donderdag 29 oktober 2009

Big train trip tomorrow

Just wanted to let you know we will be having a big train trip tomorrow.
We leave Oita and move on to our last "home" in Japan, ShinOsaka.
From here we will visit a lot of nice places and spots, eg Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and of course we fly back to Amsterdam from this place.... but the last part I do not want to think about yet, as we enjoy Japan so much we do not want to go back yet....
Here the trip details:
time: 247 Minutes
Transfer: 1 Times
Distance: 688.0 km
Total:¥ 16,250(Fare:¥ 10,080 Seat Fee:¥ 6,170)
11:07 Kokura
With almost 700 km, one of our longest trips in the holiday.
I will load the battery of my laptop, so I can already start working on those thousands of photos I made. :-)))

woensdag 28 oktober 2009

(UPDATED 1nov) Wednesday October 28, Beppu and Hotspring

More text will follow soon, but I did not have much time yet to write the journals.
This day we travelled with 1 train, to Beppu.
(blue skies 24C, renting bikes, cycle to stone Buddhas, train, help of strangers by car to hotspring, prepare for ASO)
Update created on 1 Nov 2009:
Nice weather today again. Sun and 25C.
Stone Buddhas
We go by train to Usuki, which is south to Oito. At the railway station the bus is leaving ever 2 or 3 hours, but we already had seen and decided to rent the free bikes. We get two maps for the 6km bike tour to the stone buddhas. Its excellent weather and we really enjoy the cycling. Finally no walking ;-) Its an easy path, we drive left and on the pavement. At our destination we buy tickets and continue on foot to the buddhas. They are special, because there are so many of them and all made by carving in the rocks of the mountain. Cliff carving it is called and there are 4 clusters and 59 Buddhas in total. The largest is more than 3 meters tall. I get an extra thick spider in front of my lense and also some special and very tall Kinmei Moso Bamboo. We have a little picknick before jumping on the bikes again to cycle back to the station.
Hyotan Hot Springs, mooning to the moon.
After the Buddhas we go to Beppu, Oita-ken. There we want to find the Hot Springs we found in a brochure. Hyotan Hot Springs to be precise. It was a brochure with English explanation of how to reach and use the hot springs. Arriving at the station we have a feeling how to reach it, but its up the mountain and quite a trip by foot. We estimate a 3 kilometers uphill. While figuring out with the brochure and the city map near the station, some Japanese lady comes to us. She asks if we need help. With very limited English and a lot of pointing on the map, she understands where we want to go. She starts to talk in Japanese and smiles. We do not get it, but than she mentions “car” and “wait on my friend”. She wants us to drive there as soon as her friend arrives. Cool! Two students, one from Vietnam, also come to us and she is able to translate Japanese and English so within no time we all understand each other. So friendly people all over here. The car trip is about 15 minutes uphill, and we are really thankful we did not have to walk this. The people at the Hyotan Hot Spring explain the procedures and how to get the right tickets out of the vending machine. We need to rent a special robes for the sand baths. Interesting experience by the way. You lay down in the sand, which is heated by the Hot Springs, and than pile sand on top of yourself, lay steady and relax from the heat. From there you move on, no more mixed but only man or women baths. They are very relaxing and there is a variety of baths including: walking bath, cup bath, Hinoki bath, steam Inhalers etc. We spent about 2 hours in the baths. At a certain moment I am alone in the bath outside and watch the moon. Of course I can not prevent my self of making up a joke, that I am sitting here on my two full moons watching the moon. And if you think I am the only one being funny, I am not. In the brochure it says literally : “DO NOT pull the plug from the bath at anytime”. They do not intent to be funny, but with my mind set, it is. ;-)
Marcel San.

Tuesday October 27, Travelling to Oita

More text will follow soon, but I did not have much time yet to write the journals.
This day we travelled with 3 trains, to Oita.
We will visit Beppu, Mount Aso and some hot spring resort. As said, more info and pictures later.
Marcel San.

maandag 26 oktober 2009

Monday October 26, Nagasaki, Dutch Dejima Erea

Monday October 26
Gray, but later real sunny and nice weather. No more rain and jacket today! :-)
Nagasaki, Dutch Dejima Erea
The Japanese breakfast is mainly rice with some flavor and tea. Its enough, we will buy some food later anyway. We first walk to the former Dutch district, Dejima. An island build by the Japanese, when they closed all contact with the external world, except for the Netherlands. For more than 2 centuries the Dutch were the only one trading and sharing knowledge of the Western world with Japan. The Dutch helped laying the foundation of today's modern Japan. This island shows the former Dutch buildings and the way they were used. Also historic artifacts found are displayed and explained. Very interesting area and, as a Dutch, kinda proud on what has been achieved here. Much VOC influence. I even see a real cannon from 1640, build in Amsterdam, my native town. Cool thoughts to see that here.
Nagasaki, Atomic Bomb Museum
We take street car number 1 and get out near the memorial park. We watch the sober park with some statues. There are here, just like in Hiroshima, many school children in groups visiting this site. More than in Hiroshima, you see the paper folded crane bird hanging near monuments. Also in the Atomic Bomb Museum, you see both the paper birds as groups of students. The price is 200 Yen (Hiroshima was 50 yen) for entrance fee. The museum has some more movies here in Nagasaki than Hiroshima. Horrifying pictures and film are displayed of the scenes after the blast and the victims in those days, weeks and months after. The bomb used on Nagasaki was much more powerful, no wonder it was called the fat one. 1/3 of the town was wiped out in 1 blast. The biggest Cathedral in Japan, build in 30 years was wiped out in 3 seconds. In this museum they do explain a bit more about the Japanese having many wars for many years with multiple countries (Korea, China, US, UK, etc). The museum makes you a bit sad, of course. They end the tour with the programs where they try to get rid of atomic bombs and nuclear testing in the world. You can sign up to request Barrack Obama to pay a visit to Nagasaki, so he sees what atomic bombs do with a city, country, people, so he speeds up fulfilling his promise to get rid of atomic weapons in the world. I signed up for it. Hope Barrack reads this ;-)
We go back to the hotel to get rid of some stuff we carry (bags, photo and video gear) and rest a little. Around 6pm we head towards the China Town here in Nagasaki, an 1 hour walk. We take some little side streets and where I see Japanese eating in a Chinese restaurant, we hop in. It turns out to be a lucky shot, the food is delicious! Sweet & Sour pork, garlic oiled chicken, vegetables, rice and more. We are stuffed and we roll back, downhill to the hotel. During our walk back, we bump into Mister Donuts and buy some cool flavors for tomorrow in the 4 hour train ride towards the East side of this Island, Oita, near Beppu. Alarm will ring at 7 tomorrow to catch the trains.
Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn

Sunday October 25, Hiroshima travel to Nagasaki.

Sunday October 25
Clouded, 18 C, no wind. Nagasaki all day rain. Very wet.
Hiroshima travel to Nagasaki.
From Hiroshima we travel to an other world famous city of Japan, Nagasaki. 3 Trains we need for this trip to the island. Arriving at the station we feel some drizzle, but it switches to plain rain somewhat later. We leave our luggage at the hotel (only 8 minutes from the station). We go to the spectacles bridge, where it starts to rain harder. We buy an umbrella. But when we both are on 1 side drained of the rain, we understand we need a second umbrella, so later we buy an other one. During this rain we walk a lot, to see the Dutch Slope and old Western houses. But when our shoes and socks are becoming wet and cold, we call it a day and go back to the Hotel. We turn on the eee PC where a divx movie of Ice Age amuses us for about 1,5 hour. By than its time to head back to the station, where the large shopping site is, with... a food court and a super market. As we had eaten in the food court in the afternoon already (even purple octopus, which I did not put on my top ten for next time), we decided to buy some fruit, instant noodles, salad and some more in the supermarket. In our hotel we prepared (boiling water, put it in the can and eat) the food. During the eating my mom and dad come online on Skype. So they enjoyed themselves watching live how we eat the noodles with chopsticks and in the meantime tried to explain we were fine and having a great time in Japan. Updating some of the journal and blog killed some more time and we went to sleep.
Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn

(Updated Nov 2) Saturday October 24 Miyajima

Saturday October 24 Hiroshima. Clouded, 18 C, no wind. Island Miyajima, whole day.
One of the most attractive sites of the top 3 in Japan. This will be a day of traveling with almost all kind of transportations. We go by trains to the harbor, than the boat (no additional charges for us because of the JR Japan Railway passes), 2 cable cars and than a lot of walking up to the mountain top.
The boat takes us to the island and during the trip the Torri in the water can be seen already. Behind the torri the shrine and temples become visible. On the island a speaker warns us for the deer on the island, they are wild and its mating season. But already after the first steps we run into these “wild” animals. They are between all the people, inspecting bags for food. People pet them and take pictures. Nothing wild to me.
We walk towards the shrine, which is largely build on poles in the sea. Looks very nice. The large pagoda a little climb to the left is nice too. We around the shrine and eventually we walk through a nice forest towards the ticket counter for the cable cars. Its a nice ride over the top of the trees, that are getting nice colors due to the autumn. At the top, which “should” have monkeys we see a sign in English “Moneys are gone in the forest for eating”. So no monkeys on the top.
The climb to the top, starts with a long decent, so we know it will be a longer climb to the top when it starts to become up hill again. In the middle are a 3 temples, one of them having continues a fire in the fireplace. The eternal fire, where even the flame of the Olympic games was lit with. On the top there is a look out, and we have nice view. Although the weather is not so nice, very clouded so its not great for pictures or film. We enjoy the view anyway. In fact, the climbing might be more exhausting with a lot of sun, so this might have been the best “solution” anyway ;-)
In the cable car down, we meet very nice people from Canada and have interesting conversations with. They are here for the 7th time, because their son has a fiance here. So interesting to hear there stories and experience with Japan. Even more up close and personal than we, with a family in law in Japan. They also tell last year they went to Amsterdam and we told about our beautiful experience in Canada, when we went camping in the rocky mountains.
At the bottom in the town again, we enjoy the sun going down, thus make pictures of the torri in the sea and eat in a restaurant. Specialty from here is Okonomiyaki, vegetables, prawns, noodles and eggs on a iron hot plate prepared. Does not thrill us, but its OK for the day. The journey back on the boat and train is all in the dark, as around 5pm the sun is gone here.
...more text will follow later. Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn
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Friday 23 October, Mazda and Atomic Bomb in Hiroshima

Friday October 23 Hiroshima. Blue sky, Sunny, 24 C, no wind. Mazda Museum Hiroshima We set the alarm, because we do not want to be late for the 9:50am appointment at the Mazda Headquarters in Hiroshima. The email we sent only a few days ago, was quickly and positively answered by the Mazda head quarters. We were booked for the English tour at the Mazda plant in Hiroshima! We are very early for the appointment, as we did not want to be late. We register and enjoy the brand new model cars that are being displayed in the lobby. We need to wait until 10am. The guide is an English speaking and nice lady from Mazda. We enter the tour bus, not build by Mazda by the way and drive passed security onto the Mazda complex. Its almost a 15 minutes bus drive, this complex is huge! She explains 7km long is the complex here in Hiroshima, the largest in the world for Mazda. We see tall ships waiting to transport new cars around the world (Apparently China) and the large roads and bridges that connect all the buildings and spaces on the complex. The largest bridge on a Mazda complex is also build here, 600 meters long. We stop at the museum and get a Mazda boasting video. Than a classroom kind of explanation of the complex and Mazda in general, very informative. We are allowed to enter the brand new model cars that are being showed here. On the second floor the history of Mazda, including some of those oldies are displayed. After that we get to know the building process and design process, and see and may feel the fabrics being used (clay, plastic etc). The technical background of the rotary engine is explained and the one car in the world with such an engine wining 24 hours of Le Mans is showed. Than, as a dessert we are allowed to enter the production facility where watch the men work on the different model cars in 1 automated production line. The robots, cars, parts everything we can see. So cool. The automated transports of the cars and the elevators/robots are very cool to watch too. We head back to the head quarters to close the tour. Before leaving the Mazda complex I thank the friendly lady and give here a little gift. I knew it was for free and tipping is not done, so I thought of this gift. Its a little Dutch gift with “Dankje” written on a note, which means “Thank you”. The fact she run after wards straight to her colleagues to show this little present, showed it was indeed the gesture that made her day too. With a big smile we walk back to the train to go to the center of Hiroshima again. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park In the afternoon, we visit the part Hiroshima is known for in the world, the city which got hit by the first atomic bomb. We go to the memorial place, where the A-bomb building is, the memorial park, world peace museum and more. The A-bomb building we saw already the night before and now in daylight. I have to say, that with the sun away and night just falling in (so you still have that dark blue background) its an even more dramatic scene. But with daylight you see some more details of the building that was partly melted by the blast. You also see rocks of the building or iron frames sticking out of the walls. Just a little of 100 meters from here, 580 meters in the sky, the bomb went off. You can not imagine what that should have looked like. Later in the museum I learn, that even some kilometers away from the center buildings, trees, people and animals did not survive the heat waves it produced. As a matter of fact, some of the umbrella trees outside the city, that got burned but survived, where move to the park when they build this park. In the top of the trees you can still see the black burns of that day. 6 August 8:15 am to be precise.In the park we witness some kind of memorial service for the victims. We ask someone what it exactly is, but she does not know either.We go to the museum, which only cost 50 yen. The impact and size of the museum is bigger than I thought. In the beginning the museum shows the history of Hiroshima before the bomb. It always has been a strategic military point in multiple wars. It seems to me the people of the city at that time protested and wanted to be more a trading city than a military focused. But the force of the rulers broke them. I see the Japanese do mention briefly that Japan attacked the US on Pearl Harbor first and therefor became actively involved in World War 2. Nowhere is explained why the Japanese decided to perform this surprise attack on the US. With it the Japanese had for a while an advantage. But this disappeared in the years after.At almost the end of the world war the US had completed their Manhattan project. The project to produce an atomic bomb. In the museum you see transcripts and meeting minutes of the decisions made on what targets to analyze for the first bomb(s) to drop. The reasoning behind Hiroshima and Nagasaki is explained. I did not know how many meetings, investigation and even training was done. The US trained with dummy bombs on many cities in Japan, before releasing the real one. The potential cities for the atomic bomb, were not being targeted with the mass carpet bombing they did on all the other major cities in Japan. They wanted to know the impact on a large city, so therefor did not carpet bomb the potential cities.Even asking for capitulation, Japan refused. Because the lot of billions spent, the war needed to end and the Russians maybe moving further in Europe, the US (with coalition partner(s)) decided to use the bomb. To get Japan surrender and show Russia the power of the US.Unfortunately for Hiroshima the scout flights and the good weather made them become the first target. The impact, damage, casualties is than further explained on the second floor of the museum.Large scaled maps with models of the city before and after provide an insight of the magnitude of this bomb. In the past days we walked a lot in the city from station to the park, shops etc. So we have a feeling how big the city is. Than seeing on these scaled models/maps the impact of the bomb is shocking. Chills. All gone in a few seconds.The stories of the people seeking relatives after the bomb in the ruins of the city takes your breath away too. Artifacts, like burned cloths, melted tools, burned shoes, stopped watches etc makes you silent. The picture and pieces of the stone stairs before a bank, where someone was waiting that day the bank would open is thrilling. The heat of the bomb was so high, that concrete and stone objects (like the walls and the stairs of the bank building) the colors would whiten / brighten up. Exactly where this human being was sitting the stones remained dark. The persons remains were never found. In Hiroshima many relatives who could not find their family claimed their loved one might have been sitting on that spot.The pictures of clothing with dark colors catching fire and thus leaving burn wounds on the victims amaze me too. Especially because these people where 3 kilometers away of the center of the blast. The dark colors absorb more heat than light colors.There is much more to read and see, but the last thing I tell here is about the donors. Because of the bombings of cities, many children were evacuated to safe places out of town. So many children survived the blast, but immediately had no parents or other family anymore. Some of the people who survived (donors) started to search their relatives. Many of them never found the loved ones. The only artifacts they could use to identify them was for example the watches people were wearing. And stories like someone who found the watch of her dad, but that morning her mother was using it on her wrist, the little girl later was told. You see a couple of broken watches, some displaying a time. 8:15 The time of the blast. The time it will display, for ever to all of visitors of the museum, now and in the future.... Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn
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Thursday 22 October, Caste Himeji and Hiroshima

Thursday October 22 Himeji Blue sky, sun, 24C Visited Castle Himeji-jo. The biggest castle of Japan, of the 12 castles still remaining.We are up very early and the sun in the blue sky shines with great light on the castle. Better photograph opportunities than this you can not wish. From the city you can already see it, as it is build on a 49 meter high hill, and itself is also about 49 meters. We follow a group with a french guide, so we can sneak peek some of the things she says. We continue on our own and enter the castle. What a big castle and sophisticated architecture is used! The view on the city and the mountains is breathtaking. I buy some real Japanese style food, you take in a box. The line of business man, tells me this restaurant might be good and I order there. We take the food to a grass field, with view on the castle and in the sun... thats what you call holiday picknick! We travel to Hiroshima. In Hiroshima, we received the map of the city at the tourist information center in the train station. When looking at the map and determining the direction to the castle, a man comes to us. He asks where we want to go. He mentions he lives nearby and can't speak much English, but we should follow him and we would get to the castle. So we walk for 20 minutes behind this kind business man, who walks home with these 2 Dutch people. I try to talk to him, but he indeed does not speak much English. His nodding and smile say enough though. We made friends. The last part of the trip he is also busy with his hand in the bag. Later we understand why. When the time has come to split our ways, he grabs something out of his bag. Its a paper folded crane-bird. The birds one of the young victims was folding when she was diagnosed with leukemia. She thought by folding 1000 birds, she would recover. She died, but its the story in Japan. Its the same bird, this man had given us before he walked back home. And now I tell the story to others. He might read it some day, or not. Thank you again kind stranger. The castle is nice to see, but nothing compared to Himeji-jo, I think we are getting spoiled with all the great sites we have seen already. My photograph hobby tells me, that with the sun set, there might be lights shining on the the A-bomb building. So despite being tired, we continue for some more walking to this site. It has lights, and the sky is becoming dark but also has that little light still. Exceptional conditions for a picture of a world historic site. We walk back via nice and busy shopping streets, where we also bump into a restaurant where you grill the delicious meat yourself. Great dinner and a wonderful day comes to an end. Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn
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Wednesday 21 October,

Wednesday October 21 Kanasawa Blue sky and sun, 23 C. Kenroku-en, Large garden Its a beautiful day to watch the large garden. One of the top 3 gardens in Japan, build in the 17th century. A Chinese style garden with the 6 elements (flowing water, space, cover, genius, views and old elements). Its a large and gorgeous garden indeed and very relaxing. The large groups you need to avoid, they can be quite disturbing. I spotted during our walk 3 different species of large butterflies. One is so big, its almost if you see two hands flying in the air.HigashiThis is a former Geisha districts and has some old houses and streets of those times. In one of the shops you can see the famous gold plated walls. Its a very nice neighborhood. The many many temples spread here in this area are too far apart from each other and after the many great temples and shrines of the past weeks, we are not going to walk to all of those. We head back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and the train for the trip to the biggest castle in Japan, Himeji. Travel to Himeji The trip is during the day, so we can now also watch the environment we are traveling in. We will meet many tunnels, as going through mountains is the way the Japanese build their railway. At one station, many school children are also waiting for the Shinkansen. We almost thought we would be too late to enter the train if we had to wait for this large crowd, but thats because we are used to the system less approach in the Netherlands ;-) Here, the teachers split them in 2 groups and than lined them up with 3 in a row. When the doors of the train open, all stand still and wait for the instructions. Than 1 line at a time run organized and silent into the train and take their seats. All about 60 children are very efficient and swift in the train before you know it. We have plenty of time ourselves to find our reservation seats too. Luckily we had a reservation this time, because with these children, the train is 100% full.Arriving in Himeji we check in and go to the center to find us a restaurant. It come to our attention, that the further away of Tokyo the less English menus, signs and the like you find here. We eat Asian style in restaurant Len. Excellent food! Funny, we picked our menus from some blurry pictures on the menu. One menu was only a salad (very good though, but we did not expect it) and the other one was Nasi Goreng, but than Japanese style. We had a great dinner and an excellent day again. Greetings, Marcel
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zaterdag 24 oktober 2009

Respectfull clean.

Interesting to see how clean everything is. Streets, stations, houses, hotels, shops, hicking trails, mountain tops etc. Parkingspots are cleaned, even tissues are given at game shops to clean te machines you play on, every meal you get cleaning tissues in a restaurant or even warm towels to clean your hands. Taxi drivers, when waiting on customers , just like our shuttle bus driver, have a towel in the vehicle and remove the dust from the cars. Sofar in more than 2 weeks, many cities, trains, buses etc, I have seen 1 wall with 1 graffitti on it. I bet it will be removed soon. The Japanese show it is possible to have a people in a country respect their environment. Ah, one more example... In the castle we visited, you need to take of your shoes. You get a plastic bag for it, so you can carry it. At the end of the route, you put the plastic bag in a box. Arround the next corner, 2 ladies are folding the bags in a way they can be re-used and are given to the new visitors. Thats an example of clean, thoughtfull and recycling! Respect. Marcel san.
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woensdag 21 oktober 2009

Tuesday October 20 Takayama, traveling to Kanazawa

Tuesday October 20 Takayama, traveling to Kanazawa Partly cloudy, 18C. In the morning we pack our stuff as we will catch at 11am the train again. We check out and do mention we will contact HostelWorld, where we booked our reservation, to file a complaint that breakfast was at the last moment not included. She starts to phone and apologies follow. Also 2000 Yen for the mist breakfasts. We go to the supermarket and buy sandwiches, yoghurts and drinks Reservation for the first train fails as its already full, the second is no problem and we have our first reserved seats. When we enter the train in the non reserved seats section, its almost empty and we have excellent seats. If I check out the reserved seats section of the train, its completely full and even smells a bit because of the large crowd. I guess reservations are not always a benefit. ;-) We arrive in Kanazawa, where we enter a large train station with lots of modern and high glass structures, but the entrance is linked to a wooden traditional style torri-like poort. Rather nice. The Hotel is only 5 minutes walk along the main street, so we find it very fast. We can drop our bags. Check in of 16:00 is rather late, but we wanted to go sightseeing anyway. We go first to the Omi-chio market. A large hall with fresh fish, fruit and other products. We cross some other streets to enter the Kanazawa-Castle-Park. On the trip we pass in the middle of the city many temples and Shrines. Some seem to be used for offices now, but we are not sure. The larger ones are still temples. The long train trip and the many kilometers we walked today made us tired and we decide to move slowly back West towards the Naga-machi Buke Yashiki Ditrict, a place where the kept the old houses. Along our way we pass the High School and see a Star Bucks. We check out if they have hot chocolate, something we haven't seen before in our holiday. They do have it, even one chocolate with truffles and cream. We order it and go and sit in the back of the place in nice comfortable chairs. The chocolate tastes real good. Next to us are two high school girls having a break too. One of them turns and asks us where we are from, which country. So we tell her where we come from and that we are on a holiday in Japan for 4 weeks. The conversation lasts for about 30 minutes, but we had a very nice chat. About culture differences, our holiday plans, their school and future plans. Also about why Japanese show the peace / V sign when they go on a photo. Not clear yet, she will try to find out. We exchanged email to keep in contact. I also made a picture of the 2 ladies with Sheila, of course with the peace signs too :-) The old houses we wanted to see, were very nice, but it was already dark outside so called it a day. Near the hotel was a restaurant where we had a nice dinner together. I forgot to mention, that during the day, some people from Australia we met in the morning on the train station we kept seeing during the day. They took the same train, and afterwards the next train too, met them in the same hotel and even in the same restaurant. It was so funny and also interesting, because we had some nice conversations too with them. They were on a 10 day trip in Japan. Friendly folks.

zaterdag 17 oktober 2009

Saturday October 17 2009, Nikko World Heritage

Saturday October 17 2009 Nikko during the day, World Heritage and traveling to Matsumoto in the evening. Sunny to the right of the Hotel, Clouded to the left(in the mountains) 15C (later in the evening in Tokyo it was 22C)
(Click here for a picture of the oldest train station in Japan and the bags we have during traveling) We wake up by the alarm at 7am in the Japanese beds and room. The white paper walls, that can move on rails, give a special light in the room. We can see the mountains clearly now, as it seems less clouds/rain is in the air. We get a very nice breakfast in the lobby, restaurant, internet room. Eggs with vegetables, potatoes, butterbread and some other bread. The ranking of the hotel got higher ;-). We buy a 2-way bus ticket for the lake. 2000Yen per person, for a 45 minutes bus drive. The bus drive is cool, as we climb in the mountains and rise to a 2500 meters above sea level. You can see its colder here, as the trees have much more color on them already. The road is one way and two lanes, so the return path will go over different mountains. We stop in the village and walk to the biggest waterfalls of Japan. And its indeed a beauty, number one in the top 3 of Japans waterfalls, so says the information sign. We take pictures in different modes and out of different angles and walk to the shops and food market. They have a lot of sweets from the region here and are happy to share little samples with anyone. So I taste a lot of Japanese specialties :-) And almost all of them I like very much. The pickles I leave alone, they are not my favorites in general. We walk to the lake, about 20 minutes walk. And sit down and relax a bit. Its rather chilly, thus wearing sweaters and a jacket for the first time in the holiday. In front of a Japanese restaurant we stare at the plastic food samples outside. The ones we think “look” good, we choose and eat. We happen to have ordered a bowl of rice with pork and a big bowl of thick noodles (I rather would call it thick pasta) in soup with chicken. Both are very nice. Despite the small look it gives you soon a “full”feeling. Its 1850 Yen all together, which is relative inexpensive for such meals compared to a Dutch lunch. The bus back to Nikko we cue up for and in 10 minutes we are going downhill the otherside of the mountains. Some spectacular views on the colored leaves and after 45 minutes we are back. The train we need to take leaves at 16:00. We have 1.5 hour to relax in the sun, Apparently Nikko has more sun than the mountain tops. The luggage, we were allowed to leave in the hotel (we got numbered tokens on the bags from the desk), we picked up again and set off to the train rides. From Nikko we take the JR line to Utsunomiya(45 mins). There we take, after a 45 minute wait, the Shinkansen to Omiya(30 mins). The Shinkansen Asama 539 will take us to Nagano (arrival at 19:29). The last train we need is the ltd. Express (wideview Shimano 26) to Matsumoto (19:40-20:30). From there we will walk to and check in the hotel. Update: In 10 minutes we walk from the station to the Hotel. At check in Sheila gets to choose a little gift from the Hotel for herself. The room is nice and has internet so we update the blog and check out a lot of info on the next days. We doubt about getting to Kyoto to watch the firefestival, but it seems it will cost us about 2 days and a lot of hassle, and the chance that you are pushed around and do not see much is high (according to some of the web blogs we just read). And we are not the types that like big crowds, that push you around and try to protect your photo and film gear, so we call it off. We used Skype to phone with Sheila's dad. Greetings Marcel San PhotoKingh... or in Japanese 写真王 (写真 is Photo and 王 is King)

vrijdag 16 oktober 2009

16 oct Nikko, Hotel and Dinner, Japanese style!

Click on the pictures to go to the website and watch the pictures in larger size. Cu, Marcel san.

Friday October 16 2009 Traveling Tokyo - Nikko , World Heritage

Friday October 16 2009
Traveling Tokyo - Nikko , World Heritage
Sunny clear skies 22C in Tokyo, Clouds and rain in Nikko.
We had the alarm at 7am today, to make sure we are packed, dressed,
checked out and on our way to Nikko. A trip where we would need the
shuttle bus, normal train, Shinkansen and than a normal train again.
Between all of them only 7 minutes max to transfer between the
different transports. At the moment I am writing the blog while in the
train to Nikko, so the plan we had today worked out fine. Even got
seats, not unpleasant for a full train and about 1 hour traveling.
In the train the conductor passes by. Not to check your cards, but to
ask if someone needs to upgrade their tickets. No one travels here
without paying, and the difficult system sometimes makes people buy
the cheapest ticket and than in the train or when leaving the station,
you pay the amount needed for the trip you just had.
In Nikko we only have to walk for 15 minutes to reach the hotel. We
are able to get our luggage kept and we even get explanations about
the tourist attractions and how to get there. The walk uphill is about
30 minutes and it starts to drizzle. For 1300 Yen per person we buy
tickets to see all the World Heritage sites. Rinnoji Temple, Toshogu
Shrine, Futarasan Shrine, Ryukoin Temple, Five story Pagoda, Kitano
Shrine and some nice garden. Amazing site. We are unlucky with the
weather when it start to rain hard, but we seek some shelter and wait
until it slows down. On the other side we are lucky. Apparently some
festival is today, autumn related. We see the finest archers in the
world active here. A parade and a dual where they ride the horses and
at full speed have to pass targets and hit them. Spectacular show and
the rituals around it are great to watch. One of the archers hits the
target and I captured the arrow hitting it, so cool. For lunch we have
a snack which seems Bapao like steamed bread. Nice. We walk all the
way back to the hotel, where we in the meantime are allowed to check
in, its 17:00.
We enter the room and the first sign says, take of your shoes. Its a
Japanese style room, with paper moving walls and low on the ground
chairs and beds. We like it.
We take a little break and around 18:30 we go into the little village
to check out the restaurants. There are only a few and only one we
both seem to give it a try. When entering, an other door moves open
and we have to take our shoes off (taking the shoes off is the red
line of the day, as the temples also requested that, so today we had
this ritual 10 times or so). We could not look inside the restaurant,
but now inside we notice its a real Japanese style with also low
furniture. We order rice with raw tuna and a mixed sushi plate. The
looks of the food is already mouthwatering, but eating it is even
better. Delicious dinner! And we are the only two persons in this
Japanese style room, so its almost as we have a private restaurant for
us alone. The evening was only 3500 Yen, about 25 Euro.
5 houses next to the restaurant is a supermarket, where we buy some
drinks for the next day already. They happened to have some nice
chocolate ice-creams to-go, so we buy some for in the hotel room (only
need to cross the street for that). We call it a day.

Marcel de Koningh
Photo KingH

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Thursday October 15 2009, Tokyo

Thursday October 15 2009
Sunny clear skies 25C.
Again a clear blue sky and nice temperature. We go today to the Meiji
Gardens and Temple. A nice and big park, right in the middle of Tokyo.
Beautiful buildings and we are lucky as we bump for the second time
this week into a traditional Japanese wedding. Nice photograph
opportunity. There are also some very little children with the family
in traditional Japanese clothing. I offer to take some pictures of
them with their camera and in return I am allowed to make some
pictures with my camera too. Fair trade I would call it ;-) On the
other side of the railway is a famous street to see, Takeshita Street.

Takeshita Street
A street with a big sign above it, where my bad humorous thinking goes
;" They are bad in English spelling, it should be Take a Shit Street".
Never mind, a dirty mind is a joy for ever my grandmother used to say.
The street in fact is great. Lots of shops and little places to grab
a snack or drink. We roam around and watch a lot of the interesting
types of young people walking here. Its famous for the more
extravagant looks of the folks over here, and its correct. Some, to
us, weird looking girls all dressed with fake hair and wearing dresses
like dolls. Only around 15 years old or so. Some of the boys also are
dressed up, and the interesting part I think is, that no matter how
weird or extravagant, nobody is watching or starring at each other. We
enter a food court and take some typical Japanese style food,
excellent again. We decided to try another attempt to enter the
Imperial East Gardens, if they are open.

Imperial East Gardens.
As we had tried for 2 other days already to enter the garden, this
would be our last chance and attempt to enter it. The first time we
were there on Friday, a day they are closed, as the signs said. On
Monday they also close, so the second attempt we did on a Tuesday. But
the Tuesday we tried, they were closed. Monday was a holiday, so for
this special occasion they opened the park and closed it on Tuesday.
Great. This third time they were finally open.
The gardens are very nice, although not much flowers at this time of
the year. The place is neat and clean, managed by all the workers in
the garden. The grass seems more like carpet than actual living
organism. The stone walls surrounding the palace have been
repositioned to prevent it from more damage by time. I noticed some
big colored spiders which I wanted to capture with macro photography.
Sheila did not want to stay or see it, hehe, so I did it myself ;-)
The trip back is quite crowded and back at the hotel we both are
exhausted. I guess having the flu for 1.5 weeks, visiting Tokyo for a
week, walking all day and having 38 million people around you might
get you somewhat tired ;-).
We take some food from the supermarket and plan some more for the next
week. We bump into the fact that when we wanted to be in Kyoto there
is the biggest festival of the year. Although interesting to see, we
feel we might be too late to plan our 1 week hotel there. Browsing the
internet confirms all hotels are full, so we decide to switch plans
and have Kyoto at the end of the holiday.

Marcel de Koningh
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Wednesday October 14 2009, Tokyo, Hakone

Wednesday October 14 2009
Tokyo, Hakone
Clouded skies 25C, Evening Thunderstorm and Rain
We go with the ultra fast train to the mountains near Hakone. The
train ride is exciting, but also watching these great and fast trains
is already fun. Transports today will consist of normal trains, Cable
Train, Shinkansen (fast train), Bus, slow train into the mountains,
Cable car(like ski elevators), feet and even a pirate cruise boat.
We buy tickets to have all of this transports payed in advance and as
a bundle. A large amount, 3900 Yen per person, but with what you get
in return its a good deal and you are active for the whole day. The
mountain train goes back and forth up the mountain and has to wait now
and than to let the downhill trains pass on the double tracks. At the
end of this 30 minutes trip we take a cable train, a train which pulls
itself up the hill with a cable. At the end of that track we move
between mountain peaks with a cable car. We "fly" over the volcano
activities, that small like the famous rotten eggs. Interesting stuff.
The last bit to the top, we walk, in the mist of the volcano sizzling
and boiled water. On the top there is a boiled water mini lake, where
they have baskets with eggs, being boiled. You can buy the eggs and
eat them. Because of the chemical reaction, the eggs become black, but
do taste like normal boiled eggs. They only are sold per 5 eggs, but
some couple from New York that we met, are willing to share a bag of
eggs. Pictures proof we ate the black eggs. We walk back and take an
other cable car that brings us down on the other side of the mountains
and the large lake. There we get on a big pirate cruise ship that
brings us to a little village on the other side, in about 30 minutes.
From their we take a bus back to the train station where we take the
train back to Tokyo. There we were really in the mood for some fries,
so we ended up at Kentucky Fried Chicken and had some nice fried
chicken wings. During the way back to the shuttle bus, it started to
rain heavily and thunder. The water was coming down the streets like
little waterfalls in no time. The one moment the streets were crowded
with people, and the other moment they were all taking shelter. We
too. :-)
An other interesting, fun and nice day in Japan comes to an end.
Marcel de Koningh
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Tuesday October 13 2009 Tokyo

Tuesday October 13 2009
Sunny clear skies 25C.
We had our delicious white bread with ham and orange juice. We fetched
some sandwiches for the lunch and headed to the center. No shuttle
this time, it had stopped operating already, as we slept in until 10am
this morning, due to the bad sleep last night. Lot of coughing due to
the flu symptoms.
We went to the fish market, by train and subway. Due to the warnings
on the website, that tourists are not that welcome in the morning, we
agreed to skip the morning part and only visit the area and little
shops and restaurants. The park next to it requested entrance fees and
we only wanted to go there to have some lunch, so we skipped it. The
expensive shopping streets were great and we visited quite some
department stores. Interesting thing I noticed while roaming around,
were the many rice cookers and ovens they sell here. The audio, video
and computer equipment is also fun to watch. Japan is more expensive
compared to the Dutch prices and the electronics is not always
suitable for 230V or European standards, so it stayed to window
shopping only. The excellent weather still made it an enjoyable day.
The Sony building was fun to go in. Checking out all the latest from
Sony, even products that are not in stores yet. 650 grams laptops,
paper thin TV, new headsets etc. Really all Toys for boys.
As we were close to the Imperial East Gardens, we thought to go there.
We first had a pick nick before entering the park, but arriving for
the second time to closed fences. We decided to go back to the Hotel,
it was 15:30 anyway. We went out for dinner, at the Shinjuku station
in one of the food courts of the department stores. We had real
Japanese orders with fried food (shrimps, pork, etc) excellent food.
We had a friendly and English speaking waitress. She helped us order
and explain the food. Many dishes we received and we were able to
watch others, what they all did with this plates and cups.
After the dinner we went to some shops and bought breakfast and lunch
for the next day, due to trip by train on Wednesday, we would not have
time to do that in the morning.
On the street I noticed some interesting stuff: double traffic lights
due to bad sight on bridge. Everything for safety. Car Lights dimmed
when you are the first car waiting on green light on crossing, so you
do not blind people on the other side of the street.

Marcel de Koningh
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Monday October 12, Tokyo

This is a place holder for Monday October 12.
Will update this section later.

Marcel de Koningh
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donderdag 15 oktober 2009

Trains, cable car, cable train and boot.

I put down a blog on the trains and great speed, but we use bus, train, cable car and even a pirate ship for our transportation. No pictures of the biggest transport efforts, our feet.
Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn

Trains with balls!

Shinkansen is the name of the ultra speed trains in Japan. We experienced these speed devils, both standing next to the track and passing by as well as in the train itself to our destinations. Incredible sleek design, it seems fast from the looks at it already. But if these babys get up to speed, hehe :-) The comfort is also remarkable, lots of leg space, all chairs are facing the front of the train, so never driving backwards. The seats are lined up with 2 and 3 chairs, and they can put back (just like in planes) so you can really relax... or take a "quick" nap of over 300 km an hour. And the Japanese timing precission is standard on these trains too. Not a second too late. Travelling in it, watching it or putting it on photo its all fun to me. I love these trains with speed. The last picture shows their feeling of timing, which they never seem to loose. Interesting is also the way they seem to wave or make gestures with their arms, while checking procedures or something. I haven't discovered yet what they are doing, but have seen it a couple of times. Also with a normal train and even with the cable car train we took in the Japanese Alps yesterday. Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn
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maandag 12 oktober 2009


Some more picture sharing.
Did you know you can subscribe to the blog and get notified of changes?
Have fun.
Nog meer fotos. Je kan je "aanmelden op de blog", dan krijg je automatisch een email als er updates zijn.
Veel plezier.

zondag 11 oktober 2009

Added some pictures

Click here for more albums:
or stay here to watch the one below (click on below to see larger pictures)
Greetings, Marcel San

Great Buddha and little KingH

Buddha : 13,5 meters Kingh : 1.76 meters For the viewers, the Buddha is behind that big man in red shirt..... (if you click the picture it will enlarge) Marcel San
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Sunday October 11 Tokyo, Kamakura and Kita Kamakura

Sunday October 11
Tokyo, Kamakura and Kita Kamakura
25 Sunny day
At 5:45 I was awake, really awake. I opened the curtains a little to peek into the early dark Sunday morning. Wrong, it was not dark! In fact the sun was about to make its way on the horizon. What better timing than this, to try and catch the early sunlight on mount Fuji from Tokyo 12th floor. I silently grabbed my gear, as Sheila was still asleep and took some trial shots. Than in the corner of my eyes I thought I saw someone walking on the 14th floor of the other building next to our hotel. Nah, its 5:45 I probably are not awake and see ghosts. Than on the 13th floor... again, but this time I saw it clearly. A old man with a big backpack on his neck. And after a few minutes, when he touched the basement I guess, he came back up! It must be his Sunday ZEN moment or exercising to climb Mount Fuji some day. With his 4th return trip I got to know the timing and started to aim the camera on him. Everybody his own hobby isn't ;-) I got him a few times, and than he saw me, I nodded my head. He continued without loosing speed. Interesting experience at 6am on Sunday on the other side of the World to me. The sun started to shed some beams on the buildings and somewhat later also on the majestic mountain. Happy with the early birds result I got back in bed again, to let the alarm wake me for the second time that day.
At 8am the sun was shining from a blue sky. At the Shinjuku Station we had to ask a couple of times where to transfer our vouchers in real passes for the train. The service at the JR information center was excellent, efficient and friendly again, or the better wording might be now, it was Japanese style.
With the fresh passes we went on board (after lining up smoothly with the rest of the travelers) to Kamakura. A city at the sea with many temples and ancient buildings(about 65 of them). And the best and famous attraction, the 13,5 meters high Great Buddha, Well and GREAT this Buddha is. Wow.
We pick-nick near the Great Buddha, as we bought some nice ready made sandwiches at the station. Delicious. We continue our journey and on the way we buy some soft ice cream with caramel flavor, cool. We pay a fee and enjoy the Hase-Dera-Tempels, statues and eagles flying over the crowd. The sight of the sea, well the Great Ocean is nice too. We walk back, but as we had walked and climbed(stairs) for some hours already we thought of taking the bus back to the station Kamakura. An other lesson in Japanese ways to travel. You get in the bus (enter via the backdoor) and take a ticket. This ticket has a number. On the display of the bus, you see the prices for the numbers, if you would get off the next stop. So if you continue your travel, you see the price climb up. (We already knew to the station it would be/stay 190 Yen). When you leave the bus, you put your ticket in a machine and put cash next to it. If you have not the exact number, an other machine provides you coins / exchange for bigger billets you might have have. In our case, the 1000 Yen was taken by the bus-driver, and he did all of the machine tricks and gave back the exact exchange. Friendly guy.
Next we visit Kita Kura, 1 stop further in this town. By food to far, so we go by train (passes are valid anyway). Here we find also a nice Main Gate(San-mon), Worship Temple(Butsu-den), Hojo, ZaZen buildings and much more. The sun is moving away (its around 17:00) and we go back to the train.
As we now get up at a very little train station, information is rare and not always translated in English. We jump on the train and get out on the next (bigger) station, as all these trains on this track do the first 5 stations, but than can split up in 5 other tracks, we want to make sure we get on the right track(literally). On this bigger station an information desk is available and a friendly guy helps us. He does not speak English, but my pronunciation of the destination is good enough for him to understand our question. (Questions we had, what train, what platform and what time does it depart... tough guy if you would be able to ask that in Japanese ;-)... and... understand the answers). The guy answered with 5 fingers, indicating platform 5 the train would leave from and typed on a digital calculator (sheila thought he was typing the price of a ticket, which we did not need as we had passes... I said, let him finish) and on the display stood 18,16... brilliant. 18:16 was the time of departure. The very full train takes us back to Shinjuku where do not feel hungry but do want some vitamins (both are still having flu symptoms). The only restaurant with something like a salad is an Italian one. We order pasta, Japanese style pasta in soup and the fresh salad. Rather good stuff. We buy some interesting flavored donuts for desert later tonight or for small breakfast in the morning and head home, as we call the Hotel already.
My mom and dad are online and we manage to get Skype with webcam started and talk about the trip. I update the blog and go to bed.
Greetings, Marcel

Saturday October 10 Tokyo, Senso-ji

Saturday October 10
Tokyo, Senso-ji
Sunny and partly clouded 23 C
We woke up early in the morning again, approximately at 3 o'clock, mostly due to the flu / coughing. We catch some more sleep, take a shower, that are very nice in this hotel by the way and head to the Shinjuku Station to buy some brunch (croissants, orange juice and raisin bread). We take the subway to Asakusa, where the famous temples are from Senso-ji. Interesting enough we bought some subway tickets for this trip and walk to the best line, so we do not have to take an other subway in between. Entering the gates we get red lights! When asking someone what happened to our newly bought tickets, the answer is simple but for us a complete surprise... Its from “the other subway company, these tickets will not work here”. So there is more than 1 subway company on the same destination and in the same city. So we head off to the “other company subway line” and with an other transfer we arrive safe and sound at Asakusa. A lively place so it seems. Many people and guys with hand cars so a couple could sit and get a tour. The shopping area is just around the corner, just like the main entrance, the Kaminarimon-gate to be precise. The street, Nakamise-dori, with all traditional goods is fun. The Nade Botokesan Buddha is touched on places (head, knee, hart etc) and than people touch the same part on their own body, as they believe it will give health and luck. The large temple is all wrapped as they are renovating it. Inside is open, and here we see many people throwing in money in a big box and make a prayer-like moment and bow to the statue inside. Outside I notice some interesting activities, I assume a wedding and run towards a spot where I might “catch”them for some photos. I was right, the men towing a car with the bride and groom all in traditional Japanese costumes is passing by. Wow, this is so cool. I end up almost 3 meters from the happy couple. When they enter the building, right next to the temple, the family has to wait a little before also allowed to enter. I see many well dressed family, like a beautiful lady in a kimono. I, but now also some other people who got to know this special occasion takes place, make pictures. The lady sees me and smiles shy, but than the dad comes in. I bow, as I do not want to offend them with taking pictures, but its even better. The dad is so proud on his daughter, he urges her to step forward and pose for a moment, for a good picture. I do take the opportunity and start shooting. Excellent! The pictures are great and I decide to ask for an email and provide mine so I can “give back” the pictures to them too. English is again a struggle, but with some paper and a pen they understand my intention and the whole family thanks me for the gesture. We end up thanking each other and letting them party further.
We cross the garden, little water streams with fish and temples. The Pagode with 5 floors of roof is impressive and beautiful in the sun. Passing a group of students who will perform at 15:00 a play gets us interested to wait and watch this appearance too. Too bad we can not understand the Japanese play / poems, but the costumes and make up is typical Japanese and interesting to watch.
After the play we go back to the subway and head to Uenopark. A parc build in the 17th century. Big and with large ponds where people go with little rental boats. Also some temples and a Pagode was build here. Interesting enough we see a guy dressed as a girl, with 60 girls around him. All go one by one to him, give their cellphone to a helper, stand next to him and let them make a photo on their cellphone. All laugh and giggle and seem to have the best moment of their lives. Maybe its a famous comedian, a real stud or something else I... I really do not get it. The night sets in and we go out the parc and into the shopping and eating area. Its very crowded and many (young) people are out. We are rather tired of the long day, and are not in the mood to just try our luck with the food. We do bump into a guy preparing and selling some kind of little pancakes, vegetables and an egg. Only 200 Yen and smells and looks good. This gamble we do take ;-) Without regret. It was very nice, hard to eat with only sticks, but even the Japanese had a hard time “cutting” the pancake with only some wooden sticks. We passed some more Japanese restaurants without English menu, nor with pictures and only seats on the floor. We bumped into an Argentine Restaurant and had a great dinner. Also different, smaller plates and hotter ingredients than we used to, but it was nice. Nice servants too, who tried to speak some English with us. We payed, “subwayed-back” and did some email and used skype to “phone and webcam home” before going to bed. Alarm was set for the next day, as we wanted to catch the 9:15 train.
Greetings, Marcel

zaterdag 10 oktober 2009

Japan storm, we are OK

just to be sure for everybody, we had a bumpy flight, and no trains due to the storm. But no other harm was done. Apparently it hit more west/south, so Tokyo did not get into more troubles.
The days we had here were all partly sunny/cloudy and 24 C, so excellent weather to be honest.
Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn

vrijdag 9 oktober 2009

Some pictures of the first day

Tokyo from the bus, our back-packs, plastic food in the windows you can order via a kind of gambling/fruit-machine and people leaving laptops and other stuff unattended while going to the toilet. Different world we came in, but we like it :-)
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Friday October 9, Tokyo, Shinjuku, Japan

Friday October 9,
Tokyo, Shinjuku, Japan
23 Sunny
In the night we wake up at 02:00 am and try to get to sleep again. We do, and wake up near 9:30 and take a shower, have a “ontbijtkoek” and go to the twin observation floors of the Tokyo metropolitan government offices. The view over Tokyo is stunning and we stay there to watch from any angle and take pictures. We can see our hotel just across the parc and mount Fuji also to the west, all in the back of the large metropolitan.
We head to the shopping and eat are, and with all the workers hunting for food too we are not the only ones. We stop at the place we saw the first time when we exited the bus, a day ago. You watch the plastic food, remember the number that is near it and order at a cash machine the food. The ticket you bring inside the place where the cook has you plate ready. You sit at a wall next to others and start eating, apparently the more sound you make the better. We eat our noodles and in the same time next to us, some business man sits eats all his food, some other takes his place and does the same and when the third arrives we are stuffed and quit too. Amazing, they not only sounds fast when they eat, they are fast!
We head to our next experience, the subway of Tokyo. The busiest and largest in the world. We manage to get the tickets and jump on the correct subway heading to Tokyo Palace. Again we notice the efficiency of the Japanese. They line up on the station, the train stops at the exact spot so all doors are in sync with the lines on the ground of the station. People leave thought the right door, and we enter via the left door. Needless to say the train leaves exactly according schedule. The station names are in Japanese, but also in English and have numbers, so its easy to follow and know where to exit. Next to that, in the train there is a route of the train and the station it passes, arrows and lights show where the train moves and what the next station is. It good not be easier.
I notice in the train, everybody is polite, neatly dressed, uses almost always the phone to sms or internet and or have headsets. Never the music or phone is too loud. Never people fight for space or have arguments. All trains have comfortable pillowed seats, are clean, do not smell and do not have a single dot of graffiti on them. Graffiti I have not seen anywhere so far. Nor did I find any trash on the ground.
We walk to the Palace and the only thing you can do is walk around the big walls and water canals. You can get a glimpse of the Palace and we take some pictures. We head to the Palace Gardens. Free admission, but closed on Friday... and err... its Friday today. We didn't know. We had to the Tokyo station and see it is indeed a building with architecture based on the Central Station of Amsterdam. Funny to see. Its even more funny to see, the station is almost all wrapped and fenced because of major re-work and road work, just like in Amsterdam for some years now. Not sure if they know how well they copy the Building and its surrounding ;-) .
We had to the Subway to go back to Shinjuku Station. We buy a large bottle of water, orange juice and banana milk. While waiting for the hotel shuttle bus, I play with my photo camera and shoot people at the station. Always fun to see how people behave, dress and look like. Something also interesting to see is that people do use bicycles and drive on the pavement, next to the pedestrians. Interesting and an other item to check when crossing the streets.
In the Hotel we take a little nap (at least Sheila did, I was writing this journal) from 16:30 to 18:00 and we head to the center again, to hunt down some dinner.
Near Shinjuku Station we roam around and get into one of the very large shopping buildings where on the 8th floor all kind of restaurants are. One of the restaurant we go in and order some food. English is not their native language, I know, but Hello was even difficult it seemed. But they totally make it up with the delicious food, rice with shrimps and white rice with sweet & sour pork. I pronounce and point to “ oy-shi-kat-ta “ which means “It was delicious”. The whole staff smiles. The dinner was interesting too, you get first Japanese tea and a warm towel to clean the hands. With the food we got all kind of plates and cups... which to use for what, right? ;-) We were able to peak at the other tables and got the habits and adjusted our “manners”. Nobody noticed we were noobs at this game, lol. I asked the o-kan-jõ (the bill) and payed with Visa. They add 10% service and do not expect nor want any tip. Giving a tip is seen as embarrassment in Japan, which makes life at the table much easier. We take the shuttle back to the Hotel.
In the Hotel I see an other guest walking with a plastic suite case with some strange gear and a UTP cable in it. That UTP cable triggers me and I ask at the desk what it is. Aha, internet connection set, for the strange sockets in the room, and without charge (they say). I hook up and indeed get connected on my eee PC, phew, so I did not buy this little gadget for nothing. :-) The journals I created I post on the blog. I stop writing, to spent some time on backing up the photos and hey, who knows, I might post some on my Picasa website to share with the family and friends. Check out .
Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn

Thursday October 8, Tokyo, Shinjuku, Japan

Thursday October 8
Tokyo, Shinjuku, Japan
25 Sunny strong wind (cycloon)
(9:45) We pass customs etc and with all our gear we had to the trains, where we find out they do not operate today due to the cyclone. So we buy tickets for the bus (6000 Yen for 2) and line up near the efficient people from the Friendly Bus Line.
These people here rock if you talk about service. Every bus goes right on schedule, all people on board, luggage in the bus and no errors or angry faces. Its in their blood you would think, even the people putting the bags in watch the clock every few minutes to make sure their work is done and the bus can leave JIT (11:10 as the schedule had requested). The lady coordinating all of this, bows to us and the bus when we drive away. In the mean time a policeman grabs some trash from the street and puts it in the trash bin. Wow.
The trip to Tokyo is a little more than 1 hour and enough to make me take a nap again. At the station of Shinjuku we drop off. Sheila saw in the corner of her eyes the Shinjuku New City Hotel a few minutes back in the bus,so we had a rough feeling where to walk to. And we indeed were able to walk straight back to the suspected place and are around 13:30 at the hotel. Check in is at 15:00 but our room is ready and we can hop in. We take a little nap, check if our phones work (they do) and sent some “we are fine”-like messages to the family. After the naps (we needed that as we basically lost our Dutch Night, so had almost no sleep) we take the free shuttle to the center (Shinjuku station is destination and only a few minutes by this shuttle) and roam around in Down Town Tokyo. Its crowded, but not overwhelming / chaotic and we feel comfortable here. Also the 25 degrees and wind make it very nice to walk and checkout the shops. We eat and are surprised to see so many people putting their bags or even running laptops on the chair or table to “reserve” their seats, and than walk away to the counter or even toilets. Their belongings unattended, apparently people do not steel from each other like in other (or my) country. We walk around some more, but are rather tired and go to bed at 21:30.
Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn

Wednesday October 7, Zaandam/Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Wednesday October 7
Zaandam/Amsterdam, The Netherlands
14 C Clouded and drizzle
Last things we pack and drive to my brother, who brings us to the airport. Within 15 mins we checked in our luggage and passed customs and have plenty of time to have some lunch. The boarding is delayed and some stressed Japanese guy keeps saying something is wrong and something terrible is going to happen to this flight. His “proof” is that he cleaned his whole house and he has never done that before. I joke with the question if he has never cleaned his house before or never before a flight. Too bad for him he does not catch the joke.
In the plane we negotiate and “sell” my window seat for an ail seat, so we still are able to sit next to each other, rather than at different places in the plane. Next to us sits a very friendly Scotsman who is part of the Scottish rugby team, playing for a week in Japan. We had the best dinner ever in a plane, with excellent Japanese food. Eaten with chopsticks, of course.
Besides that you did not have your own tv and media selection system the flight is OK, until the end. The last 5 minutes are bumpy as hell, due to the cyclone nearing east of Tokyo. We go up and down, left and right and people yell in the plane. Its almost the same “roller-coaster experience”as the landing in Washington last year with the big Hurricane. Lucky us, this time the visibility is clear, even sunny, so you can see the wings bend like crazy and know you will drop and prepare for the “funny stomach feeling”. The pilot puts the plane on the ground. In the meantime we jumped from Wednesday night to Thursday morning due to the 8 hours time difference.
Greetings, Marcel View Marcel De Koningh's profile on LinkedIn

dinsdag 6 oktober 2009

Ready 4 Japan!

Bought some new gear for the holiday.... the ASUS eee PC, 1005HA Black to be precise. I read that most people in Japan, had difficulty connecting with WiFi on their iPhone, as... well... Japan does not have that much WiFi.
Due to small rooms, people are all together for computing and the Edge / 3G technology is widely spread, so Japan did not need so much WiFi in cafe's and/hotels etc. With that, it would mean we would not be able to book our next hotels, so I thought I buy a small eee PC that can connect with a cable in the Hotel when needed.
Next to that, I have than also a backup device for all my photos I take and a easy device to blog for the family. In addition, we can use Skype when connected, to call or even webcam to home. Last but not least, its also just plain fun and a cool gadget :-) eg... DIVX are copied and ready to view in the plane or where ever we go. :-) with a battery lasting 8 hours, its easy to kill some time. We did check in today via the internet, but found ourselves spread over the plane. :-( There were no seats next to each other any more, so for next time we need to make reservations sooner. For the plane back, we just now did.... I did not know you were able to tell what seats you want, 90 days before the flight?!? Nobody told us, we always thought 30 hours before departure you can check in, and that's it.
Anyway, in the plane we need to see if we can negotiate with someone else to swap places. And otherwise we just have to accept it, the next month we are together anyway ;-) Now we first need to pack our backbags to a max of 10kilo to be really ready. cu Marcel ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Marcel de Koningh Photo KingH LinkedIn : Facebook : Photos : Blog : Hyves : email : ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~