Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Nine

Our last full day in Tokyo.

IMG_3847One thing that continues to surprise me is that hubby wakes up every morning and puts the television and AND watches it, even though there is nothing on but Japanese TV.

There’s nothing on in the English language.
I understand some people have it on for comfort or background noise, but he sits there and watches it.

Every morning I’ve been going for a walk first thing in the morning and every morning, even on weekends, I see most of the men dressed in black pants and white shirts. Often they’re in full suits. Where are all these people in business attire going?
imagesThey’re just walking down the street in this non business district so why are they dressed like that.
In fact often hubby and I will just look at each other and say “Where are all these people going??”

When you think about it, it’s not surprising as it first seems as there are millions and millions of people here. They all have to be somewhere!

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Our first stop today was Yokohama. As I write this, today is Tuesday and that means that a lot of places we wanted to visit in Yokohama were closed.

As we left the train station  was again impressed at how everyone keeps to the left of the escalators. Why can’t they do that in Adelaide!!!

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We exited the station in Yokohama and went through to the Nissan building.

Hubby was very impressed!

From what we saw as we left the station, we thought Yokohama looked newer than other parts of Japan that we’ve seen and it was almost like a ghost town! Where were all the people? Even the footpaths were clear of biked rushing past!
It almost felt wrong.

We walked past the amusement park and eventually found ourselves in a shopping area but really, there were hardly any people around.


We went into that building on the top right above. Hubby had to keep watching where he was walking as many ceilings are just not built for his height.

One of the places we went into had a food court. They really really really love Hawaii here!

I was enticed by a picture from one of the food places but unfortunately, it didn’t come out like the picture and I felt disappointed when we got our food.

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After this we walked to China town and I was EVEN MORE disappointed that we’d wasted our time eating in the “Hawaiian” mall.

There were so many good foods everywhere. Hubby and I had these honey sesame balls. I was too late to take a photo!!! But they were delicious and I had that sesame taste in my mouth for a while.
There was food everywhere including roasted chestnuts on most corners.
I read that this China Town in Yokohama is the largest in Japan and from what I saw today I’d have to believe it! It was huge!


We even saw a place that advertised “foot massage”. But what it was, was similar to what I’ve seen in Bali where you put your feet in water and have those little fish come up and nip at you. Apparently your skin is nice and smooth after that!


We walked around a bit more and eventually found ourselves at a familiar sight!
Hard Rock Cafe!!
We were quite “thirsty” so it was a given that we’d go in here for a drink and I’m glad we did!

We met a nice server who was happy to practice his English with us while I enjoyed a Sangria or two..

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I’m glad we made the trip out to Yokohama today even though the “Noodle Cup Museum” was closed. That would have been interesting to see!!

One thing that made us giggle seeing an “Eggs and Things” place. We had seen these all over Honolulu when we were there and there was ALWAYS a huge line out the front. One day, curiosity got the better of us and we lined up too. We wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Once we’d eaten there, we didn’t understand the obsession. We just didn’t get it. The food was average. What’s the attraction?
Anyhow, in this Eggs and Things place in Yokohama, there was also a line out front!!! Seriously!

Once we got home we picked up some food locally…. some chicken fried things, spring rolls (so oily!!), rice and noodles all to share.

We’ve been to this place many times this week as it’s close to home so it’s very convenient. I wonder if they’ll miss us when we’re gone?

Tomorrow we leave for Osaka which is a food lovers paradise!

I’ll just leave you with this sign that we saw close by the Hard Rock Cafe in Yokohama.

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Eight

Another beautiful day in Japan today! I love that we’re experiencing gorgeous warm weather. I think I might have to move here during the Winter months in Adelaide!

One thing I don’t understand is how the majority of people seem to be slim when their food is so processed and fried. The supermarkets are full of ready to go meals. Most of them are fried.
There are so many places that sell those delicious looking pastries and cakes and they all seem to be so highly processed!
You won’t easily find diet soda’s here and in fact there aren’t many “soft” drinks around. Actually it’s not really that hard to find it, especially as the West continues to have an influence, but it’s not as common as you’d find back home.

IMG_3817Hubby and I are almost out of ideas for what we want to do.
This morning we decided to walk to Ueno, have another look around and then maybe, eventually, make our way on foot to the Tokyo Metropolitan Building.

We stopped for a coffee at Starbucks. See that pic on the right? That was in their cake display. Alongside the delicious looking cakes they had a meat pie!!

We sat there enjoying the scenery in Euno park. It was very relaxing!

 

Next stop was Harajuko. I seem to get these places mixed up. I just didn’t remember going to these shops before!
Hubby says it must be wonderful being me, it’s like I’m experiencing it all for the first time every time I go there…
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We walked down Takeshita Street again and this time I noticed the huge Candy Canes!

Can you see it on the left?

It doesn’t look as big in her hands as it did when a four year old was holding one.

There was a huge line to get these as well!

We’ve been noticing a few places here that do Kebabs. I can’t imagine that they would be like “our” kebabs but today curiosity got the better of us and we had to get some.

 

One Beef and one Chicken.
They actually tasted not bad!

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I don’t know if you can notice the meat as it’s cooking.

Chicken on the left and beef on the right.

This guy was quite busy too!!

And alongside him was a place that was selling fries…

Moving right along…
After walking past the high end stores of Harajuku again, we decided to walk to Shinjuku.
I have to confess, I really love saying it. Shinjuku. There’s just something about that name!

IMG_3825We walked past the Meiji shrine and were amazed at how close it was to the station. Last year when we’d come here we’d gone via another station and walked a few kilometres to get to it.
The more you walk, the more you realise that so many stations are so close to each other that you probably don’t have to take the train as often as you think.

I found the display of the old wine and sake barrels very interesting.
Hopefully you can read the information in the pics below.

 


I just LOVE the Metropolitan Government Building.
Firstly, because it’s free to go up it!!

 

There’s great views of Tokyo from there and on a good day, you can even see Mt Fuji.
Today was not one of those days but we did see Fuji last time we were here.

 

Secondly, I like coming here because there’s a couple of gift shops and a restaurant.
Yes, the gift shops are slightly over priced but there’s not many people around and while hubby goes to have a coffee in the restaurant, I can take my time and really look at everything they have for sale.

I came away with a few goodies that are now tucked safely in my suitcase!

 


Another thing we love about Shinjuku is Brooklyn Parlor!!
We stumbled across this place last time by accident and this time, sought it out.

There’s just such a great atmosphere here!!! Hubby and I were definitely the oldest ones in there though.
We had a couple of drinks and shared some fries while giving our feet a bit of a rest.

As we made our way back I couldn’t help but wonder what side of the road we’re actually supposed to walk on. They drive on the left so you’d figure when walking on paths you should keep left. This is especially true as you share the path with so many bikes!!! Yet people don’t tend to keep left. I don’t think they stick to any side actually!

At the train station they have signs keeping you to keep left or right. Sometimes it’s left, sometimes it’s right.
When riding escalators, everyone keeps to the left… or right… (I love how they do that!!!) Leaving the other side free for people that want to race on by.

I was too late to take pics of our dinner but dumplings and rice made another appearance (not surprising)
I do like the food here but I’m not one who says I LOVE the food. I kind of miss having different vegetables and fruit. While you can have those things here, a lot of them tend to be very expensive and I don’t see them as a common thing being offered in restaurants.
I could be wrong, just what I’ve noticed in the short time we’ve been here.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Tokyo… I’m not sure what that day has in store yet!! Time to plan.

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Seven

We spent a good part of this morning trying to decide what to do.
We’ve looked at day trips out of Tokyo and River Cruises but nothing really appeals within the time frame we have.

So I went online and found a market area that is supposed to be really popular with tourists and better yet, it was in “walking distance” from us (It’s all relative)

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The Nakamise market was a couple of kilometres from us.

As we approached we saw a whole lot of bicycles parked.

Everyone rides a bike and you’re constantly looking over our shoulder to see if one is about to whizz past you!

 

I really don’t know how there aren’t more accidents with them here.

 

 

 

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Before we shopped at the market we walked through Senso-ji Temple which adjoins the market.

 

 

 

There were some food stalls along there and hubby and I tried some of the Crab Meat on offer

 

 

(At least, I hope that’s what it was)

 

 


You would have a hard time being here if you don’t like crowds. Wherever you go there are just crowds and crowds of people. I found myself getting anxious a few times but you just have to go with the flow.

There are soooo many shop stalls to look at and we didn’t really get to look at everyone but we did spend a lot of time there.

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I had read about the many themed cafe’s here and one I particularly wanted to visit was based on Alice in Wonderland.

It was called “Alice in an Old Castle”

 

Unfortunately no one was around so I just took a few photos (it was really dark in there) and then left back through the winding staircase.

 

 

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It looked like a pretty cool place so I was sorry we couldn’t even just have a drink there.

 

Maybe next visit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wussed out at lunch time and went into an Italian place.

I seem to think we’ve eaten at this chain before but hubby says we haven’t. I love the message on their napkins!

 

 

Then it was time to walk around Ikebukuro.
There’s a department store there called Seibu and on the basement level, you will find all sorts of food that will be wrapped, packaged, then packaged again for you to take home.

 

 

The pictures I took were mostly of the desserts/cakes because that’s what we were after but they had lots of meat and savoury products too.

Hubby and I got a large share of cakes and snuck off to find somewhere to eat them.

One thing about Japan is that you can be hard pressed to find public seating and rubbish/trash bins!  Yet it is mostly always clean. We haven’t seen litter apart from the odd cigarette butt, but there are no bins around.

We walked for a bit then found a sunny spot that we thought was behind a walkway. We sat down and started greedily devouring our goodies when all of a sudden, people started rushing by.

Turns out we were in a walkway through the train station.. Whoops. So much for trying to be discreet.

But that’s ok, no one knows us here….

We walked around some more and spoke to a few locals that approached us speaking English.

So many things to see. There is always something happening.

Hubby and I often look at each other saying “Where are all these people going???” because it’s like a major rock concert or something has just let out and everyone is rushing to go home.

But in Japan it’s just another regular night where crowds, loud electronic music and dress ups are just part of everyday life.

I think today was the first day since we’ve been here that we didn’t have dumplings! Who would have thought that there is a limit to dumpling love.

I can hardly wait to see what tomorrow is going to have in store for us!

Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Six

Although I believe I have had input in planning how our days are going to be spent, hubby emphatically said he wasn’t going to put any ideas forth today and it was all up to me what we did. “Plan our day” he commanded.

So, I gleefully rubbed my hands together and said “I have the perfect day planned!”

I love the busy hubs like Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya but I’ve seen them now and wanted some tranquility and peace. IMG_3673
Today, we were going to climb Mt Takao!

I had looked at a couple of sites and this is a direct quote from one of them.

Alight at Takaosanguchi Station (not Takao Station, which is the stop before) and you’ll be facing the front of the mountain. Don’t be tempted by the cable car or chair lifts at the foot of the mountain – taking either of these will cut short your walk and it’s really not a difficult climb.

Did you get  that? Apparently, this is not a difficult climb.

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First things first, get on the right train.

We got into a “women only” train carriage by accident but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the other passengers….

True to the website’s word, when we got off the train, we were right at the start of the walk.
I had had to talk hubby into this walk and I sold it by saying it was going to be a gentle walk up. Nothing like Mt Lofty! I said that because I knew that’s what he was thinking.

With pursed lips he followed me up and it got pretty steep right away.

 

 

“It must be just like this at the start” I said trying to calm him, “It’s going to taper off soon I’m sure. Look, it’s getting flatter over there isn’t it?”

But no, it wasn’t.

Up and up we went. These Japanese are a strong bunch though. I saw people of all ages, and from all walks of life doing this walk.

At one point I saw a young mum trying to push a stroller up there. Her husband gently pushed her back every now and again to help.
I said to hubby “Why wouldn’t he just take the stroller?” and hubby said through gritted teeth, “I don’t know, maybe it was her effing idea to come up here”  I feel like there was a covert message for me there but I left it…

 

 

And look what else we saw!!! Dog shoes! This dog also had a cap on.
Safety first.

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After a good hard slog and after constantly telling hubby “I’m sure we’re almost at the flat bit” we were at the point where the Cable Cars get to.

He stared longingly at it but it didn’t really make a difference because as it turned out we had done the hard bit.

We stopped so hubby could catch his breath and regain some humanity and got some refreshments. I just loved these little honey/sesame stick things!

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I found an information centre and the lady told me it was only a gentle slope up now to the peak and Visitor Centre. I told her to hold it right there and brought hubby over and asked her to repeat what she’d just said as I was sure he wouldn’t have believed me.

I also asked her about the way down. She said it was a bit gravelly but Elementary School kids do it all the time so it was fine.

With that information in hand we set off for the peak.

 

 

We reached the top!!

 

 


I can’t quite read the expression on hubby’s face…

Now I don’t know what these Japanese people are made of but that “bit gravelly” description was NOT what I would have called it.
In fact I’m sure this trail would NOT have even been allowed in Australia!!!

Here are a few pics I took when it was safe enough to get my camera out.

 

 


Those last two pics show what it was like for the majority of the walk down.

Hubby turned out to be quite the hero. We were walking behind a group of elderly people when a woman slipped and went down a steep embankment. It was quite terrifying!
Everyone screamed.
Two men in front of us tried to help and they quickly went down too.
Hubby got down to help and was holding on to a thin trunk of tree. He slipped but was holding on so was able to pull himself up, then grabbed the ones who’d fallen.

Once up, it was like nothing happened.
Must be a cultural thing. Barely a thank you and off on our way we went.

So there you go, because I forced him up the hill, he saved a woman. You’re welcome.

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We were hungry by the time we got back to the station but decided to wait until we were back in Shinjuku before eating.

Is this enticing anyone? It wasn’t for me.

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Back in Shinjuku and what should we find but Shakeys!!!

Hubby and his family have a history with Shakey’s having once owned several in Canada.

We’ve now been in three different Shakey’s in Japan (not just this trip)

It might not be local food but it was comforting so we went for it.

 

 

They give you  all you can eat for ninety minutes. I estimate hubby and I ate enough for lunch and dinner combined in about twenty.

After that we strolled the streets of Shinjuku with about eight or nine million other people for a while before returning to our apartment.

I don’t think I’ll be planning any more itineraries this holiday….

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Vay Cay to Jay Jay – Part Five

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We’ve eaten like locals, we’ve settled in and feel right at home handling money and interacting with other Japanese people so what to do today?

So far hubby and I have gone to places we visited last time and wanted to see again. Today it was time for something different!

We didn’t get to Roppongi last time so we decided to start the day with a trip to Roppongi.

I had a quick look online and saw a couple of places I wanted to visit.

One of the places I read about was the Nogi Shrine.

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I won’t go into details  here but it’s worth having a google and a read and it made the place all the more interesting to visit.
Lastly, being slightly arachnophobic, I had to visit the great Maman!

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It was impressive!  If you look up and underneath here, you’ll notice she’s carrying eggs as well.

Now we knew we wanted to eventually get to the Rainbow bridge today but didn’t have set plans and figured we were brave enough to use public transport from wherever we were so we just walked.

IMG_3638Up to now, every place we’ve visited (mostly tourist places) were just packed with people and interesting to see. As we walked we noticed less and less people and less and less shops and restaurants. We were entering a business district? At least that’s what we assumed.

I should give a special mention to these cute Westerners risking their lives on the streets in these interesting vehicles!!

The drivers at the back were actually dressed in onesies and gave us a friendly wave as they drove past.

We walked on thinking we’d hit something interesting soon but after almost an hour of walking we set our google maps for Tokyo Tower and headed back into that direction.

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It looked pretty impressive as we approached it.

On the way we passed the Australian Ambassador’s residence and that was interesting to look at too.

Hubby and I weren’t really interested in going up the Tower, we just wanted to sit and have a look at the shops.

My eyes lit up when I saw there was a food court inside! It just makes ordering food so much easier AND they had a place that was doing beef/rice bowls! Alright!!

 


My beef bowl, topped with runny egg is in the left and hubby had some pork/rice thing. They were both delicious and both came with Miso soup which was really tasty too!

IMG_3650Once we were done with that, hubby asked which train was going to take us to the Rainbow bridge.
I checked out google maps but it was a mass of train/bus confusion and I said “You know, we’re only just under 4kms away, we should walk it!”

I can’t say that hubby agreed but we did end up walking it and I’m glad we did because I think we just see so much more when we walk.

IMG_3651Again, the structure looked impressive as we approached it. They sure don’t do things by halves here!

The pic on the right is NOT the rainbow bridge but the on-ramp to the bridge.
I did take pics of it but unfortunately didn’t load them in time for this entry.

I took a couple of pics from the middle of it though!

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It was such an experience!! Apart from the bridge itself, it was incredibly windy. So much so, I thought I was going to drop my phone a couple of times and felt unsteady on my feet! The bridge was constantly shaking and the traffic was noisy as it rushed by.

I really loved it and was glad we’d made the effort to get out here.

Once we crossed the bridge it felt like we were in a different country or even a different era! Everything was quieter and more laid back.
We walked through a couple of malls, bought some over priced frozen yoghurt then hubby begged for us to take the train back over the bridge. I really wanted to walk it again but we took the train.

We’re a bit sad that we’re not able to watch our favourite AFL team The Adelaide Crows playing tonight. Hubby has been trying to get it via anyway he can but we can’t seem to connect. Must be a country thing.

Aside from that, we enjoyed some more local foods. I think we’ve eaten dumplings every day since we’ve been here!!

 


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And the grocery store saw us once again for some bread desserts.

I bought three this time and opened one as hubby and I walked back to our apartment.
I’m not sure I bought the right thing because although it tasted nice, it was like eating raw dough so maybe I’d bought something that had to be baked some more at home?? could that be possible??
Either way it was nice!!
Now back to trying to get that Crows game happening….