Sunday, 31 October 2010

Odaiba, Tokyo Bay

Finally we had the whole weekend off together for the first time since we started working here in Japan! Only problem was... I had an awful cold and cough. I think I caught one last week, then just as I was feeling a bit better I caught a different one! Typical hey! So yeah, we didn't want to do anything too strenuous, so we decided to jump on a train and go to Odaiba. Odaiba is just south of Tokyo and is a man made island just off Tokyo Bay with the Rainbow Bridge connecting it to the mainland. Going over the Rainbow Bridge was a sight in itself!!! When we got off the train we saw lots of people wearing festival wear... yukata and other japanese formal/matsuri clothes... there was a Dance festival going on. :-D Gotta love a Japanese festival :-) and it was Fran's first one!!!!!!
It seemed to be a dance contest, each performance would start and last pretty much the same length as each others! It was great fun to watch, seeing Japanese traditional dancing mixed with hip-hop and jazz!!!!
After watching the dancing for a little while, we went to see the view of Tokyo Skyline and the Rainbow bridge, and had our picture taken with the smaller version of The Statue of Liberty.

The view was great, the air was clear, we felt a few spots of rain, but all in all it was a great day for visiting Odaiba! We walked along the right side (on the photo above) in a park until we came to the artificial beach! It didn't look any different to a normal beach! except I guess the sand was white and in the Kanto prefecture the sand is a dark brown/black colour!
It was just so nice to actually do some sight seeing together!!! I appreciated it more having Fran there to share it with! :-)

There is so much to see and do in Odaiba but because the Dance Festival had totally taken our interest, we didn't really want to venture too far away from it! On our way back to watch the festival we came across a HUGE shopping area for young people and along the main road one side of the building on the ground floor was taken up by this...
Now we knew that Japan was "dog crazy"... but we just weren't prepared for this... Puppy The World... there was a dog hairdressers, a dog accessorize and clothes shop and a dog café/restaurant where you could take your dog and buy them something nice to eat... I imagine! We saw a lot of dogs... one that we saw was just silly! A couple pushing a pushchair with a poodle inside, who had 2 bows in her hair, and top and a short skirt on... utterly ridiculous (and a little bit cute too) - hehe! We had a wander around the shops and found this floor that was like an endurance theme park/Japanese game shows! There is also an indoor theme park there called "Joyopolis" we are definitely going to go back there - the rides look great!

We headed back to the festival and just chilled out... ahhhhhhhhhhh sooooooo niiiiiiiiiiice

We had to take some photos of the Rainbow Bridge at night time so we hung around til it was dark, it was soooooo worth it!! The view was fantastic! Loved it!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Clematis no oka, Shizuoka.

This was the furthest I've been outside of Tokyo, and I learnt a really important "living in Tokyo" lessons:
 NEVER EVER try to meet ANYONE in Tokyo JR train station!!! Or any other big train station in Tokyo for that matter! They are too big and have so many different entrances and exits within entrances and exits withing entrances and exits! It's just silly!
 I got to Tokyo station at 8:45am and finally me and Ayumi found each other at 9:55am! When we found each other though the day went pretty smoothly! We took the Shinkansen (my first Shinkansen trip... once I got over the fact that I felt like I was in an airplane that never took off I really enjoyed it!) to a place called Mishima in the Shizuoka Prefecture. When we set off in the morning it was really overcast looking a bit dull but by the time we had got there the sun was out and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day - I was hoping to see Mt. Fuji on our trip there but all the clouds were really low so we couldn't see too much of anything! We took a free shuttle bus from the Station to Garden which took about 30mins which flew by - Me and Ayumi have lots of things in common so we didn't run out of things to talk about! When we got there we were both amazed by the views, a perfectly relaxing garden with silhouettes of the mountains in the background. I was a bit scared to start with because as soon as we walked through the entrance I saw one of those ridiculously huge hornets again! I guess I was a lot calmer than if I had been on my own, my initial reaction probably would have been to "run as quickly as you can in the opposite direction!" but he wasn't bothered by us he was happy going in and out of the flowers. So I guess I can say (as I didn't get stung!) that it was cool to see the hornet a bit closer up!
So in Clematis no oka there are 2 separate places with a free shuttle bus to drive you between the two, one is a beautiful serene garden with lots of flowers, statues and art and the second is nature reserve park with a big rope-way bridge! We decided to walk around the garden first.
We actually walked around the garden pretty fast it maybe took us 20mins but we chilled out for 10mins on this beautiful bench! This place was like a cute secret garden, it was circular and had about 8 of these benches around the circle with beautiful white flowers surrounding you. It was amazing!
 The main reason we went here was so I could take photos of Ayumi to build up my photography portfolio. So we decided to take our time and go around the garden again, and this time actually appreciate every little bit that the garden had to offer. I will add a few pictures from the shoot with Ayumi through this blog post.
There was an art/statue museum that you had to walk through to get the lower ground floor of the garden (there is a photo above!) and both times I put my hand on the railing as I went to walk down the stairs, just as I was about to walk down the stairs and both times I got an electric shock of the metal! I was so annoyed the first time... you can't even imagine how annoyed I was the second time! hehe, I felt like one of those monkeys they train to do things ... see if they learn not to do something if they get a electric shock each time! All I can say is I'm glad we didn't go round 3 times, I would have been super super angry with myself if I had gotten 3 electric shocks!
Also, the first time we had gone around we had tried to get out of this door... totally ignoring the exit signs! Turns out this isn't a door at all you a fancy looking window! Man we felt so stupid!!!
 We were totally confused when we saw people disappearing into the ground, we had to go check it out or ourselves, there was just a walk way down under the statue and there were more statues underneath - nothing too exciting but disappearing into the ground was exciting enough to keep us entertained - haha!
... there were so many flowers...
 After walking around the garden for the second time we decided to head to the other places in Clematis no oka. We didn't know what to expect so we were surprised when we got there are in the was like a big woodland with lots of greenery and bamboo but no flowers. We decided to stop and admire the rope-way bridge and have something to eat. Ayumi had a roll that had curry in it! So funny Japanese food! It still surprises me :-) We only had an hour left to spend here so we rushed alot and only saw about a tenth of the place which was a shame. It was very beautiful, I wish we had gone there in autumn when the leaves are red and yellow! I just wanna say one thing... I went on the rope-way bridge! oh yeah! It's true!
See! Look! There's proof I went on the bridge... I was actually more scared of the massive spiders hanging from their big spider webs above my head than I was about being on the really high and rickety moving bridge!!!

We were both exhausted from our long day out and were looking forward to sleeping the train home, we didn't take the shinkansen back to Tokyo because it was too expensive to do twice in 1 day! So we knew we had like 110mins on 1 train! Plenty of time to snooze! When we were on the bus going back to Mishima Train Station we were talking about Japanese (she was teaching me a few sentences) and looking at the scenery which had totally clouded over! I was saying what a shame it was that we had come all this way yet still hadn't seen Mt. Fuji... then for some reason I looked behind me and I saw this...
... sorry about the awful photo! We were moving and on the bus! I was so excited and Ayumi said, no no, that's not Mt. Fuji, it's not big enough! I was so confused, I was like... not big enough... it's huge! haha. When we got off the train Ayumi decided asked a lady standing at the bus stop if it was Fuji and she said it was and told Ayumi that it looks small because we are far away from it... and of course if we were closer it would look alot bigger. haha, bless her! I thought that was hilarious! So yay! I've seen Mt. Fuji... a silhouette of only the top but still I can say I've seen it now!! So here's Mt. Fuji 富士山 with the lady in the lilac top that told us it was Mt. Fuji, what a nice lady!
 We had to wait a while at the train station for our train so we just chilled and chatting and relaxing. Then I saw a tiny bit of the sun was on show through the clouds and it was the brightest orange colour and the sunlight was so bright. The rest of the sun was behind the clouds still. As more and more of the sun began to show I walked to the end of the platform to take some photos... this was the most incredible sunset I have ever seen in my whole life... EVER! The colours were so vibrant I'm sure my photos can't do it justice, the sun was absolutely HUGE, I have never seen it even half as big as it was then!

This last photo kind of shows how big the sun looked, Ayumi is stood there in her white shirt taking a photo of the sunset! By this point everybody on the platform was stood there with their cameras out or their phones taking a photo of the incredible sunset!!!
All in all this was an amazing and perfect day, I got some great photos of Ayumi, I went on the Shinkansen for the first time, I really really enjoyed being outside of Tokyo, I loved the scenery, I got on so well with Ayumi and we had a proper laugh, took some awesome photos of flowers, went on a rope bridge, saw Mt Fuji, saw the most amazing sunset and... slept all the way home! Perfect day!!!!