Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Back to Mt. Takao

IMG_1668-1 Mt. Takao was one of the first places I went to in Tokyo when I first came here in 2007.  I guess in a weird way it made sense that it would be one of the last I would go before leaving Japan (more on that later…). With the weather getting better and better last weekend I got a chance to re-hike to the top…

The mountain itself is only a short train ride from Tokyo and is pretty popular with tourists and locals alike. While there I saw boy scouts, children hiking with their instructors who explained different parts of the mountain (as well as animals, flowers, etc…), hikers from all ages from 7 to possibly 77, and even pets accompanying their owners.

You can see some of  the pictures I took here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Trip to Kawagoe

IMG_1467-1 Over the course of the Golden Week, which unfortunately ends today, I got the chance to visit quite a few different places and try a few things I had not had a chance to try before. I think I should thank Derek for his visit that gave me a reason to go around each day instead of staying in.

Kawagoe is one of the places I had not had a chance to visit before. It is actually pretty close to Tokyo – about 30-40 minutes from Shinjuku but it offers a pretty different scenery, a famous temple with a beautiful garden and 500+ unique statues, an ancient bell tower and a “sweets street”. It is also famous for sweet potatoes. I highly recommend taking a day trip out there if you live in Tokyo – it’s definitely worth it!

You can see the images I snapped here.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Panasonic’s 3D Television

image I have so much to write about but I just can’t find enough time to organize stuff to post on here. Facebook makes one lazy, I think, by encouraging “1 picture, 1 sentence” style posts. Anywho, I will post something here as well :)

I was walking around Kichijoji last week and I came across a crowd in front of the Yodobashi Camera. It turns out Panasonic had a demo set up for their new 3D Viera TVs. I knew about a new 3D format coming for the Blu-Ray but I had no idea the players were already produced, discs published, and DVR units built to handle the 3D data (as well as the TVs to display them of course). The 3 minute demo was actually pretty impressive. I think one of the reasons is that the glasses they use (yes you still need glasses which I can’t say I will ever get used to). The glasses are actually “active” – they are synced to the TV which supposedly makes for a more natural and less headache-inducing (which of course I was not able to check within 3 minutes).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Demonstration in Harajuku against child trafficking

IMG_1005-1 I was out in Harajuku today which was as crowded as usual given it’s a weekend day. Sometimes it still surprises me how many non-Japanese people seem to frequent the area.  Granted, the sheer number of people walking on the street is so high that one would expect to see “foreigners” here and there but the number of non-Japanese people was easily around 10%. That’s not what I am writing about today though – I came across an interesting demonstration which I think is worth mentioning here.

As far as I can tell “child trafficking” is not a particularly big problem for Japan, definitely not anywhere near certain East Asian countries. It was nice to see people getting together even for issues which may not be affecting their own country as much as the neighbors.  By the way, this picture was taken from the top of the Gucci building…

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Catching the last days of the cherry blossoms

This season of cherry blossoms was a bit weird in Tokyo – well, maybe unfortunate is a better word. First weekend it was all rainy and gloomy for the most part. The following weekend, with the cherry blossoms already starting to shed some of the flowers, I was at the hospital. Well, this weekend was different. I spent a decent part of my Saturday walking around the Tokyo Station, the emperor’s palace and Yotsuya. I also managed to get lost and walk from Yotsuya to Tokyo station in the process but I also had tons of fun and saw amazing scenery.

My ultra-hectic schedule continues so unfortunately I cannot comment much more. Instead I will just put some of the pictures I took on here – one picture, a thousand words I hope :)

IMG_0840-1 Around Yotsuya station

IMG_0874-1 Cherry blossoms flying in the air

IMG_0936-1 Castle moat

IMG_0898-1 Another part of the moat

IMG_0906-1 Couples in boats

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cherry blossoms are out but no blue skies…

IMG_0816-1 I am supposed to write about Sapporo but that will take quite a bit of time to plan and while I was going to do al that planning today, I could not. See, it is the cherry blossom season and this weekend is the best time to go check those out.  After all cherry blossoms are only around for two, or at most three weeks a year. Since that corresponds to only 4 – 6 weekend days you can tell how important each one of those days become if one wants to go check out the cherry blossoms.

Today and yesterday were supposed to be the days I go to check out cherry blossoms. According to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, yesterday would have been the day that the blossoms reach their full bloom. It unfortunately was not to be… First, I had to spend  most of yesterday at the hospital and today, I was mostly at home. Both days had overcast skies as well, in my humble opinion taking away from the experience.

I am hoping next week will be better and there will still be cherry blossoms to check out. Last year there were still a few trees left even 2 weeks after the peak date around Ueno Zoo. Meanwhile, I snapped this picture close to my apartment. Hey, better than nothing, right?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Trip to Sapporo and Otaru

IMG_0538-1 Ever since coming to Japan, I wanted to visit Hokkaido, the northernmost part of mainland Japan. The snow festival in February (雪祭り/Yuki Matsuri), the mountains and hills full of beautiful flowers in the spring time are just two of the biggest attractions in the region. This past weekend, unfortunately, was not the right time to experience either one of the two but the region has plenty to offer all year around!

This past Monday was a national holiday – the observation of Spring Equinox (moved to the 22nd as the original date, the 21st, fell on a weekend) and after I took Friday off as a paid-holiday, I had 3 full days to enjoy Sapporo and get back to Tokyo on Monday. Contrary to the time of Yuki Matsuri the tickets were quite reasonable too so it was quite a treat! I got to visit many places in Sapporo and even made a day trip to the famous Asahiyama Zoo (旭山動物園).

I am going to try to cover each day separately, starting this weekend. Unfortunately these days I am so amazingly busy busy busy…