Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tokyo Around Town

It is a 4 hour flight from Nino Aquino International Airport in Manila to Narita Airport in the Tokyo satellite city of Narita. But the reality is it takes about a day ... pretty much any international flight and many local flights, due to airline regulations and transfers and getting to and from airports. We got up at around 4 a.m. to get our driver guy, Arnel to take us to the airport for a 7 am flight. We arrived in Narita around noon. Then after getting luggage and such we got our bus tickets for the 2 pm bus. Two hours later we were deposited in Kichijoji station quite close to our final destination which was Tracy Reeds apartment. So we commandeered a taxi in Kichijoji and gave the taximan the address and explanation of how to get to Tracy's place around 5 pm. It was about a 30 minute drive but of course things happen and he could not actually find Tracy's apt. After driving around her neighborhood for a while the taxi guy had me call her (she was up it the mountains enjoying the fall colours as one is supposed to do at this time of the year in Japan) and she gave me detailed instructions necessitating me to use my 20 some odd years old Japanese language skills to translate. It took us several drives around the neighborhood and a few more calls to eventually arrive at Tracy's apt at about 730 pm. So the reality of a 4 hour jaunt from Manila to Tokyo needs to be taken into this contextual reality - it takes about a day. While taking a bit of time, it was relatively straight forward and having Tracy accomodate us was absolutely wonderful. Always a perk when you have someone in the know as a willing host. The first day or so we were on our own but when Tracy arrived back from her leaf viewing excursion - she was full on fabulous. We awoke each morning with some sort of breakfast concoction baking away which the girls devoured with enthusiasm. She then helped us organize our days in Tokyo while she had to venture off to her duties at the American School of Japan. She then met us after her workday and our tour day for some really great dining and walkabouts in her neck of the woods.

Emmerson not sure what to make of this place -  one of the eclectic shops that make-up the Harajuku area of Tokyo. This is an area known for trendy shopping and for the infamous "cosplay" (costume play) scene.

From Harajuku we ventured off to Shibuya which is the super cool part of Tokyo, to walk around and shop and eat and hang out and such. It is a massive train station and the home to the Hachiko statue memorializing the wonderful story of a dog's loyalty to his owner. The girls have read the story and were excited to experience this tangible part of the story.

The scene as one ventures out of Shibuya Station.

We had to go to Tokyo Station to get our Shinkansen (bullet train) tickets in order for our trip to Kyoto. While doing so, we came across this rather rare scene - sumo wrestlers were congregating to get a train to their next destination. I am not sure about the details, what "heya" or training stables they were from - most likely several as indicated by the various yukata's worn by the wrestlers. They made quite the scene and lots of Japanese folk were as curious as we were - taking pictures and asking the sumo guys what they were up to. I gave the girls the camera and told them to document the experience - shy at first but eventually gained confidence and got some interesting pictures of the scene.

A really neat part of Japanese culture - the traditional juxtaposed with the modern.

One for the ages .... the sumo guys were super cool and accommodating to all the attention they were getting.

Ada's shot - cool shoes.

Ada acknowledging the dichotomous nature of getting around in Tokyo/Japan - incredibly efficient but does take a bit of figuring out. This was actually taken at the airport when we were arranging for our bus to Kichijoji.

Tokyo is well known for its vending machine availability and options.

This is the local station near ASJ and Tracy's apt. It was about a ten minute walk and from here we could catch a train that would take us into downtown Tokyo and beyond.

Enjoying a convenient store (7-11) breakfast treat.

On the train.


These images are certainly not organized ... this was back at the airport where we had a meal. Everytime the girls ordered a kids meal - which we typically do - they would provide very kid appropriate culinary .... hello kitty spoons and bowls and such which the girls got a kick out of.

Ada at the airport.

This was actually at the end of our trip. After several days in Kyoto, we returned to Tokyo, actually Narita (the satellite city where the airport exists) to stay the night in order to get an early flight the next morning. This is at the train station bike park. Try and find the girls ....

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