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5 travelers at this place

  • Day519

    Ginza, Tokyo

    October 7, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Tokyo was fantastic! We absolutely love this city and it’s many, many hidden treasures. While some might see it as an overwhelming concrete jungle, we found it to be one of the most livable cities imaginable. It’s clean, safe and there are lots of parks and green spaces – plus - endless small shops and restaurants lend so much character to the many different neighborhoods. We were also surprised by just how quiet the city is when you get off the main streets.
    While here, we fell into a happy routine of walking or taking the subway out to a different neighborhood each morning to explore and find somewhere good for lunch. Usually back for an afternoon nap, out for some exercise along the nearby Sumida river, then back home to cook dinner and plan our next day.
    A few highlights were kayaking on the city’s canals, visiting a sumo stable to see some intense practice, doing a fancy cocktail tasting at a small bar, and enjoying seriously great food and sampling many delicious sweets (hence the need to eat salad most nights and get back into a running routine).
    It was hard to leave the city, but we are sure we’ll be back.
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  • Day1

    Ginza - Seriously Impressive!

    August 9, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 29 °C

    We landed at about 10am and quickly noticed it was hot! Such a nice change from being cold and wet last week in Sydney. It would have been in the mid 30s which was actually pretty good.

    Tokyo's Haneda Airport is quite close to the city itself and it looks very new. Tokyo hosts the summer Olympics in 2020 so they are doing a lot of work in preparation, most signs are in both English and Japanese. As well as being a new airport it was also very empty. We had landed, passed through immigration, collected the bags, and passed through customs in under 30 minutes - record time!

    First thing to do was go to the Japan Rail (JR) Office to collect the JR passes and then we had to find our way to the Hotel. Taxis are definitely for wimps we were using the subway! The Tokyo subway is huge and brutally efficient, have a look at Wikipedia to see more. In Sydney a train is deemed late if it is more then 5 minutes behind schedule here it is deemed late if it is a few seconds behind schedule. We didn't have people pushing us onto the trains but they were pretty crowded. Everyone lines up on the platform and lets people off before getting on, nothing like New York.

    Another complicated aspect of the subway was the fact there are multiple subway operators as they have been privatised. This means we can't use our JR pass on all Tokyo subway lines and had to buy a Suica card (like Sydney's Opal card) to use on the other lines. It sounds complex but it's not that hard to work out really.

    The train from the airport is actually a monorail that really flies along. In some parts we were above the streets and others we were underground. The monorail only goes to Hamamatsucho Station where we had to change to go to Shimbashi and then change again to get to Ginza where our hotel is located. Sounds hard but took us about 40 mins all up. On the way we saw our first Shinkansen - also known as a Bullet Train!

    Ginza is the glitzy part of Tokyo where all the high end shops are located - Tiffanys, Cartier, etc, etc - and is very schmick. The streets are meticulously clean and there are always loads of people about. We came out of the subway and were trying to work out which way to the hotel when this lovely Japanese lady came up and started talking to us. You hear about how Japanese people are very happy to help tourists who look lost and I thought she was going to point us in the right direction. Turns out she just wanted to have a chat and had no idea where the hotel was, though she did point out something on the map which helped so we worked it out pretty quickly.

    We dumped the bags at the hotel and went to find some lunch and to explore the streets of Ginza.

    As well as the high-end shops Ginza has lots of department stores and little alley-ways to disappear down for a look. It's very interesting but the prices are about on par with Sydney so we didn't spend up big!

    We headed up a couple of blocks to the main Tokyo Train Station to book our Shinkansen to Kyoto on Friday which we did with no problems but the station itself was organised chaos! People and trains going everywhere. The locals buy their tickets at ticket machines which were way too scary for us which is why we bought the Suica cards.

    After wandering through the station for a while we went over the road to one of the big tech stores to organise a local SIM card for my phone so I can access the internet while we are here - essential when you are relying on Google Maps and Google Translate! The SIM card came from a vending machine which are everywhere in Japan and luckily the bloke in the shop was super-helpful and managed to get it all up and running for me in no time. The shop was a mix of Technology Shop and Drug Store - yes seriously!

    By then we had been on the go for close to 2 days with minimal sleep so we had to find some dinner before we crashed. We wandered down some of the lanes near the hotel and found a cool little restaurant that had some interesting photos in the window and decided to give it a try. What a win! Not only was the food sensational but the waiter was super-helpful and spoke some English, he even posed for a photo (see below) as we left.
    Initial impressions:

    Really lovely people
    - Very safe
    - Food is sensational
    - It is big but if you have a go it isn't that hard to get around
    - Very few Westerners. If you walk a block in Ginza and you probably won't see a Westerner, walk 2 blocks and you might see one!
    - Language is not an issue (well not yet anyway). Unless you want to watch TV, every station is in Japanese! Who would have thought ....
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  • Day2

    Imperially Speaking

    August 10, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Today was our first full day in Tokyo.

    We headed up towards the Emperor's Palace to look around at the gardens to see what we could see. First thing we noticed was the moats and walls around the Palace. The moats were about 50m wide and only 50cm or so deep but the walls were quite high. The intention here of course was to keep out those pesky Ninjas and other undesirables that might try and mess with the Emperor. These gardens are in the centre of Tokyo just near the main train station, about a 15 min walk from the hotel.

    We wandered around a bit and were impressed by the buildings and the gates. Of course the Emperor still lives there so the grounds aren't open to the public BUT as luck would have it a very helpful man came up and gave us some tickets to a free tour of the gardens that was happening in an hour's time. A bit of big deal as they limit the numbers so we tagged along.

    The then Emperor moved here in the late 1800s, prior to that Kyoto was the capital of Japan. The Palace and grounds were originally set up by the Shoguns but of course there have been many wars and fires so there have been a lot of changes over the centuries. The Palace was destroyed in WW2 so the current version only opened in 1968. A number of gates and keeps were also destroyed so it isn't as spectacular as it once was but still it is very cool.

    While we were wandering through there was a reception for a visiting dignitary as all the motor bike escorts, police cars, and a big limo turned up. We couldn't get very close so couldn't really see who it was but I think it was Beyonce and Oprah. Maybe not.

    Anyway the photos below show what the Palace and Gardens are like.

    After the Palace we decided to get a bit more contemporary and caught the subway over to the very trendy area of Harajuku. There is a lane called Takeshita-dori which is where you go to get your pop-culture fix. This means there were Pokemon on t-shirts, pants, cups, etc etc as well as Japanese pop stars, cartoon characters, all kinds of food, and anything else. And the place was packed. A few more Westerners but still definitely a minority.

    We headed up a street called Omote-sando where there were more Ginza-style up market shops and then headed down to the next suburb along from Harajuku, Shibuya.

    Shibuya is very famous for 'the Scramble'. This is supposed to be the busiest crossing in the world and I can see why, even on your average Wednesday afternoon there were thousands of people crossing the road each time the lights changed. There are a few photos below.

    We then caught the train back to Tokyo Station and headed back to Ginza to find somewhere for dinner. As they say, when in Japan eat like the Italians ... yes we found an italian restaurant and it was actually really good.

    Tomorrow we nick off to Nikko!
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  • Day3

    Getting out of Tokyo

    August 11, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    On Thursday we decided we would get out of Tokyo and see some of the countryside, plus I wanted to have a go on the Shinkansen. So we decided to head north to the small tourist town of Nikko.

    We organised the Shinkansen tickets and plunged into Tokyo Train Station to find our platform. Like I said before there are a lot of rules in Japan but once you understand the basics of how things work it kinda all makes sense - YouTube was a big help here! The Shinkansens are huge trains, some are 12 carriages long,some are double deckers, and they run to various locations every few minutes so you need to be organised and know the name of the Shinkansen route, the platform it leaves from, your carriage number, and the time it goes.

    The JR gate officers are very helpful and used to directing lost tourists so they pointed us to the right platform where we knew we would have to line up. The platform has lines marked out called 'First' and 'Second' this refers to the order of the trains leaving not the class so if your train is next you line up in the First section if the one after then the Second section and you move to the First when their train leaves.

    When the train pulls in and the people have exited the cleaners go through to turn the seats around, get rid of any rubbish (never much), and make sure all is clean again. Once they are done they get off the train and bow before moving off to their next assignment. They are very fast and very efficient.

    Our JR Pass gives us unlimited access to JR Shinkansens and local trains. We were advised to buy the slightly more expensive Green version of the JR Pass as Green Shinkansen carriages have better seats and you can reserve seats whereas other carriages it is first on first seated.

    We found our seats and settled in for the ride. While it was in the 'burbs of Tokyo it wasn't going that fast - mind you it would have left the all stations to Revesby on the East Hills line in its dust! Once out of Tokyo it really started to move and wow it is fast. We had to change at Utsonomaya to a smaller local line to go up to Nikko. This train had a lot of Westerners - well about 15% were non-Japanese the rest were locals. It was a pleasant journey up into the hills to get to Nikko, all up it took just under 2 hours.

    Nikko is north of Tokyo and is viewed by many locals as a nice day trip, kinda like Sydney people going to Berry in NSW. The station was a classic old style and there were loads of people around. Nikko is popular because one of the original Shoguns is buried here so there are some very old bridges, temples, pagodas, and other buildings. We caught a bus up the top of the hill (along with a couple of hundred locals that were jammed in with us - real crush loading) and had a look around. We came across the red bridge in the photos below, really impressive. Then we wandered up to the main temple Rinno-ji (Buddist). Unfortunately the centuries and earthquakes have taken their toll and so the temple is in the middle of being restored. It has a big shed built over it and they have literally pulled it apart and replaced or repaired anything that needed to be. The best part is that this whole area is known for its cedar trees which these buildings are all built from so the smell of the cedar was sensational.

    We also visited the Japanese garden and generally wandered around with everyone else - see photos below.

    We then wandered back down the hill to look at Nikko itself. We wanted to find something for lunch but it is always a bit of a gamble as you aren't sure what type of restaurant you are going to walk into - we ended up having cake and coffee at a really neat little coffee shop but we really wanted some lunch!

    Anyway we finally sorted that out and after wandering around a bit more headed back to the station for the trip home.

    Nikko is well out of the City so we went through what we would call farmland. The Japanese are very good at using every possible speck of space. Their houses are usually double story and on small blocks, their cars are usually very small (Margaret's Yaris woud be considered a mid-sized car here), their streets are very narrow, their yards either don't exist or are used to grow veggies, and on a farm all possible space seems to be used to grow rice.

    Dinner was a low key affair followed by packing as we leave Tokyo tomorrow.

    Our hotel in Ginza was the Unitzo Ginza Hotel. The room was typically Japanese - very neat, very clean and very small. In all seriousness if you put 2 double beds in the room (it already had one) then you would have completely filled the room. As it was the room had a bed, TV on the wall, small desk, chair for the desk, small table, an ottoman, upright ironing press thing, and a document shredder (as you do). We had to pile some of these things up to give us room to open our cases and move about. The bathroom was similarly small but functional.

    Which brings me to an interesting topic, Japanese toilets. There are a couple of different types: the squat type and the western style. While the Japanese squat style are common there is usually at least one Western version as well. Even the western style can be rather odd, the one in our room beeped when in use and had a flush button as usual but it also had a remote control. Neither of us were game to try this out for fear of causing some form of biological or mechanical plumbing incident, not sure our travel insurance would cover us for any injuries. A photo is below.

    Tomorrow we move on to Kyoto.
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  • Day2

    אדריכלות אופנתית

    July 30, 2015 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    גינזה הוא הרובע הכי עשיר בטוקיו. מפוצץ בחנויות פלצניות וענקיות של כל המותגים הכי גדולים.

    איך זה שונה ממקומות אחרים בעולם באותו הסגנון? לכל מותג יש בניין שלם ורב קומות לעצמו.
    כן, זה מוגזם לחלוטין, אבל אנחנו מרוויחים אדריכלות דיי מדהימה free of charge. מה רע? ;)

    בתמונות הבניינים של: לואי ויטון, מיקימוטו (מותג פנינים איכותיות יפני; הבניין הורוד עם חלונות הראווה שנראים כמו כתמים על הבניין והתמונה עם מנורות הפנינים לאורך הקומות) , הרמס ודיור (שני בניינים שעשויים מהמון ריבועי זכוכית), דה ביר (מותג יהלומים; הבניין המפותל) וגאפ (איזה מפתיע שגם לגאפ יש בניין שווה!)
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  • Day1

    Ginza, Tokyo

    November 26, 2009 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    Ginza is like Tokyo's Beverly Hills. That building with the clock was Mic's Big Ben. There are high end shops everywhere which basically didn't interest us but since it was near December all the Christmas decorations were up. The already beautiful city looked even better.Read more

  • Day2

    Ginza Station

    November 27, 2009 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    We had the day planned to visit the Imperial Palace in Marunouchi and Akihabara, the otaku capital of the world. It was our first time using the subway! Thankfully it wasn't too difficult but man rush hour in Tokyo was crazy! We had step to the side during the rush because it was so overwhelming. What was also cool was that the subway map system was in English. The subway was very organized and clean. It was interesting to see all of Mic's opponents on their nintendo DS in the subway.Read more

  • Day97

    Ginza Street bei Nacht

    June 15, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Dann sind wir nochmal zur Ginza Street, um was zu trinken. Abends sehen die Straßen durch die Beleuchtung noch beeindruckender aus. Bild drei zeigt ein gutes Beispiel, wie viele Geschäfte und Restaurants sich in nur einem Gebäude befinden. Es ist in Tokio ganz normal, dass ein Restaurant im siebten Stock eine Gebäudes ist. Das muss man erstmal wissen 👌. Ab Bild vier die typische U-Bahn-Kulisse. Hier haben noch mehr Menschen das Smartphone in der Hand - sogar wenn sie in der U-Bahn schlafen.Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Shintomi, 新富