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    • Day 3

      Another day in Tokyo

      October 31 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

      We returned to the JR East office to book our tickets for the Shinkansen (bullet train) tomorrow and then caught the subway to the Metropolitan Government Building where there is an free observatory. After a security bag check we were guided to the lift to the observatory which has amazing views of Tokyo. There was also some entertainment and a gift shop. We stopped for lunch at a 7/11, along with many office workers, who sat in little booths, all glued to their mobile phones. Our next stop was to see the Shibuya Scramble, the famous large pedestrian crossing. We returned to the subway for the journey to Meiji Jingu Shrine, an impressive Shrine in a forest. There was also a Chrysanthemum exhibition. Leaving the Shrine we went in search of Harajuku girls who are usually found in this area. Back on the subway we went back to Ameyayokocho in Ueno where after some searching found a nice little restaurant where we sat outside for a very tasty dinner.Read more

    • Day 4

      Tokio 1 medio dia tarde

      November 2 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

      Centro/Chiyoda-estación central-palacio imperial y jardines alrededor-santuario Yasukuni.

      De momento todo genial. Ciudad limpia y ordenada. Nadie pita el claxon. Todo el mundo habla bajito. Tiempo espléndido (calor si me apuras).Read more

    • Day 2

      1st night in tokyo

      November 5 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 68 °F

      The flight was great. I flew Japan Airlines in premium economy and it was very nice. Noise cancelling headphones, really good food, comfortable seats and a nice woman next to me made it rather enjoyable.
      The feed you about an hour after take off, then dim the lights for 6 hrs, turn up the lights to feed everyone a snack, then dim them for another 4. They feed you again 2 hrs before you land, and would pass out coffee and hot green tea.
      I had a few things to get after we landed and before I left the airport. All of that went smoothly. The Japanese have really made an effort to be helpful getting the foreign tourists what they need and on their way. The other thing I wanted to do, was get my 2 Coldplay tickets before I left. See, you have a voucher and you turn it in to any 7-11, and they print out the tickets. It’s on of the things I e been most nervous about doing. (What if they didn’t understand me? What if it was this whole long process that I didn’t understand and I held up the line, and people started rolling there eyes, and the clearly were mean to me? )
      So my thought was, a 7-11 at the International arrival terminal would be the best chance be able to communicate clearly. I found the 7-11, have the vouchers up on my phone ( My phone will automatically translate Japanese into English for me so I had to keep switching it back, lol) showed to to the girl, she nodded, scanned them and gave me my tickets!!!! I was so excited, I literally hopped up and down clapping my hands together quietly with this HUGE smile on my face. She laughed and I was on my way.
      I told Mom before I left, the only thing I really wanted to go well on this trip was getting these tickets and seeing these shows. If it all fell apart I could just ride the trains around the country. And having to get the tickets once I got here, was super uncharted territory.
      Now I have my pocket WiFi, my train pass, my Coldplay tickets , and my SUICA card ( a card you put money on to ride subways trains buses, use at vending machines and some convenience stores). So I was ready to get into Tokyo. I packed more on this trip than usual. I have 2 24 inch and 1 18 inch suitcases with me. They are about 1/2 packed each so I have room for things I find here.
      I will be in heat in Taiwan and super cold in Way Northern Japan and wanted to take what I wanted to. Also, they have luggage shipping around country. Instead of lugging all your shit onto the train, you ship it from city to city as you travel. So I figure I can ship the 2 bigger bags and carry the 18’ around with me and repack as my needs change. People say it’s easy, reliable and very affordable. So we will see how all of that goes. But in the mean time, I had to get 3 suitcases to my hotel. I had looked up all the options and figured I could decide when I got in. I decided on a train line that was a straight shot, rapid express to my hotel’s neighborhood then a 5 minute walk. Pretty straightforward and my courage was way up because I had just gotten those tickets.
      So I look to see what train I need and it pulls up, I check the sign on the train, it says in English the line I need so I hop on and go.
      Just as I’m getting on the train, a man stops me and asks “Wait, where is it you are going?” I tell him the Ginza neighborhood and he looks at the same train sign I did and says”Ok yes good. “. So I figure I’m (literally) on the right track.
      I’m so glad of my experiences in NYC. Holding on to the strap while managing 3 roller suitcases is not for sissies. As we go, I’m noticing we stop a lot ( more like a local train) and I’m not recognizing any of the stops ahead of us. Have faith, trust the process, I tell myself. I get a seat, and able to hold onto to the suitcases easier and I pull out my phone. (This is why you HAVE to get your phone data/WIFI situation handled before you leave the airport, if you aren’t being picked up by a car)
      So I’m checking the map and we are going in the opposite direction of Tokyo. 🤦‍♀️
      I’m like ok, don’t panic, get off and go back the other way. We are in Japan, not Miami, this is a good place to blunder.
      I get off at the next station. I find a station worker/security guy and ask him “Tokyo?” He points to the other side of the tracks heading north. So I start over there. But there are stairs. Which is why I liked the straight shot train idea to my hotel neighborhood, no stairs. So I schlep 2 suitcase down the stairs and go back for the other one. As I’m about to go up the stairs on the other side, another train police man offered to help me. He takes one bag and I take the other 2. “Adventures in Japan, Caroline, You are getting your Adventure in Japan” I mutter as I’m going up the stairs.
      So once on the proper platform, I can check Google maps and see where I am and how to get where I need to go. Google maps is exceptional in Japan with train schedules and every thing is very punctual.
      So I see I’m on the right track line, I just went the wrong way. And literally in 5 minutes the limited express train is coming. And it did. And I got on. Going the right way. Phew!!
      It took longer than 5 minutes to find my hotel, but I found in 10, and I have the tiniest room I’ve ever seen and it is perfect. The bathroom is nice and it is exactly what I need.
      This morning , I’m going down to breakfast. I’m going to have an easy morning , check out the neighborhood and rest up for the 1st show tonight. I’m so excited. I can’t believe I’m going to be seeing them tonight. And tomorrow!!
      Read more

    • Day 3

      Coldplay night 1 Monday

      November 6 in Japan ⋅ 🌬 72 °F

      I went down to breakfast at my hotel this morning. It was a Japanese breakfast, with fish, veggies, rice, miso soup, and several other things. They have a plate with 9 small little sections. So you can have a little of everything. I didn’t take my camera down this morning , but I will tomorrow. The dining room was very quiet , and it seemed to be mostly Japanese with a few Westerners sprinkled in.
      After breakfast, I went back to my room and went back to sleep. I pulled the blackout shades closed and did not set an alarm. I told myself I could sleep as long as I needed. It was wonderful. I woke up at about 2 pm and felt rested.
      I hung around the room until 5:30 when it was time to go to the Tokyo Dome.
      The train stations can be very confusing. I’m glad I watched a few YouTube videos on it. Google maps really helps, you just have to take your time.
      One YouTube family said”Don’t try and remember the names of the stops. Each stop on each line has a number use the number system.” So the M line that goes north and south has stops 1-25. And the signs in the station that point you in the right direction use that system too. I am finding it’s a much easier way. Also, with pocket WiFi you can use Google maps underground, thank goodness.
      And I am amazed at how clean and safe there subway systems are. I mean clean! And I must have walked for 20 minutes through the underground corridors last night. Not once was I afraid. I reminded myself to not get complacent and stay aware, but never once was I afraid to walk a long stretch of corridor with only a few people.
      I got to the Tokyo Dome easily. I had noticed that I wasn’t really nervous heading to the venue. And normally I am. Maybe it’s because from all the work I’ve done getting these tickets, I had really just allowed myself to enjoy the moment. And after taking the right train the wrong way, I was very keen on checking for the correct platform #.
      I got there 1/2 way through the opening band, a very popular Japanese band called YAOSOBI. I had actually listened to them before I left, so I got to enjoy their last few songs. I had no clue how to read my ticket or where my seat was. But they had so many guides there. It took me about 20 minutes to figure out where I was to be, but it was perfect. I found my seat after YAOSOBI finished. I was sitting between 2 brothers and their Dad, and 2 Korean girls.
      I had never wanted to go to a concert alone until now. I loved the band more than I cared what people may or may not think. And people really aren’t paying attention to me. They are so concerned with themselves. It’s very freeing.
      So Coldplay started and they were fantastic. Chris Martin was very aware that he was speaking English and the crowd may not understand what he was saying. He did speak a little Japanese he said he had been learning and the crowd loved it.
      I got to sing along to all the songs And it was neat being with such a different audience. I did see some Westerners there. There was actually a huge variety of people there. It was really something.
      Getting home wasn’t bad. I followed the crowd to a metro station further away from the venue and took a train or 2 to get back to my neighborhood. All of the Japanese business-people were running to catch the last trains out of Tokyo and there were Coldplay fans (in their tour shirts) everywhere.
      I stopped off at the convenience store I went to last night and got cold noodles for a late supper.
      All in all it was a great night. At one point before the show started; I really soaked in the fact that I was sitting in my seat at the 1st night in Tokyo. I was there. I had done it. And I get to do it all over again tomorrow night.
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    • Day 4

      Coldplay night 2 Tuesday

      November 7 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 66 °F

      Breakfast has turned into a lovely Zen moment for the last 2 days. Miso soup, veggies, small bowls of braised pork belly, something they are calling Spinach dip, but it’s amazing dark green with stalks, seaweed, salad, rice with eel and clams (I like eel, clams, not so much). And again , as I was admiring the portioned plate, I realized I had again forgotten my phone to take a picture. Maybe that’s the universe keeping it for just me.
      I have spoken very little on this trip so far. That’s easy when you can’t say more than a few words in the local language. It’s nice, I told my coworkers it was what I was looking forward to on this trip. Not having to talk unless I wanted to. That’s why I love this medium, I get to journal but get to be quiet at the same time.
      I’m going to repack today, as my big bags need to be downstairs by 11 am for Yamato transport to come and pick them up and ship them to my hotel in Osaka. I’ll be leaving tomorrow and taking my 1st Shinkansen (bullet train). You can buy a bento box to take with you and eat on the train. I’m excited about that too. I have to reserve the seat on the train, so I will go to a train station and do that today too.
      So funny story. I brought a couple of T-shirts I purchased on line. One of them said that it says “ColdPlay” in Japanese. I was going to wear it last night , but I wanted to make sure that it REALLY said Coldplay. I’d be horrified if I wore it and it said something in gibberish. So I tried to use google translate by taking a picture of it. And it didn’t compute. So then I looked up what Coldplay translated looked like, and it didn’t exactly match my shirt. So heck no, I’m not wearing it.
      It’s been about 80 degrees here in the day. I’m also checking the weather for Taiwan and it’s hot and humid there. I bought a fan that goes around your neck to wear to the concerts. I have General admission floor tickets for both nights there. So I can move around, go pee, get something to drink. Assigned seats are ok, but last night, I felt that once you are there you don’t go anywhere. And I always seem to get a bit of vertigo in that kind of seating. Once could pitch forward pretty easily it seems.
      Another hurdle for me today. I have to ship my luggage using the Japanese tried and true way instead of lugging it around with me. So I packed both suitcases up and took them down and the hotel staff were very kind and filled it out for me. As I was waiting, I was watching them. Watching them deal with their guests. All different ages, nationalities and levels of neediness. I’ve been watching all of the people I’ve come across who are dealing with the public. It’s been a good introspective excercise.
      When I took down the suitcases, I also took the shirt I had questioned the translation. I asked one woman if she could translate it for me. She said it wasn’t bad, she just didn’t understand it. “What is a Radio Head?” Lol, I had gotten a shirt that said Radiohead (great band btw) in Japanese. Because that’s pretty cool. So I was glad that I worked up the courage to ask.
      I had lunch in a small little restaurant. Once they brought it, I realized it was way too much food, but I was proud for doing it, and doing it scared.
      The trip over to the Tokyo dome was easy and I got looking for my seat way earlier then last night. I had MUCH better seats, certainly not by choice, as I picked one that was a good price and didn’t worry about where they were.
      I got to caught the entire set of the opening act, they were really good, and the crowd loved them.
      This 2nd night of Coldplay was a much better show than last night. I left there last night feeling underwhelmed, and just couldn’t shake the feeling that they seemed off.
      And boy, tonight certainly made up for it. They played a better set list, the crowd seemed more relaxed and responsive, and the people around me stood up the whole time. All in all making it a really good show.
      So tomorrow I take off for Osaka. I have a 1pm train. And I’m really excited.
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    • Day 5

      On to Osaka Wednesday

      November 8 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 61 °F

      So I remembered my phone to take a picture of my breakfast. Breakfast was livelier this morning. There were more foreigners, more Westerners. And it was louder. It’s interesting to see what they eat from the Japanese breakfast spread. They do have some toast, cornflakes and yogurt; and may eat that with fruit.
      A friend asked me before I left if I was an adventurous eater, and I said No. But I guess if you put me on a graph, I would definitely be in the Adventurous category.
      This head cold is still kicking my ass. I wake up in the mornings feeling yucky. But a good breakfast, miso soup, a hot shower and cold meds get me going. I have a giant unopened bag of throat lozenges, that I threw in my bag at the very last minute before I left. I had opened it to put some in a baggie and just took the whole thing. Thank goodness. Especially hooting, hollering and singing these last 2 nights with 75 thousand people.
      So I checked out of the hotel, and made my way to Tokyo Station where I’m catching the Hikari 513 on the Tokaido Shinkansen.
      I have never seen anything like Tokyo station. Grand Central is definitely up there, but then multiple it by 100. Between the commuters, and train is the primary way of travel here, and Tokyo Station is the Granddaddy hub in the country. WOW.
      I have my JR Rail pass, which allows me to travel for 14 days. But I upgraded to the Green car and so you have to make seat reservations separately, and that is a separate ticket. So you have 2 tickets every time you board. Your base ticket/JR pass and your reserved seat ticket. I had made this reservation yesterday afternoon. There was a long line at the vending machine where you do this, and thankfully a young man ( in his 20’s) walking everyone through it. So he starts doing for me really fast, and I wanted to learn how to do it, as I had more reservations to make. So I told him, “Wait, show me how you did that!” I was definitely feeling the age gap.
      So today, I left nice and early so I could make the rest of my train reservations and get my bento box for the journey. After you cross into the JR Shinkansen side of the train station ( where it gets super nutty, b/c now you are throwing everyone with their luggage in the mix) They have these amazing stores that sell all different packaged bento box lunches to take on the train with you. And every region has local specialties at their Jr station. It’s so cool!!
      So the most popular bento box store is called Ekibenya and I swear (this is for you Uncle Al) it reminded me of Zabar’s in NYC on a Friday evening. But imagine all the old ladies have their luggage. So I picked out one that had a seasonal autumn menu.
      So now I’m standing at the track waiting for it to arrive. Manda, there is a guy here with his wife who reminds me of Steve Bunch. He is taking the good arrival videos of the incoming trains. I need to copy him. And I managed to get a decent video of my Shinkansen as it arrived. I’ll upload it here.
      So let me back track a little bit. So I got to the station early today so I could reserve my seat on the rest of my train trips. Ask I said earlier, I watched the kid do it, so I had a pretty good idea. There were lots of people in line, but I took my time once it was my turn ( there are ticket vending machines all along the wall so the line moves fast) and made such I got when and where I wanted to go.
      The only one was an upgrade on the last stretch, on the last day before I head home, a really fast train, that takes about 5 hrs. Well, you can upgrade to Gran class, and I wanted to do it. A nice way to end the trip. But I wasn’t able to do it through the vending machine ( b/c you have to pay an up charge) so I had to go to the JR office. I stood in line, and when it was my turn, explained to the nice man ( who did speak some English) that I wanted to reserve a seat on this train in Gran class. He said, “Well, that’s extra”. I said I understood. So he gets out his price list and a calculator does some math, does some more and then says”No, that’s too much”. And puts it all away and kinda just looks at me. So said, Yes, I know. That’s fine”. So we look at each other for about 2 beats and he gets out his stuff again, does the math and shows me the calculator with a flourish. I’m ready with my exchange app (but have already decided to do it. I budgeted for it) I look at what it would be and say ” YES. That’s fine. “
      So he finished the transaction and I leave. In the way out I’m thinking. “Did he really say, No, that’s too much” ?! As if he gets to have an opinion whether or not I do this? lol, I had a good laugh. Not what I was expecting from the JR guy, but it takes all kinds.
      Anyway, so I boarded the Shinkansen and it’s really nice. Like comfy seats , no one sitting next to me, quiet, and this thing is fast! But It feels like you a literally flying. And so smooth. It is well staffed, attendants and security. I ate my bento and set my alarm for 20 minutes for a cat nap. It was neat watching the landscape change and what takes a bus overnight, we were there in 3 hrs.
      I got off at Shin-Osaka ( a JR hub outside of Osaka) Wow! All the stores and food and gifts! I did something really smart , I think. I bought another bento box before I left the JR Shinkansen section of the station. I knew when I got to my hotel I’d be too tired to go anywhere.
      So with dinner in hand, I made my way onto a local train to take me into Osaka. As I stepped on the train, this very nice Japanese woman started chatting with me. It kinds threw me, b/c Japanese are not chatty with strangers, especially in English. Turns out she is an English teacher at the University. She 1st asked me if I was from France. I loved that. It at least makes me hope that looking at me doesn’t scream American. I saw a lot of that from the tourists today. It was cool talking to her.
      So I got to my room, ate my bento box, and it’s super early, but I’m heading to bed. ❤️
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    • Day 4

      Tokyo dag 3

      November 16 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

      Tsukiji outer market, dé streetfoodwijk van Tokyo, veel vis en zeevruchten (vlakbij de haven en de oude vismijn), maar ook wagyu, moshi (typisch Japans dessert van rijstdeeg) en matcha-ijs. Dat was moeilijk kiezen...Read more

    • Day 22

      Tokyo - Lost in translation...

      September 28, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

      Tokyo...le decalage horaire n'arrange rien a l'impression de ne rien comprendre a l'environnement si bien decrit par Sophia Copolla.
      Nous sommes venus il y a 20 ans. A l'epoque pas de smartphone, pas d'internet accessible, pas d'anglophones, pas de guide touristique genre Routard et pas de touristes non plus ! Aujourd'Hui tout a bien evolué et Google Translate et Map nous facilitent la vie ! Nous avons trouvé notre adresse presque facilement !
      Petit logement Air Bnb typique de Tokyo (petit donc) a Ikebukuro.
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    • Day 9

      Angleterre - Argentine

      October 5, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

      Dominique c'est levé tôt ce matin pour prendre l'avion pour Zurich, moi je continue tout seul dans ce tentaculaire Tokyo, je suis pas encore Bill Murray dans "Lost in Translation".
      Une ambiance "Twickenobombonesque" dans le stade (verre de saké à celui qui trouve ce que ca veux dire)
      Tout ça pour un match tronqué par un carton rouge merite) aux argentins après 6 minutes.
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    • Day 77

      Back in Town

      October 27, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

      Ach du wunderschönes Japan, endlich hast du uns wieder. In Japan ist Halloween eine riesen Sache geworden, fast schon grösser als Weihnachten. So sieht man ab September Kürbis und Grusel Dekorationen im ganzen Land. Da es in Tokyo am spektakulärsten sein soll, hatten wir uns entschieden, das Wochenende dort zu verbringen, dann für 2 Nächte nach Nikko zu fahren um danach für das grosse Halloweenfest wieder nach Tokyo zurück zu gehen.

      Ok, das Wochenende ist vielleicht ein wenig übertrieben, wir kamen ja erst am Samstag spät am Abend an, also hatten wir nur den Sonntag. An diesem nahmen wir die Metro um in den Ikebukuro District zu fahren, welcher sehr ähnlich wie Akihabara (Electro Town) ist. Kaum sind wir aus der Unterführung ins Sonnenlicht getreten, haben wir auch schon die ersten Cosplayer entdeckt.
      Randnotiz: Cosplay ist der Fachausdruck für eine in Japan ursprüngliche Fanpraxis, in welcher die Teilnehmer Figuren aus Manga, Comics, Anime, Film usw. durch Kostüm und Verhalten möglichst originalgetreu darstellen.
      Nach dem wir die ersten entdeckt haben und ihnen gefolgt sind um einfacher zum grossen Event zu finden, waren wir bald umgeben von Cosplayern in den verrücktesten und ausgefallensten Kostümen. Diese werden oft in mühevoller Handarbeit selbst hergestellt und sind extrem detailgetreu und hochwertig. Wir wussten gar nicht mehr wohin schauen und kamen aus dem Staunen nicht mehr raus über so viel Fantasy und Kreativität.

      Die ganze Cosplay Kultur lebt gerade im heutigen Zeitalter auch grösstenteils über die Sozialen Medien. Viele der Kostümierten hatten deshalb eine Tafel dabei mit dem Link zu ihrer Twitter oder Instagram Seite und präsentierten sich noch so gerne den Fotografen, welche Schlangen standen um die Cosplayers (vor allem die Mädchen) abzulichten. Es war extrem witzig und auch beindruckend, wieviel verschiedene Posen sie einstudiert hatten. Nach jedem Klick wurde eine neu präsentiert, um ja möglichst lange interessant zu bleiben und im Rampenlicht zu stehen.

      Nach einem kurzen Mittags Schläfchen, wegen unseres Jetlags, gab es zum Znacht endlich wieder unsere heiss geliebten Ramen und einen schönen Abend Spaziergang am Fluss entlang. Ach ist es schön wieder in Japan zu sein!
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Tokyo Prefecture, Tokyo, Préfecture de Tokyo, 東京都, 도쿄 도, TKX

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