Electric Town - Tokyo

Electric Town - Tokyo

There is am amazing district to the north of Tokyo centre; Called Akihabara - it used to be the centre of the cheap electronic industry in Japan.

There are still a large number electronics shops, but there are more manga, anime, and games shops.... Oh and a very strange thing called "Maid's Cafe".

Pre Xmas Lights

The lights are starting to appear ...

fnfnfn

Sega House

Built around a train bridge, the SEGA store is an iconic landmark.

fnfnfnfn

More Shops

fnfnfnfn

Just by the Train Station

Here are some of the biggest toy, electronic and figure shops.

fnfn

Our Favorite snack shop

After a long day in the office/exploring - have some great food, and a decent beer at a small shop like this.

fnfn

Tokyo Dancers

Tokyo Dancing festival

"yosakoi is one of the more flexible Japanese dance forms with teams incorporating contemporary fashion, hairstyles, costumes and dance moves into the traditional art form." ... No that did not mean much to me also, so we headed out to see what the fuss, I mean dance was all about.

I will try and split the photo's into different "teams"/groups - however 90% of them cunningly changed outfits in the middle of the performance...

All images taken by me - enjoy.

Initial Group

We had spent about 20 minutes trying to find the location - which did not appear in Google Maps - mainly as it had been shortened from XXXXXXXX YYYY Street to YYYY Street (sorry I forget the street names) - g

Dancers

They seem to be in all ages, shapes and sizes. We spotted some very young (under 10), and more mature - some teams seemed to be high school or University ages - others seemed to be adults.

fn

Predicting the Motion

These dances, were not predictable in terms of repetition - this next shot is a deliberate blur (as are a few towards the end).

fn

Team Pom-Pom

fnfnfnfnfnfn

One of the more mature dancers - but by no means any less graceful. Well done !!

fn

Stylish and graceful

This next team, was very polished indeed. Not much shouting (if any) - but great costumes, with a good chorographer.

fnfnfn

Something more Vocal ?

There was lots of shouting from the teams - just what they were saying - I am sorry I have no clue at all.

fnfnfn

Going one way ... fn

And then then the other !

fn

As I think you can see - everyone seemed to have a great time.

Team Umbrella

This clever team did some nice umbrella work - which was becoming slightly more necessary as it was lightly raining at the time.

fnfnfn

Youthful and Bouncy

Another different style - they started off with some martial arts type of jumps.Great costumes and energy.

The images have been deliberately blurred using a slow shutter speed, which worked a little better than I had hoped.

fnfnfnfnfn

Assassins Creed

They started off looking like Assigns Creed

fnfnfnfn

The Hat ladies

This was the only team we saw, where the female dancers removed their hats in the performance.

Very stylish and polish they were too .... Maybe because of the grumpy man who was following them ??

fnfnfnfn

Who is this ?

The only really scary looking character we saw - more impressive as he was dancing in wooden clogs.

fnfn

Flags

Each team had a set of flag wavers - who must be strong men, as there were big flags which they waved enthusiastically around. fn

Costume Changed

Same performer - same dance - different costumes - all very clever.

fnfn

Many thanks

This was a great spectacle to see - right in front of your face.

A very memorable day out.

Images taken - 550 !! The most for a day ever!.

Tokyo White Heron Festival

A November day in Tokyo

With a weeks work over and done, we wanted to explore the city.

This is our photo montage

Tokyo Tower

We started the day off at Tokyo tower, and sorry to say the park - was very disappointing. Yes it had a few trees - but it had far more cement and concrete.

fn

fn

There were some nice temples - this is one of them.

fnfnfnfn

There was some form of art/music show going on at this place - which lent gave the area a nice carnival atmosphere.

Senso Ji Temple

Dora, had visited this earlier in the week with her relatives - so she was the guide for a change.

fn

Amazingly there seemed to be plenty of local ladies dressed very traditionally. Thinking that they would not like their photos taken, I quietly shot this as these two ladies were walking.

Just ask - it seemed that they ladies were happier if my wife asked them for a photo than for me - but I do not think they will be offended.

There are lots of things to see at this site - however it is is very very busy.

fnfnfnfn

People visit the temple and ask for their fortune, this is what you do if you do not like the prediction.....

fn

This was the view from the top of the temple looking back towards the metro station.

fn

In the distance we would hear some drums, and some cymbals - they sounded as they were getting closer....

Shirasagi-no Mai, WHite Heron dance

We happened to be standing in the main temple, as the "White Heron Dance" approached. This was total luck; And for once I was packing some of my lenses, and not using the super east Fuji camera, I have recently tended to use.

The Guardians

These are the old and the young guardians.

fnfnfn

They are guarding - the white storks.... who "run" into the temple. Actually they walk - probably due to the very large head-dress they are wearing.

After bowing - they entourage leaves the temple....

fnfn

Even the police were trying to get a better view ...

fn

The Dance gets ready

Around a small circle the 'Herons' and guarded (young and old), as well have a "feeder"... Plus a male cheerleader (old man waving a stick) .... And there is some music.

fn

The young guardians look on with interest

fn

The "Herons" all look very composed.... and elegant.

The Dance

I hope these photos portal some of the grace, class and amazing diversity that Japan has to offer.

fnfnfnfnfnfnfnfnfn

The "Herons" are now being fed - in this scene. After the dance - there was a rush to pick up these pieces of paper ... Blessings/Luck ?? I have no clue.

The dance continued, with the Herons taking off and "flying"

fnfnfnfnfnfn

Exit the Band

Being push by 4 or 5 elderly gentlemen, the band, was wheeled back to their starting point as the Storks marched ahead.

fn

Lets Take Photos !!

Not me - everyone else it seems.

These ladies - really brought a smile to everyone's day, they looked very stylish.

fn

A family day out ....

fn

With Friends

fn

Making new friends

fn

Remembering the day fn

Super smiling lady - looking very elegant

fn

Hakone

Hakone

Due to a slight rescheduling of where were were going to be living for the next few weeks, I found myself in the City of Tokyo - and as we had the Sunday free - we atempted to see the famous Mount Fuji.

The view from our room on the morning of this trip.

fn

The nearest place to do this is the area called Hakone - which did not seem that far away from Tokyo.

Getting there

It is easy in essence

  • Train to Hakone
  • Get to Lake
  • See Mt Fuji

But... This is the trap we fell into.

It is not that easy

Sure if you have been in Japan for more than 4 days - it would be easy - this was out first trip. We got lost in the train station where the train went from....

Some key points about Japanese train stations

  • They are big
  • No Bigger than that !!
  • You need a book a ticket
  • Each train line, only sells tickets for that line

Ok now with some rules, we found the station, eventually found the line which sold the tickets to go to Hakone, and then found a train in 90 mins that would go there....

This is the type of train you will go on

fnfnfnfn

When we set off from the station we had already been running around Tokyo for 4 hours !!..

The "Express" - DreamLiner ... frankly is not that quick. It take 90 minutes to cover 80 kms.... But it is comfortable - and despite you spend at least 50 minutes in an urban sprawl - you eventually see green fields, and some hills. Very suddenly you have reached Hakone.

The Slope railway

A new train is needed one that can climb steep inclines. We now needed a new ticket - our Plasmo card paid - and we were off..

What seemed a short distance now took 40 minutes ... With zip-zag up. Driver swapping from front to rear. Then we reached Gora.

Gora Cable Railway.

Unless you have some pass - you need to queue for a ticket - and you need to pay with cash !! We not have a ticket up the hill. This cable railway takes 15 minutes, and stops at places where literally no-one seems to get on or off.

But at the top ... there is the "Rope Railway" - or cable car to us....

Cable Car

I was lucky to get to the head of the queue quickly, and was able to ask the pleasant lady how long it would take to get to the lake ... she said another 90 minutes !! Our train back to Tokyo left in 4 hours, but we had already taken 1.5 hours in getting this far. She suggested going to the next cable car stop - and looking an Mt Fuji and then coming back. It seemed sound advice.

Top of cable car ride

As we rounded the top of the hill, we could see the Alpine style chalet ahead .... we could also see steam below, and the smell or rotting eggs.... This was a major volcanic gas outlet.

One the top of the hill we looked at the green/yellow landscape - avoided eating the local delicacy of eggs cooked in sulphur-gas ...

fnfnfn

Walking across the car park, we found a vista-map which indicated where Mt Fuji was .... behind the clouds !!!

Retun to Tokyo

It was a much quicker return trip, and frankly a bit of a relief. We had seats on the 17:25, and we did not want to miss them. The trip had been fun, Japaneses railways are awesome - but I am sorry .... this was a pain to try and accomplish on our first day.

I see bus trips from Tokyo for 6K yen.... that seems a very good deal compare to what we struggled through.

Remaining photos

fnfnfnfnfnfnfnfn

Lamma Island

Lamma Island day out.

After doing work/domestic duties for the past 3 weeks, we decided it was time for a change; It was time to go exploring - not looking for sofas, beds etc.

The simple plan was - go to Lamma Island, a friend of mine used to live there when she lived here about 14 years ago.

Ferry Schedule

It appears that there are ferries there about ever 30 mins or so - so we walked down to the Central Pier, and saw there were 2 options - North or South Lamma. North won, as the ferry was leaving in 5 minutes.

Kowloon by the sea

Sitting outside on a posh high speed ferry, this is the view over Victoria Harbor to Kowloon.

fn

I was of course accompanied by Juliet aka Dora the explorer.

Here she is looking calm cool and collected.

fnfn

I also was quite happy and relaxed.

fn

Lots of ships waiting to dock around these parts.

fn

The Walk ...

We had landed at the north of the Island - it seemed very busy (weekend tourists like ourselves I suspect), but there was a path to the South - it seemed like a good idea.

As it was a sunny day, we stopped and bought some water before leaving civilization.

The path winded up and down, in shade and sun, and then began a long gentle climb.

At the top there is a lovely view point, where Dora and I caught our breath.

fnfn

After a short break, we plodded on noting the climb South to North would be much more short and sharp.

The time from North to South took us 70 minutes.

Food time

At both ferry stage areas the main business are food restaurants. We sat down at the Raindow restaurant. I am not sure which one is the best - the food was excellent - fresh and plentiful.

We were tired and rather sweaty ... Liquids were needed.

fnfn

I also was suffering a little.

fnfn

We had just finished lunch when we heard there was a ferry due to leave. Rushing we made the ferry with under a minute to spare.

Still re-hydrating - we headed to Aberdeen.

fnfn

Fery trip back

Around the island, there are lots of floating fish farms.

fn

Looking slightly more like the Africa Queen than a ferry, the old ship felt very sound.

fn

Approaching South Island, we crossed the path of many container ships, here the authorities are heading out.

fn

Looks like a car ferry - but not sure where to/from.

fn

Aberdeen Harbor

We had been looking at leaving overlooking this area, this is a squid boat parked close to the high-rise.

fn

All types and shapes of vessles abound.

fnfnfn

The jetty to the famous Jumbo Restaurant is clearly visible.

fn

A great day out - you should try it.

HK around town

Home shopping in Hong kong

With the apartment rental all sorted out, we have been actively looking for furniture (yes that means Ikea) as well as some other bits and pieces.

Last week's recce to the much maligned IKEA in Causeway bay, resulted in a shopping list. Which today we got turned into an order.

However before that we took some time to look at the street paintings that surround my work bus route; Yes I do go to work on a double decker bus every morning. It is quite pleasant to tell the truth.

Street Murals

Honkers

When I worked in Saudi with the Navy, I would always hear this expression "Honkers" I think it is a funny wall. Not as popular as some of the others.... no accounting for taste I suppose.

fn

Gargoyles - HK Style

Not sure what these fierce looking guys are supposed to do, thought it was a little sad - they had to be chained together.

fn

No Idea ...

Not sure if this is a carton/game or some other character I do not recognize. Answers on a post card please....

fn

How does this tree hang on ?

fn

Some much more popular Murals

Usually there are lots of people standing around these walls, but we were a little ahead of the crowds this morning.

fnfnfnfn

Blackpool trams ? Err no

There are still trams - and if you are not in a hurry - they are a very cheap way of moving around through the centre of town. Some have A/C in the now I have been told, but this morning we sad on the top, with the windows down - it was very pleasant indeed.

fnfn

This building reminded me of the 'triangulum' in New York ... maybe just not as pointed. Try and ignore the McDonalds sign ... alas they are everywhere here also.

fn

The Local park

There is a really nice small park just by our current apartment, and as we are just moving over the road (sort of) - this will be next to our new apartment also.

fnfnfn

Juliet looking with a degree of humor at the turtles, we all appear to be begging for food, despite signs of "Do not feed (or add more turtles)". There is a shop close by that sells them live, I am wondering if this is somehow connected ... ha ha

fn

Our new apartment

Somewhere up there on the 25th floor - is our new apartment.

fn

Kennedy Bus

kennedy

We had a busy day planned today, I wanted to accomplish the following

- Ham Radio Shop
- Buy some Electronics
- Go see realtor
- View Properties
- Relax

Alas as we were standing for the Bus, both of our mobile phones developed that horrible 21st century disease - NO INTERNET.

This is what the area looks like.

fn

Find CSL

We then played the "can you remember where the CSL shop is".

5 mins on a Tram later, and then after asking we pretty much walked back to where we had started !! Laugh ? I almost cried....

fn

A very pleasant man - showed us the hidden menu on the CSL Web page - so we could activate the data..... And we were cured.

Alas the timescale was rather compromised.

Bus time

I really like the bus in Hong Kong - they drive like racing drivers. Do not ever thing of moving around without having a firm grip of the hand rail here.

Dora - was ready for the day ahead....

fn

In full exploring mode as you can see.

fn

Night-time HK

Typhoon ? !

On getting back from the office, I noticed the doorway to the apartment had a prominent sign informing me that there was a Typhoon Level 1 Warning.

Warnings

Alas there seems to be no global standard for Typhoons, In Philippines the range is 1-5 which means "Get Ready"/"Prepare to possibly die". Hong Kong seems to have a little more granularity to this system with numbers from 1-10.

So I have reinterpreted the Typhoon warning to being in Filipino speak "A normal day - no worries." fn

Evening thunder

We did get some good bangs of thunder, which seem to echo rather like your voice in a canyon off the multitude of sky-scrapers that adorn the HK sky-line.

fn

In normal non BW light.

fn

Quick exploring HK

Exploring HK

We have been out and exploring for the last day of my retirement.

We came back from looking at more apartments, travelling on the Bus (our new favourite transport mechanism).

Alas there seems to be some form of an issue ... fn

Bikes

I was interested to see what type of bike the Ambulance riders, were using - looks like a big Honda (Pan-European ?) .

fn

I am a little sad, I was hoping to see a nice BMW.

Kowloom heading back to HK Island

Some massive buildings in Kowloom, no clue what they will be !!. fn

Big buildings

When I mean big - I mean BIG !!

fn

1st day of work, tomorrow...

Hong Kong day 1

Hong Kong

With a new "first day" at work, approaching. It seemed a good idea to go and get to grips with the local transport system, something which we had read was very efficient and well organised.

Additionally we need to start to try and find an area to live in, and then an apartment.

Apps

It seems a little sad to start of my HK Travel page recommending an App that you can use on your Phone, but if you are visiting HK - please have a look at the app called Moovit, think Lemurs from Madagascar and you will not forget the app.

The MTR

Like most major cities the Metro/Underground/MTR is a quick, cheap and quite comprehensive way of moving around. Our chosen destination was the area called South Horizons, which meant getting the MRT from Admiralty.

This is a new line, and unfortunately required us to walk down 5 levels, which seemed a little not so user friendly. However once on the train, we sped along, passed under the impressive mountain which dominates Hong Kong island, and popped out near Ocean Park.

At this point 95% of the train got off, it is summer time, kids holidays - and a trip to a theme park, with aquatic animals is obviously high on the parents and children's agenda here in HK.

South Horizons

We spend a couple of hours looking around, in fact looking at 2 or 3 apartments almost off the South Island; One apartment looked quite inviting, but as we were on a fact finding mission not a "we must find a place to live" we will go and see some more (guess what we are doing tomorrow ?)

Return to Ikea

Yes, you read that correct. Along with looking for a new place to live, we also need to put some furniture into the place. Dora, who has never shopped at Ikea - was quite excited about this.

To get a different point of view, we decided to take the bus from South Horizons to Ikea in the main shopping area close to Causeway Bay. Normally travelling by Bus as a tourist (which is what we really are still), is very difficult - getting on (and off) the correct bus is not without some issues.

But (last and final plug for Moovit) with a nice App - it was a real breeze. We watched from the top of the bus, the bus stops tick by, and 500m to go we were given a warning that we needed to get off. It could not be more easy. Sadly I did try this app in Oman before we left, and despite the infusion of more buses - there was no data.

Ikea on a weekend

Sadly I can not recommend this experience, shopping has never been one of my favourite pastimes - the Ikea store is large, comprehensive - and was packed. There were people catching a sleep on a chair, bed, it looked like some "young people" were almost having a group date/private party in some of the show-case rooms.

Even Dora, commented this was not a good place to visit at the weekend, sadly I agreed with her saying "I have to work in the week alas"... Let us see if this is the end of the Ikea experience (I doubt it).

Returning home

Feeling braze we again took a bus - this time having to change buses. We did manage to get home, with little hassle - and rewarded ourselves with a rest, promising ourselves a small treat a little later on.

fnfnfnfnfnfnfnfnfn