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Category Archives: Photography

This past weekend we drove over to Hudson, Wisconsin to attend the Hudson Hot Air Affair 2020 balloon rally. Launch time was scheduled for 7:35 am. We were up very early so we could make it to the morning launch. When we arrived in Hudson it was still dark out so we stopped at McDonald’s to get a bite to eat and wait for the sun to rise. When we arrived at the launch site some of the balloons were already starting to setup. The balloon is packed in a large bag so they have to empty the balloon on to the ground, untie it and then spread it out. They then attach the balloon to the basket. The next step is to start to inflate the balloon with a large powerful fan. Once it is inflated far enough they then start the burners to heat up the air causing the balloon to rise.

More photos from the Hudson Hot Air Affair can be found on my website.

 

Once the basket is setup they test the burners to make sure they work.

As the balloon inflates several people control the top of the balloon with a long rope. this prevents the balloon from wandering back and forth during the inflation process. As you can see in the first photo the crew member in the blue jacket is giving hand signals to the crew members  holding on to the rope. In the last photo there was only one person holding the rope and a gust of wind pulled him to the ground. Fortunately he held onto the rope while server other bystanders jumped in to help him control things.

Did I mention it was cold out? It was -15 and most people were bundled up. The person in the first shot looks like she was freezing to death. Oh, that’s my wife and she was freezing to death.

Fortunately it wasn’t long before some of the balloons were inflated and ready to be launched. The basket is tied to a vehicle so it doesn’t take off until they are ready. Once it is untied from the vehicle volunteers hang on to the basket until they are ready to launch.

After the launch we drove back to McDonald’s to get some coffee and warm up before heading to our next event.

 

 

We were up early because we had to catch the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station on our way to Nikko. Our goal for the day was to tour the UNESCO World Heritage Site Shrines and Temples in Nikko Japan Since it is easy to get lost in Tokyo Station we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time to find the train. Turned out we had problems finding the train with all of the construction going on in the station. We finally found the correct platform and then had to wait for our train.

To get from Tokyo to Nikko, we had to take the JR Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station Utsunomiya; then, take the JR Nikko Line to Nikko Station. This was all on our JR Pass.

When we arrived at Nikko Train Station we had to decided to take a bus up the mountain or walk. We decided to walk.

This the center of town.

On our walk we passed a fire station where they were holding a drill.

Nikko is a big tourist destination and there were plenty of things to buy.

We encountered some construction. As is normally the case there were plenty of people available to make sure we got through the construction area without any problems.

Beautiful fall colors in front of a grand building.

By the time we reached our destination it was almost noon so we decided to stop and get a bite to eat before start touring the Shrines and Temples. It turned out to be a good decision because by the time we got our food the place was packed. My wife had to visit the bathroom and she wished se had taken her camera. She needed a tour guide to find it winding through the building and up a narrow stairs.

We had our usual noodles for lunch.

After lunch we walked back to the Shinkyo Bridge which crosses the Daiya River and is the entrance to the Nikko Shrines and Temples. For a small fee you can walk across the bridge. We had an interesting exchange with some Japanese tourists at the Bridge. I always ware my Green Bay Packers hat when I travel. Some Japanese tourists started chanting “go pack go” but one of them opened his jacket and displayed a San Francisco 49ers pin. Funny we should loose to them in the playoffs.

Linda at the Nikkozan Rinnoji Temple and checking the map to see where we wanted to go next.

There were some beautiful fall colors as we walked past Daigomado.

Toshogu Gojunoto was an impressive building.

Our next stop was the Futarasan jinja Shrine area.

We walked past Jogyodo where we paid our fee to enter another group of shrines.

Beautiful color on the walk to the Niomon Gate.

The Niomon Gate was a very impressive structure and gave a hit of what we would find beyond it.

We found this trough which brought water to a chozubachi from a spring in the hill.

The Japanese will go to great lengths to save a tree.

We arrived at Thu Thuy Xa  before walking up the steps to Rinoji Taiyuin Nitenmon.

Rinoji Taiyuin Nitenmon had some very impressive carvings.

Our last stop on the shrines and temple tour was Karamon Gate. This was a beautiful complex.

As we were leaving the park we managed to get lost and ran across this beautiful little park are next to a parking lot.

On the way out to the park we noticed a tapioca truck parked along the street. I love tapioca so we watched for it on the way back to the train station. When we found it but it was not what we expected. I was tapioca pearls mixed in milk. They provided an extra large straw so we could suck the pearls out of the drink. We quickly realized we had a problem. This was the first thing we had purchased on the street that required us to dispose of something. In this case what do we do with the plastic cup and straw. There are almost no trash cans or recycling cans on the streets. In this case since we bought it we had to carry it out. It’s always good to carry a plastic bag in your pack so you can carry disposables home to recycle them.

It was late in the day when I took this last shot from Nikko before we boarded the train to return to Tokyo.

We had one other event planned for the day. We met Justin, Carla and several other friends in Shibuya for dinner.

After dinner we took the train back to Ookayama Station with Justin. I had noticed the calorie counter on he station steps on a previous visit and wanted to make sure to get a photo of it.

My wife an I stopped at the local grocery store and then walked back to our hotel and called it a day.

 

 

Today we were off to Inokashira Park. We arrived at the train station before the rush hour.

I took a few shots from just outside the Musashino Station while I was waiting for my wife to get Google Maps up and running so we could find the park.

What can I say. My wife likes cats.

When we arrived at the park we walked across this bridge. We didn’t get very far before we became entranced by the antics of the ducks in the pond. It also helped that there were some nice reflection shots in the water.

The view down the pond from the bridge.

After watching the birds we continued our journey around the pond. I particularly like to photograph fall landpools (reflections) and there were a lot of them in the pond.

We continued to see wildlife as we walked around the pond.

Mid morning we passed the Blue Sky Cafe. As soon and my wife found out that they had donuts shaped like cats we had to stop.

There were quite a few people out in boats enjoying the beautiful fall day. On a weekend it is probably packed.

As we were nearing the end of our visit we noticed, what appeared to be, a class trip visiting the park and the kids seemed to be having fun. There were also adults out exercising.

We spent some time visiting the Inokashira Benzaiten a small Buddhist Temple in the park.

A few last shots of the pond before we headed back to the train station.

Just outside the park there was a small shopping street which attracted Linda.

One last shot from outside the train station.

We caught the subway over to Yushima Tenmangu Shrine.

The Shrine was not very big.

There was a small Japanese garden associated with the shrine. A family had dressed their little girl up in a traditional costume so I took a photo of her.

What we really came to see was the Chrysanthemum Exhibit that was taking place at the Shrine. It was Chrysanthemum season and there were exhibits all over Tokyo. This was by far the best exhibit we found.

After finishing at the Shrine we noticed there was a large park area not too far away. It was called Ueno Onshi Park and is noted for its lotus plants in Shinobazu Pond. In the fall the lotus plant were not all that impressive. It was getting late so we only manged to walk around a small portion of the park. It is a park that includes zoos and museums so it requires more than a an hours time to really experience it.

One of my hobbies is photographing wildlife and there was plenty of wildlife to photograph in the Pond.

As we were leaving the park we noticed this young man dressed in his school uniform walking along the street. In Japan young kids are trained at an early age to navigate the Tokyo train system and you can frequently see them walking alone on the streets and in the stations.

It was getting late so we started looking for a place to eat and the train station to take us 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.

 

 

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.

 

There are usually quite a few ducks spending the winter in Hudson, Wisconsin. When I go over to photograph the swans I usually get a few duck pictures.

 

We were up early to make the trip to Mount Mitake. This was the trip we were going to make the previous day when I got left at the train station. We picked up the JR Chuo line from Shinjuku Station headed toward Ome. We changed at the Ome Station changed trains for Mitake Station. At Mitake we caught the bus for the 25 minute ride to the cable car station.

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

When we arrived at the top cable car station we had some nice views of the fall colors. Since there was a large group that took the cable car we waited for them to get ahead of us so it wasn’t so crowded on the trail.

The large red torii gate. is a symbol of the fact that the area you are about to enter is under divine protection.

We were walking up a winding road through the forest.

Along the way there are inn that cater to the tourists visiting the area.

The road/trail was just wide enough for one car.

Just before Reaching Musashi Mitake Shrine, we passed  through this shotengai (traditional shopping street).

Just past the shotengai we started the clime to the Musashi Mitake Shrine.

It was a beautiful day with bright blue sky and the start of fall colors. The Shrine was very impressive with a variety of buildings on the grounds. We noticed there was some form of service going on in the main Shrine building.

Just below the shrine we found a small nature trail that provided a shortcut to the main trail to Nagao-daira which was a small plateau with some picnic tables and some great views of the surrounding area.

There were large numbers of these beautiful flowers blooming along the trail.

There were some beautiful red trees in the area. I suspect it would be spectacular when the fall colors were in full swing.

Amazing views from the end of the trail. The second shot is the back side of the small village we walked through earlier in the day.

The blue sky provided a nice background for photographing backlit leaves.

We left the Nagao-daira area and decided to do some hiking. We noticed that several trails were closed but we couldn’t read the signs and we didn’t have an internet connection so we couldn’t translate them. We decided to try and walk down to the rock garden but we were not sure how long the trail was.

We noticed there was considerable washing on some of the gully’s that crossed the trail. This was probably due to the October typhoon.

We reached a junction in the trail and it appeared the trail to the rock garden continued on but there were quite a few handmade signs which we couldn’t read and we were concerned that there might be a problem getting to the rock garden. It looked like the trail leading to Ayahiro Falls would allow us to make a loop and take us back toward the cable car station. We weren’t too happy to see the steps on the trail. We were even less happy when the steps turned into tree roots.

After the tree roots there were metal steps. The entire trail was very steep.

When we finally reached the bottom and the waterfall we discovered that the trail back toward the cable car was closed. It wouldn’t have been quite so bad if the waterfall was spectacular but it really wasn’t much of a waterfall. We had to retrace our steps back up the steel stairs, over the tree roots and back up the steps. When we were back up at the junction we debated whether or not to go to the Rock Garden and decided we didn’t know how far it was and if it was also closed off down the trail. We decided to retrace our steps back to Nagao-daira and then to the cable car.

The way back seemed a lot shorter even though we were going up hill.

When we arrived back at the shopping street we decided to find a place to eat before leaving the mountain.  It was getting cool out so we looked for a place that looked like it might be warm. We had one of our best meals at this little restaurant.

On our mountain hikes I was a little surprised to find a large number of elderly people hiking. On one trip a woman was walking up a steep slope assisted by two walking sticks and followed by someone pushing a wheel chair. This was really inspiring.

We walked back though the area where the inns were located.

There were some beautiful leaves as we neared the cable car station. I did find it interesting that almost every place we found logs along the trail they were fake logs but they did blend in well with the environment.

When we reached the cable car station there was a small class of kids on tour. Once again they all had color coded hats. They were all in front as the cable car went down the mountain.

We had a relatively long wait for the bus that would take us back to the Mitake Train Station. It was packed

We arrived back at Shinjuku Station well after dark. My wife made a stop in the rest room while I took a few shots in the station. It was Friday night and really busy. When my wife returned she mentioned that there was an area in the women’s restroom to makeup on etc. The place was packed with young women getting dolled up for Friday night.

I convinced my wife to walk around outside the station so we could get some night shots of the area.

When we wee done we caught the train back to our hotel. It had been another long day.

This turned out to be one of our strangest days in Tokyo. We had decided to visit Mount Fuji so we made an early morning trip down to the JR ticket office at Shinjuku Station to aquire tickets.

The internet seemed to suggest that we could go all the way on the JR Line but when we arrived we discovered this wasn’t the case. We had to take the JR Limited Express train from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki. At Otsuki we would stay on the same train but have to purchase another ticket to reach Kawaguchiko. After all of this discussion we discovered the train was sold out. We decided to reserve tickets for a couple of days later.

Our Backup plan was to take the train to Mount Mitake. We would take the JR Chuo Line to Ome Station then transfer to another JR train to Mitake Station. We found the sign for the JR Chuo Line and headed down to the platform. When we reached the platform the train was already there. My wife got on but before I could get on the doors closed. My wife turned around the discovered that I was still on the platform as the train pulled. She had this horrified look which I wish I could have captured on the camera. The last thing I saw was that she mouthed “stay there”. So I did.

I should point out that when we travel we both have Verizon phones and for $10 per day each we could have access to our phones. Since this is a bit pricy my wife usually purchases a local SIM card for her phone and we use it for navigation. In this case she was using Japan Navitime to map our train travel. My phone was not turned on.

I waited and waited for her to return. After an hour of waiting for her to return I begin to feel like Hachiko the dog at Shibuya Station. I decided to turn my phone on but didn’t have a signal so I went outside the station by the JR Ticket Office. Now what? I couldn’t call my wife because she only had internet access and no phone number. I did remember something about Facebook Messenger but where to find it on my phone? You’ve probably guessed that I don’t use my phone very often. I started poking around and the next thing I know I was on a video chat with her. How that happened I have no idea since I’ve never used video chat. Turns out she was on a train to Ome and couldn’t talk so she said she would get off the train and text me. She did get off of the train and I received a text that she was on her way back to Shinjuku Station and it would take about a half an hour

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

I decided to wander around the area outside of Shinjuku Station.

I’m not sure if this person was homeless or just taking a morning break. One thing we did not see were people sleeping on the streets and beggars. Apparently Tokyo has a very small homeless problem.

During my walks I kept getting updates, from my wife, on Facebook Messanger. Turns out there were problems on the train line and what she thought would be a half hour turned into over an hour.

We finally met up outside the JR Ticket Office at Shinjuku Station where I got to hear her version of events. It seems that when the train was leaving me behind she first mouthed that I should go to Ome then mouthed stay there. I only saw the latter. She got off at the next station and returned to Shinjuku Station and claimed to have searched the platform for me. Since I have a habit of not standing in one place and wandering off she thought that I had done that. Then she thought that since she had told me to go to Ome that I had gotten on the train to Ome so she got on the next train to Ome. The only thing we could figure out was that when she returned to Shinjuku Station she went to the wrong platform or platform entrance. At any rate we came up with a new plan should we get seperated. It involved me turning on my phone.

We should have probably been a little better organized regarding a separation plan. This is the third time it has happened. In 2015 I got on a gondola and left her behind and this spring we were leaving Ellis Island and they slammed the gate in my face, leaving my wife on the boat and me waiting for the next ferry.

Since we had already wasted more than half the morning we started looking for something to do in the area. We found this wonderful park near the station called Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. The park even had a Chrysanthemum exhibit taking place.

Near a little pond area there were a number of painters at work.

There was an extensive Chrysanthemum exhibit in the park. It is truly impressive what the Japanese can do with Chrysanthemums.

Not only was there an exhibit but there were Chrysanthemums planted throughout the park.

We encountered the ever present hungry fish looking for a handout.

This was a very beautiful park.

We walked through an area with some beautiful backlit trees. Some of the leaves were just starting to turn color.

We found the rose garden at one end of the park. There were still a few roses blooming in mid November.

A little fruther on we ran across a group of school children on an outing. We watched as the started gathering leaves to toss at one another. Soon they turned on their teachers and started chasing them with leaves.

We walked past a section of the park with a bridge and a nice pond.

There was an expansive area of green space which on a weekend would be packed with people.

As I mentioned at the start of the blog this was a rather bazaar day. We noticed a greenhouse along the trail and decided to take a look inside. I took a few photos of some flowers and started following the walkway when I noticed a lime growing on a tree. I realized that I had seen the same lime on our first day in Japan when Carla and Justin took us to a park. It turns out that this was the same park. When we entered the park we turned right instead of left and entered a section of the park we hadn’t visited before. Until we reached the greenhouse we were coming from a different direction so everything looked different.

After we visited the botanical garden display we headed back to our hotel.

 

 

On day 5 we decided to visit the Tsukiji Outer Market. When we arrived we had trouble finding the market because our Google Maps didn’t seem to be working. We finally stopped at a police station and asked for directions. As it turned the market was just down the street from where we got off of the subway. we finally spotted it on a corner.

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

We arrived about 8:30am and wandered around the market for an hour and a half. Unfortunately we ate a big breakfast before we arrived at the market. We won’t make that mistake again since there was a lot to eat. At the state fairs in the Midwest you can find almost everything on a stick. The Outer Market was very similar in that respect. One can find eggs, fruit, beef, vegetables and eel on a stick. The egg omelet on a stick was the most interesting item for me.

 

   

We saw this statue out in front of several stores and assumed it was a chain something like Big Boy in the Midwest.

There was all sorts of seafood available but as mid westerners we are not too adventuresome in our eating habits.

My wife wanted to try something so she tried these.

As we were walking away from the Market we noticed a big building behind some other buildings so we walked over to find out what it was. Turns out it was the Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple.The temple was open and we were able to go in and take a few photos. It appeared that there was going to be a service performed.

The site also houses the Mausoleum for the Ashes of Japanese Deceased in Taiwan. Their story is described below. There are also several other memorials in the same area.

We then decided to take the subway over to the Sensō-ji Buddhist temple complex in Asakusa. These are a few street scenes from the walk over to Sensō-ji.

We walked around the temple complex. There were quite a few people around even on a weekday.

There are quite a few pagodas and statues in the area. The red bibs and hats are to ward off evil.

There were quite a few people dressed in native costumes. They were likely rented since there were a number of costume rental stores in the area.

After touring around the temple area we walked over to the mall and found a McDonalds where we had coffee and ice cream. Portions are considerably smaller than in the U.S. On the other hand you don’t see many obese people walking around.

After lunch we decided to take the subway to Rikugien Gardens. We found it with ease but the gate we approached was locked so we had to walk all of the way around the park to find an entrance that was open. This was something that we encountered several times. Apparently all of the entrances are only open on a special days. The wait was worth it.  Rikugien Gardens is a relatively small but very beautiful park. It was midday  and there was some nice light. It is easy to forget that all of the parks in Tokyo are in the middle of a huge metropolis.

There were some nice backlit leave photos in the park.

It had been a long day so we headed back to our hotel.