Saturday, July 15, 2017

Wednesday, May 3 -Travel to Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival

Indeed, we were fat, dumb, and happy the night before.  We got up very early to travel to the Fuji Shiba-sakura Festival, at the foot of Mount Fuji.  We took the JR Line. From what Mary read, on the internet, it should take two hours by train, then 30 minutes by bus from the Fujiyama Train Station.  Well, we got so far by train, then had to change trains, to the “local line”, which did about 20 miles per hour and stopped every mile at local stops.  On the train, two little girls played a hand game, while singing to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy. 
View from the train, as we
trundled slowly onward.
We finally got to the end of the line and out of the train station, only to discover a line for the bus that went half-way around the square parking lot.  I stood in line, while Mary went and bought the bus tickets, which included round trip fare, entrance fee, and a Mt. Fuji post card.
     It took a long time to board the bus, because the bus people would not depart the bus until the ‘standing room only’ (in the aisle) portion was filled.  We are so glad we did not do the ‘standing room only’, as it took us hours to get there.  We got one with seats next to each other.  This bus had small flip down seats, so people could ‘sit’ in the aisle.  We got out into traffic and through town, then onto the main road where it was stop-and-go bumper-to-bumper traffic.  We started our trip at 7:00 a.m., and did not arrive, at the festival, until after 2:00 p.m.  What? Over seven hours?  I guess, we get to get off the bus, snap a photo and get right back on, if we want to make it home today! 

 It was lovely.  We walked around and enjoyed the view, but there was hardly anywhere to just sit down and relax.  We took a couple selfies with Mt. Fuji behind us. 
We walked over to where some flags were and discovered food vendors.  There was a walkway that lots of people were going on, so we decided to see what that was about.  It turned out to be parking area one, and all those folks were leaving.  So, we walked back and Mary got in line for a crepe, ice cream, chocolate, banana thing.  I bought a bottle of water.  I was beginning to not feel very well. 

We walked around a different way and took photos of the flowers and mountain.  We were getting ready to leave when Mary mentioned we had not found the Post Office.  We found the P.O., so we wrote our post card to Pete, and we got it posted direct from the festival.  I wrote that it took us four hours to get here, but at that time I had no idea it had taken us seven and a half hours.  

I had a biffy break then got in line for the bus, again.  At some point, Mary found out it was holiday, thus so many people and traffic.  We got actual seats, but it was near the rear of the bus.  I was getting car sick, so I opened the window for fresh air and tried not to look out the window. 
Our bus route to and from the festival took us passed a big
lake.  I took a photo out the window of some fisherman at the lake.
We made good time on the way back; it took 50 minutes.  At the Fujiyama train station, we got back on the slow local train.  I was feeling so crappy, but I took a photo of 'Travlin' Mary'. 

When we got to switch back to a faster train, we freshened up in the restroom at the station, first.  The train that pulled in was a nice train, with two-story cars!  We got into a single floor car, and we found two comfy seats. It was all so very nice until a uniformed gentleman asked us for our tickets.  He said this car was reserved seating only and we would have to move up.  This was car 5, so we moved to car 4 and were comfy there, until the man came and said car 4 was reserved seating.  Mary said, “Which cars are not reserved seats?” He said, “Cars 3, 2, and 1.”   Well, we went into car 3, and it was packed with people standing in the aisles.  We squished through and made it to car 2, which was the same scenario.  Then we decided to stand in the lower stairwell of car 1.  Then there was a stop, and a man got off, and I got his seat. At the next stop, some people got off and Mary got a seat, across the aisle.  This train was really booking and expressed right through 8 or 9 in-town stops.  Thank goodness!  We disembarked at Shinjuku, and took the subway the rest of the way. We found ourselves at Electric Town, which is very near our hotel.  We went to our room and freshened up, then went to Gaburico, where the waitress swiftly lead us through a maze of tables and turns, then we were instructed to remove our shoes.  We were seated in a closed-off booth (in the floor) next to a rowdy bunch of folks.  They served my chicken, with cheese on top, on a bed of French fries, and it was perfectly delicious. The tea was luke-warm but tasted good.  It was noisy, but we still relaxed and had a good time.  We returned to the hotel exhausted after a very long day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tuesday, May 2nd, Nippori Textile Town, Aneme Center, and Japanese Mexican Dinner

     I slept in until 7:30, when my body could lay down no more.  I listened to my Ipod Mini and wrote in my journal until Mary woke up.  We cleaned up, then walked to the Family Market, where I got an apple for breakfast. We walked a short distance from there to the French area where Mary got herself a chocolate-banana crepe for breakfast.  My main frustration is I cannot read Japanese, to insure GF ingredients in things.  I bet they use rice flour in the crepes, but I cannot confirm it and dare not risk getting sick by trying a bite.

We caught the train up to Nippori, and we found the Textile Town and Tomato.  Tomato was more than one store; more like four.  There was a fabric store called Happy.  There was so much fabric it was overwhelming.  I knew I could only get what I could fit in my luggage, so I really did behave!
This was in the first 'Tomato" store we went in.
I wish I had gotten some of those big vegetable prints.  I bought nothing at the first store. I do not remember the name of the second store we entered, but they had some fat quarters and half-yard pre-cuts and a got a few of those and paid cash, since they did not take credit cards. 
     We crossed the street and went into one of the Tomato stores.  It had six floors.  I made sure they accepted VISA before I looked at a single thing.

They had so much cat fabric, I could not choose.
Mary likes zebra fabric.
I started on the first floor, while Mary scouted out upstairs. She came and got me, and we went up to the 4th floor, near the back, where there were more of the Japanese looking fabrics.  I got some lights and darks, and one that was b&w, which will work for more than one project.  I also picked out a couple panels.  The place was crowded.  We stood in line for cutting for 5 to 8 minutes, then in line to pay for about 8 minutes.  The gentleman, who cut my yardage, did that flurry of fabric, arms, and yardstick routine.  I really like that.

Then we left and headed back to the train station. Mary could not get a signal on her phone. We went into a café and had smoothies, and there was no signal in there, either. We rested, then caught the train back to Akihabara.
     I couple helpful young people showed us which machine to buy tickets from, and how to choose the number of tickets you need, so we didn't have to go through all the motions twice.  They saw we looked confused and just asked us if we needed help. How nice that was. We returned to our hotel and I left my fabric and sweater there, then we proceeded across the river and did some exploring.    

We found the Cha Cha Building, a Mexican Restaurant, and the Post Office. We decided to come for Mexican dinner, then I mailed Pete and Mom's post cards at the PO.  We found the way to the shrine, which we can see across the river from our room, and visited it briefly.  We, then, crossed the blue walking bridge and turned left to go toward the Anime Center.  The first building we entered had three floors of gaming. We found a couple interesting stores on the fifth floor, one had nearly every kind of figure, including Peanuts characters, but most Science-fiction. The other had all the fun stuff,
but I resisted and purchase nothing.  We explored some more, and crossed the street into this market alley that had lots of vendors with electronic gadgets, electronic parts, antennas, tools, cables, etc.  When we came out the other side, we found (YOU GUESSED IT!), more bags! 
Mary at the blue bridge
 Mary bought a Hello Kitty take-with-you shopping bag.  The young man was very patient as we counted the coins into his hand.  They also had zippered bags shaped like toast. Boy, was that tough to resist!

We walked around another block, then went into a 'tax free' store. Mary found me a fish wind sock that was $11.00. We found a couple more things, but found out they only accept credit cards if you spend $50.00 or more.  So, we got the fish and left.  We walked back and crossed the river to go have dinner at the Mexican restaurant.
     We walked back and crossed the river on the blue bridge and went to dinner at the Mexican Restaurant.  We had a communication problem here.  Mary showed her what we wanted, on the menu, then said, "two Cokes".  The gal misunderstood and made two orders of each thing we ordered, but she served them up with my plate and Mary's plate having each of the things we both ordered.  We got no Cokes, but some water.  The food was delicious and there were no leftovers.  While we waited for the food to cook, we watched the news and they were showing some flower festival at Mt. Fuji. Well, tomorrow was Wednesday, so why not look into going?  It was when we got the bill, and it looked like she had charged us double, that we figured out what the problem had been.  We were both fat, dumb, and happy, and Mary said the gal running the place thinks we are American pigs. Smiley face! Of all the food I took photos of on this trip, I missed taking a photo of this food, which was not really Mexican, but beautifully presented and wonderful to taste.
    We moseyed back past the shrine and across our blue walking bridge to our hotel.  Mary went out into the hall, with the wifi on her computer, to try and determine information about our Mt Fuji trip tomorrow.  We have it all figured out, or Mary has it all figured out.  It should take two hours to get there by train, then another 45 minutes by bus, from the train station.  We will leave here around 7 a.m., go the 7Eleven to get more yen, then head out on the JR Line.  Good night!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday, May 1: Locating a Gluten Free Restaurant and the Two Towers

You can find them on Trip Advisor
Mary was trying to look up some things on the internet, but the connection in our room was dubious.  She ended up sitting in the hallway to get a good connection.  She apparently researched some gluten-free eating establishments.  She wrote the information on the subway map we were using and she still has it, so I cannot provide full information on this.  We left the hotel and headed for the subway and got off quite near the Little Bird Café, although we could not find it.  So, we went back into the subway where the internet connection was good and we looked on Google maps program (instead of trying to use GPS).  I saw which way we needed to go from the map, based on where we had already been on foot.  It turns out Mary is top notch with subway maps and with GPS.  I am good with what lays on the land and normal maps.  Together we are a good team!  I explained, in my previous post, how to get to the Little Bird Café in Tokyo.  We did locate it right across the street from the Library, as indicated on the website.  We were early: they do not open until 1300 hours.  We decided to go to the Tokyo Tower, then return for lunch.
retaining wall with lovely flowers
 We walked back to the subway and got off near the Tokyo Tower.  It was a beautiful day for a stroll through lovely downtown Tokyo.  We crossed the street by The Green Building and were at the foot of the tower in no time.  Down a slope, in the parking area outside the main entrance, was a man and his monkey entertaining a crowd of onlookers beneath row upon row of wind-filled fish.  We paused momentarily, then stepped through the entrance of the Tokyo Tower. 
Hasegawa Green Building

We went way up and enjoyed great views of the city. There was so much to see.  In one place there was a glass window in the floor and Mary laid down and took a selfie, so I took a photo of her taking a selfie.  It is the best. She is so pretty!  We had a great time and relaxed at the diner way up there, I had a Coke and she got something evil; ice cream or something. Then, we were on our way out and guess what?! they had a gift shop. Who knew?  Mary bought some bling for our zipper pulls. Then there were other shops, that apparently were not the official gift shop for The Tower, as they only took cash. So, Mary could not get the awesome Hello Kitty samurai shoulder bag and chop sticks.  We needed our cash for the subway and we were both relatively low on yen. 
Tokyo Tower
Looking down!
 You can see down below, that the monkey show and gathering has departed. Those little lines, way down there, are the strings of wind-sock fish blowing in the breeze.
 Then we headed out.  It was overcast and suddenly a Japanese raindrop hit my face. Then BANG!! Lightening struck very nearby.  Scared the crap out of me, Mary, and several passing business men.  I rather took off down the street.  While Mary stood her ground, as she was attempting to take a vertical panoramic photo of the tower at the time of the huge crashing noise.  Turns out she did not see the flash of the lightening.  I had seen it, and it was simultaneous with the noise, so  . . .    We laughed and Mary dug in her purse and found the little flat umbrella she had bought in Japan on her first trip here, over five years ago.
Here is a photo, I took, which captured the street we came and went on and the surrounding area.  It really started to pour, and Mary's umbrella was compact for a reason: it fit one person under it.  So, we went back passed the Green Building and stood in a doorway with some other people sheltering from the rain.  Then out into it again, to the bottom of the street to the 7-Eleven (yes, that's right!).  We used our bank cards to get some cash, as the Little Bird Café only accepts cash.  We went back out, the rain letting up some, and walked one short block to the Shakaden Temple.

Mary and her compact yellow umbrella
It was huge. We walked around the court yard and did not stay. It's great steps were cordoned off with a rope.  We headed back toward the train station. It started raining hard again, so we took a break in another door way, then continued to the train.  The entrances to the subway tunnels have great winds in them, that are apparently caused by the trains (so I read).  We took advantage of the great winds blowing in the stairwell to dry our clothes as we descended.  We made our back to the Little Bird Café.  It was drizzling and such a lovely day, I felt like writing a poem, but we were walking to the cafe from the subway, and there was no way to sit around and wax poetic.  Mary was cold because she had worn a sleeveless t-shirt today.  It was warm in the elevator, which was just big enough for two people. Up to the third floor.
I followed Mary into a narrow corridor into a bright and cheery dining area with kitchen to the right.  The walls were gray concrete, but there were window posters on the walls giving the effect you were looking out on Tokyo and Greece and a couple port holes where you were viewing sea turtles and fish.  Around the upper part of the room were colorful extra virgin olive oil cans and the occasional pot or pan.  The tables were painted brightly.  We sat at a pink one.  The proprietor had squares of fake green vegetation attached to the front of the counter surrounding the kitchen.  There was a little metal bird sculpture on the counter and a pine cone, that had been painted silver, hanging from the overhead A/C unit. 
The menu was thick with photos of dishes, with name and description written underneath.  All Gluten Free!  How was I to chose?  Then my eyes fell on "waffles and fried chicken"!  That is what I had at the GF place in NYC, when Mary and I went there.  Of course, I got the waffles and fried chicken.  Mary got with waffles with butter and ice cream on top and a Coke.
Mary's waffles with slabs of butter and fancy ice cream
I hardly knew what to eat first.  It was a most delightful experience; worth the earlier trip to find it. Mary said the combination of butter and ice cream was wonderful on waffles. The presentation was lovely and every morsel was delicious.  When I saw the lone pine cone hanging above the kitchen, I told Mary it was for good luck. She said that wasn't true, unless it rhymed.  So, I wrote a poem:
We had a delightful time there. Mary and I did 'rock paper scissors' and she won, so she got to pay.  I paid for our dinner later the same evening, when we went to Denny's, which is located in our hotel, but that is a whole other interesting experience.  I thanked the woman there for making me so happy. She said that she and the man assisting her in the kitchen were both gluten intolerant.  They were very nice.  I did not get her name, but will make efforts to give her a top review in Trip Advisor. **End of Fab Experience**

I stopped and took a train video at a busy intersection, while Mary shivered in her sleeveless t-shirt.  It had stopped raining. She says it's called a tank top, but I think not.  Here is my train video: train crossing in downtown.
We walked passed the hat shop, where I noticed they had taken the "Happy Birthday" hats in, likely due to the earlier down pour.  While having a delightful time eating GF food, we decided to catch the train to the Sky Tree Tower.  When we got to the end of the purple Z line, there was actually signage directing us to the Sky Tree.  We took several escalators up (following the crowd) into a mall/shopping area that walked through to a large outdoor court yard decked with rows of fish wind socks flying in the breeze and picnic tables.  These fish had the flags of different countries on them.  Mary found the Greek one!  Photo of it is in the sidebar - - ->
Sky Tree Tower, Tokyo
We took some photos before going in.  Apparently it is the tallest tower in the world. We went up to the 450th floor.  Besides the fantastic view, they had some aneme thing going on up there, with doom and gloom music; perhaps a movie theme or something.  We could not see Mt Fuji from there, due to it was late afternoon and the sun was blinding us and it was quite hazy far off in that direction. 

you can see the shadow of the tower in the photo
After we came back down on the elevator we sat on a bench and rested our feet.  Mary had a fold-out of the 360 degree view, naming sites you can see all the way around.  I took it and made it into a tube and put my head inside, then rotated the thing around my head, and said, "I can see Mt. Fuji!"  Mary said, "All the people getting off the elevator think you are an idiot."  We went out through the gift shop, where Mary bought some more bling for her purse/bag.  Then we took photos of the fish in the wind with the sun setting and re-entered the evil, tempting, shopping area. 

We went into the Hello Kitty Store, but they did not have the cutemous chop sticks or samurai Hello Kitty shoulder bag.  We left Hello Kitty empty handed.  Mary found more bling in another shop, and this shop also had more cat bags! Oh, the torture! I did buy me one cat bag.  Soooo cute!  There was one store that had bandanas folded around cubes to make animal shapes, and one with just knives, and one with chop sticks, fans, and wonderful small animals shaped in stone and glass.  Mary was looking for a jacket or sweat shirt.  She found a jacket, but the price was 22000 yen, meaning $220.00. We left there in a hurry. Then she found a one-size-fits-all hoody jacket, that she tried on with the help of a young lady there. It has one button that holds the front closed. It looked perfect on her and cost $18.00.  She calls it her Jedi cloak.  Then we rode the Z line and changed to the G line, then when we changed to the H line, the machine took our tickets! We had to each buy another ticket to go just two stops on the H line.
We came out at the exit nearest our hotel, which we did not do when we arrived here yesterday.  Mary said we would need to cross the river. I said, "Look, there is the foot bridge and the shrine we can see from our hotel window."  So, we did not cross the river, but turned around and turned the corner and proceed on to our hotel.  We rested a bit, then went down to eat.  There was a Denny's on the 2nd floor of the Akihabara Washington Hotel.
Denny's does not have the same menu as in the USA. I got the 100 percent beef burger, with no bun.  It came with a bed of onions, some potato wedges, and a cooked green vegetable.  They did not understand 'ketchup', but it was delicious just the same. It was furnished with higher quality tables and chairs than in the US.  We went back to our room and got in our jammies, and watched "Hudsucker Proxy."  Lights out around 11:40 p.m.

Directions to the Little Bird Cafe, Tokyo

When traveling there, take the H line to C2, to street level and go right when exiting the subway. Walk passed the Donky Pastry place then cross the street and continue in the same direction.  You will pass a very busy intersection with a busy train crossing.  Continue to where the bicycle parking is on the left and go down that street.  Enjoy it's relaxing meandering, and when you see the library on the right (a brick building with a broad entry way), look for the bluish bill board just opposite the library.  It states "Gluten Free Café -Little Bird -3F", which means it is on the 3rd floor.  A little further down the street you spy a 7-Eleven, where you can get cash from the Seveni ATM, as you need cash to pay.  LBC does not take credit cards, as they are a very small business.  The Little Bird Cafe is only a brief, and delightful, walk from the subway.
on the way to little bird café

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sunday, April 30 arrived in Japan

We stayed Saturday night at the Novotel in Suwon. This was due to I would not be able to claim my drivers license at Suwon AB security until 6:05 a.m., and we needed to get going prior to that time in the morning to go to the Inchon Airport to fly to Japan.  We got up real early and caught the bus (airport limousine) to Inchon Airport.  We waited in a very long line to check our bags and get our boarding passes, but we were soon relaxing near our departure gate. The flight to Japan was about two hours.  We landed at Narita Airport.  Then we found a money exchange place and we got some yen. Then we went down the escalator and got on the Sky Liner train to the north part of Tokyo. We had reserved seats.  It was a relaxing trip into the city.
Sky Liner sleek and comfortable
When we got to Ueno Station, we transferred to the subway and headed to Akiba, two stops down.  We were disoriented as to N-S-E-W and went out the wrong exit, so we walked up the street and asked for directions from a very helpful hairdresser.  We were looking for Akihabara Washington Hotel.  It was pretty nice, and they gave us damp washcloths at the front desk to freshen up before our trip up the elevator to our room on the 7th floor.  We had a great view from our window.  It was overlooking the river, a shrine, a pedestrian bridge, and two or three train tracks.  It was awesome!

See the blue pedestrian bridge at the bottom of the photo.
It proved a quick way to cross the river from our hotel.
After we checked in and rested a short bit, we ventured out and found this multi-story electronics place.  It was packed with people and a sales person every eight feet or so.  They were selling all kinds of computers and peripherals.  They kept playing fast tempo music "Mine eyes of seen the glory of the coming of the Lord . . . Glory Hallelujah . . ." with occasional singing by a children's choir in Japanese.  Mary kept singing to the music, but she sang "The Brady Bunch!" theme.  She kept saying it was the Brady Bunch song.  Anyway, about one-fourth of the first floor was every design imaginable cell phone covers and iphone cables.
a small portion of the cell phone cover selection
 We found an escalator and went up one floor and made a magical discovery.  Office and paper supplies! OMG! The cutest sticky notes, sticker applicators, clamps, scissors, post cards, note books, 2-pocket portfolios, staplers, adhesives, pencil bags out the . . ., roller stickers, origami paper, rows of pens and pencils, character erasers, blah blah and blah!  That is where we spent our money!
Then we went around the corner and discovered the largest selection of luggage known to man.  Fabulous stuff!  We spent at least 20 minutes perusing the luggage.  To our surprise the had no zebra stripe luggage.  Then we decided we had had enough stimulation and headed back downstairs.  We went out the side door into a covered walkway that was wall-to-wall French pastry establishments.  This is where Mary fell in love.
It was Club Marion, with all the delectable stuffed crepes.  The photo is in the side bar to the right-->.
This is the cover art on the two-pocket portfolio Mary purchased.
It is Sumiko Gurashi.
These crepes came in a variety of combinations including such yummy ingredients as bananas, strawberries, chocolate, whipped cream.  I think we then went on to dinner across the street at a fine Japanese restaurant.  It was relaxing and tea was divine.
Then we shopped a little on the way back downstairs, before heading back across the street to our hotel.  Busy, busy!

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Tuesday, May 25 -going to Dongdaemun textile & craft market!

I made myself stay in bed this morning until 5:50 a.m..  Got up showered, washed hair, brushed teeth, etc. Got things organized and put the ...