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Tag Archives: Smoking Stations

Train travel is great. We traveled around the Tokyo area by train every day. It was great because trains or subway stations are located throughout the Tokyo area. They are on time and if you miss a train there is usually another one in a few minutes. The exceptions would be if you take a train to an outlying area where the trains might not run as frequently. You should know that trains stop running at midnight so you need to plan accordingly. Trains are very clean and quiet, There is no eating allowed or talking on cell phones. In fact it is rare to hear people talking on the train. Trains can be very crowded during rush hour so we planned our day accordingly. If you travel with a backpack it is suggested that you store the backpack on an overhead rack or wear it in front. Getting to and from the tracks on escalators has its own rules. You stand on the left and leave the right open for those who want to walk up the escalator.

Tokyo is clean. It is the cleanest city I’ve ever seen. With few exceptions we did not see litter on the streets in spite of the huge number of people. There are almost no public garbage cans or recycling cans to be found. This means that if you purchase something to eat or drink you are required to carry any litter back to your hotel. This is a good reason to carry a backpack and have a plastic bag handy.

Tokyo has recently enacted new smoking regulations that prohibit smoking on public streets. This is a big change since our last visit where we encountered a lot of smoking. The city has erected smoking stations throughout the city. We saw a number of them where there were long lines of men waiting to get in so they could smoke. Even parks and fairs have smoking stations

Japan knows how to do bathrooms up right. They have plenty of public bathrooms and they are free. For the most part they are very modern. They are usually a room rather than a stall. Unlike bathrooms in the US they are very clean. The toilets are usually Toto which means they have a bidet included. They have wipes and hand sanitizers available. Most have music or sounds of running water that you can turn on. We did encounter the traditional Japanese squat toilets in some of the parks.

We saw almost no graffiti in Japan.

We saw very few homeless people and even those we thought might be homeless might not have been. There were no panhandlers at all. It is nothing like what we find in large cities in the states.

Don’t tip in Tokyo it is considered rude. The price you pay for a taxi, or a meal is set and that’s what should be paid.

English is not spoken by most Japanese. It is interesting that they have one of the best programs in the world for teaching English in the schools but it seems to be lost once a person is out of school.

Tokyo seems to be very safe. We walked around at night with no problems. We did see police stations as we walked around but we saw very few police walking around.

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.

 

 

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.