07 May 2015

Japan 2014

I have always been enthralled by Japan and following my first visit to the country in 2009 I have been thinking about my next trip. 

Last autumn I found flights to Japan for £550 and asked my friend Andrea is she fancied a trip. Flights and 9 nights in a hotel in Tokyo booked and a rail pass purchased...some eager anticipation and then off we went in early November for an autumn holiday....

We flew into Tokyo Haneda airport, arriving early in the afternoon and negotiated our way to our hotel in the north of the city...we were staying in The Gate Hotel in Asakusa, "crossroads of old Edo and modern Tokyo" which is across the road from the amazing Senso-ji Temple and next to Kengo Kuma's beautifully designed Asakusa Cultural Centre. With views from the rooftop terrace of the Tokyo Skytree (which we could also see from our room) and Fuji-San it was a lovely place to stay - away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Tokyo but close to key sights, public transport and great little restaurants.

The view to Senso-ji

The lobby of our hotel on the 13th floor of the building with stunning views over the city.

Mount Fuji is about 100km from Tokyo and yet this was the view from the roof terrace of our hotel. The conical, snow covered volcano looked superb. People often take day trips to Fuji and fail to see her, because she is shrouded in cloud, we were lucky to not only see her one morning but also in the evening, just as dusk was falling....

Looking in the opposite direction from the roof terrace we could see the Tokyo Sky Tree, which was lit in many colours every evening...not sure if it was the Tokyo Christmas tree! The Sky Tree is the tallest structure in Japan and the second tallest in the world and acts as a television/radio broadcast site in the digital era but is also the centrepiece of a large retail/leisure complex with restaurants in the tower and the surrounding base buildings. 

The Sky Tree at night and the Sky tree during the day - this time from our hotel window. Here you can also see the Asashi Beer Hall, one the Asashi Beer company's HQ buildings designed by the French designer Phillipe Starck, shaped like a beer glass and topped by the Asashi Flame - said to represent both the "burning heart of Asashi beer" or its frothy head.

This is the Asakusa Cultural Centre, designed by Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, who has also designed the V&A Museum of Design Dundee, that is currently being built in my city.

The Cultural Centre is based on old Edo period houses, but instead of being lined up along the street they are piled one on top of the other, creating each of the floors of the building. 

This is the interior map showing the floors and the shapes of the buildings....and show the style of the Edo houses. Each floor of the building houses different cultural venues...information for tourists and locals alike and spaces that the community can use. 

The Cultural Centre is right across the street from Tokyo's oldest temple, Senso-ji which attracts some 30M visitors a year. 

Entrance to the temple is through the impressive Kaminari-mon (Thunder Gate) at the head of Nakamise-dori, the approach street to the temple.

 The Kaminari-Mon Gate at night. 

The Kaminari-Mon Gate by day.

Namikase-dori and the temple.


Thimbleanna said...

Wow Di. I'm so impressed -- I wouldn't even know where to start with Tokyo. It looks like you had a ton of stuff to see -- and Mt. Fuji -- how beautiful!!!

I just booked my summer trips. And one is to my favorite place to visit. My family thinks I'm crazy and stuck in a rut and I don't care. I'll bet you can guess where it is, too LOL!

Di said...

Oh Anna! Are you really coming to visit?

Bethany said...

Your photos are amazing! You had such great views of everything from your hotel. And I always find the architecture so interesting. I love reading about your trips!