Tokyo : Baths, Palace, Mosque, Tower, Shibuya
Trip Start Aug 16, 2013
376Trip End Aug 25, 2013
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The internet cafe is cool. Just found out they offer you free soft drinks and ice cream cones. Also people can rent private cubicles where they can watch dvd movies or sleep. I heard couples use it for 'other stuff' though. I used my hour to have an ice cream cone and two cups of coke to make up for the last two days. They are charging $5 an hour.
Last nite back at the capsule hotel used the hot tub to relex after a long day of walking. This was like one of the volcanic hot springs
They also give you japanese style robes to wear. The pants are really tight and short. Its not too busy in the hotel these days but still quite a bit of noise when you try to sleep as you dont have doors just a roll down blind. You still get the light from the hall as well. (See Later Entry Japan Hotels for Pics)
For breakfast I used their restaurant and had grilled boneless fish which was quite good like steak. After that wanted to head out to the royal palace. The JR pass includes the yamonote circle line but there is also an east west express line which is also part of JR so decided to try that. It went from shinjuku station in the west to tokyo station in the east, in 8 minutes and four stops, whereas the circle can be 25 mins!
Tokyo station is supposed to be based on Centraal station in Amsterdam but the outside was all under renovation. Also the palace was closed, which my friend had warned me but my guidebook said was open for a fee
After that was thinking of going to the tokyo tower which I was supposed to do in the afternoon, as I now had time to kill, but decided not to or I'd be rushed. Instead headed out to where the turkish mosque is for friday prayers. This station is not part of JR so I had to buy a ticket, which was quite easty, you just press the english button and select your fare zone, then insert coins.
Navigating is actually quite easy as I mentioned. Also noticed people will walk on one side of the station in one direction, and people in the other direction walk the other side, not random in all directions. Its very organized and disciplined. Also like the retro look 1970s taxis.
When I got to the mosque it was very impressive. It is built in turkish basillica style like the haga sofia with one large central dome supported by smaller ones around. I counted six from the inside. This mosque was first built in the 1930s by tatars but was rebuilt in the 1980s
Tokyo Mosque and Turkish Culture Centre Website
founded by the Russian Turks from Kazan in 1938
Downstairs was a turkish cultural centre. Again the congregation was full but it was a complete cross sectoin of people from turkey to indonesia. Also there were muslim tourists as a lot of people were taking pictures and hadnt been here before, asking me questions like I was supposed to know?. The imam was turkish and did the sermon in japanese, turkish, and english. There were also some japanese muslims.
video : Tokyo Turkish Cultural Centre
video : Tokyo Turkish Mosque
After that headed back to the capsule to charge my batteries
After 4 headed out to the tokyo tower but the sun was starting to go down and I wanted to get there before it was dark. Again took the rapid chou line to cut across to tokyo station in 8 minutes instead of the long circle line. These pictures on trains are actually getting annyonig now. For a nation that can build sophisticated electronics, they seem to assume people are too stupid to know how to use an escalator?
Getting to tokyo tower they had some temple like buildings and a couple of gates to go thru to get there. The tokyo tower is a copy of the eiffel tower. There are two levels that you can goto. I went to the first level as was short on time, not good with heights, and didnt want to pay more. The view from this level is actually quite good anyway, as you can see from pics, so not worth going higher.
video : Tokyo Tower
Like the CN tower this level has two floors, the observation level, and the cafe with the glass floor
video : Tokyo Tower Night Descent
After that headed back to Harajuku. My book described this as one of the centres of youth culture. At first all I saw was the regular brand names stores you'll see in a mall and felt very european looking and not like the rest of tokyo. Then found this long alleyway where all the handcrafts were and more of an artsy neighbourhood. My book says sundays are the busiest with a street market.
After that headed back a couple of stops to Shibuya another part of youth culture. I was trying to find where all the young people with a mod look and punk hair hang out. By Shibuya station was another scramble crossing. I know they have these all over tokyo but this was the most fun
video : Tokyo Shibuya scramble crossing
Shinjuku was definately the best place to stay as has the liveliest nightlife and the best collection of everything. I really like the capsule hotel and would definately recommend it and stay again. Just try not to come in a busier time of year. Thurs nite was more busier than wed so will see what friday nite is like. Mostly japanese businessmen, not so tourisity right now.
Tomorrow have to get up early to take the 2 1/2 hour train to Kyoto. Today was very clear and sunny and a few degrees warmer. Hope the weather holds up as they keep saying heavy rain the rest of the trip. Now when I check seems to have moved away and not as heavy.
Tokyo was immaculately clean and not as difficult to navigate as I'd always thought. Everything is bililingual in english and station staff speak english. I guess since the 80s its gone thru such a language transformatoin you can get by. Have to see what the rest of japan is like outside the big city. Crowds are not too bad, they just get in your way when you're trying to run across before the light changes. There is no rush hour / off peak on the trains. They all run 3 mins apart, just more or less crowded at different times.
Tomorrow the adventure moves west to Kyoto...