Monday, May 28, 2012

City at night - Tokyo lights

I really wanted to get a view of Tokyo at night!

Rather than paying about $30 each to go up a department stores view area we went to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building...for free!

I recommend taking a jacket or in my case a scarf to cover the window with to block some reflections out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Maruyama park & Haru cooking class

Thursday April 11... We had our cooking class with Tarosan.

We knew we had to meet Taro at 3pm so we didnt want to do anything too strenous or time consuming. We had heard Maruyama park was great at night with Sakura lit up and lots of stalls with people enjoying Hanami.

I thought, "Why not see it during the day too?". We got up early and got to the park about 10. It was busy but not hectic. While I skittered around taking photos of the park and Sakura Rach got a banana crepe from a cart in the park. the stalls were not all open yet but a few were ready to go.

The restaurants were ready for the evenings fesivities and the sakura were blossoming.

After the park we had a small lunch then made our way to Taro's place north of where we were staying. We power walked up the river from the subway station to a bus stop where Taro had told us to wait. We met our fellow students at the bus stop. 3 Australians named Sam, Cory and Samantha, and Mike from Manchester. Taro popped up out of no where and led us down a small street to his house. It was an old Japanese house with western influences (according to Taro) and only a little smaller than our house at home.

Taro was very friendly and funny. He was very happy to talk about his home,himself and Japan. We had witnessed some helicopters (10) on the way to the bus stop. It turned out a bad car crash happened in Gion so he translated the news for us.

The cooking class was fun. We sat surrounding his kitchen and he showed us a few Japanese dishes he liked and had us help him cook. The egg dish was most fascinating the way it is flipped and rolled multiple times to make an oblong omelette.

He showed us how to make dashi and the different types of miso soup. The chicken breast was cool. It was slow cooked in a pot of boiling water wrapped in glad wrap. it looked great. Our tofu was so tasty! I coated it in a little bit of potato starch (corn flour is okish too) then pan fried it shortly. This made the tofu crispy, then Rach and Taro made sauce with sugar, soy and ginger... when the tofu was fried in it the dish was super tasty!!!

Once we had cooked everything the 6 of us students got to sit down and enjoy the meal. We arrived at 3 and ended up leaving about 6ish. Taro had checked before we began and a couple of the others needed to get away by 7. As a parting gift Taro gave us each an oil bottle with a brush attached to make perfect egg dish, Dashimaki Tamago.

We made our way back to Maruyama park to view the Sakura at night. The park was busy and vibrant.

The trees were lit up and the bright stalls were all up and running with people peddling their wares "Irrashaimase"

We met an aussie on the way around after Rach bought a Sakura ice cream. He greeted us in japanese and we stumbled our way through conversation until we reverted to English and had a chat about our time in Japan.

After a few (hundred) photos and alot of dodging people we made our way back to the hotel.
On the way back we passed this stream with Sakura leaning over.

For more about the Haru Cooking Class with Taro please goto his site: and for more reviews check out Trip advisor.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Our adventures with Alice in Wonderland

While in Tokyo we had to find a crazy restaurant to eat at.
Rachel found this Alice in Wonderland themed place in the basement of the Odaikyu department store in Shinjuku.

Our waitress was friendly and happy to pose for a shot:

The steak Rachel had was good, very tasty. The chicken pasta I had was good but not worth what we paid for it. However you dont go to these places just for the food. The whole restaurant is done up to the Alice in Wonderland theme and the deserts looked amazing, but we were too full to have one:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Japan 2012 - Day 5 April 10th
We spent 5 days in Kyoto. Once we had settled in we headed to Kiyomizu-Dera.

Lonely planet info here

We wandered up the same street our great hotel was on for about half an hour until we got to the Temple.
On the way, we past a small supaa (supermarket) that we stopped for lunch and snacks in quite often. Outside was this cute dog waiting patiently in his owners bicycle.

A Monk lets the crowd flow around him on the road up to Kiyomizu-Dera.

To get to a lot of temples you have to pass through a gauntlet of tourist traps. The pedestrian street leading up to the temple is populated by stores selling overpriced Japanese stuff... like fans, Yukata, nice bowls, chopsticks and so on.

Here this monk watches people consumed by consumerism.

The grounds around Kiyomizu-Dera are decorated with Sakura and other shrines.

Ema or prayers at the temple. You pay for the the wooden plaque thing and hang it here

A Geisha (or someone dressed up as one) climbs the stairs to the shrine.

A young woman in a kimono takes photos of the sakura with her cell phone...

... then admires her photo:

We couldn't figure out what these were but saw people bowing to them so assume they are shrines of some type

Visitors to the temple cleansing before they enter. You wash your hands by tipping water on them, some people swish some around in their mouth too.

A girl prays to the shrine

 Looking down form Kiyomizu-dera


Here are Trey Ratcliffs shots from
The Treetop Temple Protects Kyoto

Amazing shots! We weren't lucky enough to visit the temple at night. It closed about 6pm during our stay in Kyoto.