Monday, August 4, 2008

Tokyo Sojourn (Part II) - Sights

My ramblings about my Tokyo trip continues with the various sights we caught in - by the way, I managed to upload my pix on this site; happy viewing of all two hundred over photographs!

Mount Fuji
Our coach drove us up half-way of Mount Fuji (Fujisan), Japan's highest mountain - a must-go when you are in Japan. A total of 3,776 meters, Mount Fuji is a dormant volcano, which most recently erupted in 1708, and when we reached half-way (2,305m) and disembarked - the air pressure was very high (they sold gas/oxygen in bottles in the shops) - check out what my bottle of unopened milk powder looked like - ready to burst!

We got down to take photos and go to touristy souvenir shops where I bought the mandatory postcard from the post office there), it was raining and foggy, so it was pretty cold! There were hoards of Chinese tourists around there, and coupled with the fact that we were all taking shelter from the rain, one of the shops (the one with the post office) was teeming with loads of people (I had to tell a Chinese aunty "I'm pregnant, can you pls don't push me?! HMPH!").


Clouds and poor visibility often block the view of Mount Fuji, and we were lucky to get a clear view of the mountain going up and down. As Mount Fuji is officially opened for climbing during July and August via several routes, we spotted many brave souls decked in their gear and ready to climb all the way up from where we were (of course none from our tour group lah).

Sensoji
Also known as Asakusa Kannon Temple, this is the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo, as it was built in the year 645 (to mark the Goddess of Mercy, Kannon, as two brothers fished a statue of the Goddess out of a river in 628, and even though they put the statue back into the river, it always returned to them).


We washed our hands first before offering our donations and prayers, and walked past the five-storied pagada through Kaminarimon, the outer gate and Hozomon, the main gate. However, as we entered via the "back door", we did not walk all the way through to the Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate), the landmark outer gate. Blame it on us getting distracted by a shopping street of over 200 meters (with a history of several centuries), called Nakamise, with typical Japanese souvenirs such as slippers and folding fans, as well as various traditional local snacks (which I enjoyed!).

Statue of Liberty @ Odaiba Marine Park
Yes, you read this right! I did not know there is a (replica, of course) Statue of Liberty in Tokyo, but the guide brought us to view it at Odaiba at Tokyo Bay. Smaller than the original, it took us 20 minutes to walk in the hot morning sun to view the bronze structure, so it's quite boh liao, though we kept seeing the skyline of Rainbow Bridge as we walked along. The bridge could be viewed along our routes, and was completed in 1993, spanning 570 meters, and is so named since lamps placed on the wires supporting the bridge are illuminated into three different colors (red, white and green) every night using solar energy obtained during the day.


Other sites
On our bus journeys (which was most of the time), we passed by some iconic landmarks of Tokyo, like the Tokyo Tower, which stands at 333 meters (13 meters taller than its model, the Eiffel Tower of Paris), and the world's tallest self-supporting steel tower. It was completed in the year 1958 as a symbol for Japan's rebirth as a major economic power, and serves as a television and radio broadcast antenna and tourist attraction (which we did not go because the guide would have had to pay for us..tsk tsk). We also saw (note: did NOT ride, only SAW) the Odaiba Ferris Wheel, the largest one in the world with a diameter of 100 meters and a height of 115 meters above ground.



This wraps up the sights (no, seriously, that's all the tourist spots we went to - we were on a guided tour, so what do you expect...). To avoid this post droning on too long, I shall blog more about my other favourite topics - food and shopping (!), in Part III. Stay tuned!

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