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Tokyo desu ka

Tokyo Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 9 › view all entries
Dec 29, 2006 (Friday in SG). I tried to finish all my work in the office for my flight at 11.50pm to Japan, and riding Japan Airlines (JAL), my friend and I reached Tokyo, Japan pass 6am in the morning with temperature of 3°C as announced in the plane.
After arrival and all the immigration stuff we rode the local train to Asakusa and drop-off the luggage in Asakusa Hostel. We left our luggage in the basement since check-in time is at 1pm, and just carry our valuables. First, we went to New Otani Hotel to have brunch and eat with other friends in Japan. I ate tonkatsu bread, salad, maki, sushi, burger, rice and a lot more.... cakes and ice cream for dessert. I really love Japanese food (yum yum). The buffet cost 3,000 Yen per head.
Japanese really likes gardens as you can see, the garden in the picture, excellent landscapes, clean waters and clean fish ponds. It was very cold and I saw some ice formation in some areas.
After brunch we walked to the Parliament, and unluckily it was closed, so we headed back to the hostel to take shower and fix our stuff, so that after we come home we'll just lie down and rest immediately.
We did not waste time. We went to Hie Jinja Shrine to visit and took some pictures. And... wow time was so fast, at 4pm it looks like its already 6pm. Singapore time, daylight is really short during winter. Then we went to Government building but were closed too; after consulting with Lonely Planet (a book guide for tourist in Tokyo) we headed to Sumitomo tower instead, to check out how Tokyo looks from above (52F).
The following day the agenda was to go to Harajuku park to check the temples and shrines, and also to Disneyland. We also had out brunch in Harajuru, and we all had ramen. What I like in Harajuku park was the display of Sake, and I like the sweet Sake very much (hehehe).
After Harajuku, we went to Disneyland hoping that we can spend countdown there, but we were unlucky when we knew that it will be closed at 6pm, and that the countdown party are those for people who reserved, and bought limited tickets from the internet, which we are not aware of; and we only have 3 hours to explore the area. So we tried to ride all the best rides as much as possible and watch the Parade of Disney characters.
We sought help from Lonely Planet where else to go for countdown, and the answer was in Zozoji Temple. So... after Disneyland, we headed to Zozoji temple. Many people gathered in the temple holding balloons, to be released at exactly 0:00am 2007 of January 1. At first, an hour before new year there was a ceremony of the Monks. Some played something like flute and others with some wood percussion, while their leader chanted prayers which I had no idea what he was saying. It was a good experience, and this is my 1st new year without fireworks. All the people, expectators, released their balloons at exactly new year, and the view was awesome. I felt mixed emotion, in celebrating new year with other nationality: Japanese.
On the next day, January 1, the plan was to explore Nikko, which is on top of Tokyo (around 125km north of Tokyo, and 2-hour ride with Ltd Express). We took limited express to reach Nikko. Upon reaching Nikko the mountain alps can be seen from the train, and was very relaxing; the weather was very cold, the station is more or less 500m above sea level and Nikko is much higher since we climbed the Hill to reach it from the station. There were also snow still in the corner of the streets, roofs, and in the ground. So cold, that we all had hot sweet sake that can be purchased along the way for 100 Yen to keep us warm. In Nikko we visited: Shinkyo Bridge, Rhinnoji Temple, Taiyuinbyo, Futarasan Main Shrine, and Toshogu Shrine. After Nikko we had our dinner along the area and I had chicken curry (one of my fav too), then we went to Shibuya for a walk, then rest.
On the next day, we woke up at 9am and headed to the Imperial Palace at Marunouchi Chiyoda, since the inner palace is open to public on only two days each year, the Emperor's birthday and at the New Year (January 2); we don't want to lose the chance of seeing the Imperial Palace. "Banzai! Banzai!", Japanese people shouted during the 5-minute speech of the Emperor, and fade away from the crowd. (Whaaattt it took me 30 minutes to get in, just to see the Emperor for 5 minutes.... what da!).
After the Imperial Palace, we went to Hakone, located south-west of Tokyo. We took Shinkansen (Bullet Train) since we will have not enough time if we use other means of transportation; with Shinkansen we spent more or less 40 minutes in the train to reach our destination. Then change to a local train till the base of the mountain, and change to another train, this time it's like diagonal train which goes up with the slope of the mountain. On top we have to change again with cable car to reach the top; and the top I can see Mt. Fuji straight ahead, and sulfur pit from below. To take the lake cruise we have to take bus to reach it,... and so we did. From there, we took the cruise to cross the lake and reach the other side, and visit Hakone shrine, I like the view of the shrine at night as you can see in the lower left picture.
After Hakone we went back to Tokyo around 9ish, had dinner in Lion at Ginza, and ate oysters and steak. After resting from eating we decided to take hot bath in Odaiba which closes at 9am. Wow! Japanese really like hot bath... on the way there we walked together with families, lovers, and singles to the same destination: hot bath. Everybody was required to wear kimono inside the area. (see my pictures in the hyperlink below). It's like one community inside the big house. I cleaned myself in the public hot bath, and the bath, pools was around 40°C.
The last day was just a trip to Odaiba. We took the Tokyo river cruise to Odaiba (Hi-tech looking ship), and I had my calpis too (like this yogart drink very much). It was ridiculous: Statue of Liberty in Odaiba?, Golden Gate too? which was named Tokyo rainbow bridge =P. The architecture of Fuji Bldg is really modern. We saw the Tokyo teleport too, like the Eye of London. Crazy.... who's the copycat?
After the walk around Odaiba. We had lunch at Chibo, having okonomiyaki. Then back to hostel, and head to Narita to complete my 5-day visit to Tokyo. Now i miss Tokyo, hope i can find a work there, but I must learn Nihongo first.

Pointers when flying to Tokyo:
1. Make sure you know somebody who knows how to speak Japanese or understand Kanji
2. GSM mobile phones are unlikely to work in Japan. Use their own product!
3. Avoid taxi, unless you want to burn your dough in it. =P
4. Prepare yourself in the metro train during peak hours.
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Tokyo
photo by: maka77