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Japan Trip 2016 Update 10

08 July 2016 by

We left our luggage in the foyer so it could be transported to Tokyo to save lugging it around as part of our long day of travelling to Tokyo tomorrow. Then we headed for breakfast knowing that Miya-jima Island was waiting for us.

We set off and called into the Lawson convenient store for snacks and drinks. Weather-wise this was our hottest day. We caught the train to the Miya-jima station and met Nagaoka Sensei’s parents, brother and niece. What a treasured moment when something like this can happen. Her parents and niece joined us for the day. We then caught the ferry across to the mountainous and sparsely settled Miya-jima Island (Itsukushima). From where we alighted we walked past sleepy deer, a multitude of shops and a pathway lined with stone lanterns on our way to Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Shinto shrine. Miya-jima Island and the waters around it (Seto Inland Sea) are affected by strong tides. By chance, the tide was so low, we walked out 200m on the sand to the famed, 16m red Otorii gate which had oysters, crabs and barnacles at its feet. This was before a reverent walk through the Itsukushima Shrine where we washed our hands, prayed, took many photographs and sought out our fortunes. After visiting this shrine we returned to the town to find time for lunch and shopping. On making our way back to the ferry Nagaoka’s parents gave all of us some momiji manju as gifts. These are pastries filled with custard and chocolate and are popular, tasty souvenirs in the shape of maple leaves.

A return ferry ride and train ride saw us back at the New Hiroden Hotel for a break before we took the street car to Hondori for one last time. This time was well spent resting, calling, messaging as was needed. We shopped at Hondori, shared a nice meal and then took advantage of the photo booths (purikura) before seeing the A-Bomb dome under lights from a bridge that crosses the Motoyasu River. We walked past the A-Bomb dome and caught the street car back to our hotel. We had an early start as we were travelling to Tokyo by Shinkansen (bullet train).

Breakfast was early and everyone on time so we could make our way to the train station. Nagoaka Sensei’s idea to forward on the luggage yesterday proved to be a ‘winner’ as we only had to carry our day packs. This ended up being very convenient navigating Tokyo stations. We got some drink and snacks and boarded a shinkansen to Osaka at around 8.00am, changed at Osaka for one bound for Tokyo also with bentos in hand. Lots of sleep, listening to music, card playing, eating lunch etc. filled in the time. Once in Tokyo we caught a further train to Akihabara, a district in Tokyo, also known as ‘electric town’. It is a major shopping center for electric goods, video games, anime, manga and computer goods. We spent about 90minutes here in the heat of the day – Tokyo’s hottest this year at 320 and a humidity of 86%.

After Akihabara we set of for Shinjuku the major commercial and administrative center of Tokyo. It has the world busiest railway station which we became part of. Our hotel was located across a park from the Metropolitan Government Building. We checked in and had time for clothes washing and drying, an ice cream and/or a drink or some rest before heading back to Shinjuku station where we had choices about dinner in an array of restaurants located in a part of the station. Getting to and from the station to our hotel has been made easier given the hotel provides a shuttle bus.

By 7.00pm we had made it to the Shinjuku Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and, after bag checks prior to boarding the elevators, its observation deck on the 45th floor. From here we had a panoramic night view of a city that doesn’t seem to have boundaries. On this observation deck was also a souvenir shop and café. A walk back to the train station followed by a ride on the hotel’s shuttle bus and we were in our hotel to rest before exploring Tokyo.

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