My Trip To Japan 2013 - Part II

On the Ferris Wheel at Tokyo Dome

On another day, we took our time (as we got more than a little bit lost, thank goodness for the kindness of a young woman how spoke VERY good english, having spent a couple years abroad in America) getting to tokyo dome. If you are a baseball fanatic then you just might know that this is the home base for the Yomiuri Giants. Honestly this meant absolutely nothing to the group I was travelling with, so we spent most of the day exploring the theme park. With Roller coasters, Water slides, Ferris Wheels (with a stunning view of the city), Go-carts and more!

TIP : Unfortunately a lot of attractions were closed to us because we were travelling during winter. The same thing happened to us a few days later at Fuji-Q

Legitimetly TERRIFIED at the Haunted Hospital at Fuji-Q

A two hour bus ride from shinjuku got us up to fuji-q amusement park !!! The general entrance fee, excluding rides, was around $12 AUD and rides as a rule of thumb were somewhere between $4 and $10. If you make the effort to get to Fuji-Q then you absolutely must experience the haunted Hospital (this coming from a girl who can't watch thriller and horror movies on her own :S). Upon entering, they sit your group down on a small metal slab and show you a truly erie short film about what happened to the Hospital. They suddenly drop the seat/slab down about an inch and capture your utter shock and terror in a gloriously unflattering image (as you can see above). Then you are given one flash light and sent on to poop your pants as you make your way through the hospital with all sorts of people jumping out and chasing you. The Japanese sure do know how to do heart pumping scary!!!

TIP : If you know that you won't be able to make it through the whole Hospital, they do have little escape exits that you can duck out of!!

Chowing down those Dippin' Dots 
The rides at Fuji-Q.

In stark comparison, my favourite ride - the swing chair - was incredibly peaceful and gave you an astonishing view of the surrounding are and of mt fuji. It also gave us numb fingers, nose, toes and teeth, so maybe don't do it during winter huh? As is usual in theme parks there a number of devilishly unhealthy places to eat at Fuji-Q. Pizza-La express is not something I would recommend - as accustomed to top notch pizza as we westerners are it was more than a bit of a let down to us and we were so excited having been deprived for so long. However we more than made up for this disappointment with delicious crepes and Dippin' Dots (tiny little balls of ice-cream as you can see in an above picture). 

At Fuji-Q amusement Park

After tiring of the rides at Fuji-Q we hoped on a beautiful Harry Potter-esk train, at the back of the amusement park, which dropped us off in a town further towards Mt Fuji. From the station we too a beautiful senic bus to see the Ice caves at the base of Mt Fuji.

TIP : Due to bad planning on our part, we weren't actually able to get off of the bus that drove us up to the base of Mt Fuji, as the next scheduled bus to take us back to the station wouldn't get us there until after our train was due to depart. Remember to give yourself lots of time when booking these things in. Luckily we had managed to spy it several times from the theme park and from the bus. 

"Harry Potter" train to Mt Fuji
Bus to Mt Fuji Ice Caves
Mt Fuji
tokyo tower is another icon that you should take yourself to see. It is very similar in appearance to the Eiffel Tower and looks absolutely stunning at night! Its about $10 AUD to get in and you can go souvenir crazy inside.

Haha "Climbing" Tokyo Tower
Jizo statues at Zozoji Temple 
After seeing Tokyo Tower we took ourselves on a little wander and came across zozoji temple. For me it was very emotional walking the grounds, as it is known for the tiny stone Jizo statues in the cemetery which represent the unborn (stillborn, aborted and miscarried) children of Japan. The statues are dressed up beautifully in red knitted hats and scarfs and surrounded by flowers. Not really a trip for the feint hearted.
The next day was a very early start for us, leaving our flat in Ikejiri-Ohashi we caught a train from Shibuya to Negoya, and the from Negoya we caught a train to gero

Traditional Japanese banquet 

If Akihibara was a show of modern day Japan then Gero was a show of all things traditional.  Here we stayed in a traditional Ryokan (Japanese hot spring hotel) situated above a calm and charming village in Gero. We experienced sleeping on Tatami mats, wearing kimonos and our very own Japanese Banquets. Really our whole trip had been planned around this one experience and it was my absolute favourite thing about our trip to Japan. We were lucky enough to see snow fall and fireworks while sitting in the hot springs, it was so enchanting to watch. This particular Ryokan was also proud to boast that they hosted the Showa Emperor.

In our Kimonos in the room the Showa Emperor and Empress stayed
TIP : You can only really visit Hot springs during the winter months as they are MUCH too hot during summer. The hot springs do absolute wonders for your body and general health so stay in as long as you can but don't push yourself!!! The hot springs we visited were natural and surrounded by rocks that you could perch upon when it became too overwhelming.  

Tatami mats 
If you are not afraid of a little bit of exercise then it was actually a really nice to walk down, from the ryokan into town. If not, there is a small bus that will take you up and down.  Again there are some great traditional souvenir shops around and lots of places to grab some traditional Japanese grub!!!

As you are obviously not allowed to take a camera into the
hot springs I borrowed this photo from the internet to show
 you how stunning it really was 
After spending three days in Gero we then moved on to part two of our trip, kyoto.
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My Trip To Japan 2013 - Part l

Our first apartment in Ikerjiri-Ohashi

My trip to Japan took place in the beginning of 2013. After years of dreaming, talking and finally excited planning, myself and three friends from high school left Sydney Airpot on the 22nd of January

Being that we travelled to Japan during Winter and we were four young women we hadn't exactly packed light :/ We had four bulky suitcases to somehow transport (most likely very awkwardly) through the busy city of Tokyo.

TIP : Using the Black Cat luggage service (located on your right after entering the arrivals area of the airport) was an absolute god send. For a reasonable sum (I think only around $15 - $20) I was able to have my luggage sent to were I was saving and travel light and stress free.  Our luggage arrived that night around 7pm.  

On the Shinkansen from Narita to Shibuya 

The train ride from narita International Airport to shibuya station was over an hour long and we spent it mostly sleeping. Trains are the way to go in Japan. They are clean, orderly and regular, but be prepared; when we got off the train it was GO-GO-GO. Stations can be VERY 

TIP : To minimise time spent searching for coins in the bottom of your bag and buying tickets from vendors, get a PASS-MO. These are like prepaid credit cards that you just tap before and after your train ride. There are places in pretty much every station to top these up and they even work on buses. NOTE these are only useful in Tokyo. 

For the first part of our trip we based ourselves in a suburb called ikejiri-ohashi, which was only one short train stop away from Shibuya :D. It was a much calmer are that Shibuya but we still had access to supermarkets (Mamma Plate), Post Offices, Restaurants, cafes etc.

The main street in Akihabara 

For our first full day in Tokyo we travelled to akihabara - Electric City. To me it screams modern day Japan !!! There is some seriously great shopping around here, especially as far as Technology, Manga and Anime enthusiast go.

Our very first purchase in Japan, Akihibara

TIP : This is a great place to go to find Maid Cafes as well because there are people handing out flyers left right and centre along the main road!! Its such a fun experience and one I would definitely recommend. If you don't know what a Maid Cafe is, basically its a themed cafe where all of the waitresses dress up as Maids (Japanese people love all things cute XD) Haha maybe google it before hand so as its not a shock to you when you do go; there isn't really anything like it in Western society.

In Akihibara
Next up we caught the train to asakusa, which was probably one of my favourite places to see in Japan. It took us a long while to find (we got VERY lost) but eventually we came upon SENSOJI TEMPLE (which for future reference is just to the right of the station :P). The markets leading up to the Temple are such a great place to pick up all sorts of souvenirs, traditional as well as kitschy modern. The temple itself was, simply put, beautiful and humbling. 

TIP : A great gift to pick up for friends and loved ones, is a charm from the temples that has been blessed by the monks. There are all sorts of charms - Love, luck, education, wealth, safety etc. 

Outside Sensoji Temple Markets
Outside Sensoji Temple

Day two took us to yokohama - China Town, a maze of streets with more great shops and stalls (opportune for souvenirs) and AMAZING places to eat. Yokohama also houses the Cup Noodle Museum (:P haha yep thats right, cup Noodles are a big thing in Japan and we practically lived off of them for a while), a small amusement park and Yokohama Shopping centre, which has some great clothing and makeup shops without the crazed madness of shopping in Shibuya.

In Yokohama shopping centre 

I probably wouldn't really recommend ginza to younger travellers, just because its where all of the high end shops are located (and lets be honest we younger explorers probably aren't rolling in it). However we luckily chanced upon some sort of street festival/parade that had closed off the main road in Ginza. 

TIP : If you have trouble taking money out of regular ATMS (which we did....cue PANIC) try either using the city bank ATM or use the ATMs in Post Offices (JP ATMs), these were the only two that worked for us. It was in Ginza that we found a City Bank :)

Imperial Palace 

From Ginza we caught the train to central tokyo and took a nice (and really, a bit long) walk along to the imperial palace, where funnily enough we chanced upon an outrageously large group of people preparing to take part in a marathon (are you an enthusiast maybe you could join in?)

All the girlies at the Imperial Palace 
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