Tag Archives: yotsuya

Looking for Yoyogi Park

Sad to leave Shinjuku

After leaving Shinjuku Park I headed straight away to the nearest station in Shinjuku. I knew that it was probably going to be the last time so see Shinjuku and its beauty. I was fascinated by that part of Tokyo, like it was already a part of me. It was in my heart since my first day and I still remember now, more than 3 years after that experience, every single moment that made me fall in love of that place, our romance during day time and during evening time.  Goodbye Shinjuku. I really want to meet you again in the near future.

I didn’t have time to think about the beautiful times that me and Shinjuku passed together. I was there in Tokyo because I wanted to see more. I wanted to fall in love with other parts of the city. I had to go. When I reached the station I was sad, but at the same time I was happy because a lot of new adventures were waiting for me somewhere else in that city, in that country. The adventure hadn’t finished, in fact, it had just started.

Lunch near Yoyogi Station

Not even half of the daylight hours had passed, I still have the most of the day in front of me. I was getting hungry because lunch time was coming. As soon as I got of from the train and headed to the exit, the first thing to do was to look for a place where to eat. I walked few minutes around the area and finally I found a place where to eat. It was cheap and the food was quick to eat. I had to make the most of my remaining time in Tokyo.

I can’t remember what I ate, but as all Japanese food, the food was deliscious. I ate quick to save time so I could visit more places. I left the restaurant and went to look for the park. Where is it? Let’s find out.

In search of the Park

The first thing to do was to go to the train station to look at the detailed maps that are there for anyone walking by. I looked at it and realised that the park was not near the station, I had to walk a bit for the entrance.

I really didn’t care walking for a bit to look for the park, at the end of the day I had to walk for most of my day anyway, so a few minutes of extra walk didn’t make much difference at all. On the other hand, I had the opportunity to see new things, things that belong only to that area, a part of Tokyo that is not found anywerelse in the rest of the world. The idea excited me a lot.

Anyway, it took me around 10 minutes to reach the entrance of the park. I enjoyed the walk to the station. One of the things that fascinated me was that the the way to the park was not even. The road at the beginning was going downhill and then I had to walk up a slope. But it was short because the entrance to the park was just there.

Yoyogi Park is different from Shinjuku Park

The first impression of the entrance of Yoyogi Park was that the entrance to the park is different from Shinjuku Park’s entrance, or at least from the entrance I took entering Shinjuku Park. While Shinjuku Park’s entrance was set along a very large and busy road, the entrance was just a normal gate. In contrast, Yoyogi park entrance was like a proper Japanese style entrance to the park.

In fact, as you see on the photo above, the entrance gate is totally made of wood, with three golden color objects, looking like coins, above each of the two long pillers and one in the middle, they might have been used either as nails or to cover the nails for decoration. By the look of the wood, the gate seems that has been there for a long period of time, probably from the Meiji period, however, it is still in very good conditions.

Entrance of Yoyogi Park From Yoyogi
Entrance of Yoyogi Park From Yoyogi

Hills Ahead

I could see from the entrance that the park was not flat, not even Shinjuku park was flat but at least it was flatter. I could see that there were more trees and it looked more like a forest. That park has its own ability to attract people that it is different from the way Shinjuku Park does and I think that probably Yoyogi park is more popular to tourists than Shinjuku Park does and I will tell you later why, but don’t get me wrong, I still love Shinjuku park because I am not a touris arant for tonight for me and Mari, and I still wanted to see more things in this exciting city, so I decided to have a look at the park in a quicker way than I did with Shinjuku Park. In one word, I had to hurry up.

Quick Tour of the Park

Because I have done a very quick tour and because I am writing this blog post 3 1/2 years later, I cannot remember much about the park itself apart that there were many trees, I was going uphill and downhill, I couldn’t see everything, just some of the things, and I probably missed the most important things, such as the Meiji Shrine 🙁

Anywhay, here below I posted the photos of the park that I took while visiting it.

The Other Side of the Park

Once I went on the top of Yoyogi Park, I started the long way down the hill to the other side of the park. Once I reached the exit, I saw a familiar gate, it was the same as the gate I took at the entrance, however, this was in the other side of the park. There were definately more people there, it looked like that the entrance was more popular.

That entrance, however, was flat, and then on the other side of the gate it was a little bit more wide open with about 100 yards of footpath. Then I saw something that was even more familiar: I arrived at Harajuku!!!

Yoyogi National Gymnasium

Still curious of Harajuku (I will never get enought of that area), I saw a sign pointing the Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

What is it? Let’s go to have a look.

Walking throug a short foot path I saw a pillar stating that next I could find Yoyogi National Stadium.

Another photo of the Entrance to Yoyogi National Stadium in Harajuku
Another photo of the Entrance to Yoyogi National Stadium in Harajuku
Entrance to Yoyogi National Stadium in Harajuku
Entrance to Yoyogi National Stadium in Harajuku

I looked behind and I see a very beautiful building with a wonderful design. It was the famous Yoyogi National Gymnasium.

Yoyogi National Stadium
Yoyogi National Gymnasium

As you can see, it has been beautifully built  with marvellous architecture. It was soooo beautiful and I fell in love with it (like the rest of what I had seen so far in Tokyo).

Because the time was ticking, I didn’t have much time to go there to visit it, I went to Harajuku train station and left for the next adventure, and to tell you the truth, Tokyo never disappoint me and it looks like there are 1,000,000+ things to do and see in that great city. I just wish I had more time to visit that amazing city.

Shinjuku Park

Beautiful Days

The sun rays started coming through my window in the morning early at around 7am. I look outside of the window and started admiring the beautiful sky above Tokyo. It seemed like that the sunny days in Tokyo were never ending. I always loved the sun, I always loved the heat coming from the sun rays and Tokyo when is covered by the sun light looks wonderful. I didn’t want to go back to bed, even though it was still early, I didn’t want to spoil the day, so I decided to get ready. I shaved my face and had a beautiful shower.

  • What can I do today? – I asked to myself.

I was thinking that when I walked to Shinjuku on my first day I saw a park on my left. The park seemed big and I looked at the map and saw that another park was marked not too far away with an entrance near Yoyogi station.

  • Yes! Let’s make this a park day! – At least in the morning

I also thought what Mari told me few days earlier. She said that I had to look for a restaurant for tonight before leaving Tokyo. She was working today so I couldn’t meet her during day light hours. I had to think about something. I was thinking to start enjoying my day first and I will probably find somewhere nice along the way.

After I finished to get ready and think about what I was going to do for the rest of the day, I left the room, went downstairs to have breakfast, asked the lady of the ryokan if she could keep my suitcases until later and then left the ryokan.

Different Countries Park

The first thing I did after leaving the ryokan was stop at the local Starbucks and grab a coffee. I can’t stay the all day without a coffee.

The sunrays were leading my way. It took me about 20-25 minutes to get there (excluding the coffee break). As soon as I entered the park I realised that the park was going to be big. Soon after I saw some signs pointing at different directions: English park on the left, straigth to the French park and right to the Japanese park. ‘Wow! This park is multicultural’ I said to myself.

Even though I couldn’t resist to the temptation to visit the Japanese park, I decided to visit the park clockwise. I don’t know why but I love the wait and the first part that I visited was the English one first, the French after and finally the Japanese.

Both, the English and the French parks were very beautiful, but I visited them quickly because I was not really too much interested in them. The area where the first 2 park were, was fairly big. Then, after I finished to visit the first 2 parks, I entered the Japanese park. The only thing I did was to follow the path and admire its contents.

Harmony

Walking along the trail in the park I could notice straight away that everything was placed consciously and in harmony with the nature. Harmony, in fact, is one of the elements that shape the every day life of the Japanese people, I will go more into detail about ‘harmony’ in Japan in another post.

Many trees had a haircut

One of the things that impressed me most were the trees. In fact, many of them looked like grown up bonsai, this is because they were perfectly trimmed, like they have been to the hair dresser or to the barber shop, giving them a shape that differs from the normal trees. The people that look after the trees in the park seem to use the same technology they use to shape the bonsai trees.

I ‘killed’ the time

The park never finished to surprise me, it was so beautiful and it gave the impression that the time stopped for many centuries and the beauty of every single element would stay there forever for the millennia ahead of us.

The only thing that made me realise that I was living in the 3rd millennium were the buildings in Shinjuku that I could see from far away behind the wonderfully positioned trees.

Trees, rivers, lakes, stones, traditional buildings. Everything was put together precisely. Nothing was out of order. It was done with the precision of a Swiss watch up to the minimum detail. It was just amazing. I had never seen before a park as perfect and beautiful as that. Totally different from western parks. I was lucky to be able to admire the beauty of the scenery. I just didn’t want to leave Japan anymore.

Ocha Douzo (Tea Please)

Walking along the way I saw a sign directing to a traditional Japanese tea room. I was curious how they looked like. I was in Japan and I wanted to feel the Japanese culture inside me. I wanted to experience as many things as I could in order to satisfy my hunger of Japanese culture.

I didn’t know if they were doing the tea ceremony there or it was in another room, more private. The building was open with few sits on the inside and customers sipping tea.

It took me a while to reach the tea room. I was excited. I wondered if I could experience there the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. I didn’t know if they were doing the tea ceremony there or it was in another room, more private. When I arrived at the building I saw a man serving, the building was open with few seats on the inside and a few customers sipping tea.

As soon as I approached the man that was serving, he told me that on that day they didn’t do any tea ceremony. In that occasion I was not lucky. However, I was not upset about that. I thought that I had to stay for 11 months in Japan and I will have another occasion to experience the beauty of the Japanese Tea Ceremony Culture. After taking a few pictures, I left the tea room and carried on with my park experience until the exit.

My next adventure was waiting for me.

Akihabara ‘Super Mario’ Building

Not yet, Harajuku has to wait!!!…

After Ginza and before going to Harajuku, I decided to go to Akihabara by myself to have a look around and have lunch there. I wanted to take some photos at maid girls that were handing out leaflets for the maid cafes, but they told me that I was not allowed to do that. So I decided not to take photos in case they think that I am a stalker. After a short walk I decided to move away from the ‘maid area’.

Electric Building

Leaving the ‘maid area’ didn’t mean leaving Akihabara, but going to discover something different. As I mention in the ‘Akihabara: The Electric Town‘ post, I entered the building that has stairs that, from outside they look like Super Mario Bros’ pipes, but this time I decided to discover what was hidden on the other floors.

It didn’t take long to reach that building from where I was, to tell you the truth, I was there within 5 minutes.

Funny Looking Laptops

Once entered into that building, I took the ‘ pipe escalator’ to the other floors to see if they were going to sell items different from those found in UK. The most of the things are the same or very similar, however, what impressed me a lot was the thickness of the Japanese laptops. The screen part was about the same, however, the block of the laptop that holds the keyboard was much thicker.

I was really surprised about that and I was wondering why they were as thick. However, the thing that impressed me more than anything else was the design of the laptops. The design was far from futuristic, surprisingly, the design was very static, more similar to the old laptops that used to sell in the early 2000’s. For a country like Japan, where everyone think is ahead of the times, this has surprised me a lot.

Raw Egg

After a thorough investigation of the store, I decided to go nearby for a lunch. I found somewhere cheap where to eat, one of those places that can be found anywhere throughout Tokyo.

After choosing something from the vending machine, I went to look for a seat and waited for the waitress to come with the food to my table. The food I order was below the 600 yen mark and it included a bowl of rice, some sliced pork on top and an egg still inside the shell, I thought it was a boild egg.

I started eating the sliced pork and the rice first, then when the waitress came along, I asked how to eat the egg. The waitress she said to open it on top of the rice and so I did. When I broke the egg, I realised that it was still raw. I have never eaten in all my life a row egg. I thought if I was going to mix it with the hot rice, the egg was going to cook by itself. I was wrong but I decided to eat it anyway. Half a year later I found out that eating raw egg was part of the Japanese culture, in fact, Japanese eggs would not harm the health due to its freshness. ‘Tamago gohan’ is the raw egg served on top of a bowl of rice and then eaten, usually with a bit of Japanese soy sauce and a pinch of salt.

Really Hentai
After finished eating, I went to walk around the area to see what other things the place was offering. I turned into a narrow street and to my surprise I saw a 6 storie building ) that was selling exclusively only school girl uniforms. The six floors include the ground floor (in Japan the ground floor is considered as first floor unlike western countries) and in addition had the basement. Either that depato (department store in Japanese romanised) was selling uniforms for schools, or more probably it was selling uniforms mainly for cosplaying, or for the maids that were working in Akihabara, or maybe for certain men in order to satisfy their hentai fantasies, or maybe for all of those reasons. I could see on the windows some of the school uniforms displayed and on the ground floor there were some kids’ size anime stickers of school girls and magazine pages.
I was really surprised that a department store so big was selling just schoolgirl uniforms. I was really tempted to have a look inside but I decided to go against my temptation just in case people thought I was a hentai. Even though I was in the country famous for hentai (perverts, at least Japan is seen this way by westerners), I still didn’t know much about Japanese culture to consider to enter that store.
Hentai Building?
Hentai Building?

Tokyo never stopped fascinating me. Tokyo is a really marvellous city, even though many people think that Japan is a very strange country. At the end of the day I respect their culture and I would never change is because is so different from the west and I was sure that Japan was hiding more fascinating things and my staying in Japan had just started. (Next).

Japanese Style British Pub

I miss England

While leaving the Ninja Restaurant, Mari told me how she missed England. At that moment I told her that near the Ryokan in Yotsuya I saw a British pub and if she wanted we could go there to have a pint of beer before going back home. She liked the idea and we headed to Yotsuya. Yotsuya was just 1 train stop away from Akasaka, so we headed to the train station and few minutes later we were there. Once we were in Yotsuya we walked on the pavement on a busy road that leads Yotsuya to Shinjuku.

British or Japanese?

We arrived at the pub few minutes later. Inside, the pub was very clean, it had tall tables and high seats where people can enjoy their beer. Inside there were only few Japanese people drinking plus the 2 male bartenders. Thinking about British pubs, the first thing that came into my mind was to go at the bar, order the drinks and pay there. Instead, we headed to one of the high tables, sat there and one of the bar tender came to our table to take our order. I found it a bit unusual but I got used straight away. The athmosphere was quiet with some music on the background (I cannot recall what music they were playing). Then the bartender came with the two pints, one for me and one for Mari, and we had a chat. We stayed at the pub for about half an hour, paid at the end then left the pub and went our separate ways.

Pubs in Japan

The athmosphere in the Japanese pubs is different from their British counterpart. That pub was very relaxing and people don’t have to go to the bar leaving their friends sitting alone lonley while ordering and therefore making the experience more intimate. Also the pub itself was much cleaner and not as noisy than those found in UK. The whole experience was different, even going alone, there are more opportunities to befriend to people never met before, especially if you are a foreigner in Japan. It is an experience that is worth trying.

Akihabara ‘Super Mario’ Building

Not yet, Harajuku has to wait!!!…

After Ginza and before going to Harajuku, I decided to go to Akihabara by myself to have a look around and have lunch there. I wanted to take some photos at maid girls that were handing out leaflets for the maid cafes, but they told me that I was not allowed to do that. So I decided not to take photos in case they think that I am a stalker. After a short walk I decided to move away from the ‘maid area’.

Electric Building

Leaving the ‘maid area’ didn’t mean leaving Akihabara, but going to discover something different.  As I mention in the ‘Akihabara: The Electric Town‘ post, I entered the building that has stairs that, from outside they look like Super Mario Bros’ pipes, but this time I decided to discover what was hidden on the other floors.

It didn’t take long to reach that building from where I was, to tell you the truth, I was there within 5 minutes.

Funny Looking Laptops

Once entered into that building, I took the ‘ pipe escalator’ to the other floors to see if they were going to sell items different from those found in UK. The most of the things are the same or very similar, however, what impressed me a lot was the thickness of the Japanese laptops. The screen part was about the same, however, the block of the laptop that holds the keyboard was much thicker.

I was really surprised about that and I was wondering why they were as thick. However, the thing that impressed me more than anything else was the design of the laptops.  The design was far from futuristic, surprisingly, the design was very static, more similar to the old laptops that used to sell in the early 2000’s. For a country like Japan, where everyone think is ahead of the times, this has surprised me a lot.

Raw Egg

After a thorough investigation of the store, I decided to go nearby for a lunch. I found somewhere cheap where to eat, one of those places that can be found anywhere throughout Tokyo.

After choosing something from the vending machine, I went to look for a seat and waited for the waitress to come with the food to my table. The food I order was below the 600 yen mark and it included a bowl of  rice, some sliced pork on top and an egg still inside the shell, I thought it was a boild egg.

I started eating the sliced pork and the rice first, then when the waitress came along, I asked how to eat the egg. The waitress she said to open it on top of the rice and so I did. When I broke the egg, I realised that it was still raw. I have never eaten in all my life a row egg. I thought if I was going to mix it with the hot rice, the egg was going to cook by itself. I was wrong but I decided to eat it anyway. Half a year later I found out that eating raw egg was part of the Japanese culture, in fact, Japanese eggs would not harm the health due to its freshness. ‘Tamago gohan’ is the raw egg served on top of a bowl of rice and then eaten, usually with a bit of Japanese soy sauce and a pinch of salt.

Really Hentai
After finished eating, I went to walk around the area to see what other things the place was offering. I turned into a narrow street and to my surprise I saw a 6 storie building ) that was selling exclusively only school girl uniforms. The six floors include the ground floor (in Japan the ground floor is considered as first floor unlike western countries) and in addition had the basement. Either that depato (department store in Japanese romanised) was selling uniforms for schools, or more probably it was selling uniforms mainly for cosplaying, or for the maids that were working in Akihabara, or maybe for certain men in order to satisfy their hentai fantasies, or maybe for all of those reasons. I could see on the windows some of the school uniforms displayed and on the ground floor there were some kids’ size anime stickers of school girls and magazine pages.
I was really surprised that a department store so big was selling just schoolgirl uniforms. I was really tempted to have a look inside but I decided to go against my temptation just  in case people thought I was a hentai. Even though I was  in the country famous for hentai (perverts, at least Japan is seen this way by westerners), I still didn’t know much about Japanese culture to consider to enter that store.
Hentai Building?
Hentai Building?

Tokyo never stopped fascinating me. Tokyo is a really marvellous city, even though many people think that Japan is a very strange country. At the end of the day I respect their culture and I would never change is because is so different from the west and I was sure that Japan was hiding more fascinating things and my staying in Japan had just started. (Next).

Japanese Style British Pub

I miss England

While leaving the Ninja Restaurant, Mari told me how she missed England. At that moment I told her that near the Ryokan in Yotsuya I saw a British pub and if she wanted we could go there to have a pint of beer before going back home. She liked the idea and we headed to Yotsuya. Yotsuya was just 1 train stop away from Akasaka, so we headed to the train station and few minutes later we were there. Once we were in Yotsuya we walked on the pavement on a busy road that leads Yotsuya to Shinjuku.

British or Japanese?

We arrived at the pub few minutes later. Inside, the pub was very clean, it had tall tables and high seats where people can enjoy their beer. Inside there were only few Japanese people drinking plus the 2 male bartenders. Thinking about British pubs, the first thing that came into my mind was to go at the bar, order the drinks and pay there. Instead, we headed to one of the high tables, sat there and one of the bar tender came to our table to take our order. I found it a bit unusual but I got used straight away. The athmosphere was quiet with some music on the background (I cannot recall what music they were playing). Then the bartender came with the two pints, one for me and one for Mari, and we had a chat. We stayed at the pub for about half an hour, paid at the end then left the pub and went our separate ways.

Pubs in Japan

The athmosphere in the Japanese pubs is different from their British counterpart. That pub was very relaxing and people don’t have to go to the bar leaving their friends sitting alone lonley while ordering and therefore making the experience more intimate. Also the pub itself was much cleaner and not as noisy than those found in UK. The whole experience was different, even going alone, there are more opportunities to befriend to people never met before, especially if you are a foreigner in Japan. It is an experience that is worth trying.

About

Why This Blog
Quick Note About The Photos Taken

Why This Blog

Hello everybody,
I am finally posting my first post for the blog.
My name is Damien (or Nana-Chan as they used to call me in Japan due to my surname) and I am here to describe the 11 months that I passed in Japan.

The idea of this blog dates back few years, and my willingness to understand and therefore make the readers understand different aspects of Japan. I was meant to update the blog everyday in Japan, but because the wi-fi connection was not what I espected and also because my computer broke down after few months I was in Japan. Those 2 reasons made it difficult to update my blog while I was there, however, I can reconnect many parts of my stay for 2 different reasons:

  • Living in Japan was an experience that I will never forget;
  • I still managed to take as many photos as I could in order to reconnect the facts in the specified order.

The purpose of this blog is not to making it boring for the readers describing just my adventure, but also to make it interesting for the people that read it by using as many pictures as I can that show different parts of Japan, from its buildings, to its culture and the every day life of the Japanese people that arise from the understanding of my experience.
I went to Japan on 7th September 2012 and I came back to London on 5th August 2013. I went there to study as an exchange student from the University of Westminster in London UK to Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (or just APU) in Beppu 別府 (Oita Prefecture 大分県 in Kyushu 九州). Here below I show you three maps just to give you an idea to where it is and I really hope that you will enjoy this blog.

From left to right: Map of Japan, Map of Kyushu and Map of Oita Prefecture (Click on the map to enlarge) (Sorry, I couldn’t turn the last one)

Why This Blog

Hello everybody,

I am finally posting my first post for the blog.

My name is Damien (or Nana-Chan as they used to call me in Japan due to my surname) and I am here to describe the 11 months that I passed in Japan.

The idea of this blog dates back few years, and my willingness to understand and therefore make the readers understand different aspects of Japan. I was meant to update the blog everyday in Japan, but because the wi-fi connection was not what I espected and also because my computer broke down after few months I was in Japan. Those 2 reasons made it difficult to update my blog while I was there, however, I can reconnect many parts of my stay for 2 different reasons:

  • Leaving in Japan was an experience that I will never forget;
  • I still managed to take as many photos as I could in order to reconnect the facts in the specified order.

The purpose of this blog is not to making it boring for the readers describing just my adventure, but also to make it interesting for the people that read it by using as many pictures as I can that show different parts of Japan, from its buildings, to its culture and the every day life of the Japanese people that arise from the understanding of my experience.

I went to Japan on 7th September 2012 and I came back to London on 5th August 2013. I went there to study as an exchange student from the University of Westminster in London UK to Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (or just APU) in Beppu 別府 (Oita Prefecture 大分県 in Kyushu 九州). Here below I show you three maps just to give you an idea to where it is and I really hope that you will enjoy this blog.

From left to right: Map of Japan, Map of Kyushu and Map of Oita Prefecture (Click on the map to enlarge) (Sorry, I couldn’t turn the last one)