Saturday, February 9, 2013

Yokohama Part Four

The "official" part of the trip was over so the last day was a sightseeing trip to Tokyo.  All of our group but one attended (she had to work so had to leave early. Bummer!)  As always we started with breakfast and was off on the bus by 9:30 (a bit late)

Tokyo is a very crowded place. The utilization of the space available is a remarkable achievement and any city in the world should be envious but such vertical integration can be very daunting to travelers and natives alike. Freeway signs do their best to help ease the navigation woes. A bigger pix is here

As mentioned before, transportation around this crowded metropolis of 30 million plus is easy with a multitude of options and no trip to Japan would be complete without pix of train!

On arrival to Tokyo, it was hard to miss the towers. The Tokyo Tower was built for Worlds Fair in 1960 and is just over 1000 feet tall. The Tokyo Tower 2 (actual name is Tokyo Skytree) was finished in March 2011 and is nearly twice the height at 2080 feet!  here is #2

cant tell in this pix because I had to zoom out so far to catch the tower but those building in the foreground are about 30-40 stories...

Our first stop was the Asakusa Complex with the Sensoji Temple and Nakamise Arcade.

  This housed both a Buddhist Temple and a Shinto Temple. The Shinto Temple (Nishinomiya Inari Shrine) was only part of complex not destroyed during air raids of WW2 and was built in the 15th century and rebuilt a few times the latest being 1727.

The Buddhist Temple foundation was originally erected in the 6th Century and the building itself has been rebuilt several times after being destroyed by fire a few times, Earthquakes, etc.

                                   Nishinomiya Inari Shrine

This shrine is one of the most popular pilgrimage areas in all of Asia. Here is a "prayer wall" where people from all over, post prayers to Buddha. Our tour guide was able to identify prayers from China, Mongolia and Taiwan here.

                                                 Buddhist Temple

                                               The Inner Sanctum

                                     History of the Temple  <<Big Pix

          Entry to Temple Areas. Check out the size of those lanterns!

The Nakamise Arcade where shops are PLENTIFUL. (ya, spent a ton here!)

Another tower. Not sure of its significance here but it is labeled as "Five Story Pagoda"  Isnt that where Bruce Lee fought Kareen in "Conquer the Dragon?"

These two pictures really illustrates the premise of the Japanese Culture and religion. The first is an incense well where people bathe themselves in the smoke before entering the temple area. The 2nd is Don cleansing himself at the water well.  Nature and the preservation of is a very important part of the Japanese Culture and betting it plays more than a small part in Japan's ready adoption of EVs. (1700 quick charge stations probably helped a lot as well!)

After that was lunch in the Ginza District and another vertical example as this was a basement restaurant

Left to Right (Darrel, George, Don and Mark getting ready to feast. As always, the food was wonderful!

After our meal, it was the visit to the Imperial Palace. The palace itself only allows visitors on the palace grounds once a year and no...this was not that one day. The very large "front yard" displays perfectly manicured Bonsai Trees by the hundreds

And of course "Perfection" is something never achieved, only strived for so here area the real heroes of the garden, The tree trimmers!!

Of course the Imperial Palace must have a guard and this Samurai Warrior does the job!

The wide open spaces of the Garden area of several hundred acres is a stark contrast to the high density vertical integration you can glimpse in the background of this picture.

The palace itself only has one entrance and is surrounded by a moat which was necessary back in the day where raids were common.

Although we were not lucky enough to be here on the one day the gates were open, we did happen to be here right at the changing of the guard (and unlike my visit to the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in DC, didnt have to wait 45 minutes to see it!)

Now, if you are planning a trip to Japan, nearly every tourist brochure will have this scene in it, so we had to do it to prove we were here!

Left to right;  George, Chelsea, Darrel, Me, Don, Fran, Jeffrey and Mark. (Kathleen was the one not pictured who had to work and Ruud who had a business meeting to attend to...)

After that, it was some shopping. Tokyo does have a "few" options in this area. Here is one of many many shopping areas in Akihabara District (AKA; "Electric Town")  They say if you are looking for rare electronic gadgets, toys, action figures and it aint here, it aint nowhere!

Took this pix but should have made video of it. It was a multi-colored sign that kept changing. it was pretty cool and was hung over a shopping "district" (a narrow corridor that barely qualified as an alley in the US, but was packed with people so must have had something good there)

Soon it was back to bus and headed home (which is good because here more money was spent!)  A parting view of the Tokyo Skyline with Toyko Tower One dominating

                                              Back to Yokohama

We ended up having dinner on the top floor of our Hotel in the "Sky Lounge". Was an ala carte and first meal (other than breakfast) where American Food was an option. I admit, I did take a few of those but as always the food was good.

Was hoping to make this a 4 part series but...

To Be Continued


  1. Hi Dave,

    Thank you for writing up the trip in such detail and with all the brilliant photographs :) I hope you don't mind a random stranger wandering by to comment: I'm Jef's wife and he linked to your blog from the UK LeafTalk forum. While I've heard his stories and seen the photos he took, I've really enjoyed reading about it from a different perspective too. I'm looking forward to Part Five!

    Thanks too for all your work on the advisory group and I hope it continues to go from strength to strength.


  2. Thank you Stephanie and very happy to see your participation here! In reality, there is no way I could do the trip justice. There was just so much going on that I was not even aware of. I only hope to provide a small part of the whole experience!

    This group has only started and I hope that we accomplish a lot!