Friday, March 26, 2010

Outing With Cliff & Ming Han

Short note: It rained for THREE-continuous days, non-stop here. Damn crazy, I tell you. I know Japanese people are famous for their long life, but it seems that the rain in Japan has long life too! Damn cold some more. Made us no mood to go out at all. Fortunately, the rain subsided last night and the weather should be good for the whole week, if the weather forecast predicted it accurately. I see the sun this morning, for the first time in three days!
While most of my batch mates are currently busy moving to new places and settling their many kinds of applications, I have pretty much done with mine and hence, I take the chance to go around several places in Tokyo before school starts next month. Four days ago, after a few times of planning, canceling, and re-plannings, I finally met up with Cliff and his friend, Ming Han. Cliff is a Malaysian who studies in Tokyo, and happen to read my blog for several months already. As for Ming Han, he's from Penang, and was asked by Cliff to join us during this outing.
We initially planned to meet up at the Hard Rock Cafe inside JR Ueno Station, but he changed to location to the tickets counter of the station. Once I reached there, I tried to locate both of them and thanks to my height, I managed to see them from afar. Despite my giraffe height, neither of them notice me; so, I picked up my phone and called Cliff, while walked towards their direction. I was already standing behind Cliff when he asked about my whereabouts.
I said to him, "Look behind" while giving him a tap on the shoulder, and he was instantly stunned to see a grey giraffe haha!
IMG_6335
Had lunch at Kassen Ichiba, located along the back alley of Ameyoko (アメ横).
IMG_6342
北海丼 (Hokkai-don), which has topping consisting of hotate (scallop), salmon, ika (squid) with tobiko (fish roe), tamago-yaki (Japanese omelet), kani (crab). It comes with a bowl of miso soup and tsukemono (I suspect it's bamboo shoot with some sauce), which was superb!
IMG_6346
With Ming Han and Cliff in front of the restaurant. Had an ang moh to take this picture for us.
We spent some time for a simple get-to-know-each-other and brief chit-chatting session, before leaving the restaurant. Got a train guide - "Tokyo Universal Train System" from Cliff, which looks more like an astronomy map haha! Well, we all know the train system in Tokyo is one of the most, if not the most complicated systems in the world.
Nothing much to look around Ameyoko, as it was more or less similar to Petaling Street in KL, minus the fake goods though. So, we headed to the nearby Ueno Park for sight-seeing.
IMG_6349
Local artists sitting along the staircase which leads to the park.
IMG_6353
An American old-timer, who speaks some Japanese, performing with a wooden puppet and a harmonica.
IMG_6456
A koban with an interesting design inside the park.
IMG_6360
Sakura flower bud.

IMG_6358
It's still a tad too early for hanami (sakura sight-seeing), as the weather has been quite cold these few days. But these people just could wait any longer to picnic under the sakura trees.
IMG_6370
Bridal photo shot at the park, although the flowers haven't really bloom yet. But if you look properly, there's something not right about the location of the shooting.
IMG_6458
Why would someone stand in front of this rubbish collection spot for wedding photograph? Lol!
IMG_6361
These two pigeons were having their lovey-dovey affair on the branch, while the poor third party could only look from behind haha!
IMG_6367
Not the best scenery to take pictures yet, but I guess I will be returning to the same place in a week's time.
While walking around the park, we noticed a crowd building up at one spot, and being typical busybody Malaysians, we quickly walked there to see what's going on. There is a Japanese traditional tea-ceremony going on, conducted by some volunteers. It was opened for everyone to experience it for free. There was this elderly uncle who was really friendly and he kept inviting people who wished to try it to step onto the tatami mat, before being served with the green tea.
This isn't my first time experiencing the tea ceremony, nevertheless, since it didn't cost anything, why not give it a try, right?
IMG_6371
Not only the locals joined the ceremony, as we noticed there were quite some number of foreigners who took part as well.
IMG_6392
Ladies and little kids in kimono serving the visitors with green tea.
IMG_6378
The ryoku-cha (緑茶) or green tea, which I think is a bit diluted and not as bitter as I have tasted before. The white thingy is a Japanese buah guli (pebbles) haha! No-lah, it's actually a sweet candy, taken before we drink the tea.

IMG_6387
Sitting in the seiza position while sipping the bowl of tea, to make it looked more Japanese. Cliff asked me to drink it slowly when he took this shot lol!
We continued our walk towards the zoo side of the park and came to the Toshogu Shrine (東照宮), one of the widely known Sinto shrines in Japan. Toshogu Shrines are found throughout Japan, and the most famous one is located in Nikko, which I visited a couple of years ago.
Too bad this one in Ueno Park is closed for maintenance and repair until the end of 2013.
IMG_6417
This shrine is one of the Important Cultural Properties of Japan (重要文化財), items judged to be of particular importance to the Japanese people.
IMG_6403
The path that leads to the shrine, with stalls selling various kinds of food, for the upcoming hanami season.
IMG_6411
Small wooden plaques, called ema (絵馬) for people to write down their prayers and wishes.
IMG_6418
Huge lanterns made of copper at the compound of the shrine.
IMG_6414
The main shrine is currently covered with renovation sheets until the renovation work is done by the end of 2013.
IMG_6393
A statue of Prince Komatsu Akihito in one section of Ueno Park.
IMG_6396
Ueno Children's Park.
Ueno Park is also where Ueno Zoo, the oldest and most well-known zoo in Japan is located.
I haven't been into the zoo yet, so I cannot compare whether it is better than Taiping Zoo. Price wise, it isn't that expensive (¥600 for adults) but having grown up in a town which is most famous for its zoo, I doubt the elephant in Japan is any different from the one in Malaysia; unless the elephant in Japan has ten legs, which is quite impossible haha!
IMG_6421
The huge crowd lining up at the entrance of Ueno Zoo. It was a public holiday on that day and the crowd was bigger than usual days.

IMG_6423
This forest surely has a lot of water (ayer means "water" in Malay) haha!
IMG_6425
Posing in front of a green gorilla and panda.
IMG_6430
Tokyo National Museum, Japan oldest and largest museum.
IMG_6433
This trick performer, named Kobayashi who apparently has won a few national juggling competitions.
IMG_6439
The crowd were amazed to see his great balance with the yellow rings.
IMG_6450
Challenging himself with six rings at once.
IMG_6453
Spectators from all ages, chipping in some contributions after the performance, something which is quite rare to see in Malaysia. Back home, once the performer finished performing, the crowd will disperse in a matter of seconds.
IMG_6464
A huge stone lantern, also called the "monster lantern" because of its gigantic size.
IMG_6466
Bald trees with the blue sky as the background.
IMG_6475
Passed by another temple in the park.
IMG_6479
A rare sight to see a stone-plate with Romanised characters in Japan.
IMG_6483
Ming Han said how nice it would be if we could cook these into Peking roasted ducks lol!
IMG_6484
A reminder for the visitor not to feed the ducks in the pond.
IMG_6485
Otherwise, the ducks will grow too fast and die.
IMG_6493
The interesting thing about this picture is the white birds, who is lining up on each wooden poles, just like how the Japanese who obey to the social rules in public.
IMG_6489
Three stooges by the pond.
IMG_6498
One of the few sakura trees which has started to bloom.
After we spent a good couple of hours at the park, we moved to the next destination - Ochanomizu. We wanted to take the train initially, but later realised that it is located quite near to Ueno Park. So, we decided to walk there, with the help from Ming Han's iPhone. Everything went smoothly at first, but I started to smell something fishy once Ming Han took us into small lanes.
We however, trusted his directions, only for him to repay our trust by taking us into this steep staircase haha wtf!
IMG_6501
We took a risk and climbed up that staircase.
IMG_6503
Continued walking, this time aided with a map from Cliff. As for me, I just followed both of them, because I'm sure nobody dares to let me lead the way after my poor sense of directions lately made me lost for two times already haha!
IMG_6528
Finally, we reached our destination - Kanda Shrine.
IMG_6520
Lanterns made of paper, hung around the shrine.
IMG_6515
Shops selling amulets and souvenirs.
IMG_6524

Statue of the God of Fortune.
IMG_6535
Walked a little further and reach Yushima Seido, a Confucian temple in Ochanomizu.
IMG_6529
Something rare to see a temple coated with black paint.
IMG_6531
Paperweights in various animal shapes.
IMG_6539
Ochanomizu Station, taken from Hijiri Bridge over the Kanda River, looking towards Akihabara. 
IMG_6554
Holy Resurrection Cathedral, a.k.a. Nicholai-do, Tokyo is the main cathedral of the Japanese Orthodox Church.
IMG_6555
The Bible is written in Japanese, while the cross is kinda different from the normal one.
An untoward incident happened at this church, which was partly due to our carelessness. We didn't notice the notice that stated that anyone who wishes to enter the church to perform worship service is required to pay for an entrance fee. It was only after we stepped into the church, that a lady asked us to the reception counter and pointed to that notice. We explained that we were there just to visit the church and not for religious purpose, besides, of so many churches I have been to, there is no such thing as an entrance fee. But she insisted us to pay for the entrance fee.
We got into a little argument with the lady when she realised we are able to speak English, and the part which I felt uncomfortable is when she mentioned that all Malaysians and Koreans are like that (as in to wonder into the church and refuse to pay for the entrance fee). After realising that we're not gonna gain anything by continuing to argue with her, we left the place. No matter it is a church, a mosque or a temple, they are all religious places and I don't understand why there must be an entrance fee. Talking about commercialism, even at places of worships.
To Christians out there who might feel offended, I am not against any religion, but I am just making a general statement about that lady from that church. No bad feelings, please.
IMG_6572
The night's dinner was at Sato Tsukemen, a specialised shop which serves only tsukemen.
IMG_6566
My set of 辛ごまつけ麺 (kara-goma tsukemen), or spicy sesame tsukemen, which I later noticed that this set is popular among girls =.=

IMG_6573
Neon lights decorating the buildings at Akihabara at night.
We later stopped at Akihabara, the paradise for someone who loves electronic gadgets.
First stop was at Apple Store as Ming Han wanted to check out some MacBooks there. We later moved to Yodobashi Camera to grab some electrical stuff, before leaving for home at nine plus. It was an interesting outing, although it was just the first time we met with each other.
IMG_6574
Spotted this at Akihabara Station.
Anyone has any idea what's this?

5 comments:

kae vin said...

hey the photographer was pointing upwards at the bridal shot so things behind wouldn't be seen.

I think that spot has the nicest flower buds or something.

and I think the church is no longer a place of worship. It has become an attraction that's why u have to pay.

and honestly, your post is WAY TOO LONG.

you very auntie la.

CLF said...

hahahah finally done with this post!
will try sort out time for the one with Cung and Mouse de!
anyway it's been fun! :D

calvin said...

@ kae vin:
yeah, i know. i was just trying to make a sarcastic comment there xD

i'm not sure if that church is still used for worshipping purposes, but i still think they shouldn't set such rules at this kind of place.

and yes, i am not surprise to have people commenting about the length of my post, but i just have to record down everything =P

cincai-lah. auntie also auntie-lah haha!

calvin said...

@ clf:
yeah! it took me some time to go through hundreds of pictures taken in just a day haha!
glad that it was a great outing with you two =D

Алексей said...

It is not about the commercialism of the Church, it is all about maintaining this architectural and cultural masterpiece.
And, pls, familirize yourself at least a tiny bit with the history of Christianity and then call the Cross "kinda different from the normal one". You're showing off your ignorance.
Sorry for the last comment. I do hope that respect to different Cultures (nothing to do with the Religion)is planted to you guys in the family / your country's ed system.