Sunday, June 29, 2014

Japan Golden Week - A day well spent in Tokyo


We left Amanohashidate at 8am, to travel back to Osaka for a quick lunch stop.  Then at 1pm we travel back to Shizuoka, and arriving Mochan's place at around 7 pm.

On the way back, we pass by some interesting sites, such as the mountain and village view in Kyoto prefecture:


The roller coaster park:

At 730pm, I left the group to travel back to Tokyo via Shinkansen, actually I have a choice to still join Mochan's group which will drive to Tokyo that evening (arriving early morning), however, I have an appointment with my cousin whose living in Tokyo the following day, so I need to rush back that night.

My Route was Shimizu-Shizuoka-Tokyo-Kanda

While traveling from Shizuoka to Tokyo for 1 hour  Shinkansen ride, notice the interior is comparable to an aircraft, except for the overhead compartments.  There were also some food carts that passes by along the isle.

That night, I checked in at Value Capsule Hotel in Kanda, then I had dinner at this nearby eating place:


After visiting my cousin's place in the morning, I went to Ueno Park to join the Free Ueno Park Walking tour, organize by Tokyo Systematize Goodwill Guide Club

Ueno Station in Taito-ku is known as the "Gateway to the North" because it is the departing station for the railways from Tokyo bound for the Tohoku region in northern Japan. 

A copy of the Rodin's sculpture The Gates of Hell:

In Tokyo Ueno-onshi-koen Park, covering the vast area to the west of Ueno Station, there is a concentration of cultural institutions such as: Ueno Zoo, the first zoo in Japan; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Tokyo Bunka Kaikan (Tokyo Cultural Hall); the National Museum of Western Art; the National Science Museum; and Tokyo National Museum, all offering their visitors recreation and relaxation. 

Outside of the National Science Museum is this life size replica of Blue Whale

Walking further, we pass by these boxes along the road - What are they? They are the personal belongings of the homeless in Tokyo, yes they leave around the park.

According to my guide, every week there are civic organizations who provide free lunch to them, just like this assembly of people in an open space of the park:

Next, we pass by this temple just outside the National Science museum,

Next, is another shrine inside Ueno park, in 1631, a Great Buddha was built by a feudal lord Hori Naoyari, whom governed the area around Murakami in Niigata Prefecture. The seated Buddha statue measured 2.8 meters in height but it was destroyed by earthquake in 1647. The face of second Great Buddha or Daibutsu,

Are these Tori gates looks familiar? Its not in Kyoto, but here inside Ueno Park, it is the shrine for Inari, the shinto god/goddess of fertility, rice, agriculture, foxes, industry, and worldly success, the entrance was adorned with a series of red tori (gates).

There is also a replica of the Kiyomizu Dera Temple here, it is named as:  Kiyomizu Kannon-dō ,  in the veranda you will notice this uniquely shaped bonzai tree .

Our last stop with the guide, is here at Saigō Takamori Statue (西郷隆盛像). Near the main entrance to the park from JR station stands an unassuming statue of a pudgy man walking his dog. 

This is Saigō Takamori, a famous samurai general best known for leading the doomed Satsuma Rebellion against the Meiji government (and the inspiration for Hollywood blockbuster The Last Samurai). 

After the free walking tour, I went around Ueno area for some interesting sites:

The Ameya-yokocho Market, called "Ameyoko" for short, is located in the area under the elevated railway structure between Ueno and Okachimachi Stations. 

This area used to be the location of a thriving flea market immediately after the end of the WWII. There are a number of shops that sell everything from basic foodstuffs to high-class imported goods, all at reasonable prices, and as a result it is always crowded with shoppers.

Next, I went to Ginza station to see the area, there is Sony building:


The Kabukiza Theatre house for Kabuki plays,

Walking further down the road, is another must see in Tokyo is Tsukiji Fish Market, since it was almost sunset when I reach there, the wet market section are closed already, but I still manage to eat at the Outer Market shops:

The Tsukiji Market is separated into two main areas: the Inner Market (Jonai Shijo) and the Outer Market (Jogai Shijo).   

The Inner Market is the wholesale market for the professionals, and that is where the fish auction takes place.

The Outer Market retails some of the fresh seafood and vegetables sold in the Inner Market.  This is where I took my freshest sushi ever,

Tourists must visit this fish market as soon as possible, since it was announced that it will be closed down and relocated due to the preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games.

On the way back to hotel to pick up my luggage, there was ongoing Kanda Matsuri - this is ranked among the three largest festivals of Japan. Carrying the portable shrine - marching through central Tokyo districts such as Kanda, Nihombashi, Otemachi, Marunouchi.  I felt so lucky to have seen this parade even though it was not in my original plan.

Lastly, at 8 pm, I am back to Haneda Airport to catch my midnight flight back home, I had late dinner at Haneda Airport Lounge (courtesy of Diners Card),

Sayonara Tokyo!  Throughout this 13 days journey, every single day has been a unique experience, and I will surely miss Japan.  For more photos of the whole trip click here

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