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Go near Mt. Fuji in Spring
It is common to see the beautiful Mt Fuji from the window of the Bullet train (direction: Kyoto, Osaka).
It is particularly a superb experience to see the snow-covered Mt. Fuji in early Spring (April).
The first picture is rare: Mt Fuji surrounded by a cloud ring!!
The second is Mt Fuji captured from a rice filed near Gotenba (a resort city very near Fuji).
Shop in small stores away from train stations
Little street level stores are the best location for good prices and plenty of variety-since when you return home, no one else will know how many varieties you were to choose from. (I was able to buy adult yukata for less that =$10 US. Children's were about $5 US. I loved walking to the next nearest train station because I would see things that few tourists saw. With little Japanese we were able to purchase items and eat. Sometimes finger pointing was our method of menu browsing.
Attempting to speak Japanese at every turn makes the Japanese feel kindly toward their visitors.
Once when we were confused a man on his lunch hour walked us to our destination and then showed us how to go the next leg.
I'm always so pleased by the treatment I receive from the Japanese people.
Kanamara Matsuri is Kawasaki's P e n i s Festival
If you are in Tokyo for the first Sunday in April, I urge you to get on a train and head to Kawasaki for the annual Kanamara Matsuri -- the spring rite that celebrates fertility and freedom from sexually transmitted diseases. Literally translated into English as the "Festival of the Iron P e n i s", it stemmed from the areas prostitutes visiting the local temple for protection in the coming year. Now, it is a much bawdier event, with the involvement of the local gay and transvestite community adding their AIDS-awareness float -- a giant pink phallus. The religious ceremony starts at 11:00 a.m., with chants and prayers, but the highlight is the parade that moves through town at around noon. We even saw a small make-shift phallus float try to barge into the parade, much to the delight of the leading transvestite. There are phallic-shaped lollipops to suck on and big wooden members to ride, as well as a group of rowdy taiko drummers to add a rhythm to the whole event. If you're into purchasing healthier fare, you can buy radishes or carrots shaped like large male organs. All of this is fueled by cheap beer and sake, of course -- this is Japan after all. Janet and I found this to be a great way to spend our Easter Sunday -- it certainly added new meaning to the traditional Christian cry "He is risen!"
- Arts and Culture
- Religious Travel
Walk Across Rainbow Bridge
....Constructed in 1993, Rainbow Bridge is a utilitarian suspension bridge whose job is to get automotive traffic from downtown Tokyo across Tokyo Bay in a way that doesn't obstruct shipping traffic. There's nothing amazing or elaborate about Rainbow Bridge, and it understatedly goes about its business everyday, moving the millions who live west of the Bay to places like narita, Haneda, Odaiba and Tokyo Disneyland, among others. I havetaken the bridge several times on the way to the airport and have often wished for the opportunity to stop and take pictures of the beautiful views I saw as I whizzed by (or as I sat, stopped dead in traffic).
....Little did I know that it's actually possible to walk across the bridge. Just take the JR to Tamachi Station on the Yamanote line and head straight down the road that runs out the south gate of the station (you'll cross over the tracks to exit). Eventually, you'll come to the Shibaura entrance, in which you ride an elevator to the 7th floor and exit to the walkway. It's about 700 meters to the Daiba side, wher you can descend for an afternoon in Odaiba or return. There are two walkways, one on the north with a view of Tokyo Harbor and Tokyo Tower, and one on the south with a view of Odaiba, the port and, if the weather is clear, maybe even Mt. Fuji.
....Beware, you are not protected from the elements on the walkway, which is attached to the lower (local) deck of traffic. The upper deck doesn't cover you from rain or sun, and nothing would stop the cold wind that accompanied me on 20 December 2009. Still, the views were spectacular and lived up to my expectations -- except I never expected to see a blimp fly over Tokyo Tower!
....All in all, I think I walked four miles, so wear appropriate shoes, too!
- Hiking and Walking
Traditional Onsen Experience (Part 1)
At the Oedo Onsen Monogatari, the Edo Period is recreated & those who come here will feel like they’ve been transported to the Edo era.
When you arrive, you will be greeted with shouts of welcome outside the complex. Once inside, take off your shoes & leave them at the small locker (wear the key around your wrist). Pay the entrance fee, & get issued with a layout map in English, another set of locker keys, plus a special tag to wear (use this to pay for your purchases, no need to carry any money). Then move on to select your yukata (casual cotton kimono-in different colours, different designs and in different sizes) & matching sash.
From there, enter (different entrances for men & boys and women & girls) the first set of change rooms and change out of your clothes and into your yukata. Place all your belongings into this locker. Then proceed onto the main area. The entire surroundings is like a scene out of a period Japanese movie. There are food stalls, souvenior shops, simple games for children and a stage where shows were carried out. I found it graceful, and yet bewildering at the same time, with the entire complex, a hive of activity, as men, women and children wander the streets, eating, drinking or simply relaxing. Photography is permitted here.
After a quick tour, find your way out to the footbath gardens (see pics). This is where you can walk on the foot reflexology path or bath your feet while seated around a square footbath. This area is co-ed. Nearby there is the hot sandbaths where you can get buried from toe to neck.
Getting back inside, I was momentarily disorientated by the darkness inside & found myself inside the Men’s Only area as indicated by the blue curtains! Making a hasty retreat, I then managed to find the red curtain which showed that the area was for women.
If you don't speak Japanese, it may be quite difficult to manage, but please don't let this put your off from this unique experience.
This link from the Tokyo Metro Tourism board is very useful to help you plan your route.
- Arts and Culture
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Live in Tokyo - a digital post card
If you have a sense of humor why not stand in front of a live web cam and wave at all your friends and family back home.
There are many live web cams around Tokyo. The one I picked is pointed at the Alto building across the street from the Shinjuku subway station. Before leaving I had emailed friends and family and told them when I would be there. I sent them the link to the web cam (just google it). It’s a kind of digital post card – here I am – wish you were here.
I have a friend at work to blame for this. His went to Japan on business and discovered live web cams. There are many, the one he told me about is pointed at the Alto building at Shinjuku. He arranged with his wife to stand in front of it at a certain date and time. Thus his wife could see him live in Tokyo. I found something in this story appealing. It speaks of human nature, a need for contact, to push away the solitude and isolation.
I pegged the date as June 11 at 8:00 am Tokyo time. Half way around the world that is Sunday at 7:00 pm. So there I stood for ten minutes wondering if anyone was watching. As a great experiment into the psyche of human intimacy it was a failure for me. It’s a profoundly flawed way of maintaining human contact. It is a one-way medium. That means the poor bastard standing on the corner of the street gets nothing out of it. It’s even a little subordinating. As I stood there studying my travel guides two guards emerged from the Alto building. These were intimidating guards and I quietly shuffled to the side trying not to look menacing. I wondered if anyone was watching. My ten minutes came and went – and so did I.
Visit a Sumo gym
If you wake up early enough (you ought to be there by 8-8.30 latest) you can visit a Sumo gym and see wrestlers training.
You need to speak japanese or know some japanese or have a good dose of patience and sense of humor. Everything is explained in http://www.arashio.net/tour.html .
YOu can see a very creative transaltion on http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&u=http://www.arashio.net/tour.html
If interested, the place is 1 minute from Hamacho Metro station.
Tokyo: Street Art Works No1.
In and around the Central Tokyo / Tokyo Station area I had the pleasure to find a number of public art works recently installed. They were all cows, but painted it appeared by various artists. These were some of the surprises I and one can make while doing Tokyo on foot.
- Arts and Culture
Make a Friend before you even leave for Japan
Make a penpal before you even go, It's an easy way to make friends and will help your stray off that beaten path, with activities you didn't even thought of doing. (AND NOT in the way some maybe thinking)
My last trip to Japan in Febuary was fun due to the fact I made some really cool penpal who happen to be DJs in Japan. We went to an underground rave in Shibuya and we had all kinds of fun, drinking and dancing with the Japanese.
There are many websites that will help you in finding a penpal.
It is always one of those great thing, just to make a life long friend as well as make new friends to help your trip to Japan lasting.
- Study Abroad
This sightseeing flight presents a spectacular view of lights on land and sea flickering under the night sky. This cover the Tokyo Bay Area, City centre in Maru No Uchi and Shinjuku and Ginza Area. 12,000Yen for 30 minutes flight.
- Gay and Lesbian
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Family Travel
When in Japan, do as the Japanese
Try and do some real Japanese things while you're there. This tip could be translated to any country you visit, really.
Just step away from the well-beaten tourist path and have a meal at a local restaurant, go to a shrine (...)
Get your hair cut
If you are picky about your hair, one experience you should definitely do when in Tokyo is get your hair cut.
It is expensive (2500 - 5000 yen), but I can guarentee you have never had an experience like it before.
Not only do you get your hair cut with meticulous care, but you will get a brief back and/or scalp massage, hot towels on your head and face, a warm lather shave and an eyebrow trim.
Most places have pictures to order your hair style from, so don't sweat it to much.
There are strange different...
There are strange different foods all over the place. The best thing to do is try something and see what it is. This was some type of goo wrapped in a leaf. The goo was actually pretty good. Sweet with some type of meat ( I think) in the middle. It tasted a lot better when I realized you are not supposed to eat the leaf.I think the woman behind the counter called it 'aga' but that might have meant 'leave me alone'.
Make sure you try a few of the...
Make sure you try a few of the selections in the soda machines on the street. They are very different . Green teas, young green teas, tea with milk ,coffee with milk , and other concoctions all in cans. You may find something you didn't think you would enjoy.
Karaoke. There are hundreds of...
Karaoke. There are hundreds of karaoke joints. Most of them have a decent number of English selections (near the back of the book). You cannot understand Japan without understanding karaoke. Really. Most people think of 'karaoke bars' when they hear the word, but there are also 'karaoke boxes', which are places designed solely for karaoke and drinking with a few friends in private. You go in, rent a room for a few hours with some friends, and sing your little heart out. As a tourist, you may have difficult negotiating the language barrier far enough to get a room, but if you know someone in Japan and have gotten at least 4 people together, you should definitely give karaoke a shot. It's more fun than a barrel of monkeyshine.
If you are really adventurous, you can go to a snack, which is a (usu. karaoke) bar with hostesses. They will sit at your table, pour your drinks, light your cigarettes, sing duets, and engage you in lively conversation. However, they are quite expensive. Expect to pay on the order of Y10,000. Avoid the cabarets, though, which are much more expensive and filled with bimbos. Personally, I love snacks, but if you don't speak Japanese you may find it bewildering. Still, if you want to experience urban Japan, it is a must-do. BTW, I have seen women at snacks too, although it is uncommon. And please note that a snack is not a brothel (those are called 'health fashions' :), and hostesses are not prostitutes; they are more like professional ice-breakers. Don't go to a snack in Roppongi, unless you are set on seeing some yakuza (gangsters); those are mostly cabarets, and they are expensive and impersonal.
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