Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunset Over Yokohama

We had been on cruises before and had learnt that they are usually planned to leave a harbour at sunset.

The previous cruise we had been on, the weather was inclement. That time we were sailing from Sydney Harbour, one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. As we live in Sydney suburbia, it is fairly easy to get sunset pics if we choose, so that was no big deal.

Yokohama was a different story though. This would most likely be a once in a lifetime event.

It turned out to be a stunning view.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sailing - Yokohama

We were finally on board the Diamond Princess and this was the view from our cabin balcony .

Sailing from the port of Yokohama, we were leaving later than scheduled.

Yokohama's central business district, affectionately known as MM. ( Minato Mirai 21)

Yokohama is a Japan's second largest city, sitting on the edge of Tokyo Bay.

The sun is getting low with the promise of some great sunset pics

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Cruise Ship

Look where we were headed! Yes, that is the Diamond Princess, and we were in the queue to board her! It had been another long day so far and I was soooooo looking forward to some relaxation! We had cruised before, and we knew from experience that cruises could be as relaxed or as busy as we wanted. We were opting for relaxation mode for the next seven days.

We had taken the time to have a very good breakfast before we left our hotel in Tokyo. This was required because we knew we had some travelling to go through before boarding this beautiful ship. The Princess was departing from Yokohama, and we had been told it was three trains and a good two hours to get there. We went prepared with bottles of water, but the weather was hot, and the water  was all gone by the time we got to the wharf. Then there was the three hour queue getting through customs etc before we even got on board. They did set up a water station, but one small cup of water did not go very far. One lady feinted because of the heat.

It was 2pm by the time we got on board, and my first task after finding our cabin was to find food and drinks. A very helpful cabin staff member helped me out and I soon discovered, just upstairs, the hamburger and pizza bar, right beside a drinks bar. A plate of hot chips and a cold coke went down very well. Not quite the best food for a diet but it was food, and we would find all the healthy options later.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tokyo Roads

A view of one of the roads in Tokyo, taken more for inspiration for my needlework than anything else. It was taken through the window of the lift as we headed down stairs to find lunch. It was our last day in Tokyo today, tomorrow we start a new adventure.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mt Fuji With Snow!

Check out this view! Mt Fuji with snow! How lucky are we? We were told that to see Mt Fuji clear was a rarity, but to see it clear with snow was even rarer! Yes, the pic is mine, taken through the glass of the window in the foyer of the hotel. No wonder it was a little chilly out earlier that day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

An Adventure Out

Originally, our plans for Japan was only four days, and that's why everything was so crammed in, because we wanted to see as much as possible in this time. We were now up to day five due to the weather. There had been a typhoon which had delayed the next part of our adventure by a day. The consequence of this was that we now had an extra day to fill. We were a group of fourteen, all of us with different interests, and were  each asking what the other wanted to do. DH & I were going looking for a museum (or so we thought!)

Our plan was to ask at the hotel desk, and go off on an adventure on our own. However, this plan also went out the window. The night before, I had tried to recharge some batteries for the camera, only to find that our battery charger did not fit into our power converter. The plug configuration was correct, but the pins in the charger were too long and it kept on falling out. The consequence of this was that I could not charge my batteries for my camera. This was a problem that need to be solved as we still had over a week and a half of travelling to go. The next part of our adventure still needed the same power plug.

Solution 1, buy new batteries already charged. How many batteries would I need to buy? The next section of our adventure was for seven days with limited shopping. I already had plenty of re-chargeables, I just needed to be able to  recharge them.

Solution 2, buy a new battery charger. We were in Japan, and anything electrical would have Japanese power pins, unusable at home.

Whatever the solution, we needed to solve it today, so we ventured down to the foyer of the hotel to ask for help. The kind lady on the desk spoke enough English to understand our problem, and gave us a map to follow with a particular store circled in red.

The map was two sided, and we could follow the first side quite well. When we turned it over, the map became smaller and for some reason we got ourselves turned around.We were always keeping in our view the direction that we had come so we could find our way back.  My solution to this was to ask someone for help, so I did. The window washer that we asked could not speak English, and we did not speak Japanese, but it is amazing what can be understood from the universal language of pointing. We were headed in the wrong direction, so off we went again. We still could not find the store the kind lady at the hotel had pointed us to, so we asked again, this time a young Japanese female on her way to work who spoke limited English. Pointing once again saved the day and we found the store.

We were early! The store did not open until 10.30am! We had  an hour to wait and to fill in, so we went for a little walk, checking out the stores and what was around. As we walked, I could smell smoke, and anyone who knows me knows how much it affects my nose. It was also a little chilly and spitting with rain, so we were looking for somewhere to shelter from the weather. As we sheltered under a small awning, I spotted the above smoking area. Interesting, no wonder I could smell smoke, with all those smokers concentrated in one area. I guess the idea was for the smoke to rise up above the surrounding barrier and not worry the people walking past. Mmm....... not so.

The Labi store that we were after was just across the road, and so was a nice warm coffee shop that we ventured into. It not only killed some waiting time, it was warm, dry, and I learned that Japan did have some good coffee after all, we had just  found it. They sold cappuchino too!

By the time we finished our coffee, the Labi store was open. I likened it to a JB Hi-fi store here in Sydney. Five or six floors of electrical "stuff". They had a doorman who spoke English and led us straight to the 5th floor to help us out. Such a gentleman, he also showed us back to the ground floor.

Our problem solved, we headed back to our hotel and somewhere to have lunch. Tokyo sells Italian food!

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Gorgeous Building

Back on the tour bus now and we were headed back to our hotel. On the way we passed this gorgeous building. Knowing a little more of Tokyo's history, I would guess that this building was only built in recent times. Going by the posters under lights at the front and up the side, I would guess that it is a thearter of some kind.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Shibaraku Statue

We found this fellow in the grounds of the Senso-ji Temple. The only English sign I found said he was a Shibaraku statue. Whatever that means, he certainly looks scarey, and i would not like to meet him in the dark!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bronze Hokyoin-to

This bronze structure is a tiered tower known as a "Pagoda". Standing at eight meters tall, it was cast by Fijiwara Masatoki in 1761, and is the largest one left in Tokyo. it was damaged during an earthquake in 1855, but was restored in 1907 to commemorate Japan's victory in the Russian - Japanese war. We spotted it ( along with an information plaque)  in the grounds of the Senso-ji Temple.

Friday, May 22, 2015


This Buddha statue was found in the grounds of the Senso-ji Temple.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Senso-ji Temple

The Senso-ji Temple is a Buddhist temple, located in grounds at the end of the Processional Walk. Sporting a five level pagoda, the temple was originally built in in 645, and is the oldest temple in Tokyo. It was, however, bombed and destroyed in WW11, and rebuilt as a sign of rebirth and peace.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hosomon Gate

The Hosomon Gate is the inner,  more elaborate gate that leads to the Senso-ji Temple. First built in 942, it has been destroyed by fire a number of times, including during  WW11. The present gate was rebuilt in 1964.

The first story of the gate houses three lanterns. Two are black & gold, while the third is red.

The largest of the lanterns is this red one, standing nearly four meters in height and weighing over 400kgs. It sits in the center of the gate. How impressive is this?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Along the other end of The Processional Walk we found artwork framed behind glass.

The artwork obviously told stories about the gates and the temple.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Processional Walk to Hosomon Gate

We had detoured around the processional walk for our own private adventure, and came back onto it just before the Hosomon Gate. The Hosomon Gate is the second, larger, more elaborate gate that leads to the Sensoji Temple, and is found at the other end of the processional walk. One side is still lined with shops, while the other is lined with art work on the fence.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Shopping Lane

Branching off the processional walk to the Sensoji Temple was another shopping lane way. In this section the shops were more every day, not full of trinkets aimed at the tourist. It went for quite a distance, and the higher levels makes me think there may have been even more shops above. We turned the corner though, and went up another lane way parallel to the processional walk.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Sensoji Temple Processional Walk

This is the view up the processional walk to the Sensoji Temple. The walk is lined with shops selling all kinds of things to the tourists. We could buy all kinds of food, trinkets and souvenirs, in all kinds of prices.

It was starting to get late and we can see the sun very low. I was admiring the colour in those autumn leaves until I realised just how regular they were. I was too busy looking in all the shops to check out the leaves properly.

Friday, May 15, 2015


This carved dragon is artwork at the bottom of the red lantern of the Kaminairmon Gate. I had to practically stand on my head to get this pic, and am a little disappointed I didn't get him all. I think I would have had to lie flat on the ground to get the whole carving, and then taken the chance to get trampled on by all the visitors.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Kaminairmon Gate Guard

A close up view of one of the guards of the Kaminairmon Gate. There are four guards on the gate, two Shinto and two Buddhist. The two Shinto guards are Raijin - The God of Thunder, and Fujin - The God of Wind, while the Buddhist guards are  TenryĆ« and KinryĆ« .

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Kaminarimon Gate

The Kaminarimon Gate is one of the attractions in Asakusa. Known as the "Thunder Gate", it stands at the entrance of the processional walk to the Senso-ji Temple. Standing at over 11 meters in height, the gate history dates back over 1,000 years. Over time though it has suffered many destructions and re-builds, ( mostly by fire) the current one being dated at 1960.

The gate features a massive paper lantern, coloured in red and black to denote thunder clouds and lightning. There are also statues of Shinto Gods guarding the gate, Raijin - the God of Thunder, and Fujin - the God of Wind.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Asakusa Street View

As we continued our walk of discover in Asakusa, we had to cross a road to get to our next destination. How many pedestrian crossing markings do we need? I guess they were telling us that
j-walking was allowed.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Asakusa Transport

We had left our cruise in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, and were on a walking discovery tour back to our tour bus. This rickshaw was waiting for any tourist that cared to pay. I must admit it was a very snazzy rickshaw compared to some we had seen.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

AzumaBashi Bridge

This is  part view of the AzumaBashi Bridge as we left our river cruise and began the next section of our tour. The bridge was originally constructed in 1774, but was destroyed in an earthquake. The current bridge was built in 1931, and is currently under debate as to the colour. The colour was changed from blue to red in 1993 as part of a government project to give the bridge a "regional flavour".

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Sumida River Cruise Pt 12 - Tokyo Skytree

The Tokyo Skytree is the tallest building in Japan. Here we can just see the tower behind another building. It is a broadcasting tower, complete with restaurants and observation decks the same as most city towers these days. We were still gliding past on our cruise up the Sumida River, so there was no opportunity for a stop over.

The weather was still clear and sunny but the cloud strip forming might be a promise of something to come.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Sumida River Cruise Pt 11 - Hotaluna

A "Hotaluna" is a very modern space ship like water vessel that runs cruises up and down the Sumida River and out into Tokyo Bay. They are apparently the latest in technology, and the latest vessels to be added to the fleet of boats to cruise these waterways, No, we were not on one of these, we were just lucky enough to pass one on our cruise up the Sumida River.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sumida River Cruise Pt 10 - A Second Waterway

This was a second feeder waterway that we passed. It looked like another walkway bridge, and there looked like there were still more walkway bridges  further up the waterway. The high rise is minimum ten stories high. Row after row of it.

There was a meeting of some kind happening on the bridge. a group of men were milling around talking. It may have been a formal meeting about something, but more than likely just an afternoon tea/smoking break.

There were  also more boats moored up this waterway. they we different to those in the last waterway. These were flat bottomed and quite wide ( Sanpans?). I can only dream as to their purpose.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sumida River Cruise Pt 9 - A Walkway Bridge

Along part of the Sumida River there were other little waterways leading and draining down into the river. As we look along these feeding waterways, we still get to see the high rise. We also see other bridges and boats.

The bridge in the foreground looks like a pedestrian bridge, carrying walkers from one side to the other. The walkers are dressed in business suits, so they may be on there way home, to a business meeting, out for afternoon tea, or who knows? All I do know is that the opening at the end of the bridge is not large enough for cars.

If we look below the main bridge we can just see an archway to a second bridge crossing of this waterway, and looking through the bridge we can see a raised bridge further in the background. I am tipping the raised bridge goes over a busy road. We had already experienced these raised wide walking platforms above roads. Rather than queuing at lights waiting to cross the road, walkways were elevated and accessed by escalators. This kept both the traffic moving and the pedestrians moving.

We can also see boats at the edge of this waterway. I won't even guess as the their purpose, but i doubt they are pleasure craft

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sumida River Cruise Pt 8 - Bridges

Along our cruise we passed under a total of thirteen bridges. As we were sitting towards the back of our transport, and not next to a window, I found it hard to get pics if the bridges as they spanned the river.

Instead I got pics as we passed under the bridges.

We use bridges to cross something. It could be water, or it could be another road. As we cross a bridge we are usually viewing what we can see from the bridge. Some people like to step away from a bridge to take pics of the whole bridge. But how many of you have taken pics from under a bridge? This was not something I had thought of, but as we passed under so many bridges along our cruise, I actually found the underneath side of the bridges interesting. It is amazing how different they all are, different lines, directions, shapes, and colours. 

Maybe some of these lines might appear in my textile work one day.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sumida River Cruise Pt 7 - Flood Gates

More flood gates, or whatever they are. I am fairly certain they are flood gates. This time there are two side by side, and if we look closely they are raised to the same level as the brick levee at the side.

The section at the top could serve a few functions. I would imagine it would house electronics or hydraulics to lower and raise the gates, access for maintenance, an observation/ viewing  point, and maybe even a walkway over the water from one side to the other for local residences.

I am surmising of course, but I don't think I am too far from the truth.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sumida River Cruise Pt 6 - Residential block

Further along the Sumida River now and we pass by a residential block. Some have air conditioners, some do not, most have washing out on very small balconies. This is what I would call a "dog box", very small living quarters. On the up side they would have great views of the river. We can also still see that levee wall running beside the river, this time constructed in brick.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sumida River Cruise Pt 5 - Kachidokibashi Bridge

A close shot now of the Kachidokibashi Bridge. This is the other end of the bridge, the end  I didn't get in my first post about this cruise. I still didn't get a full pic of the bridge as we were sitting at the side of our river cat and not even next to a window, so please excuse the head of my travel companion.
The bridge was completed in 1940, is made of steel, 246 meters long and 22 meters wide.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sumida River Cruise Pt 4 - A Levee

As we continue our cruise along the Sumida River, I noticed a wall along the river bank. Once again I think this is some flood of flood mitigation, better known as a levee. Perhaps sections of concrete joined together to form the levee. I can just see the seams joining the pieces together. It is actually quite high, if you compare the height of the wall to that of the trees behind it. That is obviously some kind of parkland or green space, but the wall would block the cooling breeze from the river. It would be nice for the occupants of those building to look down upon though.