Monday, 26 March 2012

Harajuku Madness

On the way back, we took the street back down the main shopping avenue in Harajuku. It was full of cute outfits and bags and shops, but really, there were so many tourists and people in the store, that you couldn't really get in and see anything!It was still fun, and I was supremely sad to have to get back on a train and head home!

In the woods in the middle of Tokyo

Meiji park is kind of likt the park we were in in the morning, completely removed from the city. Hyde park has big open spaces, but Meiji is surrounded by skyscrapers and buildings that you can't see. All you can hear is birds and wildlife, and the sun was streaming through the forest. We didn't stay long at the shrine, instead opting for a walk in the woods. There weren't many other people, and for a moment, we could have been in the country, or anywhere else in the world.

Meiji Shrine

We headed over to Harajuku for a while, but it was pretty packed, so we went to Meiji Shrine to start with. I have been there before, but not since I arrived in Japan. It is so wooded and lovely, and its such a long walk to the shrine. We were very lucky, someone was getting married there that day (Lucky them!) so we got to see a lovely bride in her traditional wedding kimono!

Le Pain Quotidient - now in Roppongi!

My favourite place in London, where I used to go all the time with Dave for breakfast before our trips to the Science museum was Le Pain Quotidient. They do lovely bread and all these nice chocolate spreads and jams. Shelby and I love it too, and it was so nice, becuase we discoverd Tokyo has one! It's in Roppongi, and just so expensive, but so wonderful. Alain met this girl Emi, who works there, at a club, and she was the sweetest thing, and sent us some cakes out after our bread! They were utterly amazing! We had such a nice time, and it took up most of our morning, but it was so worth it.

My favourite place in Tokyo

I love Tokyo Tower. Since the day I arrived in Japan I've loved it. I didn't get to go last time, but we knew that the restaurant was right near the tower. In our walk through the park, we found it, and had great fun taking photos of it with the pretty blossoms. The sky was utterly amazing, so blue and clear and not a single cloud in the sky. I couldn't get over it, and even though we were hungry, we just took so many photos! I can't explain how in that moment, I was so happy. In the sun, with friends, taking photos, in my favourite city.

The best way to start a Sunday

While heading towards Akihabara, Alain and I had the most amazing idea....find a Le Pain Quotidient and have some real French Bread. There is one in Roppongi, actually the only one in Japan, and randomly, Alain met a girl who works there at a club. We wandered through the park by Tokyo Tower looking for it, eventually heading into the classiest hotel to ask! It was such a beautiful blue day, the perfect thing to wake up for. It was such an amazing feeling, being up on a hill, surrounded by leaves and trees, and being almost unable to hear the cars and the city around me. It was wonderful.


In a pretty cool turn of events, there was a spare bed in my hotel in the centre of Tokyo. Alain lives closer to Yokohama than Tokyo, so we figured it was OK for him to stay. We went to Sagimahara, where the JAXA campus is that Alain works and lives at. It was pretty cool, I got to see the lab he worked at, and all the cool satellites that that specific lab has made, the full scale replica in the lobby and lots of other cool stuff. It was pretty creepy at night, but the best thing ever!

A big harbour

The view from the harbour was pretty cool. In my opinion, it could have been from the 1900s if it wasn't for all the modern boats around. It just had that feel, and was a little smokey and blury because of the fog. I loved the lighthouse right which was right on the end of the dock by the big boat. I'm not sure what it warned against, maybe the end of the pier, but I loved how the white and blue looked together. It was really quaint too!

A big ship in the Harbour

Yokahama is a really big port city, and a massive manufacturing place. They have tons of ships for tourists, for cruises, and for all sorts. They have this big one which you can go on, kind of like the one I saw in Edinburgh. It was very fancy, but instead of going on, we watched the people on the deck and took some photos!

The tallest on land lighthouse

In a strange coincidence, not only are Alain and I both studying similar things, we both like towers. The tallest building (the Landmark tower) is the largest building (not Tower) in Japan, and also home to this place, the largest insland lighthouse. Apparently it is a really popular place to get married. All we saw were these posters advertising marriages there! Seems pretty cool! It was pretty expensive to get up, almost 9 pounds, so we opted not to go up considering it was pretty foggy. Still pretty cool all the same!

Yokohama Chinatown

We hopped back on a train towards Yokohama. Sadly, it was pretty grey, and it's a massive city, so we didn't have time to do everything. We headed over to the Chinatown, which is the largest one one in the country. It reminded Alain a little of home I think, as he just moved from China. It was really colourful, like it had just been painted, and consisted of quite a few streets. It smelt so good, and was so much fun. They had lots of panda themed stores, where everything sold there was panda themed! And of course, a Panda Kitty Chan! To be honest, it reminded me of London's little bit of home.

At Kamakura Beach

From Hase-Dera, up on the mountainside you can see the beach. I didn't know Kamakura had beaches to be honest, so in our attempt to go find lunch, we headed that way. I hate the way sometimes you just cant find restaurants in Japan. They either are closed or non-existant. So we walked along the beach, marvelling at these tsunami signs...maybe they are recent additions?

In the caves

There was this random little cave at the gardens, with lots of statues of Gods carved into the walls. The roof was pretty short, even for me, so poor Alain really struggled!

Cute little statues

Probably the cutest and most commented thing about our trip to Hase-Dera were these little guys, which were all over the gardens. Well, only the three of them. One was up a mountain path, one near the caves, and another near some stairs. They are just simply adorable, and Alain and I couldn't resist a photo.

The gardens at Hase-dera

We stumbled across Hase-dera quite by accident. Some Japanese ladies had mentioned it and we kind of walked around Hase and found it. I was so pretty, and full of all sorts of different trees and flowers. From the bottom, it looked like just a little garden, but there were caves, and a temple at the top, and all sorts of shrines for Children rising up the hillside. Strangely, there were a lot of fresh cut flowers all over, at the shrines. Sometimes I wish I understood Japanese because then I could read about why there were fresh cut flowers and lots of little streams all over and cuddly toys left at the Childrens Shrine!

Sakura Ice Cream

On our walk to the big buddah, we just followed all the other tourists blindly, and so there are lots of things and signs in English which cater for tourists. I spotted this Cherry Blossom Ice Cream, and knew we had to try some! It was very pink, and really not very flowery. Which I guess is a good thing because I'm not the biggest fan of Starbuck's Sakura flavoured things! It was mainly cherry tasting, but it put me in the Hanami season mood!

The big Buddah, Kamakura

Alain, my classmate from Kirua has been working in Tokyo now for a few weeks, and I finally made it up to see him! We headed out of the city, to Kamakura, which is home of the giant Buddah! It's a pretty popular place, and there are so many tourists there! Sadly it was a little grey, but we had both brought cameras (am I ever without mine!) and had a good time taking photos!

SpaLand at the largest Departement store in the World!

Inside of the world's largest departement store, which was like Harrod's kind of, is Spa Land. For 12 pounds, you can go in, and enjoy 13 saunas, a couple cold rooms, a bunch of nail and hair treatments and a few onsens. They give you this cool outfit to wear (so you aren't naked) and then you go sit in the heat of the themed was so cool! And possibly the best experience of our Korean trip!

A beautiful beach in Busan

On Tuesday morning, we didn't have long but knew we needed to head to the beach, which was nearby. And it was beautiful. The promenade reminded me of Miami, with the high rise hotels behind us and all the beautiful grainy sand. I found a perfect shell for my collection and took it home as a souvenier!