Japan 2010 - Tokyo Days

words and photos by Sharon Bader and Lee Lau unless otherwise noted.

Sensoji and Ueno Park || Tanashi Jinja || Imperial Garden and Food! || Odaiba and Tanaka Sensei Aikido || Tokyo National Museum and Euno Zoo ||

Nara || Osaka || Kyoto || Kamakura

Hotel Sunlite - our home for 7 nights.

Walking down Shinjuku with the group.

Natan, Thoung, Bruce, Rona and Justin

We spent a lot of time in the train stations in Tokyo!

Photo by Natan Cheifetz

Tori at the Meiji Jinju Shrine.

http://www.meijijingu.or.jp/english/abou t/1.html

Welcome to Meiji Jingu!
Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine. Shinto is called Japan's ancient original religion, and it is deeply rooted in the way of Japanese life. Shinto has no founder, no holy book, and not even the concept of religious conversion, but Shinto values for example harmony with nature and virtues such as "Magokoro (sincere heart)". In Shinto, some divinity is found as Kami (divine spirit), or it may be said that there is an unlimited number of Kami. You can see Kami in mythology, in nature, and in human beings. From ancient times, Japanese people have felt awe and gratitude towards such Kami and dedicated shrines to many of them.
This shrine is dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken (their tombs are in Kyoto).
Emperor Meiji passed away in 1912 and Empress Shoken in 1914. After their demise, people wished to commemorate their virtues and to venerate them forever. So they donated 100,000 trees from all over Japan and from overseas, and they worked voluntarily to create this forest. Thus, thanks to the sincere heart of the people, this shrine was established on November 1, 1920.

One of the many weddings taking place that day. The brides sandals I'M SURE were designed so she couldn't escape her wedding day...

By the Gates at Meigi Jinja

Sharon, Thoung, Bruce, Justin, Rona - Photo by Natan Cheifetz

Maintenance guy RAKING the gravel path. Yes. I don't think he wanted his picture taken though...

One of the busy shopping streets off Harajuku station. Can you see me?

photo by Bruce Riddick

Seminar with Tada Shihan at Hombu Dojo. Lots of talking. The practice was inspirational. All blackbelts who were into good clean aikido. Tada Shihan is 80 years old.

Up at 5:30 for the 6:30am class with Doshu!

Sensoji and Ueno

Top || Sensoji and Ueno Park || Tanashi Jinja || Imperial Garden and Food! || Odaiba and Tanaka Sensei Aikido || Tokyo National Museum and Euno Zoo

Walking down the cherry blossomed ( These ones were tied to the branches...) lined Nakamise Dori to the Sensoji Temple.

"The legend says that in the year 628, two brothers fished a statue of Kannon, the goddess of mercy, out of the Sumida River, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them. Consequently, Sensoji was built there for the goddess of Kannon. The temple was completed in 645, making it Tokyo's oldest temple. " http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3001.html

Along this street are many shops selling shoes, LOTS of shoes, Kimono's Yukata's and FOOD! This guy looked really peaceful making this food item...

Nisonbutsu - Pair of Budda's - The figure on the right is said to bring mercy to worshipers, the one on the left wisdom.

Chocolate covered bananas!


More Satay! Notice the little octopi in the tank on the skewers?

After leaving Asakusa we went to Ueno Park - "Ueno Park is a large public park just next to Ueno Station. It was opened to the public in 1873, and offers its visitors a large variety of attractions. At the park's south entrance stands a statue of Saigo Takamori, an important personality of the late Edo and early Meiji Period. He played a central role in realizing the Meiji Restoration of 1868. "

The sign says - "Tomb of the Shogitai Warriors - The fall of the Shogunate government in Edo, Shogitai warriors resisted the new Meiji Government to the last and died here on Ueno Hill."

Purification Trough at the entrance to the shrine in Ueno Park. The process of purification entails taking one of the ladles provided, filling it with fresh water and rinsing both hands, transferring some water into your cupped hand, rinse your mouth and spitting the water beside the fountain. At these shrines you can make wishes and tie them to racks as you can see to the right of this trough. Once you make a wish the Deity may provide you with the opportunity to fulfill your wish or not.

One of the first cherry trees to blossom in Ueno park. Its been a cold spring so the blossoms aren't forthcoming. Ueno park is one of the most popular and crowded cherry blossom viewing areas in Japan.

Sharon, Thoung, Bruce, Justin and Rona - Photo by Natan Cheifetz

Street performer. He did a handstand when he was only balancing on one horizontal pipe!

Giant Blue Whale at the entrance of the Zoo. Not too often you see them arching over cherry trees!

"Shinobazu Pond is a large pond in Ueno Park. A temple for the goddess of Benten stands on the island in the middle of the pond. "

Rona, Natan and Justin

The Blossoms are starting to go off! People can use the concrete areas covered with tarps to picnic under the cherry blossoms.

One of the many great adds in the Trains and stations - The harmony of seven hops for Relaxing time! Love it! But not very good beer...

After visiting the park we decided to head to "Electric City" or Akihabara. We only went into one of the 6 story electronic buildings.

After reaching the 2nd floor we found these massage chairs and sat here for 45 minutes while Justin went shopping.

On the 7th floor there were many restaurants. Rona and I decided to have Pasta while Justin and Natan had hot chinese noodles.

Outside Yodobashi Camera, the store we went into.

Shinjuku at night.

Rona and Natan

In Shinjuku there are MANY shopping malls. The most popular or biggest I guess is Isetan. The bottom floor contains the food! A shop full of various Mochi.

Fresh Fruit - Y 105,00 for Mango anyone? (that's ~ $110.00 EACH!)

I opted for the chocolate cake. Consumerism in Japan is an experience. I asked for the cake. The guy took it out, surrounded it in cardboard, put it into a cardboard box WITH an ice pack. Put more cardboard in to make sure it didn't move around then put it in a bad. It tasted good though!

Visit to Tanashi Jinja and Kaya Sensei

Top || Sensoji and Ueno Park || Tanashi Jinja || Imperial Garden and Food! || Odaiba and Tanaka Sensei Aikido || Tokyo National Museum and Euno Zoo

We met Ishiyama Sensei at the Seibu Shinjuku station for our train ride to Tanashi. At all the stations are an assortment of stores selling an assortment of healthy snacks. This one make pies and mochi made of Yams. Yum.

Outside Tanashi Jinja.

Tanashi Jinja and Kaya Sensei. The inner shrine, which we couldn't photo, was carved in hard wood over 2 years by Shimamura Shunpyo 150 years ago. This outer area was carved by his apprentice. Each panel in the back represents different seasons - Summer, Spring, Fall and Winter. This shrine is a Japanese National Treaure. We had the honour of being blessed by Kaya Sensei in his Shrine.

Ishiyama Sensei, Bruce, Justin, Sharon, Thuong, Natan and Rona. The back carving is a laughing dragon carved in Cedar.

The out room showing the different dragons and deity honoured by this shrine.

Outside of the shrine, the front carvings are of a Phoenix and Dragons.

Then we had lunch!

Cleansing Trough of Tanashi Jinja.

We then took the train to Kawagoe - Called Little Edo.

"In the Edo Period, Japanese cities consisted almost exclusively of wooden buildings. As a result, they were very vulnerable to fires, which occurred frequently and could destroy whole city districts.
To store and protect their most valuable goods like rice, people constructed warehouses (kura) with massive, fireproof walls, consisting of several layers. However, this construction style, called kura-zukuri (warehouse style), was very expensive, and only the wealthy people could afford it.
During the Edo Period, Kawagoe was an important commercial town, providing nearby Edo (Tokyo) with timber, rice and other materials, collected from the surrounding region.

Thanks to this prosperous trade, the merchants of Kawagoe grew very wealthy, and many of them could afford to build not only their warehouses, but also their stores in the fireproof kurazukuri style.
In the old times, there were more than 200 kurazukuri buildings in Kawagoe. A few dozens remain today, with most of them lining the town's main street, a 15 minute walk north of Hon-Kawagoe Station.
Many of the old kurazukuri buildings are now housing stores and restaurants. One of them, the Kurazukuri Shiryokan, has been converted into a small museum.
Kawagoe's landmark, the Bell Tower (toki no kane), stands nearby"


A store containing samurai helmets. This one was cheap, only 930,00 Yen.

There were two knife stores we went by. I couldn't resist and bought one... but not one of these.

Now THAT'S a Chopping Knife!


Dinner at an Eel Restaurant
Kyoko, Kaya Sensei, Ishiyama Sensei, Bruce, Justin, Natan, Rona, Thuong, Sharon and Itoku ( taking picture).

Back home on the train.

Imperial Gardens and Yasukuni Shrine

Top || Sensoji and Ueno Park || Tanashi Jinja || Imperial Garden and Food! || Odaiba and Tanaka Sensei Aikido || Tokyo National Museum and Euno Zoo

On most street corners and in the train stations are many different vending machines offering many kinds of beverages. This one had Coffee - Black, Espresso and Cappucchino = The Hard, The Deep or The Italian!

Beer in a vending machine on the street!

Today we went to the Imperial Palace - East Garden.

"The East Garden is where most of the administrative buildings for the palace are located and encompasses the former Honmaru and Ninomaru areas of Edo Castle, a total of 210,000 square meters. Located on the grounds of the East Garden is the Imperial Tokagakudo Music Hall, the Music Department of the Board of Ceremonies of the Imperial Household, the Archives and Mausolea Department Imperial Household Agency, structures for the guards such as the Saineikan dojo, and the Museum of the Imperial Collections.
Several structures that were added since the Meiji period were removed over time to have the East Garden constructed. In 1932, the kuretake-ryō was built as a dormitory for imperial princesses, this building was however removed prior to the construction of the present gardens. Other buildings such as stables and housing buildings were all removed for the East Garden in its present shape.
Construction work began in 1961 with a new pon in the Ninomaru, as well as the repair and restoration of various keeps and structures from the Edo period. On May 30, 1963 the area was declared by the Japanese government a "Special Historic Relic" under the Cultural Properties Protection Law."


Ninomaru Gardens.

Symbolic trees representing each prefecture in Japan are planted in the northwestern corner of Ninomaru Gardens. Such trees have been donated from each prefecture and total of 260, covering 30 varieties.

Cherry blossoms finally starting to come out. Path heading up to the area of the old Imperial Palace Castle Tower.

Old Imperial Castle Tower stone base.

Bamboo Garden and Oak trees

A variety of bamboo are represented here.

A wide lawn and the remaining foundation of the former castle tower can be found on top of the hill, where the castle's innermost buildings once stood. The castle tower was completed in 1638 as the tallest castle tower in Japan's history. But only a few years later in 1657, it was destroyed by citywide fires and has not been rebuilt ever since.
In place of the former buildings in the secondary circle of defense (ninomaru) at the foot of the hill, a nice Japanese style garden has been created.


Signs explaining the reconstruction of the stone walls and castle base.

Then we found lunch!

Heading up to the Budoken - couldn't go in since a concert was being held there. But the Cherry Blossoms were starting to go off!

Near the Budokan is the Yasukuni Shrine.

History of the statue of Omura Masujiro

Leading up to the Shrine is a lot of FOOD!

Justin indulged in some 'fresh' fish...

Yasukuni Shrine

Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Tokyo that commemorates Japan's war dead.
The shrine was founded in 1869 as Tokyo Shokonsha, and was renamed Yasukuni Shrine in 1879. It was built in order to commemorate and worship those who have died in war for their country and sacrificed their lives to help build the foundation for a peaceful Japan (the meaning of Yasukuni is "peaceful country").


Odaiba and Tanaka Sensei Aikido

Top || Sensoji and Ueno Park || Tanashi Jinja || Imperial Garden and Food! || Odaiba and Tanaka Sensei Aikido || Tokyo National Museum and Euno Zoo

After our practice today we decided to see something different and went to the costal area of Odaiba.

Daiba, literally meaning "fort", refers to some of the man made islands in the Bay of Tokyo, which were constructed in the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868) for the city's protection against attacks from the sea.


While generally industrial with some attractions the BEST part was the Oedo Onsen Monogatari
Opened in March 2003, this is a hot spring theme park, which reproduces the atmosphere of the Edo Period (1603-1868). You can enjoy various types of baths, which are fed by actual hot spring water from a depth of 1400 meters.

We couldn't take pictures of the Onsen itself, the below pictures are the common areas.

The foot path!

This afternoon we had the opportunity to practice Aikido at Meiji Jinju under Tanaka Sensei.

heading to class.

Our group in their very beautiful dojo.

Ray, Natan, Justin
Sharon, ? , Tanaka Sensei, Ishiyama Sensei, Bruce

Afterwards we went for dinner. Justin and Natan enjoying some sake!

Ishiyama Sensei our host and Justin.

The group after dinner.

Tokyo National Museum and Ueno Zoo

Top || Sensoji and Ueno Park || Tanashi Jinja || Imperial Garden and Food! || Odaiba and Tanaka Sensei Aikido || Tokyo National Museum and Euno Zoo

Friday was our last day in Tokyo on this leg of our trip and the forecast was for rain so we planned to check out the Tokyo National Museum.

There were many great exhibits that showed the history of Japan.

Instead of me writing about the history, I photographed the information and provided it here for you to read too!

Many historical artifacts have been preserved.

Asuka and Nara Periods.

Heian to Muromachi Period

Kamakura to Muromachi Period.

Heian to Muromachi Period.

The rise of the Military Class.

This photo shows the clothing worn over the armour, A sword, undergarments and helmets.

History of Buddism's progress to Japan.

One of the Buddhist statues present in Japan.

After leaving the Museum we wandered again down Ueno park and through the food area.

We had some lunch, I had a Okonomiyaki - a pancake of a variety of ingredients. Justin had noodles.

We then wandered around the pond under the cherry blossoms with Natan on his quest to photo birds.

Justin, Sharon and Rona.

Photo by Natan Cheifetz

We found some birds in the Ueno Zoo!

The following pictures are of a Stork, Flamingo, Penguins and Lemurs.

Duckbills, Cranes, Storks, Swans, Ducks

Uncaged Crane!

Photo by Natan Cheifetz

Photo by Natan Cheifetz

Pelicans ( they were HUGE!), Spoonbills, Screamer, Ibis.

Surrounding this Pagoda were other birds, Canadian Goose, more storks and ducks and of course the Cherry Blossoms.

Back to the train Natan and Justin line up like good boys!

Then Dinner. MMMM Fish!

Top || Sensoji and Ueno Park || Tanashi Jinja || Imperial Garden and Food! || Odaiba and Tanaka Sensei Aikido || Tokyo National Museum and Euno Zoo