Time to have a look at what the Japanese call a castle and this is it. Hikone Castle, more walking as usual, a twenty minute trot from the train station on achy feet is more than enough until you realise that you then have to march up a load of stairs. Itís not a bad sight and is in pretty ground with much Cherry Blossom again but it does make it look all the more better since the sky was grey. Nothing much more to do today except for stop at Kyoto and get some Shinkansen tickets for the trip back to Tokyo for our airport hotel.
There were three things on the list today in Kyoto. We had to visit the observation tower which no self respecting Japanese city as without from our current experience of three Japanese cities. We had to visit the huge Budda at Ryozen Kannon and we had to visit the Market at Nishiki. There was a lot of walking today as Kyoto is quite large and despite all the places looking really close on Google Maps, hey all took about 30 minutes of walking to get to each which tends to really dampen the spirits in hot sun when your feet hurt. However we did pass through the Gion district where you can catch a glimps of Geisha, which we didnít (of course) but we did catch a lot of people in Kimonos.The impressive thing about the Buddha is that you can see it from the observation tower with the naked eye, so itís not small.
We decided that today was a great day to go to Hiroshima, unfortunately so did the G7. What was going to be a rather simple trip to the Peace Gardens and the A-Bomb Dome became slightly more complicated when the G7 decided to take over the Peace Memorial Park. Lots of waiting ensued as the security made sure no-one got anywhere near the park. Finally we got there and found the place mobbed with TV cameras all trying to mop up shots of the wreaths and talk to school children who had been there. Still we made it, and I got this rather predictable shot of the dome in Hiroshima.
Todayís shrine was all about deer. They are allowed to roam all over because they are seen as heavenly animals as a mythical god arrived in Nara on a deer to defend the newly built capital. As usual with Kyoto, the place is littered with shrines that the deer walk through, however they do tend to stick to places where they can be fed deer biscuits which you can buy from sellers all over the park. Naturally the deer all quite tame as no harm will come to them, so they are not above giving you a shove with their head/antlers if they think youíre witholding deer biscuits as I found out.
It was a visit to a shrine today and Kyoto is packed full of them. This one has a train of red arches that run up the mountain, which we started following, but after a long while decided that our progress was not enough for us to bother carrying on with. On the way up there are smaller shrines often including foxes which are revered and can possess you via your fingernails, probably started as a parentís tactic to get their kids to wash their hands properly.
Nothing much ado today. Not even a cat to be ignored by as most of today was taken up by travel or activities associated with moving from one hotel to another. Out of our temporary Yokohama home to move to our new temporary Kyoto home. Travel this time was courtesy of the Bullet Train or the Shinkansen as they call it here. In fact if you use the term Bullet Train then you just get blank looks. To be honest the train is OK and anything you would expect from a fast train service in any country, but at 40,000Yen which is 260GBP for an hour and a halfís journey, I think I would like a little bit more, but perhaps I am being picky. However if we had chosen to use our rail pass (that wasnít cheap either, not sure if that was a wise purchase) it would have take about 5 hours. Needless to say that the Shinkansen has us over a barrel. One trip to Hiroshima from here will be impossible without it, and who wants to take 5 hours to get back to Tokyo when you know then next thing youíll do is sit on a plane for 11 hours plus. Anyway, canít complain to be honest, itís what travelling is all about. Learning how not to do it, but having fun trying... to get it right.
Ah I nearly forgot in all of that complaining, this is the view from the hotel in Kusatsu, well this is what the view is like in silhouette.
Itís been a busy old day and really not much to talk about as far as pictures are concerned. So glad this is a photoblog. To start the weather was against us, and then the lack of photo ops didnít help, hence I have a billion pictures of cats. More about that later.
It all started at the busiest junction in Tokyo. Shibuya crossing is apparently legendary, but perhaps thatís when itís not lashing it down. However itís our last day in Tokyo so we need to do everything we can to see the default Tokyo things and despite all I have been told about how mental Tokyo is, I have yet to see it. Yes itís busy but it isnít anything too bad. So after a bit of messing about, we were off to Harajuka and Takeshita Street which seems to be 100% orientated to Japanese teenage girls. Needless to say I had nothing to offer here other than my ability to pay.
So off to Nakano Broadway, a 4 story shopping centre dedicated to all sorts, thereís a bit of Manga, some clothes and a bit of tech. Weirdly enough there was a formula 1 store which I could have sat in for hours, though I suspect they would have chucked me out after and hour or two. If only I could have afforded the Ayrton Senna 1994 race suit.
In the bottom floor of Nakano Broadway was a very impressive arcade and to be honest I should had a go. They had capsules to play games that were then streamed on YouTube. Instead of doing that we spent too long trying to get a bog standard towel from a grabber machine. We won, but at what cost. I want that time back, you can keep the money.
So we then headed across town to a cat cafe. Now, there was a huge gap between what these places are vs what I thought they would be to such an extent that when we walked in I thought the cat thing was a front. Anyway itís a bit of a weird place, and perhaps the place we went to was not a typical Japanese cat cafe, but it was down a back street and not very many Japanese were in the cafe, in fact I would say that as soon as we turned up the three European looking blokes who were there made a hasty exit as soon as we arrived. Not much coffee (none) was drunk of at 1000 Yen an hour it seems to be more catisfaction from cats that really arenít bothered whether youíre there or not. In fact they would rather you were not there.
Anyway, this is a pic of the junction on the walk from the station to the cat cafe. Nothing great to report, but it seemed quite impressive as the light started to fade.
Despite not really planning to go and see Mt Fuji at the start of the holiday, it became a thing to do after a couple of days when my daughter expressed an interest, so today was nice weather so why not. So after a bit of disagreement on how to get there and a bit of huffing, we asked a kind person at the railway and he gave us explicit instructions to how to get there whilst apologising about hoe bad his instructions were.
One thing I haver noticed about the Japanese is that they really will kill you with kindness, we noticed this when we got our bags taken up to our rooms as we were made sure we were made aware of all of the features of the room. To confirm this, we were walking into Yokohama on the first day and it was raining a bit. Not greatly as far as a Mancunian is concerned, but enough to get you a little wet. But my wife and daughter had hoods and I didnít but my daughter wasnít using hers. Anyway after a while out of the blue one man offered my wife his umbrella and wouldnít take no for an answer, finally she accepted and he ran off to stop himself from getting wet. Strange but true and exceptionally nice of him.
Anyway, back to the pic. This is of Mt Fuji, which took us about 3+ hours to get there and 3+ hours to get back. Whist we didnít get to the top (a 5 hour walk) we did get to station 5 (by bus) which was probably the wrong thing to do as it added an hour to the travelling for what appeared to be no benefit at all other than to say that we got there, which in itself is reason enough some times, however with all that travelling and current lack of sleep, Iím sitting here with the distinct feeling that I am moving. Itís worth going to and itís very impressive, but donít expect that getting really close will make a great difference, just get a bigger zoom. The nearer you get the more of a problem trees become and sort of start getting in the way.
Today was quite a bit of trek. Starting off at the fish market in Tokyo, then heading off to the Hamarikyu Gardens, a boat to Asakusa and a walk to the temple at Senso-Ji and then the Sky Tree. In fact the day really started when we tried to get into the Imperial Palace and failed because you have to book in advance which caused us to change plan and head for the fish market... of course. If the Imperial Palace is closed to us them the second option will inevitably be a fish market.
The market give me a few chances for candid shots that I have been trying out, but the weather wasnít helping being so overcast. Still there were a few chances at the Temple which appeared to be less like a Temple and more like an overgrown tourist attraction. Still, Iím sure some people still take it seriously. This snap was from the Temple where you did stumble across women in kimonos, these two were getting a selfie taken in one of the really popular blossom trees.
Itís cherry blossom time in Japan at the moment and so thereís plenty of chance to see loads of trees full of blossom. This is a pic of the blossom in Yokohama with the tallest building in the background which is the Yokohama Landmark Tower which happens to be a hotel. Apparently you can see Mt Fuji from some of the rooms, but then again it is 296m high.
Today was more about getting our train passes than sigh seeing after only getting a few hours sleep yesterday. What with jetlag I was awake at 4am local time which is a little odd owing to what that time would be at home. Still we had a look around the harbour and pier and so by now my feet are aching after quite a treck on foot.