February 2011 - Vikingess Voyages

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Roundtrip in Japan: Tokyo & Kamakura

8:49:00 PM
On Saturday 19.th I met up with my family in Tokyo, but since we used longer time than expected before we finally met at the hotel we did not really do that much the first day. Our hotel was located in the Ginza area, which is good if you like to shop for expensive brands, but there is not that much to see there to be honest.
My family had bought the documents you need to exchange for the Japan Railway Pass before they came to Japan, but they hadn´t had the chance to get the actual pass when at the airport. Therefor we went by the underground to Shinjuku to get it done, and spent rest of the day in that area. In Shinjuku we checked out the so-called Electric Street (電気街) where they have large electric stores such as Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera.
We also caught some glimpses of a group of girls in unique Tokyo fashion outfits.. Interesting.. ;p

Big TV-screens on the buildings literary screaming TOKYO!

And of course we got to see some art as well.

Instead of using a lot of time and energy to get to Tokyo Tower we decided to stop by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government instead since it was in the Shinjuku area. The entrance to the observatory in the 45th floor is free, so the decision was not really hard to make.

View from Tokyo Metropolitan Government

They also sell souvenirs on the observatory floor.

And since the entrance to the observatory was free we rather spent some money in the café looking at the nice view while eating chocolate cake! :D

Chocolate cake + nice view of Tokyo

After our stop by the observatory we walked south towards the Meiji Jingu (明治神宮) temple in the Shibuya area of Tokyo. Meiji Jingu is located in the north part of the Yoyogi-park, and personally I think walking through the park was about just as nice as the temple itself.

The entrance to Meiji Jingu.

After the visit to Meiji Jingu we wanted to go to Harajuku, but ended up taking a roundtrip around the Yoyogi park. When we arrived at Harajuku station we were tired and decided to call it a day.

Kamakura 鎌倉
To get out of the chaotic rush in Tokyo sure was good! After Tokyo our first destination was the historical city Kamakura, situated about one hour south from Tokyo by train.

The Kamakura train station. Here they have lockers where travelers can leave their luggage while heading for the many temples in the area. We decided to take a walk from the station to see the statue of the Great Buddha, and on the way we walked through some really cozy small streets.

Though our main goal in Kamakura was to see the statue of the Great Buddha, we also stopped by the temple Hasedera (長谷寺) on the way there.

In this temple-area one of the interesting things we got to see was this army of small Jizo -statues.

A picture of one of the bigger statues surrounded by smaller ones.

The main temple itself houses Japans largest wooden statue. It is not allowed to take pictures though.

In addition to the temple and the beautiful garden the view from the temple area was pretty good as well.

In the Hasedera temple area there is also a cave called Benten-kutsu. The cave is situated in the south-east part of the place, just look for the red tōri.

Inside this cave you can, among other things, see statues of the sea goddess Benzaiten chiseled into the mountain side.

One of the smaller passages in the cave. The ceiling is low and it is pretty dark in some areas of the cave, so be sure to watch your steps! I must say it really was an interesting experience though.!

Spring is in the air!

From Hasedera it only takes a small walk to get to Kōtokuin (高徳院). This is the place where you can see the statue of the Great Buddha (大仏). This bronze statue was constructed in 1252, and is Japans second largest Buddha statue.

A closer picture of the Great Buddha.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Yokohama, Shibuya & Night @ an Internet Cafe

1:17:00 AM
After leaving from Kyoto by the night bus on the 17th of February, i arrived in Yokohama early morning on the 18th. The weather was truly awful, and I actually feared that the sightseeing would end up being pretty bad.I spent most of the morning in Sukiya, which is a Japanese fast food chain selling more or less traditional Japanese food, waiting for Adaora which was supposed to arrive by Shinkansen (bullet train) some hours later than me. But since she came to Yokohama a bit later than expected, I decided to walk to the city center and doing some sightseeing while waiting.
The ship Nippon Maru with Yokohama´s ferries wheel in the background

The Yokohama harbour area is actually quite nice; luckily the weather cleared up so I could get a clear view of the attractions there. After some hours walk I finally met up with Adaora down at the harbour, and we decided to check out chinatown.

A building in Chinatown called Yokohama Daisekai
Staircase inside the Yokohama Daisekai building
The chinatown in Yokohama is actually the biggest one in Japan, and we probably spent an hour or so checking out the area.From there we went to the nearest station, where we took the train to Shibuya for 540 yen.
Adaora in Shibuya

For me this was the first time coming to Tokyo, and honestly speaking I would have thought that it would have been more chaotic than it actually was. Lucky with the timing I suppose..
Shibuya 109
We checked out some of the shopping malls (including the well-known Shibuya 109), and spent some hours at mcdonalds before ending up in an internettcafe called Manga Hiroba (まんが広場) where we could rent a room for 1000 yen/eight hours. Pretty cheap, huh?!
The internett cafe where we spent the night
Included in the price is a small room, free use of internett, a small blanket and as much beverage as you want (they have a machine which offers a lot of different drinks like cocoa, soda, coffee etc. For those who likes manga they also has a nice collection (at least it looks nice, but I do not have enough knowledge on the area to actually tell.. Haha..)Be aware that you need to be a member to be able to use internett. It is free to register, but you can only do so if you have an adress in Japan. Which both me and Adaora luckily have.! Wohoo..
Since we were two, we got a slightly bigger room than normal. Check out our "luxury"-hotel! :p
Our room in the front, among with a bunch of manga.
..and that's it for now! I'll be back with more Tokyo adventures soon!

Thank you for reading! Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below

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Hotel Associa Shin Yokohama
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Yokohama Royal Park Hotel
Yokohama Royal Park Hotel

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Student Life in Kyoto: Iyemon Salon & Valentines Day in Japan

3:38:00 PM
After spending some hours at a nearby Este (beauty saloon) me and Maho decided to check out a cafe in the area close to Shijyo-kawaramachi called Iyemon Salon. Iyemon is a company well known for their japanese tea, which is being sold all over Japan, and in addition to this they also have some cafés in for instance Kyoto and Tokyo.

Maho in front of Iyemon Salon. This particular café was actually awarded with the title Best Store of Kyoto 2009. In addition to having good tea combined with a warm and nice environment, it also provided us with shelter from the weather, which was kind of bad.
Iyemon Salon
In addition to the great atmosphere in the cafe, they also have a nice Japanese garden. This picture is taken from the window by our table. Bad weather is always nice when you can sit inside a warm room and look at it from behind the glass:)

The waitress bringing us tea and cake!

The cafe is not exactly cheap though.. This set consisting of two small japanese cakes and a cup of tea costed a little over 1000 yen.

From the seats you have a clear view of the kitchen area of the café

The view towards the entrance.

Even the design in the bathroom was so nice, I just had to take a picture of it! Haha.. It felt more like being in a fancy hotel than an ordinary café.

Some more details from the café.

By the entrance they are selling Iyemon products too, so if you want to bring some traditional tea with you home I guess you can find it here. Beware the prices though! I did not really look at them, but something tells me they aren´t cheap :p..
(The adress of the café is: 80 Ogura-cho, Karasuma Nishiiru, Sanjo-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Chiso Bdg 1F, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 604-8166, Japan)

Valentines Day in Japan
Like many other countries, Japan tends to copy American traditions and make them into their own. Valentines Day is no different; it is quite popular, and possibly the time of the year when Japanese people eat the most chocolate.
Cause in Japan it is not that common with flowers or valentines cards. Instead there is a tradition for girls to give guys chocolate on Valentines Day. For this reason, the shops are filled with fancy boxes with small, overpriced chocolates.

In addition to Valentines Day, they also have a so-called "White Day" one month later, where the guys give chocolates back to the girls who gave them chocolate if they fancy them (or just to be nice).

Sweet Valentines Day chocolates in typical Japanese kawaii-style. In the days (or rather weeks) before Valentines Day both the department stores and the normal grocery stores are filled with chocolates in all shapes and sizes.

I guess my Valentines Day ended up being a mix between the Eastern and the Western Valentines Day: Giving chocolate and getting a rose in return.
The dinner in an expensive Okinawa-style restaurant was also a nice experience, though the food (according to Yuma) wasn´t exactly like real Okinawa food, and the amount of food we received was so little we ended up going to a cheap ramen-restaurant afterwards. Haha..! It was great though (more thanks to the company than the food)!! <3

About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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