Again we had an early morning to hope to catch the morning light and get some nice shots of the floating torii gate, this time though, it would actually be appearing to float as it was no longer low tide.
We also got the chance to explore the Itsukushima shrine as it closes at night.
So because we couldn’t get good view of Kurashiki by night, we decided we would get up early and see it in the morning light, as you can see, the sun was barely up when we left the hotel room.
We basically walked to the same shrine and explored around there and could see where we walked passed during the previous night. There were actually quite a few cemeteries around the place and they’re all quite small, with only a few burial plots.
We also saw a few of these little ‘poles’ in the ground which I didn’t really understand, not sure what it was actually referring to.
Our time in Osaka was coming to an end and we checked out of our hotel, we were lucky not to be charged a late checkout fee as we slept in from the previous night out. Gavin and I split from Tang and Ed as they went to do some souvenir shopping. On the other hand, Gavin and I ended up splitting as well as he had forgotten his wallet or something, so I was left to check out the Osaka Castle myself.
Getting off the train station was this large hall, not sure what it’s actually used for though.
The entrance to the Castle is very nice, it’s surrounded by a moat and lush greenery as well.
So as part of my New Years resolution, I had vowed to finish blogging about japan and hopefully get all the pics uploaded soon after. I’ve quickly gone through the 7278 shots and selected a few from each day which I thought highlights our trip and now it’s just time to post them up and write a few things about the adventure of each day. Day 6 would be the long awaited wait to visit the Tsukiji Fish Markets to check out the sights and have some delicious sushi. We didn’t go for the tuna auctions as they were at 5am, so when we arrived, we just perused the fish markets themselves. On the way there we saw a bunch of police officers (or something) handing out fines to bikes parked on the street, gave me a bit of a chuckle.
Like the Lonely Planet book warns, you really have to get out of the way of these carts which blaze along the markets. The operators are in a real rush and get rather impatient annoyed when you’re in the way (unlike what you get in the streets of Japan where they just wait until you make room then they make the run for it.
First thing going through the markets, we see various stores selling kitchen knives, they were rather expensive, most selling for over a hundred Aussie dollars. Other things that were for sale were picks, at first we didn’t know what they were for, but it became apparent that they were used to handle the large tuna.
On the 5th day of the trip, I was completely messed up and buzzing from the night before. I just felt completely drained after three nights of booze and partying that I was mostly quiet for the whole day and just walked casually to experience Harajuku and the shrine/park with the Meiji Shrine. Andreas came along with us as we strolled the streets of Harajuku.Being so tired, I ended up giving my camera to Gavin and Ed to take pics, so a lot of the pics from Harajuku will be from them. Walking down Harajuku street, there was a lot of people lining the street. Going along we saw quite a few interesting looking people.
Straying away from Harajuku street we also enjoyed the sight of a few interesting shop names, one being candy strippers and another being Cannabis. A quick snack was found on the way as well, Takoyaki balls =D.
One comment I must make about Takoyaki in Japan is that it is completely different to what you get in Sydney. They’re actually very soft and at times still somewhat liquid in the centre. They also come in different varieties, but without knowing any Japanese I can’t event begin to describe the differences or the ones I prefer.
Coming on a Sunday, we were expecting to see a lot of people cos-playing, unfortunately they were far and few and we only caught glimpses of a couple. The walk down wasn’t as fantastic as I had hoped, it wasn’t until going to the Meiji Shrine that we saw some interesting things. Crossing the bridge to the other side we saw this guy with a funny hat hiding in a box.
The park was rather large and it leads to the actual Meiji Shrine where inside we were fortunate enough to witness a couple of traditional weddings. The bride is in white traditional gown with this rather large curved “hat” on her head, followed by a guy holding a large umbrella above her. Everyone else follows them from behind and it was a rather interesting sight to see.
We were also lucky enough to be there for “Shichi-Go-San” or literally translated as seven-five-three, which occurs on the weekend closest to November 15. It’s a ‘rite of passage’ ceremony for boys that 3 or 5 and girls that are 5 and 7 years of age. They’re dressed in their lovely kimino’s and taken to shrines and temples to pray for their future. The kids were adorable and looked so cute, except for this one boy we saw in school uniform (or something) who had the shortest shorts I had ever seen.
We also bumped into three Aussies we had seen earlier in Akhibara, yes the ones from the sex shop. We chatted a little more and followed them through the park as they had found some Japanese students wanting to practise English.
Heading back, we crossed the train overpass again and saw that interesting guy again, it was only until we saw him the second time we realised what he did (aside from this ‘I am your father’ sign). He also had a sign that said “I can sing a song in your language”. We told him we were from Australia and he started to sing our national anthem out loud. There was also a group of Americans who proceeded to do the same afterwards. Quite a quirky guy that one.
At this we split up as Tang and I wanted to go up Tokyo Tower, but we had to make a detour to Asakusa as Andreas needed to get some stuff. This is where we came across a rather interesting looking building, take a look at the pic below and what do you think it looks like?
Some say it looks like a golden shit, while others think it’s a golden sperm. Story is that it’s supposed to be a flame but when they went to put it on top of the building, the crane wasn’t tall enough to hold the flame vertically and they just ended up putting it on its side. We also caught a glimpse of a new building be constructed, known as the Sky Tree (at this point we had no clue) and it would be taller than Tokyo tower. (~680 meters vs. 333 meters).
We moved towards Tokyo Tower afterwards to go up and look at the view, unfortunately, when we got there, the line was absolutely massive and the wait was closer to 90 minutes. All there was to see was this cute girl sitting alone, if only we knew some Japanese, would have been the perfect moment to say “He’s not coming…”. Bummed that we were unable to go up, we decided to go explore the rest of the Tokyo and decided to head to Tokyo Station.
Getting off, we were dumbstruck, there weren’t neon signs and flashing lights, instead there was…nothing (ok, except for the station and the statue below).
And then it hit us, Tokyo itself is a business district so there’s no need for it to have a night life. At this stage we parted ways with Andreas and headed to Shinjuku to meet up with Gavin and Ed. We had agreed to meet at the JR Ticket office in Shinjuku with a 15 minute window to wait. However to our surprise, when we arrived, Shinjuku station was rather large and actually had 5 ticket offices, all rather far apart, even though it was a lost cause, we wait at the closest ticket office for 10 minutes before heading to a second one. Being unable to find Ed and Gavin, we decided to just have a look at Shinjuku.
The place is astonishing, it’s what you picture Tokyo to be, neon lights, flashing lights and large screens everywhere. Walking along there were a few street musicians trying to make a buck by playing and selling CDs. The other lovely sight was an interesting building facade, it had what looked like little windows/compartments, and they were lit up with different colours, very pretty sight.
After a short stroll, we decided to eat and randomly picked a place, it was called Witamin-chi and I later discovered that it was a chain restaurant. Inside had a dim appearance and an interesting food menu. They had a lot of Yakitori and other cool dishes.
We ended up with some eel on charcoal, Udon spaghetti, fried chicken breast, karaage chicken and interestingly, horse sashimi. Yes, horse. It was quite different as it came in two pieces, one was the horse meat and the other was fat, eating them together gave a nice chewy texture. Definitely not something you want to have everyday, but nonetheless it was interesting to try.
When we got back to the hotel, Huynhzie decided to get his hair dyed, but I was just dead and went straight to bed.