Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tokyo - Shinjuku, Akasaka and general tips (Day 4)

We spent the last day of our trip to Tokyo in the district of Shinjuku and at the Hie Shrine in Akasaka.

Some general information and advices for travelling to Tokyo:

Where we stayed: Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka, which we can recommend, as long as you get a good rate (we paid around 100 € per night, booked at The hotel is located in the center of Tokyo and a subway station is located in front of the hotel. This offers a quite good connection to all places of interest. The Limousin Bus Services is connecting the Hotel directly with the Narita Airport, this bus is a very convenient way to commute between Narita and the city, a ticket is 3000 YEN..

Were we dined and wined: Most of the places didn’t have their names written in Latin, so it’s hard to recommend one precisely. The food quality was in general good and not to expensive compared to Germany. For two persons we paid between 2000 and 5000 YEN. Remarkable was the sushi in a restaurant around the fish market and the food in the restaurant of the museum located in the New Tokyo Forum.

Guide books we used: We used for the preparation and while exploring the city three German guide books on Japan and Tokyo. I did the short summery of this guide books in German.

Marco Polo Reiseführer Tokyo: Wir empfanden das Buch sehr nützlich, um einen schnellen Überblick zur Planung der Tage in der Stadt zu bekommen. Die aktuelle Auflage ist eben erst erschienen und lieferte aktuelle und präzise Informationen. Auf den 140 Seiten wird freilich kaum auf Details eingegangen. Aber auch beim Erkunden der Stadt ist der Reiseführer ein guter Begleiter mit einem guten Stadtplan und Metrokarte, der auch in die Jackentasche passt. Marco Polo Reiseführer Tokyo bei Amazon

Tokyo mit Kyoto und Yokohama: Dieser Reiseführer beschreibt viele Details und eignet sich gut, um sich intensiver mit einzelnen Sehenswürdigkeiten und mit der Geschichte und Kultur zu beschäftigen. Tokyo mit Kyoto und Yokohama bei Amazon

Vis a Vis, Japan (DK): Der Dorling Kindersley Japan Reiseführer wartet mit den bekannten dreidimensionalen Zeichnungen auf. Wie so oft bei DK empfinde ich den Reiseführer als zu oberflächlich. Er ist nett anzusehen, aber punktet nicht beim Informationsgehalt, außerdem ist er auf relativ schwerem Papier gedruckt, was ihn nicht zum optimalen Reisebegleitet macht. Letztendlich haben wir diesen Reiseführer kaum genutzt. Vis a Vis, Japan (DK) bei Amazon

Useful links:
Japan Guide
Airport Limousin Service
Tobu line leaving Asakusa station for Nikko

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tokyo - Emperors palace, Asakusa and Ginza (Day 3)

It was December 23, the emperor’s birthday, a national holiday and one of two days of the year when the inner palace garden is open to the public and we missed it! We missed it because we tried to enter the palace by a closed entrance and all the guards didn’t really speak English, so instead of going directly to the only open gate we walked from one to another just to learn that the next one was closed too. At least we had a chance to take a look at the regularly open gardens later the day. The garden of the palace is not overwhelming and there are for sure more impressive gardens in the world, but it has some nice details and even end of December it surprised us with some colors.

Tradition meets modernity once more

Fall is still greeting



Camellias blossom in wintertime

We spent the afternoon in Asakusa, where the quarter close to the Sensoji Temple (also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple) was very populated that day.

Popular Sensoji Temple

Traditional clothes are not so rare here

Colorful Tokyo

City signs. Tokyo is full of colorful signs and banners, advertisement, directions, ...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tokyo – Fish Market and Nikko (Day 2)

We started the second day in Tokyo with a visit at the Tsukiji Fish Market, which is the biggest fish market in the world. The access is open to everybody, you want to be there early in the morning. The fish auction starts around five in the morning and the markets business continues ‘til 10 o’clock or even longer. From the Tsukijishijo metro Station or Shimbashi train station you can easily walk to the market. Before you enter the actual fish market, you will pass some small streets with stands that offer everything from fruits and vegetables to household goods, in between some sushi places. We selected one of this sushi places after visiting the fish market for a sushi breakfast, which was excellent.

The fish market is unbelievable busy and as a visitor you should respect the people and their work, it’s not a show, it is hard and serious work!

Some rules that you should obey
  • Waer closed shoes, its slippery and wet.
  • Be there early.
  • Do not enter areas restricted to authorized personnel!
  • Do not obstruct traffic!
  • Do not take flash photography during the tuna auction!
  • Do not bring small children or pets!

Selection of all kind of seafood

Blocks of ice…

…are crushed with this old machine.

These carts might hit you!

Tuna deep frozen…

…and freshly prepared

Strengthened with the sushi breakfast we went to the Asakasa train station to hit a train towards Nikko. The city of Nikko offers a group of beautiful temples which are protected as a UNESCO world heritage. And a Japanese saying is “don’t say awesome, before you have seen Nikko”. Nikko is about 2 hours north of Tokyo. Unfortuneatly it started to rain on the way to Nikko and the temperature droped by some 10°C.

Impressions of Nikko, due to the clouds and the rain, the pictures are by fare not as colorful as the reality.

One of the famous Nikko masterpieces: the three apes

Tokyo - Meji Shrine and Shibuya (Day 1)

Our first day lead us to the Meiji Shrine and via Omotesando to the Shibuya station.
This first trip offered a first impression how tradition and religion meet modern live in Japan.

One of the Toriis of the Meiji Shrine

Barrels of Sake which were donated by companies

Little girl…

…and woman in traditional clothes

Nun in the shrine

Quite impressive are the lights of the city, it seems nobody in Japan is concerned about high energy cost. Big screens and creative illuminations everywhere.

I guess nowhere in the world is the density of premium brand boutiques as high as in Japan, two of many Chanel and Dior shops.

Shibuya: busy, bright, colorful

Traveling Japan and Hawaii

We used the holiday season for traveling to Tokyo and Hawaii, which made this trip to a travel around the world. It was the first time for us to be in Japan as well as on Hawaii.

Our schedule lead us to the following places:
  • Dec. 20 leaving Stuttgart, Germany
  • Dec. 21 in the morning arriving in Tokyo, Japan (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3)
  • Dec. 24 leaving Tokyo on the evening (Day 4)
  • Dec. 24 arriving on Hawaii (Big Island) in the morning
  • Dec. 28 leaving the Big Island and arriving on Maui
  • Jan. 5 leaving for a short trip to Kauai
  • Jan. 6 returning to Maui
  • Jan. 9 leaving Maui with a half day stop in Honolulu
  • Jan. 11 arriving back in Stuttgart
This three week travel offered lots of places for photographing and lots of things to experience. During the next days I will publish and share some of our experiences and off course also some pictures that I made recently.