A Travellerspoint blog

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY

MAKES FOR A KINDA BORING BLOG ENTRY

sunny 30 °C

Now that I am working, I am really not doing much else besides having dinner. But that can be pretty impressive. At least different than home.

I did take some time today to snap some pictures of the hotel because it is pretty snazzy.

Security doors to my hallway.

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other stuff

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A few of the automatic buttons in my room.

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There are so many people in the lobby that simply bow and say hello and I find it almost impossible to take the elevator without laughing. There are three attendants who bow to you constantly and direct you to the right elevator. Speaking of elevators, you never wait or wonder. As soon as you push the button, it tells you which will arrive and it is never wrong and arrives very quickly. You can also de-select a floor entry if you get it wrong.

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Today, I took a few rides to look around. Especially the 6th floor which is the bridal preparation floor.

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I went to the top (17th floor) to the cocktail bar where I could not afford a cocktail. But the people up there looked way too fancy for a gal like me. The view was nice.

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I have only turned on the tv once since I left home, and only for 2 minutes, but this was what appeared when I hit the on button.

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We have a beautiful walk to work. First through one of two annual German Oktoberfest. Go figure.

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Then through a gorgeous garden.

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We did have a pretty cool supper last night. I had to eat the Soba noodles since they made them fresh.

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And tonight we had the most amazing sushi. Melt in your mouth. Scott even ate the poisonous blowfish or fugu.

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The weather is amazing so the little walk after dinner is always refreshing. Can’t complain too much about my job, that is for sure.

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Posted by curlygirl 06:27 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo japan sushi Comments (1)

TOKYO IN BLACK AND WHITE

A MORNING SHOOTING WITH LOCAL PHOTOGRAPHER, ALFIE GOODRICH

sunny 28 °C

Here are the unedited results of my photography workshop. An exercise working in black and white, shooting things I wouldn't normally shoot.

I had a great time. It was a great opportunity to learn about photography and life in the city.

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click here to see Alfie's website and work

Off to work in the morning. Will probably blog again in a few days.

Posted by curlygirl 04:05 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo photography ginza Comments (1)

TSUKIJI FISH MARKET, REFLEXOLOGY AND BACK TO TOKYO

A RELAXING FINAL DAY IN KYOTO

28 °C

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As I promised myself and my feet, I had a quieter day today. I relaxed in my room, picked up some breakfast and came back to my room to eat before heading out at all.

The last thing on my plan was to visit Kyoto’s famous fish market, Tsukiji Market which also blends into a food market and a huge mall. Although I didn’t buy a thing, I did spend a few hours poking around.

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Many restaurants display their menus in plastic versions outside. Like this sushi in the market.

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I decided to treat myself to another massage and reflexology session and it was well worth it. The service was amazing and I have never had anything quite like it. At the end, she took time to review my results. She is quite concerned about my stomach and also said there are issues with my neck and sinuses. No surprises there. To be honest, the service everywhere is incredible and there is no tipping so no ulterior motive.

I had read that all hotel rooms in Japan are tiny. So far, the first two were small but perfectly adequate. I actually loved my hotels so far. But, tonight in Tokyo, that theory is shot. I knew I was booked into a really nice hotel because the online rates were $600+ a night. A friend got me a US embassy rate for $250 usd which is standard in this area. Well this is nice. They carried my bags, escorted me to my room, and so far, all elevator buttons are pushed for me. The curtains in my room are on a remote control next to my bed. I didn’t get to try it yet because the turn down service did it for me. This is the first place I have been where there are people who speak English.

Here are the two rooms.

Kyoto

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Tokyo

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It is interesting that all hotel rooms come with tons of amenities. You get shampoo, conditioner, soap, razor and cream, hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste, q-tips, facecloths, slippers and a bathrobe. These items have been in all 3 hotel rooms and are apparently standard.

To be perfectly honest, as nice as this hotel is, given a choice, I would always stay in a charming boutique hotel.

Tokyo has a very different feel already. I just grabbed a quick bite and the streets are hopping with lights, music and tons of people. Should be interesting.

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I guess I will get a first look tomorrow. I am doing a photography workshop in the morning before switching gears and sadly buckling down to work. I have a meeting preparation meeting tomorrow night so this little holiday is coming to an end. Although, I do hope to have some time to explore a little for heading home next Saturday.

Posted by curlygirl 05:44 Archived in Japan Tagged tokyo kyoto japan Comments (1)

TODAI-JI TEMPLE AND FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE

EMPOWERMENT AND CANUCKS FOUND AT THE TOP OF MT.INARI

sunny 31 °C

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Bad hip, bad knee and really bad feet but too stubborn to quit. That would probably be the theme of the day. Or perhaps the week but how can I not keep going in a city that has so much to offer. I have left my room before 8 each day and never seem to make it home til 9:30. I barely take time to sit or eat. Please Buddha, I will be leaving a few pounds behind when I leave on the 3:30 train to Tokyo tomorrow.

I had big plans for today but I seriously underestimated the time and effort involved in the two primary activities. Clearly due to my lack of research.

I had planned to be back in time for a quick clean up before taking in a geisha show but that did not happen. I am not, however, the least bit disappointed. This has been an amazing day. I actually thought I might have been “templed out” but today’s temples were simply spectacular and are certainly the trip highlights.

This morning I made my way to the town of Nara just 45 minutes outside of Kyoto. Because I had to take a bus and then walk 30 minutes across the huge Kyoto station to find my train, this 45 minute trips was almost an hour and a half. Nara, like Kyoto, has a number of temples and shrines, several of which seem very impressive. But, since I had a busy day, I opted to “just” take in the most famous Todai-ji temple.

In both temples today, the crowds were enormous. There were hundreds or thousands of school children, many of whom were working on their “speak to a foreigner” project. Still it was worth it.

When you first arrive in Nara you are immediately greeted by the thousands of deer who roam freely. They look ok but they smell terrible and poop all over the road. Several times one came quietly up behind me and nearly made me poop in the road.

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Todaiji's main hall, the Daibutsuden (Big Buddha Hall) is the world's largest wooden building, despite the fact that the present reconstruction of 1692 is only two thirds of the original temple hall's size. The massive building houses one of Japan's largest bronze statues of Buddha (Daibutsu). The 15 meters tall, seated Buddha represents Vairocana and is flanked by two gold Bodhisattvas. It was beautiful.

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On the way out of the hall, I discovered this guy and because of his healing powers, I damn near rubbed all his wood away and gave myself a public bath. I even took off my shoes and rubbed my feet. And one point on the way up Inari, I thought he cured my feet but the way down confirmed he needs a little more time to work on it.

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Few more from the temple. I climbed to the top. Unspoken rule, if there is a place to climb, you must! What if you missed something amazing?

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From there, I took a different train back into Kyoto and Inari station. Kyoto has so many different forms of transportation; I never know what I am riding. But this train stopped immediately in front of the first gate to Fushimi Inari Shrine. Again, filled with masses of people.

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I was unprepared. I knew there were gonna be gates and I heard some saying about 1000 vermilon tori gates but I never read on to learn that there are estimated to be over 10,000 and that they reach the top of a mountain and that the climb will take 2-3 hours (4kms up hill). Instead I took my time exploring the grounds, snapping pictures and climbing through the gates. As time went on, and almost an hour into my leisurely visit, I notice the crowds are disappearing. I come across this map that tells me I am about ¼ of the way there. I had to get in gear and start making progress.

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A few more from along the way. Just a few. I took way more.

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Did I mention it was over 30 degrees today and suddenly I was grateful to have arrived later than planned and past the middle of the day and the hottest hours. I climbed on, as it got steeper and at the halfway mark two ladies tried to convince me to quit and others said there was more than an hour left ( there was not, more like 30 minutes). It was 4:30 at this point but I had come too far to quit and had flashbacks of my first Gross Morne climb as a kid where I quit after many hours only to learn that I was only about 5 minutes from the peak and those at the top could hear me talking. Never again.

It really wasn’t that bad, just unexpected, by most, in fact, and there were very few at the top. No doubt that was in part to my late arrival. Truthfully, it wasn’t the top that was most spectacular but rather the hundreds of detours filled with shrines, temples and treasures. It was so cool and eerie at times. I loved every minute.

I read this in the Lonely Planet guide when I got home.

“It also makes for a very eerie stroll in the late afternoon and early evening, when the various graveyards and miniature shrines along the path take on a mysterious air. It’s best to go with a friend at this time.”

That pretty much sums it up and on descent, alone, and confused at times because I was heading up hill, I was thinking I probably should have told someone where I was going today.

I begin my visit to Inari feeling old but by the time I reach the top, after watching so many turn back, I felt young and empowered, if only briefly. Looking at my selfie, I really worked for it.

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At the top, I met my first Canadians on this trip and this encounter proved to be quite an advantage.

The descent was faster but still had some distractions. A cool coffee stop and a temple filled with more foxes (the messenger for Inari) so I didn’t rush it. The gates get further apart and the landscape lusher.

The white paper tied to string are seen at all of the temples and are bad wishes left behind so the spirits can exorcise them

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By the time I got down, the place had emptied.

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If you want to do the research that I missed, click here...

I was glad to run into the Toronto couple when I hit the train stations. Even more so when I learned the tracks were closed due to an accident. Equipped with a gps and wifi, they had us on an electric train within minutes. I would have been rummaging through my papers for a long time trying to find a re-route.

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By the time I landed at my stop it was 6:30 and way too late for the show but not too late to stop for sushi and rest my feet. Yum.

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So I am back in my room, resting my tootsies, which always seem to forgive me by morning, with a load of laundry done contemplating how to have a quieter morning in Kyoto before heading back to Tokyo.

I tried to have less pictures in this blog than I had of the bamboo forest but they are all a little different. The light changes, it turns and rises....sigh. I can't pick and I don't have time to pick my favs.

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The view at the halfway mark

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By the way, the Japanese are sugar obsessed. Candy shops everywhere.

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Posted by curlygirl 06:37 Archived in Japan Tagged kyoto japan nara inari Comments (3)

CONNECTIONS WITH THE PROFESSIONALS

TEMPLES, GARDENS, CASTLES AND PROFESSIONAL GEISHA HUNTING

sunny 29 °C

I am going to try and keep the words to a minimum since I have lots of pictures and am completely wiped after a very long day. I left my hotel at 8 am and only returned back at 9:30 this evening. In that time, I only sat for dinner this evening. My aching feet are still screaming at me.

Since there is no restaurant in this hotel, I popped into the highly recommended bakery next door for breakfast for some yummy French toast and a cappuccino. Not so Japanese but I have decided I only like Japanese food for lunch and dinner. Their breakfast appears to be salty pickled everything including fish and eggs. I’ll pass.

But this, I will take.

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So my very busy day included a bunch of stops and I am quite proud that I managed the public transit with relative ease today. By the way, there are 2000 temples in Kyoto

I first took a bus to Kinkakuji Temple also known as the Golden Pavillion. The crowds were crazy but still it was probably the most Zen place I visited all day. Definitely my favorite gardens.

The mobs going in.

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Next stop was a short taxi ride away to the Ninaji Temple and gardens.

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I am not sure what this is but I think it kept me strong all day.

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From there, I walked to the train station where I took the electric train to Arashiyama on the outskirts of Kyoto. My first stop there was to Tenryuji Temple with its famous gardens.

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The walk through the gardens continued in to the Bamboo Forest which was high on my list and did not disappoint.

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Suffering from dehydration in the sweltering heat, I took a forced 5 minute break for a bottle of water and steamed pork bun that was really good, but not nearly as good as Shirley’s mom makes.

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I took an hour to roam around the town and walk to the Togetsukyo Bridge which was recommended but really was nothing special.

Just as I decided to go back into town and perhaps take a 30 minute rest, I ran into Hannah who I met while Geisha hunting last night and her friend. What are the odds? We decided to team up and make our way to the Nijo Castle built between 1601 and 1626 as the Kyoto residence of the Tokugawa Shoguns.

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At 5pm, Hannah and I headed back to the Gion in search of more Geishas. I likened the adventure to salmon fishing. You sit and wait and wait some more, move as the situation dictates and wait some more. When you finally see one you are completely thrilled and willing to wait even longer. We were so lucky. The couple that I approached and spoke to last night, as it turns, out are very connected to the Geisha network. Yoko’s husband, although retired, is an amazing photographer. He pulls out a couple of pictures he took last night and they are NOTHING like mine. As the night goes on we learn his hobby is photographing the Geisha and he knows them all personally. The pull out albums with pictures of him photographing and mingling with them all. We also saw posters and ad campaigns featuring his work with Geishas. We learned so much about the lifestyle tonight it was incredible. Furthermore, these two can spot them as soon as they come into view so without creating any fuss, they alerted us so we could get close before anyone else noticed. Normally as soon as one arrives, she is surrounded by hopeful photographers and tourist. Saying that, even with that advantage, the pictures are just fare. Hopefully when I get home and can do some editing, I will get a few.

More pictures of the gals.

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From there Hannah and I met her friend and we finally sat and ate some ramen for supper. It really hit the spot.

A long and wonderful day with another planned tomorrow so I need to get some rest.

Sayoonara. ( I now have about 6 words and phrases because Yoko was teaching me while hunting).

Oh, I made one purchase today. Often sold at religious sites, I thought I would pick one of these up for Isaac.

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Few more. This is Yoko chatting to Hannah

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other stuff

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Posted by curlygirl 06:24 Archived in Japan Tagged kyoto japan Comments (2)

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