Skip navigation

Category Archives: Landscape Photography

It was Sunday and we took the train to Harajuku Station where we were going to meet Justin and then head over to the Dog Park in Yoyogi Park. Just as we arrived a large group was headed for Yoyogi Park.

While we were waiting we hung out at the Meiji Jingu First Torii gate Meiji Shrine complex. Linda was practicing some kind of fist move that activated a time delayed selfie. Justin had taught her how to do it the day before and she was having problems doing it.

Meanwhile I was busy taking candid photos of people entering the Meiji Shrine complex. Quite a few people were dressed up in tradition Japanese costumes.

I think there was a race taking place in the park and that was the large group that entered Yoyogi Park ahead of us. There were also groups of people exercising.

It was a beautiful fall day and there were growing numbers of people out enjoying the weather.

It was mid November and the roses were still blooming.

Justin and Carla had considered acquiring a dog but came to their senses before they pulled the trigger. Still they like to stop at the dog park and watch the dogs.

Many of the dogs were dressed up for the occasions. The miniature greyhounds seemed to be terrified in the park.

More people exercising and working on their martial arts.

Just such a beautiful fall day.

After visiting Yoyogi Park we found a place to get a bite to eat. Justin then took us on a walking tour of one of the worlds best shopping streets. It was amazing all of the high end retailers. Many of them had doormen wearing white gloves. Justin seemed to know where he was going so Linda asked him if he had ever been shopping here. He responded he shopped here all the time. Then pointed to a shoe store and said all of the clerks in that store wear English butler uniforms. This was clearly a step up from the typical mall shopping we do in the states and a far cry from Fleet Farm.

We then went over to Meiji Jingu Gaien. We wanted to see the Ginkgo trees in fall color. On the way we passed a Domino’ Pizza and noticed their delivery vehicles.

As we entered Meiji Jingu Gaien we noticed this couple feeding their large dog.

Unfortunately the Ginkgo trees had not turned yet but it was still a nice area to visit.

we hopped on a train and headed over to Hibiya Park where the Japanese Fisherman’s Festival was taking place. It was late in the day and the event was coming to an end. The last of the speeches were wrapping up as we walked by the main event stage.

The park itself was a typically beautiful Japanese garden. As with most of the parks we visited someone was working on the trees.

By the time we were ready to leave the park it was late in the day and the light really highlighted the fall color on the trees.

We were leaving the next day and we needed a plug for our headphones. We discovered the international flight to Japan required the two prong connector. We walked over to a Bic Camera store. We were leaving the next day and thought we had better pick them up while we had the chance. It was packed and there were seven floors of things to look at. It took us a while to find what we were looking for. It always helps if you have a picture on your phone of what you want.

We then headed to a smokehouse where we were going to meet Justin’s girlfriend Carla and her mother. They were excited because they were going to have an audience with the the Pope next week. In fact, the entire family was flying into Tokyo for the audience.

After dinner and another long day we headed back to our hotel.

 

Our son had a day off from work so he was going to take us out to Okutama, Japan to do some hiking. Apparently there was a beautiful hike along the Tama River. We walked across a bridge to a grocery store looking for the Kazumakyo walking route.

 

While we were standing along the road the first of many cars loaded with politicians came by. Apparently it was election season and they drive around constantly with loudspeakers blaring.

Google Maps was not cooperating and the two navigators were having problems finding the trail.

It looked like the trail followed the road for quite a ways so we started walking along the road above the river. There were some nice fall colors.

After walking for a while we decided we must be on the wrong road so we turned around and walked back toward town.

However, our son concluded that we were on the right road we just didn’t follow it far enough.

These two men had been standing in front of this store watching us walk past the three times. Our son speaks fluent Japanese so he could have asked directions but men don’t ask directions. We also walked through a construction zone several times. The workers probably thought we were nuts.

We continued walking along the road and found that, if we had just walked a little further the first time, we would have reached the hiking trail.

We were happy to find the signs and started walking down some steps toward the river only to find that the trail was closed. Apparently parts of it were washed out during the October Typhoon.

We took a few shots from the bridge over the river.

The politicians drove by again and waved to us. We saw them a couple more times and they honked at us the last time we saw them.

We walked back to the train station where we decided to have some ice cream while waiting for the train.

We took a local train back to Tachikawa.

We decided to try and find a place to eat but had the same problem we usually did when we wanted to eat in the middle of the afternoon. Many places were closed or they allowed smoking. This is a shot of us in front of the HUB where we ate a few days earlier when we were in Tachikawa to visit Showa Kinen Park.

We finally settled on a pancake place to have our meal before heading back to Tokyo.

 

 

Today’s excursion is to Mount Fuji. We took a couple of trains to Shinjuku station to pick up the JR Limited Express train from Shinjuku Station to Mount Fuji. Our rail pass covered the cost from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki. We  then transfer to the Fujikyu Railway. It was the same train but we had to pay for the reminder of the trip to Kawaguchiko Station.

When we arrived we went to the train station ticket office to purchase our ticket on the Fujikyu Railway from Kawaguchiko Station to Otsuki where our JR pass would kick in.

We then went to the Omni Bus ticket office to purchase a ticket on the red line. From Kawaguchiko Station there are  Omni buses which are hop on an hop off buses and are generally the easiest way for tourists to get around. There are three lines starting from Kawaguchiko Station, We took the red Kawaguchiko Line (buses every 15 minutes) runs along the eastern and northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko. There were long lines to get on the red bus and the area was a zoo with all kinds of buses and lots of people.

We made sure we were standing within the lines.

Once we got on the bus we decided to ride the bus to the end of the line which was the Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center. Along the way we noted other places we wanted to visit on our way back. It looked like they were in the process of planting flowers around the Living Center.

Not sure what these bushes were but in the fall they really beautiful.

I noticed these buildings up on the hill away from the lake. I think they were small places to stay.

We hopped on the bus and rode back towards town. We managed to get off one stop before we wanted to. There was construction taking place and we couldn’t figure out how get past the construction on the trail along Lake Kawaguchiko. Some other folks cam along from the opposite direction so we watched how they managed to get through the construction. It was a beautiful day to walk along the lake. There were some beautiful views of the lake and Mount Fuji.

There were beautiful flowers along the trail.

We were heading into an area with beautiful fall colors.

One of the few examples of graffiti that we saw on our visit to Tokyo and environs.

As we walked along we came to a craft fair that was taking place. Lots of beautiful things but no way to get them home.

 

As we were walking through the fair we ran across a both that had a display of Rose Mauling. When we arrived the individual staffing the stand was in the back having lunch. When she heard us talking about Rose Mauling she came out. Since my wife is Norwegian she was really interested. Turns out the Japanese woman had lived in Chicago for about 10 years and she took it up as a hobby which she continued when she returned to Japan. She had some sayings on some of her work that didn’t make and sense in Norwegian. We went off to have lunch and after lunch my wife decided to write some Norwegian sayings down on paper for the lady. We when back and gave them to the lady and had her picture taken.

There was a food court setup at the fair so we stopped and had some chicken on a stick.

In back of the art fair there were some gardens with beautiful fall colors.

We continued our walk along the lake and the colors were spectacular.

We came to another are with many food trucks. In the first photo the vendor was twirling a stick into the ice cream and when he had the equivalent of a scoop he would plop it on to a cone then had it to the person on the end of the stick. In this case he was teasing the girls by handing it to them and then pulling it away.

What a backdrop for a vendor with Mount Fuji in the background.

We continued walking but hadn’t gone far when we found another ice cream stand and couldn’t resist buying some.

The required smoking area.

We found another bus stop but had to wait far more that the 15 minutes that was noted on the brochure.

We rode the bus back toward town and then got off at a stop that would allow us to walk along a section of the lake that was very beautiful in the late afternoon light.

At this point we were back in town and decided to catch the bus back to the train station. We saw it coming so we raced to the place that it was supposed to stop. The bus kept on going and didn’t stop. Only then did we realize that we on the wrong side of the road and were an outgoing bus stop. We forgot the Japanese drive on the left rather than the right. At this point we figured out that we could take a shortcut through town to get to the station. On the way we found this beautiful little cemetery.

We figured it would be late when we arrived back in Tokyo so we decided to look for a place to eat. Unfortunately most restaurants don’t open until late in the afternoon which means after dark this time of year. We wandered through town looking for a place that was open. on the way we found this statue which my wife thought was from some fairytale. She was right it is from the  Grim fairytale “The Bremen Town Musicians.

We finally found a place to eat and had traditional noodles since we were really not all that hungry having had chicken on a stick and ice cream earlier in the day.

We caught the train back to Tokyo and arrived back in our hotel after a long day.

 

 

Our first objective of the day was to find Todoroki Valley Park. It is only a 20-minute train ride from Shibuya Station. This is a wild and untamed gorge, with a jungle-like canopy. It was forged by the Yazawa River as it heads for the larger Tama River and it is the only valley in Tokyo. A short 1.5 km walk along the river will bring you to a shrine and temple and small waterfalls.

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

After walking a short distance we found this small bridge over the river. This lead to the Todoroki Valley Park Caves which were used as burial sites.

Retracing our steps we returned to the path along the river where we encountered a picturesque bridge which leads to the Chigo Daishi Mieido a small shrine that features a statue of Kobo Daishi. Fudo Waterfall is right beside the small shrine and originates from the mouths of two ornate dragons.

Following the steps leads to another small shrine.

Continuing up the steps leads to the Todoroki Fudosan Temple.

Chōzubachis, are used by worshipers for washing their left hands, right hands, mouth and finally the handle of the water ladle to purify themselves before approaching the main Shinto shrine temple.

There was a Chrysanthemum exhibit taking place at the temple including Bonsai  Chrysanthemums.

Walking back down to the Yazawa River we continued our river walk. We found a small Japanese Garden. Some of the trails were closed but we were able to walk through the garden and out of the gorge. On the way we found several small ponds a small bamboo forest, fruit trees and flowers.

There was a small gate at the top of the garden so we went through it and found ourselves in the Todoroki Fudo Children’s Park. We sat on a bench to change batteries in our camera and while we were doing so a group of small children on an outing showed up. The care takers had their hands full. As soon as they took the child out of the wagon the child was off and running or crawling.


We retraced our steps back to the train station and caught a train to Oimachi Station where we changed trains for Hamamatsucho Station and our destination which was Hamarikyu Gardens. The lines in the second photo tell riders where to stand when waiting for the train.

I found this giant spider along the sidewalk and it was close enough to get a good shot.

 

We had to walk a short distance from the train station to Hamarikyu Gardens. I took this photo because of the odd shape of the building. It looked like you could almost touch both walls at the same time. There was also garbage on the street. This is a very rare event in Tokyo. It looked like a bird might have gotten into the garbage. Normally garbage is covered with a net to prevent that from happening.

After a short walk we arrived at Hamarikyu Gardens. Many of the parks in Tokyo are free but most of the formal gardens have an entrance fee.

I believe this is part of the Sumida River with in the background.

As I recall this park was a villa for a feudal lord and this was his duck hunting blind. It was a very elaborate setup with everything choreographed to bring the ducks to the lord.

This park had some wildlife that I was able to photograph.

As we were wandering around we noticed this water bus leaving the dock so we walked over to see what was going on. Checking at the dock we discovered that water buses leave from the dock about every hour. Since we had not ridden a water bus we decided to walk around the park for a bit more then come back and take the water bus up the Sumida River to Asakusa.

Everyone was in line early hoping to get a good seat but as it turned out there were not all that many people on the bus.

In order to get out to the Sumida River we had to go through a set of locks.

These are some of the sights along the river on the way to Asakusa.

It looked like most of the bridge crossing the river were under construction or renovation. They must spend huge sums on infrastructure repair. Too bad this country can’t afford to fix out infrastructure.

Several couples in traditional costume were waiting for us when we docked in Asakusa.

A shot of Tokyo Skytree from the Asakusa docks.

We saw more people dressed in traditional costumes as we walked over to Sensō-ji.

We were looking for a McDonald’s for some ice cream and coffee and we found in in a shopping area.

Just across the street I notice a shop that was renting out traditional costumes. This is near Sensō-ji where we also saw quite a few people dressed in native costumes.

We then took a train over to Shibuya where we wandered around some fancy shopping centers while we waited for our son to finish work.

We then took the train to Ebisu and walked down to Specialized Group where he was just finishing up work.

We all caught a train to his apartment where we watched the Green Bay Packer Game. After the game Justin an Carla took us to dinner at a local restaurant just down the street.

We then headed back to our hotel which was about a 15 minute walk from his apartment.

 

 

I have to say, after visiting this park, if I only had time to visit one park in Tokyo this would be the one I would visit.

Today we are headed for Showa Kinen Park in Tachikawa. It took about an hour from our hotel taking several trains to get to the park.

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

When we arrived we came out of the Tachikawa Station on the second level on what appeared to be a raised pedestrian roundabout one level above the street. We had see something like this in Tokyo and it seems to be quite efficient and eliminates the problem with pedestrians having to cross traffic when navigating a major intersection. We decided to stop at McDonald’s and get some coffee. It was one of the few places that was open early in the morning. We had a good view of the roundabout and the monorail station.

Japan is so very clean but I hadn’t seen that many people out cleaning the streets. On this morning, within about 15 minutes. Three people went by dusting the railings and sweeping the sidewalk.There was a taxi stand near the train station and I was admiring the immaculate taxies and how the drivers were out polishing them and how they assisted passengers. This was in stark contrast to our arrival home when we had to open the taxi doors and find a place to put our bags. The taxi was filthy and looked terrible. Americans don’t seem to have any pride in their work.

We decided to walk around a bit. Actually we were trying to find the park but were lost. We walked past this large bike parking ramp at the train station. We also ran across these policemen directing traffic and an intersection near the train station.

After wandering around a bit we ended up back at the pedestrian roundabout and decided to follow the monorail line out toward the park.

I noticed this artwork on one of the buildings.

In Tokyo the pedestrian walk signs don’t use numbers to tell you how long you have to cross the street they use the little lines on each side of the symbol in indicate waiting and walking time. In this case there will be a short wait before we can go.

As we neared the park it appeared that some type of outdoor recreational event was being held. Tents were being setup, camper vans were on display and the scouts had a demonstration area setup.

There were also food trucks that were being setup for the day.

The promenade leading to the Park was beautiful.

It was still early but it was a Sunday and there were a lot of people heading for the park. It was also a beautiful fall day.

As we entered the park we encountered Ginkgo Avenue. The Ginkgo trees were just starting to turn yellow.

This was the first of several wedding parties that we encountered in the park.

Here are several views of Showa Kinen Park Fountain.

I’m not sure what was going on here. There was a large open area displaying many figures made of large branches. Some of them were designed for kids to play on.

There were many kids in the park and probably as many dogs.

An interesting piece of artwork.

After walking for a while we encountered a large lake. There were a variety of ducks in the lake.

We encountered a Segway tour getting instructions. When they saw me taking their picture the lost their concentration and I thought they were going to have an accident.


It was early in the day and there were already a large number of boats out on the lake.

This little girl was working on here scooter skills while the family was setting up a picnic nearby.

Even though it was early November, there were a lot of flowers blooming in the park.

We encountered a large open area where sports were being played and folks looked like they were camping for the day. There was a huge field of flowers surrounding the open area.

We stopped on a bench and had lunch and people watched.

Our next stop in the park was the Japanese Garden and within that the Bonsai Garden where they had an amazing collection of bonsai trees.

We then continued on to main Japanese Garden. While the fall colors were not at their peak the were still beautiful.

We were about halfway in our walk around the park when we found a small rural farming village. Komorebi Village is a replica Japanese agricultural village from the early Showa period and you can see different things there, depending on the season. Since we were there in the fall the harvest season was represented. The village has a working windmill.

Continuing on we encountered a large area geared toward children. There was a place to eat and purchase trinkets.

This area was called Clowd Ocean and consisted on a number of bouncy domes that kids could jump on.

A climbing area where there were a large number of nets.

A number of cement dragons  and other creatures that kids could climb on.

A large slide that was very popular and the kids and adults were having a great time on it.

Another slide.

I’m not sure what this was. Kids were climbing on these hills and in the summer the far end has an area that sprays water that kids can run through.

While we were watching the kids this wedding party walked through the area. What was strange was that the bride was holding a cat that was also all dressed up.

The park also has a large Barbecue Garden. This is the only place in the park where visitors can barbecue or use fire, and is a great place to casually enjoy cooking in the great outdoors. Most people in Tokyo live in small apartments and don’t have room for a barbecue. No problem, you can show up empty-handed—no ingredients, no equipment, nothing!  You can rent everything and buy platters of meat, seafood, vegetables and noodles.  Pets are also allowed and the ground rents out chairs and tables, too. There is a large common area where you can clean everything up.

 

At this point we were on our way back to the entrance of the park. There were plenty of people getting their picture taken. I also took advantage of the opportunity.

There were a lot of dogs in the park. A couple of young women were trying to get their dressed up dogs to pose for photos. It took a while but they finally did.

There were a  lot of dogs in the park, many of them dressed up in clothes. It was strange, but a lot of dogs were being wheeled around in baby carriages or strollers. In fact, more dogs than kids were in baby carriages. There must be some regulation that animals have to be in carriers on public transportation because I noticed people putting their pets in cardboard carrying cases as they were leaving the park.

It was getting late in the afternoon when we were leaving the park. There was some nice light on the trees.

As I mentioned at the top of the blog there seemed to be an outdoor activities fair going on just outside the park.

The Scouts were in the process of taking down their display as we walked past.

The had a large number of hiking sticks available to try out and were providing demonstrations on their proper use.

Bikes were available for kids to try their skills.

How to chop wood was being demonstrated.

There were a variety of tents for people to look at and try out.

I captured this fellow running loose in the park.

On the way back to Tachikawa we encountered this singing group along the main street.

The police were still working hard at the intersection where we found them early in the morning.

We noticed a British restaurant called the HUB when we were walking around earlier in the day. Fish and chips sounded good so we went back for a bite to eat before returning to Shinjuku. The place was just opening when we arrived. Many places allow smoking in restaurants so we ate fast since the smoking area was starting to fill up. We were chastised by our son and his girlfriend for going to such a shady place. We couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Nevertheless the fish and chips was good

It was almost dark when we departed the Tachikawa Train Station on our way back to Shinjuku.

When we arrived in Shinjuku we wandered around the station looking at the lights before heading back to our hotel.

 

 

 

We were going to meet up with Justin later in the morning. It was a weekend and he doesn’t get up until noon so we had some time to kill. We decided to take the train to Harajuku Station and visit the Meiji Jingu Gyoen. We had walked past this area when we visited the Meiji Shrine Complex but didn’t go in because there was a small charge and we were more interested in what was going on at the Shrine. The Japanese are always organized and provided instructions for the stairs.

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

Something we saw in every park was the extensive efforts made to protect the trees. In this case this was a beetle trap.

The gardens were nice but very small. I think they would be more impressive in the spring when the flowers are in bloom.

On the way out we noticed this caretaker raking the rocks on the main trail into the Meiji Shrine Complex.

The trees were starting to change colors in the plaza outside Harajuku Station. Note that Harajuku Station is undergoing major rennovation as shown in this and the following photo.

This is a smoking station outside Harajuku Station. As I noted in an earlier blog Japan was one of the worst countries for smoking. At one point the government owned most of the tobacco companies. When we were in Japan in 2015 smoking was very bad on the streets. Things have turned around 180 degrees. Smoking on the street is forbidden except in specially designated areas.

We discovered that Justin was staying in Shibuya for the night so we caught a train to Shibuya. Just outside the station at the Shibuya Crossing exit there are several memorials to Hachiko the famous dog that met his master at the station every afternoon. There is generally a long line of people waiting to take a photo with the Hachiko Statue.

This is the famous Shibuya Crossing that you see frequently on the news programs. We had seen go carts in other places. Apparently there is a go cart tour that you can take.

Just off of the Crossing there was a stage setup and it looked like they were getting ready to film a TV program.

Our destination was Nabeshima Shoto Park which was where we were going to meet Justin. It was a beautiful day out and we enjoyed photographing in this little park. The waterwheel and the reflections were the prime attractions.

We met Justin and walked back to Shibuya Station to catch the train to Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens. We got off the train in Bunkyo City near the Tokyo Dome. We found the park but, as was the case with several other parks, we had problems finding the entrance. If we had just turned left instead of right we would have been OK. As it turned out we walked almost all of the way around the park and past Tokyo Dome before we found the entrance.

Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens was a beautiful park. The afternoon light was great and there was some color in the trees.

 

We found a little wildlife in the park.

There were also some nice opportunities for backlit leaf shots late in the afternoon.

After leaving the park we walked back toward Tokyo Dome. There were several sports fields in the area. In one complex an elite youth soccer tournament was taking place and on another baseball practice.

When we arrived at Tokyo Dome we decided to grab a bite to eat. There was a Shake Shack nearby so we decided to try it. Unfortunately Justin was not feeling well and the sight of food didn’t help so we sent him home. The food was very good. Linda and I decided to wander around the entertainment complex. We thought about riding the Ferris wheel but couldn’t figure out how to get tickets so we moved on.

As we were leaving to catch the train back to Shibuya Station we notice another smoking station.

On the way back we decided to go out to Tokyo Tower so we caught the subway out to the Tower. We found this vendor selling food from his truck but what was unusual about it was that it was a wood fired stove.

We could see the tower from near the subway station. The sun was going down quickly and we should have been at the tower a little earlier so we could have watched the sun set.

There was a full moon in the sky.

We were able catch the last of the sunset when we arrived in the tower.

It was a beautiful view from the tower at night.

When we exited the tower there were some holiday displays around the base.

It had been a long day and we had to catch the train back to our hotel. It seems very strange with all of the nightlife in Tokyo but the trains stop running at midnight.

 

We woke up at sunrise and had a bite to eat in our room. There is a grocery store a short walk from the hotel so we stopped the evening before and stocked up on some supplies for breakfast. We were out the door early to catch the trains to Harajuku Station  which was next to the Meiji Shrine complex. When we arrived it was mid morning and there were already quite a few people at the Meiji Jingu First Torii gate entrance. I noticed several cars with diplomatic plates and flags entering the park when we arrived. I wondered what was going on?

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

As we walked along the main path we could hear drums so we walked over to a restaurant area (bathroom) to see what was going on. There was a plaza where traditional drummers were performing.

Continuing on we encountered wine barrels from the Provenance of the Bourgogne which was consecrated at Meji Jingu. We also encountered barrels of sake wrapped in straw. Apparently these barrels are offered every year to the enshrined deities by the Sake Brewers Association.

As we neared the Second Torii gate we notice policemen directing people to the side of the path. Something was up but we didn’t know what. We soon noticed that a Shinto ceremony was underway as the Kannushi were walking from their headquarters in the shrine complex. We watched the procession pass before we were allowed to continue on.

After passing through the Second Torii gate we encountered a beautiful display of chrysanthemums. We were amazed at what the Japanese can do with mums. the display included a large display of bonsai mums. At home we are used to purchasing a pot of mums to put out in the fall but we have never seen anything like what we found in Japan. As it turned out this was mum season and we encountered mum exhibits throughout Tokyo.

When we arrived at the main Meiji Shrine complex we discovered what was going on. We lucked out and timed our visit on the day of the Grand Shinto Ceremony commemorating the anniversary of Emperor Meiji’s birthday on November 3. This is why there were so many people in the park and the large number of displays and activities. we were able to see the procession of Kannushi enter the main shrine.

We followed the procession into the main shrine where the ceremony was taking place.

There were a group of what appeared to be soldiers marching toward the ceremony.

There were also quite a few people wearing traditional costumes for the ceremony. We took advantage of them posing for photographs.

We were able to look into the area where the ceremony was taking place but could not take any photos. The place was filled with dignitaries. As we walked away from the shrine I notice many diplomatic cars were parked along the road. I didn’t see the U.S. car.

We could hear sounds from another part of the park so we walked over to see what was going on. I should note that the Meiji Shrine complex is huge and is surrounded by a number of parks. When we arrived in the area we found a variety of activities taking place. Men and women were dressed in traditional costumes.

A nationwide archery tournament was being held.

Yabusame or horseback archery was being held by the Equestrian Archery Association.

Traditional martial arts were being demonstrated.

In another area there were agricultural displays of flowers and vegetables.

There were several stages where traditional Japanese music was being performed.

As we were leaving the area we noticed a number of men in a smoking area. As it turns out Tokyo is trying to crack down on smoking. When we were in Japan 5 years ago we encountered a lot of smokers. This time we saw very few smokers and we did see that smoking stations throughout the city were being used. Sometimes there were long lines to get into them.

As we were leaving the shrine area we once again encountered the Kannushi returning to their headquarters.

It was noon when we exited the park. There were a lot more people around many of the dressed in traditional costumes.

When we returned to Harajuku Station we considered walking down Takeshita Street. However, we reconsidered once we saw how packed it was.

We then took a train to Tokyo Station because we wanted to check out the station and also walk through the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace.

We exited the East Gardens and walked through Wadakura Fountain Park Chiyoda City on our way back to Tokyo Station. It was beginning to look like rain so we didn’t stay long.

I took a panarama of the station. The last time we were in Tokyo the station was undergoing major construction and we were never able to get a good view of it. They also had a clock in front of the station counting down to the 2020 Olympics.Tokyo station is a city onto itself. I was easy to get lost wandering around the station. I only wish we had spent more time exploring.

Since it looked like rain we were trying to figure out where we could go and be inside. One of the strange traditions we have is that we visit the IKEA store when we go to a town. Since IKEA was an easy train ride from Tokyo station we decided to use this opportunity for a visit. I had my favorite meal. Checking out of the food line was a strange experience. My wife has a membership and we were asking for free coffee. However, the young lady checking us out apparently didn’t understand English. I’ve never heard anyone speak so fast in my life. It reminded me of a auctioneer in the states. We never did get our free coffee.

 

Our trip started on October 31, 2019. It was Halloween when we left the USA and we arrived in Tokyo the day after Halloween. We were told to avoid this holiday because things get a little wild in Tokyo. We flew from Minneapolis on a direct overnight flight to Haneda Airport arriving mid afternoon Tokyo time. As we flew into Haneda we were surprised at the amount of pollution in the atmosphere.

We went through customs  and then spent about 40 minutes in a line to pick up our JR Rail Pass. We purchased a 21 day pass that allowed us to travel on any JR rail line in Japan. This turned out to be a great deal and avoided many hassles as we moved around Tokyo. All we had to do was display the pass as we entered the JR tracks. There were a couple of issues with the pass. First, we had to go to a JR station office to make reservations on trains. Second, when we entered or exited the JR Stations we had to go through a manned booth and show our passes. Normally this just involved walking through and flashing our passes. During busy times we sometimes got stuck in lines and couldn’t easily get through. Both of these problems are going to be fixed in April of 2020 prior to the Olympics.

Our son lives in Tokyo so when he met us at the Hamamatsucho station he provided us with a prepaid Suica card which allowed us to travel on most public transportation in Japan. In our case we already had a JR Pass so we used the JR Pass on JR lines and the Suica card on other lines. This did result in some confusion on our part.

We took the Tokyo Monorail from Haneda Airport to Hamamatsucho  Station . This was included on our just purchased JR Pass. He accompanied us to help us find our way to the Axas Stay Hotel in Ishikawa-dai. We took the Yamanote Line to Gotanda where we picked up a local line to Ishikawa-dai. We checked into the hotel and our son made sure we knew how to work the various appliances. There were directions but they were not always correct.

He then walked us over to his apartment which was only about 15 minutes away. We stopped to eat at a little restaurant near his apartment We now had a good idea of the lay of the land and walked back to our hotel after a long day.

The next morning we were up before six am. We have never been jet lagged when traveling from east to west. We were scheduled to meet our son and his girlfriend late in the morning. We couldn’t convince them to get moving early in the morning.

More photos from the day can can be found on my website.

We wanted to get moving early and decided to go for a walk. This Lotus Dealership was the location where we turned to go to our sons apartment. It was only fitting that it had the green and gold colors of the Green Bay Packers. It was on sale for 120 thousand dollars. Would have been great to buy it and bring it home but it might be a little cold driving it around Wisconsin.

Just down the street from the Lotus Dealership we discovered Senzokuike park. It was a beautiful day for a walk and there were quite a few people in the park.It looked to be a beautiful little park.

 

There were already quite a few boats out on the lake when we arrived. Boating is a popular pastime in Japan.

There were a few kids around dressed in consumes. I’m not sure what was going on but the previous day was Halloween so it may have been some carryover.

Walking across the main bridge in the park we noticed the fish wanting to be fed and a few ducks in the water.

The park contained a number of shrines including red Itsukushima shrine and the Inari Shrine.

We were finally able to get our son up and moving so we headed over to his apartment near Ookayama Station. As it turned out it is a very nice neighborhood with plenty of shops and places to eat. It is also right next to the Tokyo Institute of Technology. This is one of the reasons he has two 1 GB internet connections in his apartment. He never lets us forget it since we have a 25mb connection that is capped at 50GB.

After picking him up we walked back to Ookayama Station where we caught the train to Shinjuku where we were going to meet his girlfriend for lunch. The train was busy since it was already early afternoon. On the trip on son took the opportunity to give us some advice on train travel. To start when you arrive at the platform there are lines to indicate where you should stand while waiting for the train. When the train arrives those on the train are allowed to leave in an orderly fashion. Once everyone leaves then those in line board the train in an orderly fashion. If the train is crowded you should remove your backpack and either put it on a rack above the seats or wear it in front. There is no food eaten on the train. There is no talking on the phone on the train. In fact it is unusual to hear people talking on the train. Most people have their phone out but they are reading or texting. If the train is crowded when people board the train they then turn and face the door. then they then start backing up as others enter the train. If it is really crowded there are pushers available to push people onto the train. When the train is crowded and it arrives at a stop those near the door step off of the train to allow those wanting to exit to get off then they get back on the train. When entering or leaving the station you stand on the left side of the escalator and let people walk on the right side.

Lunch was my first attempt at using chopsticks. For some reason I totally blacked out the fact that we would be using chopsticks in Japan. I made a mental note to check on the internet to find the correct way to use them.

 

We then walked over to Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. On the way we passed an Apple Store and Louis Vuitton.

There was a small entrance fee for the Gardens. It continued to be a beautiful fall day and many people were out enjoying the weekend. We headed over to the Shinjuku Garden Greenhouse to look at the flowers. Wow what a great collection of flowers and plants.

After visiting the Greenhouse we walked around the park enjoying the beautiful gardens. We encountered this boy looking at something in the water. He was in this position the entire time we were in the area. I was tempted to walk up behind him and yell Boo but I didn’t think that would likely end well.

There were some nice reflections in the water and the roses in the rose garden were still blooming.

It was getting late in the day so we walked back to the park entrance.

We took the train back to where Justin and Carla gave us a tour of some of the back allies of It was still relatively early, around 5pm, and they pointed out that the type of folks on the streets would change dramatically after 9pm.

Piss Alley was one that we walked down. It got its name when many of the bars in the area didn’t have toilet facilities so patrons had to walk outside to relieve themselves. There are many small eateries and bars in the area. We were told that some of them have been turned into “private clubs” to keep foreign tourists out. We happened to be in the area at the end of the Rugby World Cup and found this sign on one of the doors.

After a long day we took the train back to Ookayama where we dined at a noodle restaurant across the street from our sons apartment. Fortunately he was with us because we would have never figured out how to order. You had to order from a kiosk then take the ticket to the counter and they would bring you the food.

We then walked back to our hotel and started planing the next day.

It was a beautiful fall day for a hike on the Ice Age Trail. The fall colors were mainly the rust colors of the oaks. One of my favorite subjects for fall photography are reflection shots.

 

After visiting Perrot State Park we drove over to Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately there was very little wildlife but the colors were nice. We did notice that the water was very high. Lots of rain this fall has made the rivers high.