EppsNet Archive: Tokyo

Japan, Day 8: Walking in Tokyo

29 Dec 2013 /

Things you notice when walking in Tokyo . . .

1) There are lots and lots of people . . .

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

2) Most of them are not very tall . . .

Giant among pygmies

Giant among pygmies

3) Because there are a lot of people in a small amount of space (even though they are small people), Tokyo is built to take advantage of vertical space. For example, I’ve never seen a two- or three-story fast food restaurant in the U.S. but they’re common in Tokyo. Businesses that usually are two or three stories in the U.S., like department stores, in Tokyo are eight or ten stories.

Tokyo is a vertical city

Tokyo is a vertical city

Is that a McDonalds up there?

Is that a McDonalds up there?

Sake

Sake

Ueno Park

Ueno Park

Flying back home tomorrow . . . sayonara!


Japan, Day 7: Ginza

28 Dec 2013 /

Ginza

Ginza is one of the best-known shopping districts in the world, with numerous department stores, boutiques, restaurants and coffee houses.

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

One of our favorite stores was the 12-floor UNIQLO. They’re coming to Orange County this fall!

UNIQLO

UNIQLO

Uniqlo

UNIQLO

Art Gallery

Art Gallery


Kashoen Boutique

Kashoen Boutique


Ito-ya Stationery Store

Ito-ya Stationery Store


Ginza

Ginza


Ginza

Ginza


Japan, Day 6: Matusmoto Castle, Travel Day

27 Dec 2013 /

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle (Matsumoto-jo) is one of Japan‘s premier historic castles. The building is also known as the “Crow Castle” (Karasu-jo) due to its black exterior. It was the seat of the Matsumoto domain. It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture and is within easy reach of Tokyo by road or rail.

The keep (tenshukaku), which was completed in the late sixteenth century, maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework. It is listed as a National Treasure of Japan.

The second floor of the main keep features a gun museum, Teppo Gura, with a collection of guns, armor, and other weapons.

Wikipedia

Today was mostly a travel day, driving back to Tokyo from the lair of the snow monkeys. On the way back, we stopped at Matsumoto Castle, an impressive edifice built back in the late 1500s . . .

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle


Japan, Day 4: Tsukiji Fish Market, Asakusa, Imperial Palace, Odaiba, Christmas

25 Dec 2013 /

Tsukiji Fish Market

The Tsukiji Market (Tsukiji shijo), supervised by the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market (Tokyo-to Chuo Oroshiuri Shijo) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. The market is located in Tsukiji in central Tokyo.

There are two distinct sections of the market as a whole. The “inner market” (jonai-shijo) is the licensed wholesale market, where the auctions and most of the processing of the fish take place, and where licensed wholesale dealers (approximately 900 of them) operate small stalls. The “outer market” (jogai-shijo) is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops that sell Japanese kitchen tools, restaurant supplies, groceries, and seafood, and many restaurants, especially sushi restaurants.

Wikipedia

Tsukiji Market: Inner Market

Tsukiji Market: Inner Market


Tsukiji Market: Inner Market

Tsukiji Market: Inner Market


Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market


Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market


Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market

There’s a temple near the market. We met these girls, who spoke a little English, not much. They were delighted to take photos with us. Japan is a friendly country. In California, if you asked strangers on the street to take a photo with you, I expect you’d get a mixed reaction.

They start making peace signs in photos very early in Japan. I saw kids as young as two years old doing it without being asked to. I asked our guide the reason for that and she said “Because we’re so happy.”

Tsukiji Temple

Tsukiji Temple


Tsukiji Temple

Tsukiji Temple

Asakusa

Asakusa is a district in Taito, Tokyo, Japan, most famous for the Senso-ji, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon.

Wikipedia

Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji

There is a long street lined with shops leading to the temple.

Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Shop in Asakusa (100 yen = 1 dollar, roughly)

Shop in Asakusa (100 yen = 1 dollar, roughly)

Across the street from the Senso-ji is the Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center, designed by Kengo Kuma. Mr. Kuma is an acclaimed Japanese architect, although to the untrained eye, the boards in the windows might give the impression that the building is under construction or renovation, neither of which is the case.

Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center

Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center

Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. Twice a year — on New Year (January 2) and the Emperor’s Birthday — the public is permitted to enter the palace grounds. The imperial family appears on the balcony of the Chowaden Hall and the emperor normally gives a short speech greeting and thanking the visitors and wishing them good health and blessings.

If it’s not one of those two days (it wasn’t), the palace is closed, but you can still stand outside in the plaza and take a photo if you like.

Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace

Odaiba

Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. It was initially built for defensive purposes in the 1850s, dramatically expanded during the late 20th century as a seaport district, and has developed since the 1990s as a major commercial, residential and leisure area.

Wikipedia

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge


Odaiba at Night

Odaiba at Night

Christmas in Japan

It’s December 25. Christmas is not a big deal in Japan. If you say “Merry Christmas” to people, they’ll say it back to you, if they understand English, but it’s not a holiday and stores and businesses are open. New Years is the big holiday here.

They do, however, have a lot of what we in the States would call Christmas lights, but in Japan are called “illuminations.”

Illuminations

Illuminations


Illuminations

Illuminations


Japan, Day 3: Atami, Lake Ashi, Owakudani, Mount Fuji, Shinjuku

24 Dec 2013 /

Atami

Our hotel in Atami was on the eastern coast. Where we live in California, you can watch the sun set over the ocean every day if you want to, but here the sun rises over the ocean, which is a little bit different.

These photos are from the balcony of our room. If you look closely, you can see the United States in the background. It looks very small from this far away.

Japanese Sunrise

Japanese Sunrise

Japanese Dawn

Japanese Dawn

Lake Ashi

We started the day on a sightseeing boat at Lake Ashi:

Lake Ashi (Shinto shrine in foreground, Mount Fuji in background)

Lake Ashi (Shinto shrine in foreground, Mount Fuji in background)

Owakudani

Owakudani (lit. “Great Boiling Valley”) is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is a popular tourist site for its scenic views, volcanic activity, and especially, Kuro-tamago (lit. “black egg”) — a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs. The boiled eggs turn black and smell slightly sulphuric; consuming the eggs is said to increase longevity. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. You may eat up to two and a half for up to seventeen and a half years, but eating a whole third is said to be highly unadvised.

Owakudani is accessible via the Hakone Ropeway. In the States, we’d call this a tramway. I swear to god when I heard “ropeway” I thought we were going to have to pull ourselves up the mountain with a rope.

Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway

Our guide is on the right:

Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway

Owakudani

Owakudani

See the large buildings at the bottom of the photo below? Look up a bit from the one on the right and you’ll see the stand where the black eggs are cooked up and sold. It’s a short hike up the mountain.

Owakudani

Owakudani

Owakudani

Owakudani

We ate some black eggs:

Owakudani: Black Egg

Owakudani: Black Egg

They also have black ice cream:

Owakudani: Black Ice Cream

Owakudani: Black Ice Cream

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji (Fujisan), located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometres (60 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers. It is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” (Sanreizan) along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku; it is a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, a Historic Site, and was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22nd, 2013.

As per UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries.”

Mount Fuji as seen from Owakudani

Mount Fuji as seen from Owakudani

 

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

 

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

 

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

At the Mount Fuji Visitor Center, you can fold an origami Mount Fuji to commemorate your visit:

Origami Mount Fujis

Origami Mount Fujis

The yellow one is mine:

Origami Mount Fujis

Origami Mount Fujis

Shinjuku

Shinjuku (Shinjuku-ku, “New Lodge”) is a special ward located in Tokyo Metropolis, Japan. It is a major commercial and administrative centre, housing the busiest train station in the world (Shinjuku Station) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the administration centre for the government of Tokyo. As of 2008, the ward has an estimated population of 312,418 and a population density of 17,140 people per km2. The total area is 18.23 km2.

Wikipedia

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is 48 stories tall, and splits into two sections at the 33rd floor.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The 45th floor of each tower has a panoramic observation deck. It was late afternoon when we got up there.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Dusk

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Dusk


Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Sunset

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Sunset