Japan · 7 Days · 87 Moments · July 2016

Cat and Damien's far eastern tour of Japan

4 August 2016

Last night in Japan so we opted for sushi! The chef prepared it fresh then added other bits to the conveyor belt. They had an impressive system for billing. Like yo sushi the plate colour reflected the price of each option. Instead of counting the colours the girl held what looked like a handle and passed it down the pile. It then spat out a blank credit card which we took to the till. The card had the details and prices of the plates we had had this generating a bill.
Shibuya crossing late morning was less busy! At its peak over 1000 people cross every time the lights hit red!!!
Damien's surprising tea. A bowl full of froth with whipped cream on.
Akihabara. Another bonkers part of Tokyo!
Today we went via the JR to Akihabara. This is the region known for comic and anime nonsense.

3 August 2016

Shibuya crossing gone 10pm on a Wednesday night. Even busier! Didn't think that was possible!
Lots of people ordering food via I pad. No need for staff! Other than the kitchen I suppose
We opted to eat at genki sushi. Totally unexpected place. Little to no human interaction. You order food via the iPads provided and it arrived in front of you on a little train. You take the plate of food and the train disappeared.
Central Tokyo by night lights up the sky! Can't get over the volume of people here.
The world famous shibuya crossing. Utter chaos
Wild turtles catching some rays. Cooler at 29oC today but the humidity has gone up a notch
The boating lake and temple
Despite the nice surroundings, the locals were glued to their phones searching for Pokemon!
Large boating lake and temple ueno park. Huge lily pads seem to have grown out of control
The market area around the fishy zone was an eclectic mix of stalls. From sushi to vacuum packed weird vegetables and serious looking knives.
An array of unusual mushrooms!
It was busy with trucks wizzing boxes of fish around and swilling fish guts across the floor. Not a tourist friendly London borough market!
Sea urchin! (Second pic)
A visit to the fish market. Think 5am would have seen the most action but no tourists allowed before 10am! As Damien said. It's a bit too authentic!
Had an earthquake overnight. Absolutely no idea it happened as slept right through! It was 4.6 on the richter scale

2 August 2016

Only one word describes central Tokyo by night.....mental!
So many people!! So much neon and flashing lights.
With over 3 million users a day this is the worlds busiest train station. Shinjuku station
We are now staying in a much busier area of Tokyo
View from the 34th hotel room over central Tokyo
Passing by Rice paddies on the bullet train
A vast and sprawling Kyoto main station. Back on the bullet to Tokyo shortly.

1 August 2016

We visited a food hall in Kyoto. It was like an alien London borough market. A number of stalls still had things moving/wriggling whilst others sold things on sticks. Dried fish, octopus, even cucumbers on sticks. Many sold brightly colour vacuum packed things I have no idea what they were and was not brave enough to find out.
Main road near the giesha district had an air of Oldham about it. Could do with a bit of tlc!
Bugs are huge. This was the size of my hand. There was a funny moment in a temple graveyard when a bug bigger than a bird swooped at Damien. Surely the surface area to volume ratio kicks in before they reach that size!?
Shoren-in temple was so calm and peaceful.
Catto trying to reach a zen state at Shoren-in temple and gardens
Kinkaku-ji temple. Possibly the most famous temple in Japan.

31 July 2016

Restaurants are fans of putting plastic food displays in the window. Apparently there is a shop that specialises in selling plastic foods
Buddhist temple in kyoto
Scallops for lunch
We took the train back to Kyoto for lunch
Back to the starting point! Very sweaty
At the bottom of mount inari at the Fushimi-Inari Taisha gates
Lots of rest stops along the route. Though I'm not a fan of tea!
Lots of areas with sacred water. So sacred you had to use a baton and not directly touch it!?
On the way up to the top of mount inari
The higher we got the fewer people there were
Well worth the trek
Happy at the start despite it being crowded
There were lots of trinkets to buy and leave on the shrines. Much too nice to leave there!
The shrines/temple were guarded by stone foxes. The temple up the mountain worship the God of sake (the drink) and grains
The temple at the entrance to the fishing-inari shrines. It was scorching hot and crowded. The higher we climbed up the mountain the less crowded it got.
Geishas begin training at 15. They train by being taken in by a giesha house and closely watching the established giesha. They are trained in traditional dance, tea ceremony and the art of conversation. It's all very secretive and odd. Apparently there are few remaining. Less than 400 in Kyoto and many giesha houses have become shops and restaurants. According to Wikipedia! Geisha, geiko, or geigi are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses and whose skills include performing various arts such as classical music, dance, games and conversation, mainly to entertain male customers

30 July 2016

An aisle in the little shop near the hotel solely dedicated to pot noodles!
Damien sat down on an empty bench to read the guide book and check the map. Little did he know in under two minutes he would have a swarm of French tourists on a walking tour. He had sat below a chart showing the levels of training different giesha had. Very amusing!
Catto geisha hunting
We finally saw some geisha activity. You had to be quick to catch a glimpse. They shuffled very quickly on little wooden shoes into fiesta houses or tea houses.
This region is famed for being the prettiest street in Asia!
Yesterday evening we went to the gion district of Kyoto. This is famed for having geisha/maiko houses. First thing we saw was a huge heron
Katsu lunch. Very tasty. Meant to take a before pic but forgot! It's sweltering in Kyoto. 35oC.
Ticket inspector entered the carriage and bowed to us all. Made an announcement bowed again then bowed to each person in turn as he checked tickets.
When the train pulled into the platform the cleaning team boarded. I noticed that the seats were facing the wrong way. The opposite to the direction of travel. During the cleaning process, a lever was pulled and the seats swung around to face the right way. Amazing!
All aboard and ready for the off
The bullet train. High speed to Kyoto. We will pass around Mount Fuji. Hoping to get a good photo of Fuji but suspect we will be going too fast.
The Shinkansen to Kyoto
Mount Fuji is visible in the background. This is the view from the 14th floor of the hotel
Breakfast in Tokyo with a view of Mount Fuji before we take the bullet train to Kyoto!

29 July 2016

Tonight's eatery was a great place to people watch.
Shops that are not in use have shutters that are painted with Japanese scenes
Evening tapas Japanese style! Sat on a little chair in a street at a crowded noisy restaurant. Damien is eating tonight I'm abstaining due the dodgy prawn I had on the last night in Korea.
I have turned my photo from earlier into a water colour.
This is the view from the roof terrace at the hotel.
Weather is so much better here. Very hot but the reduction in humidity is welcome. In Korea the air felt almost thick the breathe.
Good food is much easier to come by and less risky than in Korea. Prices are not too bad either. Had a slower day today meandering through akusuka the cultural area. Lots of interesting shops. Sorted out our tickets for tomorrow's bullet train to Kyoto too
Hmmm maybe the food is still a little unusual after all!
They have some pretty odd ideas for what makes a good cafe here. This man was promoting the owl cafe. Not sure I like the idea of the poor owl being out in the heat of the midday sun
In the grounds of the senso-ji temple.
At the senso-ji temple. It's hot but thankfully does not have the oppressive humidity of Seoul. Much more pleasant and manageable 32oC
Fortune telling at the temple. Mine came out a bit rubbish!
A crossing near the hotel not the world famous crazy one. We are saving that for after our visit to Kyoto

28 July 2016

Suprised that we got out of the airport and it was pitch black ( the sky at least) everything else was lit up by neon signs. We got out of the airport about 7 pm and in Seoul it was very light at this time. Tokyo is on the same time zone so I suspect it is down to that. It's two hrs travel time but the time zone is the same. We are closer to the international date line here. Had a brief explore of the area but jet lag has kicked in over the past few nights and I'm yet to have a decent nights sleep.
Hotel provided us with a karate suit each....or maybe it's pyjamas?!🤔
Hotel view by night. Not turned out too well but once I have my proper camera out I will get a better one
Think this is either a shrine or gate
Possible geisha leaving a restaurant. Should spot them more when we go to Kyoto
First meal had to be sushi! We experimented and have worked out there are some beyond our comfort zone! Salmon and tuna were fine. Mackerel was ok, squid ok but prob won't choose it as raw option again... As for cuttlefish don't get me started! Nice cooked but not so good otherwise
Took the tube to the Asakusa area which is where the hotel is. It took about an hour as both international airports are a long way out of the city