Monday, 31 May 2010

Visit to Kamakura

Saturday of the weekend just gone we decided to take a day trip out to Kamakura to look around and have a bit of lunch. We had a great time exploring and eating, here are some photos.

This bell is a national treasure

Although it wasn't actually the main temple building we found this wooden one far more interesting.

Standing under the cover of the wooden structure

Looking up the stairs to the wooden building - we got the idea for this photo from a postcard on sale in the little stand at the front.

We stumbled upon this nice walkway which led eventually up to a park surrounding by forest.
A very friendly Japanese man saw us taking photos and offered to take one for us, however because it was Paul's SLR he wasn't too sure how to use it and ended up taking a really close photo with the super wide angle lens, making us look quite distorted!

After all the walking we felt we deserved an icy beverage

The spread

There is a brewing company in Kamakura that makes some very impressive beer, unfortunately it only seems to be on sale in Kamakura.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

The Morans Hit Tokyo Take 2

Thursday night saw the second installment of the Moran & Friends clan arrive. Sarah a.k.a the other middle child, and Daniel touched down Thursday night. Unfortunately in what felt a little like de ja vue, we did not meet up due to a long detour on the Tokyo JR network taken by Sarah and Daniel.

On Friday however we did manage to met up and decided on a relaxing trip to Odaiba, for the girls this meant shopping at Venus fort and for the boys looking around the conveniently located car museum that was housed within - along with a thoughtfully located bar. This clearly was a shopping complex that had some male input. Following the Odaiba experience we once again visited our favourite local izakaya Za Watami for a casual evening of drinking and eating.

Yes a genuine delorian with brushed metal finish!

Our little Japanese style table and booth in Za Watami

Laura, Sarah and Diane inside Za Watami

Saturday found us exploring the Electric Town area of Akihabara, including the massive Yodobashi camera store. A massive electronics store, although unfortunately Japanese prices aren't all that cheap so no-one was found leaving with any large and exciting purchases. After a leisurely day we headed to Ebisu and a quick trip to the Yebisu Beer Museum before heading to another restaurant that we wanted to return to; Jojoen yakiniku on the 38th floor of the Ebisu Gardens tower.

Geoff showing the styles of the lovely Jojoen bibs

Laura a little too enthusiastic with her eating

Laura and Diane both looking lovely in the Jojoen bibs

The beginning of the new week was quiet with a few low key meals and a spot of ten pin at our local alley, where Daniel showed us all how it was done.

This all changed on Thursday, our next big adventure - a night at the Tokyo Dome to watch the Yomiuri (Tokyo) Giants play the Saitama Lions. Tokyo Dome is a huge covered stadium home to the local Giants. The surrounding complex includes shops and also theme park style rides with a rather impressive looking rollercoaster (however we were there for some serious baseball watching so none of those shinanigans)! The night ended in a convincing win for the Giants and a satisfied group of spectators, which may have been influenced by the presence of girls roaming the crowd serving beer. Each girl wore a small keg on their backs, and there were multiple varieties of beer to choose from.

Inside the Tokyo Dome from our seats

All of us on our perches

The Ebisu beer girl looking for prospective customers

As Ebisu is our favourite beer, we promptly became one of them

Outside the Dome afterwards

Friday was the final full day in Tokyo for all visitors: Geoff, Diane and Laura were heading back to Sydney on the Saturday, and Sarah and Daniel were heading down to Kyoto before flying home. And what better way to send them off than a day at the Sumo followed by a night in Shinjuku with some karaoke!
A big finale to end a great few weeks of visitors.

We splashed out and got 2 boxes, each with room for 4 small, or 3ish normal size people. We squashed 7 of us into 2 boxes along with all of our 'picnic' supplies

Diane, Geoff and Laura

After the tournament finished one of the sumo was wandering toward the exit and we stole a photo. This guy actually lost the final match against Hakuho who is the grand champion

Our karaoke room overlooking Shinjuku

Warming up

'The hills are alive'

Britney Spears did come out, this could well have been then

Even those in the back corner got into the swing of things

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Morans Hit Tokyo Take 1

The last of our Tokyo visitors were the Moran clan, arriving in 2 groups with a weeks crossover in May. The first installment touched down on Monday April 19, consisting of Geoff a.k.a Paul's Dad, Diane a.k.a Paul's Mum and Laura a.k.a The Youngest. Unfortunately due to delays we did not get to catch up on the Monday night to welcome them to Japan. On Tuesday however we had more success and after battling some un-Spring like weather, decided to take shelter in Za Watami for a brief introduction to Japanese food, drinks and catch up.
As always a fun night was had, especially trying the new Spring menu.

Some unlucky timing found us taking off for a wedding in Brisbane the next day, but this provided a good opportunity for the visiting tribe to take a trip to Kyoto and Nara. If you want to follow their adventures more closely check out their blog.

After returning from a fantastic weekend in Brisbane and catching up on a little rest, over the next week we took everyone out to a few of our favourite places. Unfortunately for us they were only night time rendezvous as we were both working. Some of the hightlights were a return trip to Nabezo (the all you can eat nabe, sukiyaki and shabu shabu restaurant) and a cool bar in Ebisu called the Ebisu Bear Hall (A typo that we have since found to be corrected).

Geoff in the middle of what must have been an eventful tale

Geoff and the very friendly waitress who told us she had visited Australia when she was at high school, where you ask - the Gold Coast of course!

Diane in the Ebisu Bear Hall, in the background you can see the great uniform these guys wear. Shirts not yet for sale but will be soon!

Outside the Bear Hall.

The first weekend of May brought with it some very agreeable Spring weather and we decided to take a trip to Yokohama and the Minato Mirai district. Unfortunately Joss had to work during the day, so we had to make do without her company.

PM: After a bit of a stroll we ended up at Aka Ranga where we to split into 2 sub-groups - Mum and Laura deciding to explore some of the boutique shops in Aka Ranga whilst Dad and I went to see the Hikawa Maru, a restored trans pacific liner built in 1929 by Y.H.K. (although first we indulged in some of the curry on offer from one of the temporary stalls set up at Aka Ranga for some sort of celebration of curry food festival). The Hikawa Maru is now permanently docked at Yokohama and is set up as a kind of floating museum, and gave a good idea of how exciting it would have been to travel during the golden age of ocean liners!

After a productive day of sight seeing we headed back to Oimachi to do a proper explore of a Japanese supermarket, to gather ingredients for a cook up at home!

Looking back to Aka Ranga and Yokohama

The Hikawa Maru.

The smoking room inside.

The beginning of the next week was 3 public holidays as part of Golden Week.

PM: Because Australian public holidays don't coincide with any over here, I swapped mine to have Golden Week off like the locals, so was able to get out for some sightseeing.

We embarked upon a return trip to Yokohama this time to check out the Y.H.K maritime museum - you may remember those letters from a little earlier, yes, the company that made the Hikawa Maru. And whilst in the neighbourhood we found it too much to resist another trip to the Ramen museum. Between us now we have tried 8 of the 9 available, but because the restaurants rotate, we still have 3 to go. It will be a challenge but we think we can fit 3 in next visit.

We also took the clan to Ueno for our favourite shopping street, made popular by the sale of plastic food, but what got us going back was the Japanese pottery shops, our favourite ones are there. Close to Ueno is the Sensoji temple, the most popular in Tokyo, and being Golden week that was quite evident.

Laura and Diane in the gardens of Sensojo

Not sure what it is, but it was hanging on one of the temple walls.

Visitors waving the incense smoke over themselves before going inside the temple