Hi everyone. My complete lack of attention to this blog is something I’m going to try to make up for as I have embarked on anther international adventure: India! I’m currently hanging out at Narita airport in Tokyo as I wait for my connection to New Delhi. I’ll be in Delhi for 2 weeks to attend the wedding of a very dear friend and then spend some time sightseeing before heading home to San Francisco.
The first part of the trip went quite well, thanks to a business class upgrade my brother and his wife gifted to me. Wow was it nice to stretch out and lie flat!
I think I went a bit overboard on the not-wanting-to-get-bored-on-the-plane side of things since I ended up bringing a bunch of electronics including a laptop, a phone, an iPad, a Kindle, and a PS Vita (yeah, you heard me – I’m in the middle of the Lego Hobbit game, if you don’t mind).
It’s 86°F right now in Narita but supposedly feels like 90°F. In New Delhi right now it’s 82°F but it supposedly feels like 104°F. I’m melting in Narita already – if anyone sees a puddle with a US passport in it in the Delhi airport in 11 hours, that’s me.
Assuming I don’t melt completely, I’ll post updates to the blog as I go with the usual pics. See you soon!
After Harajuku, we hopped on the Yamanote line for Shinjuku. I had visited the area briefly with one of my traveling companions a few days earlier and it was easy to believe that Shinjiku station is the busiest in the world (over 3.5 million people pass through each day!). The station itself is huge and this time we exited in a different direction than we had previously.
We three awoke on Day 11 to the realization that it would be our last full day in Japan before 2 of us headed back to San Francisco and 1 back to Taiwan. As it was the last day, we decided to do a bit of shopping and, of course, see more of the sights of Tokyo. Since it was such a nice day (if a bit cold) and a Saturday as well, our first stop was Harajuku to see the youth fashion scene and visit a few stores.
We rested a bit after our adventures in Ikebukuro, we visited Roppongi Hills to get tickets to the Observation Deck on the 52nd floor so we could see Tokyo in all its nighttime glory. We could see the Tokyo Tower lit up from the main plaza of the Roppongi Hills complex.
The rain of the previous day had moved away when we awoke on Day 10 so it was a good day to be out and about in the city. One of my companions had gone for a walk and taken the key to the apartment with him and the other was still asleep. Both could be in their respective states for a few hours so, rather than waiting at the apartment, I decided to head out to our day’s target location on my own: Ikebukuro.
My first stop was Nishiguchi park since:
- It is near the rail station,
- The Animate store wasn’t open yet, and
- The park features in one of my all-time favorite anime series, Durarara!!
Sadly, I didn’t see a Dullahan riding a motorcycle or any flying vending machines (Durarara!! reference) but I did see things I recognized from the anime nevertheless. I’ll add some screenshots for illustrative purposes later.
We awoke on Day 9 to a cold and rainy day in Kyoto. We were scheduled to catch a morning Shinkansen back to Tokyo so we packed up and straightened up before saying good-bye to our traditional house.
After visiting three temples in succession, we were ready for a break and some food before darkness fell so we headed for the Gion district to do some shopping and get a bite to eat. Sunset hits at 4 pm so we had a couple of hours of daylight left to browse around the main street, Shijo Dori.
We caught a cab outside of Ginkaku-ji and drove south to Sanjūsangen-dō. We had planned to visit before catching our train the next day as it is near Kyoto Station but taking cabs around the city in the morning had saved us a lot of time so we could fit it in. Since the historic sights around Kyoto are spread across the city, we would normally just take public transportation to visit them but since we only had 1 full day in Kyoto, we wanted to make the most of it so we splurged on cabs.
Back to the main thing: Sanjūsangen-dō. The temple has a few distinctions, namely that it is the longest wooden building in Japan and that it contains 1000 individual Kannon statues in 10 rows of 100 columns.
After our visit to Kiyomizu-dera, we caught a cab for Ginkaku-ji (aka Jisho-ji), the Silver Temple. We heard that this temple had some of the best gardens in Kyoto and that was no exaggeration! Our cabbie dropped us off in front of a street blocked off to traffic and from there we made our way on foot to the temple.
Day 8 dawned clear and cold on our traditional house in Kyoto and we slowly thawed out before heading out for our first stop of the day: Kiyomizu-dera, the Pure Water Temple. Fortunately, it is MUCH easier to hail a cab in Japan than it is in San Francisco and it’s a lot more likely that the cab drivers understand English as well (even if the cabbie says he doesn’t speak English, he can figure it out), so it’s a nice situation. I just need to remember this won’t be the way things work back home. *sigh*
We were dropped off at the base of the temple area lined with souvenir and food shops.