Japan - Nikko and Tokyo
The final stop on our tour of Japan was Tokyo.....an amazing city, full of vitality (and people) and a great place to end the trip. We had 4 nights, 3 days in the city, which is definitely not enough. Enough to make me realise I definitely want to go back.
Our first day we still had a Japanese Rail Pass (a must for any tourist who wants to go travelling around in Japan) so we had to decide what to do. Some headed off to see if they could get a view of Mount Fuji whilst a few of us headed to the town of Nikko to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site - the Shrines and Temples of Nikko. It is about 1.5 hours north of Tokyo on the shinkansen and then a local train to the station in Nikko which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The shrines and temples are linked to the Tokugawa Shogunate. There are about 11 shrines and temples built amongst the forest, one being the mausoleum for Togukawa Ieyasu and another for his grandson Togukawa Iemitsu. The colours and architecture were amazing, every corner you turned there was another 5 story pagoda, the drum towers, the bell towers, the stables.....all intricately carved and painted.
Togukawa Ieyasu's shrine, built in the 17th century took 15000 workers 2 years to complete and it is easy to see why.
When we got back to Tokyo I took the train to Shinjuku (the world's busiest train station) so I could go and search out Odakaya, the one craft shop I was going to allow myself to visit (but more of that in another post!)
The final 2 days of our trip were for Tokyo. Tokyo during the day Tokyo at night, hanami parties under the cherry (sakura) blossom, department store foodhalls, museums, shopping.....2 days was way too short.
We had a guided tour of Tokyo the first day, we went to :
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices
Ginza by Night
We had been impressed by the blossom we had seen in Kyoto, but it was nothing compared to that in Shinjuku-Gyoen Park - breath-taking!
Blossom in Kyoto, Nara, Shinjuku-Gyoen Park, Ueno Park
Blossom in Shinjuku-Gyoen Park
Our last day in Tokyo, a few of us got up early to go to the Tsukiji Fish Market. I had heard that it was a must see sight and I wasn't disappointed (even though we didn't get up early enough to see the tuna auction). It was huge, alley after alley of stalls, with every type of fish imaginable and then some, motorised vehicles to carry the boxes dashing here and there not really caring if you got in the way.
After a quick breakfast (I didn't fancy sushi at 8am) I spent the day just wandering the city, visiting Ueno Park and the Tokyo National Museum, the Detached Imperial Gardens and Akihabara, doing some shopping etc.
Mitsukoshi Department Store
Manga in Akihabara