Left from Brisbane airport on January 8th at 7.05 am on a 9 hour QF61 flight to Tokyo.

Last modification : 2 years ago
09/01/2016 16:46
Jan 2016

9th Jan. Shinjuku

Our first 6 days begin in Shinjuku, Tokyo with Carolyn and Phil.
This is the nightlife and retail Mecca of Tokyo. Our hotel - Sunroute Plaza is perfectly located. The room is app. 2.7 x 3 metres with a bathroom that feels just like we're on The Spirit of Tasmania. Very cosy, immaculately clean, brilliant free wi-fi AND a trouser press!
After an egg and bacon McMuffin and coffee - love Japanese food but just...

10/01/2016 15:41
Jan 2016

10th Jan. Harajuku and Shibuya

In Harajuku we went character hunting. Some of the beautiful clothing worn by the trendy young character and idol obsessed teenagers can be purchased in the Takeshita Dori shopping area in Harajuku. We saw some fabulous costumes being worn and very unusual clothing in the stores. And a big surprise- witches britches are back!!!
In Tokyo they love cute things. Even on road works they use Hello Kitty's...

11/01/2016 22:21
Jan 2016

11th Jan. Ueno and Shinjuku

We trained to Ueno and walked through the Ginko trees to the National museum. Today is a National Holiday. It's Japanese Coming of Age Day. It honours all Japanese young people turning 20 this year. At 20 they can vote and drink alcohol. Many local ceremonies are held and as a result lots of young Japanese walked the streets and parks in traditional dress.
As we have come to expect with most things...

12/01/2016 09:05
Jan 2016

12th Jan Tokyo Disney Sea

Spent the day at Tokyo Disney Sea. The mass of commuters at Shinjuku Station at 8am was unbelievable. The train we caught at Shinjuku to get to Tokyo Station was so full the doors had faces pressed up against them. Luckily some got off and made room for us.
Disney Sea is about an hour from Tokyo by train. As we are travelling with Carolyn this day was non negotiable - she is a Disney nut!
We had a...

12/01/2016 21:49
Jan 2016

13th Jan. Tokyo - Marunouchi area

The surgical face masks worn by some Japanese need mentioning. It's really quite bizarre. Some Japanese wear them to stop spreading/catching colds and viruses but they have increasingly become a fashion item. Apparently they make eyes appear bigger and more mysterious. Also young people wear them when they are having an acne break out or when they haven't had time to put make-up on. Some young people wear them...

14/01/2016 09:03
Jan 2016

14th Jan. Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to Kyoto

We left the hotel at 8am and were swept from Shinjuku Station to Tokyo Station by the sea of commuters. Sardines in a tin really is an apt description of the train carriages at this time of the day. I was literally wedged into my space and couldn't even move my arm to hold on to a handle - couldn't have fallen anyway unless everyone else did. Our train was leaving for the 2 1/2 hour trip to Kyoto at 10.03. We grabbed...

14/01/2016 10:42
Jan 2016

Plastic Food Displays

I LOVE the window displays outside the restaurants of their the menu dishes. The good ones look so authentic. Poor quality plastic food will turn you off a place. So Kitsch to us but as Japanese as Mt Fuji and cherry blossoms. I hope to be able to buy some to bring home 😂
The trays with multiple dishes and a drink are called sets. The Japanese version of a McDonalds 'Meal Deal'.

14/01/2016 11:40
Jan 2016

Japanese Toilets

These deserve a separate entry. As with most things in Japan even the toilets anticipate your every need.
Some have heated seats. Which to a westerner simply indicates that the previous person in your cubicle must have had a problem and sat for a very long time - disconcerting.
I am loving the heated seats especially in the middle of the night aah comforting!
All toilets have a privacy noise. Either...

15/01/2016 09:25
Jan 2016

15th Jan. Kyoto

Well what an amazing thing we saw today! We visited the Fushimi Inari Shrine. Also know as the Ten Thousand Torii (Red Gate)
We walked from the huge main vermillion gates to the main shrine and then up to the top of Mount Inari. This walk is 4km each way meandering on a winding path up the mountain. We walked the entire distance through red gates- 10,000 of them. If you didn't feel a little Zen- like after this...

16/01/2016 09:09
Jan 2016

16th Jan. Kyoto

After a slow start this morning we bought some lunch for a picnic and headed to walk the 3 km to the Higashiyama area. This is the main sightseeing area in Kyoto. It's Saturday and many people from Tokyo travel here just for the day. It would be horrendously busy in Spring and Summer. We talked to a group of school friends who travelled from Tokyo in their Kimonos for a day out. On the way to Higashiyama we walked...

16/01/2016 23:11
Jan 2016

Our Shrinking World

How travelling has changed in a modern world. The things that are now common to many.

We have eaten and seen many Kit Kat variations. Green tea, orange, tomato. Strawberry cheesecake, strawberry to name a few.

16/01/2016 23:13
Jan 2016

17th Jan. Kyoto

Well today had some disappointments. We caught the train to the Arashiyama area. A beautiful area in the foothills of the mountains with the huge Katsura river running through it. I was really looking forward to The Piano Museum opposite the train station - closed. The Sagano Doll House - a museum of traditional dolls - a 5km return walk to find it also closed. The Romantic Train was also not running. 😕Closed...

17/01/2016 18:30
Jan 2016

Quirky English.

Near our hotel is an Indian restaurant called Spicey Masara Curry House - instead of Masala. 😂
Not many toilets have hand towel but the Ginza Sushi Restaurant had blankets to dry your hands 😂

18/01/2016 10:26
Jan 2016

18th Jan Kyoto

Started with a taxi to the Netsuke Museum. Lots to do on our last day and walking takes time. Very very disappointed to find it closed. All info said it was open daily from Autumn 2015 and has a special Jspanese Zodiac Netsuke exhibition for all of Jan. 2016. This private museum houses over 1800 Netsukes.

Netsuke are tiny figurines carved from wood, bone, Ivory, lacquer and porcelain and were used as toggles...

19/01/2016 09:02
Jan 2016

19th Jan. Kyoto to Hiroshima

We left the hotel at 7.30am and it was only 1 degree but looked to be going to be a sunny day in Kyoto.
After boarding our 8.23 am Shinkansen for Hiroshima at 8.05 we found ourselves headed for Tokyo via Osaka. All okay. We got off at Osaka and 15 minutes later were on a train headed to Hiroshima. Once again built up areas all the way from Osaka to Kyoto.
My cold has escalated to blocked sinuses and ear...

20/01/2016 14:01
Jan 2016

20th Jan. Hiroshima to Kanazawa

Woke to more snow and minus one. My cold is improving- yay!
The whole of Japan is having snow problems even in Tokyo where 41 people have been admitted to hospital with snow related injuries. Tragically a bus load of young skiers has crashed near Nagano and 29 have died.

We did a tour of the Mazda factory at 10am. It was fantastic. We saw a museum of cars which among others models exhibited their...

20/01/2016 14:30
Jan 2016

Things We Can Learn From The Japanese.

1.Every time you get on a bus or train have a nap!
2. Mobile phone calls are personal not for public listening.
3. Take your rubbish home with you if you can't find a bin. Littering is shameful and offensive.
4. Be quiet in public places.
5. Be respectful of others.
6. Shopkeepers please wrap every purchase as if it's a gift even if it's something inexpensive.
7. Line up for things in an...

20/01/2016 16:24
Jan 2016

21st Jan. Kanazawa

Kanazawa is a port city on the Sea of Japan a 2 3/4 hour Shinkansen trip north East of Kyoto and 2 1/2 hours from Tokyo.
Kanazawa means Golden Marsh. It is a city of 460,000 people. The city is renowned for its cultural attractions and well preserved Samurai and geisha districts. Japanese call it The City of Trees.
Kanazawa was once Japan's wealthiest city and produced over five million bushels of rice per...

22/01/2016 20:22
Jan 2016

22nd Jan. Kanazawa

I woke this morning excited to have made the decision to book a night on the Noto Peninsula north of Kanazawa at a superb, luxurious, Ryokan with Private onsen right on the waters edge of The Sea of Japan. Something we would never ever usually consider. Lamp No Yado is one of the top three such accommodations in Japan and is so boutique it only has 13 rooms. It has been operating as such since the early 1700's....

23/01/2016 09:07
Jan 2016

Jan 23rd Nagano The Roof of Japan

We breakfasted at Kanazawa Station in a coffee shop that just did a breakfast set. Breakfast for everyone was coffee or tea with a plate that had a tiny sausage, a small one egg omelette, 3 miniature potato wedges, a salad and either toast or waffles with jam. What an easy restaurant to run as a chef. This is a fairly common offering in breakfast cafes in Japan.

On the train from Kanazawa to Toyama...

24/01/2016 11:00
Jan 2016

24th Jan. Sendai

We woke to a clear view of the mountains from our window only to have it disappear 15 minutes later with snow fall.
Japanese breakfast at our hotel and a brisk 20 minute walk to Nagano Station.
It snowed heavily overnight so it was a pretty walk through clean white streets.
Not a lot of people about. The stores in Japan open from 11am to 9pm.
Once again our train was on time to the second and...

25/01/2016 19:29
Jan 2016

25th Jan. Sendai and Matsushima

We had a Japanese/ Chinese breakfast at the hotel. I managed pickled onions for breakfast! Not being a morning person I struggle with strong tasting food early. My bowl of Chinese Rice Porridge was lovely - salty rather than sweet but just a little. I tried some little dumplings rolled in a sweetish green tea sauce - they were nice. I finished off my breakfast with a croissant!
Bill had cereal for breakfast...

26/01/2016 10:50
Jan 2016

26th Jan. Sendai to Ueno Tokyo

Escalators are everywhere in the cities and most have motion sensors so they are not continually running. This must help to conserve the energy needed to hear the toilet seats for 125 million people.

Another thing I've forgotten to note is that all of the hotels provide long cotton night shirts to sleep in. Bill slept in one on the first night. He looked like Wee Willie Winkie. 😂

The train trip...

27/01/2016 17:24
Jan 2016

27th Jan. Asakusa Tokyo to Ginza Tokyo

Bill had a fantastic sleep but I was The Princess and the Pea Unfortunately a futon on a tatami mat does not sit well with an arthritic hip. However it was a great experience. The soft pale light shining through our rice paper window screens was very relaxing.
Bill had a full Japanese breakfast while I went the western option.
We left our luggage at the Ryokan for an hour and visited the Shrine which is the...

28/01/2016 07:52
Jan 2016

28th Jan. Tokyo Fish Market, Sumo and Teppanyaki

We got up early to hit the worlds largest fish market about a 2 km walk. Tokyo Fish Market is unbelievably huge and a crazily organised chaos. We are amazed they allow tourists access as it must be a pain in the proverbial for the fish mongers trying to go about their business zooming their little trucks around the gawking visitors. However tourists can now only visit after 9am when it's a little less frantic. Pretty...

28/01/2016 21:45
Jan 2016

29th/30th Jan. Tokyo to Hobart

Our last task is to visit The Polar Bears Cafe.
There has been a really popular Japanese TV cartoon series of this name. It's about a group of zoo animals led by a polar bear, a panda, a penguin, a llama and a raccoon. Their day job is being at the zoo where people come to look at them. Their other job is running a cafe that is a relaxing escape from frenetic city life. This cafe was so popular when it first...

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