TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2018
Saturday, 11 November, 2017 19:28

Kyoto And On To Tokyo

Back In Familiar Territory ….  A 2 1/4 hour Shinkansen trip saw us back in Kyoto for a return visit.  My fourth time and Liz’s third.  After a nice lunch in a restuarant near our apartment we headed for the Teramachi Dori Shopping Street in downtown Kyoto.   It is always interesting as you see locals and tourists seeking out bargains or looking for somewhere to eat.  We knew it was a public holiday in Japan but what we didn’t expect were the crowds.  It seemed everyone in Japan headed for Kyoto on a public holiday.  

Teramachi Shopping Street

Teramachi Shopping Street

There were people everywhere then out of the blue came a protest march which held up traffic and the crowds. We found out it was against  Nuclear Arms.   After a couple of hours of wandering downtown Kyoto we decided we’d had enough and headed back to the santuary of our modern but small apartment.

Protest march in Kyoto

Protest march against nuclear arms in Kyoto – Don’t think they like North Korea

We Jump On A Bus ….   The next morning after a bit of research we decided to take on the Kyoto bus system to explore the city.   Our first stop was the Ginkakuji Temple, sometimes called the Silver Pavillion.   The main feature of this temple is the magnificent gardens.. It was just stunning with the autumn colouring and the beautifully maintained gardens.   We then walked the “Path of Philosophy’, a 1.8 km path running along side a canal lined by cherry trees, gardens and restaurants.

Ginkakuji Temple,

Ginkakuji Temple and gardens – A magnificent display of autumn colours

Kiyomizudera Temple and Gardens

Ginkakuji Temple and gardens – A magnificent display of autumn colours

Path Of Philosophy

Path Of Philosophy – A 2 km walk along a canal

Back On The Bus ….     Our next stop was the Kiyomizudera Temple, but trying to avoid the tourists we came through the Nishi-Otani Mausoleum and cemetry.  An amazing uphill walk through the cemetary to finally reach the Temple and the crowds.  The route back takes you down a quaint little street with many gift shops and restaurants.

Otani Mausoleum and cemetery

Otani Mausoleum and cemetery

Kiyomizudera Temple

Kiyomizudera Temple

Our Next Stop ….   A must do in Kyoto is a visit to the Issen Yoshoku Japanese Restaurant as it serves only one dish, Okonomiyaki,  a delicious pancake style dish with all sorts of ingredients.  We then spent a bit more time walking some of the unique parts of Kyoto before jumping on another bus back to our apartment.  We really do have the confusing Kyoto bus system mastered.

Preparing the Okonomiyaki

Preparing the Okonomiyaki

Enjoying Okonomiyaki

Enjoying Delicious Okonomiyaki at the famous Issen Yoshoku Japanese Restaurant

We Return To Tokyo ….  Arrived in Tokyo, jumped on the subway and were soon checked into our apartment in Roppongi. Spent the rest of the day getting some supplies from the local supermarket then dressed for dinner as we met up with friends from Huntingdale Golf Club in Shinagawa, a couple of subway rides away. Great night with plenty of laughs.

Dinner with Huntingdale GC friends

Dinner with Huntingdale GC friends – Not sure why the young lady next to Rob wanted to be in the photo.

The Old Haunts ….  On our first full day we returned to our old stomping grounds, first to Asakusa, then to Ueno, great for shopping, then to Akihabara,  electric town.  Returned home for dinner then headed to the bright lights of Ginza. It was nice to revisit familiar territory and we felt really at home.

Asakusa

Asakusa Tourist Shopping Street leading to the Senso-Ji Buddist Temple

Ginza

The Ginza at night

A Day In Yokohama ….   Next day onto the subway in Tokyo rush hour. An experience everyone should have once in their life.  We arrived in Yokohama 45 minutes later and within 15 minutes were on a ferry heading for Yamashita Park. The ferry ride was a real eye opener.  Yokohama is a beautiful modern city with wide streets, parkland along much of the waterfront and lot’s of things for tourists to do.  We walked through two parks, then onto Bluff 99 where there are many European style houses, then down to Motomachi Shopping Street.  This street is Toorak Village on steroids.  Beautiful shops, boutiques, and restaurants.  We took a rest stop in the Renoir Coffee House, a Windsor Hotel style establishment. All very classy.

Motomachi Shopping Street

Motomachi Shopping Street – Very posh shopping area

On To Chinatown ….  Next stop was Yokohama Chinatown, the biggest in Japan.  It was a hive of activity and very classy.  From there we walked to the Aka-Renga Soko  (Red Brick Warehouse) previously shipping warehouses and now a tourist attraction with shops and restaurants.  It was then on to the Cosmoworld Amusement Park to ride the giant ferris wheel for an aerial view of Yokohama. 

Yokohama Chinatown

Yokohama Chinatown – The biggest Chinatown in Japan

Yokohama Harbour

Yokohama Harbour from the top of the ferris wheel

A Unique Experience ….  By this time we had hunger pains so we jumped on another train and headed for the Ramen Noodle Museum.  This turned out to be a real highlight of the day.  The museum is set in a mid 50’s Japan townscape with a number of tiny restaurants serving various types of Ramen dishes from all over Japan. After a beer in the courtyard area we settled for one restaurant, ordered from the all Japanese menu and was served a delicious ramen noodle dish.  What an experience.

Ramen Museum

Ramen Museum in Shin-Yokohama. A unique dining experience

Ramen Museum 1950's townscape

Ramen Museum 1950’s townscape

Another Day Trip, This Time Nikko ….  Once again we jumped on the Shinkansen for 50 minutes and then a local train for 45 minutes to visit Nikko.   This small town has a number of World Heritage sites which includes temples, shrines & mausoleum.  The biggest of these was the Toshogu Shrine and we spent around 1 1/2 hours walking this amazing shrine. Then onto the Futarasan Shine and back on the bus to the Shinkyo traditional Japanese bridge and a walk through the town back to the station.  An interesting day.

Toshogu Shrine

A small section of the amazing Toshogu Shrine

Shinkyo Bridge

The historic Shinkyo Bridge in Nikko

Our Final Days ….   Our final days in Tokyo were spent visiting Shibuya, a main shopping district, across to Odaiba Island to visit the Toyota Megaweb and the Tricky Art Museum. 

Trick Art Museum

Liz fighting a reptile in the Trick Art Museum

Now who's the biggest

Now who’s the biggest

Toyota Megaweb

A car of the future at Toyota Megaweb

On Saturday we visited the Koishikawa Korakuen Japanese Gardens followed by a visit to Ikebukuro Shopping District.   What an eye opener.  As big as Shibuya and equally as crowded. 

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens

Ikebukoru Shopping District

Ikebukoru Shopping District

Sayonara Japan ….   So tomorrow we sadly depart Japan.  This is an amazing country.  Friendly people, world class technology, a transport system the envy of the world and massive building complexes that interlink with train stations, department stores and shopping complexes.  At the same time it proudly displays its heritage and culture.

Christmas lights at Roppongi Hills near our apartment

Christmas lights at Roppongi Hills near our apartment

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