The year abroad adventures of a Scottish otaku in the North of Japan

Tag Archives: tokyo

Wow it’s been a while, hasn’t it! I’ve been on holiday…

LET’S RECAP!!

So, in a ridiculously random occurrence, it turned out I was going to Hiroshima on the same bus and at the same time as one of my friends. So it turned into a surprise Brit-expedition to Hiroshima!

I can highly recommend NOT doing what we did, i.e. doing a double night bus via Tokyo (10hrs and then 13hrs). It’s a killer…

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However, with a short dally in Tokyo (that included some early cherry blossoms) and a VERY long night journey to Hiroshima, we made it while still mostly sane!

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Since we were in Hiroshima, it was only fitting that we visited the Atomic Bomb Dome and the Peace Museum. Both were horrific and moving…seriously. We came outta there really depressed but by then were able to check into our respective hotels. Also, I think I may have found the worst hotel in Hiroshima, I swear that room just about managed to fit a single bed into it. That was about it. I also had the wondrous (note the sarcasm) experience of having to use a public bath…

The second day was really drizzly, so as Brits we decided it was the perfect day to go to a castle, eat ice cream and okonomiyaki and then a temple walk through the forest. We were slightly soggy when we got back…

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That day (well, technically 2am the next morning) also decided it would a great time for me to experience my first earthquake – and not even a small one. It was M6 when it struck, just off Oita prefecture so that meant it was at least M5 when it hit Hiroshima. It scared the crap outta me, and I didn’t move until it was all over. Ellie, on the other hand, almost managed to sleep through it.

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Regardless, we still managed to be up relatively early, get the tram to the wrong port in Hiroshima, take another hour getting back into the city and getting the tram to the right port, so that we could catch the ferry to Miyajima. All before 12! Miyajima is an island with one of Japan’s ‘famous views’ – its floating shrine.

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We also managed to trek up to the top of the mountain on Miyajima – seriously, it was steps ALL THE WAY! We got a view from the top, though so it was totally worth it! That and the ropeway trip back down the mountain…

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On our last day together in Hiroshima, we decided to do yet another temple walk (cause you can never visit too many temples!), this time in the nearby seaside town of Onomichi. The town itself was very quaint, and had lots of old-looking touristy shops. It also had a ropeway, that led up to an observatory and few temples on top of a hill in the middle of the town.

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It was another beautiful day, so we went up to the observatory, ate lunch looking out at the beautiful scenery and then set off for a couple of hours to see the temples on the walk. To get to the majority of the temples, we had to walk back down the hill, through tiny winding streets – one of which contained an art garden. There were cute little cat statues hidden along the path and, in Japan of all places, ‘My love is like a red, red rose’ by Robert Burns was painted on a wall…

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We also stumbled upon a temple, where there were pigeons ambling around – we could also buy food to give them.

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That night, Ellie carried on with her journey and the following night I headed back to Tokyo – my Mum and younger sister were coming to Tokyo to spend a week with me.

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My week in Tokyo was lovely. For the first few days, we did a lot of toursity things – Tokyo Tower, Tokyo National Museum (the day it rained horrendously), Asakusa.

We went to Asakusa on my birthday (18th March), which also happened to be the day they held the ‘Golden Dragon Dance’ (Kinryuu no Mai). I only found this out through a Japanese website, it wasn’t mentioned in any of the guidebooks, but I can highly recommend it!

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In the evening, we went up Tokyo Tower (I know, again…it must have been my third time there) to see the sunset. Admittedly, the best part of my birthday was being able to eat a Tesco birthday cake!

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We also made a trip out to the famous temple collection at Nikko (about 2 hours from Tokyo by train). Oddly enough, like the previously mentioned Yuzawa City, Nikko also reminded a lot of Aviemore. The town was the home of the famous ‘See no evil, Speak no evil, Hear no evil’ monkeys, as well as a large number of lavishly designed temples and the tomb of one of the Shogunate.

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That Friday was a national holiday and so we had organised to meet up with Mum’s childhood friend Fumiko, and her family. She had organised a wonderful day out at a few touristy places – Roppongi Hills, the Imperial Palace Gardens, a river cruise in Asakusa and finally back to their apartment for a delicious dinner. Alice and Mum tried sushi for the first time (Alice didn’t like it, I think, but Mum seemed to – I will never be a huge fan of it!). They also bought me a lovely birthday cake, which we all shared.

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On our last day in Tokyo, we visited Odaiba (on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge). There was a lovely area full of retro shops, restaurants and gaming arcades which I and my sister enjoyed a lot. We had a go on a retro pinball machine and saw original Street Fighter, Gallaga and Space Invaders games.

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We were hanging about Odaiba because, in the evening, they were going to have the annual ‘Tokyo Gundam Project’ show – an event where they project images onto the giant Gundam robot statue (apparently it moved one year). The show took place in the evening, so all the lights suddenly went out just as it started.

Mum and Alice flew back to the UK the next day and I got the night bus back to Akita, to get ready for the new term….

Well that’s all for now, I’ll try to get a post out during the weekend about our new arrivals. So until then, またね!


Where do I start? Probably with HAPPY NEW YEAR (akemashite omedetou gozaimasu, kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu)! It’s been a few weeks since New Year, but it feels a lifetime ago! I had quite an adventurous trip – first stop was Tokyo (riding down in the night bus was eventful to say the least, definitely cheap travel for a reason).

I arrived in Tokyo to this:

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(this is literally just after I stepped off the bus in Shinjuku)

Not only did I feel ridiculously small, but the weather was absolutely glorious – especially compared with the mess we had in Akita. The bus arrived in Tokyo at about 8am and I couldn’t check in until 15.30 so I had a lot of time to kill. After a little trouble, I managed to dump my suitcase in a coin locker and went off to explore Tokyo.

Since the weather was this fabulous, I thought it would be a good idea to go up Tokyo tower and see if the view would be decent. I certainly wasn’t wrong! When I reached the top, all I could hear around me was people going ‘ah, Fuji-san’.

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After this, the weather was still lovely, so I went for a trek around Ueno Park with all its temples:

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However, the best bit? Sitting down by the huge fountain (in front of the art museum), listening to an old man play his banjo in the late afternoon sun. It was the most relaxing time I’ve had in a while…..

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Next was a whole different type of fun! In the backstreets of Ueno, there are some windy narrow streets full of shops selling foreign merchandise, kebabs, etc. That day was unexpectedly crowded so, even through there were police trying to split up the traffic flow, the crush was immense!! It was great fun just trying to get from one end to the other without getting pushed over.

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Skipping ahead to the second day (missing the part where I got lost trying to find my hotel and then surprising the clerk when he found out that, yes, I could speak Japanese), it was beautiful weather again. This time I decided it might be rather nice to walk under the Rainbow Bridge. There is a promenade, I’m not just going all spiderman on it! I took the train over the Minato-ku and then walked the few kilometres across the bridge to a park on the other side (in Odaiba I think), where some old battlements and cannons are still there. I also happened to see a bunch of people dressed up as Power Rangers…..

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At this point, I could ignore the call no longer and decided I had to let the geeky part of me loose in Akihabara – the biggest geek paradise of them all. I randomly met 2 AIU students there and we went for a trawl of a HUGE figurine store (I escaped with a few key rings, despite the fabulous Predator and Avengers figurines they had for sale).

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Since it was New Year’s Eve that night, I had to decide what I was doing pretty early on. Unfortunately, the people I was supposed to meet up with were being stupidly unorganised and not answering my texts. So by about 8pm I went with ‘screw you, I’m going to enjoy New Year my way, by myself’. I trekked over to Tokyo Tower and just got in before they shut down for the New Year viewing (it was 9.30 by then). People who wanted to see the first sunrise were already queuing up with thermal blankets and whatnot! The view from Tokyo Tower at night was pretty spectacular and I tried to grab a good spot (facing rainbow bridge) ready for the countdown.

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3 hours I stood there, I could see the people crowding into the temple down below for the first visit of the year, I could see an outdoor show in the park nearby. The countdown got closer and the Fuji TV building was lit up. So what happened when the clock struck 12? Bugger all. We could see the fireworks going off in Yokohama and what did we get? Balloons. Friggin’ balloons!! I cheered with everyone else and then caught one of the very crowded trains back to Shinjuku for my 4 hours sleep (it was 2.30 by then and I had to be up by 6.30 to get to the airport).

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I’ll cut this off here, next stop: INDONESIA!!

またね!



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