I woke up around 6:00am, I could hear raindrops falling outside. I already knew form the last night's weather forecast that it is going to be a rainy day. My friend was still sleeping but I needed to feed myself, so I had a couple slices of bread, sunnyside egg, small sausages (Japanese have very small ones...), and glass of milk for breakfast (I took all of them from my friend's refrigerator...). Left my friend's apartment around 10:00am, walking to the train station but somewhat I took a wrong turn and was walking around for 20 minutes to the station (usually takes only 10 minutes). I bought a discounted railroad pass for 730 Yen, good for certain JR lines for all day and covers pretty much the areas I wanted to go. The basic fare in Tokyo lines are starting at 160 Yen, so I just need to use 8 times or more to pay it off.. Since this is good for only one day, I have to buy another one for tomorrow. (If you an foreign national, you can get some kind of discounted pass which is good for like a week and you can ride all the JR lines as much as you want. The express fee does not covered, I believe...)
The pass I got. No English version available... (You still can use it, just cannot read...)
Akihabara ("Akiba" for short) is a district famous for the large number of electronic appliances stores. In the past, the place was for the folks who make radios and TVs as their hobbies. Nowadays, this is the place you buy audio/visual equipment, PCs, medias such as DVD, software, and also some "Keitai" (cellular phone). In addition, people who like Anime have places to go here, too but that's not what I am interested.
The first place I wanted to go is Akihabara. I built some DIY computers so this was the place I always interested to visit. From Higashi Jujo station, I used the same Keihin-Tohoku line I used last night, head to the direction of Tokyo Station. Akihabara is next of Ueno station. For some portion of the line, the train is running with other line which is Yamanote line so the line I am used becomes rapid during the day time. After minutes of ride, I arrived in Akihabara. I had to buy an umbrella since the rain was too hard and could not keep my camera dry. I thought rain jacket was good enough...
These pictures shows some of the different lines. There are about 10 routes of trains running from Tokyo and you have to identify them with the color.
Yamanote Line Trains, Green Stripe Keihin-Tohoku Line, Blue Stripe Sobu Lines, Yellow Stripe
Welcome to Tokyo, the largest city in Japan! (This is a weekend photo...) Most of the signs are written in Japanese, English, Korean and Chinese. (However, some warning signs are written only in Japanese so you have been warned!)
A tip for people not familiar with the system. When you use an escalator, you will stand on the left hand side, so people in hurry can walk up on the right hand side (Opposite of American custom). Tokyo is a big city so you should know.
A view from an exit of Akihabara station, all the building you see sells electronic appliances.
Another street shot
This place keeps growing.
Almost every place sells 3G cell phone. The 3G is a third generation, you can browse the Internet and many of them have a digital camera with resolution of 1M pixels or more. The FOMA, which is the next generation one is better but expensive. Not like in the U.S. You can pick from many different kind of models. NEC, SONY-Ericson, SHARP, SANYO are the common companies making the phones.
I found a Denny's. It was quire busy when I tried to get in. I heard this franchise is all over Japan now
Old looking bridge and high rise buildings. A quite comparison.
Automatic umbrella bagging machine. You insert your umbrella from the top and push it down then... Tada! (I have seen people struggled with this so it is not perfect...) When you enter stores in Japan in rainy weather, you should bag it.
Ryogoku is located eastern part of Tokyo. The famous Kokugi-kan, building used for Sumo wrestling. Some people may see it on ESPN. There is also a place called Edo-Tokyo Museum, which shows the Tokyo's history from 1600s to today.
After looking places around in Akihabara, I decided to move to Ryogoku. The train used is JR Sobu lines running East-West ward and crosses with several other lines at Akihabara so It was not a bad idea to stop at Akihabara first. There weren't many trains running in this line so I had to wait a bit. After few minutes of train ride, I arrived to Ryogoku. I could see both Kokugi-kan and the museum. It was still raining so I kept walking with my umbrella.
Ryogoku Station, looking pretty old. There is a restaurant inside which serves locally brewed beer. I heard it is pretty famous. If you are interested, you can check it out. Just don't drink and drive.
Kokugi-kan, the place holding Sumo Wrestling tournaments.
Chikara-Zuka, a monument symbolizing the power of retired Sumo wrestlers and to honor them. Sumo wrestlers usually cut their hair when they retire, some of them will be placed here.
On the street of Ryogoku, there are many monument bearing famous Sumo wrestlers' hand prints.
I also find some picture of sumo wrestlers at the station. I don't know who they are since they won the championship even before I was born...
The next place I went is called Edo Tokyo Museum. "Edo" is an ancient name of Tokyo, before our capital was moved there. ("Tokyo" means eastern capital)
Outside look of the Museum. You can see it on the way coming to Tokyo by Narita Express, it is on your right just before the train goes underground.
Edo Tokyo Museum - Click the link for more pictures and information about this museum. This place was pretty cool.
I tried to find a restaurant but I did not see any kinds I like, so I decided to go back to Akihabara. I wanted to try out the Japanese Denny's restaurant...
Came back to Akihabara since I saw a Denny's there but full so I went to other place which I have seen.
Wax food to show you how they look like...
Sometimes there are restaurants right under the elevated track of the railway. It is noisy sometimes but I guess that's how it works in my country. The other kind of place have things like bookstores, drinking places, a small music studio to practice your garage band, parking lots for your bicycle...
After I ate my lunch. I decided to go to a museum of transportation located near by. I have seen it on a magazine long time ago, but I never thought I actually get to go there...
Transportation Museum - Small but fun place, has some trains, automobiles, airplanes (Including the first airplane flew in Japan!).
Ueno is located just north of Tokyo, I don't know much differences between those two stations though.
After I am done with the museum, I used Yamanote line to go to Ueno station. I needed to buy stuffs from a Hard Rock Cafe.
Ueno station concourse, like one of old platforms when locomotives are the main workhorse.
Hard Rock Cafe: Ueno-Eki, Tokyo. We have two HRCs in Tokyo. One in Ueno and the original Tokyo is in Roppongi. I will show you the picture later. The location of this cafe is 7-1-1 Ueno Taito-Ku, Tokyo 110-0005, located within JR Ueno station
I also found a Starbucks Coffee
Since al-Qaida threatening Japan for terrorist attacks, some of major stations in Tokyo were on high alert. Signs asking to report any suspicious activities (meaning a guy who's carrying huge backpack, wearing Wichita State sweatshirt?) or object unattended. Police officers and railroad security guards were walking around very often. Anyway, I got a couple of shot glasses and I decided to go to Tokyo Station.
Tokyo is the heart of Japan. There are so many headquarter offices of Japanese and foreign companies. The Imperial Palace, or "Kokyo" in Japanese is located west of the station and all government offices are located at SW part of the station.
Tokyo Station, like one of train stations in Europe, made out of red bricks.
It's past 3:00pm and the day is almost over but I still wanted to cover some other places. After arriving to Tokyo, I headed to go to the Imperial Palace. The eastern part of the palace is a garden and open to public for free between 9:00am to 4:00pm. They are closed on Monday and Friday. You have to receive a plastic tag from an guard at entrance and return it at the exit. There are security guards EVERYWHERE and they are riding on electric assisted bicycles. They can chase you around 20mph so don't mess with them. There are many road blocks to keep you away from unwanted places so you have to be aware of where you are going. There is a gift shop near the east entrance. They don't have much things I like but I bought a post card.
Imperial palace entrance. I think this gate is called Ohte-Mon Since this used to be the most important castle in the nation, you have to take lots of turns in road surrounded by tall stone walls. By making the road this way, you can defend the place easier. First the enemies can get lost. Second the any long-range weapons, such as arrow and rifles will have reduced effectiveness. In addition, the defending force can attack intruders from the top of the walls. This is a pretty steep hill with combination of corners. Effectively reducing the speed of advancing troops. You can place a bunch of archers behind of the trees to take cover and have easy aim on slow moving enemies who are huffing and puffing. (Agh! I am hit!)
Sorry for the bad illustration (I will make better one later). They used to have a structure like this. This is the place where the Shogun lived.
After leaving the palace, I kept walking to the north. There is a building called Budokan, an indoor stadium holds many martial art competitions and live music concerts. I think famous band like the Beatles and Bon Jovi played here. The day I visited, there was national tournament of high school Judo competition.
I kept walking north and headed to Yasukuni Shrine.
Four easy steps of Yasukuni Shrine tour
Yasukuni Shrine is a nationally famous Shinto Shrine, located in the north of Imperial Palace. The shrine honors the soldiers died in the wars. Traditionally, prime minister visits here every year to honor the deaths and this has been a cause for Chinese Government to ire since the general Tojo and other officers who ordered genocides in China are the among the names honored. I have met with a girl from Washington, bringing her parents here in Japan. She is an English teacher in Niigata, Japan, graduated from Nanzan University which is located in my hometown. Anyway, here is a quick tour of the shrine.
Entrance, The first Trii (matchstick looking gate) A park leading to the shrine Another Trii
The shrine. The main stage is located at deeper end.
Okay, I am done with this area. Before I am going back to my friend's apartment, I wanted to visit our capital. I used a subway from Kudanshita station to Nagata-cho station.
A district called Kasumigaseki, is the place where you see a bunch of government offices are located. Today, the offices were surrounded by many security forces due to 9th anniversary of Aum Shinrikyo Subway Sarin attack. I was such a stranger carrying a camera with a huge backpack, walking around the government offices... I guess I picked a wrong day.
Prime Minister's Residence. Guarded by the mobile security forces. (Inside of the bus you see on the right, there are dozens of riot control officers.)
Heading back to Tokyo Station. Once again, I went to the Imperial Palace, try to check out the famous bridges.
This is something I like about big city. As evening comes, you can take lots of nice pictures.
After coming back to Tokyo Station, I stopped at Midori-no Madoguchi (a ticket office for Japan Railways) to purchase ticket for highway bus to Nagoya. There were a couple of folks form Britain (I knew from the way they speak) planning to go skiing. I thought they need a help buying tickets but the guy spoke very good Japanese. Man, Tokyo is such a weird place...
I came back to the apartment around 7:00pm. My friend is planning to have dinner with other friends in Roppongi. Roppongi is a west side part of Tokyo where so many embassies are located. This particular area is also known for entertainment. You can find many shopping places, restaurants and also night clubs. There is an expensive restaurant which the president Bush recently visited with our prime minister.
After getting off from JR lines at Yurakucho, we got on a subway (Hibiya line?)to go to Roppongi. The first place I visited was the Hard rock cafe at Roppongi.
Hard Rock Cafe at Roppongi - located at 5-4-20 Roppongi, Minato-Ku, Tokyo 106-0032, near the subway exit.
There were many weird places in Roppongi. My friend went into a store which sells T-shirts with pictures of marijuana leaves, smoking pipes, some key chains (I bet I will get into trouble if I bring those things back in the U.S.) and also some substances with the names of combinations of various alphabets and numbers. I think they are so called legal drugs (Not prohibited and uncontrolled). Although you like drugs or not, I don't recommend going to Tokyo just for that. I know some regions in the U.S. are much easier to obtain those stuffs (Okay, I will stop it. DO DRUGS, period.) After walking about 10 minutes, we are at Gonpachi Restaurant. You have to make reservation to get in but someone else has done it for us already so we were welcomed. Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan, took George Bush, President of the U.S. here back in February of 2002(?). Our party was about thirteen people. The funny thing is that we had to communicate in English. One Finnish, One German and other multinational folks. By the way, this place is VERY expensive. A single stick of Yakitori will cost you almost $7. My share was about 3,500Yen for half full stomach. (If I had 35bucks, I could fill my stomach at good steakhouse in the U.S.) I think if you want to impress your date, you should come over here.
Although Tokyo has 10 million people in the day time, this city does sleep! I heard New York City operates their train 24 hours a day, and 3:00am for Chicago. I caught the last train leaving Roppongi at 11:47pm, caught second last Keihin Hokuto Line train at 12:12am. walk back to the apartment, took bath. I am writing this around 2:00am in the morning. Man... I need to go bed now.
However, on the way walking back toward the subway station, I stopped by Roppngi Hills to take a picture. This is a brand new high rise. I don't know how much you need to pay for to get an apartment here. (I think some of them are around $1million and more)
Roppongi Hills. The tallest structure in Tokyo. This looks like a building in Gotham City.
Shinjuku is a place where the office buildings for Tokyo Prefectual Government. The prefecture building has two observation decks at 45th floors of twin towers.
Since my friend spent whole night dancing, I need to go out by myself again. Grabbed two bread and a drinkable yogurt at convenience store, I headed to the train station. The good thing about Japan is that with less than 500Yen, I can buy plenty of them. Left Higashijyujo at 10:00am, headed to Shinjuku by Yamanote Line. (My friend told me that if I go to Ohmiya, I could use other line to get there faster but I missed it...) Not like yesterday, today is such a nice day!
Shinjuku is located west to the capital, you can access from Tokyo by using slow Yamanote Line (which is a train with green stripe) or Chuo line (Orange body)
- Tokyo Prefecture Home (Japanese), English site
- The government building - there is a twin-tower with observation decks located at 202m MSL, about 660ft. One if facing North, and the other one is to south. On the weekend days (Saturday, Sunday) are open from 9:30am - 10:00 for south, 7:30 for north deck. It's free so why not going there?
55sec to climb 45 floors
In front of Shinjuku Station exit
Heading to the capital building.
Takashimaya Times Square
Kasumigaseki Building. Used to be one of the tallest building in Tokyo, opened back in 1970s? Designed to withstand magnitude 6.5+ direct earthquake (That's why the root of the building is expanding).
The capital building of the Tokyo Prefecture Government. I will show you the pictures from the observation decks.
There are North and South towers both decks are at 45th floor and take only 55 seconds to there. It's fee while Tokyo Tower (located in Shiba) and Roppongi Hilles (Located in Roppongi, although the tallest, the price to access the observation deck is also the highest. I heard it is whopping 1500Yen!)
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I don't know what is this building for. the structure left hand side of this building is a huge cooling tower. You can see the fans.
You can see how tall the observation deck is located.
Asakusa Temple, Nakamise Street, Asakusa has been a famous place for more than 400 years.
Asakusa is one of very famous place in Tokyo and if you are from outside of Japan, you should check it out. This place has a famous temple known for couple of huge paper made lanterns.
From Shinjuku station, I used JR Chuo Line to Kanda station then transferred to a Subway system. The Chuo Line have their trains painted all orange so you can see it clearly.
Using Chuo Line from Shinjuku to Kanda
At Kanda, I changed the train to the Subway (Ginza Line). The entrance of this particular place has the clearance of only 1.7m. Even regular Japanese have to tilt their head. I had a very had time since I am about 1.8m tall. This sign is not written English which I think they should....
This entrance for a subway station has a clearance of 1.7m at stairs. If you are a 6ft tall, you need to be careful.
The fare form Kanda to Asakura was around 180. I just don't remember exactry. After arriving to Asakusa, you will just need to walk few minutes and you will see this Kaminari Mon (picture below). "Kaminari" is thunder, and "Mon" is a gate in Japanese. From this gate to the temple, the both sides of the street are occupied by many stores. They sell food, snacks, clothing, souvenirs and (fake) brand named items. Since there are many people, you will be bumping up with people sometimes so watch for the pickpockets. If they guess you come form other country, they think of money and they will sneak up from behind you and take stuffs out of your backpack. You can lock it if you are kind of person who are not alert.
Newly wed couple, a hotel hosted the wedding brings them to here in carts and takes a picture with the gate in background.
Nakamise Street, a road leading to the temple, lots of lots of stores and people.
You see some folks from other countries.
Blessing by covering yourself with the smoke of the bon fire. You can scoop it up with your both hands and sprinkles over your head, body. I think this should keep you healthy
Asahi Brewer Co. Do you see the beer bottle topped with bubbles?
I used ferry to go to the next destination, Odaiba.
Odaiba is a newly developed place, located in the south part of Tokyo. You can get here by taking Yurikamome transportation system, or come down the Sumida river. The best (and famous) way is to use a couple of ferries from Asakusa, transfer at Hinode pier then to the Odaiba. The
The fares are 660Yen from Asakusa to Hinode Sanbashi via Sumida Gawa Line, 400Yen for Hinode Sanbashi to Odaiba. Even you cannot read Japanese, if the first one look like bottom and the second one look like the top one, you are okay.
A ferry for Sumida Gawa Line arriving at pier.
The other better looking ferry to Odaiba.
Docks and beach
Brooklyn bridge? I think this is one of those "date spot", you can hang out with your date in the night.
I had my lunch at Royal Host. This is a very common Japanese restaurant franchise. They have meals very similar to Denny's but... more expensive. I have a sea food spaghetti.
The menu says "We use safe Australian beef"
Building complex in the Odaiba area
NY Yankees and Devil Rays will play their open game in Tokyo.
Indoor mall but feel like you are at outside in Italy or something. The thing in the mall are very expensive also.
It is a painted ceiling. Although this looks real.
Fountains. There are a bunch of staffs all over the mall and they can take you and your date's picture together if you want to...
History Garage - Toyota owned museum, looked pretty cool.
Yurikamome (A kind of seagull) is a name of a transportation system connecting between Tokyo downtown area and Odaiba; the bay area. It is similar to the TRAAIN system in DFW. The vehicle is consisted of 5 or 6 rubber wheeled trains, receiving instruction and power from the lines located in side wall.
This is the ticket. 370Yen to Shinbashi, they use different design.
Aqua City building, the train looking thing at the center is the "Urikamome"
This transportation system is autonomously operated so there is nobody in the train operating it. You don't want to sit here when this one is broken down since there will be no one can help you.
Soya, one of old explorer used to go to south pole. Soya is one of the modern ship, followed by Fuji (retired, anchored in my home town, Nagoya.) and Shirase.
Dinner at Ueno. My friend and I went to Asian restaurant called Tonpoo Ya.. This time I paid.
After went back to Higashi Jujyo, my friend took me to a place
Leaving my friend's place around 10:20pm. I had pretty much hard time moving my stuff. After a little struggle, I was able to get down to the platform.
Boarding Ticket for highway bus
The ticket only says Yaesu Bus Center but I had no idea where I needed to go. However, the station was just outside of the Tokyo train station.
The Bus at Tokyo Station
There are also several buses leaving Tokyo at the similar time for the same direction, since our bus was late about 30 minutes, all three busses were in a pack.
The bus arrived in Nagoya on time. I don't know how they did it since the bus was 30 minutes late and the driver says, "We will follow the all the traffic rules and remind the safety"... (Last time I took a highway bus to Nagasaki was late about 2 hours at the first rest stop but arrived on time...)
The bus arrived in Hoshigaoka Station
There used to be a super market in front of the bus station but it was a parking lot now.
I took a ride on a taxi and went home. My family left the front door open for me so I was able to get inside. It was around 970Yen. It was not so bad.
I took a bath after came home, went bed but had breakfast. I spent whole day resting...
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Last Updated on 2004/04/02
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Introduction / Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5