More Trips

China4 April 18

Japan7 October 17

Taiwan4 March 17

Japan6 October 16

Europe May 16

Japan5 November 15

Korea2 March 15

Even More Trips

HongJapWan March 2014
Sichuan March 2013
Tokyo3 October 2012
China2 August 2012
Japwan March 2012
China November 2011
Korea September 2011
Taiwan March 2011
London3 June 2010
Japan May 2010
London2 February 2010
London September 2009
SE Asia December 2005

I flew all the way to Tokyo and back for the weekend - Page 1

Day 1 - Thursday, 25 October 2012

Hard at work

I am going to Tokyo for the weekend.
Actually for 4 days and 3 nights with overnight flights to get there and back again either side.
The reasons for my quick visit are top secret, keep an eye on new bulletins sometime Sunday.

Because I am leaving late Thursday and back again on Tuesday morning, I am going straight from my Sydney office to the airport.
This requires some careful planning and coordination, not least of which is to hack the work firewall to allow FTP uploads of what I am typing right now.

One challenge I have set myself for the 4 days, no photos of food. Too many people complained I just take boring food photos, so instead I will describe food textually in great detail and you get no photos. A picture is worth a thousand words, prepare yourself.

A rare photo indeed. Its me, at my desk, at work, pretending to work (not such a rare site for those that work here).

The view out of the office window. Its dissapointing, rather uninspiring sea front and small cheap looking boats.

The view out the other window has the Sydney harbour bridge and yet more boats. Seems to be quite a few fires threatening the city right now hence the smoky photo. Probably best I leave for earthquakes and radiation to escape imminent threat of bushfire.

I like airports

I hung out at work not working for as long as I could but still managed to get to the airport many hours early.
The lady at the first class check in area which is actually a closed off little lounge appeared to be asleep. I decided to stand there really quietly and glare at her.
After what seemed like 2 minutes she saw me out of the corner of her half closed eyes and woke with a shock, telling me shes been waiting for an hour for a customer.

Surprisingly theres only one Qantas flight that leaves Sydney in the evening, the one I am on to Narita, so the Qantas check in area and lounge was all but abandoned.

In the lounge I had dinner, and it was great, pork belly with some lemon oil thing and extra greens. It came with rice too which I did not eat. The pork belly had some shaved chilli on it and was cooked superbly. The best meal I have had yet in the lounge, no pictures though!

Tomorrow I will actually have things to say about Tokyo probably, but it wont be until late as I cant check in to my hotel until 4pm Australian time. Until then I will be wandering around like a zombie terrifying Japanese salary men with my unshaven face and hair which after 10 hours on a plane with 0% humidity will render me looking like Yahoo Serious. Long sentence is long.

The view out the window at dusk. Uninspiring perhaps, unless you like planes. Even then theres not much interesting to see.

The great benefits of being a platinum frequent flyer, you can use the restaurant, day spa and showers. I enjoyed my 30 minute shower a lot.
If you hate cleaning your bathroom at home spare a thought for the ladies whos job it is to fully clean every room after each person uses it. They must do it 50 times a day each.

Theres a first time for everything, I thought. I sat down in front of an apple computer. Having never used one before. Except it was running Windows 7. I hate the keyboard too, and the scroll thing on the mouse was useless. I took out my laptop instead.

This is my plane. An ageing 747 which is probably the one that half blew up near Manila a couple of years ago. Apparently Qantas is so poor now that they have to cease operations as an international airline and let Dubai run it for them. It will be hugely annoying in the future to have to fly to Dubai first to go to Tokyo. Even more so when they cease operations as a domestic carrier too and outsource that to Emirates, Adelaide to Sydney via Dubai every Monday.

There are currently 3 comments - click to add

grubule on 2012-10-28 said:

moar fooods

David on 2012-10-26 said:

due to popular demand, I will again take food photos!

I already really wanted to today.

Krystle on 2012-10-25 said:

Shame you're not taking food photos, they're good!

Day 2 - Friday, 26 October 2012

Japanese girls and make up

I managed to sleep for much of the flight! Quite an achievement. After my massive meal in the lounge before the flight I turned down the crap they serve on board.
I had a spare seat next to me which is good for arm room, put my seat back no more than an inch and probably slept for at least 4 hours.
Having been in first class once, business class many times, premium economy and economy, I find that the cost of the seat ($400 through to $4000 for the same flight!) makes little or no difference to the amount of sleep I might get on a plane.

Nothing of great interest happened on the flight, I didnt even watch the movies, the people around me did nothing hilarious, the pilots were all matter of fact in their announcements, Mothra did not make an appearance.

Once on the ground, right on time at 6AM, I was the first to get to the customs counter (should have mentioned last night I was actually first to board too).
After the usual photo and fingerprints the lady told me, you must love coming to Japan, I hope you continue to keep coming back. Which was nice. Its better than, 'Why do you keep coming here, are you drug dealer man???'.

The downside of Tokyo is the airport is 90 minutes to 2 hours from town depending on traffic. Today was 2 hours. Its not a big deal since I got the 6:45AM bus, but if you had to come here regulary for work or something, it would be annoying.

The bus ride was a real treat. I have taken the same bus before with maybe 3 other people. Today it was 100% full, and mainly full of young girls.
Time to observe the peculiar behaviours of Japanese girls preparing themselves for school / work then.
For all of them, this took the entire journey, and they all had multiple tools. I am not joking some of them wet sanded their faces. They had spray bottles and sand paper. The girl sitting next to me had tweezers for her eye brows that seemed to have lasers in them.
Another one mixed multiple pastes together before applying them, like a mad chemist. Many of them glued on eyelashes, and then set to work with a curler thing that looks like a gynaecologists tool.
Finally so much hair spray was applied I think the air in the bus became flamable.

Once off the bus, and covered in skin particles of young girls, I thought it would be quite a long walk, with bags, to my hotel. It was only about 10 minutes and I had no problem finding it. Of course I cant check in yet but it looks nice enough and they are happy to keep my bags.
Due to my excellent sleeping skills I dont feel tired, but decided to take it easy anyway, much coffee was involved.

The rising sun rising over my plane in the land of the rising sun.

Here I am, in Japan, standing in front of a cat cafe, which is guarded by a giant pink cat.
This area, called Odaiba which is an island of reclaimed tsunami bait land, has many themed areas, for kids, pets, and Toyota.

You come over this big bridge on a monorail to get here. I have been before but that time foolishly went on a Monday when everything is shut. Insted on that day 2.5 or so years ago I answered an important work phone call involving consultants from France, which cost a fortune, which I got in trouble for, and paid back! Which was bullshit let me tell you. Todays visit had no such issues.

I have not seen these in australia yet. Scooter / bike hybrid. Be the first to import them and get rich.

As I said, the areas of this island are themed, we are very much in kids land, with lego world, a sega world and lots of teddy bear stores etc. So clearly a condom shop is needed. Complete with halloween themed condoms, trick or ?

Yeah! What? Still in kid land. I have no idea why this poster is here!

Just because its a short holiday, no need to skip the traditional ferris wheel ride.

The far side of the island is a port as you can see. The whole area is about 3 inches above sea level. What could possibly go wrong?

I wasnt concerned. I was unshaven and my hair has become so dry from the long flight, and hair spray fallout from earlier that I was frightened to touch it in case chunks cracked off. Ok enough hair news.

A couple more photos from the ferris wheel

last one.

As I mentioned above, theres also Toyota world. At first this is just a rather weak Toyota showroom (although it does have a test course the public can use). However they have a great museum! Its not just Toyota cars either.
I like all of these cars for their mirror placement.

Theres also a massive collection of model cars, grouped by make. Downstairs thers a heap of Toyota F1 bits and pieces too. Its also free. I spent an hour here with the place largely to myself.

Then I spotted a giant Gundam flying robot thing. Which had many people excited.

So excited in fact, that they have grown a flower version of a robot death machine!

The real Otaku?

Otaku is the Japanese term for people with obsessive interests. In Western culture its nerds. But in Japan its cool. In modern culture Otaku could just be called JAPAN! As when we think of Japan we think of crazy Japanese things which the Japenese themselves call Otaku (confused yet?). An easier way to think of it - toys for people who are too old to play with toys.
Akihabarababrabrbabrabara is where most people go to when they want to see this. I read that the Nakano Broadway is the real centre of Otaku in Tokyo.

As is my style, I walked there, its only about an hour each way from my hotel, it goes through some up market but not new suburbs, which have real supermarkets and fruit shops. Quite unlike anything I have seen in Tokyo previously.
Once at Nakano its like mini Shinjuku.

The Broadway itself is an undercover walkway. Of course its not Otaku enough to be at ground level, you have to go up various nonsensical stair cases to get to where the cool/nerdy kids are. Follow anyone with an inexplicably large back pack. What do these guys need to carry around with them everywhere? Its the same in Australia actually.

The 3 upstairs floors are a maze of record stores, comic stores, dvd stores, maid cafes and pretty much the same as Akihabara but smaller stores and no brand name chain stores. I guess thats what makes it more authentic.
Some of the stores have done things like this one to stand out from the crowd. However Den-Den town in Osaka, which I visited in February is a lot more exciting!

One store I found excellent, and unique to Japan (I know theres one in Osaka too) is this place, which sells among other things, second hand in ear monitors. You wouldnt hear of this in Australia for health reasons.

Away from the broadway is the regular narrow laneways with interesting restaurants. Many of them are quite un inviting, you cant see in them. I find this strange and it prevails across Japan.

I eventually decided on a place, having not much idea what was inside. Despite being a fairly nice looking restaurant, you still order via a ticket issuing machine. Thankfully this one has pictures and its very easy.
These machines are very popular in Japan. My theory is employees who handle cash are entitled to a higher pay rate, so the owners of such stores installed a machine instead.

My dinner is Japanese style curry with a rice filled omelette. It was quite good, but not spicy enough. I was longing for the curry I had in Kobe. The amount of bowing going on in the store was ridiculous, they chased me down the street bowing when I left, probably making fun of me!

Back in Shinjuku now and its Friday night and packed out. The red light district of Kabuchiko is my route home, its amusing to see all the Yakuza boys who run the place in their suits and fancy shoes. They mostly have funny hair styles with blonde streaks and long fringes that make them look like Duran Duran at their peak.
Despite them looking like a gay boy band, I dare not take their photo!

My hotel room is small. Really small. Its also $65. It has everything I could need and really fast internet. The bed seems excellent. Its the second smallest hotel room I have been in (London Kings Cross wins that prize).
But when I think about it, why would I need any bigger just for me? Sydney needs rooms like this for $65. I would stay in one every week.

The bathroom doesnt really have anywhere to keep all my beauty products. It takes a lot of effort to present myself as spectacularly as I do.

Finally, I have banned chocolate from this trip. So I bought a dessert cup from 7/11. Its red bean with glutinous rice balls and cream. I could do without the cream but other than that, fantastic!
The sad part - I forgot to get a spoon from the convenience store, and my room doesnt even have a tea spoon. What to do. I assumed my best Macgyver and used the end of the disposable tooth brush Qantas gave out on the plane which I hadnt used yet. It worked and made me eat it slower and enjoy it more.

There are currently 2 comments - click to add

Fi on 2012-10-28 said:

Are you implying that Duran Duran were gay??!

nhk fan on 2012-10-26 said:

guess who has a satellite dish on her roof and is currently watching NHK!
Nice executive look in first photo

Day 3 - Saturday, 27 October 2012

Trains and temples

Today I took a full day trip which took in 3 different cities linked by a tram in Kanagawa prefecture.
Fujiwara - a relatively large modern city
Enoshima - a beach side surfer town with an island linked by a causeway
Kamakura - a city full of temples and shrines.

I bought the Odakyu sightseeing ticket for about $14 which covers the one hour fast train each way to get there, then unlimited use of the tram in the area, great value I think.

I took a lot of photos, so I will try and tell amusing stories there instead.

I got on the wrong train at first. But leapt off just in time. I assumed that the train which came to my platform 3 minutes before the departure time would be the one I should be on. Of course 3 minutes is far too long for a train to remain at the terminating station, its not like the driver runs up the other end, Japan is far too efficient and has another driver waiting up the end of the platform so as not to waste any time at all.

The sign is all in Japanese in this otherwise very modern station which is owned by a department store (who owns all the stations and lines I am using today).

After transferring to the tram, which are very much like the Adelaide trams of old, my first stop was Enoshima. These birds were here to greet me. Hundreds of people took this same photo so why cant I?
The grandma that knitted their outfits must be very proud.

Looking away from the ocean, its a kind of fishing town, but as you will see its much more about surfing of every kind.

I followed this marching recorder ensemble from the station to the sea. I have no idea why they think its a good instrument to learn. Be aware, as soon as you leave primary school you will never see a recorder again!

The causeway across to the island. Its sort of like Granite island near Victor Harbour in South Australia, only a lot more upmarket.

Once across the causeway theres the old village style street. Selling mainly things from the sea on sticks, and some kind of wafer thin sugar thing in sheets as big as A3 paper that people were lining up for ages to buy. It gets a swirly colored effect on it, ensuring that kids not only get a hit from pure sugar but the ADD causing multiple food colorings as well.

Towards the top of the hill you climb a lot of steps. But theres a pay escalator hidden in the hill to haul your fat lazy ass up there. Hence the steps are relatively person free.

Once on the top the temple is unimpressive. There are many temples all over the island, and bells and statues. But I must be all templed out because they didnt seem impressive to me.

Looking back at the mainland, apparently on a clear day mount fuji is very visible and towers over everything. Where the hell is it then? I looked and looked. I saw photos of it around the place, towering over the beaches. I think these are photoshops or taken with the hubble space telescope.

Once on the far side of the island you can look out at the pacific ocean, next stop pearl harbour. Then onto America! On the way here the train stopped at a station called Yamato too.

There are many statues around the place like this. I think they are fishing gods.

The island also has literally hundreds of cats. And people love them. Theres photos of them with presumably the cats names printed on them stuck up all over the place, even on trees. They all seem well fed and pretty happy with themselves. This isnt the last cat photo today, and I took one yesterday, pressures on tomorrow!

Back on the mainland, and look at these ridiculous surfers. They all have the gear, but theres no surf at all, yet they sit out there and hope. The windsurfers are having a slightly better time but theres not much wind either. The only guys really enjoying themselves were on jet skis. You can rent canoes and go all the way around the island too.

Tsunamis are a serious concern. Although I suspect the signs are all new!

This is the tourist trap nightmare street in Kamakura. The place was crawling with Gaijan. Theres a JR station here so every white person with the train pass comes here. It is however a really nice place so its justified.

The main street is full of day spas, galleries, boutiques. This is one of the great benefits of travelling alone. I bought a pepsi from a vending machine for $1. No handbags were purchased.

The main shrine, whos name I forget, is also really touristy. I dont think these guys are real samurai and I also think their armour is made of plastic.

The path to the shrine, inside the 'world heritage area' has many stalls selling crap. A bit surprising for Japan.

Some more steps for me to run up 3 at a time. Once at the top you can pay some money to go in and pray. I didnt. And if I were religious I think I would find that offensive.

The view back down and along the main street was impressive. But too bright to capture properly.

And then someone decided to get married here. 2 guys led the procession, playing recorders! So I was wrong earlier, it seems Japan has a market for wedding recorderists.
I dont know how they managed it, but as the party approached the temple itself, a thousand or so pigeons took off simultaneously and flew directly down the path. This had people oohing and aahing, like it was somehow planned?
I dont know one way or the other. The risk of having everyone in the bridal party crapped on by a pigeon was high!

Nearby and heres another cat. Only this one is on a leash and dressed up. I asked its crazy catwoman owner if I could take a photo, she was very proud, but would not be in it herself. I asked if the cat likes walking around like this, and she said it does, much more so than in Tokyo where we came from today.
I asked how she got here? Train. So basically shes bought her cat all the way here on the train because it enjoys walking on a leash.

I nearly forgot to take a photo of myself. Walking back to the tram stop along the back streets I found this abandoned temple. Theres so many of them here I guess they lose interest in a few.

Japan is really into halloween. Every house, shop, train etc. is dressed up in pumpkins and cobwebs and whatever. Perhaps Australia is the last place on earth that ignores it completely. In Kamakura someones decided to dress up the tram line thing that stops the tram from running off the end of the tracks.

Todays day trip was one of the best ever. In summer it would be a great place, theres a lot of beaches and it has a wealthy small town feel all along the many towns that sort of join together along the beach.
The tram runs along the beach front and I saw lots going on, including car boot sales, food markets, skateboarding competitions and hang gliding just to name a few. For the $15 price its a great day out, I could have spent a lot more time here.

No cranes

Tonight I headed north, to Ikebekuro, had dinner, and came back via Takadanobaba. How are you going with the pronounciations?
For a while I thought I had strayed onto the wrong side of the tracks, except all the houses and buildings were nice. I kept seeing people bleeding and with black eyes.
Eventually I figured out they were all going to Halloween parties.

Something else I have noticed, there is no construction of any kind in Tokyo going on. At all. I havent seen a single crane.
Now this is a relief to the tourist whos recently been to China where everythings a crane, roads are holes in the ground and dust is inches thick whilst the entire country is one giant construction site. But is this actually good for Japan?
I know they have an ageing population, and a recent tsunami to deal with, but I wonder if in 20 years it will be all falling to pieces. Many of the building despite the constant polishing they receive are starting to look dated, with very few new buildings (except the sky tree which isnt a building at all) to be seen.
With deflation and interest rates at 0.1% theres really not much that can be done to fix the economy. Everyone seems happy enough and theres plenty of life in the streets, for now!

One of my great pleasures is to walk along a road in a foreign country at night, not really knowing where you are or where you are going. Once I spotted the neon I knew I was somewhere.

I found a Chinese place for dinner and had one of my favourites, Mapo Tofu. I also have now discovered 3 times that Japanese people do not speak Chinese. The first two times because I forgot, and spoke Chinese out of habit at convenience stores.
I can tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese people on appearance alone, so its just a matter of being in another country, better speak the only foreign language I have a basic understanding of.
In the Chinese restaurant I did it on purpose, it didnt help.

Still amazed at the electronics stores. This one is 13 floors high. And theres at least 6 similarly sized stores around the station.
The Seibu department store is nearby and stupidly large. The basement food floors (theres 2) are amazing. One day I am going to get up enough courage and walk through one and make a video.

This is Takadanobaba, which is a station with 2 universities around it. Theres lots of cheap places to eat and kids dressed up as zombies getting around.

Finally, I learnt something tonight! I saw a blind man charging down the street faster than I walk. And then I realised what those annoying raised bump things in the footpath are for.
You can see them all over Tokyo, and they go off into stations too.
Perhaps I was the only person in the world that didnt know that?

There are currently 3 comments - click to add

David on 2012-10-27 said:

I didnt actually go and see it. I have seen enough giant buddahs. Despite this one supposedly being huge, it didnt look that impressive when I saw it on the internet before leaving in the morning.

Krystle on 2012-10-27 said:

I cant wait to go! Maybe we'll head over for halloween, apparently there are loads of cosplay/costume shops there.

mother dearest on 2012-10-27 said:

where is the kamakura Daibutsu photo?

Day 4 - Sunday, 28 October 2012


When I woke up, it wasnt raining. Sunday morning everything is shut except starbucks, so that as always was my first stop.
Next up, Mount Takao, about an hours train out of the city, this time on the Keio line, by the time I got there it was raining.
It is an excellent place to go, and the rain made it better! There was hardly anyone there. The internet warned that on Sundays in particular theres thousands of people.
Whilst I saw a few, I only saw one single tour group and thankfully they were going in the other direction.
The path was not too difficult, about an hour in each direction, more dangerous going back down but I never ended up on my ass.
On the way up it seemed fairly flat until some steps at the end, I was almost jogging the entire way, never broke stride!

My first ever raincoat. I have a morbid fear of umbrellas and dont own a waterproof jacket of any kind.
To the convenience store!
They had 5 sizes, this is XXL. Its still too small.
It was perhaps overkill, once on the trail the tree cover kept most of the rain off anyway.

Theres a cable car to haul you up to the top if you come to the mountain to not climb it. Most people are going on the cable car.

Much of the path is tree root trip hazards such as this. Theres also signs warning about snakes and monkeys. I saw neither.
I didnt take as many photos as I might have liked, didnt want to get my camera wet.

About half way up the path became a waterfall. Amazingly I managed to keep my feet dry. I started to consider if finally my lack of preperation for hiking would take its toll.
The few other people I did see had professional looking water proof gear and boots, with extra bits to cover the boots up to the knee, like we wear in Australia to prevent from snake bite.

Predictably at the top, theres vending machines and noodle shops. I had an oolong tea from a machine.

The view towards Mount Fuji. Much like yesterday, there will be no seeing it today.

Tokyo is down there somewhere.

Its mountains in every direction. I dont really see any towns or cities on the horizon except for Tokyo. Which if you ask me is the way countries should be, a megaopolis of 20+ million people then wilderness.

I went back down on a different trail, and the fog set in to make it all the more exciting. I saw pokemons darting about in the woods but they left me alone.

A particularly tricky bit on the way down, with a sort of orange slippery clay.

And finally, my lunch, a bento box bought from the Odakyu convenience store. Looking a bit worse for wear as I walked back to my hotel with it before eating.

I give Mount Takao a strong recommendation. However there are better hiking areas near Taipei, Seoul, Osaka, Nanjing and Hangzhou, which means Tokyo comes only in 6th place for best mega city with mountains nearby.

Wedding proposal and a fight

The question is, which of the above 2 things was I a witness to and which was I involved in?
Before all that, as soon as I stepped out the door, it re started raining, after a 3 hour break in the weather whilst I did my washing.
This changed my plan to simply walk east, and instead I walked into the subway. The line by my hotel went to Shibuya, so despite having been there every time I come here, I went there again. I knew that there are many places to eat and large shops to wander around in case it doesnt stop raining.
Once I got there I decided to get saturated instead, and nearly blinded by the millions of umbrellas carried by little people.

Eventually I thought I was damp enough to go and have a matcha tea latte and watch the worlds busiest pedestrian crossing out the window.
Next to me was a rough looking french man, who was busy telling his Japanese 'girlfriend' how much he loves her.
I listened in intently.
They met 4 days ago, and its been the best 4 days of his life. The girl doesnt really seem interested. He keeps telling her how much he loves her and she should come back to France with him when he goes home in a week....
During this pathetic conversation the girl was mainly texting on her phone and not really talking at all. She did say she enjoys chocolate, to which Frenchy declared that France is the home of chocolate, and if you come to France with me you can have all the chocolate in the world! We will have a fantastic wedding, with a chocolate wedding cake!

After a while she said she wanted to go to the bookstore, so off she went and off he followed.

The rain got worse and worse so I headed back to my hotel, once I came out of the subway it seemed to have stopped, so I decided to wander around my local area.
Nearby, as in 100 metres away across the road, is Korea town. I had no idea. Lots of alleyways of restaurants and shops, and one enormous labyrinth fire hazard of a shop that went on and on with no exits I could find and Gangnam style playing full blast.
Once I did find an exit, I came out by a newer looking building, it appeared to belong to Square Enix, the computer game company.

So I am taking a photo, and a guy grabs me hard from behind on the shoulders and yells in my ear!
I spun around startled and elbowed him in the side of the head. Now this was as much out of shock than it was my amazing ninja skills. I thought amazingly in Japan someone wanted to steal my camera. No.
The guy is crouching down on the ground holding his face making a low pitched howling sound. I didnt hit him that hard! Turns out its a little old man security guard!
So I decided to not run away and stand there, waiting for him to finish pretending to have a broken jaw, when another security guard arrives and starts yelling at me!
I was pretty mad by now, the first guy was an idiot, and the second guy is yelling at me regardless. Luckily a young guy comes out of the coffee shop across the street and starts yelling at both of them and tells me in good english that these two rent-a-cops are useless fools whos main job is to make sure no one parks across the driveway.
This seemed to enrage them more (maybe they can understand English?), and they get on the radio.
The coffee store guy told me to leave, they are calling more security from the parking building, they cant do anything so dont worry!

I thanked him and wandered off. Now what happened here then? I suspect racial profiling. Japanese people are racist, the little old guy thought he would make himself feel special by hassling me. It ended badly for him.
And on that note, twice today on the train I was the only person with a spare seat next to me, on either side. No one wanted to sit next to me!

Earlier in the afternoon I had to do my washing. It was cheap, fully automatic (even adds the powder and softener), and secure. The machine locks until the timer runs out. I am not sure theres any way whilst its drying to open the door and see how dry your clothes are, I tried everything! But by having it lock you can go to your room and come back in 90 minutes when its done. Not that anyone would dare steal your clothes here anyway.

The Shibuya crossing. I tried to get a vantage point to take a top down shot of 1000 umbrellas but couldnt find a good one. Theres lots of version of that photo available all over the internet.

My restaurant choice was made by the rain. This place has many condiments.

This is the photo I was taking, from the street, when the security guard grabbed me.

Picture taken for tax purposes.

It had stopped raining so I wandered around, this lane is full of Africans that try to shake your hand and tell you all about how much fun you will have if you follow them into their underground establishment.
Surely a less threatening more succesful marketing ploy would be to have girls doing that instead of guys with gold teeth?

There are currently 5 comments - click to add

mother dearest on 2012-10-28 said:

Don't worry they won't sit next to me on the train either

David on 2012-10-28 said:

Good point Fi, I forgot. I was in a pet store earlier too that had every kind of gourmet, I mean, pedigree kitten.

Fi on 2012-10-28 said:

Where's today's cat photo??

David on 2012-10-28 said:

Mount Takao is due west of Tokyo, near Hachioji. Chichibu is North West of Tokyo and about twice as far away.
Looking at the map, between Chichibu, Takao and Mount Fuji is nothing but mountains.

mother again on 2012-10-28 said:

which way is Takaoyama? Is it anywhere near Chichibu?

Day 5 - Monday, 29 October 2012

The great walk

Its the last day of my weekend in Tokyo. My flight isnt until 8pm in the evening. So theres no excuse not to walk a great distance.
If you enjoy pictures of city scapes, you will enjoy todays photos, otherwise dont even bother reading.
All in all I walked pretty much from 7:30AM until 3:30PM, with 2 x 20 minute subway rides and 10 minutes to sit and eat lunch.
The goal was to get tired enough so that I fall fast asleep on the plane and experience teleportation back to Sydney.

Right now as I am typing this I am on the bus back to Narita airport, trying to see the screen in the glaring sun. The weather today was absolutley superb.

I have no doubt in my mind that Tokyo is the most modern city on earth, and should be used as a template for civilization. That doesnt necessarily make it the best place to visit as a tourist.
If you want historic sites and wilderness and remoteness and peace and quiet, its not for you. If you want to see what urban planning taken to the extreme can produce, come to Tokyo.

Too bad it could all dissappear into the sea in the next great earthquake any minute now. Hopefully not right now as the bus is going over a rather massive bridge.

Dawn out my hotel room window. I awoke bright and early and packed my bags. Quite the logistical challenge in my small room, its not possible to fully open my suitcase and stand on the floor at the same time.
I had to open my suitcase and lay on the bed and lower things into it.

The sun is glaring on Kabuchiko. As I awoke it was grey and raining. But if I craned my neck out the window I could see blue sky approaching. Within 10 minutes the sky was completely clear.

Crossing the river on the way to the sky tree.

I am not exactly sure whats going on here.

The skytree, worlds second tallest structure. I couldnt go up today, didnt want to waste 3 hours in line. It doesnt actually look that tall to me?

Photo taken as proof this was a business trip. Note this is a community drop off point for bagged waste.

This is an auto panorama of about 20 photos. I think the curve is done like that because the camera assumes I was going left to right, not from ground to sky.
It is sort of out in the middle of nowhere, and sits on a giant shopping mall. I was there too early to go inside the mall.

Nearby is the Sensoji temple in Asakusa. I have been before. Its very modern and its main purpose is to sell plastic crap to tourists as theres a big market and amusement park all the way around it.

Communal stagnant water drinking.

Last photo of a temple for this trip.

Nearby past the tourist market thats made to look old but is new is a network of covered shopping streets, selling mainly shoes.
Japanese people love shoes, ABC marts are 10 floor shoe stores. Trucks drive around covered in neon advertising the release date of the latest adidas pump gel whatever.

Next stop, Ueno. This is looking back to where I had come. Ueno is a large station with all the museums and zoo around it. No time for looking in museums today I had more walking to do.
And on that note, I didnt visit a single museum the entire time I was here, I guess the closest to a museum was the Toyota historic car thing.

Nearby Ueno is what is considered the last open air market in Tokyo. It has maybe 20 shops selling fish and fruit in the street. Its a shame you cant see a pig get butchered like in Taiwan or buy the penis of various creatures to improve your virility like in mainland China.
The seafood places werent selling whale, I heard there is no whale catch this year?

Next stop on the great walk is Akihabara, been here many times. The maid girls seem to run away now when you point a camera at them. Which makes it all the more fun because Japanese girls cant walk properly, so they especially cant run in heels.

Most of Akihabara is places like this, selling light switches, light globes, fuses and wire. Thats not to say there isnt giant electronics shops, porn stores, arcades and maid cafes.

Looking back towards Akihabara, this guy was taking a photo so I did too. The buildings are cartoonishly colorful.

The only skyscraper for miles around is in the Kanda region. I was here around noon and the torrent of office workers coming out for lunch was too much to bare. They are all dressed identically and look mad as hell.

A dragon sculpture lives under this bridge.

The standard shot of Ginza. Looking particularly nice today bathed in bright sunshine. I wasnt dressed to have sushi for $500, plus those places were full of Russians with bags full of handbags.

Instead I headed into the basement of Mitsukoshi and bought a bento...

Then took it up onto the roof to eat, where they have provided a nice garden. I cant think of a nicer meal experience for $5. And neither can all the mothers with prams hanging out on the roof.

After that, I still walked for hours but was in a bit of a daze. So the last photo is me typing this right now!

Redundant lounge photos

Its only been an hour since the last update, so I dont have much more to say!
Narita now has an express gate for oneworld sapphire members which is fantastic. Singapore has the same. Sydney they just give you a card and everyone without one gets annoyed that you get to go to the front.
The showers in the JAL Sakura first lounge are the best in the world. They have the rain head thing on top and 6 jets that shoot out the side.
The Qantas lounge is a business lounge only, as their planes to Japan no longer have first class. Its fairly dismal in comparison but apparently it does have showers.

The check in area in Narita. Not sure but it seems brighter than when I was last here.

The awesome shower suite.

JAL's signature beef curry, with mushroom rice. I also dished up some noodles and chilli fried eggplant. The curry and eggplant were great, the noodles were not. I think they might have been the Japanese take on spaghetti bolognese.

One of the stranger dessert offerings I have seen, chocolate chips.

And finally, I moved over to the Qantas lounge for some hours old sushi and dried vegetable sticks.
Not sure if I will update this again, you never know something might happen on the flight, at Sydney airport, or I might just be bored at work tomorrow.
Still plenty of time for the flight to be cancelled and to be sent to a hotel for the night too!

There are currently 2 comments - click to add

David on 2012-10-29 said:

dont worry, they have every kind of fast food, and some you havent heard of too. Many of the bigger American burger chains that arent in Australia have stores in Japan.

Fi on 2012-10-29 said:

Finally a picture of something I'd actually eat - kit kat & choc chips! Don't they have Burger King & good stuff like that over there? If not then I'd be screwed!


Day 1 - Thursday, 25 October 2012
  Hard at work
  I like airports
Day 2 - Friday, 26 October 2012
  Japanese girls and make up
  The real Otaku?
Day 3 - Saturday, 27 October 2012
  Trains and temples
  No cranes
Day 4 - Sunday, 28 October 2012
  Wedding proposal and a fight
Day 5 - Monday, 29 October 2012
  The great walk
  Redundant lounge photos