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By this Author: stephen_dann


Edo Museum and Nikon Museum

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On Saturday I first went to a new museum by Nikon which they have opened as part of their 100 centenary celebrations in 2017. It included a history of Nikon and many examples of the camera and lenses they have produced.

Next I went to the Edo museum which covers the build-up of the city of Edo under the Shoguns and then from 1868, when Edo was renamed to Tokyo, to the present day. It is a large museum and has many interesting exhibits. I was there for over 5 hours and learned a great deal about modern Japan.

Sunday in Tokyo is the one day of the week everyone relaxes and spends time out enjoying themselves. I headed to park which is where many Tokyo residents go. There were street performers, people demonstration traditional tea ceremonies and families out with picnics. After lunch I headed a mile south and walked up and down street. This is the main gadget and comic shop street in Tokyo and is closed to traffic on Sunday afternoons. Many of the shops were packed and the streets were crowded. In addition, there were people handing out leaflets for various establishments. Many of these were girls trying to get people to go to maid cafes. These are where the waitresses are dressed up as comic versions of French maids and service you in a submissive way.

Posted by stephen_dann 15:12 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Kyoto and Hiroshima

Kyoto and Hiroshima

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On Thursday I had plans to go to Kyoto for the day so I left the hotel at 7am and made my way via Shinjuku station to Tokyo station to catch the 8am Shankensen train. As my rail pass was for the Green 1st class cars my train ride was in a wide comfortable seat in a quite carriage.

The highlight of the trip down was going past Mount Fuji, this time there was no cloud and the views were amazing. On arriving in Kyoto I first visited a large 14th century Shinto shrine followed by the Kyoto museum which covered the history of this ancient city. In the late afternoon I visited the gardens of the Imperial Palace from the time that Kyoto was the Japanese capital. The hotel I was staying in was a traditional Japanese one. You had to remove your shoes on entering and then wear different pair of slippers depending on where you were in the building. There was no bed but instead a Japanese futon, a thin mattress, that had to be unrolled before going to bed.

The next morning, I caught a direct Shankensen train to Hiroshima. This was one city I have wanted to visit since first learning about the atomic bomb attack. When I arrived it was raining so I bought an umbrella and started to walk the 1½ miles to the memorial site. There are a number of memorials around the site of the bomb explosion. There is a domed building that is the last remaining of those that partially survived the attack. This was almost directly under the explosion and the shell that still stands is also what remained on the day. Across the river is a cenotaph and a museum about the bomb and its aftermath. The museum contained items recovered from around the area including clothing and small parts of buildings showing the effect of the blast. In addition, there were accounts of the day and those that followed from those that survived. Some had been recorded by actors and others by the people themselves. There was one that was particularly harrowing told by the man himself in Japanese and with a written translation. He had to wait 3 days before the heat from the fires had cooled down to try and find his wife in their house, which stood on the site of the cenotaph. All he could find were her bones which crumbled on touch.

That afternoon I returned to Tokyo, getting back late in the evening.

Posted by stephen_dann 15:08 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Off to Tokyo

travel to japan and tokyo

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After a good night’s sleep I got the express train to Vladivostok airport to get my flight to Tokyo. This was the first flight of the trip and 2 hours after taking off we landed at Narita airport. After getting through immigration and customs I got the Narita express which ran via Tokyo station to the station Shinjuku close to my hotel. From there I walked 1km to my hotel. In the evening I went for a walk around the area between my hotel and Shinjuku station. It is full of shops, bars and restaurants and everything is brightly lit.

The first full day in Japan I walked down to the train station and caught a train to Tokyo. Whilst I was trying to find my way out of what is a very large station a group of security guards started cordoning off an area next to where I was standing. Several minutes later those standing around me started clapping and bowing. At this point the Japanese Emperor Akihito and his wife came past. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera out so did not get any photos. Leaving the station, I walked over to the imperial palace gardens. They are quite extensive and contain walls and buildings from the past 500 years.

I then made my way to the Tokyo Skytree tower, which is the highest building in Japan. It has observation floors at meters and meters, with fast lifts to take you to each. There was a complete view of Tokyo from each floor and from the top it is possible to see mount Fuji on a clear day. Unfortunately, it was overcast and I could only see for 40 miles

Posted by stephen_dann 15:06 Archived in Japan Comments (0)


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Arrived into Vladivostok in the evening. I walked to my hotel and checked in. After the first shower for 7 days I went to bed. However, sleeping was not easy as the bed was not moving and it was silent. After a week of getting used to sleeping on a train the difference of being back in a normal bed was noticeable.

I spent the next day walking around Vladivostok. It is a very nice city with a good mix of old and new styles. The atmosphere was similar to a large Mediterranean city, but quite cold. I went into a submarine that has been turned into a museum and the city museum which covered the history of both the city and the surrounding area. There is a small funicular railway which I had to ride, cost the outrageous cost of 6 rubles, 6 pence.

I found Vladivostok to be a much more relaxed place than Moscow. Also as it is not a tourist town there were no people trying to sell you things or get you to go into bars etc.

Posted by stephen_dann 20:54 Archived in Russia Tagged vladivostok Comments (0)

Life on the Trans-Siberian train.

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Each day followed the same pattern. Wake up between 7 and 9 local time, get up and eat breakfast. On 4 different nights the train traveled into the next time zone so you would get up at 8 and then find out it was in fact 9. The train stayed on Moscow time for the whole journey and the station clocks also displayed Moscow time. This made things confusing at times when the clocks said it was 2am and it was already mid-morning. After looking out of the window at the countryside for a few hours it was time for lunch. Many hours of looking out the window later time for tea. Later on in the evening I was walk down to the restaurant car and have a cup of tea, just for a change of scene.

Apart from sitting looking out of the window there was nothing else to do. I had books on a kindle and films on a laptop but during the day the view from the window won every time. The whole trip was very relaxing and gave me lots of time to not think about what was happening in the rest of my life outside of the train. The main highlight each day was when there was a 15 - 30 minute stop at a station. Everyone got off and stretched their legs. There were either shops on the platform or people selling goods. Some days I bought rolls, fruit and fruit juice. One thing I did miss was not walking any distance for some exercise.

On the last day the train ran alongside the Chinese border for 30km. most of the time between 30 and 50 meters from the tract but on a couple of occasions we were only 10 meters from the fence.

Posted by stephen_dann 20:50 Archived in Russia Tagged the train on life trans-siberian Comments (0)

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