xmas in Tokyo

Today’s Christmas, which means… basically nothing in Japan. A great reason to ignore it for the most part and enjoy the sights. Today’s goals: see the Meiji Jingu Shrine visit the National Gallery and see Ueno Park pick up our KFC dinner see the light show at Tokyo station Back to our local, the Asakusa station to catch the train to Ueno to see the park and the museum. [Read More]

Asakusa Yakinuku

Dinner was pretty great tonight. A classic Yakinuku place with limited menu, accepting staff and delicious sauce. It was from Gyu-nabe Yoneku. No bullshit, old style place, good food, great staff. [Read More]

Studio Ghibli Museum

If you haven’t seen any movies from Studio Ghibli, stop now. Go watch a few. They’re amazing. The art, stories and storytelling are glorious. Having said that, I know I haven’t watched as many as I’d like, more through the cost of local copies and lack of availability in general. A visit to the Ghibli Museum was one of the “must do” parts of this trip. It was always on the “top things to do” lists while researching, and I love the worlds that Hayao Miazaki brings to life on and off the screen. [Read More]

Shibuya and Shinjuku

The plan for today was to cruise around the Shibuya and Shinjuku areas, both known for pop culture and shopping. On the way, since it was fine out, we went to visit the Senso-Ji temple and its surrounds. A and I collected our fortunes, paying our 100¥ and shaking the tin. Mine was 五十五 (55), which turned out to be a “regular” fortune. A was not fortunate today so he tied his to the rail as is the custom, leaving bad fortune behind. [Read More]

Asakusa in the rain

As we arrived in Tokyo today it started a very light spitting rain. Once we were booked into the hotel it started a gentle, but constant rain which I knew wouldn’t get any worse, but which was making my travelling companion want to grab instant ramen and just chill in the hotel. No, say I! If we’re going out, we’re going out for good food! A side benefit of being out on a Sunday night in the rain was the opportunity for some nice moody rainy photos, free of other tourists. [Read More]

Osaka to Tokyo

When I was in school, dad collected and exhibited stamps. Being the son of a philatelist I was unable to escape my fate; I built a collection relating to transport and exhibited them a few times. I did it well enough to get me entry in to the youth philately trip to Germany in the late 90’s. Yeah, I’m a nerd. While learning about all the ways people use mechanical contrivances to move themselves and their belongings around, I learnt about trains. [Read More]

Saturday night in Osaka

The best laid plans of mice and men and all that. Turns out, if you’re trying to fish for your dinner on a Saturday night in Osaka you’re either booking in at a restaurant or doing it in the river… we probably should have prebooked 😂 No worry however, my usual trick of “open TripAdvisor and eat” worked out spectacularly well. We were already in the Dotonbori district, so I found us Chibo, a Teppanyaki Okonomiyaki restaurant. [Read More]

Trains and Tombs and Knives Oh My

Today we set out to find the Mozu Kofun tombs in southern Osaka. Our first train ride without the brain-melting pre-game of a long day’s transit. Namba station to Mikunigaoka Station didn’t take too long and it cost maybe… three dollars? It’s great what a huge population can do for infrastructure budgets. The “pen pen pen” noise of train crossings is one I’ve known as an ambient noise for decades and brings back so many memories of anime and other media. [Read More]

Osaka and the payment adventures

The main goal today was to get JR train tickets for the rest of the trip. We’re going Osaka > Tokyo > Kyoto > Osaka > Hiroshima > Osaka > Kansai airport. This’ll happen over a few weeks, so the calculators I looked at showed it wouldn’t be worth the ~800-1100 for a 21 day JR rail pass. Our trips are occurring over about 23 days and we aren’t doing that many, so we opted to do it all as individual passes. [Read More]

First night in Osaka

This’ll be a short one, as we got in late and crashed out hard. Finally getting to this point was quite the relief, only four hours late… Kansai airport’s under heavy reconstruction at the moment and we turned up at about 11pm, so the only thing open was the train station and the vending machines. The latter was important, because that allowed me to get a SIM card for that all-important connection to the outside world! [Read More]