Japan, Hong Kong S.A.R. · 15 Days · 42 Moments · July 2017

Maljers' voyage in Japan

21 July 2017

Beautiful hike in HK
Room with a view

20 July 2017

Fun resto.

19 July 2017

Today was our last day in Tokyo. Marvel and I decided to visit some galleries in the Roppongi area. We saw some beautiful works by contemporary Japanese artists and also of a Brasilian artist!! On the way back we had a wuick lunch in a tiny very local restaurant situated under the railway...!
Tokyo national museum
Tokyo gardens.

17 July 2017

Zen temple
We are lucky to be in kyoto during a major festival.
More temples

16 July 2017

Kyoto night life on the eve of the parade.
Street view
Tea ceremony
By some strange coincidence, we decided to visit Kyoto during what turns out to be one the largest festivals in Japan! Everywhere we go, the city is flooded with people, and often the women are wearing traditional dress. In the last three evenings, there have been markets and people partying on the streets. Today, was the height of the festival, where there was a procession of floats.
We want to go to the gym. But our hotel doesn't have one. They recommend we go to a public one nearby. It's an experience. We are not allowed to use shoes that have been used outside. So we need to rent shoes. Both the shoes and the gym entrance are to be paid at a giant vending machine. In the gym we need to observe many rules: No drinking of water while using the machines No use of music while on the machines No iPad on the step machines Machines cannot be used more than 30 minutes Swimming cap mandatory for pool use No tattoos Etc The running machine not only gives the kcal burnt but also what. I burn sake, wine fried egg and chicken as well as various Japanese food items I am not familiar with.
When it rains it pours.

15 July 2017

Royal palace

14 July 2017

Dinner at tepan yakki. Lobster and excellent beef. I think the best beef I ever had.
In miyojima we bounce into a traditional Japanese wedding. It doesn't look much fun.
Miyajima is an island of great quaintness about 20 km from Hiroshima . We enjoy it greatly. Deer and beautiful old houses and temples of all sorts.
We buy grapefruit that are juiced from within.

13 July 2017

I decide to explore a supermarket and department store while Chantal gets her nails done. I am amazed by the beauty of the displays and of some prices. Grapes for 130€ and tangerines for 55€. The best quality Kobe beef for 240€/kg etc. Then I bumped into the biggest bookstore I ever saw. Japanese sure like to read.

12 July 2017

Afternoon nap. In kimono.
Cat in pram.
Walk in the park. Fortunately no bears. But Chantal is very worried and claps her hands all the time to scare them away. Later on someone tells us that that actually attracts bears. 😊

11 July 2017

This evening Sebastiaan, Marvel and Chantal all indulged in a hot and steamy traditional Japanese public bath. Afterwards, we all met in our private dinner room. Here we have a beautifully prepared selection of traditional Japanese dishes. The highlight of our evening was our amazing waitress, who finally satisfied our British craving for politeness by teaching us the word for please: Onegaishimasu.
Finally we visited some temples and a graveyard. Notably, the graves here are a different shape, than those in Europe.
After two not too long bus journeys, we arrived in Takayama. Only a short rest, in our once again fantastically traditional hotel and we're off seeing the city. We rented bikes and went from the newer part to the more traditional part. We saw the general's quarters where everything looked the same, yet every room had a different purpose. In the old city, we managed to acquire some delightful little souvenirs.
This morning we went on a beautiful walk along the riverside. Here are some of the gorgeous sights we encountered. To our great surprise, at one point we even saw monkeys! They were climbing trees and crossing roads; one even passed right by me!

10 July 2017

We booked a Japanese style room. We know that means that we shouldn't expect beds and that during dinner they come to put some mattresses on the floor. We are a little bit worried that we won't get a private bathroom or even toilet. But that's unjustified. However when we wake up we realise the benefits of the western bed!!! In the hotel we eat in kimono and feel very Japanese on our mandatory (and tiny) slippers. Some struggle with the Japanese breakfast but I actually quite like it.
After a beautiful long hike, Seb and Marv rest in their room. We use a sushi making kit we bought in Tokyo to make our very own sushi. But this is no ordinary nigiri! Using techniques from molecular gastronomy, we make candy sushi! It's delicate work, using a pincer to make orange grape flavoured caviar balls that resemble salmon eggs, as well as carefully wrapping the sticky "seaweed" around the "rice". (Secretly it all tastes like grape!)
We go hiking in the Japanese alps. The pictures speak for themselves but why a nation that does everything differently cannot choose a more original name for their mountains is strange to me...

9 July 2017

On the local train to Matsumoto! We try some local snacks: Shrimp crackers Fried flavoured seaweed Katsu Miso Dried octopus

8 July 2017

After having been calmed by the cute kitties, Marv and Seb continue on their mission towards the street market. When we find it, it's quite crowded, and surprisingly expensive. Even a small tote bag cost 1000 yen (about €8). On our way back to our hotel we take a taxi. Unfortunately- there's a misunderstanding, and he took us to the wrong place. When we explain that we're at the wrong hotel, using a combination of google translate and sign language, he brings us back to where he picked us up, resets the metre and brings us to our hotel, saying that it's his mistake. We may have lost quite a bit of time, but we have not lost faith in humanity.
We are coffee lovers and cannot help ourselves that we need a fix from time to time. Especially with the time difference. So after visiting a cool gallery in the old neighbourhood Chantal and Alexander spot a Leónidas coffee place. And yes, not only great coffee but we get a Bon Bon on the side. Bringing back memories of the Leónidas treats when we were young.
In the afternoon, Seb and Marv split off from the group. With the intention of finding him a charger as well as our way to the street market, we soon get distracted by the cat cafe. Marvel obviously misses Alberto, and Seb also misses Samba. So we couldn't help but wonder in to pet those furry creatures. For a set price, we get to pet the cutest, fluffiest and most docile cats you have ever seen. Most of them are sleeping, and the rest barely make a sound, bite or scratch. I must admit though, they seemed a little immune to the attention, so they didn't care much whether or not we'd pet them. Once again, we had to take off our shoes. Here they had a slipper dispenser (last picture), from which you could borrow shoes for your stay.
Day 2 of our trip: We head off to the technology and anime district! 😊 There, the large posters of anime, the bright colours and the humongous 12 story technology stores do not fail to disappoint. One thing we noticed, which proved to be quite a nuisance after we refreshed with a bottle of water, is that there seem to be no bins around. Still he streets are mostly clean. Our parents' who so far have been amazed by the Japanese toilets, couldn't help but buy one. We quickly had lunch in a restaurant where we had to remove our shoes. We worried as we couldn't read the menu, but luckily, we ordered off an iPad, where everything was translated to English.
Japanese food is fascinating. We find the best way to enjoy it is to simply eat and see what you like without necessarily knowing what you get. One particular ingredient that we quickly decide to avoid is sea urchin. But when we order beef sashimi it's covered in sea urchin. Sticking to salmon and tuna sashimi is certainly the safest bet...

7 July 2017

In the afternoon we go shopping in the ginza district. All main western fashion brands are there. But also some local gems. We spend good time in the 12 story stationary shop. We see many beautifully made and displayed items ao pens up to 30 kEUR. We leave with only some origami. Then more coffee. The place seems ridiculously expensive. But then we start to feel really good. And we realise that we have entered an oxygen bar. We breathe in much more oxygen. And now we also understand why some people take nap.
The flight to Tokyo is 11 hours. We decide to get used to the time difference asap and go to sleep early. A wise decision as we arrive in Tokyo at 8:30 (1:30 in the night in NL). After checking in and Starbucks (thanks to American cultural imperialism) we go straight to the Imperial Palace. We are confronted with the Japanese ways. Queues and everything in Japanese and many rules where you can sit stand or walk. But... there is an App that explains everything in English. So we get some understanding of the history of the site. Mainly that it all burnt down and now it's all new. Pity.