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Friday 10 May 2013

Bernie's Adventures in.... Japan

We arrived into Tokyo very early 4am after our 12 hour British Airways flight, then we were wizzed over to the train station to catch the  Shinkansen Express Bullet train to Kyoto.
Wow ! our speed reached 178 MPH passing snow covered Mount Fuji – Japans most famous & highest mountain. Kyoto was the Old ancient Capital of Japan till 1868 and has retained far more of a feel of “ Old Japan “ than Tokyo. We stayed at the Westin Hotel located amidst a picturesque mountain backdrop but also in the centre of the City. 

Our 1st  visit was to the Golden Pavilion so beautiful & yes it was dripping in Gold and also rain! just like Manchester! Then it was onto a quick Rickshaw ride in the rain through the scenic Bamboo Forest, a complete sea of green. That night we had a grand meal at a local Teriyaki Bar  - such speed, skill & perfection by the Japanese Chef.

Up early ready for my visit to the Emperors Imperial Palace so quite & serene with stunning beautiful gardens. Next we were driven to the enormous Nijo Castle of the Shogun to check out the Samurai Soldiers hide out. The afternoon back to school did well in the Calligraphy class, my teacher was pleased with me gave me a Gold Star! Meeting “ Maiko “ apprentice Geisha was a highlight of our visit to Kyoto, she was just so perfect, rather elegant & beautiful. She was so impressed with my bold red shellac nails that when she made us all Green tea I was served 1st. That night we dined at a very special  5* French Bistro a la carte seven courses! Au Revoir

To-day we set off to the oldest Zen Buddhist Temple 1202 – so serene & total enlightenment, such natural beauty. Some local retail therapy along Sanjo St a vibrant traffic free shopping area, lots of bargains and specialty items. Lunch was at a very busy Sushi restaurant we sat with the locals. The Sushi was so colourful and elaborate. We were then treated to a nice brew - visit at a Ryokan ( Japanese Guest House ) in the heart of the Old Gion district To-night we dined at a local inn had very authentic Japanese cuisine served by Geishas, such artful presentation.

Next day time to hit that Bullet Train again – the Virgin trains from Manchester will feel quite slow for me now ( 118 MPH  compare with 178 MPH ) Oh and quite all cell phones have to be on silent ! I had a great time with them on the subject on MAN United – I am a MAN City fan! The locals were laughing at us as we gazed upon Mount Fuji  – just gobsmacked once again! 

Arrived into one of the oldest ( 1872 ) main stations in Tokyo - Shinagawa a major hub for over 100 train & metro lines. Over 54.000 passengers an hour! We had a ten minute walk to our trendy Crown Prince Hotel, very large rooms with a balcony over-looking the main square and gardens with wonderful views. Then we were rushed back to the Metro- Underground to attack this for the day, what fun we had.

Our trip across the City underground with two changes to the Tokyo Sky Tree was a dream – just how everything worked out so perfect for us. The visit to the Sky Tree all 640 metres & 450 floors was so easy and great fun especially for families. Fantastic City views a good organised venue.
We went shopping after on Asakusa st ( like our Oxford st ) very lush & divine famous name brand shops, also walked along the famous Takeashita St.

The shopping and entertainment street, that is a meeting and focal point area for eccentric teenagers to dress up in elaborate character colourful costumes. They parade along the narrow street that is lined with cafes, internet shops and boutiques – like the dog designer store, oh and a £land – YENland !
There was no chewing gum or rubbish on the ground or any Graffiti at all and not a “ Yobo “ in sight just polite young people having fun. Oh and they loved my 10yr old Samsung cell phone – were just lots of laughs & giggles about it !

Tonight ( our last night ) was spent as a VIP guest at the Crown Prince Hotel, we were wined and dined again with fresh food cooked in front of us. We languished at the live Langoustines cooked in minutes ( poor things ! ) tasted so good. Mid-night bedtime and up at 3am, we departed at 4am for the airport and good-bye to Japan what a brilliant trip in the beautiful land of the rising sun. 

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