I was looking forward to Harajuku. It’s meant to be the home of cosplay – dressing up as characters from anime and the like. We’d made sure we’d be in Tokyo on a Sunday, because that’s the day when the cosplayers come out in force. I think someone forgot to tell the cosplayers that.
Continue reading Harajuku? More like Hara-junk-u
Today has been a bit of a nothing day: we travelled from Kanazawa to Tokyo on a weekend preceding a series of public holidays, so the whole country is travelling and we had to have a couple of tries before we could find a train with seats available (thanks to Sim who managed to figure out how to tell on the Japanese website whether the trains were booked out or not). Most of the day was spent on trains, so we haven’t really done much at either end. Accordingly, I thought that instead of describing the day, I’d take the opportunity to discuss a subject very close to my heart.
Continue reading Food
If it’s gold you’re after then forget about the Incas and head to Kanazawa – they’re giving the stuff away.
Continue reading The Mysterious City Of Gold
Here we are in Kanazawa, city of traditional crafts. Haven’t seen any of those yet (except in passing). Perhaps upon the morrow.
Our vision in coming here was to have a few days between Kyoto and Tokyo when we didn’t have too much to do and could relax a bit. It certainly was nice sleeping in this morning, after all the running around in Kyoto.
Continue reading Kanazawa
We had a long list of things we had half planned on doing in Kyoto, and most of them didn’t happen. We didn’t get to the Imperial Palace, or see Ryoanji’s famous dry garden. I even had to miss out on the Manga museum, and the cinema dedicated to the works of Tezuka Osamu (creator of Astro Boy). But one thing I refused to miss was the walk to the Fushimi Inari shrine, even if it meant waking up at 5:30am.
Continue reading The Torii Walk
Tonight for the first time we ate a Japanese meal without the benefit of any of the following:
– an English menu
– a picture menu
– plastic models of food we could point to when ordering (I don’t know who makes these, but they have them for everything, including non-Japanese food like pizza)
– restaurant staff able to explain our meal to us using verbal communication, written communication, pantomime, interpretive dance or any other means.
Continue reading Gion
Beside all the temples and gardens in Kyoto, it also has a rather famous castle – Nijo-jo. Himeji, an hour west of Kyoto is best known for its castle Himeji-jo. Today (perhaps rather ambitiously) we visited both of them, so it’s only natural that I try and determine whose castle reigns supreme.
Continue reading Nijo-jo vs Himeji-jo
We are here in the city which for a large chunk of Japan’s history was the capital: that distinction has only belonged to Tokyo since 1868, while Kyoto was the capital for over 1,000 years prior to that.
Continue reading Kyoto
Yesterday we back tracked along the Shinkansen line to Osaka, then headed onwards to Kyoto. We’re staying in a ryokan here, which is meant to be a traditional Japanese style of accommodation. However judging from the private bathrooms, air conditioning and LAN port, I don’t think this place can be considered too traditional.
Continue reading Nara
Here in Fukuoka we’re staying at the Grand Hyatt (strictly in honour of our anniversary; we can’t afford three weeks of it), which adjoins Canal City. Canal City is a shopping mall such as only the Japanese can create: flamboyant, luxurious and bewildering. Instead of an information desk, information robots (infobots?) patrol the centre, automatically stopping and entering info mode if you walk up to them. A series of fountains rising out of the canal (which flows through the centre of the arcade) does a choreographed routine to music every hour on the hour: on our first day we were present entirely by accident when ABBA started playing.
Continue reading Canal City