This year, my partner, my travelling monster Mr Bobbles*, and I went to Japan. We had a two base holiday in Tokyo and Kyoto, and I took about a bazillion photos*. Since this is a making things blog, I’ll try and keep the pics relevant, but one or two monkey photos might sneak in. Also, Japan is amazing and inspiring and just so different to what I see everyday as a Southern Englander, I have to share some of the architecture and gardens and crafts and clothes and food and so many other things. Here is part #1, showing a few glimpses of Tokyo.
The entrance to Senso-ji Buddhist temple in Asakusa, Tokyo.
The street market leading to the temple, selling crafts, souvenirs and yummy street food.
Look at the cute fabric fruit and veg! The stallholder told us her Grandma hand stitched them all.
Senso-ji temple complex.
Getting my fortune told. You pay 100 yen, shake the box of sticks until one falls out of the hole in the bottom, and match the symbols to one of drawers in the cabinet. Open the drawer and take out your fortune!
Folks queuing for delicious matcha green tea icecream in melon bread.
Oishii des! Also, what a brilliant way to decorate a blank wall! The windmiills all spin when the breeze blows.
A shop selling geta (traditional footwear).
The shop shutters are decorated so when they’re closed, you still have cool art to look at!
Asakusa Okonomiyaki Sometaro – an amazing old wooden restuarant where we cooked our own savoury pancakes – with a lot of help from the waitress! Delicious.
Pancakes nearly ready to eat.
The old wooden shop fronts around Asakusa.
Look at the fabulous yakutas everyone is wearing in this pic. If They look so cool and comfy.
A proper kimono shop. Spectacular.
The Entrance to the Imperial Palace Gardens, Tokyo
The traditional garden in the Imperial Palace East Gardens, Tokyo..
This looks like somewhere the landing party would beam down in classic Trek, but is actually the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
Mr. Bobbles getting an overview of the city from the South Observation Tower at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Buildings. (Free!)
Hey, I recognise that one from Aggretsuko.
The bullet train we caught for a day trip to Hakone, to try and get a view of Mt. Fuji.
The amazing Hakone Open Air Museum, an outdoor sculpture park up in the hills.
So much art! I’ve just picked a few of my favourites. You know I gotta include this giant crocheted playground. No adults allowed on the nets. Boo!
La Pleureuse by Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne.
A monk with his begging bowl.
How to follow the footsteps?
Another view across the park.
I find this Gormley sculpture very relatable.
Soaking feet in a hot bath, looking at my favourite piece in the park. Symphonic Sculpture.
Here’s the credits for it.
And this is the inside. It all looks abstract when you stand at the bottom and look up.
As you climb, you start seeing figures in the glass, like the owl and the cat here.
Then you look harder and see that almost none of it is abstract. It’s full of people, animals, stars, flowers…
Time to get a cable car to some serious volcanic activity at Owakudani.
Sulphuric fumes from volcanic fumaroles.
The hiking trails to the boiling pools were closed due to excessive volcanic activity. But we did get to eat some of the black eggs cooked in the boiling mineral water!
When the sulphur fumes mixed with the rain, time to use my headband as a face mask. I am sitting on a black egg chair.
Down the moutain in the cable car, out of the fumes to the lake.
Ahoy me hearties! All aboard!
Success! You can see the top of Mt. Fuji, almost ghost like in the background.
The Hakone Shrine Torii (gate). Time to get the bus back to Tokyo!
Shopping in bead town in Tokyo. So many great beading shops!
Folks getting ready for the Shimokitazawa Awa Odori Festival.
There’s music and drumming.
And dancing. These dancers are on the front of their wooden clogs.
And leaping and posing. It’s fantastic!
The edge of a typhoon blew through Tokyo, bringing a whole lot of rain. Great reason to use my new very yellow travel poncho!
A good day to stay inside at Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
And take a tour on a UNI-CUB! The best bit was riding it down the big spiral ramp from the 5th to the 3rd floor.***
An actual, used, Japanese rocket engine.
Space toilet! As used aboard the ISS.
What would a trip to a Japanese tech museum be without some robots? This one integrates movements of passersby into its actions. It also has a strangled squawk for a voice. Terrifying.
The star of the show, Honda’s Asimo.
A giant stompy light-up robot outside. It’s a Gundam.
Banging my own drum at the Drum Museum in Asakusa. You can have a go on nearly all of them, even the big ones!
It’s a great collection of instruments from all over the world, giving a glimpse into different cultures.
A cool lucky cat with interesting lenses for eyes, and the Asahi building with the golden flame.
A view along the river with the SkyTree and the Asahi building that looks like a giant glass of beer.
The famous Tokyo Skytree. We went to watch the firework festival from a plaza on the 4th floor.
Fireworks! A great send off as we headed to Kyoto the next day. We returned to Tokyo for our last couple of nights.
Our final hotel was near Shimbashi station. This is view from the hotel through a thoughtfully placed piece of glass art.
A steampunk clock crouching among the high rises near the hotel.
A street art competition happening in the pedestrian tunnel/shopping complex between the station and the hotel.
This one has Alice in Wonderland vibes for me.
Of course I had to get a picture of the monument to the Hellbeast’s distant relative, Hachiko the faithful Akita.
If you’re wondering where all the peole are, here’s Shibuya.
And here’s the iconic Shibuya crossing by day.
And here’s the Shibuya crossing at night.
We spent almost an entire day in one branch of Yuzawaya, a craft shop. That’s getting its own post.
A visit to Akihabara – aka Electric Town. It’s full of hardware shops and game arcades.
These grabber games are really popular. But we played a game of House of The Dead for Nostalgia’s sake.
We also had to have at least a peep at Harajuku.
A T shirt shop in Harajuku.
A glimpse of the Lolita fashion.
I don’t what this is called but I like it. We should all wear more outrageous sparkly things.
Mr. Bobbles made a friend. Also we had a refreshing fruit crushed ice.
Goodbye, Tokyo. You’re looking very Blade Runner tonight. Goodbye, Japan. You were amazing.
* Mr. Bobbles will have his own post over at Travelling Monsters soon.
** Ok not a bazilllion, but over a thousand, so close enough.
*** If you want to see a UNI-CUB in action, take at look at this video by Ok Go!