Today is the day! Our journey into Japan! About half-past four in the afternoon leaves our plane, a Boeing 747, to Tokyo. There can be transported many people with this type of aircraft. We fly economy class, which means that space is limited. Fortunately, we have a place with only two seats together at the backplane.
We have been regularly flown, so have learned our watches to be done as quickly as possible to the time of arrival in Japan. So it was suddenly half 11 in the evening. The flights all went fine. A drink, a meal, a cloth for the hands, good weather, little read and some sleep. However, there did not end up much of the sleep. At about ten past nine the next morning, we land on Japanese soil. It turned out we were half an hour before schedule. Pretty soon we come to discover that they love Japanese officials and papers. Per person we had to fill in two forms, a photo was taken and fingerprints were taken. Once at the customs had everyone loosen the trunk so they could inspect. Fortunately, the customs officer was very friendly and made no mess, which sometimes will happen again. All in all this stuff took a lot of time. Oh well, what the heck, we were still ahead of schedule so.
Now we got to Japan, we get our borrowing-phone. This we have requested in advance since our cell phones do not work in Japan. However, the latest mobile phones seem to be working. After we’re looking for our phone an ATM to get some money to pin. In the shop, we buy some water and a snack. The staff in the shop is very friendly. Then we find out that we still need to exchange the ticket for the shuttle bus. Fortunately, we are just in time, otherwise, we could have to wait more than an hour.
Once all the bags were labeled at the bus and started the ride to the hotel. After almost two hours we arrive at the hotel Shiba Park too. During the ride, we saw that there was a lot of high-rise buildings. Everywhere also hung a huge amount of laundry outside. This appears here almost every day have to be. We are also stopped by Disney. We also found it remarkable that many roads running over each other. All this has given the impression that Tokyo is a real metropolis. We do indeed see the go hang a naked man on a wall at the Imperial Palace. This still seems to have been the world.
Once at the hotel, we get the key to our room. The room looked fine. However, the sink was very low. Made on the length of the Japanese course. The toilet was getting used to because there was a bidet. And once you sat on it already started the toilet to flush. A bit strange all.
By flight, we are both pretty tired, so we go out anything nap. Then we go for a walk. In Japan at this time of year to mid 6’s already dark in the evening and 5 o’clock in the morning light again. It was already dusk outside. In a small food stall, we decide to go eat noodles carbonara. Then drank a cup of coffee at Caffe Excelsior. We could not even sit outside on the terrace. Today it was very hot here in Tokyo, and it was this evening still very pleasant. After coffee, we went for a walk round the park. The picture of the illuminated Tokyo Tower is really true magnificent. Once back at the hotel, we go straight to bed to enjoy a nice sleep.
Despite the holiday, the alarm has been going off at half past seven. Nowadays, it is not always the case that there is a breakfast at the residence. That is why we will have to secure a breakfast. In the hotel restaurant turns out that we can choose from a Japanese or a Western breakfast buffet. The price varies slightly, so we choose where to a Western buffet. Can we at least choose what we find ourselves yummy!
After an extensive breakfast, we are picked up by the pick-up service from the hotel. Thus we will make a tour through Tokyo. We were picked up by a driver at a chaotic place that turns out to be much more chaotic. The first stop of the tour is Tokyo Tower. This is a replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. However, the Tokyo Tower 33 meters built higher and lighter material. With the elevator go up. Once at the top, we have a beautiful picture of Tokyo. It is a pity that the weather is not so bright.
After the visit to the Tokyo Tower with bus Pariwisata, we went to a Japanese tea ceremony. This ceremony was special for tourists and very nice to deal with, but the tea was not very popular. The ceremony was held in a tea house, which was situated in a beautiful garden. The garden was really lovely with beautiful trees, plants, and water ornaments. However, the garden was now being readied for a true October beer festival. There Audi banners were hung, which turned out to be the sponsor of the event.
The tour through Tokyo went on. Now we went to the north of Tokyo. Here we visited a beautiful garden again. Through this garden, we walked back to the hotel. Once arrived was served a barbecue lunch. The food was cooked on what looked like a stone grill. All the fried food was just dipped in soy sauce and then you could eat it. It was all delicious.
After lunch, it started to rain harder. The visit was canceled thereby to the imperial gardens. Pity. Almost all participants of the group remained on the bus. Pretty soon the weather was a little better, so the cruise on the river it could go the Sumida. It was a pity that if you’re not sitting at the window, you could see nothing. This is because the tour boat was made at the height of the Japanese. And they are usually not very large. Because of my height, blonde hair and light complexion I was here in Japan a real attraction. Many people looked at me and small children stared in amazement. Because of all the attention will make you feel quite special, good for your confidence!
The excursion ended by Tokyo with a walk around the Asakusa gun. We walked through a fun and busy street with a magnificent temple at the end. There were many shops located, and on either side, there was a covered market.
At the temple at the end of the street stood a large vessel with incense. The Japanese were blowing the smoke into body parts, which probably hurt. Then they washed their hands and washed her mouth. Then she pulled a bell to indicate that they were there to do a prayer. It was very striking that the Japanese are very superstitious. This last visit was the highlight of the tour through Tokyo!
Once back at the hotel we have anything equipped. But soon we went to the bar to eat pizza. There was a lot of smoke and there was filmed mostly jazz. Because of this, we did not feel very at ease there. After dinner, we made a walk and coffee at Excelsior. Then was to go to the supermarket and then go to sleep. Another day passed …
This morning we did manage a little late. Once we got up went to the buffet. But because we have slept the buffet is already quite plundered. At a buffet you do not expect, for example, the croissants are just totally on. Fortunately, there were still other sandwiches, so we did not go hungry.
Today there was a visit to the zoo on the program. But first, we went to the JR, a kind of underground above ground, to Ueno Park. It was a beautiful and vibrant park and there happened to be a covered market. Here we are, of course, just walked on. Drank some coffee somewhere and then went to the zoo in Tokyo. It was a beautiful zoo with quite a few animals, greenery, and a beautiful pagoda. The number of birds was huge. Most animals we knew, but there were also some we had never seen before. Especially Schonbek-stork, a bird that resembles the marabou was special to see. This bird looked a bit naughty and sometimes from even frightening. We found it a pity that the last giant panda is deceased some time ago. It was quite busy at the zoo because there were large groups of school children.
After we went to the Akihabara district will leave the zoo. This is a neighborhood with lots of shops in the area of electronics, game consoles and everything around it. It was very busy and there was quite some noise. In one of the shops, I bought an I-pod shuffle. The neighborhood is really extraordinary, everywhere sound comes from, many colors, many people, highly recommended!
After this visit, we took the JR Ginza. A totally different district, to compare a little with the PC Hooftstraat. However, the shops are divided among various streets. The stores are all the big names. In one of the blocks is found to be a branch of H & M opened. Apparently, this store proves here also to be popular, because there was a huge line of people at the door. It was so crowded that only people allowed inside if something came out. Because of the crowds and because there can be seen on the streets enough had we gone in at any store.
Once back at the hotel, we had an hour to rest. Then we went to a small restaurant somewhere on the fifth floor. We chose to eat Indian food. The dinner was very simple but nice. After dinner, we walked a little and drank a cup of coffee at Excelsior. This is now beginning to get a true tradition. So far, there are quite a few things specific cases to our stay in Tokyo, namely:
* Working people walk all in a sleek gray suit with a white shirt
* Mobile phones are much bigger than us
* Many women walk with their feet inward, as if they have knock-kneed
* It only takes one drop of rain that all the umbrellas are all unfolded
* No one has tried to stab on a red pedestrian traffic light
* When people on the street smoking they do it in a smoking area or they have their own ashtray with him
* There are few rubbish bins, but there is no piece of paper can be found on the ground
Tokyo – Mount Fuji – Hakone – Tokyo
This morning we are at half past nine, after breakfast, picked up to be taken to the bus station. At the bus station, it was even busier and more hectic than last time. The excursion to Fuji and Hakone consisted of no fewer than five buses full! The guide went with us was very difficult to understand. He mumbled everything together. Even the people next to us who came from Wales had difficulty following it. During the trip, there were the usual jokes along and also a lesson Japanese passed. Too bad that everything was so bad Schengen.
After several hours of driving, we got closer to the mountains. The scenery was more impressive and more beautiful. When it came time for the first stop was. This was kept at a visitor center. Normally you can see Mount Fuji from here, but because of the clouds the visibility was poor. There were also many stalls selling all sorts of goodies were offered for sale. Fortunately, the vendors were not those attention-pullers. We decided to continue the journey and soon Mount Fuji came into view. It is the highest mountain in Japan and a holy site for many Japanese. Once arrived at the maximum height of the bus was the best fresh. Here, too, were many tourist shops selling all kinds of souvenirs.
After looking around, we have gone back down. There was a real Japanese lunch ready for us. Lunch consisted of Miso soup, raw fish in soy sauce, rice, sushi’s, fried and dipped in almond shrimp, a dish with egg jellyfish (jellyfish), ice cream and Japanese tea. It was special to experience once, but such a lunch is unique. We did not really know what. But apparently, there are enough people who find it very tasty.
After lunch, we have to the bus for the trip to Hakone. After about an hour we reach Hakone. First, we took a boat trip on a lake. The lake has a beautiful location and it looks a bit like the fjords of Norway. After the tour, we went to a high mountain by cable car. The view was fabulous, we could admire beautiful all sides of Mount Fuji. The guide had told them that this was unique since Mount Fuji was covered about two months through the clouds. It was quite cold in the car. That’s why we went fairly quickly after the much warmer valley again. Once down, we met with the Japanese vending machines. There you can get all kinds of cans of drink, even cans of hot coffee (and it turned out to be nice too).
After this, we went back into the bus to the station. A few people remained in Hakone, so we said goodbye. Once at the station, we had a very busy train to Tokyo. Every time the conductress wagon arrived, she bowed to the people, and when they went out of the carriage she did it again. Amazement, I have been watching for it. Once in the crowded Tokyo, we go back to our hotel by subway. On the way, we got off somewhere to eat pizza with a salad. After dinner, we followed our regular ritual, an evening stroll with a cup of coffee at Excelsior. This will be the last cup of coffee here. Then we walk back to the hotel for the last night here in Tokyo.
Tokyo – Kyoto
This morning we all got up at half past eight. Because our room in a separate building from the hotel we have to cross a narrow street for breakfast. In the annex door are several Umbrellas ready, which you can then use to cross the road when it rains. Since the street is very narrow, we wonder whether this is at all be used.
Because we got up in time, we come on time at the breakfast buffet. As usual, the food is fine, and now everything is in stock. After dinner, we pack our bags and pay the bill. Then we go to the station to make the trip to Kyoto. Yesterday we heard that we could get in a small and easy to drive. But here is the concept of small and organized differently than in Tokyo with us, because the station seems to Utrecht Central Station.
Once at the machine, it takes a while before we discover that we both train ticket, metro ticket and the reservation voucher must be done by the machine. After several times of failure, there will be a helpful lady from the station. She helps us with the machine. We are on the early side, and we can have a delicious cup of coffee at Starbucks.
When we enter the platform we find out that all the stations in Japan are well organized. On the platform, the numbers of the cars are marked so that you can connect it to step in. On each platform, there is a controller that controls the disembarking and embarking passengers RS. He also must blow the whistle so that the train can leave. Now that’s a responsible job!
The Nozomi 21 we travel to Kyoto. Nozomi is Japanese for’wins’, so you could say we’re going to Kyoto with the desired train. The journey is peaceful and prosperous. When the trolley that comes along we buy a snack and occasionally we get a can of drink from the vending machine. After nearly 2.5 hours we have traveled more than 500 kilometers and arrive in Kyoto. During the trip can still see Mount Fuji and beyond actually much industry, agriculture, villages, and towns seen.
At about 10 to 1 in the afternoon, we reach Kyoto. Once disembarked we take the subway for a short ride to the hotel. We arrive at Hotel Monterey, this appears to be a very fancy hotel. We feel it royalties. On every corner there is a lackey, there is not talk but whispered and you can not even pick up your key at the desk. When we arrive our room turns out to be not ready, so we have to wait for 2 hours. We decide to walk into a Starbucks for a sandwich and an iced coffee. Then it’s two hours and we could enter our room. This is located on 11th floor of the hotel. In total, there are 13 levels, so we are quite high. The room looks very luxury. The pinnacle is the heated toilet seat on the toilet.
Outside is pulling the lovely weather and without a coat, we leave for a walk. Retrofitting this walk turned out to be quite spicy. First, we try to find the Okura Hotel because we must get on tomorrow for the excursion. Through the bridge, we go the Kamo River and we see a pair of ibises. We arrive in the Gion district, which is still very authentic and it is also the origin of the Geishas. Many people think that Geishas are prostitutes, but this is not so. They are highly trained artists who give tea according to tradition and dancing.
Kyoto has compared to Tokyo a very quiet town. Sometimes fall even see empty streets. Then we suddenly see a magnificent temple complex. It is one of the many temples in the city. In total, there are 2000 temples in Kyoto. Of these temples are Buddhist in 1600 and the remaining 400 are Shinto temples. Almost all Japanese people believe in two religions, namely Shinto if you’re still alive and Buddhism for the afterlife. After the temple views have we walk on.
Then suddenly we walk through a covered shopping street that looks more like an indoor market. A few school boys show that they have learned English at school. These boys react just as adolescent boys like us in the Netherlands. After one and different views have we begin to get cold and we walk back to our hotel on a busy shopping street. Because of a national holiday this weekend very busy in Kyoto. This made it difficult for tour operators to find a hotel for us. During the walk, we cycled almost knocked several times. Cyclists bike here in Japan on the sidewalk and are very cheeky!
Nap today we hit a moment. We go to an Italian restaurant where we enjoy spaghetti and a salad. After that time still cozy drank a cup of coffee at Starbucks and then went back to the hotel to enjoy a nice sleep last night.
This morning we had to get up very early. This is because there is an excursion Kyoto is scheduled for this morning. At 7 pm we enter the breakfast room. Very early on a Sunday morning! We do not seem to be the only one because there is a long queue for the buffet. The breakfast is a little bit against us. This is because we can only choose from a Japanese or English breakfast. Both not really a favorite of mine in the early morning. The only thing that looks somewhat Southwestern are the eggs, but these are still raw. This seems to be a delicacy in Japan.
After breakfast, we walk to the Okura hotel in a nice tempo. There is the departure point for the tour. About fifteen minutes we had to go through nice to be on time. At a quarter past eight to leave the bus and at a quarter past nine will start the tour. By bus we drive past several other hotels. I think we even get past the hotel where we are staying. During the tour, we are guided by a guide. But she speaks very poor English. Only by listening very attentively falls a bit to understand. Overall English in Japan anyway very bad.
The tour takes us first to Nijo Castle. This is the Shogun’s castle and beautiful to see. The Shogun in Japanese history a military rank and title of a ruler at the time of the shogunate. On entering this castle everyone had to do his shoes. I think barefoot Well not the most charming of the human body, but what good must have. Once inside we see beautiful decorations on the wall and various ornaments. Even history is mimicked through lifelike dolls. Also unique are the floors that make a beeping sound when you walk on it. These are also called’nachtegaalvloeren’. It is really unfortunate that there are not pictures can be created! Having explored the buildings of the castle, we walk a bit volatile through the gardens. If you look quickly, you see many beautiful trees, plants, water, and rocks.
Second attraction of the tour we visits a large temple. The temples here usually consist of complexes with one large building and several smaller buildings. Remarkably, hangs a large brass bell in every temple. When people want to pray they have to draw three times the bell three times and clap their hands. Shows you probably know that they are there and ask if they can pray. After calling and flapping are also still coins thrown into a large bin. Furthermore, we see images of cows with various bibs around their necks. It seems that these cows make for a happy and fruitful family life. At the temple, we see piled some vessels like towers. This turns out to be true barrels resident has sake. Sake in Japan is a sacred drink, which purifies your body to be. Japan appears to be a country with a lot of symbolism.
Thirdly, we visit the Golden Pavilion Kinkaku-Ji. This pavilion is located in a beautiful garden and sparkles and shines from all sides. In the garden are several beautiful plants and trees. Also behold the biggest bonsai tree of the world there. It is a pity that due to the upcoming holiday season, many people visit Kinkajou.
After visiting the Golden Pavilion and garden we continue by bus. We are deposited in a place where we can go to the center with a shuttle bus. But we have to wait an hour and felt we sin. We spent the guide a little in shock by asking if we could not go to the center by means of other public transport. We find a shop where we drink a cup of coffee. The wait staff is very cheerful and even has a male which Anton Geesink, however, it takes a while before it penetrates us about who he is.
After coffee we go to the starting point, the temple Nanzen-Ji, the Philosophers Walk. This is a walk of about 2 kilometers and owes its name to the professor and philosopher Nishida Kitaro. He walked this route to stay healthy every day. The route runs along a canal at the foot of the Higashiyama. Along the canal are all Christmas trees. The route ends at the Silver Pavilion, called Ginkaku-Ji. On the route, we come several coffee houses, shops with art, boutiques and restaurants at. In an eatery, we enjoy a tasty sandwich. Then we pass a shop where everything in cats is for sale. We even see one couple living cats walk, which are for sale. Sometimes it’s the first cats that we see here in Japan. Then we visit the Silver Pavilion, a magnificent complex to admire. There is an extensive garden where we can walk through and we also have some artwork of having sand.
After the walk, we go back to the center by bus 100. This appeared to be a good idea because it was extremely busy on the bus, the temperature is too high and the ride took also very long. There is even almost a lady with me sitting on his lap. She thought she still would fit between, but so was really not the case.
That evening we go into the center of Kyoto somewhere eat. We’re going to an Indian restaurant inside, despite the messy atmosphere we have eaten delicious. When we entered the restaurant from steps we enter the exciting nightlife of Kyoto. It has some similarities with the ramparts in Amsterdam, only to find the ladies of pleasure to be here anywhere. We went looking for the Pontodolaantje and it eventually found. This small street bustling with life and the cottages are still in the original atmosphere. The only drawback is that it is very touristy. But it was nice to see these houses in the evening because all the houses were lit and everywhere we could look inside. Then it is time once again to go to the hotel, tomorrow, the day begins early again. Along the way, we walk as a supermarket inside to buy some goodies. We do not arrive with an empty stomach at the airport. Once at the hotel, we prepare for the preliminary, last night in Japan.
Kyoto (Osaka) – Amsterdam
The day will start early today, at a quarter past six, the alarm clock. Unfortunately, the buffet begins at 7 pm, and we are at 7 o’clock already retrieved. Therefore, we have breakfast but with the goodies that we bought yesterday at the supermarket. Also, we make coffee in the room, but it takes a very long time before the water begins to boil.
At 7 o’clock we are picked up by a shuttle bus and taken to the Kansai International Airport in Osaka. We return our rental phone, check in and go through customs. It all runs smoothly. After that breakfast as well and bought some souvenirs. Around an hour or 10, we go by means of a monorail to the gate of our plane. Convenient such a modern airport, saves us run a lot. Something for 11 our plane leaves in the direction of the Netherlands. It will be a long journey with the occasional nap, eat, watch movies and occasionally walk around a bit. we can again put our feet on the Dutch soil around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. By train and tram, we continue our journey home. Once again to be safe at home, we can cuddle again our lovely cats. It’s nice to be back, and we have again a nice experience!