Thursday, 30 August 2012

Wednesday 22nd August, 2012
Started at the fish markets at Ueno this morning. It's a different way of doing things . . .  The fish were displayed in the open air market, covered and at least some of the time on ice - but not what you would see in Australia.
After we'd finished at the markets we went into Ueno Park to have lunch. My ability to eat ざるそば zaru soba (cold noodles) with はし hashi (chopsticks) amused some of the locals no end. One fellow stood and watched, clapped and cheered then came and sat down to talk with us.
After that we headed into the Shitamachi Museum and were treated to an おみくじ omikuji or fortune sheet.

In the middle of the park there is a lily pond with the most amazing lilies in it - they are HUGE, about the size of car tyre!
The panda at the zoo was very entertaining, though the exhibits were much smaller than what we find here in Australia. I guess that is because land is so expensive here everything has to be scaled down.

From Ueno we caught the subway to Asakusa to see the shrine and temple there. It has the most amazing avenue of shops leading up to the temple, though we didn't buy much there at all.

We sat on the edge of the Sumida River and listened to a concert from the other side of the river whilst watching the boats and eating icecream.  From Asakusa we caught the water taxi to Odaiba and went back to the onsen for dinner and a soak before heading back to our accommodation.
Tuesday 21st August, 2012
After a slow start to the day doing housekeeping things like washing and charging phones and cameras, we had lunch and headed out.

First stop was Tokyo Dome but to my dismay the rollercoaster was out of order and not running!

After that disappointement we headed over to the Kodokan (Mother School of Judo) in time to see the end of a seminar and the start of the children's session in the main dojo.  Nagai sensei was there taking the class and I said a brief hello to her from upstairs before she had to attend to the class.

We headed back to Fujisawa and Enoshima but arrived too late for the fireworks. Not to be deterred, we decided to go and take pictures of the daibutsu (big Buddha) at Kamakura at night - unfortunately the grounds are closed at night and are alarmed - good thing we saw the signs!!!!!

Not such a good day for actually 'doing' things on our list but still a good day.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Day 1: Saturday 18th August, 2012
Brad and Keiryn came to take us to the airport. Bags checked and ready to go! Transferred bags from Jetstar to Qantas in Melbourne and then we could forget about them as they were checked right through to Narita.

Sydney was a smooth transfer but not a lot of time to spare so we were soon settled and on the plane bound for Narita. The flight was uneventful, a tad boring even but not restful at all. The plane was very hot and it was hard to get comfy to sleep though I did doze.
Day Two: Arrive in Japan – Sunday 19th August, 2012
We arrived right on schedule in Narita and passed through customs without any problems. We got changed out of our warm clothes then caught the NEX into Ikebukero and left our main packs at Kimi Ryokan.

From there we caught the Yamanote Line to Harajuku. Not many cos play people there, and no bands at all to my surprise as it was a Sunday (but very hot). We did talk to two girls and a boy dressed in pink and had pictures taken with them. They were very interested in Laurie (our travelling UPS truck from America) and thought it was quite funny having pictures taken with her. I gave them some Australian omiage and received a badge back in return.
We stopped for a drink near the first tori gate. There were quite a few ladies in kimono or yukata which was interesting as it was really quite hot and humid.
We started walking up to Meiji Jingu when we were approached by a group of young people asking if we spoke English and could they be our guides.  We said yes and had the pleasure of their company for the next couple of hours. They were uni students from different universities who volunteer to guide tourists so as to practice their English. They were very knowledgeable and we had a lovely time talking to them about the shrine, Japanese customs and culture and Tasmania.
While we were there we saw one wedding. It’s very hot for weddings so getting married in August isn’t the preferred option. Last time I was here was in 2008 and there were weddings coming through about one every 15 minutes (or so it seemed).

After we left our new friends (again with Australian omiyagi) we headed down to Odaiba to the Oedo Onsen Monogatami for a bit of R & R. We found our way there without any problems and were soon relaxing in a hot bath. We decided to have a massage to iron out all the kinks which was a great idea! We were too tired to take in all the things to do so headed up to the lounge to rest (well as much as you can in a room full of giggling Japanese girls).
Day 3: Monday 20th August, 2012
We got up and bathed again (luxury as it’s so hot and we’re still quite stiff from the plane) before heading to Ikebukero to meet up with Naoko. We made an Oedo Onsen Monogatami squashed penny for Fran as she couldn’t find a magnet with the name of the place on it on the way out. We saw a neat spinning sculpture in Daiba but the photo doesn’t really do it justice.
I had just finished checking into Kimi and when Naoko arrived – perfect timing! We headed down to Fujisawa on the train, stopping one station short to take pictures of the ‘lady buddha’ on the hill.

We headed from the JR line onto the Enoden and headed out to Enoshima. We had white bait for lunch in a little restaurant along the way and talked briefly to a man and his daughter who were eating next to us.


We went to the beach but decided not to swim, it was the middle of the day and very hot but the water was really polluted with rubbish and to change, use a locker and have a cold shower was ¥1500 and to be honest the water wasn’t all that appealing. The sand is black as a result of it being volcanic, apparently the closer you get to Mt Fuji the darker the sand. It had pretty flecks of gold mica in it as well but the number of cigarette butts was amazing.

There were also hundreds of people there – not the Tassie way of going to the beach, more a Sydney sort of day at the beach. We
walked along the beach, paddling and taking pictures, with the idea being that we would then be on Enoshima Island, however there were no stairs from the beach and we were not game to risk a leg climbing the seawall at this stage of the trip so we walked back and went across the bridge instead.

We did the walking route round the island finishing up with the caves. Unfortunately the last boat departed before we were ready to leave so we had to climb back up all the stairs then walk back around the island to the bridge. The stairs looked more daunting than what they were if you broke them down into small sections.
We ran out of time so decided to go back and see the daibutsu at Kamakura the following afternoon then go to Enoshima to see the fireworks.  We then went and caught up with the Takeuchi’s and had dinner with them before catching the late train back to Ikebukero.

Monday, 6 August 2012

This blog is for my 日ホのやすみ (nihon no yasumi or Japanese holiday). I am leaving for Japan on 年2012月8日18 or the 18th August 2012