My first blog post was for the first two weeks. In this blog I try to list down my adventures in the next three weeks of my stay in Japan.
FujiQ Highlands (Saturday, Week 3)
Situated at the footsteps of Mt. Fuji, this amusement park offers intense thrill and screams. The rides here are probably the best one can get in a single day. The “screamer” rides pretty much lives up to their name. The roller coasters take you through all the ups and downs possible.
I, along with a big group of six more friends, reached FujiQ Highland at 8.55 am, a whisker shy of the opening time of 9 am. Since there’s a long line for each important ride, and that we went there on a Saturday, some of us bought Fast Passes which would give priority entry with no waiting time. I bought Fast Pass for three out of four celebrated rides. The entry time of the fast pass rides were deliberately spread into two hours in order to have some time in between. We followed the order as written below and would advice the same order to anyone, since the earlier ones are a bit on the easier side.
This ride is famous for its high speed start. It achieves a whopping speed of 180 kmph in just 1.56s. The ride starts with a countdown in the background and whoa! we are crusing at 180 kmph. Further sharp turns and twists awaits us just the speed goes down a bit. The duration of the ride was less but still manager to cover 1.244km in this time.
Another screamer, this ride is known for it’s vertical ascent followed by 121 degree straight descent. Again in this ride, there was a fast start, indicating the level of difficulty. The ride made a slow ascent of about 50 metres - this was the scariest part. My torso was parallel to ground and I was going straight up, and that too at a very slow speed. As soon as the ride reached the top, it began a descent, followed by a series of turns and twists. We seriously needed some rest after these two truely adventurous rides.
Eejanaika is called as the four dimension ride - famous for the degree of freedom it offers. I would rate this as the best ride of the park. This ride has all kinds of movements, including movement about oneself. The best part of this ride is that this ride starts backwards. And soon the ride makes us move in all kinds possible, including flipping around our own seat. Also the track of this ride has all kinds of turns which make it even more exciting.
Fujiyama is called as the king of coasters. This is the oldest and the most famous ride of the park. It has the accent of a world record 70 metres. It is named so because Mt Fuji is visible from the height of the coaster. Soon after this ride, the wagon speeds of into multiple turns and jerks. It is very fast and also the track is scary. This was the fourth of the screamers and hence we all were already very tired. Hence, I felt this ride to be on a difficult side.
Apart from these four important rides, we had a lot of other relaxing rides and fun activites. The Splash ride was pretty relaxing in which the ride went straight into the water thus creating a big splash. Apart from that there was another fun water ride which made us go round a track full of water - occasionally spilling onto us. The “Tentekomai” ride took us to a great height. Mt Fuji was visible from that high and I enjoyed the cool breeze up there. There were a couple of more fun rides including Mad Mouse, Boating and the Cup Ride - all were relaxing and fun.
We returned to our respective residence in the Highway bus we had bought tickets for. We all were very exhausted after a truly adventourous day.
(Left) The super fast Do-dodonpa ride. (Right) The King of coasters - Fujiyama
Odaiba - High-Tech Entertainment Hub (Sunday, Week 3)
Visiting Teamlabs was the prime motivation to spend a day in Odaiba - the high-tech entertainment hub of Tokyo.
Toyota Mega Web
Visiting this grand Toyota Showroom was never in the predecided to-do list, but as soon as the stylish Cars caught our eyes en-route to Teamlabs, we decided to spend some time here. There were verious models on display. Not only cars but also other products Toyota is focussing at. We saw some really cool vehicles including a self balancing one wheeled vehicle. There was a driving simulator at display with free test drive. It had good feedback mechanism and nice interface, but the controls were not good and unrealistic. Spending half an hour on this simulator was definitely not worth it. :(
Teamlabs - Borderless
Teamlabs is a very famous Digital Art Show with tones of LEDs and light effects into place. I was pretty impressed by the concept. They call their art “Borderless” - having no boundaries, and hence, they do not provide a fixed map of the place. It is upon the visitor to explore the art works all around. We spent a very good three hours in this excellent digital art center. The place is divided into variety of arts.
Statue of Liberty
Yes! You read it right. There is a replica of The Statue of Liberty in Tokyo Bay. There’s a good promenade on the way to this statue. With cool breeze coming from the sea, it was an evening well spent.
(Left) Immersed in this borderless art (Right) Statue of Liberty, the rainbow bridge and the promenade
Akihabara - The Electric Town (Saturday, Week 4)
This is a big nine floored electronic building, famous for having all the electronics one can think of. A plethora of products are available from all the brands. It was fun spending time here looking for products. Though, I did not find anything worth buying. The prices were almost the same as one would expect in India - hence I was not motivated to buy anything here. Nevertheless, it was a time well spent. The eight floor of this building was restaurant floor. I had a nice Indian food buffet - my only expenditure in Yodobashi.
@home, Maid’s Cafe
How can one visit Japan and not go to the famous Maid’s cafe? There are dozens of maid cafes all over Tokyo. Akihabara is famous for maid cafe because the culture of maid cafes originated here. Maid cafes are based on some theme and the waitress treat the visitors as thier masters. The restaurant is purely for entertainment. The maids also dance and sing occasionally. I found the restaurent very childish and entertaining.
Before having the food, the customers are maid to sing a slogan and then begin the food. The maid asks us to choose between Rabbit, Cat and Dog and she draws the chosen animal on the coffee. The maids were very entertaining and the environment of the cafe lightened my mood.
Don Quijote, Akihabara
Another shopping building, famous for soveneirs and gift, is located in the heart of Akihabara. I found the prices in this shop reasonable and I loosened my pocket in exchange for a few items.
(Left) At @home maid cafe. (Right) Rabbit drawn on the coffee.
Shinjuku - once again (Sunday, Week 4)
It was second of my many visits to Shinjuku.
Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
This has an entrance fee of 500¥ (250¥ for students), and it is for a reason. The garden is full of surprises. It was drizzling when we entered the garden. Soon the rain settled and the garden was shining. We started with a greenhouse - where endangered plants were raised in artificail conditions. We were unimpressed and unsure about our time and money investment. I knew I was at the right place just as I saw bright pink flowers blooming on the other side. Silent flowing waters with old-styled wooden curved bridge and flowers all around - all of them contributing to a perfect view. Never ever I could imagine such a serene atmosphere in the heart of Shinjuku. Gyoen National Garden is a perfect escape from the rush of the city. There was a bit of drizzle at irregular intervals - but not an issue when you’re in Shinjuku Gyoen Garden - sit under a tree and enjoy the view.
Later in the week, when asked about my weekend, a colleague of mine at Sony said, “I am not sure but this is not the best season to visit the Garden. There’s no beauty in this season”. Imagined how beautiful it must have been a few months back with Cherry Blossom.
Biqlo = Uniqlo + Bic Camera, Shinjuku
Uniqlo is a very famous clothing brand in Japan and Bic Camera is another big electronics store in many parts of Tokyo. In this building in Shinjuku, they have both Uniqlo and Bic Camera at one place, hence Biqlo.
Rest of the day was spent looking around for good clothes at affordable rates. Uniqlo offeres good amount of items on Sale. There was a big collection of T-shirts at Sale, all for 500¥ - which is quite cheap compared to what we get in India. Hence, I bought as many as two t-shirts. Apart from that, a bought a couple of chocolate packets from Bic Camera (yes they sell chocolate and liquors too) for my home as a soveneir.
(Left) One of the many views of this beautiful garden. (Right) The color of flower matches the color of my shirt :)
Lake Kawaguchigo, at the foot of Mt. Fuji (Saturday, Week 5)
Lake Kawaguchigo is in the Yamanashi Prefecture, and very close to FujiQ highland I visited the other weekend. I was familiar with getting the tickets to Kawaguchigo Station, hence the booking was an ease. In addition to this, we followed this itinerary, which covers all important places in the area. But we did something exciting - full day cycling around this area.
We knew beforehand that it is gonna rain the whole day. But I wanted to not waste this weekend. Hence took this chance of going despite the forecast. The forecast is not wrong here :) . It was raining the whole day. But this made the trip more interesting. We cycled all the way through the rain. It was chilling 10 degrees with rain thoroughout the day, and all I had was a thigh level raincoat from 100¥ store.
We covered around 25km in the whole day and covered places like KachiKachi Ropeway, Natural Living Center and Art Museum. Just after we reached the top of the hill using the ropeway, we took shelter under a sovenir shop. There was a dumpling shop nearby with a hot stove in operation. Warming our hands near the stove was a big relief. We continued with out cycling for around 6km and reached the next point, the Natural Living Center. This is located on the banks of the lake Kawaguchigo and offers great display of flowers and herbs. A hot coffee made us ready for the onward journey. The next stop was Itchiku Kubota Art Museum which was surrounded by beautiful waterfall and peaceful environment. Next in the list was Ubuyagasaki cape, a small viewing point on the top of a hill. Next we crossed the mighty Kawaguchiko-ohashi bridge. This was probably the best part of the cycling course. It was really cold and windy at the highest point of the curved bridge. For the first time I had seen raindrops coming at almost a right angle. We could bear the strong winds and cycled back to the Kawaguchigo station.
Returned to my residence and had stomach full of Indian food at a restaurant. Best day undoubtedly. Period.
(Left) Beautiful trail along the lake. (Right) Strong winds and freezing raindrops.
Yokohama, the second largest city of Japan (Sunday, Week 5)
Yokohama is in Kanagawa prefecture, and how could I live in Yokohama and not go there.
It is the biggest Chinatown in the whole of Japan. From the very look of it, I could guess the Chinese culture of the place. With dragons and Laughing Buddha, the feeling of being in China was very obvious. Did not buy anything here but tried some Chinese food.
Yokohama Stadium and Yokohama Park
At a walking distance from the Chinatown, we spotted the Yokohama park and soon discovered the Yokohama Stadium to be adjacent to it. A relaxed evening in the garden was definitely worth the efforts to reach the park. We walked around the Yokohama stadium and realized the craze for the Yokohama Baseball team. Many yongesters were moving around with the Blue colored Yokohama jersey.
The Ramen Museum, Shin-Yokohama
This was an exciting end to the day. All the expected was a few different type of Ramen in display and a couple of options to choose from. And it was more or less the same thing just after the entrance. Books about history of Ramen and its evolution was in display. We were told that we can order and eat ramen on the two floors in the basement. This is where the fun began. As soon as I entered the museum, I was startled by the view. The restaurent complex was designed as an old fashioned Japanese Colony with homes all around. There was a really old television - in working condition. I spent quarter of an hour just roaming around and figuring out things. An old fasined scooter, tradional entertainers, old stlyed homes with cloths hanging from the balcony, beautifully made sky above the head - all of them were beautiful. At the end of it, I ordered Miso Ramen and satisfied my empty stomach. The ramen was not extra ordinary, but the view definitely compensated for that.
(Left) The Chinatown, Yokohama. (Right) Old styled Ramen Museum. All of the background is artificial and only a closed basement floor in reality.
So this was my adventures for the last three weekends. Two more to go!