Enoden

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Today, I journeyed to Kamakura and rode the Enoden railway to Enoshima… well, almost. I didn’t make it as far as Enoshima but I did walk in a black sand beach next to the Pacific Ocean, enjoyed the evening wind and surf as eagles soared overhead, and watched as a fiery orange sun set behind Enoshima and Mount Fuji in the distance…
Continued

Tokyo Cruise

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Today, John takes a Tokyo Cruise river bus down the Sumidagawa to Hamarikyu Park in Odaiba. This is going to be a great videography opportunity, so I’m excited to get started! Only problem is that it’s a dreary day and it might rain…

12:30pm JST

Like every adventure, this bold explorer starts his day with a hearty breakfast at Mister Donut! After tanking up, I board the Oedo subway line (right next to the Mister Donut), followed by the Ginza line for Asakusa, where the river busses dock. I also notice that I’m the only person in Tokyo that is carrying an umbrella, not a good sign. What I also hadn’t realized in previous trips is how close Asakusa is to the Sumidagawa.

My ultimate destination is Hamarikyu Park, the same park that the apartment maintenance guy had recommended earlier in my stay. Because the Matsumoto Bus doesn’t dock at Hamarikyu Park, I have to take the more pedestrian “Ryoma” bus (dang)…

http://www.suijobus.co.jp/ship/ryoma.html

2:40pm JST

We board and find good viewing spots at the back of the bus. The engines ramp up and roar like a hundred lions under our feet, the bus departs and we steam… ur diesel… down the Sumidagawa to Odaiba! The river bus offers great views of Tokyo Sky Tree, highly visible from Asukusa. As we churn towards Odaiba, we pass many other water craft including both Matsumoto busses. We cruise further down the Sumidagawa and cruise beneath the many bridges that cross the river, including our old friend the Eitaibashi Bridge where I photographed river busses last week. Just wish the weather today wasn’t as dreary!

3:30pm JST

My cruise ship arrives at Hamarikyu Park and I disembark directly into the park. Most museums and parks in Japan require an admission fee but the entrance fee is apparently included in the river bus ticket. This is a great park, varying between rough wild wood to manicured traditional Japanese garden. There is a Shinto shrine, Land of the Lost sized pine cones, a tea garden on a lake, temple kitties looking for luvz.. and crows, lots and lots of crows, oh murder!

5:00pm JST

The sun is quickly setting and Andrew notices that this park has no street lights or illumination of any kind. The park’s closing is also announced over a loud speaker, politely thanking you for visiting and also for leaving, now. By the time I reach the exit and the street, the sun has set and the office buildings light up the Tokyo skyline. Andrew and I meet at the main gate and agree that the next stop in our travels should be Shiodome and the Myazaki-inspired clock.

5:45pm JST

Much to photograph at Shiodome including the Yurikamome line automatic train, passing Shinkansen trains, unbelievable Ghost in the Shell style cityscapes and of course “The Clock” built by sculptor Shachimaru Kunio who also built the giant Laputa robot on the rooftop of the Ghibli Museum.

6:00pm JST

The clock begins its animation sequence! Although I found the show to be a bit lackluster, its still worth seeing, particularly if you’re a Miyazki fan. Check it out if you ever get the chance.

6:42pm JST

After much photography and videography, I board the Oedo line train for Monzen Nakacho and, within 45 minutes, am sitting in Chikara Tokyo, chowing down on the extra large size beef bowl and miso set. That’s how convenient and fast the Tokyo Metro subway lines are, particularly to Monzen Nakacho.

After a quick trip to the kusuriya for packing tape, I’m settling down for the evening with hot tea and snacks…

Afternoon in Akihabara

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Today I’m spending a relaxed Sunday, roaming about Akihabara and visiting some favorite manga and hobby stores. Being a Sunday, the streets are closed to auto traffic and open for pedestrians to stroll…

12:00noon JST

Armed with a Match vitamin drink, I’m off to the subway but this time I’m taking a new route, the Hibya line straight into Akihabara. On past trips I’ve always used the JR Yamanote line from Tokyo station. The subway and Hibya line, however, are so much more convenient from our launch point in Monzen Nakacho.

First order of business is to stop by Vie de France for a leisurely lunch and hot tea, and then its out on the plaza for a little photography. Every Sunday, the main street in Akihabara is closed off to automobile traffic so that pedestrians can mill about in the middle of the streets… and what a gorgeous, clear, sunny day it is for strolling from store to store! Shoppers aren’t cosplaying in the streets anymore, though, the only costumes in evidence being on the “maids” handing out flyers. Five years ago the whole “Maid Cafe” thing was new and cool but now you run a literal gauntlet of maids in the streets of Akihabara, all beckoning to serve you at their respective cafes.

1:30pm JST

My first stop on this “leisurely” shopping tour will be K-Books, an awesome book store that was located across the street from Akihabara station in the building that has been demolished. Their new store is just as capable and …. oh my god did I pig out on the manga, but I got some great titles: Doraemon, Ghost in the Shell 2 Bilingual edition, Appleseed XIII…!

That’s just the first floor “new” section, next I head up to the second floor “used” section where I find toys and figures, used manga, CDs, DVDs and doujinshi. There isn’t a lot in the “used manga” section that I really want, except the first two volumes of Sargent Frog and a “food manga.” Moyashimon is tempting, but I’m trying to show restraint and I already have several Moyashimon volumes at home.

3:45pm JST

Next stop is Good Smile Cafe, on the fifth floor above K-Books. Good Smile Cafe is the store front of Good Smile Company, home of Danny Choo. Sadly the line to the cafe section is long long long so I browsed their selection of new Figma figures and bailed.

4:00pm JST

Ok, now we move on to another favorite, “Toranoana” which is Japanese for “Tiger’s Den”, and an absolute paradise for manga and doujinshi enthusiasts.

5:00pm JST

The sky has turned a deep purple as the sun sets and the police open up the streets to traffic again. Shopping in Akiba is hard work, so we take a break for dinner at Mos Burger. I remember this Mos Burger from five years ago and head upstairs to the cat loft, overlooking the street below. Across the street we can see Liberty Hobby, Figure Hobby and Toys Golden Age… the next three shops on the list.

5:30pm JST

Liberty Hobby is great for rail fans and also chock full of wonderful and expensive model train stock. Golden Age Toys we pass but promise to return to some other day, then visit Liberty Hobby where I find a Masked Rider Datack figure for a friend back in the States. Lastly we pay a visit to Animate… another huge seller of manga and figures. I buy the first three volumes of Spice & Wolf.

7:00pm JST

The camel is starting to groan under the weight of all that I’ve collected on my “leisurely” afternoon so we had back to the Hibya line subway station, just a stone’s throw from JR Akihabara station. Instead of hopping on the Tozai line for the last leg home, Andrew suggests that we get off at Kayabachō and WALK across the Eitai Dori bridge. This turns out to be a longer walk than if we had taken the connecting Tozai line but hey, its something different.

We’re amuzed to find two photographers taking pictures of Tskushima from the bridge. That Sumidagawa and Eiitaibashi are attractive sights I must say.

Tokyo Jidai Matsuri

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Today is Culture Day and there’s a big parade in Asakusa called the “Tokyo Jidai Festival” which features period costumes from a variety of periods in Japanese history. Let’s check it out!

1:00 JST

Again our journey starts with a stop at Mister Donut to fuel up, followed by the usual subway connections to Asakusa. I won’t bore you with those details. What I will bore you with is the wonderfulness of a street parade attended by hundreds upon hundreds of onlookers in front of the Karimarimon Gate. The Seven Lucky Gods were there as was a contingent of Shinsengumi, samurai warriors, Mito Komon and a host of historical and mythological figures that I don’t even recognize…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mito_Kōmon

Unique to this parade (other than the solely Japanese jidai characters) were the strips of plastic tarp lining the streets for the crowd to sit on, after removing their shoes of course. And when the parade ended, wow it ended abruptly, the streets were cleared and all returned to normal.

Chatted with one of my “tarp mates” about our impressions of Japan. She is a native born Jamaican, vacationing in Japan but currently a full-time resident of Beijing. Big standout in her mind was how quiet the Japanese are compared to the Chinese who are LOUD. Especially on the trains and subways where no one speaks a word in Japan. Even this parade, with hundreds and hundreds of people, is very quiet.

4:00pm JST

Sensoji Temple is packed today. Investigated a kushi and kogai combination that I found yesterday, only to find upon closer inspection that it is cracked and the paint chipping on the ends. That’s not satisfactory, so I visited an antique dealer I know and purchased an authentic and lovely kushi and kogai set from him. Also found a few other items for friends back in the States. Postcards are also coming so stay tuned!

5:00pm JST

The sun has set and I get a big helping of Okinomiyaki from one of the food stalls set up on the temple grounds, last night. The food vendors got an early start so they could be ready to handle the additional crowd from today’s parade.

9:00pm JST

I’m now becoming expert at navigating the Tokyo Metro system in the same way that I had attained understanding of the JR system five years ago… good enough to get around without being picked off by the wolves. Walking back to the apartment from the subway station, I noted how chill the air is. My leather jacket is now going to become a must during both day and night. Figured out how to work the apartment heater too, just as wonderful a feeling as the AC was in the intense summer heat, five years ago. Ahhhh… the little pleasures.

Watched the Yomiuri Giants defeat the Hokkaido Nihon Hams in a very close game while enjoying my hot green tea and a bag of day old baked goods from Akafudado. A day old and still yummy. I also watch a variety of anime titles on Tokyo MX at night, some of which I’m familiar with, many of which I am not, some of which are so bizarre, they will never find their way to American television. Hey, I think I just saw an episode of “Genshiken”…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genshiken

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