Friday, 02 November, 2012 08:45

We Go Our Separate Ways ……

Sunday, We All Do Different Things ….. Sunday turned out to be an interesting day for all of us. Liz went down to the Ginza to do what women do best…. Shopping. Scott went to the Tenno Sho Autumn Group 1 horse racing at the Tokyo Race track and Rob went off to Akihabara, the electrical district of Tokyo.

Scott’s Adventure ….. The Tenno Sho (Autumn) 2012 Group 1 race day at Tokyo racecourse is the biggest event on the Tokyo racing calendar. With the Emperor and Empress making an appearance for only the second time in the race’s 150 year history. Around 150,000 people, predominantly men, made the trek out to Fuchuhonmachi about an hour from Tokyo. Unlike the Melbourne Cup spring racing carnival where horses share the stage with fashion, this was a day of pure racing with races starting at 10:30 AM and events every 25 minutes or so making it a hectic day.

Tokyo Race Track

The track and mounting yard were in a amazing condition and despite the large crowd you were still able to get a good look at the horses before they went out to race. After reading the form (available in English fortunately) it was time to negotiate the betting tickets (in Japanese). After some initial problems working out what Scott was doing, he was able to both place a bet and back a winner at 8/1 in the second race earning a cool Y3,700 (about A$45). He had little luck for the rest of the day though with one horse being beaten by a nose. The Emperor and Empress were introduced to the crowd to thunderous applause as they sat in a special box right at the top of the grandstand. The main race was run and won by a big outsider and an Italian jockey who spoke the first bit of English Scott had heard all day.

Liz’s Expedition ….. Our apartment is in the best location for Liz to walk into the Ginza. It was a Sunday and the main street was closed off for a big brass band parade in the Ginza. She was not sure what the occasion was being celebrated, but just enjoyed the moment. There were fantastic department stores and interesting food departments where all different foods are presented in beautiful displays. Once you have made up your mind to buy, the product is wrapped in wrapping including an ice pack to keep it cool. The Ginza is expensive but the shopping is truely amazing. There are high rise buildings everywhere. It is a paradise for shopaholics

Akihabara – Electric Town in Tokyo

Rob’s Culture Shock ….. Being an electronic gadget freak, a trip to Tokyo is not complete without a trip to Akihabara, the electronic capital of Tokyo. Every type of electronic gadget; cameras, computers, mobile phones, tablets and electronic components is available along with video games, comic books and anime. There are over 250 shops ranging from tiny little shop caves to massive 9 story buildings dedicated only to electronic equipment. Being a Sunday this area was packed, and I mean packed, with young people looking for the latest gadget,mobile phone or video game. Also notable in this area are the Maid Cafes. On every street corner there are young girls dressed as house maids trying to induce you to go to their theme cafes where you are served drinks and meals by the maids. To us it sounds a little corny but it has been a huge success in Japan.

Harajuka – Sunday Afternoon Packed with Teenagers

Liz & Rob Get Back Together …… By mid afternoon Liz and I had returned to our apartment and decided to head off to Harajuka, another culture shock for both of us. This area is the fashion capital of Tokyo for young teenage girls and on Sunday is crowded. The focal point of Harajuku’s teenage culture is Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street) and its side streets, which are lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe stands and fast food outlets geared towards the fashion and trend conscious teens. In order to experience the teenage culture at its most extreme, visit on a Sunday, when many young people gather around Harajuku Station and engage in cosplay (“costume play”), dressed up in crazy costumes to resemble anime characters, punk musicians. What an amazing experience.

Harajuka – Teenagers Dressed To Impress

Monday, We Slow Down ….. We decided to slow the pace down on Monday as we had been going flat chat for 5 days. First off back to Tokyo Station to organise our Shinkansen tickets and take a look at the newly renovated great dome at the Maranouchi entrance which was bombed during WW II. Then a visit to the Rikugien Gardens to the north of Tokyo. This garden is a typical example a traditional Japanese Garden of the famous gardens of the Edo Period. We had a picnic lunch right in the middle of this beautifully maintained and a very restful place right in the middle of Tokyo. From there back to central Tokyo to visit Sake Plaza which represents all the sake manufacturers in Japan. For a very moderate price of Yen530 you get to taste 5 different sakes ranging in alcohol content and sweetness. Sake is an acquired taste and best served warm rather than from the fridge so we decided that Japanese beer and Californian Chardonnay are more to our taste. Monday finished off with a very nice meal at a tiny little Japanese restaurant just around the corner from our apartment. Walking from the apartment to find a restaurant we met a Japanese gentleman and his son who could speak English and he stopped to talk to us and recommended the restaurant so we gave it a try. Turned out to be good advice.

Rikugien Traditional Japanese Gardens


Scott Enjoying A Beer At The Local Restaurant We Dined At

Our Last Full Day In Tokyo …. Tuesday was spent with a ride on the monorail, then a short train under Tokyo Bay to Odaiba Island for a visit to the Mega Web Toyota City Showcase. This is a Toyota Showroom like no other. It displays all the latest Toyota models and you can test drive all the cars on a specially design track contained within the complex. As well there is driving simulators to allow you to drive rally cars with and without Toyota Electronic Stability Control systems and a special theatre that allows you to experience a race circuit in a Toyota race car. Next to the Toyota Showroom is the 118 metre Tokyo Skywheel which we had to go on. It gives a great aerial perspective of Tokyo. From there we went to the Sony Science Exhibition and eventually took the monorail back to Tokyo.


Liz and Scott At Toyota Mega Web

For our final night in Tokyo with Scott we went to Roppongi, the entertainment centre of Tokyo. This area is full of restaurants, nights clubs and other form of entertainments. We were after traditional Japanese meals so searched out a restaurant that met our requirements. We ordered a selection of dishes, half of which we had no idea of what they were. They all turned out to be delicious and it was a great finish to our week in Japan.

Sashima and Other Delights in Roppongi

Tomorrow we depart for Kyoto and Scott spends another 2 days in Tokyo before heading home.


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