Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Nihon-Koku 2017
(Day 2)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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”.

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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

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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

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

 

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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.

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A Week In My Life: A Second Lease in Life

It started out as an ordinary Thursday morning, my daily routine after waking up is to watch the morning news while eating breakfast, then taking a bath and prepared to go to work, taking the bus and commuting to work, then started working early. Having worked most part of the morning when I felt a pain on my right side tummy, below the ribs, which started the night before, but becoming unbearable, and was growing weaker as time goes by, and by lunch time, I ask Carol to take me to the Hospital and have it checked.

Arriving at the Emergency Room, I was attended by the doctor, had my blood test and was scheduled to take an ultra sound on my tummy, and when the results came back all my organs were normal and they said that the pain was from an inflamed intestines and prescribed some medicines and was sent home.

A week before this, we were on a trip to Cagayan de Oro to celebrate my birthday with my mother, which we had not seen for a long time, and when we were there, we ate at some of the new restaurants which were not open yet the last time we were in Cagayan de Oro. My usual diet consist of a lot of meat, specially burgers and steak with lots of spices, and the pain on my side was on and off the whole trip but did not think of it that seriously.

Upon returning to Manila, we ate at a restaurant at Bonifacio Global City, which serves slabs of beef ribs, to celebrate my birthday, which I ate with my kids, and as usual eating meat again.

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Being sent home from the Hospital, I was feeling OK and was back eating what I normally do, but still have not been able to go to the bathroom and have a dump. Then came Monday morning when I woke up with the pain back and a blotted tummy, I tried to go to the bathroom but still could not take a dump, then I started vomiting and was getting weaker, when I was brought back again to the emergency room, this time they did a CT scan on my abdomen and while waiting for my results I was vomiting and my tummy getting bigger.

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When the results of the tests came back I was told that I had a blocked colon and the doctors suspected that it was cancer. Was admitted around 1700hrs and was scheduled for operation at 1730hrs the next day. I was inserted a tube through my nose to my stomach which they said would relieve the pressure in my tummy, but I had a hard time trying to insert the tube and was successful on the eight try. They measured my tummy, which measured around 110cm and looked like I was pregnant, and had not slept well because I was vomiting all the time.

The next day at around 1730hrs, I was wheeled into the operating room and was met by the anesthesiologist, and was talking to me and asking how I was, then all of a sudden I was out, and by 1200hrs was back at my room with a 12inch stich on my tummy and a bag hanging on my side to collect my waste. When the doctor came they said that they had removed a 10cm long of intestines to remove the blockage and clear it of all the cancer cells. I was not allowed to drink any liquids and was so thirsty.

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Ever since my operation, I had changed my diet and the way I have eaten, no more meat, now I am eating lots of fruits and vegetable, drinking lots of vitamins and trying to be stress free. I will be spending a month on recovery and then will be going back to work. The doctors say that I will have this bag on my side for a year and after which, I would have another surgery to put my intestines back to normal.

For this I thank my family for the support, the help and the love they have given me, my friends which gave encouragement and my bosses, who gave word to get well and get my ass back to work.

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Most photos were taken by carol

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.

A Week In My Life Teaser

Posted: December 16, 2014 in Blog, Events
Tags: , , ,

a teaser for A Week In My Life

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Need a Caterer in the Greater Batangas Area?

Cesca’s Kitchen Catering started out as a café and branched out to the catering service. Coffee has become more than just a beverage. From its ritualistic beginnings in Ethiopia to the massive proliferation of cafés worldwide, it has evolved into a kind of global culture.

Strange to think that in the 1800s, Lipa, Batangas used to be one of the top exporters of coffee in the world, until our Robusta crops were wiped away by the plant disease called coffee rust.
As a tribute to help preserve the great heritage of the Batangueňos, young entrepreneur Celeste Maralit-Lindog, decided to put up Cesca’s Kitchen & Catering Services (formerly H Kape & Catering Services and was located at Events Centre, Maharlika Highway, Purok II, Brgy. Sico, Lipa City, Batangas which opened last December 20, 2006). Cesca’s new home is found at Phoenix Gas Station, MK Lina St. (Balagbag), San Sebastian, Lipa City, Batangas. A coffee shop and a convenience store that is a first in Lipa, Batangas bringing the café scene closer to people living on the other side of the metro. Cesca’s is said to become the next “it” place in the whole province of Batangas. Cesca’s Kitchen & Catering Services is all about imagination, its coffee’s and cuisines is an art form crafted by the creativity of its owners bound by a common purpose. The mystery of its appeal inevitably unfolds as one experiences not only coffee drinking, but tasting the food in this place.
Both gastronomic and artistic hunger are satisfied once you see their menu, which Celeste conceived, keeping in mind the taste of the Batangueňos but bringing it forward to the modern times. The food at Cesca’s boasts of keeping the true Batangas spirit by using local produce and ingredients such as our signature dish, Sinaing na Tulingan Pasta in Olive Oil. True to its commitment, with unfailing good taste of the food, Cesca’s kitchen staff and Event Manager, will go to great lengths to please its patrons, even altering cooking procedures upon request.
Great coffee, great food and excellent service, a relaxed atmosphere—that is what Cesca’s Kitchen & Catering Services is all about!
Cesca’s Food and Catering Services, which is a sole proprietorship, which has its new address at Events Hub, Big Ben Complex, Mataas na Lupa, Ayala Hiway, Lipa City, Batangas, with its main kitchen facilities, located at Barangay San Felipe, Padre Garcia, Batangas, now concentrates mainly on the Catering Services. With more than 8 years of Catering Service has catered or rendered its services to some of the major events held in the city of Lipa, Batangas.

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The food which tastes awesome, using the latest innovation in cooking and using local ingredients to flavor their menu

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With a competent staff to help you in you needs while eating and enjoying your planned celebration.

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We also offer styling services to cater to your needs on your occasion.

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For more inquiries, Visit us on the following:

http://cescaskitchen.com.ph/

Facebook: Cescas-Kitchen-Catering