Archive: Japan

Visiting Tokyo

We were in Tokyo for 4 nights, from Wednesday 7th July-Sunday 11th July. Arriving in Tokyo was very straight forward. We had pre-booked a hotel called Kangaroo Hotel, near the Asakusa district of Tokyo. We had to take the subway from the airport to Nippori (Keisei Line), then from Nippori we had to change to the JR (Joban line) and get off at Minami Senju. This ticket cost us 1300 Yen each (£9.70) and the journey took around 1 hour.

Hotel Reception-Kagaroo Hotel

Hotel Reception-Kagaroo Hotel

From the station our hotel was a 10 minute walk. There are street maps all over Tokyo so it is pretty easy to get around…and also Paul is FANTASTIC at directing, thank goodness, because I am hopeless! The hotel was really nice. Very basic, like many Japanese homes but extremely clean and it had all the facilities needed. A kitchen area on each floor, with a microwave, kettle and sinks. The rooms were very small, with a toilet on each floor and showers downstairs. The hotel staff were extremely friendly and helpful.  If we come back, which I hope we do, we would stay there again.

On our first night we went to Akihabarawhich is the biggest place in Japan for electronics. There are many shops on the street and also a big shopping centre with floors and floors of electrical goods. You are free to test things out and no one bothers you-which is great! We were testing out the new Ipad-I think Paul really wants one now.

Things we did in Tokyo:

  • Walked over the Rainbow Bridge-to visit Odaiba Island. This was a great way of seeing the city. We got a subway to Mita Station then walked to the tower of the bridge. You can get a lift up to the bridge here, but it closes at 9pm, so all foot passengers must exit the bridge by then.
Rainbow Bridge Tokyo

Rainbow Bridge Tokyo

  • Visited some of the many shopping districts in Tokyo. Including Ginza, Hibya and the Akihabara area (Electrical District) The great thing about Tokyo is that there is a different district for many  types of shopping products.
Ginza-Tokyo

Ginza-Tokyo

  • Visiting Harajuku and Kiddy Land. This is the center of Japan’s most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles, but also offers shopping for grown-ups and some historic sights. The focal point of Harajuku’s teenage culture is Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street) and its side streets, which are lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores. This area is where you will see many teenagers dressed in crazy costumes. The best time to experience this is on a Sunday, which we were unable to do as we were flying out that day. However we did get to go and see some of the people of this fashion culture. Also we visited Kiddy Landwhich is found here. This is a big store full of many toys-it is a lot of fun, both for kids and adults:)
Kiddy Land in Harajuku-Big Kids Shop

Kiddy Land in Harajuku-Big Kids Shop

 

  • Visited a few of the many Parks in Tokyo. Even though Tokyo is a massive city, with lot’s going on, it also has it’s many places to sit and relax. We found it a lot more relaxing than we had imagined. We visited the Palace gardens near Tokyo station. (FREE ENTRY)

Tokyo Imperial Palace is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. It is a large park-like area located in Chiyoda, Tokyo close to Tokyo Station and contains various buildings such as the main palace and the private residences of the imperial family. The total area including the gardens is 7.41 square kilometers. (WIKI)

Palace Gardens

Palace Gardens

  • Shibuya Crossing (Busiest intersection in Tokyo) Shibuya Crossing, also referred to as Shibuya Scramble Crossing is the pedestrian crossing outside the Hachiko exit of Shibuya Station. It is referred to as a scramble crossing as the traffic is stopped in all directions, thus allowing pedestrians to walk in all directions through the intersection. This is one of the busiest intersections in the world. We decided to sit up stairs in Starbucks to observe the craziness.
Looking down at the busy street in Shibuya from starbucks

Looking down at the busy street in Shibuya from starbucks

  • Spent the day in Asakusa- Asakusa is known as ‘Old Tokyo’ as it is one of the few districts in Tokyo that have kept onto old traditions. This is where you will be able to visit some of the many Buddhist Temples, markets and the old traditional Japanese streets.
The Kaminarimon Buddist Temple

The Kaminarimon Buddist Temple

Asakusa Markets

Asakusa Markets

It was such a pleasant change to be able to walk around markets and not be pushed into buying things. The Japanese are a lot less pushy and just allow you to look around.

  • Odaiba Island and Replica of the Statue of Liberty-Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. We walked over the rainbow bridge then spent the day here. There is a beach and also lot’sof shops, including a big shopping center, with a cinema. Also you will find a replica of the Statue of Liberty just outside the Aqua City shopping center.
Replica of the statue of liberty at Odaiba Island

Replica of the statue of liberty at Odaiba Island

We have so much more to say about our short but amazing time in Tokyo, but this will have to do for now. We loved how it was such a safe city with some of the kindest people we’ve ever met. We definitely want to go back and experience more of Japan and hopefully next time we’ll get to go and see my Uncle/Aunty and counsins who live in the South.

We have been in Brisbane for 1 week now. We are staying with Marey an old friend of my sister Leah’s, from when she lived in Australia 10 years ago. Mareyhas been so amazing and welcomed us into her home. My sister Leah is also here in Australia, we have spent the last week with her here in Brisbane and will be spending at least 1 more week here.

Catching up with my sister Leah in Brisbane

Catching up with my sister Leah in Brisbane

We will fill you in on our time here in Brisbane very soon.
Ruth and Paul

Visiting Shanghai

We spent 5 days in Shanghai City. We were staying in the Green Tree Inn. This was a nice hotel-very clean and a good size room with really nice bathroom. We were also fairly central which was good.

Arriving in Shanghai was fairly straight forward. We found a left luggage place in the train station, to leave our bags whilst we looked for a hotel. This cost us £2 each for the whole day. This was a really good idea, as sometimes we have ended up walking around the city for over 2 hours searching for a place, with our bags on our backs. This is not a good idea, and always makes arriving a lot more stressful than it needs to be!

We found a hotel within 20 minutes, the Green Tree Inn. We settled in, then went back to get our bags. The station was just a 15 minute walk away.

We really liked Shanghai City from the moment we arrived. It is a very clean city with lot’s of high rise buildings,  Modern shopping centers ,markets andbeautiful small Alley ways with old traditional Chinese houses on. It is such a contrasting city, whilst parts of the city reminded us of the modern feel of Singapore other parts of the city reminded us of some of the streets in India (small alley ways, with locals chopping fruit or walking around in their pijamas, and people sorting through rubbish)

A local lady preparing her vegetables outside

A local lady preparing her vegetables outside

It has a very exciting feel to the city, with so much going on both day and night. It was very busy whilst we were there because of the 2010 Expo (world fair) being held there this year. The hotel prices were a lot higher than usual because of this.

On our first day in Shanghai we went to Wujiang Road (Nanging West rd Station). This is known for it’s snacks, and shops. It is just a small street, but packed with lot’s of traditional chinese/western restaurants, snack bars and small shops. If you are lucky you will be walking down the street just when they are handing out all the free samples of foods, like we we were. Although this wasn’t Chinese food, it was krispy kreme donuts:)

Wujiang Road

Wujiang Road

We also went to see a free Art Exhibition, not far from Wujiang road. It was an exhibition of traditional Chinese Art. A lot of the museums and Art galleries cost money to get into, so we were lucky to come across this exhibtion and it was well worth seeing.

This is an example of some of the art we saw.

Chinese Art

Chinese Art

On our 2nd day in Shanghai we decided to walk down to the Huangpu river (the largest river in Shanghai). It divides the city into two regions:Pudong(east) and Puxi (west). We were on the Puxi side, looking across the river to Pudong. The river front is both stunning in the day and night. As you are walking along the river, you can see the high rise buildings across the river on one side, then on your other side you have the Bund, which houses 52 buildings of various architectural styles such as Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Beaux-Arts, and Art Deco. These buildings are mostly banks and custom houses.

The Bund at night time (Along Shanghai Huangpu River)

The Bund at night time (Along Shanghai Huangpu River)

It was fairly quite during the day when we walked to the river front, but in the evening it was packed. Maybe because everyone was at the visiting the Expo during the day? It was still worth the visit even though we could hardly move walking!

Paul at Huangpu River Front

Paul at Huangpu River Front

We wanted to go and visit Yuyuan Garden, so we took the subway to Yuyuan Garden station. When we exited the subway station it was packed with locals and tourists. This is a huge shopping area, packed with markets andshops. We never did find the garden, all though we know it does exist. After reading on the internet, we see that other people also struggled to find the garden. This is a great place to see, all though it was a little over packed with tourists for my liking! Also people hassle you a lot here, trying to get you to buy things. It is not easy to relax andstroll aroundthe shops, like we wanted to. People stand on the streets asking you do you want a watch or a bag. I guess they must get commission or something for taking you to shops.

We also visited Peoples Square, which is where you will find many department stores, restaurants, museums and modern shopping centers.

After researching on the internet we decided to go to Taikang  Road. If you’re in the mood for some shopping but are tired of touts shoving fake watches in your face, head to Taikang Road. This is a great place to stroll and relax, whilst you observe Shanghai life at it’s best! You will be able to see locals just going about their everyday life: chopping up fruit, washing clothes, hanging clothes on the line andselling food on street vendors. Then find alley 210 and wander down the lane. It’s full of shops and cafes, where you can just look and relax, with no pressure! This place is not to be missed! One of my favourite spots in the city!

Ruth on one of the Alley's off Taikang Road

Ruth on one of the Alley's off Taikang Road

We both had a great time in Shanghai. It’s hard saying which place we liked most in China, as everywhere is so different, but we’d definatley put Shanghai at the top.

We have now landed in Tokyo. We got a flight from Shanghai Pudong airport to Narita Tokyo airport this morning at 11.50am. We landed at 15:45pm Japanese local time. (Japan is 8 hours ahead of GMT) We flew with JAL. It was nice flying with one of the one world airlines, rather than just Air Asia budget flights. We were fasinated with the screens on the plane that showed live video footage from the front of the plane. We were also served a meal on the flight, although I asked them for vegetarian, as I have booked on as vegetarian on all the flights, but they said the option today was meat only? So I ate the salad.

We had a really smooth arrival in Tokyo, which I was surprisedby. I thought we would find it really difficult, but everything was really straight forward. We had already booked a hotel (Kangaroo Hotel), which was a great decision! We got the train from the airport, on the Keisei line to Nippori station, then we had to change at Nippori for the JR line to Minami Senju. The tickets costs us 1300 Yen (£9.70) each from the airport to our hotel (60 Minute journey) Our hotel was a 10 minute walk from the Minami Senjustation, which we found no problem.

We have now settled into our hotel. It is a really nice small hotel. All the rooms are Japanese style, with just a matress on the floor. The bathrooms are shared. There is a microwave, kettle and small kitchen area on each floor. There is internet in all the rooms and also 2 Apple Mac’s downstairs which we are free to use. There are also washing machines and dryers on the bottom floor. The hotel is very minimalistic, like a lot of Japanese traditional homes. The member of staff who greeted us at the reception is very helpful and extremley friendly. We have certainly been welcomed into Japan with smiles so far. People seem very helpful and when we have been looking at our map, locals have helped us and pointed us in the right direction. 

Well we best get to sleep, we want to get up early tomorrow. We are really excited about exploring the city. We will have to cram so much  in to the short time we have here, just 4 days.

We will add pictures from Shanghai as soon as possible

Ruth and Paul

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