Archive for January, 2013

Jan 27 2013

Posted by under Trips

Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi) & Fuji-san

Previous post: Way To Mount Fuji

 

Date: 19th December 2012

Sunny, but cold day, with only 5.7C at 12.59pm! (refer to pic below)

 

After walking towads the lake, We decided to have lunch first at a nearby (with a view of part of the Kawaguchi Lake)

 

with tummy well-tucked, we took the nearby cable car.

 

The view of the lake as we went up:

 

The all-purpose kiosk up the hill:

 

With the Fuji-san partially hidden:

 

Whiling our time away (waiting for Fuji-san to show its complete self) we saw a shrine:

 

and wishes nearby:

 

Oh, Mr Fuji, when are you coming out?

 

Ah, well…. Let’s enjoy the view of the lake again:

 

Quite sunny, and yet could not see the tip of Mr Fuji:

 

Took a seat, with Fuji Chan (turquoise blue with white topping) looked at us:

 

I leapt with joy when Fuji-san finally showed its tip:

 

A rare family photo, taken by an Indonesian lass we met there:

 

Fuji-san surely looked so majestic:

 

another angle:

 

Yeah, I too love Mount Fuji :)

 

But we had to go, so a final look at it (it took us the whole day to get here, and back to our hotel!)

 

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Jan 22 2013

Posted by under Trips

Way To Mount Fuji

 Previous post: Tokyo Station, Pokemon Centre & Haneda Airport

Date: 19 December 2012

 

Early in the morning, we were back at Ueno Station,  to catch a train to Shinjuku. At Shinjuku station we took a limited express (very few stops) JR train to Otsuki:

 

The interior of that train:

 

A busy train station:

 

We then took the Fujikyuko Line (not JR)

 

This lady (with her back facing us) first came to check our tickets, then came back with the trolley of food and drinks for sale! Multi-tasking indeed :)

 

Very cosy inside the train:

 

After about 30 minutes into the journey, we got to see the majestic Fuji-san:

 

DH went to the front and had a peep into the driver’s compartment:

 

Mount Fuji again!

 

I think this pic was taken when the train stopped at the ‘Mount Fuji” station:

 

We soon arrived at the Kawaguchiko terminal:

 

The train was very cute, with the character “Fuji Chan” all over it,  that DH decided to snap a few pix of it:

 

The other train (the one on the left in the following pic) was equally cute:

 

A brief restroom stop at the station before we started our walk:

To be continued…

 

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Jan 13 2013

Posted by under Trips

Tokyo Station, Pokemon Centre and Haneda Airport

Previous post: Akihabara, Tokyo

 Date: 18 December 2012

 

As we were going back to the station, we saw an “experience the earth quake” demo:

 

The public was welcomed to try how shaky it could be by this simulated “quake” machine. It lasted for about 30 seconds each, after which the volunteers were given free mineral water and some crackers :)

 

We also came across a couple of well-kimono-dressed lasses:

 

We took the Yamanote Line to Tokyo Railway Station. This is the majestic Tokyo Station Building:

 

Despite being in Tokyo for 7 weeks in 2004, I never came out of the station, so I was pleasantly surprised:

 

More surprise came when we saw a tourist rickshaw with Air Asia (Air Asia, Japan) on it:

 

Tokyo certainly made known that it is bidding to become the host for 2020 Olympic!

 

old and new harmoniously together;

 

You can never get lost here because maps that indicate your position can be found everywhere:

 

Typical skyline:

 

We actually wanted to visit the Royal Palace ground, but it was obvious that we  were still very knackered from the previous day outing, and the kids had something else in mind :)

 

So we went back into Tokyo Station to catch the train;

 

The centre ceiling  was so fascinating:

 

Anyway…  A couple of stations away, we ended up here:

 

Yes, The Pokemon Centre!!!!

 

I thought it was a theme park or some exhibition centre, but I was wrong. It’s a one-stop centre to buy anything Pokemon!!

 

While the kids were in the shop (and I just sat outside it – i went in for a while but it was just not my ‘piece of cake’), DH did bullet train watching :)

 

After quite a long while, the kids came out looking very contented (not really. They wished they had more Yens…)

 

 

We then took the monorail ride to Haneda Airport (officially “Tokyo International Airport)

 

I just enjoyed the free wi-fi while I rested my tired legs. Kiddos and DH went to see the planes:

 

Nice observation deck:

 

Inside, the Christmas mood was in full swing:

 

not so busy…

 

We saw a lot of this advert:

 

When we arrived back at Ueno Station it was dark

 

Walked a bit at the nearby park, but we soon gave up (too tired)

 

and decided to go back to our hotel rooms

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan 11 2013

Posted by under Uncategorized

Akihabara, Tokyo

Previous post: Hiroshima to Tokyo

Date: 18 December 2012

 

The night before, when we arrived at Ueno Station, Tokyo:

 

That morning we came back to Ueno Station:

 

Our first destination was Akihabara Station:

 

At the square outside the station, we realised that there’s free wi-fi, courtesy of JR East, so we did some updating on Facebook :)

 

While Aina posed in front of the AKB48 Cafe & Shop. Her cousin is a fan of AKB48′s :) :

 

It was not the station that we were interested in. We wanted to take the kids to the “IT Heaven” of Tokyo, Akihabara :)

 

Most of the time DH and I just waited and enjoyed “people-watching” while the kids surveyed what’s on offer along this famous road:

 

It was a clear morning, and still very autumn-ish here:

 

It sure brought a lot of memories of when I spent 7 weeks in Aug-Sept 2004 here. At least twice or trice a week my fellow trainees and I would come here on our way back from our training centre to our accomodation in Tokyo Kenshu Centre in Kita-Senju :)

 

A lot of secondhand shops for cameras & gears:

 

as well as brand new ones too:

 

Akihabara is also a heaven for computers, handphones & other IT gadgets:

 

For game lovers too!

 

We came across a halal joint:

 

and decided to have our lunch (before we adjourned to the next destination) :)

 

 

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Jan 06 2013

Posted by under Trips

Hiroshima To Tokyo

Previous post: Miyajima

Date: 17th December 2012

 

It was indeed a long day for us. After the visit to Mazda Museum and Miyajima, we still had to make a long train journey to Tokyo. Earlier in the morning after checking out, we left our luggage at the hotel, so before we continue our journey to Tokyo DH and the boys had to go back to the hotel to collect them (while Aina and I conveniently waited at the Hiroshima Station :) ).

 

At the hotel lobby:

 

Luckily it was a nice afternoon (despite drizzling morning). The boys with the bags walking towards the station:

 

While DH stopped by to take this interesting picture (see the Santa on the porch?)

 

We saw a very advanced announcement too!

 

Soon we got ourselves into the waiting lobby for the Shinkansen. We were curious of some sweet desserts that we saw being made and sold at a some of the stalls that we bought a packet of them:

 

Yes, very neatly packaged (it was done in front of us, right after we made our order), with a nice box inside:

 

Nicely arranged inside the cute box:

 

It tasted very similar to our own “apam balik” .  The only difference was the filling. Here it consisted of sweet red bean paste:

(updated on 25th January 2013: I was later informed by a friend that these are called doriyaki, and can be found in Kuala Lumpur too :)   ) 

From Hiroshima we had to take 2 different Shinkansens – one to get to Shin-Osaka, and another from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo.

 

This is the first train at the platform. The gap between the train and the platform is very small (you could hardly see here):

 

The Japanese are so systematic. The coach/car number is already marked (for various train services) and the trains would stop exactly that point!

(even the total number of cars per train is indicated! In this case, there were 8 cars)

 

Our train finally arrived:

 

Very cosy  inside:

 

As expected, the important sections/points in our car and the adjacent ones were well indicated in front of every seat:

 

Again DH tried to record the speed, and again the fastest he got was 299kph:

 

Arriving at Shin-Osaka:

 

DH and kids bought some bento sets for their on board dinner. Then choosing the drinks at the vending machine (never mind that they also have vending machines INSIDE the trains!):

 

Here came the train that was to take us to Tokyo:

 

New, clean (as expected) and cosy, though not as spacious as the previous one:

 

DH’s table with his tablet and bento set:

 

The kids enjoying their bento dinner:

 

Inside DH’s bento:

 

The one wrapped in some leaf (rice and salmon):

 

I think this one used bamboo leaf:

 

Tokyo is over 500km away from Osaka. When we finally arrived at Ueno Station in Tokyo, it was almost midnight!

 

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Jan 06 2013

Posted by under Trips

A Brief Visit to Miyajima (Itsukushima)

Previous post: Way to Miyajima

Date: 17th December 2012

 

Once out of the ferry terminal on the island, we started our stroll:

 

Came across one of the  local deer with visitors:

 

Nicely lined and decorated shops:

 

Some of the fish/seafood dishes on offer:

 

More shops to feast the eyes:

 

We stopped at an eatery for our lunch break:

 

DH and the kids had this set meal – rice, mussels, cake and coffee. I don’t like mussels, so I just had white coffee with cake :(

(Finding food is a torture to me because most of the fish dishes would have eel, salmon, tuna or mussels, and I don’t like any of them! Those that have eggs and vegies would have cheese, and again, I don’t like cheese :( )

 

Miyajima, or Itsukushima,  is a sacred shrine island, with the shrine complex being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

It is also famous for one of the Japanese icons, the Torii Gate:

 

We decided to have one rare shot of us (DH and I seldom have our photos taken together)

 

Here’s one with my 3 kids:

 

The shrine is a huge complex:

 

Y ou have to pay a fee to enter. Since we were pressed for time, we decided to just admire it from afar…

 

Soon we were on our way back we saw a group photo being taken (so common in Japan :) )

 

One last round of stroll along the “mall”:

 

We are always fascinated with the way the Japanese present their product and arrange their shops. this one sells local cakes:

 

The lighting too:

 

Finally, entering the ferry terminal.

 

We almost missed the ferry that was about to leave that we had to run to the ferry. Once inside, we were warm enough to enjoy the open deck:

 

Arriving at the mainland terminal:

 

At the far end of this pic is the ferry terminal. Underneath this junction is the pedestrian crossing. That’s why the junction looks neat :)

 

Here’s the Miyajima-guchi train station:

 

We took our train back to Hiroshima…

 

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Jan 05 2013

Posted by under Trips

Way To Miyajima (Miya Island)

Previous post: Mazda Museum, Hiroshima – Part II

Date: 17 December 2012

 

After the visit to the Mazda Museum, our next destination was a World Heritage Site, Miyajima (Miya Island).

The train that we took near the Mazda HQ goes directly to Miyajima-guchi, the gateway to Miyajima and it took us about45 minutes to get there.

Once we got out of the train and station, we walked towards the ferry terminals:

 

With our JR Passes, we were entitled to take free rides on the JR ferries to and fro Miyajima:

 

Waiting for the ferry:

 

The other ferry terminal on our left:

 

Here’s our ferry:

 

Once inside the ferry, we opted for the open deck level:

 

As our ferry was leaving Miyajima-guchi:

 

Suddenly it became breezy, and chilly!! Typical of the Japanese, even the ferry was well stocked with vending machines that sell both cold and hot drink!

 

As we were approaching the island, everybody started to stand up and look ahead:

 

One of the famous Japanese icons, The Tori Gate was so visible:

 

As we docked, we saw the other JR ferry leaving the island:

 

Out of the ferry terminal (on the island), we were greeted by the illustrative map of the island :)

To be continued..

 

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Jan 05 2013

Posted by under Trips

Mazda Museum, Hiroshima – Part II

Previous post: Mazda Museum, Hiroshima – Part I

Date: 17th December 2012

 

At 10.30am sharp, a beautiful lass called us and directed us out of the lobby. Then only we knew that the museum is SOMEWHERE else!!

 

Inside the bus we were told that it would take about 10 minutes to get to the museum. Along the way we came across buildings that house the Mazda personnels from various departments (human resource, marketing, design, R&D, etc etc). She also told us that we were not allowed to snap any photo while in the journey (from inside the bus).

 

At the museum, we would be told where we were allowed to take pictures, and where we were allowed to.

 

Here’s our guide, at the beginning of the museum tour:

 

We were given a brief history of Mazda, and let us roam around the area where the famous Mazda cars of yester-years  were displayed:

 

Familiar with this Capella?

 

The Familia

 

A long wall of the history of Mazda, which started from 1920s:

 

into the 1970s

 

All the way into the 1990s (and beyond)

 

Another long shot view:

 

 

some old favourites:

 

We were told that the first vehicle produced by Mazda was this 3-wheeler:

 

elegant oldies:

 

well-kept:

 

Mazda’s first utility van, The Bongo:

 

More cars:

 

nice ambiance too:

 

Then we were shown the engines (I was clueless here):

 

More cars:

 

I wonder if these people really understood?

 

The various parts of the car:

 

The body:

 

Here’s the section that describes the stamping process:

 

Accessories inside the car:

 

Description on the painting job:

 

Various layers of painting:

 

This was the Mazda racing car that won some competition (can’t remember now :( )

 

We were then taken into an area of the ACTUAL production section, where the robots were fixing certain parts to the cars. Unfortunately no photography was allowed here.

After about 10 minutes in the REAL production section, we were taken back into the museum, where we were shown some futuristic models:

 

Side view:

 

The environmental friendly Hydrogen powered cars:

 

When would this be on our roads?

 

Most visitors were fascinated by this one :)

 

Finally we were back at the museum lobby, where we encountered a group of Japanese school children who came to visit the museum too.

While waiting for our bus to come and fetch us, our kids took the opportunity to have a closer look at the cars on display:

 

On our way back we were shown the port and tankers that come to take the cars to be distributed out of the city. There is a dedicated/private bridge built by Mazda for their use only.

The whole are between the Mazda HQ and this museum (and more areas beyond) actually make up a WHOLE Mazda township!!

 

My verdict? Very impressive, indeed :)

 

 

 

 

 

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Jan 04 2013

Posted by under Trips

Mazda Museum, Hiroshima – Part I

Previous post: Hiroshima Sanfrecce FC & Hondori Market

Date: 17 December 2012

It was a cloudy morning, but our schedule was really packed.

We were going to Mazda Museum, then to Miyajima Island, before taking a five and a half hour  bullet train ride to Tokyo!

First, the morning walk to Hiroshima Railway Station. It was still very autumn-ish

 

We crossed the river and kept on walking:

 

Autumn is always attractive in its own way..

 

We rather early at the train station:

 

DH and the boys never got sick of watching trains, I guess..

 

It always fascinates me how disciplined the Japs are (queuing for the train):

 

We took a local train, and a couple of stops away, we reached the station. The staff at the station were ready to give us a map of the place, with indication on how to get to the museum, whe nwe asked for information.

 

It was really a brief walk, Then, VOILA!! The Mazda HQ:

 

Mazda Museum is open to public, with guided tour only (no free roaming) . To ensure a space for the guided tour, it is advisable that we booked the slot, which DH did :)

 

The huge reception desk where we registered:

 

The place is huge and spacious:

It was 10.15am, and the English-speaking guided tour would only start at 10.30am. While waiting for it we were welcomed to either

i. rest: (mummy and daughter with the Ipad and Ipod respectively)

 

ii. Keep ourselves entertained:

 

 

iii. enjoy the displays:

or,

iv. Enjoy some snacks and drinks at the Tully’s Cafe at the far end (red banner):

 

to be continued..

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Jan 04 2013

Posted by under Trips

Hiroshima Sanfrecce FC & Hondori Market

Previous post: Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum

Date: 16 December 2012

 

Remember the crowd that we saw building up at the park while we were still in the museum?

 

The crowd actually became bigger :

 

and bigger:

 

We saw a lot of purple-clad people, like this couple:

 

And this family:

 

They are supporters of Hiroshima Sanfrecce FC. The club had recently be crowned as the champion of Japan League Div. 1 !

 

They turned out that day to celebrate their club’s achievement!

 

A sea of people!

 

Here are their celebrated players!

 

I wonder who is Aoyama? Maybe one day one of the English Premier League teams will buy him?

 

Soon the gathering was over, and they walked (in the most discipline manner) away from ther park (so did we :) ).

 

more crowd at the back:

 

Going back to our hotel, we decided to pass through the Handori Market:

 

Despite the heavy crowd/traffic, I managed to take notice of something familiar :) though we didn’t enter :(

 

And another one :)

 

There were just too many people. All eating joints were full :(

 

DSo we decided to walk on, and leave the place behind:

 

Hiroshima tram:

 

It was nice to finally retire for the day in the hotel room :)

 

(I think we just had instant noodles for dinner. Too tired and lazy to go out)

 

 

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