Tokyo_Header.3

Today we would be up early and would leave our lodging to catch the early train going to Odawara, and head for Hakone, took the train at Horikiri-Shobuen, then transferred lines at Nippori, heading for Shinjuku Station, where we bought our tickets for Hakone Day Tour, which is called Hakone Free Pass, we had the option of choosing between the Odakyu Line from Shinjuku Station (central Tokyo) or the Romance car which was a bit expensive but faster, and we choose the former getting to Hakone. The trip was relatively quiet (as for any train ride in Japan) except for the rush hour at the train station in Nippori and Shinjuku, and the occasional children riding the train going the some fieldtrips with their teachers.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_416

Tokyo_Trip_2017_418

Tokyo_Trip_2017_419

Tokyo_Trip_2017_421

Tokyo_Trip_2017_422

Tokyo_Trip_2017_423

Tokyo_Trip_2017_424

Tokyo_Trip_2017_425

Tokyo_Trip_2017_427

Tokyo_Trip_2017_429

Tokyo_Trip_2017_430

Tokyo_Trip_2017_431

Hakone (Hakone-machi) is a town in Ashigarashimo District in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. As of June 2012, the town had an estimated population of 13,492 and a population density of 145 persons per km². The total area was 92.82 km². Hakone has been designated as a Geopark by UNESCO.
Hakone is to a great degree regarded as a traveler destination where you can see Mt. Fuji when taking a day trip from Tokyo. The area isn’t solely a place loaded with hot springs, museums and other recreation offices however, it is a district where you’ll appreciate the four seasons while seeing Mt. Fuji. Particularly during fall, the excellence of nature is astonishing with the changing hues on the mountains and the sensible Japanese grass spreading out like a blanket.

Hakone is the location of a noted Shinto shrine, the Hakone Gongen, which is mentioned in Heian period literature. During the Genpei War, Minamoto no Yoritomo prayed at this shrine for victory over his enemies, after his defeat at the Battle of Ishibashiyama, which was fought in neighboring Manazuru. As with the rest of Sagami Province, the area came under the control of the late Hōjō clan of Odawara during the Sengoku period. After the start of the Edo period, Hakone-juku was a post station on the Tōkaidō highway connecting Edo with Kyoto. It was also the site of a major barrier and official checkpoint on the route known as the Hakone Checkpoint (Hakone sekisho), which formed the border of the Kantō region. Under the Tokugawa shogunate, all travellers entering and leaving Edo along the Tōkaidō were stopped here by officials. Their travel permits and baggage were examined to enforce Tokugawa laws that restricted the travel of women and weapons.

After the start of the Meiji Restoration, Hakone became a part of the short-lived Ashigara Prefecture before becoming part of Ashigarashimo District in Kanagawa prefecture in August 1876. Hakone attained town status in 1889. The imperial household established the summer Hakone Imperial Villa close to the lake.
After merger with five neighboring towns and villages in September 1956, it reached its present boundaries.

Reaching Odawara, we transferred to Hakone Tozan Railway, which is a funny little train that takes you on a funny little ride around and up and down the mountain. The Hakone Tozan Line (Hakone Tozan Tetsudō-sen, lit. Hakone Mountain-Climbing Railroad Line) is a mountain railway in Japan operated by the Hakone Tozan Railway. This company belongs to the Odakyu Group, and also owns the Hakone Tozan Cable Car.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_433

Tokyo_Trip_2017_434

Tokyo_Trip_2017_435

Tokyo_Trip_2017_436

Tokyo_Trip_2017_437

Tokyo_Trip_2017_438

Tokyo_Trip_2017_440

Tokyo_Trip_2017_441

Tokyo_Trip_2017_442

Tokyo_Trip_2017_444

Tokyo_Trip_2017_445

Tokyo_Trip_2017_446

Tokyo_Trip_2017_447

The section of the line from Odawara Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station operations in 1919, with current terminus at Gōra reached in 1930. Since 2006, only Odakyū Odawara Line trains run on the previously dual-gauge section from Odawara Station to Hakone-Yumoto Station. From Gora, visitors can continue up the mountain on the Hakone Tozan Cable Car.

The railway is capable of climbing one meter vertically for every 12.5 meters of horizontal distance, a maximum gradient of 8%. The line traverses Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, so the line was carefully designed to limit the impact on scenery. Due to the difficult conditions, the line has three switchbacks used to ascend particularly steep sections.

This is the only mountain railway in Japan. The train departs from Hakone-Yumoto station (at 96 m above sea level) and takes about 40 minutes to arrive at the final stop, Gora station (at 541 m above sea level). Halfway up the line there are switchbacks, where the driver and the conductor change shifts and the train switch to reversed travel direction. It is a special experience that can be enjoyed only with the Hakone Tozan Train.

Arriving at Gora, where we alighted and looked for a place were we could eat, and a place we chose was a quiet place, which serves authentic ramen, which is what I ordered together with vegetable tempura.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_448

Tokyo_Trip_2017_449

Tokyo_Trip_2017_450

Tokyo_Trip_2017_452

Tokyo_Trip_2017_453

Tokyo_Trip_2017_455

Tokyo_Trip_2017_456

Tokyo_Trip_2017_457

Tokyo_Trip_2017_458

After our meal, since the ropeway was still closed due to weather conditions, we just went around and looked at some small items to buy, and when the ropeway was opened again, we cued ourselves to the cable car going up the ropeway. We left Gora on the allotted time and headed up to Sounzan Station where we would ride the Hakone Ropeway.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_459

Tokyo_Trip_2017_460

Tokyo_Trip_2017_461

Tokyo_Trip_2017_462

Tokyo_Trip_2017_463

Tokyo_Trip_2017_464

Tokyo_Trip_2017_465

Tokyo_Trip_2017_466

Tokyo_Trip_2017_467

Tokyo_Trip_2017_468

Tokyo_Trip_2017_469

Tokyo_Trip_2017_470

Tokyo_Trip_2017_472

Tokyo_Trip_2017_476

The Hakone Ropeway service operates at approximately one-minute intervals, and the 30-minute journey from Sounzan Station to Togendai Station, which nestles on the shore of Lake Ashi, allows visitors to take in such spectacular views as the crystal-clear blue waters of Lake Ashi, the rising volcanic fumes of Owakudani and the grandeur of Mount Fuji on a fine, sunny day. We are sure that you will enjoy your stroll in the sky, as you find yourself surrounded by some of the most famous sights that Japan has to offer.

Arriving a Owakudani Station, where we alighted and went around taking photos of the place. Owakudani (Ōwakudani) is the area around a crater created during the last eruption of Mount Hakone some 3000 years ago. Today, much of the area is an active volcanic zone where sulfurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers can be experienced. Additionally, Owakudani has good views of Mount Fuji on clear days.
A short walking trail (about ten minutes one way) leads from the ropeway station into the volcanic zone to a number of steam vents and bubbling pools. Here you can purchase eggs, cooked in the naturally hot water, whose shells are blackened by the sulfur and which are said to prolong one’s life by seven years.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_478

Tokyo_Trip_2017_479

Tokyo_Trip_2017_483

Tokyo_Trip_2017_485

Tokyo_Trip_2017_487

Tokyo_Trip_2017_488

Tokyo_Trip_2017_489

Tokyo_Trip_2017_490

Tokyo_Trip_2017_491

Tokyo_Trip_2017_492

Tokyo_Trip_2017_493

Tokyo_Trip_2017_494

Tokyo_Trip_2017_495

Tokyo_Trip_2017_498

Tokyo_Trip_2017_499

Tokyo_Trip_2017_500

Tokyo_Trip_2017_501

Tokyo_Trip_2017_502

Tokyo_Trip_2017_503

Tokyo_Trip_2017_507

Tokyo_Trip_2017_508

For the more adventurous, a hiking trail leads from the ropeway station to the peak of Mount Kamiyama and continues on to Mount Komagatake from where you can catch the Komagatake Ropeway down to Lake Ashinoko. The hike takes about 2 hours one way and can be rocky or slippery as well as quite windy. Proper hiking shoes and rain gear are recommended.

Alternatively, about 30 minutes past the peak of Mount Kamiyama a trail splits off down towards Lake Ashinoko. It leads down the mountain and along the lakeshore, ending at Kojiri not far from Togendai, from where the Hakone Ropeway connects back to Owakudani. The round trip takes about 4.5 hours.

By 1230hrs, we were at Ubako Station to ride the next part of the ropeway, this time going down to the Lake Ashinoko. Lake Ashinoko (Ashinoko) was formed in the caldera of Mount Hakone after the volcano’s last eruption 3000 years ago. Today, the lake with Mount Fuji in the background is the symbol of Hakone. The lake’s shores are mostly undeveloped except for small towns in the east and north and a couple of lakeside resort hotels.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_509

Tokyo_Trip_2017_510

Tokyo_Trip_2017_511

Tokyo_Trip_2017_513

Tokyo_Trip_2017_514

Tokyo_Trip_2017_515

Tokyo_Trip_2017_516

Tokyo_Trip_2017_518

Tokyo_Trip_2017_520

Tokyo_Trip_2017_522

Tokyo_Trip_2017_523

Tokyo_Trip_2017_524

The best views of the lake in combination with Mount Fuji can be enjoyed from Moto-Hakone (a few steps south from the sightseeing boat pier), from the Hakone Detached Palace Garden and from the sightseeing boats cruising the lake.
Note however, that clouds and poor visibility often block the view of Mount Fuji, and you have to consider yourself lucky if you get a clear view of the mountain. Visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons of the year than in summer, and in the early morning and late afternoon hours.

Two companies, Hakone Sightseeing Boats and Izuhakone Sightseeing Boats, operate boats between Moto-Hakone and Hakone-machi at the lake’s southern shores and Togendai and Kojiri at the lake’s northern end. A boat cruise from one end of the lake to the other takes roughly 30 minutes and costs 1000 yen. The Hakone Free Pass is valid on the pirate ship shaped Hakone Sightseeing Boats but not on boats operated by Izuhakone.

After a good wait in the line, we were allowed to board the boat and headed up to the upper decks and took photos. The Hakone Pirate Ship began operations in 1920 and is a sightseeing ship that cruises Lake Ashi. In order to attract tourists, in 1964 the ship donned the pirate ship decoration and became a famous attraction at Lake Ashi.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_525

Tokyo_Trip_2017_526

Tokyo_Trip_2017_527

Tokyo_Trip_2017_528

Tokyo_Trip_2017_530

Tokyo_Trip_2017_532

All of the ships are very large, can be boarded easily and does not sway very much, which makes them comfortable for visitors. The surrounding area can be viewed 360 degrees from the observation deck , and great views can also be seen through the large windows inside.

The cockpit of the ship can be viewed through a glass window. Visitors can stand behind the cockpit and get a feel for what the captain’s view would be. The Hakone Pirate Ship is a great experience for families with children and is a must see for visits to Lake Ashi.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_533

Tokyo_Trip_2017_534

Tokyo_Trip_2017_535

Tokyo_Trip_2017_536

Tokyo_Trip_2017_538

We alighted at Hakonemachi-ko, where we decided to walk through the Ancient Cedar Avenue. Cedar ave. of Hakone Old Tokaido Road is a great historic pass located in Hakone on the side of Lake Ashi. About 500m between Motohakone town to Onshi-Hakone Park, there is a beautiful Cedar ave. 

Cedar trees were planted by Matsudaira Masatsun in 1618. Those 400 Cedar trees are over 400 years old now and still remains the great view of Tokaido as it was used to be. 

It is registered as the national historic site.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_540

Tokyo_Trip_2017_541

Tokyo_Trip_2017_542

Tokyo_Trip_2017_543

Tokyo_Trip_2017_544

Tokyo_Trip_2017_545

Tokyo_Trip_2017_546

Tokyo_Trip_2017_547

Tokyo_Trip_2017_549

Tokyo_Trip_2017_550

Tokyo_Trip_2017_551

Tokyo_Trip_2017_552

Tokyo_Trip_2017_553

Tokyo_Trip_2017_554

Tokyo_Trip_2017_555

Tokyo_Trip_2017_557

Tokyo_Trip_2017_558

With the rains starting to fall we decided to head back to our starting point which is Odawara Station, we waited for the bus to arrive and then boarded it and left Hakone heading to Odawara Station, and decided to take the Romancecar heading back to Shinjuku. Odakyu’s Limited Express train is known by the name of “Romancecar”, but there is no record of when or how that name was established. One theory is that the term is derived from an old trend in places such as movie theaters for two-person seats, which were called “romance seats”. Direct trains between Shinjuku and Hakone-Yumoto started operating in 1950, and by the following year the name “Romancecar” had been established.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_560

Tokyo_Trip_2017_561

Tokyo_Trip_2017_562

Tokyo_Trip_2017_563

Tokyo_Trip_2017_564

Tokyo_Trip_2017_565

Tokyo_Trip_2017_566

Tokyo_Trip_2017_568

Tokyo_Trip_2017_570

Tokyo_Trip_2017_571

Tokyo_Trip_2017_572

Tokyo_Trip_2017_573

Tokyo_Trip_2017_574

Tokyo_Trip_2017_575

Tokyo_Trip_2017_576

Tokyo_Trip_2017_577

Tokyo_Trip_2017_578

Tokyo_Trip_2017_579

Tokyo_Trip_2017_580

Tokyo_Trip_2017_581

Tokyo_Trip_2017_582

It was around 1730hrs, when we arrived in Shinjuku and a bit hungry, so we decided to look for something to eat and meet up with the other group, but since they decided to eat at Ikinari Steak, we looked for a place where we could eat and found CocoIchibanya where they serve vegetarian food (Vegan), and we ordered Vegetable Curry with Eggplant and Vegetable Curry with Mushrooms, and had a grand time eating eat.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_584

Tokyo_Trip_2017_586

Tokyo_Trip_2017_587

Tokyo_Trip_2017_588

Tokyo_Trip_2017_589

Tokyo_Trip_2017_590

Tokyo_Trip_2017_591

Tokyo_Trip_2017_592

Tokyo_Trip_2017_594

Tokyo_Trip_2017_595

Tokyo_Trip_2017_596

Tokyo_Trip_2017_598

Tokyo_Trip_2017_599

After eating our meals, while the others are still eating, we headed towards Piss Alley and checked the place out. Just outside the west gate of Shinjuku station lies Omoide Yokocho (literally “Memory Lane”), or as it is known among the Tokyo locals, “Piss Alley”. A collection of small bars, yakitori grills, and food stalls, the history of this seedy alleyway dates back to post-war Japan.

Starting out as an illegal drinking quarter in the late 1940’s, the narrow side street quickly became a prime spot for cheap drinks, yakitori, and cabaret style hostess bars. Due to the lack of restroom facilities, patrons were known to wander off and relieve themselves on the nearby train tracks, and it did not take long for Piss Alley to earn its name. The area provided a social space for local residents who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford such luxuries as meat and alcohol in an impoverished, post-war economy.

The atmosphere remained largely unchanged until 1999 when a fire tragically destroyed most of the restaurants and shops in the alley. Fortunately, the local government decided to rebuild the area exactly as it had been, preserving the “old Japan” vibe that had come to be cherished by locals and travelers alike. To this day, a visit to Piss Alley feels like stepping back into the Showa era.

Visitors are hit with the smell of barbecue smoke and charcoal the moment they step into the alley. Yakitori is king here, served by almost all of the restaurants in Piss Alley and nikomi, a thick, hearty stew made of beef tendon, intestines, and vegetables is a close second. Vegetarians are advised to eat something before arriving, as meatless options will be quite limited.

In case the name “Piss Alley” doesn’t make this obvious enough, this is not a place for fancy cocktails or imported wines. The booze here is bountiful and cheap. Japanese beer, highballs, sours, shochu, and sake are available at every restaurant for a reasonable price.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_601

Tokyo_Trip_2017_602

Tokyo_Trip_2017_603

Tokyo_Trip_2017_604

Tokyo_Trip_2017_605

Tokyo_Trip_2017_606

Tokyo_Trip_2017_607

Tokyo_Trip_2017_608

Tokyo_Trip_2017_610

Tokyo_Trip_2017_611

Tokyo_Trip_2017_612

Tokyo_Trip_2017_613

And a short walk from Piss Alley, we headed to Godzilla Road. Each neighborhood of Tokyo has its own unique feel, but it’s hard to top Shinjuku. Located in the heart of downtown, Shinjuku has just about everything you could ask for in a modern metropolis, boasting such attractions as a beautiful garden, extensive shopping options, an uncountable array of restaurants and bars, and the RocketNews24 offices.

And now, there’s one more reason to come to Shinjuku. A big one in fact, as the King of the Monsters, Godzilla himself, is literally watching over the district in the form of a life-size replica of the creature’s head peering down from one of its skyscrapers.

Shinjuku’s most densely packed section of entertainment options is the subsection known as Kabukicho. While the long-ago promised kabuki theater, from which the area took its name, has never materialized, Kabukicho will be getting a new movie theater soon when the currently under-construction Toho Cinemas opens.

While Toho runs a chain of theaters in Japan, the company’s primary business is film production, with its most internationally famous property being the Godzilla franchise. So to help the new building stand out in the crowded urban landscape of Shinjuku, Toho decided to recruit the movie icon’s help.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_614

Tokyo_Trip_2017_616

Tokyo_Trip_2017_617

Tokyo_Trip_2017_618

Tokyo_Trip_2017_619

Tokyo_Trip_2017_620

We entered Don Quijote, and looked around a bit, and since it was getting late, we decided to head home to our lodging to rest for the night

Tokyo_Trip_2017_621

Tokyo_Trip_2017_622

Tokyo_Trip_2017_623

Tokyo_Trip_2017_624

Tokyo_Trip_2017_625

TIP: Japanese People are so disciplined that when using the escalator they always stay on left side when standing

TIP: learn some Japanese words like:

Thank you : Arigatou

Thank you (This is more polite than Arigatou.) : Arigatou gozaimasu

Excuse me or I’m sorry: Sumimasen

TIP: download the apps @cityrailmap and Google Translate, and you will never get lost

Note: all time stated are Philippine Standard Time, unless otherwise stated

Note: I am a vegan and do not condone killing or eating any meat products, photos taken are for documentary purposes only

All photos are owned and copyrighted by Joey Rico (also known under these names: alien_scream).
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use, copy, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos, without his explicit permission, is punishable by law

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.

Advertisements

Nihon-Koku 2017 – Yokohama Trip
(Day 3)

Tokyo_Header.2

Waking up relatively late after the haloween celebration the night before, we headed out again heading for Yokohama, taking the train from Horikiri-Shobuen transferring lines at Nippori Station, heading for Yokohama then transferring lines again heading for Motomachi-Chukagai station where we would be visiting Yokohama Chinatown.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_270

Tokyo_Trip_2017_271

Tokyo_Trip_2017_273

Tokyo_Trip_2017_276

Tokyo_Trip_2017_279

Tokyo_Trip_2017_281

Tokyo_Trip_2017_282

Tokyo_Trip_2017_284

Yokohama Chinatown (Yokohama Chūkagai) is Japan’s largest Chinatown, located in central Yokohama. A large number of Chinese stores and restaurants can be found in the narrow and colorful streets of Chinatown. Various events and festivals such as Chinese New Year around the beginning of February are also held at Chinatown.

Yokohama Chinatown quickly developed, after the port of Yokohama had been one of the first Japanese ports to be opened to foreign trade in 1859. It became the residence of the many Chinese traders who settled down in the city. Today, there are more businesses than actual residents living in the area.

Four colorful gates stand at the entrances to Chinatown, and five more gates can be found within. The Kanteibyo is a gaudily colored temple in the center of Chinatown. Constructed in 1873 by Chinese residents, it is dedicated to the Chinese god of good business and prosperity.

The main attraction of the Yokohama Chinatown, however, is the cuisine offered at its many restaurants and food stands. Popular favorites include steamed buns (manju), ramen noodles and a wide array of other Chinese dishes, many of which have been Japanized to a certain degree.
Expect a lot of sumptuous dishes here! Everywhere you go, you’ll see Chinese restaurants, some seemingly trying to outdo each other with their ornate fixtures. Most restaurants have an all-you-can-eat course, and for anywhere between 1,500-4,000 yen, you can order all the dishes you want. While some impose a time limit (usually 90 minutes), some restaurants don’t. On the menu are plenty of hearty dishes: various types of dim sum, meat dishes, vegetables, fish, soups—you name it, they probably have it! Many also offer Peking duck as part of the course, but frankly, the strips of Peking duck tend to be so tiny that it hardly feels like you’re eating Peking duck. Still, you get what you pay for, and you’ll probably be too full from everything else to care too much, anyway. But if you really want a generous portion of some juicy Peking duck, some restaurants have it, but be prepared to pay up.

If you can save some of your appetite to try the snacks and street food, go for it. (Alternatively, skip the all-you-can-eat course and go from one shop or stall to another, trying different things.) The smell of the food wafts through the streets, making the food too tempting to pass up. With large nikuman (meat buns), shumai (pork dumplings), shouronbou (the Japanese term for xiaolongbao, steamed buns with soup inside), tea, fried sesame balls, egg tarts, and more, Chinatown has so much food to offer that you’ll probably want to try everything!

After a good walk from the station we arrived at Yokohama Chinatown, here we saw lots of streetfood where you can feast on, and in one of the stalls we got a pancake like bread mage out of flour with onions. Then walking around till we reach a place where we would eat our lunch, which was tofu slices and pad thai, we requested the cook to remove all meat products when cooking. After a heartfull lunch, we headed back to the street and wandered a bit more, after which we headed back to Motomachi-Chukagai station, heading for another stop, which is the Ramen Museum. Transferring line at Yokohama, heading for Shin-Yokohama station, from here, is a bit of a walk to the Ramen Museum.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_286

Tokyo_Trip_2017_288

Tokyo_Trip_2017_289

Tokyo_Trip_2017_290

Tokyo_Trip_2017_291

Tokyo_Trip_2017_293

Tokyo_Trip_2017_294

Tokyo_Trip_2017_295

Tokyo_Trip_2017_296

Tokyo_Trip_2017_297

Tokyo_Trip_2017_299

Tokyo_Trip_2017_300

Tokyo_Trip_2017_304

Tokyo_Trip_2017_306

Tokyo_Trip_2017_307

Tokyo_Trip_2017_309

Tokyo_Trip_2017_311

Tokyo_Trip_2017_313

Tokyo_Trip_2017_315

Tokyo_Trip_2017_316

Tokyo_Trip_2017_317

Tokyo_Trip_2017_318

Tokyo_Trip_2017_319

Tokyo_Trip_2017_322

Tokyo_Trip_2017_323

You might be familiar with the Cup Ramen Museum in Yokohama, but Tokyo’s second city also has a second ramen mecca. You may not be able to design and make your own cup ramen here, but you can eat your way through bowls and bowls of carefully selected ramen dishes from all across Japan (and I know which I’d prefer). The museum was opened in Shinyokohama in 1994 and was, at the time, the world’s first food-themed amusement park. Based on the Showa-era streets of 1958—the year instant ramen was invented—the restaurants are in back alleys and a central courtyard, and inside are fully modern. The museum has a well-stocked shop, some informative displays and a few extra attractions on the Showa streets: certainly enough to occupy an afternoon.

Styled perfectly to recreate the atmospheric and somewhat dingy streets of times gone by, the ramen town of the museum is brilliant. You can’t help but be impressed when you step inside, and it’s hard not to get a giddy level of excitement at the thought of exploring the alleys.

The restaurants are split between two levels, with plenty of space for queues on the bottom level, and space for snaking lines along the upper-level streets.

The nine restaurants have been chosen to showcase the best of Japan’s ramen, and include different examples of noodle, broth and topping. Whether you like tonkotsu or miso, shio or shoyu—there’s something for everyone. The best part, however, is that you can try the smaller “taster” bowls if you want to try more than one.

At just over 500 yen each, they are still pretty filling, but at least alleviate the stress of having to try one out of nine. Four of the restaurants offer vegetarian as well as pork-free dishes, giving an unusual amount of options where there are usually few. Standard-sized bowls of ramen are around 800 yen, with all the regular options of ramen restaurants for toppings and sizes. If you look around each restaurant’s vending machine you’ll find a full multi-lingual menu and it’s easy enough to match color-coded dishes to their corresponding bowls or to use price to match them.

With nine to choose from, even the biggest ramen fans may not be able to manage all the taster bowls, so here’s a guide to tempt you in and help you choose:

Ryu Shanghai Honten
A rich miso base with thick noodles, this is a warming seafood, chicken and pork combination with some original elements. The unusually thick noodles are folded over 32 times and if you like things spicy, you can enjoy the dollop of raw miso which, sits top the spicy miso ramen option. The restaurant has a vegetarian menu and non-pork options.

Rishiri Ramen Miraku
Thick noodles in a rich scorched, shoyu sauce are a tough combination to beat and luckily this branch of the popular store is easier to reach than the original. Located on the Rishiri Island, it takes over 8 hours by ferry and plane, and is only open for two hours a day. The use of kelp sourced from the island lends it a savory depth rarely found and helped it to reach the Bib Gourmand standard. No vegetarian or pork-free options available.

Yuji Ramen
Only opened on March 16th, 2017, Yuji has a unique twist on tonkotsu: replacing the pork bones with grilled tuna to create a light, cloudy soup. Having spent years working with fish wholesalers in America, Yuji’s shop owner created the “tuna-kotsu” with no other animal-sourced ingredients. No vegetarian or pork-free options available.

Muku Zweite
A popular European ramen shop, this places uses flour more commonly used for pasta and pizza to create thick noodles for their rich tonkotsu and shoyu broth. The restaurant has a vegetarian menu and non-pork options.

Komurasaki
A much lighter tonkotsu than you might be used to, the broth at Komurasaki is both light and mild, but still full of flavor. With traditional toppings, roasted garlic and thin noodles the Kumamoto specialty is a great option if you want to try a few bowls that day, as it isn’t too rich. They have a vegetarian menu and non-pork options as well as dumplings.

Shina Soba
With a light shoyu base, Shina Soba is known for its umami flavor, and the owner has even been nicknamed the “Ramen Demon”. Using chickens he feeds himself and with over 30 specially chosen ingredients, you’ll enjoy the bowl immensely, even if you can’t put your finger on exactly why. They have a vegetarian menu and non-pork options available.

Nidai-me Genkotsuya
Nicknamed golden soup ramen, this shio/shoyu ramen uses fatty cuts of tuna and plenty of kelp in their pork and chicken bone soup. They also serve jumbo dumplings if you need something different, as well as having vegetarian and pork-free options.

Sumire
Listed as the most famous miso ramen shop in Japan, Sumire certainly has high expectations to reach, but reach them it does. The rich broth is full flavored and thick, and very moreish. The noodles are firm and hold up well in the miso broth—definitely a good one to hit up on your visit! It may be worth noting that the taster version does not come with meat. No vegetarian or pork-free options available.

Good to know:

To make the most of your ramen day here are some bonus tips:
• With free re-entry for a day, you can enjoy lunch and take a break for a stroll around the area before heading back for dinner, if you are keen to try as many bowls as you can
• Wifi is available in the museum, the ID is ramen and the password is 19940306
• Don’t forget to look for the English menus available at each vending machine
• Lunch time and dinner are popular with local salarymen who buy year-round access, so if there’s a long queue maybe check out somewhere else and try a little later as queues seemed to fluctuate a lot
• The museum has its own TV channel called Ra-Haku TV focusing on ramen history and development
• There are no reservations so you will have to queue
• Each adult is expected to buy at least one bowl of ramen

Entering the floors at the basement is like entering a different world or a blast from the past, with its old setup and old item including a telephone booth, a TV on the window and even an old camera shop. The ramen smelled good and we bought tickets for a small bowl and entered Komurasaki, thinking that we could share so we could try other ramen, but the rule here was no sharing and I got the bowl all by myself… making sure the what I ordered was the vegetarian with no meat products in it, and they said that they use soy based broth, so I’m good.
You could stay here and just walk around the place and try out other ramen shops, which we did and after a while we headed out back to Shin-Yokohama heading for Ueno, where we met up with the rest of the group.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_324

Tokyo_Trip_2017_326

Tokyo_Trip_2017_327

Tokyo_Trip_2017_328

Tokyo_Trip_2017_329

Tokyo_Trip_2017_331

Tokyo_Trip_2017_332

Tokyo_Trip_2017_333

Tokyo_Trip_2017_335

Tokyo_Trip_2017_336

Tokyo_Trip_2017_337

Tokyo_Trip_2017_338

Tokyo_Trip_2017_340

Tokyo_Trip_2017_342

Tokyo_Trip_2017_343

Tokyo_Trip_2017_345

Tokyo_Trip_2017_348

Tokyo_Trip_2017_349

Tokyo_Trip_2017_353

Tokyo_Trip_2017_354

Tokyo_Trip_2017_357

Tokyo_Trip_2017_359

Tokyo_Trip_2017_362

Tokyo_Trip_2017_363

Tokyo_Trip_2017_364

Tokyo_Trip_2017_366

Tokyo_Trip_2017_367

Tokyo_Trip_2017_368

Tokyo_Trip_2017_369

Tokyo_Trip_2017_370

Tokyo_Trip_2017_372

Tokyo_Trip_2017_373

Tokyo_Trip_2017_374

Tokyo_Trip_2017_376

Tokyo_Trip_2017_378

Tokyo_Trip_2017_380

Tokyo_Trip_2017_381

Tokyo_Trip_2017_383

Tokyo_Trip_2017_385

Tokyo_Trip_2017_386

Tokyo_Trip_2017_388

Tokyo_Trip_2017_389

Tokyo_Trip_2017_390

Tokyo_Trip_2017_391

Tokyo_Trip_2017_395

Tokyo_Trip_2017_397

Tokyo_Trip_2017_398

Tokyo_Trip_2017_399

Tokyo_Trip_2017_400

Tokyo_Trip_2017_401

Tokyo_Trip_2017_402

Tokyo_Trip_2017_403

Tokyo_Trip_2017_404

Tokyo_Trip_2017_405

Tokyo_Trip_2017_407

Tokyo_Trip_2017_408

Tokyo_Trip_2017_409

Tokyo_Trip_2017_410

Tokyo_Trip_2017_411

Heading back to our lodging, and buying some breakfast food for the next day, for we would be heading out to another fun filled adventure to Hakone.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_412

Tokyo_Trip_2017_414

TIP: Japanese People are so disciplined that when using the escalator they always stay on left side when standing

TIP: learn some Japanese words like:

Thank you : Arigatou

Thank you (This is more polite than Arigatou.) : Arigatou gozaimasu

Excuse me or I’m sorry: Sumimasen

TIP: download the apps @cityrailmap and Google Translate, and you will never get lost

Note: all time stated are Philippine Standard Time, unless otherwise stated

Note: I am a vegan and do not condone killing or eating any meat products, photos taken are for documentary purposes only

All photos are owned and copyrighted by Joey Rico (also known under these names: alien_scream).
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use, copy, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos, without his explicit permission, is punishable by law

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.

with Carol Maralit, Dolly Arevalo

Nihon-Koku 2017
(Day 2)

Tokyo_Header.1

Waking up early for our adventure for the day eating my version of breakfast of champions, which consists of Mixed Vegetables, Nimono, served with Japanese Rice, Miso Soup and fresh fruits. At around 0900hrs, we started walking to the train station of Horikiri-Shobuen heading for Keisei Ueno, where we would transfer to another line in Ueno heading for Tsukiji where we would be visiting Tsukiji Seafood Market.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_169

Tokyo_Trip_2017_170

Tokyo_Trip_2017_172

Tokyo_Trip_2017_173

Tokyo_Trip_2017_175

Tokyo_Trip_2017_176

Tokyo_Trip_2017_177

Tokyo_Trip_2017_178

Tokyo_Trip_2017_179

Tokyo_Trip_2017_180

Tokyo_Trip_2017_182

Tokyo_Trip_2017_183

Tokyo_Trip_2017_184

Tokyo_Trip_2017_185

Tokyo_Trip_2017_185

Tokyo_Trip_2017_187

Tokyo_Trip_2017_189

Tokyo_Trip_2017_190

Tsukiji Market is a large wholesale market for fish, fruits and vegetables in central Tokyo. It is the most famous of over ten wholesale markets that handle the distribution of food and flowers in Tokyo. Tsukiji Market is best known as one of the world’s largest fish markets, handling over 2,000 tons of marine products per day.
The sight of the many kinds of fresh seafood and the busy atmosphere of scooters, trucks, sellers and buyers hurrying around, make Tsukiji Market one of a major tourist attractions. In fact, the numbers of visitors have increased so much over recent years, that they have become a problem to the course of business, as the aging market’s infrastructure was not anticipated to serve as a tourist spot.
Tsukiji Market consists of an inner market where most of the wholesale business and the famous tuna auctions are taking place, and an outer market whose retail shops and restaurants cater to the public. A few restaurants are also found in the inner market.

Since you have to be there early to catch the auction which happens around 0500hrs (Japanese Standard Time), and the trains start only at 0500hrs, you have to stay near Tsukiji Market to get a slot for the auction, so we decided just to look around the market are and sample the food there, but since we could not eat any seafoods, we looked for something we could eat which is a pancake like food called Okonomiyaki, made with flour, grated nagaimo (a type of yam), and water, we chose to get the 5 kinds of vegetable and the cloud ear mushrooms, which tasted great. After which we saw a jelly like cake, which is called warabimochi with bamboo sticks, we got the Kinako (Soybean Flour) and the Baked Sweet Potato, and had to got back for seconds.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_191

Tokyo_Trip_2017_192

Tokyo_Trip_2017_193

Tokyo_Trip_2017_194

Tokyo_Trip_2017_195

Tokyo_Trip_2017_196

Tokyo_Trip_2017_197

Tokyo_Trip_2017_198

Tokyo_Trip_2017_199

Tokyo_Trip_2017_200

Tokyo_Trip_2017_201

Tokyo_Trip_2017_202

Tokyo_Trip_2017_203

Tokyo_Trip_2017_204

Tokyo_Trip_2017_206

Tokyo_Trip_2017_208

Tokyo_Trip_2017_209

Tokyo_Trip_2017_210

Tokyo_Trip_2017_211

Tokyo_Trip_2017_212

Tokyo_Trip_2017_213

Tokyo_Trip_2017_215

Tokyo_Trip_2017_216

Tokyo_Trip_2017_218

Tokyo_Trip_2017_219

Tokyo_Trip_2017_220

Tokyo_Trip_2017_222

Tokyo_Trip_2017_224

Tokyo_Trip_2017_225

Tokyo_Trip_2017_226

Tokyo_Trip_2017_227

Tokyo_Trip_2017_228

Tokyo_Trip_2017_229

Tokyo_Trip_2017_231

Tokyo_Trip_2017_232

Tokyo_Trip_2017_233

Tokyo_Trip_2017_234

Tokyo_Trip_2017_235

Heading back to Tsukiji station, we then transferred line in Roppongi Station heading for Shinjuku. Here we planned to visit the Samurai Museum, but decided later not to go in (while the others did, which I think was a mistake for me), and decided instead to head for Don Quijote, which is a store full of cheap goodies, where we were looking for costumes to use on Halloween.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_236

Tokyo_Trip_2017_237

Tokyo_Trip_2017_238

Tokyo_Trip_2017_239

Tokyo_Trip_2017_240

Tokyo_Trip_2017_241

Tokyo_Trip_2017_242

Tokyo_Trip_2017_243

Tokyo_Trip_2017_244

Tokyo_Trip_2017_245

Tokyo_Trip_2017_246

Tokyo_Trip_2017_247

Tokyo_Trip_2017_248

Tokyo_Trip_2017_249

Tokyo_Trip_2017_250

Tokyo_Trip_2017_251

Tokyo_Trip_2017_253

Tokyo_Trip_2017_254

Tokyo_Trip_2017_255

Tokyo_Trip_2017_256

Tokyo_Trip_2017_257

Time for us to head back to our lodging to prepare for halloween, so we headed back to Shinjuku station, heading for Ueno, then we transferred lines to Keisei Ueno, heading back to Horikiri-Shobuen. Upon reaching home, carol has a bit of a fever and decided to rest for the night because tomorrow will be another long day of adventure.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_258

Tokyo_Trip_2017_259

Tokyo_Trip_2017_260

Tokyo_Trip_2017_262

Tokyo_Trip_2017_263

Tokyo_Trip_2017_264

Tokyo_Trip_2017_265

Tokyo_Trip_2017_267

Tokyo_Trip_2017_268

Tokyo_Trip_2017_269

TIP: Japanese People are so disciplined that when using the escalator they always stay on left side when standing

TIP: learn some Japanese words like:

Thank you : Arigatou

Thank you (This is more polite than Arigatou.) : Arigatou gozaimasu

Excuse me or I’m sorry: Sumimasen

TIP: download the apps @cityrailmap and Google Translate, and you will never get lost

Note: all time stated are Philippine Standard Time, unless otherwise stated

Note: I am a vegan and do not condone killing or eating any meat products, photos taken are for documentary purposes only

Tokyo_Header

When you think of Japan, you would think of a country where the past meets the future. Japanese culture stretches back millennia, yet has also been quick to adopt and created the latest modern fashions and trends.

Japan’s location on islands at the outermost edge of Asia has had a profound influence on its history. Just close enough to mainland Asia, yet far enough to keep itself separate, much of Japanese history has seen alternating periods of closure and openness. Until recently, Japan has been able to turn on or off its connection to the rest of the world, accepting foreign cultural influences in fits and starts. It is comparable with the relationship between Britain and the rest of Europe, but with a much wider channel.

The kanji, or Sino-Japanese characters, that make up Japan’s name mean “sun origin”, and it is often called the “Land of the Rising Sun”. Japan is a stratovolcanic archipelago consisting of about 6,852 islands. The four largest are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, which make up about ninety-seven percent of Japan’s land area and often are referred to as home islands. The country is divided into 47 prefectures in eight regions, with Hokkaido being the northernmost prefecture and Okinawa being the southernmost one. The population of 127 million is the world’s tenth largest. Japanese people make up 98.5% of Japan’s total population. Approximately 9.1 million people live in Tokyo, the capital of Japan.

Archaeological research indicates that Japan was inhabited as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD. Influence from other regions, mainly China, followed by periods of isolation, particularly from Western Europe, has characterized Japan’s history.
From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled by successive feudal military shoguns who ruled in the name of the Emperor. Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, which was ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West. After nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection, the Imperial Court regained its political power in 1868 through the help of several clans from Chōshū and Satsuma—and the Empire of Japan was established. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victories in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism. The Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 expanded into part of World War II in 1941, which came to an end in 1945 following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Japanese surrender. Since adopting its revised constitution on May 3, 1947, during the occupation by the SCAP, Japan has maintained a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with an Emperor and an elected legislature called the National Diet.

Japan is a member of the UN, the OECD, the G7, the G8 and the G20—and is considered a great power. The country has the world’s third-largest economy by nominal GDP and the world’s fourth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It is also the world’s fourth-largest exporter and fourth-largest importer.

The country benefits from a highly skilled workforce and is among the most highly educated countries in the world, with one of the highest percentages of its citizens holding a tertiary education degree. Although Japan has officially renounced its right to declare war, it maintains a modern military with the world’s eighth-largest military budget, used for self-defense and peacekeeping roles. Japan is a developed country with a very high standard of living and Human Development Index. Its population enjoys the highest life expectancy and the third lowest infant mortality rate in the world. Japan is well-known internationally for its major contributions to science and modern-day technology.

Tokyo, officially Tokyo Metropolis, is the capital city of Japan and one of its 47 prefectures. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous metropolitan area in the world. It is the seat of the Emperor of Japan and the Japanese government. Tokyo is in the Kantō region on the southeastern side of the main island Honshu and includes the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands. Formerly known as Edo, it has been the de facto seat of government since 1603 when Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu made the city his headquarters. It officially became the capital after Emperor Meiji moved his seat to the city from the old capital of Kyoto in 1868; at that time Edo was renamed Tokyo. Tokyo Metropolis was formed in 1943 from the merger of the former Tokyo Prefecture and the city of Tokyo.

Tokyo is often referred to as a city, but is officially known and governed as a “metropolitan prefecture”, which differs from and combines elements of a city and a prefecture, a characteristic unique to Tokyo. The Tokyo metropolitan government administers the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo (each governed as an individual city), which cover the area that was the City of Tokyo before it merged and became the metropolitan prefecture in 1943. The metropolitan government also administers 39 municipalities in the western part of the prefecture and the two outlying island chains. The population of the special wards is over 9 million people, with the total population of the prefecture exceeding 13 million. The prefecture is part of the world’s most populous metropolitan area with upwards of 37.8 million people and the world’s largest urban agglomeration economy.

Here is where we would be roaming around mostly on this trip, where we would be visiting temples, museums and other interesting places. While processing our visas took longer than expected because of the paper works needed and a wrong date given for filing of our visa, but was elated when we were all approved with others having multiple entry visas.

On the day of our departure (the first group left a day earlier), our group rode together headed for the airport, checking in at around 1530hrs, and since our flight was delayed, we had the luxury of lazing around the airport and posting in social media about our impending trip. At 1945hrs, an announcement over the PA system announced that it was time to board our flight, so we lined up and headed through the ramp to board our plane, with all preparation and preflight checks done, we were airborne at around 2100hrs headed for the land of the rising sun.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_002

Tokyo_Trip_2017_004

Tokyo_Trip_2017_006

Tokyo_Trip_2017_008

Tokyo_Trip_2017_010

Tokyo_Trip_2017_012

Tokyo_Trip_2017_014

Tokyo_Trip_2017_016

Tokyo_Trip_2017_019

Our travel was as smooth as can be, and had all the luxury of inflight hospitality that the cabin crew of Philippine Airlines, can give. We were given a vegan meal (which we requested ahead of time), while the others had a selection of either beef or chicken, after our meals, we filled up our immigration forms and then took a nap. Waking up to the announcement of the pilot that we are about to land and prepare for landing, so we fixed our things, stored the mini table is front of us and sat upright for our scheduled landing in Tokyo International AirportHaneda – Tokyo International Airport, landing at around 0100hrs, and a long taxi over to the terminal area, where we were offloaded. We then headed for the immigration area here there was a long cue and took our turn passing thru immigration and then to the baggage carousel where we collected our luggage and waited for the train station to open at 0500hrs (Japan Local Time – which is ahead of Philippine time an hour), as always on our trips, I got local maps and other information sheets at the Tourist Information center, while the other got their local wifi connection which was for rent, and when the gates opened, we bought our tickets for Aoto, and headed down to a long escalator to where we would board the train, but we were unsure on what train to board and decided the take the third train out of Haneda Airport.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_020

Tokyo_Trip_2017_021

Tokyo_Trip_2017_022

Tokyo_Trip_2017_025

Tokyo_Trip_2017_027

Tokyo_Trip_2017_029

Tokyo_Trip_2017_034

Tokyo_Trip_2017_035

Tokyo_Trip_2017_036

Tokyo_Trip_2017_037

Tokyo_Trip_2017_038

Tokyo_Trip_2017_039

Tokyo_Trip_2017_040

Tokyo_Trip_2017_042

Feeling the cold weather biting, we headed for Aoto station, where we alighted and transferred to another line heading for Horikiri-Shobuen, where we were met up by our host for the trip, with our bags in the taxi, we took the local bus heading for our lodging on this trip, arriving with a savory hot meal for breakfast, which consist of Nimono, fried eggplant served with Japanese Rice, a good serving of Miso soup and fresh fruits, after which we rested a bit to let the food settle down our belly and decided that we would head out by 1000hrs, walking to the train station, we decided to try and enter the convenience stores we passed just see what they sell, upon reaching the station, we bought our tickets heading for Nezu. Exiting Nezu station, we walked a bit headed for Nesu Jinja Shrine.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_043

Tokyo_Trip_2017_045

Tokyo_Trip_2017_046

Tokyo_Trip_2017_048

Tokyo_Trip_2017_049

Tokyo_Trip_2017_050

Tokyo_Trip_2017_051

Tokyo_Trip_2017_052

Tokyo_Trip_2017_053

Tokyo_Trip_2017_054

Tokyo_Trip_2017_055

Tokyo_Trip_2017_056

Tokyo_Trip_2017_057

The Nezu-jinja Shrine is said to have been established over 1,900 years ago by the legendary priest Yamato Takeru no Mikoto in Sendagi with Susanoo no Mikoto as the chief deity. In the Edo Period (1603-1868), the 5th shogun Tsunayoshi relocated it from Sendagi to Nezu to commemorate the adoption of Ienobu as his successor and the 6th shogun Ienobu chose it as the guardian deity. The Gongen-style architectures (typical of modern shrines) of Honden (main sanctuary), Haiden (worship hall), Heiden (offering hall), Karamon (Chinese-style gate), Romon (two-story gate) and Sukibei (lattice-windowed wall) are designated as nationally Important Cultural Properties.

Nezu Jinja—built at the foot of a hill on the border of Bunkyo and Taito Wards —escaped though and despite the fact that most guides associate it with the tsutsuji (azalea) flowers and the mandatory matsuri/festival accompanying their blooming in April, personally I think it’s worth a visit anytime. Among other things, because its architecture is quite unusual and much more opulent than what you usually get in shrines (this style is called Gongen-zukuri and it’s most extreme version can be found in the Nikko Toshogu mausoleum) and because it contains the closest you can get to Tokyo to a red-torii gate path similar to the one in Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto.

Visiting on a regular day you’ll have the chance to walk around the shrine’s grounds without being bothered by the crowds swarming most of the other famous temples and shrines like Kanda Myojin or Sensoji and take in the mix of nature and architecture. The second, two-story gate aka “Romon”, the third/main gate aka “Karamon” and the latticed wall aka “Sukibei” are all National Important Cultural Properties (the Japanese love these designations!) and certainly worth noticing; I think that some of the less illustrious micro-shrines and monuments worn from the centuries and scattered around the place are also worth examining but here we might be crossing into specialized interests’ territory.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_058

Tokyo_Trip_2017_061

Tokyo_Trip_2017_062

Tokyo_Trip_2017_064

Tokyo_Trip_2017_066

Tokyo_Trip_2017_069

Tokyo_Trip_2017_070

Tokyo_Trip_2017_071

Tokyo_Trip_2017_072

Tokyo_Trip_2017_074

Tokyo_Trip_2017_075

Tokyo_Trip_2017_076

Tokyo_Trip_2017_078

Tokyo_Trip_2017_080

Tokyo_Trip_2017_081

Tokyo_Trip_2017_082

Tokyo_Trip_2017_083

Tokyo_Trip_2017_084

Tokyo_Trip_2017_085

Tokyo_Trip_2017_087

Heading back to the train station on Nezu, we then headed for Ueno station and visited Ameyoko Market, where we would meet up with the first group and have lunch together, but since we could not eat the same food as they would have, we decided to eat at a different place and looked around for something we could eat, and discovered this place which was hard to notice unless you see their sign, heading up the elevator to the third floor, we were greeted by an Indian gentleman who showed us to our table and ordered a good serving of Vegetable Curry, we later learned that the restaurant offers a buffet lunch and a lot of customers eat their lunch here and the food that we had was great. After we had our fill, we headed back down to meet up with the others and went around the market. Then headed for to the train station for our next destination which is Sensoji Temple

Tokyo_Trip_2017_088

Tokyo_Trip_2017_089

Tokyo_Trip_2017_090

Tokyo_Trip_2017_091

Tokyo_Trip_2017_092

Tokyo_Trip_2017_093

Tokyo_Trip_2017_098

Tokyo_Trip_2017_099

Tokyo_Trip_2017_100

Tokyo_Trip_2017_101

Tokyo_Trip_2017_103

Tokyo_Trip_2017_104

Tokyo_Trip_2017_105

Tokyo_Trip_2017_106

Alighting at Asakasa Station, we headed for Sensoji Temple in which we would pass through Nakamise Shopping Street.

Nakamise Dori is the best place in Tokyo to buy souvenirs. It’s a 250 meter (800 foot) shopping street that leads to Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest and most visited temple.

There are around 90 shops on the street that sell snacks and souvenirs to the throngs of domestic and international tourists who visit the area. There has been a tourist market here since the 17th century. Many of the shops have been run by the same family for many generations.

The souvenirs on the street target both domestic and international tourists. They range from outrageously cheesy items to authentic and useful souvenirs. Amongst the later category it’s possible to find traditional items such as Japanese chopsticks, yukata, geta, wooden combs, fabrics and folding fans.

In a city full of temples, Sensoji is the eldest, boasting almost one and a half millennium of history, Tokyo’s biggest souvenir market and perhaps the gaudiest rendezvous point: its Kaminarimon Gate with the huge red chochin lantern.
Sensoji Temple was the reason the insignificant village Asakusa became a town: Ieyasu, the Tokugawa shogun who created the great city of Edo and made it Japan’s de facto capital in the early 1600s saw in Sensoji a very convenient symbolism (also, being the toughest warlord of his time, he needed all the help he could get from the gods and Buddhas). According to ancient geomancy, potential invaders come either from the northeast or the southwest, the front and rear “demon gates”. Sensoji Temple was the guardian of the northeast gate and Zojoji Temple in Shiba, near Tokyo Tower took care of the southwest; Ieyasu made them both his family temples.
When this happened, Sensoji Temple was already 1,000 years. Its chronicles put its founding at 628 AD through one of these stories that legends and religions are made of: while fishing in the Sumida river in the morning of March 18th, the brothers Hinokuma Hamanari and Takenari caught in their nets a small golden statue of the Buddhist deity Kannon; they tried to get rid of it but it kept coming up so they decided to keep it. When they returned to the village, they showed it to one of the chieftains, Haji no Nakatomo who, being a devout Buddhist understood what it was, and built a temple to house it. The temple was, of course, Sensoji –“Senso” is another reading of the characters for “Asakusa” and “ji” is “temple”.

Tokyo_Trip_2017_109


Tokyo_Trip_2017_110


Tokyo_Trip_2017_111


Tokyo_Trip_2017_112


Tokyo_Trip_2017_113

Tokyo_Trip_2017_114


Tokyo_Trip_2017_116


Tokyo_Trip_2017_119


Tokyo_Trip_2017_121


Tokyo_Trip_2017_123


Tokyo_Trip_2017_124


Tokyo_Trip_2017_125


Tokyo_Trip_2017_126


Tokyo_Trip_2017_127


Tokyo_Trip_2017_128


Tokyo_Trip_2017_130


Tokyo_Trip_2017_133


Tokyo_Trip_2017_134


Tokyo_Trip_2017_135


Tokyo_Trip_2017_136


Tokyo_Trip_2017_137


Tokyo_Trip_2017_138


Tokyo_Trip_2017_139


Tokyo_Trip_2017_140


Tokyo_Trip_2017_143


Tokyo_Trip_2017_144


Tokyo_Trip_2017_145


Tokyo_Trip_2017_146


Tokyo_Trip_2017_147


Tokyo_Trip_2017_148


Tokyo_Trip_2017_150


Tokyo_Trip_2017_151


Tokyo_Trip_2017_152


Tokyo_Trip_2017_154

It was getting a bit dark when we left Sensoji Temple, and we started walking heading for The Tokyo Skytree.
The Tokyo Skytree is a television broadcasting tower and landmark of Tokyo. It is the centerpiece of the Tokyo Skytree Town in the Sumida City Ward, not far away from Asakusa. With a height of 634 meters (634 can be read as “Musashi”, a historic name of the Tokyo Region), it is the tallest structure in Japan and the second tallest in the world at the time of its completion. A large shopping complex with aquarium is located at its base.

The highlight of the Tokyo Skytree is its two observation decks, which offer spectacular views out over Tokyo. The two enclosed decks are located at heights of 350 and 450 meters respectively, making them the highest observation decks in Japan and some of the highest in the world.

It was a bit late and was not able to go to the top so we decided to head back to Ueno and have dinner and since the group decided to eat somewhere we could not eat, we looked again for a place where we had our dinner which consist of soba and noodles. After dinner we headed for the train station at Ueno to ride the Keisei line headed for Horikiri-Shobuen to our lodging to rest from the long first day we had in Tokyo

Tokyo_Trip_2017_155

Tokyo_Trip_2017_156

Tokyo_Trip_2017_157

Tokyo_Trip_2017_158

Tokyo_Trip_2017_160

Tokyo_Trip_2017_161

Tokyo_Trip_2017_163

Tokyo_Trip_2017_166

Tokyo_Trip_2017_167

Tokyo_Trip_2017_168

TIP: order a vegetarian or vegan meal on the plane, you will be served ahead of the others

TIP: download the apps @cityrailmap and Google Translate, and you will never get lost

Note: all time stated are Philippine Standard Time, unless otherwise stated

Vegan_JoyRide_Header

Being invited to a trip where we would be visiting some well talked about vegan restaurants south of Manila, and while doing so we would also be going to Bantakay falls, thinking of the good food we would be having and the fun that the ride would be, I said yes.

Waking up around 0230hrs to fix my things for the trip (i was having second thoughts because of the rains we were having) and got a ride heading for our meet-up point in Caltex station along Buendia, by 0515, we left Makati to pick up other friends along the way. We then arrived at The Real Happy Cow to pick up our packed breakfast consisting of Vegan Humba with a side of roasted vegetables topped with 5-spice aioli and a generous portion of turmeric brown rice. Dessert is Passionfruit loaf packed in a sugar cane fiber containers to lessen out trash, by 0615hrs we left Alabang heading south.

We met up the other van at Sto Tomas area, passing through Ibaan heading for Lucena, with a short stop over along the way to relieve our bladders.

Arriving at Lucena, we headed for Reasons, where we would be eating our lunch, having the whole place for us, we chatted around while waiting for the food and when lunch was served, we had a feast. Lunch was Pancit Habhab, Eggplant and Tofu, Sinugno (which is prepared like pinangat) and Quezodilla. We were have a great time at reasons that by the time we left it was past 1200hrs

Traveling to Atimonan, Quezon for the Bantakay falls and started the trek to the fall around 1445hrs

With the rains the previous days and in the morning, the trails were a bit slippery and were all sliding and slipping along the trail, passing a spot in which they prepare copra, here we had a taste of the coconut water and some coconut sprouts to eat, upon reaching the falls was a relief with the cold fresh water on your feet and body to refresh you aching body, after a while (with some good shots taken) we started to head back to the trail head because it was getting dark and by 1900hrs we arrived at the trail head one by one untill all members were accounted for, having cleaned up and refreshed, we headed our way to Los Baños by 2000hr, passing though Tayabas, Lucban, Luisiana, Pagsanjan.

Arriving at Satya Graha Cafe and Restaurant, around 2200hrs, and was so hungry that we were all sitted sipping a good serving of soup and when dinner arrived, we had a feast again, our dinner consisted of Pata roll Paksiw, Bbq, Vegchon and a refreshing cold drink of lemon grass tea, after dinner, we headed back to Manila to be dropped off at our meeting place,

They say if you like eating and would like to taste great food, you will travel far to taste that food, this is what vegans do.

Thanks to all who joined this trip, meeting new friends, for the fun and joy and specially the great food, till next joy ride

Manila Vegans
Vegans of Manila

Vegan_JoyRide_001

Vegan_JoyRide_003

Vegan_JoyRide_009

Vegan_JoyRide_010

Vegan_JoyRide_011

Vegan_JoyRide_013

Vegan_JoyRide_015

Vegan_JoyRide_016

Vegan_JoyRide_018

Vegan_JoyRide_020

Vegan_JoyRide_023

Vegan_JoyRide_024

Vegan_JoyRide_025

Vegan_JoyRide_026

Vegan_JoyRide_027

Vegan_JoyRide_028

Vegan_JoyRide_029

Vegan_JoyRide_031

Vegan_JoyRide_032

Vegan_JoyRide_034

Vegan_JoyRide_038

Vegan_JoyRide_039

Vegan_JoyRide_041

Vegan_JoyRide_042

Vegan_JoyRide_043

Vegan_JoyRide_044

Vegan_JoyRide_046

Vegan_JoyRide_049

Vegan_JoyRide_050

Vegan_JoyRide_052

Vegan_JoyRide_054

Vegan_JoyRide_055

Vegan_JoyRide_056

Vegan_JoyRide_059

Vegan_JoyRide_060

Vegan_JoyRide_062

Vegan_JoyRide_064

Vegan_JoyRide_Group01

Vegan_JoyRide_Group02

The Basílica Menor de San Sebastián, better known as San Sebastian Church, is a Roman Catholic minor basilica in Manila, Philippines, Completed in 1891, San Sebastian Church is noted for its architectural features, it is the only all-steel temple in the Philippines, and is the only prefabricated steel church in the world.

The prefabricated steel sections that would compose the church were manufactured in Binche, Belgium. According to historian Ambeth Ocampo, the knockdown steel parts were ordered from the Societe anonyme des Enterprises de Travaux Publiques in Brussels. In all, 52 tonnes (51 long tons; 57 short tons) of prefabricated steel sections were transported in eight separate shipments from Belgium to the Philippines, the first shipment arriving in 1888. Belgian engineers supervised the assembly of the church, the first column of which was erected on September 11, 1890. The walls were filled with mixed sand, gravel, and cement. The stained glass windows were imported from the Heinrich Oidtmann Company, a German stained glass firm, while local artisans assisted in applying the finishing touches.

The church was raised to the status of a minor basilica by Pope Leo XIII on June 24, 1890. Upon its completion the following year, on August 16, 1891, the Basílica Menor de San Sebastián was consecrated by Bernardino Nozaleda y Villa OP, the 25th Archbishop of Manila.

According to Jesús Pastor Paloma, an Agustinian Recollect priest, the structure was also supposed to have a prefabricated retablo (reredos) altar, which was lost at sea when the ship carrying it from Belgium capsized in a storm; a wooden altar was made locally in its stead. Paloma also noted that the bottom part of the church was designed to resemble a ship’s hull, so that it would sway during an earthquake.

San Sebastian Church is one of the country’s last remaining churches that has preserved its original interiors; original parts of the church that can still be found today include its metal doors, wall ceilings, decorative paints, and glass windows.

Now this Majestic Steel Church is now badly needing repairs, a hundred years after being constructed, it is being destroyed by rust and corrosion, and if not taken cared of and repaired, it might topple down

With the help of San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, Inc. they are rehabilitating the church back to its original state which would take time to do, to find out the root cause of the rust and corrosion then to fin ways to fix it and then to implement the repairs.

The Church which they say is constructed like an inverted ship with its hull on the roof looks amazing on different times of the day, even the lights inside the church when open gives it a yellowish hue but with natural lighting shows the green color of the original paint to give an impression that it is made of marble

With these significant elements, San Sebastian Church is indeed the Philippines’ treasure to behold. In general, the basilica remains its beauty and is still preserved. Apart from being a special architectural and historical interest, its splendor and warmth have placed it among the most beloved wedding churches in Manila.

San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation, Inc.

San Sebastian Church (Manila)

#sansebastianchurch

 

SanSebastianTour_2017_002

SanSebastianTour_2017_012

SanSebastianTour_2017_015

SanSebastianTour_2017_019

SanSebastianTour_2017_033

SanSebastianTour_2017_037

SanSebastianTour_2017_041

SanSebastianTour_2017_042

SanSebastianTour_2017_043

SanSebastianTour_2017_046

SanSebastianTour_2017_047

SanSebastianTour_2017_049

SanSebastianTour_2017_053

SanSebastianTour_2017_054

SanSebastianTour_2017_058

SanSebastianTour_2017_059

SanSebastianTour_2017_061

SanSebastianTour_2017_063

SanSebastianTour_2017_064

SanSebastianTour_2017_065

SanSebastianTour_2017_069

SanSebastianTour_2017_072

SanSebastianTour_2017_073

SanSebastianTour_2017_075

SanSebastianTour_2017_077

SanSebastianTour_2017_078

SanSebastianTour_2017_080

SanSebastianTour_2017_082

SanSebastianTour_2017_083

SanSebastianTour_2017_084

SanSebastianTour_2017_086

SanSebastianTour_2017_087

SanSebastianTour_2017_088

SanSebastianTour_2017_089

SanSebastianTour_2017_091

SanSebastianTour_2017_093

SanSebastianTour_2017_094

SanSebastianTour_2017_095

All photos are owned and copyrighted by Joey Rico (also known under these names: alien_scream).
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use, copy, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos, without his explicit permission, is punishable by law

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.

Photobucket

Cebu-Kota Kinabalu in a Week
ITLog No.4
(February 26 – March 4, 2011)

Did we ever travel to different places in a week?

A lot of travelers do, and try to visit as much as they can… but for us we were about to revisit two places namely Cebu and Kota Kinabalu. We visited Cebu a year ago to witness the Sinulog Festival, and Kota Kinabalu just last January.

Thanks to those airline promos that give cheap rates, which gives us travelers on a budget to travel almost every month, but what we did not foresee that we are going to two places with just one day in between them.

After doing overtime work at the office the night before, going home and packing my daypack for this trip, stuffing my cameras in my camera bag and a tripod stuck on my back pack while bringing all my new clothes for this trip, because as I learned we were booked at Hilton Hotel (a five-star hotel), and it would be our first time to travel and being booked at a five-star hotel (we almost always travel and stay in cheap but really nice places like backpackers do).

Being at the airport by 0500hrs and eating breakfast, we left Manila by 0700hrs and upon arriving in Cebu, we checked in at Hilton Cebu Resort & Spa, went up to our room and tried to feel what staying in a five-star hotel would feel like. We had breakfast at 0900hrs, and by 1400hrs, we got on the shuttle to take us to SM Cebu where we had lunch of cebu lechon, chorizo and puso rice, then went around and bought some pasalubong.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

We headed for Tabo-an. Talk about the motherload of dried, semi-dried and fermented fish. The Tabo-an (Taboan, Tabuan) Market near downtown Cebu is one of the most massive and pungent dried fish markets in the South. I suppose there are many such markets in all major provincial cities but this was just impressive in scale, volume of goods and staying power of its utterly pungent aroma (it literally sticks to your clothes in the same way that Japanese food seems to do as well). I have never seen anything like it. Here is where we went around and got some dried fish to take back home and by 1900hrs we headed back to the hotel where we went around and took some photos of the hotel grounds.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

We woke up late (really like the softness of the pillows) and by 1000hrs took the shuttle to SM Cebu then took a cab going to Santo Niño Basilica to hear mass. The convent of the Sto. Niño de Cebu, was founded by Fr. Andres de Urdaneta on April 28, 1565, the very day the Legazpi-Urdaneta expedition arrived in the island. On May 8 of the same year, when Legaspi and his men planned the urbanization of the city, they allotted a “place for the church and the convent of San Agustin, “where the Santo Niño image had been found.” In 1599, the convent was made a house of studies of grammar, headed by the Visayan linguist, Fr. Alonso de Mentrida. It also served as a rest house for missionaries working in the province and as a retirement home for the aged and the sick, usually attended to by a lay brother. The church has always been the Sanctuary of the Sto. Niño, which was under the custody of the Augustinians. The number of priests assigned to the church varied from three to five aside from one or two lay brothers.

After hearing mass, we headed to Ayala where we ate lunch at Café Laguna, then walk around the mall because it was raining outside. We took the shuttle at 1800hrs back and we asked to be dropped off at Mactan Shrine to eat dinner at one of the Sutukil (literally means Suga, Tula or soup, Kilaw) there.

When you’re in or anywhere near Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island, you have to try sutukil. Sutukil is a portmanteau of the three ways fish are cooked in eateries near the Mactan Shrine: Su is for sugba or grilled, tu is for tula or prepared into a soup and kil is for kilaw or turned into a raw fish salad.

Sutukil restaurants let you choose whatever you want cooked from stalls of fresh fish, prawns, crabs, seaweeds, shells, clams and even lobsters. These seafood are as fresh as seafood can be and the crabs and lobsters on display are still alive as you pick which ones you want cooked. Sutukil eateries get their daily supply of fresh seafood from fishers in nearby islets.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Going around the stalls, we bought some souvenirs to bring home. We rode the jeep back to the hotel and after freshening up had some drinks at the atrium and hear the band play.

Photobucket

Woke up at 0700hrs where I went walking to Mactan Shrine, which is dedicated in honor of Lapu-Lapu, Ferdinand Magellan, and the Battle of Mactan. Going back to our history, Lapu-Lapu was the native chieftain of Mactan Island, and he resisted the efforts of Magellan to subdue his people and to be converted to Christianity and to be subjected to the throne of Spain. The subsequent battle on April 27, 1521 between the Spaniards and Lapu-Lapu and his men resulted to the death of Magellan. The shrine was erected on the supposed spot where the battle took place.

The most prominent monuments in Mactan Shrine, is a bronze statue of Lapu-Lapu holding a bolo and shield and an obelisk dedicated to Magellan, which was erected in 1866. In Google Maps, the obelisk is the one in the center of the circle while Lapu-Lapu’s statue is at the the square area 50 meters north, beside the shore where the Battle of Mactan is reenacted yearly in the Kadaugan sa Mactan festival. Between the two monuments stands the Philippine flag, and to the east of the obelisk is a small building housing a plinth with plaques on both sides, one about Lapu-Lapu, and the other about Magellan. Behind the plinth is a painting depicting the battle. Here I took some photos, then headed back the hotel and ate breakfast by 0900hrs, after eating we walked around the hotel taking photos and by 1000hrs was packing our bags and waited till 1400hrs for our transfer to the airport. We were in the air by 1530hrs and headed back to Manila.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Did some chores on the morning of our departure for Kota Kinabalu and by 1200hrs we took the cab and headed for Makati where we ate lunch at SM. By 1400hrs we were headed for the airport where we checked in our bags and lounged around, by 1800hrs we were on the plane headed for Kota Kinabalu. Arriving at 2000hrs at Kota Kinabalu International Airport, and took a cab to Winner Hotel to check in our bags then headed out to the Filipino Wet Market where we ate dinner, I miss the mangoes with amoy powder. Heading back to our hotel by 2300hrs to rest and plan our trip the next day.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Waking up at 0600hrs and ate breakfast by 0700hrs, by 0830hrs we headed for Wisma Sabah to inquire about the Island tours but was advised to just head for Jesselton Point where there are boats there to take you where ever you want to go, and it cost cheaper than to go with the tour. Heading to Jessleton Point and paid for our trip to Manukan Island. Riding the fast boat, we arrived at Manukan Island before 1000hrs and then swam and took pictures. We bought our lunch at the store and ate at the tables near the beach. We met a girl there and learned that she was a Filipina and took photos of her (later I learned that she was one of the finalist of the White Castle Girls). By 1330hrs we headed back to Jesselton Point passing by Mamutik Island and after dropping off some passengers in Shangri-La resort, while heading back to Jesselton, we were stopped by the Malaysian Police and learned that the boatman who was manning the helm was not the owner of the boat, thus was impounded by the police after we were dropped off at Jesselton Point. Passed by the grocery to buy stuff and then headed back to our hotel to rest where we had a power interruption and when the power came back on, our room had no electricity, so we were transferred to another room. We ate dinner at a Chinese restaurant then rested for the day.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Woke up early and ate breakfast by 0700hrs and then walked around the city taking photos till 0930hrs. By 1000hrs, we headed to Centerpoint Mall and went around, eating lunch past 1100hrs then went shopping and looking around. Ate some snacks at KFC then headed back to the hotel to get our back, and by 1400hrs, we were headed to the airport where we checked-in our bags and waited at the lounge area. By 1800hrs, we were on the plane headed back to Manila

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

In this trip I wanted to go out more and see other places I have not gone but since carol got sick and had to take care of her limited our going around. It is hard getting sick when you are in a different place because you could not go to places you wanted to visit. Hopefully we would not get sick on our next trips

Till the next trip…
HAPPY TRAILS!!!

All photos are owned and copyrighted by Joey Rico (also known under these names: alien_scream).
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use, copy, editing, reproduction, publication, duplication and distribution of the digital photos, without his explicit permission, is punishable by law

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Philippines License.