Kirsty RTW '04/'05 travel blog

Me eating the local stuff

Me n the beloved!

Shibuya district

Imperial Palace Gardens

Imperial Palace

Me ootside the Sony building

Amazing choice of fones

Arrived in Tokyo after cable cars, buses, trains, taxis at 1430 which wasnae bad. Auntie got to rest her weary knees for 20mins before we hit the streets of Omotesando Dori where we hoped to spot all teh cool young peeps out n about but mustve maneovered ourselves into wrong strets as never found the promenade of young peopel, so headed for Shibuya, the young and trendy area of Tokyo, where they say everyone over the age of 25 had been bombed out!

This was the area that you would recognise from the neon lights pics of Tokyo, it was just mad, all these people late on a Sunday night. The streets were just jam packed with thousands of people, guys in suits, young
There were shops, amusement arcades, neon lights, more poeple, such a buzz. Never been in a city quite like it, so many huge areas, each with as much as the bit before, and just as many people always people everywhere.

Auntie K had been looking for a kimono, and eventually she found a second hand one, the new ones by the time you buy the Obe, thousands of must have accessories for it, cost over 2000GBP, hugely expensive. Have seen loads of people dressed in kimono, in Tokyo, Kyoto, very popular, people seem to live in both borlds, olde and ultra modern, yet all have their mobile close to hand. All are 3G, and flip top and pretty cool colours and are a must have if u live in Japan. Apparently the stats are 1 in 3 have one, but it must be so much more for urban areas.

She purchased a second hand silk kimono for 50GBP, it is just gorgeous, might jus have to borrow it auntie ;)

She was by this time struggling with all the stairs, each new day seemed to have an endless supply of new stairs for her to climb and descend, this day topped it off tho, after having been up and down a few sets trying to find the kimono dept, she ended up helping a lady up with a kid in a buggy. When I turned round and saw her, I couldnt help but laugh, her knees were struggling anyway, then she ends up lugging a baby up the stairs!!

Next day started with a Japanese breakfast, honestly who wants fish n rice n noodles among piles of other beautiful looking stuff first thing in the morning, but it was pretty tasty, then set out for the Imperial Palace, the biggest disappointment in Tokyo. Only open 2 days of 365, today not being one of them, we headed to the tour bus stop where we managed to get a glimpse of the roof over the huge moat walls!!

Then a dash round Shinjuku, more lights and people, neon, amusement arcades, and we headed to the airport for our last night in Japan.


*Shinagawa station sees more than 2million passengers a day!

* The stations are like cities themselves, with exits numbered A1-9, B1-9, C1-9, shopping malls, thousands of train lines, subway lines, its just incredible, no way of explaining how huge they are.

*The Japanese samurai warriors came into existence in the 12th century when two powerful Japanese clans fought bitter wars against each other - the Taira and the Minamato. At that time the Japanese shogunate, a system of a military ruler, called the shogun was formed. Under the shogun the next hierarchy were the daimyo, local rulers comparable to dukes in Europe. The Japanese samurai were the military retainers of a daimyo. And finally you may have heard of ronin. Ronin are samurai without a master. This is what happened to the 47 Ronin in the famous story of Chushingura after their lord was forced to commit suicide.

According to historians the fierce fights between hostile clans and war lords was mainly a battle for land. Only 20 percent of Japan's rugged and mountainous area can be used for agriculture.

* What is a Geisha?

The word Geisha literally translates to "arts person" or "one trained in arts" (gei = art, sha = person). It is also sometimes described as "women of arts, which is exactly what a Geisha is - a woman trained in the traditional arts of Japan such as dance, music, singing to name a few

*What is a Maiko?

The word Maiko literally translates to "dancing child" (mai = dance, ko = child), but is also referred to as "dancing girl". A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha who must must undergo a period of training that generally takes 5 years, where she learns the various "gei" (arts) such as dancing, singing, music etc before she becomes a Geisha.

* What is Sumo?

Sumo is the traditional national sport of Japan. Just as baseball and soccer have become popular within Japan, the ancient traditions of Sumo are gaining popularity outside of Japan. There are six Grand Sumo tournaments (basho) held during the year, in each odd numbered month. Three are held in the capital of Tokyo, and one each are held in the cities of Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka. There are only seventy salaried professional wrestlers in the two top divisions of Sumo, with hundreds of men striving to break into these ranks.

How is Sumo Enjoyed?

To enjoy the combat sport of Sumo, there are only a few things to know. Two men meet in a ring that is 4.55 meters across. They wear thick silk belts around their waists. The object is to force your opponent out of this ring (dohyo) or to make any part of his body (excepting the soles of the feet) touch the playing surface. There is a referee and several judges watching the action to call the winner. These bouts are very brief, averaging only a few seconds, although some exciting matchups can go on for two or three minutes. The combatants cannot pull hair, gouge eyes, or strike with a closed fist. Pushing, tripping, slapping and various body throws are commonly seen in Sumo. Judo was derived from ancient Sumo throwing techniques.

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