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Alvinology goes to Japan – Day 7 of 14

Alvinology goes to Japan – Day 7 of 14

On the seventh day, we spent most part of the day traveling in the car. When we woke up, our wonderful host, Masako served us with traditional Japanese nian gao (年糕) soups and home-made yogurt with cut fruits.

After filling our tummies, we lingered around and lazed for a while more before we bid farewell to Masako and her two sons, Toshiki and Motoki. Although we only got to interact with them for less than 48 hours, Rachel and I were very touched by the Asai’s friendliness and hostility. Being able to converse with them in English was also an interesting experience for us as the two of us had been mostly silent throughout our trip due to the language barrier.

The Asais house

The Asai’s house

The backyard

The backyard

The garden

The garden

Black fungus - often used in Chinese medicine

Cloud Ears spotted outside the gate – these are often used in Chinese medicine

Its time for breakfast!

It’s time for breakfast!

Healthy breakfast

Healthy breakfast

Nian Gao (rice cake) soup

Nian Gao (rice cake) soup

Breakfast egg

Breakfast egg

Home-made yoguart

Home-made yogurt

The Asais hamster knows how to open the lid of a bottle and get his own food

The Asai’s hamster knows how to open the lid of a bottle and get his own food

Happily feasting in the bottle

Happily feasting in the bottle

Good hamster!

“Good hamster!”

Clovers in the Asais garden

Clovers in the Asai’s garden

Group photo with Masako, Toshiki and Motoki (without me)

Group photo with Masako, Toshiki and Motoki (without me)

Still without me...

Still without me…

Finally got my camera timer working

Finally got my camera timer working

Bidding farewell

Time for farewell

We took off from the Asai’s comfortable home during late morning and headed for Ueno (上野), Tokyo.

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We were finally moving closer to the big city. On our way there, we visited a shrine which housed a giant Buddha statue and a giant Guan Ying (观音) statue. The shrine was located high up a steep mountain top – climbing up almost killed me! The toilet was located besides the shrine. Hence visitors will have to pay the entrance fees and complete the steep slopes in order to relieve themselves – pure evil. This was what happened to the four of us who needed to clear our bladders after a long drive.

Driving through an underwater tunnel - thats why the GPS shows us in the sea

Driving through an underwater tunnel – that’s why the GPS shows us in the sea

Still cheery before we started climbing to reach the shrine

Still cheery before we started climbing to reach the shrine

You have to pay to visit the shrine. I dont know why the Japanese translation for child is xiao ren

A child is called a “小人” in Japanese

Area map

Area map

Little buddha statues we came across on our way up

Little buddha statues we came across on our way up

More statues

More statues

Bright yellow flowers

Bright flowers

Red flowers

Red flowers

Finally reached the top

Finally reached the top

The giant Buddha statue

The giant Buddha statue

A closer look

A closer look

This would have been a very beautiful picture if the sakura were in full blossom

This would have been a very beautiful picture if the sakura were in full blossom

A smaller Buddha statue nearby

A smaller Buddha statue nearby

Donations made to the shrine

Donations made to the shrine

Sakura tree

Sakura tree

A sakura flower

A sakura flower

Rachel beside a sakura tree

Rachel beside a sakura tree

Lots of little Buddha statues - probably for making wishes

Lots of little Buddha statues – probably for making wishes

Sounding the gong for blessings

Sounding the gong for blessings

Up the observatory platform

Up the observatory platform

Beware of hawks

Beware of hawks

You can see the highways

You can see the highways

From another angle

From another angle

Sea view

Sea view

You can see the ships moving in and out of the harbour

Ships moving in and out of the harbour

Behind these cliffs hide the giant Guan Yin

Behind these cliffs hide the giant Guan Ying

The giant Guang Yin

The giant Guan Ying

With our car for two days

With our car for two days

Front view of the car

Front view of the car

Btw, you can request for a non-smoker car like the one we rented

Btw, you can request for a non-smoker car like the one we rented

on the road - Mark said this is a famous tower in Tokyo

on the road – Mark said this is a famous tower in Tokyo

Skyscrapers

Skyscrapers

The sun is going to set soon

The sun is going to set soon

We reached Ueno at late noon. After returning the car to the Toyota rental store, we walked to nearby Cube Hotel, the hotel where we will be staying for the next two nights. Rachel and I like this hotel very much. Like the Super Hotel chain, Cube Hotel is a business hotel packed with hi-tech gadgets, making full use of the limited room space.

The Toyota car rental centre where we returned our car

The Toyota car rental centre where we returned our car

The staff immediately disinfected and cleaned up the car once we returned it

The staff immediately disinfected and cleaned up the car once we returned it

Outside Cube Hotel

Outside Cube Hotel

Card keys are used to open the hotel room doors

Card keys are used to open the hotel room doors

Interior of Cube Hotel

Interior of Cube Hotel

Once we checked in, we simply dumped our luggage into our rooms and headed immediately for Ueno Station (上野駅) to travel out for a very late lunch cum dinner (the last meal we had was the breakfast at the Asai’s residence). Mark wanted to check out the local Mandarake (まんだらけ) to buy more Transformers toys to add to his huge collection. Mandarake is one of Tokyo’s largest vendor of used anime and manga-related products. They have outlets across Japan and we will be visiting quite a few more Mandarakes in the later part of our tour; due to Mark’s persistence in trying to buy up all the Transformers toys in the world.

As we were starving… once we got off the train, we settled for dinner at the nearest, reasonably-priced restaurant. Big mistake as the food was tasteless although the prices were cheap.

After dinner, it was shopping time. While the guys headed to the manga and anime shops, the ladies went shopping for clothings. I was quite shocked by the high prices Dragonball cards fetch in Japan. Mark and I had both accumulated a large collection during our growing up years. After we learn about their value, Mark resolved to bring his collection to sell on his next trip to Japan. Unlucky me can only feel pissed at my own misfortune as my dad had threw my collection away a few years ago without telling me…

Ueno Station

Ueno Station

Inside Ueno Station

Inside Ueno Station

Buying our train tickets

Buying our train tickets

Braille at the train station railings

Braille at the train station railings

Passing train

Passing train

The fast food restaurant where we had our dinner

The fast food restaurant where we had our dinner

The prices were really cheap, but the food was quite tasteless

The prices were really cheap, but the food was quite tasteless

Lunch coupons purchased from vending machines - thats how most restaurants operate in Japan

Lunch coupons purchased from vending machines – that’s how most restaurants operate in Japan

The guy who prepared our dinner

The guy who prepared our dinner

Time for dinner

Time for dinner

Rachels curry rice

Rachel’s curry rice

My ramen and small bowl of curry rice

My ramen and small bowl of curry rice

Marks udon

Mark’s udon

Mandarake - the go-to-place in Japan for second-hand manga and anime stuff

Mandarake – the go-to-place in Japan for second-hand manga and anime stuff

More toys

More toys

Characters from a manga series called Worst

Characters from a manga series called “Worst”

Dragonball figurines

Dragonball figurines

More Dragonball figurines

More Dragonball figurines

In fact, there are racks and shelves full of these figurines

In fact, there are racks and shelves full of these figurines

One Piece figurines

One Piece figurines

Autographed baseballs

Autographed baseballs

Vintage hand-held games - if only I kept a few of these, they are worth a tidy sum now

Vintage hand-held games – if only I kept a few of these, they are worth a tidy sum

I still remember this Popeye game!

I still remember this Popeye game!

Ultraman toys

Ultraman toys

Hentai manga

Hentai manga

Japanese teens checking out plastic figurines

Japanese teens checking out plastic figurines

Dragonball cards - look at how much they are worth! Mark is going to bring his card collection to sell on his next trip to Japan. For unlucky me... my dad threw them away a few years ago without telling me.

Dragonball cards – look at how much they are worth!

The powerful Dragon in Dragonball

The powerful Dragon in Dragonball

Soft toy of the other less powerful dragon in Dragonball

Soft toy of the other less powerful dragon in Dragonball

Kinnikuman figurines - these used to come free when you buy ice-cream

Kinnikuman figurines – these used to come free when you buy ice-cream

The shopping made us hungry again quickly.  Hence we headed to a sushi restaurant for a second round of food. Rachel and I tried Chutoro sushi – the second most prime cut of a tuna fish, for the first time. It really melts in your mouth like how food guides like to describe it. Oishi!

We then headed back to the train station to return to our hotel to rest for the night. Still hungry, we bought burgers at McDonald’s to munch on our way back. That ended our day. 🙂

Inside a sushi restaurant

Inside a sushi restaurant

The plates indicate the sushi prices - same system used in Singapore

The plates indicate the sushi prices – same system used in Singapore

Eel sushi

Eel sushi

Some shellfish sushi

Some shellfish sushi

Squid sushi

Squid sushi

Chutoro sushi - the second best cut from a Tuna fish

Chutoro sushi – the second best cut from a Tuna fish

Buying supper from McDonalds

Buying supper from McDonald’s

My first burger in Japan

My first burger in Japan

Pachinko advertisement - Pachinko centres are everywhere in Japan

Pachinko advertisement – Pachinko centres are everywhere in Japan

Rachel getting cranky after seeing too much anime and manga stuff

Rachel getting cranky after seeing too much anime and manga stuff

These two Japanese girls really love their magazines

These two Japanese girls really love their magazines

I like this poster spotted at the train station

I like this poster spotted at the train station

Uenos Hard Rock Cafe

Ueno’s Hard Rock Cafe

An interesting Wonda Coffee vending machine

An interesting Wonda Coffee vending machine

Nice little chocolate we found at the convenience store besides our hotel

Nice little chocolate we found at the convenience store besides our hotel

Links to my previous blog entries on my Japan  trip:

Related Post:  Alvinology goes to Japan - Day 1 of 14

Day 1 – Kansai Airport, Hokkaido

Day 2 – Skiing, Otaru

Day 3 – Asahikawa, Asahiyama Zoo

Day 4 – Sledding, Shiroi Koibito, Crab Buffet

Day 5 – The 60th Sapporo Snow Festival

Day 6 – Staying with the Asai, Shōnan

Day 7 – Ueno, Tokyo

Day 8 – Shibuya and Akihabara, Tokyo

Day 9 – Ikeda, Osaka

Day 10 – Kobe

Day 11 – Kyoto

Day 12 – Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and Dotonbori

Day 13 – Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge and Mt. Rokko

Day 14 – Return to Singapore

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About The Author

alvinology

Alvin is a marketer by day and blogger by night. He is a 100% geek who spends too much time surfing the web.

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