunnels and popped out in the mountains with villages buried in snow up to their first floors and cold looking mountain streams.













It was freezing at Echigo-Yuzawa. On the bullet train, once we passed through the tunnels, we popped out into very dry looking eastern plains and towns that blurred into suburbs very quickly.

The bullet train



Hopped off at Ueno station and found it quite easy to get a Suica card and catch the JR Yamanote line around to Ikebukuro-but turned out we didn’t need to pay extra for that leg as the change was included with the original ticket.

Advertising cherry blossom season in Ikebukuro



A friendly owl sculpture in the station



The hotel, the B Ikebukuro, was just a very short walk from the station as I had read and they let us check in though it was only 2.30 (though whilst they were checking us in and getting keys they kept saying check in is not til 3 which was a tad confusing). The triple room was tiny (as we had read)-3 beds pushed together but we could manage and the usual high tech bathroom.

A view borrowed off the net



An untidy view during our stay



We headed out for a late lunch walking towards Sunshine City. Ikebukuro is becoming another hotspot for electronics and anime fans and the station is the second busiest next to Shinjuku. As well as the shopping malls, there is a skyscraper with an observation deck, aquarium, planetarium, Egyptian Museum, indoor theme park by Namco, convention centre etc. (We only stumbled across the shops and observation deck entry lifts).

Had a feed of pizza in a pizza place (guess what-we chose somewhere that didn’t have an English menu-again! So we didn’t quite get what we wanted despite DD’s interpretation of the katakana but it was good and was eaten before I had time to take the camera out -of course. Not very cheesy but cheese is expensive in Japan but tasty).

Then we spent the afternoon getting lost in the shops. Did find an English map which was very helpful. I adored Tokyu Hands-a homewares store on 7 levels full of stationary, kitchenware, bathroom supplies, cushions, linen, scrapbook and craft supplies, you name it. The top floor also had a cat house-where you pay to spend an hour patting cats (because the animal lovers in Tokyo apartments often can’t have their own). DD and I were very tempted but DH just rolled his eyes so we refrained. We probably spent over an hour in the store and hardly scratched the surface.

A fountain inside the main mall



We also spent time in the Disney store (of course), and Daiso (which is a 200Y store-with a great range of stuff like our Bargain Plus), Passport which also sells homewares like cheap but stylish cups, bowls, cutlery, towels etc. They had bento box themes cushions which were cute. Also a sweet shop selling lots of bizarre sweets and Moe (or it might have been Mono) that sold all the Studio Ghibli merchandise (Totoro, Catbus, the witches cat-in plush, porcelain, garden statues, linen-you name it ). We also came across Lush, the Body Shop,Toys R Us – ran out of time to go into any of the clothing stores! We headed home quite late via a 7-11 for a snacky type late dinner. Can’t find a Lawsons anywhere near here-sob- as that was our favourite convenience store for snack goods.

We were too tired to battle the crowds and head to Roppongi as I had planned. As dusk fell Ikebukuro got very busy with 100’s of teens and twenty-somethings thronging the area. DH ducked into a couple of electronic shops trying to get a USB ethernet adapter for his Macbook (as his doesn't have an ethernet slot) so we could plug it into the free internet cable in the room. Eventually found it after about our 5th attempt and wandering around floor after floor in shop after shop gazing at 100's of electronic cables and paid about the same as we would in Aus. so finally we could reconnect with the world after a break in Kanazawa! (where we needed the same thing but couldn't be bothered trying to find a store to buy one).
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:31 AM   #66
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Day 11 Saturday 7 April Cherry Blossoms!

Slept quite well though the room got stuffy (we had turned the air con right down but it seemed to switch itself off in the night) and the pillows were very hard-the hardest to date. Breakfast was included here, served in the 2nd floor bar that is an izakaya (Japanese bar and grill where you get small plates to accompany your drinks) at night.

It was heavily Japanese orientated –a bewildering array of miso soup, pasta, curries, rice, salads and condiments and toppings to accompany your meal-much more exciting than our western food. Also had brewed coffee, teas, juices, tinned fruit, yoghurt, cereal, toast, croissants, a revolting looking runny scrambled egg mess, tiny saveloy sausages, hot chips and cold hard-boiled eggs (from the Japanese group) so plenty to find something to keep you going. I loved the signage e.g. ‘deserts’ (for breakfast!)





I had read up on what was happening with cherry blossoms and those in Ueno Park were predicted to be out in full this weekend so that was stop one for the day. When we got there via the JR Yamanote line we were so pleased we came here first as already it was starting to get very busy and the food stalls were starting to do a roaring trade-unfortunately we were too full from breaky.

Got some nice cherry blossom pics.











Looking across the lake at the rows of blossom





Food stalls





The swan boats on the lake are very sweet





Love the different colours







They even grow on the trunk

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Old 05-10-2012, 07:43 AM   #67
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Wendy - Those blossoms are just gorgeous. Your TR is amazing and your pictures show me the Japan that I have not yet dreamed of seeing. I'm going to have to move Japan up the bucket list.
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:01 AM   #68
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Continued last post

Then we caught a subway over to Ryogogu to go to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. This is a folk museum which is our favourite type of museum. The building itself is modelled after a traditional Japanese rice storehouse on stilts.



This contrast of old and new took our eye



You go up an incredibly long and high escalater to get to the 6th and 5th floors where the permanent displays are. It had lots of models of Tokyo in the Edo period – including the castle and city very intricately detailed; they even had binoculars so you could look at individual characters close up-very cool. There was a replica of the Nihonbashi Bridge and the façade of a Kabuki Theatre, full size replica houses from the Edo period, westernisation under the Meiji, the impact of the Kanto earthquake and the war, which brought home the devestation that was wrecked on ordinary people's lives and included bits of US bombs etc.

The entry



The entry bridge (replica Nihonbashi)



Close up of the (I presume) emperor



The Kabuki theatre



Painted screens



Models







A replica Edo home. The woman has just given birth and has to sit up awake for some incredible length of time which resulted in a higher death rate but I can't remember the superstition why.



The Kabuki costumes



There were also lots of things you could play on.





We enjoyed a couple of hours before heading back to the metro and catching it to Asakusa. Had to change stations and found this involved a walk along several streets between the different lines so popped in to a 7-11 en route and bought sandwiches and crisps for a picnic lunch-planned for by the river. However when we arrived guess what- hanami was on and it was PACKED!



We crossed the bridge to the side of the river away from the blossoms and joined several locals sitting in the sun-til the sun went in and it turned cold then we headed back across to go and see Sensoji Temple.





The new Sky Tree and Flamme d'Or (or Golden Turd) as it is known- a Philipe Starck installation on the Asahi brewing factory).



Seeing the crowds visiting Sensoji was not to be either-the approach was crammed so we decided to pass it up this visit.



We fought our way back to a metro station and since it was “going past” hopped off in Ginza. They close the main road here on weekends so it was nice strolling along in a very uncrowded area admiring the posh shops. Spent far too long in Hakuhinkan Toy Park (4 stories toy store) that Diser Lurkyloo had recommended and bought myself a small Totoro.



Tired now caught the next metro we came across back to Ikebukuro for a rest.

Tonight planned to have a look at the bright lights and craziness of Shibuya and its infamous crossing. First we had dinner at Beckers which was right by Ikebukuro station and handy. Very nice meal. I wasn’t very hungry so just had a noodly soup and spring rolls, DD finally got her teriyaki and rice she had been craving and DH got a very good burger that came with rice and veg. It was all very good though we had to sit apart as the place was so packed.

Then it was easy to catch the JR line around to Shibuya. Joined the masses taking pics of everyone crossing the infamous crossing -you can see the Starbucks that everyone recommends to take a picture from in the following pic.





Found the statue of Hachiko (a faithful dog that would wait at Shibuya Station for his master, a professor at Tokyo University, to return home in 1920’s. Long after his master died, the loyal Hachiko continued to wait for his master every day at the station. In 1948 they erected a statue of him.)





We explored Centre-gai- a busy street leading from the crossing and found some more great stores like a French homewares store-drool but no space to bring anything home.

A view of Centre-Gai



We called it a night quite early as the go go go on this trip had started to wear us down. The hotel has free coffee in the foyer you can help yourself to as well as tea making facilities in your room so with beverages and biccies to tuck us in we were happy.
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Old 05-13-2012, 02:20 AM   #69
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Have just found your TR Aussie Wendy.

Have absolutely loved reading about your travels so far! I have been wanting to go to Japan for so long. We are planning a December trip, was going to be Anaheim, the last couple of weeks was thinking of Hawaii instead, but have just looked at GC to Tokyo flights with Jetstar in December and they are just over $200 one way, so that's just over $400 return.

I'm looking at how cold it was for you and December would be very cold I think, but we are used to travelling to Europe at that time of year, so I expect Japan would not be any colder (-15).

If I decide to go the Japan direction (which I will do eventually), I'll be asking for your advise. It will just be DS and I and I get nervous travelling sometimes on my own somewhere that I am not familiar with and Japan will be the first place I've travelled with him that I have not been to before.

Anyway looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:02 AM   #70
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Welcome aboard. I have frequently lurked on your reports or discussions you have been in! Yes the flights have been so cheap to Japan thats what encouraged us and we had some great experiences. As you can gather there was a few moments when the language defeated us or frustrated us but nothing too dire. I wouldn't like to have winged it with no research or advice though-Lurkyloo's report on the boards is tops for info.

Travelling around is very easy other than knowing weather may disrupt your travel plans and within cities the bus/metro etc links are easy to use especially if you have used any others overseas. Food was excellent as I said.

Happy to give you the benefit of our experiences if you decide to go. I presume the cold would be the main thing that time of year, as you say, I imaigne no worse than the East side of the US or parts of Europe. DisneySea was unreal-Very Disneyish but an all new experience! Disneyland was very similar to Anaheim I felt bar a few rides (and that lovely bigger castle-sorry I like the WDW castle over DL). I have to double back and fix my pics from those days though-size all over the place as I worked out what I was doing in Photobucket.
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Old 05-13-2012, 10:46 PM   #71
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Sun 12 April Tokyo then off to Disney Resort

Another delish breaky after another hot stuffy night and we checked out of the hotel and left our bags in storage with the reception desk while we went exploring. We headed first to Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine.

Entry is via two huge torii and between the second torii and the shrine itself was an interesting series of murals explaining the life of the Emperor Meiji (who opened Japan up to the west) and whose “soul” is enshrined here along with his wife.

Torii no. 1



Torii no 2



It is surrounded by forest planted when they built the shrine so lovely and cool and quiet compared to the hustle of Sensoji yesterday. Also along the way are sake barrels (sake is drank during Shinto festivals and ceremonies) and wine barrels from France (as explained in the pic below).









At the shrine, which was similar to many we had seen in Kyoto, we also saw part of a wedding with the bride in white and the groom in black in procession with the priests (and photographers keeping the tourists well out of the way).









We walked a path through the woods back to the entrance-no sign of the Cosplay kids that used to hang here (but we had read they don’t much anymore) but the station was now packed. We walked up hustling Take****a-dori – teen central with a mix of shops selling lots of frothy girly clothes, American T’s and hoodies (very expensive), one or two goth-type clothing stores and stores selling crepes rolled up like an icecream cone and stuffed with huge blocks of cheesecake and various flavourings and cream or icecream. They looked incredibly good but sickly.
Here is a pic of one off the internet.



Take****o-dori



This is what I ended up getting (one without the cheesecake just icecream and banana and caramel syrup)-they are SOOO good and I could easily become addicted– I have since learnt these are an institution in Japan and there is one of a chain opened up in Sydney that sells them!



We popped out the other end of Take****a-dori and walked up to Ometo-Sando with its posh shops. DH was a bit under the weather today-I blame him for eating those yucky looking scrambled eggs - so we only walked a short way up the road til the next metro station. DD and I explored Oriental Bazaar but restrained ourselves from buying.





DH was recovering as the day wore on so we hopped out at Tokyo station and had a look at the Imperial Palace from the park. We had seen enough gardens not to want to wander the Imperial East Gardens so satisfied ourselves with a view of the palace walls and gate then went back to the station to buy lunch.

Motor cyclist trials on the road through the big grassy park that borders the Imperial Palace itself



The Imperial Palace



and its moat







A park nearby



The station is undergoing renovation and I suspect even more confusing than it normally is.



We found our way to the Yaesu side and Daimaru department store for nice loos (very hot seats) and a browse in its stunning basement food hall. DD took a couple of pics but they are on her mobile phone and not on the computer yet. Armed with Bento boxes and a light sandwich for DH we hunted for somewhere to sit. I knew this would be a problem-DH spied a way outside-I am sure it was for workers not tourists-as we exited into a service alley. As we snuck beside a posh hotel the concierge saw us eyeing the seating potential of the edge of a flower box and bore down on us (it faced a service alley for goodness sake) so we kept going-and found some nice seats in the sun once we had exited the area and crossed the road-right near a statue of Prometheus.



The Bento box was very good though some components would have been nice heated up.



Lunch over it was back to the hotel to collect our bags and be on our way to Disney!!
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:17 PM   #72
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WOW! With every post, I keep wanting to jump on a plane and head on over! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:38 PM   #73
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Sunday continued

We avoided the staircase of hell and tunnel of doom by catching the metro Yurakucho line direct from Ikebukuro all the way to the Shin Kiba (the last station) and then changing to the JR Keiyo line for just one stop to Maihama (¥380 all up)and then caught the Disney monorail to Bayside. We were staying at a Disney partner hotel, the Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay having got a good deal on wotif.com (our first experience of using wotif for an international booking).

We were given a room overlooking the parks-here’s the view.

Looking straight out towards DisneySea



Looking left towards Disneyland and an empty carpark



A close up of the castle



Here is the room (BattyMum I found the pic!)



Though there were only 3 of us they had added an additional single bed into the double-bedded room but after the small Japanese rooms the room, even with this, felt massive! DD lay on the single and declared it incredibly hard so she was pleased she could have a normal bed to herself. These were very comfortable.

Back down to the lobby to explore-there was a nice outside pool area and a row of shops including a Disney store with lots of “wantables” in it.

The pool area and chapel viewed from inside looking over the Grand Cafe



The water features in the lobby



The flower garden



From the lift showing how close the hotel is to the bay



The front of the hotel with the Disney Resort liner (we never needed to use this as the monorail is right opposite the hotel)



The Disney counter didn’t accept credit cards and as paying cash might leave us short and seemed no point taking more out this late in the holiday, we decided we’d buy the tickets from the Ticket Centre at Ikspiari.

We went outside for a closer look at the pool and the chapel which had a wedding happening and exploring further around the back through the gardens, we spied the road and the sea wall. So we crossed and walked down to a spot where we could walk up and look out at the windswept bay. Just further down you could see the back side of DisneySea and the SS Columbia and the Tower of Terror so we walked down to have a look – loved the detail even on this, the “away” side. You could see the monorail tracks passed by.

The back of the hotel



The bay





Recognise these?



Closer





By now we were at the corner and figured we’d come this far we may as well keep going rather than going all the way back to the hotel only to retrace our steps on the monorail. In retrospect probably not but it was a nice evening for a walk and we soon reached the Ambassador Hotel and cut through checking out the décor to Ikspiari.

Some statue we passed en route-looked like entry to something now defunct.



A short cut between Ambassador Hotel and Ikispiari garden level



Possibly Clock Tower Plaza (this was before we picked up a map)



In the Garden site by the Lily Pond





Ikspiari was bigger than I imagined from descriptions I had read but we never did get a chance to look through it properly. We secured our 2 day passes (with a credit card) and by now ravenous, decided to eat next door at Ikspiari Kitchen which is a food court with different eateries side by side. These included Japanese curries and stirfries, Mexican, hamburgers, etc. You secure a table then go and order.





DD and I ended up choosing chicken stir-fry noodles cooked while we watched and DH got a hamburger and vegetables that came in a sizzling skillet. Again I liked the fact there was soap and water provided to wash your hands near the utensil dispenser and ice cold water and cups to serve yourself.

DH burger



Stirfry noodles with very hot ginger and shallots on the side



continued next post
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Old 05-13-2012, 11:41 PM   #74
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Rather than linger and shop we wanted to get back to watch the fireworks from our balcony figuring we’d have the perfect view so we picked up some breakfast supplies from the supermarket opposite (Seijo Ishii) and a bakery (possibly Piaria) that had delicious cakes and quiches and caught the monorail, regretting we hadn’t bought a 3 day pass this afternoon. Snuggled in waiting with tea and chocolate we watched the volcano erupt and guessed what was happening with Fantasmic as lights strobed and the music played





Love the full moon in this shot



and another more blurry



but then…what no fireworks. Nup-it was a windy night and we presume they were cancelled. Rather disappointed-how often do we get a room with a view! We hit the sack ready for our big day at DisneySea tomorrow.

And since that was where I started, this is where I end. Great trip full of lots of new experiences. We feel our next visit would be much easier as we know our way around things now but that's always the way venturing to a country for the first time. To conclude the symobl of our spring holiday: a cherry blossom

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Old 05-14-2012, 12:40 AM   #75
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Thank you so much for sharing your experience! It has made Japan go up a few notches in my list of places to visit
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