A three part “photoblog” on my October 2006 visit to Tokyo. Continuation from Part I. More pictures ahead!
Part 2 of 3
We stayed at a ryokan nearby Mount Fuji called Fujinoboukaen Hotel.
From Japan-Guide.com: Ryokan are Japanese style inns. They come in all sizes and are found across Japan. A stay at a ryokan is highly recommended to all foreign visitors of Japan, as it offers the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese atmosphere.
Guests stay in Japanese style rooms with tatami floor and a low table. Shoes are usually removed at the ryokan’s main entrance, where slippers will be kept ready. You are supposed to remove even your slippers before stepping onto tatami mats.
Inside the room, there were complimentary kimonos that were for use inside the hotel. Most people, tourists and locals alike, would wear them around, to the dining area, the hot springs area and just all over.
Inside our room.
Related video: Inside our room at Fujinoboukaen Hotel
Our beds… on the floor. To be quite honest, sleeping so close to the ground was kind of funky. This is due to the fact that everyone who steps foot on the tatami mats is supposed to take off their shoes and you know, some people have severe foot odour. That odour can be apparent when you’re sleeping with your nose just a few inches away from the ground. And speaking of foot odour, it’s custom to take off your shoes inside the change room in stores. Again, many people have bad foot odour so the change rooms would reek and I had to change without breathing through my nose. Not all stores have this custom though, a Gap I went to didn’t require taking off my shoes (yes, I actually went all the way to Japan just to shop at a Gap).
At this ryokan, I got to experience a hot spring bath
for the very first time. I was eager and apprehensive to try it. Eager because they are supposedly very good for your skin and/or health. And apprehensive because, well, one of the requirements for partaking in these hot spring baths is NO CLOTHES ALLOWED. No bathing suits, just your birthday suit
(after a shower, of course, it’s just common courtesy). Luckily, this one was gender separated.
It looked like a shallow pool inside a dimmed room. I didn’t notice anything particularly unique about the bath, as it seemed just like a hot tub but without the jets but then again, what do I know?
Mount Fuji (Fujisan)
Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain. When we were there, up by the mountain, it was really, really cold. I only packed a hoodie and a vest, so I was a Popsicle. Thus, like others, I huddled inside the gift shop for warmth.
There is a shrine there as well.
Grapes are one of the things the area’s famous for so many of the souvenir shops sell grape related products.
Trying some of the local food. It had some meat and some noodles underneath. It was quite good but not much to really fill me up.
From Japan-Guide.com: Harajuku refers to the area around Tokyo’s Harajuku Station, one station north of Shibuya on the Yamanote Line. It is the center of Japan’s most extreme teenage cultures and fashion styles, but also offers shopping for grown-ups and some historic sights.
The focal point of Harajuku’s teenage culture is Takeshita Dori (Takeshita Street) and its side streets, which are lined by many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe stands and fast food outlets geared towards the fashion and trend conscious teens.
Meiji Jingu Shrine.
Snoopy Town! Yes, like Hello Kitty Land, there’s an entire store dedicated to a character.
Oh, Daiso the 100 yen store, how I love thee. These are equivalent to our dollar stores except their stores are far superior. There’s everything and anything, so many nifty items that you could never find at a typical Dollarama. I had a field day. Then when I came back to Canada, I found one in Vancouver, which made me so happy… except, the Daiso there has prices slightly more than what’s equal to 100 yen (due to importing fees). I wish they would open one up in Toronto, though.
Takeshita Street is where there are many trendy stores, many stores that catered to the ever popular “Lolita” style of clothing including the “Gothic Lolita” subcategory. Most of the stores that sold these kinds of fashions had signs that explicitly stated no pictures allowed.
That’s also where I got to see, for the first time, people dressed up in that Lolita look. It was sort of surreal. And neat! Yes, I kind of stalked them a wee bit
just like all the other tourists around me who were trying to quickly snap a picture of them.
Somewhere around here is a “red light district”. Unfortunately, I was not able to check that out even though I was quite curious, to be quite honest.
With notes from Japan-Guide.com