Mini Japan Trip 2009

December 26, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Posted in General, Japan, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel | 1 Comment
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I relocated to the UK a few years ago, coming via Japan. At the time I did a bunch of touristy things.

This trip is only brief (with only 1 non airport related day) and so I spent most of the time hanging out with a few friends. Part of which was a return to Kamakura and the not so nearby – unless you have a car – Restaurant Marlowe. Which offers a range of interesting custard and non-custard cakes. The green tea one had a strong after taste of tea and the other flavours around the table were equally nice. The restaurant has a clear view over the Pacific and on a warm day you’d be able to sit outside and enjoy the moment.

All this eating and commuting didn’t stop me adding a few new additions to the list.

Miraikan – The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation – This is one seriously cool museum. At least for the geeky amongst us. If you’re interested in health, food, robotics, the environment, space or new materials they’ve got you covered and there are probably other things I’m missing. These permanent exhibits cost 600Y and there is an additional fee for any other exhibitions.

There are lots of hands on activities but this could pose a problem during peak hours as I could imagine people getting frustrated at not getting the chance to play.

The information panels are almost all bilingual (Japanese and English) so learning could never be easier. Having said that I did not get the most out of this visit because I’d come straight after dropping my bags after a long sleepless night. So fatigue was definitely affecting my care factor. Nonetheless I could definitely see the value of this museum and all of the cool future tech.

Take the Yurikamome line (790Y one-way) from Shimbashi station and cross over the Rainbow Bridge (which also affords a nice view of the city).  About 15 minutes later you’ll get to the Telecom Center station and a 5 minute walk will have you at the museum. Unfortunately there’s not much else around (other than the Maritime Science museum that I didn’t go to), so if you’re pressed for time you may have to miss this one.

Mori Art Museum – is located in the new gleaming mixed use complex Roppongi Hills. Entry is 1500Y (varies on the exhibit) which is a bit pricey for an art gallery that is until you realise that you now have access to an almost 360 degree view of the city. It’s a magnificent vista with the chance to look out over the bay, the diminutive Tokyo Tower and Mount Fuji to name but a few highlights. Of course this will be influenced by the weather and the pollution levels.

For an additional 300Y you can go outside but unfortunately I was running a touch late so forgo this. I’m still quite happy with my view from the inside – except for the glare on a few pics.

The gallery itself has a rotating collection of special exhibits. Rather humourously when I visited they were looking at medicine and art, which included a large number of items on loan from London’s Science Museum and Wellcome Collection! So I’d had the chance to see many of these before. Did I get the most value for my money, probably not but you probably will. Make the most of it and grab a drink at the bar (no idea of the price – sorry!) and enjoy the view!

General Nogi’s Residence – One reason I was a bit pressed for time at the Mori building was because on my walk there I stumbled across the shrine for General Nogi (and his wife). They committed ritual suicide on the day of the Emperor’s funeral in 1912. The grounds are relatively small but well tended and it’s a nice break from the surrounding city.

All in all a quick and tiring (jet lag related) trip but it was good to come back, it felt almost natural and certainly great to see friends again!

Tokyo photos at Flickr.

Japan Photolog – Yasukuni Shrine and Diet Building

June 20, 2007 at 8:57 pm | Posted in Japan, Tokyo, Travel | Leave a comment

Final selection of photos from the Diet and Yasakuni, more on Flickr.

Diet Building.
Diet (1)

Final stage of the Diet tour – people taking photos.

Everyone wants to get their photo taken!
Diet (3)

Walking towards the Yasukuni Shrine.
Yasukuni Shrine

Entrance to the Shrine.
Yasukuni Shrine (1)

The Shrine.
Yasukuni Shrine (2)

Yasukuni museum.
Yasukuni Shrine (3)

Japan Photolog – Meiji University, Imperial Gardens and Metro Towers

June 20, 2007 at 8:43 pm | Posted in Japan, Tokyo, Travel | Leave a comment

Selected pictures from Meiji University, Imperial Gardens and the Metro Towers. More on Flickr, follow the links.

Meiji University campus.
Meiji University

The area around the campus has plenty of instrument and music shops.
Meiji University (2)

I love a country which offers more Coke at the same price as a regular can and both sold side by side in vending machines.

Entrance to the Imperial Gardens.
Imperial Gardens (18)

Amateur artists.
Imperial Gardens (17)

One of the many parts of the garden. A water theme.
Imperial Gardens (24)

A big field. Exciting.
Imperial Gardens

This random kept trying to use his phone, turning it every which way and doesn’t seem to be successful.
Imperial Gardens (3)

Through an arch, looking at a moat.
Imperial Gardens (13)

The Municipal Towers.
Tokyo Municipal Towers (9)

Plaza in front of the towers (with school groups assembling).
Tokyo Municipal Towers (10)

Looking down on the plaza from the observation desk.
Tokyo Municipal Towers

Panoramic view. Mt Fuji is somewhere on the horizon but pollution obscures the view.
Tokyo Municipal Towers (16)

View over park.
Tokyo Municipal Towers (18)

Observation deck, with a high ceiling makes the room feel quite empty.
Tokyo Municipal Towers (21)

Despite being a modern high tech building they still need staff to clean out the pools.
Tokyo Municipal Towers (8)

Japan Photolog – Yokohama

June 20, 2007 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Japan, Travel, Yokohama | Leave a comment

Selection of photos from Yokohama, more on Flickr!

Landmark Tower complex.
Yokohama (2)

Across the bay and a bit of building envy.
Yokohama (5)

Yokohama’s famed ferris wheel.
Yokohama (4)

Park on the edge of the the harbour.
Yokohama (31)

Yokohama’s ChinaTown.
Yokohama (42)

Foreigner’s graveyard.
Yokohama (44)

Sunset on the bluff.
Yokohama (47)

Dusk overlooking the harbour.
Yokohama (53)

Ghost cat! Cats are everywhere!
Yokohama (49)

At night. Obviously.
Yokohama (57)

Japan Photolog – Shibuya, Asakusa and Roppongi Hills

June 20, 2007 at 7:32 pm | Posted in Asakusa, Japan, Roppongi Hills, Shibuya, Tokyo, Travel | Leave a comment

Selection of photos from Shibuya, Asakusa and Roppongi Hills – more on Flickr, click the links.

Hachiko’s statue in Shibuya.
Shibuya (6)

The main (and very busy) intersection in Shibuya.
Shibuya (5)

More of the activity.
Shibuya (4)

Life in motion.

Shibuya (7)

Entrance to the Asakusa district.
Asakusa (8)

Main entrance to temple area.
Asakusa (6)

Shopping district leading towards the temple.
Asakusa (5)

Facing the temple.
Asakusa (27)

Close up of the temple.
Asakusa (29)

Pagoda in the temple area.
Asakusa (26)

Another temple? The Asahi factory.
Asahi Building

Roppongi Hills Tower at night (blurred).
Roppongi Hills (3)

Roppongi Hills again blurry.
Roppongi Hills (6)

A very blurry picture of Tokyo’s Eiffel Tower, the Tokyo Tower.
Roppongi Hills (1)

Japan Photolog – Harajuku & Meiji Shrine, Ginza and Akihabara

June 20, 2007 at 6:48 pm | Posted in Akihabara, Ginza, Harajuku, Japan, Tokyo, Travel | Leave a comment

Photos of Harajuku, Meiji Shrine, Ginza and Akihabara. Click on the links for more on Flickr.

What I thought was part of the Meiji Shrine complex in Harajuku…
Harajuku 2

But not.

Here is the Tori Gate at the entrance of the real Meiji Shrine.
Meiji Shrine (10)

The couryard in front of the shrine.
Meiji Shrine (3)

The main shrine building.
Meiji Shrine (2)

Harajuku station with the Meiji complex on the left and the random place I went to originally somewhere in the top right.
Meiji Shrine (8)

Sunday in Ginza where the streets are closed and people can walk freely.
Ginza 13

Ginza even has foreign entertainment! Fancy.
Ginza 9

While not the tour book advertised cafe lifestyle spilling onto the street it does feature chairs. Chairs!
Ginza 1

Returning to Ginza.
Sony Building

The Sony Building. The showroom is the corner on the right of the mural.
Sony Building (2)

A funky looking building and older style lamp post.
Ginza (6)

“Quil fait bon” – best cake ever.
Ginza (3)

Akihabara with the streets closed to traffic.
Akihabara 11

Festival activity in the streets of Akihabara.
Akihabara 8

Festival goers carrying shrine?
Akihabara 5

More of the festival atmosphere.
Akihabara 1

Japan Photolog – Kyoto

June 19, 2007 at 10:55 pm | Posted in anime, Anime & Manga, Japan, Kyoto, Travel | Leave a comment

Photos from Kyoto, more on Flickr!

Kyoto Train Station.
Kyoto 1

Some sort of all day musical performance at the station.
Kyoto 3

Looking down on the Silver Pavillion.
Kyoto 18

They’re so conscientious they even brush the moss.
Kyoto 23

Streets near the temple.
Kyoto 35

Along the Philosopher’s walk.
Kyoto 33

The Philosopher’s walk. Quite relaxing.
Kyoto 30

Entrance to the Heian Jingu Shrine.
Kyoto 52

Walking along the canal and back into the city.
Kyoto 55

For a fast escape?
Kyoto 56

Something going on at Town Hall involving cheerleaders.
Kyoto 59

International Manga Museum.
Kyoto 62

Autographs on the International Manga Museum’s coffee shop wall.
Kyoto 61

Japan Photolog – Sakai

June 19, 2007 at 9:35 pm | Posted in Japan, Sakai, Travel | Leave a comment

Photos from Sakai, more on Flickr.

Japanese Garden in the Japanese city of Sakai.
Sakai 81

More of the garden.
Sakai 72

Power lines ruining the garden.
Sakai 58

I believe this is the Peace Tower, it’s completely massive and overbearing. I suspect that if Japan goes nuclear this is where they will launch their missiles from!
Sakai 46

Peace Tower behind the garden.
Sakai 67

More of the Tower behind the garden.
Sakai 66

This building reminds me of something out of the Flinstones.
Sakai 41

On my early and long wanderings I thought there was a kofun through these bars, luckily I eventually found the right one!
Sakai 20

Another place I thought was a kofun but was really a waterworks.
Sakai 14

How to get around in Sakai?
Sakai 19

Another signpost for walking around Sakai…if only they were easy to see.
Sakai 17

A sign post I thought was indicating the tour map around Sakai but, no, completely wrong way.
Sakai 9

Another marker for the fun “Where’s Wally” game of how to find your way in Sakai.
Sakai 15

Mini map of the some of the Sakai area.
Sakai 8

Information board showing the scope of the kofun.
Sakai 33

Distances around the largest kofun in Japan.
Sakai 24

The Nintoku-ryo kofun.
Sakai 29

Nintoku-ryo kofun.
Sakai 26

And last a bit of random, Duh, a thin house.
Sakai 1

Japan Photolog – Osaka

June 19, 2007 at 8:34 pm | Posted in Japan, Osaka, Travel | Leave a comment

Selection of photos from Osaka, more on Flickr.

Iconic Osaka.
Osaka 10

Palace and skyline to the mountains from the City Museum (hence the reflection).
Osaka 29

After the castle I wandered (too far) and it started to rain but I saw this and it’s completely random but taking a photo helped in my journey.

Osaka 32

Inner city Osaka.
Osaka 37

On the weekend (and often in the week) bands (within metres of each other) play all over the place especially near the overpass.
Osaka 34

Buy something with your live music?
Osaka 39

Homeless person near one of the live bands.
Osaka 36

Another tourist shot!
Osaka 24

Japan Photolog – Ueno

June 19, 2007 at 7:44 pm | Posted in Japan, Tokyo, Ueno | Leave a comment

Some of my photos from Ueno. More can be found at Flickr.  

Night in Ueno.
Ueno (6)

Maze of streets, food shops and pachinko parlours.
Ueno (1)

Lake in the middle of Ueno park.
Ueno Park 4

Towards a shrine in Ueno Park.
Ueno Park 10

Founder of Japan’s Red Cross.
Ueno Park 7

Cats are everywhere, I’m not sure whether it’s natural or if they’re fed by the homeless.
Ueno Park 6

Tokyo National Museum, bleh!
Ueno Park 20

Cemetary North of Ueno.
Ueno 8

These graves have a modern and austere compared to the more traditional styles.
Ueno 7

I like the broom leaning up against the grave.
Ueno 9

It’s a little difficult to see but on the other side of this road are a few small statues. I wonder if they are ancient shrines or a Japanese variant on the cross on the road when a person has died in an accident.
Ueno 13

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