Saturday, January 10, 2009

日本 Day 1

Our flight departed from Kuala Lumpur, then a short stop at Singapore and another stop at Bangkok, and finally towards Japan. I love plane rides. I enjoyed looking out the window.

A sea of clouds!

We reached Narita Airport, Tokyo around 7.20am, 23rd December 2008. We went straight to the JR (Japan Railway) office. We bought the JR Pass which is only available for us foreigners travelling in Japan. It's only for a specific period of time but within that limit we can use it as many times as we want, so the worth. Our JR Passes this time was only active as of 26th December so for the time being we had to make do with bus rides, trains and the mighty feet. 

Ahhh the Jidohambaiki (vending machines). They are ABUNDANT.

Another two things that we needed were the Suica and N'EX (Narita Express) cards. Suica's just like the touch 'n' go cards.

So after everything was done and we were finally ready, we headed to Mitaka from Shinjuku by train. From the Mitaka station we walked about 1km to the Ghibli Museum. It was easy coz there were road signs guiding us. Here's one at 500m.

At the entrance, Totoro greeted us in a booth! Too bad we weren't allowed to take pictures inside the museum. It was a great experience. The place was magnificent. It was as if we were really in Hayao Miyazaki's world! Well, we kind of were...

The robot from Laputa

Porco Rosso protagonist holding the cafe menu

Then we headed to the Inokashira Koen, a garden just beside the museum.
We were lucky to see these autumn leaves.

Torii gates beside the lake.

A mandarin duck and a koi fish.

We had some Dorayaki at the train station before going to Harajuku.
Harajuku! Look at the people! Sorry I had to go on tip toes and hold the camera really high to take this shot and it turned out blur. This is Takeshita Dori, Harajuku street is further back.

We stopped by Ebisu and Shibuya on the way to Hamamatsu-cho to see the Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

Getting nearer

At the foot of the tower, there were really pretty Christmas decorations all about and there was also a live band performance. We didn't stand a chance to go up the tower coz the queue was long.

At last. A proper meal for the first time. It's a fast food restaurant MATSUYA. Instant because they serve so fast right after we handed the tickets (there was a ticket machine where we had to put in coins and press the orders, then tickets came out). But the noodles were really nice.

Good thing about the restaurants in Japan, good green tea and free refill. And also, the food were as good as they looked!!!

Curry rice, gotta try. It's good! And it's BEEF!

Mum's Gyudon (beef bowl). This is so good too!

About 11pm we waited an hour for the night bus to Kyoto

End of Day 1.

日本 Day 2

December 24, 2008.

It's Christmas Eve!

The bus reached Kyoto at 8am. We saw another fast food restaurant right opposite the Kyoto Station called the NAKAU and we were kind of hungry. I'm not really used to an early breakfast, but I did not regret going there.

Curry again but I asked for udon this time. Mum was still stuck with her gyudon, and she just loved those pink pickled ginger.

We were on a very low and fixed budget so we were trying to survive with these cheaper fast food places and when all else failed at least we still had the Kombini (convenience stores like Lawson, Kiosk, Family Mart, am/pm, 7-Eleven, etc)

Refreshed and much more awake, we went back to Kyoto Station and looked around in some of the shops. There were so many things there and they sell these Omiyage (souvenir) in forms of foods and sweets and various types of things. By the way their Wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets) were exquisite!

Wagashi of the season

Purses and pouches etc



Kokeshi wooden dolls and porcelain ones below


These beautiful fans cost a bomb.

Kyoto Tower!

We used a very simple map mum printed out to look for the TOMATO Guest House. It was really cozy inside.

OK now to Kinkakuji! A building covered with gold leaf. A beautiful sight!

A stone pagoda

These are green tea flavoured Dango! (glutinous rice)

To Ryoan-ji next! There were a lot of people there but the rock garden still calmed us.

Mini version of the rock garden

The interior of the tea room looked real cool!

On the way to the bus stop we had a Usagi Manju (rabbit shaped red bean bun) and we went to Ginkakuji!

Unfortunately the building was having some renovation work done so it was all covered up.

Here's how it actually looked like (a poster they put up in front of the current building).

This is the Ginshadan (silver beach). The pile of sand shaped like a little mountain at the back represents Mount Fuji, and the big one in front represents waves of the ocean (I hope I didn't misinterpret)..

Wooden tablets

Make a wish and throw a coin.

On the way back we stopped for a matcha cream puff.

We also ate some senbei! So fresh!

The last destination for today is Gion! I've always wanted to have a look at this place. I really enjoyed being there and seeing so many of the old traditional houses along the streets was such a happy thing. Many geishas and maikos usually go about. I got to see a few of them but I did not take any photos, I wasn't really sure if I was allowed to. *admiration*

We passed by a Japanese opera theater. Those wooden tags up there are the names of all the shows available, I think, or the many performers.

We bought some instant noodles and a tasty chicken karaage stick from LAWSON. We got back to TOMATO Guest House and checked in.

Nice tatami room!

Nice bathroom!

We even "grilled" our socks with this thing hehe! Ok shh.

Alright lights out.

Merry Christmas!

End of Day 2.