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"Turning Japanese, I think I'm turning Japanese, I really think so!"

Tokyo Travel Blog

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For the latter part of our Japan visit, Chris and Jen kindly offered to put us up in their flat.  So we checked out of our guesthouse and spent the day exploring Asakusa before meeting Chris from work in the evening.  We couldn't find the Toy Museum so went straight to the 5 Pillar Pagoda (regardless of the blanket of rain).  It was an impressive building set in a lovely garden with surrounding temples and despite the rain we had an enjoyable visit.  Finally the cold and wet drew us away from our cultural experience and we found solace in the warmth of a coffee shop (poor us having to go and get tea and coffee just like that!).  While enjoying our beverages and examining the past days photos, we were approached out of the blue by an old Japanese man requesting to take our picture (on his 15 year old digital camera!).  He then pulled out a notebook and demanded our address so he could send us the photo (nice but slightly weird!), so Jim politely suggested he saves himself the trouble and money and just take one on our camera! He did, but this persistant Japanese man insisted we give our address, so sometime in the near future 59 Redditch Road may expect a surprise delivery (yes, thats right, I fake addressed a little old man!)!  Afterwards his wife came out of the toilet and started photgraphing us on her 'newer' digital camera! We chatted to them for a while (I increasingly regretted fake addressing them) and they turned out to be quite sweet!

On the evening we met Chris who showed us the way to his and Jen's (nice and warm) flat, and we all went out for some food (finally I had chance to try some genuine Japanese Sushi! And boy was it good!), where we discovered the strange but effective method of service, bell ringing (its brilliant, the waiters don't disturb you until they are rung! Plus you don't have to tip! If you do they'll apparantly chase after you to give it back!)!!

Chris had the following day off work and took us to the lovely little seaside town (where we saw some awesome birds of prey and later found out they were kites) of Kamakura.  We browsed a few shops (including a sword shop!), one of which had a sneaky toy parrot outside that began copying everything I said as I was about to pose for a photo (which as you can probably imagine Hannah Chidgey found rather amusing!).  Then it was onto a visit of a Big Bhudda which was the biggest we'd so far seen!  You could even go inside his body for a little look around (this was all kinds of weird!), not that there was much to see!

Hase-Dera Temple was our next stop and was very impressive, especially its surrounding Japanese gardens.  We made our way to a small shrine in a cave at the bottom of the hill where for a small fee you could leave a message on a little statue for a loved one (there were literally hundreds of them, making a very powerful image).  Next we walked up some steps and were greeted at the top by rows and rows of standing Bhudda statues.  Up some more steps and at the top of the hill we were rewarded with a magnificent view spreading over the bamboo forest, rooftops and to the coast (I spotted a small sign telling you to beware of the birds of prey, just as we looked up to see the kites swooping above!).

We headed back to the flat (just after Han picked up more Hello Kitty merchandise!) where Jen had our tea waiting on the table.  The boys had a few beers and us girls had a can or 2 of Chu Hi (Japanese alcho-pops) then we went to a local bar for more drinks and met some of Chris and Jen's work colleagues (who turned out to be barrel of laughs!).  All of us went back to the flat to save money and partake in a few drinking games, then headed out for a long and awesome night of karaoke (Japans favourite pastime! and now ours!!)!

The next days plan had originally been to chill out under the cherry blossom trees with a drink or 2 at Yoyogi park, but after waking up mid-afternoon with sore throats and heads we decided to write this one off and only ventured out on the evening to stuff our faces at a Japanese / Italian restaurant (fusion cooking at its cheapest! But damn good!)! We then watched a double bill of Kill Bill (quite fitting being in Japan and with China our next destination!).

Feeling refreshed and not wanting to waste another day we got up early for our trip to Sanrio Puroland (a land built on pink and fluffy animals, only ventured into by 5 year old Japanese girls.  And now us!).  We went on a little boat ride then watched a live show of all the Sanrio characters (which despite all the pink and fluffies was quite impressive with its advanced feats of acrobatics!).  Next we watched a 3D animated show with moving chairs, like a simulator (it even had smellovision!), then went and had our photo taken dressed head to toe in big fluffy animal suits!  It was brilliant (even I have to say this was so tacky it was great!)!!  Finally we made a visit to Hello Kitty's house where we got to meet the cat herself! Jim refrained from having his photo with her (I've got to draw the line somewhere!), I did not :D

With Chris and Jen working the next day we  were left to our own devices and went back to Harajuku (to buy all the girly tat she didn't buy the first time round!).  We walked down the road away from the shops to see Meji Jingu Shrine and its surrounding park area.  While there we saw a few women dressed in traditional Japanese Kimonos and I got told off for taking a picture inside one of the shrines (it was a good photo though!)!!

The following day we headed back to Ikebukuro and the Sunshine 60 building (the highrise building renound for its observation deck) where we viewed the awesome expanse of Tokyo and even a slight glimpse of Mt Fuji (Mr Fuji!).  Afterwards we went for our 2nd visit to Akihabara so Jim could buy all the boyish rubbish he hadn't brought the first time!  Then it was back to the flat to begin preparing our thankyou and goodbye meal for Chris and Jen.  After a tasty 3 course meal (where we put to use our new skills at making spring rolls) we sat around playing DS, true Japanese style!

We were rudely awoken on our last day in Japan by an earthquake at 6.30 am (this was our first and last experience of one of these famous quakes!)! We had to be at the airport at about 3 pm, so we spent the morning packing and went for a Chinese lunch with Jen before saying goodbye to Japan!

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photo by: maka77