Trip Report Chalkie's 2019 Visit to Japan

Discussion in 'Japan' started by Chalkie, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    I retired on 31 December 2018. On 3 January 2019 I flew off to Japan on my first post-retirement trip. I've been to Japan three times before - the first time, to Tokyo, Kyoto and Niseko. The second time, to Tokyo, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto and ... Niseko. The third time to ... Niseko. And now the fourth - to Hiroshima, Uno, Naoshima, Injujima and Teshima, Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySeas, Tokyo and ... Niseko.

    It's more circumstance than anything else that keeps taking me back to Niseko to ski. The first time was in 2008. The second time was 2016 with friends. The third time in 2018 was to celebrate a friend's 60th birthday. And this time is with the same 60th birthday friends. They rent the same place each year and have a great time, and we were invited along this year.

    First stop was Hiroshima. It's an interesting city. Totally rebuilt after WWII. The Shukkeien Gardens are beautiful, the Peace Memorial and Museum sobering, and the Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki delicious!

    20190104_145924.jpg 20190104_144106.jpg 20190104_114646.jpg 20190104_191400.jpg 20190104_121634.jpg
     
  2. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us
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    Enjoy Japan - take your time!
     
  3. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Thanks! We are sort of this time, particularly this week. Things get busier as we get to Tokyo and meet up with our friends. But for now we're taking a leisurely look around Hiroshima and the art islands.
     
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  4. LMB

    LMB Old but definitely not Crusty!
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    Congrats on the retirement!
    Looking forward to your thread.
     
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  5. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Thanks LMB!

    Japanese breakfast set "wa-choushoko" (salad, tamagoyaki (rolled egg omelette), nimono ("boiled foods"), grilled fish, rice porridge, tsukudani (seaweed paste, dried clam, baby sardines), miso soup, pickles and fruit) today. +1 at bit underwhelmed ("what's wrong with cereal and toast?"). I enjoyed it though.

     
  6. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    After the Japanese breakfast set we took the train to Miyajima and the ferry over to the island to see the famous "floating" prayer gate and go up Mt Misen. The weather clouded over so not great photos, but IRL it was all still great to see.

    In the afternoon, a quick Shinkansen trip to Okayama followed by a local train to Uno, where we're based for the next few days while we explore Naoshima, Teshima and Injujima.

     
  7. Chaeron

    Chaeron One of Us
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    What! No natto? - ask for it when you get up North....:whistle:



    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nattō

    https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/natto-how-bad-is-it-really-77837685990.html
     
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  8. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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  9. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Today we visited Naoshima and Injujima. Injujima is tiny. 50 full time inhabitants, and you can walk around it in an hour or so. The art house projects on Injujima are interesting, and much more engaging than the Chichu and Lee Ufan collections on Naoshima. I think the Ando architecture on Naoshima made more of an impression on me than the art inside!
     
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  10. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum
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    Andy Warhol had a great line "Art is what you can get away with". As he amply demonstrated.
     
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  11. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Brought to you by Today on Teshima.

    After a cycling "holiday" in the Dordogne, I vowed I'd never get on a bike again unless necessary to save someone else's life (not even my own). Sitting on a bike saddle for me is akin to having a wardrobe shoved up my rear. So somewhat dubiously, I agreed to +1's suggestion we hire bikes to see Teshima. What got me over the line was that they were electrically assisted. This was a godsend - it's like having someone push you up the hill. And Teshima is not short of hills.

    Teshima is home to Christian Boltanski's "Les Archives de Cœur", which uses human heartbeats that he's recorded as the base for his work. It's a multimedia immersive work, so no photos, and very interesting. We also went to the Lemon Hotel, another multi-sensory walkthrough artwork which +1 described as "the biggest pisstake ever for 5 bucks each". The real highlight of the day though belongs to Rei Naito and Ryue Nishizawa's "Matrix 2010" the sole work at Teshima Art Museum, which brings together architecture, nature and fluid dynamics in a truly unique way. I don't want to spoil it by saying anything more! We were both very, very impressed.

    Photos not much chop today as the art was all inside (and no photos allowed).

     
  12. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    We spent the day on Naoshima today, our last day at the Art Islands. First stop was the Benesse House museum. Benesse House combines a hotel and museum, so you can (for a price) be completely immersed in the art. Truth be told, we weren't overwhelmed by the collection, and again the Ando buildings were the most striking thing about the museum. The architecture is really spectacular, and makes the most of its stunning setting. Phone photos don't do the buildings or the setting any justice.

    Then we went to the very charming port town of Honmura, where there is an art house tour. This involves walking around the town to different locations to see artworks in houses. The appeal of the artworks is, like the rest of the Benesse collections, mixed in my view. The shrine with the glass stairs was lovely, as was an otherwise empty traditional house with beautiful screens. I've decided that James Tulley is too annoying for words: one gets put in a square white (at the Chichu and MONA) or dark room (in Honmura) and is subjected to lighting effects - other than to trigger epilepsy or claustrophobia, the point and purpose of his works is a bit lost on me. As @Legs Akimbo said, art is what you can get away with. A lot of the Benesse collections fall into that category.

    My cynicism aside, the setting of the Art Islands in the beautiful Seto inland sea is stunning, and of course the tourism has been a boon for otherwise otherwise declining fishing economies on the islands. Walking and riding bikes around the islands is a great way to be immersed in the artistic mindset and aethestic of the islands. Everywhere you look there are beautiful Japanese houses and gardens, and of course everywhere is spotlessly clean - so a BIG tick of approval on that basis from me!

    Tomorrow is Shinkansen travel to Tokyo Disneyland. Some real culture, finally!
     
  13. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local
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    oh yes, the best. Oishi!
     
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  14. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Travel today by local train and Shinkansen from Uno to Tokyo, and then onto Tokyo Disneyland.

    Bought great bento boxes at Okayama station (anago & yakiniku - YUM) and delicious desserts (strawberry trifle & custard buns).

    Here's some Tokyo Disneyland (we're staying at the Mira Costa at DisneySeas) arrival pics (including the view of Fuji-san going back north):
     
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  15. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ...
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    Great photos! Enjoying the TR ...
     
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  16. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Full day at Tokyo Disneyland today. Great fun!

    It was a "quiet" day today at Tokyo Disneyland. Posted waits for some of the more popular rides were up to an hour. The place seemed packed to me, but apparently not. I cannot imagine what it would be like on a "busy" day (which I gather is virtually all weekends throughout the year, plus lots of other times such as school and public holidays).

    Some observations:

    1. There were seriously long queues all day at one of the baked goods shops, with afficianados lining up for what looked like well over an hour to me for a limited edition (35th anniversary of Tokyo Disneyland) Mickey Mouse bread. After I'd queued that long, I think I'd be reluctant to eat the goodies and want to frame them instead.

    2. Many locals staked out their claims for parade viewing well in advance of the parade starting, and came well prepared to do so, with little portable cushions and other seating aids!

    3. The key to success at Tokyo Disneyland is (i) stay at a Disney hotel so you get early entry privileges; (ii) use the early entry privileges; (iii) work the Fastpass system. I'd bought a guidebook online beforehand and had worked out a plan of attack in advance. We didn't queue at all and skipped on to all the headline attractions using Fastpass. We also saw all the parades and shows we wanted to without difficulty.

    Here are some images from the day:

     
  17. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum
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    iv. Go to Anaheim Disneyland weekdays in January. Sometimes it takes longer to walk along where the queue is in busy times than it takes to wait in the actual line. Fastpass? We don't need your steenking Fastpass. Except Nemo and Autopia, but Nemo is crap anyway and I cannot see the attraction of Autopia.
     
  18. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty
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    Friends just went to Anaheim in a weekday in January.
    Must be a NY hangover, but the lines were 2 - 3 hours
     
  19. Legs Akimbo

    Legs Akimbo Grumblebum
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    I tended to go after a couple of weeks' skiing, so really last week of January and early February. Avoid MLK Day.
     
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  20. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    That can be true. I'm a big fan of Fastpass though. Since its introduction, I've never queued for a headline attraction in any of the parks in Anaheim or Florida. That combined with avoiding American holiday times, a crafty touring plan and using early entry privileges makes for perfect visits for the parks.
     
  21. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    A great day at Tokyo DisneySea. The theming and attention to detail in this park is astounding. Best of any Disney park to which I've been (all of them except Paris). Like yesterday, a "quiet" day here at DisneySea. The wait for Toy Story Mania went over 2 hours at its peak (we went on twice with no wait by working the FastPass system effectively). I cannot imagine what a busy day here would be like!

    Tomorrow is travel back to Tokyo to meet up with the friends with whom we're visiting Niseko and spend a few days living it high on the hog on Tokyo!

     
  22. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Arrived in Tokyo this afternoon. Checked into hotel in Ginza, and then headed out. Our friends had arranged for us all to see a concert by the NHK Symphony Orchestra, which was fantastic. The final work in the programme was Respighi's "Pini di Roma". I'd never heard it and it was epic! I reckon 130+ musicians on stage and up in the boxes as well!

    Then we took things down a cultural notch and went shopping at Muji. Drinks followed, and then a fantastic shabu-shabu meal at Seryna in Ginza. What a day!

     
  23. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Took day 1 in Tokyo pretty easy. Morning walk at the Palace on a stunning January morning and visit to Bic Camera followed by amazing tempura lunch at The Peninsula, post lunch naps and a konbini dinner!

     
  24. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    As for the morning's activities, see: https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/tokyo-in-a-day.82858/page-3#post-3790386

    After our visit to the Yanaka area, which was lovely, we headed back into town for tonkatsu lunch at Maisen at Daimaru. A crumbed pork lovers' paradise. Lots of different pig breeds and cuts from which to choose. I'd never been to the Daimaru food hall before either. Wowee!!! I have a piece of the strawberry sponge cake below for my dessert tonight.

    Tomorrow is travel to Niseko by Shinkansen then minibus. We're taking the train from Tokyo only to Shin Hakodate Hokuto, and then we've rented a minibus from there to our accommodation in Niseko.

     
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  25. Hyst

    Hyst One of Us
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    It's a very nice drive from ShinHakodate to Niseko :clap: (even better the reverse trip) - stay on the Highway as much as possible!
     
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  26. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Thanks Hyst. We have also hired a driver, so we can enjoy the views. We arrive at Shin Hakodate at 2.30pm, so we should have some daylight time left so we can enjoy the scenery.
     
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  27. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    For the Shinkansen journey from Tokyo to Shin-Hakodate, please see: https://www.ski.com.au/xf/threads/s...o-to-niseko-kutchan.76668/page-2#post-3792834

    On arrival in Niseko, we headed to Rhythm ski rental to get our skis and poles. Nisade (the accommodation managers) had taken care of sourcing lift passes for us so that was one thing out of the way. A quick trip to Seicomart (or Psychomart as one of my friends calls it - man that place can get crazy crowded) to grab some basic provisions before a trip to MaxValue in Kutchan tomorrow to stock up. Dinner was at Yumanchu in the lower village - a remnant of "old" Niseko. As always, I had the baked Hokkaido potato - yum!

    There was a little bit of fresh snow overnight - just enough to provide a little top up. It snowed on and off all day too. We skied mostly at Annupuri today, with one foray to the Niseko village runs to do some steeper cruisers. The weaker skiers in the group are happiest at Annupuri, and after a year with no skiing, I was happy enough to pootle about there too getting the ski legs back. My days of superhero skiing are behind me but that's fine with me - it's now just about sheer relaxation and pleasure.

    We had lunch at the restaurant at the Northern Resort at Annupuri. This is one of my crowd's go to lunch spots - it's far from the madding crowd and has a range of Japan ski hill favourite dishes, so something for everyone. One of our crew even had a club sandwich! You can eat cheaper elsewhere, but for some time out in a pleasant surrounding, it's great.

    Back to the apartment to shower, enjoy the inhouse onsen and think about dinner. We're ordering in pizza tonight! And I reckon all us oldies will be in bed by about 8.30pm!!!!
     
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  28. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ...
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    Daimaru has to be seen to be believed! Wonderful .... !
     
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  29. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Two days of skiing so far. First day was a take it easy first day. There was plenty of snow overnight but the gondolas were on wind hold. We decided to start off at Niseko Village and ended up staying there for the day. We had a guide from Pro Peak and spent the morning doing technique revisions / practice, and then just puttered around for the afternoon before heading to Yugokorotei onsen for a post skiing soak. For about 5 seconds the clouds parted:

     
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  30. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    No photos today I'm afraid. I skied at Hirafu today. Snow beautiful. Lots of it. Plenty of powder stashes. Falls sufficiently heavy in the middle of the day to cover tracks. Quads had plenty of burn on the last two top to bottom runs. Rest day tomorrow!
     
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  31. Chalkie

    Chalkie One of Us
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    Resistance is futile?

     
  32. Olgreg

    Olgreg One of Us
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    I used to use shots like this in my OHS talks to staff, esp when the workers were six floors up dropping ice onto footpaths. Funnily enough, like the lifties chipping ice off the lift towers, no one seemed to die.
    Enjoy your trip. Hard not to with the pow tap turned on. I’m there in a week or so
     
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  33. Hyst

    Hyst One of Us
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    Every year a number of Japanese die doing this work on their houses.
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/ams2.246
     
  34. Olgreg

    Olgreg One of Us
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    I note almost all male, median age 61. Hey that’s me !! Careless and over confident
     
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