Sakura

Deniz got her wish! The Sakura is in full bloom all over the place. While out for a walk we found this shrine off a lane way from a busy main strip.

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There’s huge cemetery behind our hotel. Sakura trees line the walkways. There were many people out walking and taking pictures of the Sakura.

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This ‘n’ that #2

So now that we’ve been here a week time to reflect on the positives and negatives.

On the upside….

We are still very much impressed by the level of politeness here. From buying something at the corner convenience store to being one of a billion people on a train platform. Everyone is so polite. I’m still amazed that with the intense crowds, nobody pushes or shoves nor does anyone butt in. If that happens it’s usually a traveller and not a local. Everyone lines up at designated lanes for the trains in an orderly fashion. When getting off, everyone gets off in an orderly manner as well. I find this truly amazing given the amount of people going through this system. While on the Shinkansen (bullet train), an officer comes by to check tickets. As he and anyone else working for the trains leaves your car, the walk towards the door, turn, bow, walk out backwards through the door and then leave.

On the downside…….

While there have been many things impressive about this trip, there have been a few frustrations. First is around money. Very few banks will accept foreign cards. Also, very few small town places accept credit cards. Our Suica cards (transit cards that can be used for trains, buses and merchants at the train stations can only be topped up with cash. The strange thing is that you can buy tickets and charge it to a credit card but you can’t top up the Suica card with a credit card. Before going to japan, take lots of Yen out and also have a Visa or MasterCard.

Fuji-san

Today seemed the best day to go see Fuji-san. Tomorrow we will be spending time with my cousin as it is her daughters birthday. The rest of the week has either rain or partly rain in the forecast.

It was another exhausting commute. We took one train to Shibuya station. There, we took the subway to Shinagawa. At Shinagawa we took the Shinkansen…….known on that side of the globe as the bullet train…..to Odawara. We then had to buy separate street car tickets and squeeeeeeze onto the street car heading up the mountains. After about 8 stops, we then lined up again and had to buy cable car tickets. This goes part way up. At that point we all line up again and get onto another cable car, with two options to depart. From the cable car, the view is amazing. But once off, there are places on the grounds to take pictures of Fuji-san. Frustrating!

The winds were strong again today. It was a pretty noisy night with the winds howling away. It cleared the air though and made it possible to see Fuji-san from the 19th floor windows by the elevators.

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Here we are waiting to board the Shinkansen. You can see the special barriers they have at most train/subways.

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The cable car and Fuji-san from the cable car.

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Another Rainy Day

It was another rainy day today. Very windy as well. Heading out with an umbrella tested its durability against being turned inside out many times. We headed to Shibuya station to peruse the shops.

We stopped for a break at a coffee shop. Here’s Deniz’ latte.

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The department stores here are all multi-story tall. We took a look through Tokyu and then went to ShinQ’s. Tons of little shops within the department store.

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We had a burger for dinner there and it was amazing.

Tour day

With some rest and some meds, it was time to get back out there. We decided to see the Fukagawa Edo Museum, Gardens of the Imperial Palace and Yasukuni Shrine. It was a nice sunny day. The sun was warm but with a cool breeze. Today’s high was to reach 19 degrees.

While at the Edo Museum, we saw a few dance performances in the theatre room.

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They also had a section that had a little old town that you could walk through and see how people lived.

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At the Imperial Palace, we entered through the large entrance. The stone walls are huge!

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Lots of plum blossoms.

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At Yasukuni Shrine there were a lot of people. Yes, this is the Yasukuni shrine where Japanese dignitaries especially the Prime Minister take flak for visiting from China and South Korea. The issue is that there are war criminals in there. But the priest who created this space intended it to be a neutral place. Where judgement would not be passed and to simply commemorate those who died fighting for Japan. Those war criminals paid their price.

There was an all girl taiko drum performance.

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The main shrine.

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Was a great day!!

Sick

I guess I ran myself down a little too much. Maybe I should have worn a mask on the trains. Whatever the reason, I’ve picked up a nasty bug. We stayed in the hotel room today and I slept for most of the day. Deniz went to a pharmacy last night and got some stuff to use for 3 days. It is helping. Hopefully I’ll be better enough tomorrow to get back out there. It was a nice sunny day today and it was a real shame that I spent it sleeping.