Tokyo Journals

Autumn/Winter in Japan

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A September 2009 trip to Tokyo by michaelhudson

Okutama Photo, Tokyo, Japan More Photos
Quote: Three months in and around Tokyo.

Oku-Tama: The Three Peaks

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Story/Tip

Okutama Photo, Tokyo, Japan
Quote:
Straddling the border of the Tokyo Metropolis and neighbouring Saitama Prefecture, the Oku-Tama region is one of the most easily visited sections of the Chichibu-Tama National Park, less than ninety minutes west of Shinjuku Station. The following hike begins and ends on the JR Ome Line and takes around four hours at a moderate pace.When I woke up, the sky was grey and the clouds were threatening rain. Setting off shortly before noon, and changing at Tachikawa, I travelled north-west, out, always out, of the city. We terminated at Ome, where the train changed back into a Rapid, returning to Tokyo Station. I stood on the platform by a noodle shop, shivering into my jacket....Read More

In Kawagoe

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Kawagoe Photo, Kawagoe, Japan
Quote:
I was last in Kawagoe five years ago. We'd come down on a National Holiday after a night of drinking in Tokyo, and stumbled, in the slow, desultory way that hungover people do, around all the sights. "Boring," we both agreed. "Nothing to see but a few old buildings."Sober, I liked it a whole lot better.Just forty-minutes north of Tokyo's Ikebukero or Shinjuku stations, Kawagoe makes for a sedate daytrip from the capital, with a historical centre of centuries-old wooden buildings that provide its nickname of Little Edo. I had missed the big October festival - when hordes of people parade parade with wooden floats along the main streets of the town - by a fortn...Read More

On A Wild Sheep Trail: Chichibu

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Chichibu Photo, Chichibu, Japan
Quote:
It's a perfect autumn morning and I'm on a train speeding north to Chichibu. Elderly couples dressed in running shoes and baseball caps are taking photos of each other across the bench seats. Through the window I look out on terraced squares planted with tea bushes, a football pitch and baseball diamond side-by-side on levelled dirt, a half-timbered Swiss cottage on a bend in the river, villages made up of a few houses strung across a road, each one seemingly with its own lawn-sized field to the side, onion tops and cabbages sprouting from the soil.'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' was playing on a loop when I arrived at Seibu-Chichibu Station. There wasn't a cloud in the sky...Read More

Kawaguchiko: At the Foot of Fuji

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Kawaguchiko Photo, Mt. Fuji, Japan
Quote:
It was half past ten and fifteen degrees when I arrived in Kawaguchiko, and a steady stream of hikers had already started up the wide, paved path to Tenjoyama Park. Scrambling towards the top, the visibility was perfect in every direction but the one I was looking at, Fuji suddenly cut off at the shoulder by a sun-lit bank of cloud.It took less than half an hour from the train station to the upper cable car terminus. The last of the autumn leaves were dying on the branch, hanging limply like banners at an abandoned parade. People queued at the viewfinders as if the clouds obscuring the mountain would magically disperse upon the insertion of a hundred yen coin. In front of the gift shop was...Read More

Roppongi Nights

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Along with Shinjuku's Kabuchiko, Roppongi is as close to a seedy underbelly as Tokyo ever gets. While the fashionable twenty-somethings hit Shibuya after an afternoon of shopping, Roppongi attracts a multi-national crowd of mainly thirty and over - and things rarely if ever get going until after the last train.It's gone midnight by the time we leave the subway and Roppongi is just beginning to move. There are American GIs in baggy jeans and white t-shirts, groups of Japanese with dyed hair and boots that reach past their knees, a man curled up drunk on a patch of grass by a public toilet, so much neon you only know it's dark when you look up at the sky. Taxi doors open automatically like C...Read More