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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Hibiya Station in Tokyo


Exit B6 of Hibiya Station, Tokyo, Japan.
Exit B6 of Hibiya Station, at the Babasakimon Gate of the Imperial Palace Tokyo.
Hibiya Station in central Tokyo is operated by both Tokyo subway operators: Tokyo Metro Co., Ltd. and the Bureau of Transportation of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government ("Toei" or, in English "Tokyo Subway").

Hibiya Station serves three subway lines: the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line and Chiyoda Line, and the Toei Mita Line.

A notable feature of Hibiya Station is the wide reach of its exits. There are no less than 30 exits in operation (with two currently closed), making access to Hibiya Station possible from all over the Marunouchi and Yurakucho areas of Tokyo. The Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Station, about 350 meters north-east of the Hibiya Line, is directly accessible undergound from Hibiya Station.

Hibiya Station is very near Hibiya Park and the Imperial Palace.

The following is a list of Hibiya Station exits and where they lead to (all marked on this Tokyo map
Exit A0 ("A zero") of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 2-chome
Yurakucho Asahi Hall
Yurakucho Mullion (in the Yurakucho Center Building)
Mullion Eigagai (Mullion Movie Theaters)
Yurakucho Hankyu Department Store
Yurakucho Lumine

Exit A1 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 2-chome
Sukiyabashi Park (with its big, distinctive Taro Okamoto sculpture)

Exit A2 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 1-chome & 2-chome
Yomiuri Hall
JR Yurakucho Station
JTB Shutoen Yurakucho Branch
Yomiuri Kaikan Hall
JNTO Tourist Information Center (TIC)

Exit A3 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 2-chome
Yurakucho Denki Building
Subaruza Cinema

Exit A4 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 1-chome & 2-chome

Exit A5 of Hibiya Station
Toho Twin Tower Building
Teikoku Hotel
Hibiya Chanter ("shan-tay") shopping/dining building
Tokyo Takarazuka Theater
Toho Cinema and Drama Area

Exit A6 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho 1-chome
Hibiya Park Building
The Peninsula Tokyo Hotel

Exit A7 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Intersection
Harumi-dori Avenue
Yurakucho 1-chome
The Peninsula Tokyo Hotel

Exit A8 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya-dori Avenue
Yurakucho 1-chome
Yurakucho Sankei Building

Exit A9 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Marine Building

Exit A10 of Hibiya Station
Iwaidabashi Intersection
Hibiya Park
To Sakuradamon Gate of the Imperial Palace
To Courthouse of Tokyo High Court, Tokyo District Court, and Tokyo Summary Court

Exit A11 of Hibiya Station (currently closed)
Yurakucho 1-chome & 2-chome
Toho Cinema and Drama Area

Exit A12 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Mitsui Building
Mitsui Sumitomo Bank Headquarters

Exit A13 of Hibiya Station
Tokyo Takarazuka Theater
Nissay Theater
Teikoku Hotel

Exit A14 of Hibiya Station
Hibiya Kokaido Public Hall
Hibiya Press Center Building
Nishi Shimbashi (West Shinbashi)
Chiyoda City's Hibiya Library & Museum
Tokyo Institute for Municipal Research
The Hibiya City complex

Exit B1 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho Building
Shin-Yurakucho Building
Marunouchi Police Station
Yurakucho Station of Marunouchi Fire Brigade
Togyo Kaikan (Sugar Manufacturers' Association) Building & Nippon Hoso (Nippon Broadcasting System) Headquarters
To JR Yurakucho Station

Exit B2 of Hibiya Station
DN Tower 21 (Daichi Seimei Insurance & Norinchukin Bank headquarters)

Exit B3 of Hibiya Station (in the Teigeki Building, open 7 am - 11 pm)
Teikoku (Imperial Garden) Theater
Shin-kokusai Building
Idemitsu Art Gallery
Shin-Nisseki Building
Kokusai Building
To Tokyo International Forum

Exit B4 of Hibiya Station
Fuji Building
Shin-Tokyo Building
To Tokyo International Forum

Exit B5 of Hibiya Station (currently closed)
Tokyo Kaikan Hall
Fuji Building
Shin-Tokyo Building

Exit B6 of Hibiya Station (from first train to 11 pm)
Nijubashi Gate of the Imperial Palace
Babasakimon Gate of the Imperial Palace
Imperial Palace Gaien Garden

Exit B7 of Hibiya Station (from first train to 11 pm)
Tokyo International Forum
Fuji Building
Shin-Tokyo Building
Tokyo Station on the JR Keiyo Line Line
Tokyo Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI)
Marunouchi Park Building

Nijubashi-mae Station Connecting Exit (5 am - 11 pm)

Exit D1 of Hibiya Station
Teikoku Theater
Idemitsu Art Gallery
Kokusai Building

Exit D2 of Hibiya Station
Yurakucho Building
Shin-Yurakucho Building

Exit D3 of Hibiya Station
Shin-Kokusai Building
Shin-Nisseki Building

Exit D4 of Hibiya Station
Yomiuri Kaikan Hall

Exit D5 of Hibiya Station
Tokyo International Forum

Exit D6 of Hibiya Station
JR Yurakucho Station
Yomiuri Kaikan Hall

Exit D7 of Hibiya Station (with elevator)
JR Yurakucho Station
Yurakucho Mullion

Exit D8 of Hibiya Station
Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan

Exit D9 of Hibiya Station
Ginza Inz 3

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Yodobashi Akiba Akihabara


The Yodobashi Akiba store across the road from Akihabara Station is a huge electronics emporium with a huge range of cameras, PCs, tablets and other household electronics. Yodobashi Akiba also retails a vast array of non-electronic goods including clothing, health products, DIY goods, bike and car accessories, books, interior goods and pet supplies.

Yodobashi Akiba Akihabara, Tokyo.

The Yodobashi Camera part of the building is on floors 1-6 and is open daily from 9.30am-10pm. The 7th floor has a range of speciality stores, the 8th floor is the restaurant floor and the 9th floor has a batting center and golf shop.

101-0028, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo Hanaokacho, Tokyo 1-1

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1

A Walk Around Shodoshima
Day 1, Morning
Thursday December 24th

I start my walk along the Shodoshima Pilgrimage just after the sun has risen. Only a few days past the winter solstice, the days are very short and I need to take advantage of all the daylight there is.

When I arrived here last night it was pouring with rain, but I am pleasantly surprised to find clear skies and pink clouds of mist collected around the mountaintops this morning. I elect to start the walk at temple number 4, Furue-an, as it is right next door to the minshuku I am staying at for these first few days of my walk.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1.

Furue-an is a small building right on the water with the ubiquitous meter-high concrete wall separating it from the sea. It's an uninhabited site, really just a wayside chapel and so it's locked up and nobody about. In front a line of 33 statues, each one representing a Kannon on the famous Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage. I have a quick look around the small shrine next door and then I follow the small coast road down the peninsula and watch the caps of mist on the mountains across the water lose their pink tinge and shrink and disappear.

After about a kilometer the peninsula narrows to just a few hundred meters and I cross over to the other coast and the little fishing village of Horikoshi. The road along the water's edge, protected of course by a meter high concrete wall, is lined with wooden buildings covered with dark, weathered wood, broken by a few doors of the same wood, but with no windows.

For protection the village turns its back to the sea. I find the next temple, number 5, Horikoshi-an, up some winding lanes where the village climbs the hillside. Like number 4 it is located right next to the small village shrine. The suffix -an on a temple name could be translated as "hermitage", which means that rather than being a full-fledged temple it is somewhere that historically a nun or monk lived.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1.

There is a honzon, a statue of the deity enshrined here, and often there will be a bronze bell, but usually not much more. The next stop is further down the peninsula, and I have several possible routes. There is a narrow road from here along the south coast. A couple of years ago it was closed by a landslide, and it may or may not have been repaired, or, I can backtrack half a kilometer and take the main road along the north coast.

The decision is made for me, a third way. There are about half a dozen small signs in front of Horikoshi-an pointing along a path that leads up the hillside. The most direct route, over the mountain. The path passes by some tiny vegetable plots before entering the forest. The path is covered with fallen leaves and steep enough to have a handrail.

I am no great fan of climbing hills or of walking uphill in general, but in Japan there is no choice. I climb and climb, thankful that I only have about 150 meters to ascend. When I get to the pass I am delighted to have been directed this way. It's magical.

Thin mist still hovers in the trees and the sunlight floods the forest with golden shafts. Here at the pass is a small Jizo statue in its own shelter. Every pass used to have one. Back in the day, not too long ago, when Japanese walked everywhere, there were hundreds of trails like this with a Jizo at the pass.

I wonder how many are now all alone where a path used to be, long since overgrown. As the trail descends the forest becomes bamboo. A narrow corridor through dense bamboo. Part way down I cross a stream and here are a couple of Fudo Myo statues.

A Walk Around Shodoshima Day 1.

The bamboo becomes thicker still and curiously there is a an overhead lattice of bamboo that has snapped and fallen horizontal. The corridor has become a tunnel until I emerge into the sunlight at the top of the fishing village of Tanoura.

Tanoura-an, number 6 on the pilgrimage, is at the top of the village, right next to the village shrine and a huge tree trunk, obviously an old Gingko tree that died. A largish Jizo statue wearing multiple bibs and a couple of caps is in front of the small hall. This is a wart-removing Jizo and people will come some distance from outside the village to make an offering in the hope of having warts disappear.

Down at the waterfront I stop in at an old, wooden schoolhouse. It closed in 1971, but is open as a tourist attraction as this is where one of the most popular Japanese movies ever was filmed. 24 Eyes is not as well known outside Japan as other movies of the 50's, but many Japanese tourists will come to Shodoshima because of it.

The pilgrimage route now heads back up the peninsula to where I started but first I take a little one kilometer detour down to the 24 Eyes Movie Village, a major tourist destination built on what was the movie set for a remake of 24 Eyes.

Not being a big fan of the movie, unlike most of the visitors, I'm not all that impressed, so after taking a bunch of photos I leave and stop in at a little eating establishment just outside the entrance. I order a curry rice and it comes topped with three small, green olives. Shodoshima is the olive growing capital of Japan and has become the prime identity of the island, so I suspect I will be finding more meals with added olives. After a coffee I head off up the road past a bus shelter made from an old soy sauce brewing barrel. Soy sauce is the next most famous product of the island.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Tokushima Station


JR Tokushima Station in Tokushima, Shikoku, is a major railway station in Shikoku. The large, modern station building houses the Clement Plaza with numerous stores and a restaurant floor. There are a number of business hotels and car rental outlets close to Tokushima Station.

Tokushima Station, Shikoku, Japan.

Tokushima Station is on the Tokushima, Kotoku, Mugi and Naruto lines. The Kotoku Line connects Tokushima with Takamatsu Station to the north west. The Mugi Line runs from Tokushima about 80km to Kaifu. The Tokushima Line links Tokushima with Awa-Ikeda. The Naruto Line runs from Ikenotani Station to Naruto Station in Naruto with trains connecting through to Tokushima Station.

Tokushima Station, Shikoku, Japan.

Places to stay within easy access of Tokushima Station Station include the four-star Hotel Clement, the three-star Daiwa Roynet Hotel Tokushima Ekimae, the APA Hotel Tokushima Ekimae and the Tokushima Tokyu REI Hotel.

Tokushima Station, Shikoku, Japan.

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Japan News This Week 31 January 2016


Japan News.
Japanese End Drought in Sumo Wrestling, Their National Sport
New York Times

Ford pulls out of Japan and Indonesia

Japan begins work on 'world's largest' floating solar farm

In Philippines visit, Emperor asks youth to keep memories of World War II alive
Japan Times

Muddy River
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog


Japan's most notorious yakuza organized group is in deep decline. Membership has fallen below 10,000 in the Yamaguchi-gumi, the Kobe-based and nation's largest mafia group. In the early 1960s, membership topped 50,000.

An internal split in the Yamaguchi group last summer - a breakaway group in Nagoya took members from the main organization in Kobe - resulted in the drastic decrease.

What this portends for pubic safety remains to be seen.

Source: Asahi Shinbun

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Friday, January 29, 2016

Capt.Line Ferry


The Capt.Line is a high-speed ferry service that shuttles between the Kaiyukan West Pier at Osaka's Kaiyukan Aquarium and Universal City Port at Universal Studios Japan and Universal Citywalk Osaka.

Capt.Line Ferry in Osaka, Japan.

The one way fare for an adult (classed here as an over 12 year old) is 700 yen with the return fare 1,300 yen. Visitors can buy a combined ticket with the boat fare and entrance to the Kaiuyukan for 2,700 yen for persons over 16.

The crossing takes just 10 minutes and sailings begin usually at 9.15am from Universal City Port
 and 9.30am except in December when the first boat is at 9.45am from Universal City Port and 10am from the Kaiyukan.

Check the Capt.Line website for further details and exact sailing times.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Imperial Palace Sakurada Moat Repairs


For the past few days, the Sakurada Moat (Sakuradabori in Japanese) of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo has had a barge floating in it loaded with all sorts of construction-related equipment.

Sakurada Moat, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, with barge doing repair work.
Sakurada Moat of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, with Marunouchi district in background.
Looking it up, it seems that this happens every two or three years for the purpose of repairing the stone walls of the moat.

There are numerous moats - 15 to be precise - around the Imperial Palace, excavated during the rule of the first three Tokugawa Shoguns, Ieyasu (1543-1616), Hidetada (1579-1632) and Iemitsu (1604-1651). who inhabited what was then known as Edo Castle.

Sakurada Moat, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, plus barge doing repair work.
Sakurada Moat of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, with Hanzomon district in background.
The Sakurada (literally "cherry blossom field") Moat is the moat that goes from about the "6 o'clock" to "9 o'clock" stretch of the perimeter of the Imperial Palace, or, in terms of landmarks, from Sakuradamon Station ("Sakuradamon" meaning "Sakurada Gate," one of the Palace's nine gates) up to about the National Theater of Japan.

Sakurada Moat, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, with up-close of a barge doing repair work.
Sakurada Moat of the Imperial Palace, Tokyo, with Hanzomon and Kojimachi districts in background.
Sakuradamon Gate has a somewhat bloody role in Tokyo history, having been the scene of the assassination of the Chief Minister of State at the time, Ii Naosuke (1815–1860), on March 24 1860 by disaffected samurai who protested his having signed the 1858 Treaty of Amity and Commerce with the United States, thus opening up Japan further to Western influence.

Sakuradamon Gate was also where a disaffected Korean nationalist tried to assassinate the Emperor on January 9 1932 by throwing a grenade at him.

Anyway - to return to the present - Sakuradamon Moat is currently a scene of great activity, as the photos show, complete with divers.

Sakurada Moat, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, Japan, with two divers doing repair work.
Divers in Sakurada Moat, Imperial Palace, Tokyo, doing repair work on the stone walls of the moat.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Toyama Starbucks

The large glass branch of Starbucks overlooking the water at Fugan Canal Kansui Park in Toyama was voted the world's most attractive Starbucks by design in 2008.

Toyama Starbucks at Fugan Canal Kansui Park.

Visitors can gaze out over Tenmon Bridge from either behind the large glass windows or from the outdoor terrace. The store is a wireless hotspot.

Fugan Canal Kansui Park is a short walk north from Toyama Station.

Toyama Starbucks, Toyama Prefecture, Hokuriku, Japan.

Kansui Park Starbucks
Kansui Park, 5 Toyama Fugan Canal
Toyama-shi, Toyama Prefecture 930-0805
Tel: 076 439 2630
Hours: 8am-10.30pm

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Matsuyama-shi Station


Matsuyama-shi Station (aka Matsuyama City Station or "shieki") is the other major railway station in Matsuyama city in Ehime Prefecture on Shikoku along with JR Matsuyama Station.

Matsuyama-shi Station, Matsuyama, Shikoku, Japan.

Matsuyama-shi Station is nearer to the center of town and its attractions including Matsuyama Castle and is a much more imposing structure than JR Matsuyama Station as it is built into a large Takashimaya department store with a Ferris Wheel on top and the underground shopping arcade Matsuchika Town below. Matsuyama-shi Station is also the older of the two stations having opened in 1888.

Matsuyama City Station is the terminus for rail, tram, and bus services of Iyo Railway (Iyotetsudo), the first private railway company to operate on Shikoku and the third private railway to run trains in Japan.

Matsuyama-shi Station in Matsuyama city, Shikoku Island.

Matsuyama-shi Station has Iyotetsudo trains running on three lines. The 9.4km Takahama Line to Takahama, the 13.2km line to Yokogawara and the 10.7km Gunchu Line to Gunchuko (Gunchu Port).

Matsuyama City Station is also a station on three of Iyotetsudo's five tram lines that circuit the city. The next stop from Matsuyama City Station, Minami-Horibata is on all five lines. The lines are 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. There is no line 4, as 4 is considered an unlucky number.

Highway buses also run from outside Matsuyama City Station to Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, Fukuyama, Kochi, Takamatsu and Tokushima. Local Iyotetsudo buses run within the city.

Iyotetsudo also operates the Botchan Ressha, a tourist steam train that runs out to Dogo Onsen. The small steam engines were imported from Germany and were in use from 1887 to 1954. They have now been reintroduced as a tourist attraction and are called Botchan as they are mentioned in Natsume Soseki's novel of that name.

Botchan Steam Train Matsuyama, Shikoku
Iyotetsudo also has airport limousine buses to Matsuyama Airport (410 yen; 23 minutes) and Matsuyama Tourist (Ferry) Port (510 yen; 26 minutes). A one day tram pass is 500 yen.

Iyotetsu Route Map (showing tram, rail and bus routes)

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Sapporo Snow Festival 2016


The Sapporo Snow Festival begins on February 5th and runs until February 11th again this year, with snow slide and snow rafting activities continuing this year at the Tsudome Community Dome site until February 18th.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2016, Hokkaido.

This year is the 67th Sapporo Snow Festival, which has its origins back in 1950 when local high school students made six impromptu snow and ice sculptures in the city's Odori Park. In 1955, the Japanese Self Defense Forces helped out to make the large ice sculptures seen today.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

The main venues to see the ice and snow sculptures are: Odori Park, Tsudome Community Dome and Susukino - the major entertainment and commercial area of Sapporo, south of Sapporo Station. The sculptures at Odori Park are illuminated until 10pm every evening, while those in Susukino continue lit until 11pm.

Among this year's over 200 ice sculptures are ice replicas of the Hokkaido Shinkansen Rail Line due to open on 26 March 2016, plus other attractions in Hokkaido and the Tohoku region of Japan including the Kanemori Red Brick Warehouses and pentagon-shaped Goryokaku fortress in Hakodate, the Nebuta Festival in Aomori, Hirosaki Castle and the Enburi folk dance in Hachinohe.

Internationally-themed ice sculptures include the Globe Theatre in London where William's Shakespeare's plays were performed. From Taiwan there are sculptures of The Queen's Head rock in Yehliu Geopark in Wanli District in New Taipei City and the Pingxi Police Box, a modern new attraction that is lit with 1000's of LEDs. Another large ice sculpture captures the magnificent facade of the former Jesuit Cathedral of Sao Paulo in Macau. Finally don't miss the ice sculptures of popular characters from the anime series Dragon Ball Super.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010

As well as the amazing ice sculptures, other entertainments include an "Ice Queen" contest in Susukino, an international ice sculpture festival with around a dozen teams from such nations as USA (Hawaii & Portland), Korea (Daejeon), Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Italy, Finland, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Poland, snow slides, ice mazes and lots of great Hokkaido food and drink such as hot potatoes, seafood and Sapporo ramen.

Around 2 million visitors are expected to attend this year's event. 2.4 million attended the Sapporo Snow Festival in 2014.

Sapporo Snow Festival 2016 (Official Site in Japanese, Chinese, Korean & English)
Tel: 011 211 2376

Sapporo Snow Festival 2010
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