A Travellerspoint blog

January 2011

Fish Markets and around

not early though

sunny 4 °C

In the morning I am up earlier than G, but we are still not organised when the serving lady arrives with our traditional four course breakfast. This is eaten kneeling at special little tables , with miso soup, boiling tofu, pickled vegies, fruit and green tea.Japanese breakfast

Japanese breakfast

In the morning, we pick up an all day Metro pass and head to Tsukiji fish market. Today the sky is blue and the air is crisp. We are not here as the early birds, but then we don’t want to catch worms. We wander around all the areas, with these little electric three wheeled carts running here there and everywhere taking orders back and forth. Through the market there is every sort of sea borne food type you have and have never imagined on display. For all that the market did not smell much given the amount of produce and traffic – however I am sure it is different in the middle of summer when they would be rushing to get it all over and done with a lot earlier in the day.Tsukiji fish markets

Tsukiji fish markets

We head out of the market and have sushi for lunch at Daiwa Zushi. This is the second longest queue, only 20 minutes or so. One good move while we waited, the stall across the way was selling cheap knitted gloves at 100Y a pair – just what we needed. Here we have their set menu, no doubt the tourist standard (3500Y each). There is no doubt though the fish is really good, although G could not go for the prawn or the squid, and did not enjoy the sea urchin. He did have a bonus tuna to make up for it. In the same time frame as last night we consumed 6 times the price of sushi, but I know which one I would head back for.At Diawa Zushi

At Diawa Zushi

Heading out of the market we got to see some of the knife merchants in action. These guys make sashimi knives up to one and a half metres long for getting into the big tuna. Some of the special knives can cost over 150,000Y!
From here we took the metro up to Kappabashi, the catering supply area where G got some chopsticks as a souvenir. This is where they sell all the plastic display food, which is way more expensive than the real thing. Fun to look at though.
Next we fulfilled G’s wishes and headed out to Adiaba a modern area on reclaimed land to the south of Tokyo to go to the Venus Fort Mall and Click brick, the Lego centre. Sunset over the monorail Adiaba

Sunset over the monorail Adiaba

Here G is confronted with the conundrum of whether to buy a Republic Assault Ship or save it for other stuff later on. He had the will power to say no, but would not leave the store for a while as he played around with the bricks they leave out.In his element, Adiaba Click brick

In his element, Adiaba Click brick

After a few more stores were checked, we headed back to home. G picked out a place for dinner where they served (suprise) sushi, and we were treated to a very nice meal, and most importantly, G got to choose what he wanted. He was very happy and the price very reasonable – an all around winner.
Home late for a late sleep and a sleep in.

Posted by lostagain 15:53 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Across to Tokyo

love the bullet train

all seasons in one day 0 °C

In the morning it is again snowing nicely to remind us of what we will be missing out on. Most of the packing is already done before breakfast, so we have a leisurely time of it. We say our farewells to other guests and staff, then down to the bus station for the trip to Nagano. This time I am awake through the trip, and it isvery picturesque under all the snow. I am sure the locals who have to get through it every day do not appreciate it that way. It is still snowing heavily as we leave Hakuba and head south down the valley. We go through a few tunnels and come out in brilliant sunshine on the other side. In the approaches to Nagano we have to take off jackets and jumpers it is so warm in the bus. In Nagano there is no more snow than when we left.
Shinkansen tickets are arranged on our JR East passes and we are off to Tokyo. Once we get past Karuizawa there are just scraps of snow on the ground and the whole area is in brilliant sunshine – chalk and cheese to a few hours earlier. Halfway to Tokyo they are even planting vegetables in the fields. Not that G notices, he is on the iPod playing games. It's pelting down snow across the mountains

It's pelting down snow across the mountains

We have to change trains a couple of times from Tokyo to get to Suidobashi. Here we catch a Prius taxi – love the automatic passenger doors. He takes us direct to the door of our Ryokan, Homeikan. Here is a traditional Japanese inn, with shoes off at the door and into indoor slippers. Communal baths (segregated) and common toilets reflect how it used to be. We book in for breakfast and then head out for the afternoon.
We use our JR East pass to get to Akihabara and have a look around electric town. G is frustrated about the lack of understanding of the electronics side as he is itching to by something. I am too, but there is not much in the way of model shops that I have been researching – turns out later I am in the wrong place.Akihabara night

Akihabara night

We head into a sushi train and have some of the worst sushi it has been my misfortune to taste. Back to the ryokan for sleep.Ready for sleep

Ready for sleep

Posted by lostagain 15:27 Archived in Japan Tagged trains Comments (0)

Last day on snow

that can't be good

snow -7 °C

Suffering the sads this morning for two reasons: late to bed and last day on the snow. Another filling breakfast while we watch a good snowfall coming down. Rush getting organised, and as we come out of the hotel, G goes arse over on the icy steps whacking his elbow as he comes down. We check out the damage, cannot feel anything and the pain fades soon. Head down to the Iwatake bus just on time. But the bus just isn’t on time, so we wait for ten minutes while my helmet fills with snow. Our everyday breakfast view

Our everyday breakfast view

With the snow coming down, it is difficult to see much up the top,but we have a good loosener down the mountain. We do a number of runs, finding patches of powder here and there, and a few jumps to amuse ourselves. We head over to the small snow park here where G does his stuff on the bench and lands the air at the end nicely. What I miss is him coming a cropper on one of the jumps, but he pulls up okay. After a few runs through the park we head back to the bottom for lunch. Habitually I do not eat up high because the cost is high too, however at Iwatake the 360 restaurant is about the same price as the base of the mountain.
No problemo

No problemo

Well fed, we head up on the gondola again, and head over the back to where we played earlier in the week. We have a few runs down the black run, enjoying making our own tracks in the deep powder. G enjoys it even more as the deep stuff trips me up. We do some more runs on the easier run, then G asks to go back to the black, so I can video him in the powder. As we trek across, G trips and lands heavily on his elbow. We finish the run, but G is in discomfort from the two falls. We go to the caf and strip back to have a look at the elbow. There is a bruise, but nothing seems damaged. This has knocked G a bit and we call it a day a bit early and head back to catch the bus.
Sadly give our hire equipment back, and return to the hotel. Our hostess is very solicitous to make sure G is alright. He cannot be too bad, as he borrows their toboggan and spends the next hour playing in the snow.Now this is dangerous

Now this is dangerous

We have a quick soak in the onsen, before heading back to the Hakuba Hutte for dinner again. It is good, dependable food, and the ende mame is great. I wonder if they do accommodation too? We could not be bothered moving so we sit chatting for a while. We decide to go home the back way. Thing is, we don’t know where the back way s from this end, so G guides us around in the dark on a barely visible path which peters out a couple of times. Back at the ranch, I do some more washing while G plays on Wi Fi again. To bed late, but no skiing tomorrow.

Posted by lostagain 15:23 Archived in Japan Tagged skiing Comments (0)

It's windy out there today

semi-overcast -7 °C

We are up and at ‘em in just enough time to make the bus – and no earlier. Breakfast was again substantial, but enough to stoke the fires.
Olympic venue - ski jumps, alpine skiing

Olympic venue - ski jumps, alpine skiing

G is in for an all day lesson today where as I am going to have a wander with the knowledge from the previous day. I head up to the top where the wind is howling – picking up the loose snow and leading to a white out. In the gaps there is enough to feel my way down some nice fresh powder, but the return ride has been shut down due to the wind. So I head further down and through a couple of the powder patches from yesterday. Further down, the lifts are running but I can’t get up and across to the powder again. I am stuck doing little loops on Panorama, and grafting short rips of powder off the cat track. Still good fun, but I would like something longer. I find some next to the Happo Reisen Quad, but here I keep getting bogged down and falling over. It’s nearly lunchtime, so I head over to meet G, but manage to get lost with all the different ski areas.
G has had a good morning, but not much with his instructor as one of the boys twisted his knee badly and had to get iced and rested. He spent most of the time mucking about and trying to develop his air.
Hakuba valley sunset

Hakuba valley sunset

I take a lesson in the afternoon, where Dylan dissects our turns, demolishes them and puts them back together – very technical. Unfortunately the clouds are still low so there will be no powder today. G has had a lesson with Damien to himself so is very happy, and gets a good report card back. It makes a big difference having long lessons in small groups, and I can see the improved confidence on our one run together. To go on this run, we have gone up near the Panorama cafe area, where G gets out of the vending machine – I am serious – a can of pancake flavoured hot drink. It is a bit like butterscotch with extra sugar and butter.
Hot pancake drink

Hot pancake drink

Tonight G gets time on wi-fi before we head out for dinner. We get to Sari Sari about 7:30 and eat sitting up at the bar again. It is not great, but it is filling. We head into the onsen and are late to bed, around 10 pm.

Posted by lostagain 01:48 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

A day in school

fun for all the class

snow -5 °C

We manage to get down to breakfast before the phone call today. We are on a schedule today, at Spicy by 8:30 to get picked up to go to G’s lesson. Since we are with Evergreen, we will be spending the day at HappoOne. It has been snowing all night and has not stopped yet. There is plenty of fresh snow on the ground. At the last moment, I decide I will also have a lesson to help to learn to deal with this strange stuff.
Six of us have Will who takes us up into the higher reaches of Happo to play around in the powder and the moguls. We go down runs where the moguls have disappeared in the powder, which can be a bit of a surprise. Others the fresh powder has been chopped up so it looks like moguls, but the skis pass straight through. Up the top, the cloud is low enough that you cannot pick out the surface easily, leading to a few spills. But Will does have some pointers to help in the soft stuff, basic technique like weight forward and skis together. To end out the lesson, we do a bit of mogul work, which is fun for a short time but the knees cannot take too much.
Meet up with G at lunch and he is all keen on going the full day with Damien, and seeing there were only two of them in the lesson it was virtually private. I am happy with this, and figure I may as well keep going too. Over lunch G lets me know how he has been doing some jumps and rails again, and is having fun mucking around with the other kids. After lunch they have a snowball fight (of course) just in case they had some energy to burn off.
Warm up for ski school - hunt the instructor

Warm up for ski school - hunt the instructor

My after lunch is with Emily, there are only two of us and we have two wants: powder and moguls. Emily gets a twinkle in her eye and takes us for a bit of a trip. We get plenty of powder, including some drops between cat tracks which are deep in the soft stuff up to the knees. I am loving this! Emily also gives us a simple task to shift our weight forward; keep our hands out in front, for just about all eventualities. It all feels a bit weird to start with but once over the initial awkwardness it works well. And in this way we go over powder, moguls, piste and jumps – I even get to catch some air in front of G! He has been riding rails and doing jumps in the park so he is well pleased with himself – and wants another all day tomorrow! That organised, he takes me up for the last run of the day to show a few tricks, then leads me to the vending machine to get a CAN of hot chocolate – I kid you not.
Ice cold vending machines selling hot chocolates

Ice cold vending machines selling hot chocolates

Gaelan heads round to Spicy to get them to tune up his binding, then it is into the onsen again. I swear this ritual is saving my legs, all of my aches to date have been in the upper body. Just a ten minute soak is fantastic. And just being able to lie outside in the hot water with snow all around is so relaxing in itself. But I cannot sleep yet – it is time for dinner at our hotel. When we arrive the table is set with a multi course meal starting with sashimi (salmon, calamari and prawn), a scallop cooked with a cheese sauces, some deep fried chicken, pickled vegetables, rice and shabu-shabu. All of this was rounded out with a thin slice of cheese cake.
Dinner at De L'aile

Dinner at De L'aile

After dinner, G was downstairs on WiFi while your selfless correspondent was upstairs typing away and doing the washing. Managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour, so we may be on time in the morning.
Manga TV

Manga TV

Posted by lostagain 01:42 Archived in Japan Tagged skiing Comments (0)

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