The last of the Sakura lust 

I promised this will be the last of the Sakura lust.

Shinjuku Gyoen on my second last day in Tokyo. Had initially planned to make it my first stop in Tokyo. Wanted to explore the area near the hotel and to take it slow after a red-eye flight. Changed my mind after the Tourist Office advised me to visit a few days later when the blooms are fuller.

Checked out the different types of gardens of Japanese landscape, French and English. Checked out the Sakura in its full bloom (almost). Checked out people sitting on picnic mats quietly admiring the cherry blossoms. Checked out many adoring fans snapping away excitedly around and under the Sakura. Checked out of one part of my career journey and ready to check in to the next.

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It’s been a long time since I managed to press about a trip in its entirety. I don’t know how I managed to do it amidst the demands of the new work. It took 5 months but I am glad I did it. It’s time to close this chapter and look forward to the next. The lust of travelling always last. And the Sakura lust will beckon again in 6 months’ time.

#ilovelongvacationjp #travel #shinjukugyoen #japan #tokyo

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Hakone Reminisce #2 – Togendai to Moto-Hakone

Starting Saturday with a press feels great! No better time to continue from where I have left off on my Hakone Reminisce since July (Hakone Reminisce #1 – Gora to Souzan to Owakudani). From Togendai to Moto-Hakone, from Lake Ashi to Hakone Shrine.

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Splendid view of nature from Hakone Ropeway from Owakudani to Togendai. Is that melted snow or rain on the glass pane?

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A shot of the Hakone Sightseeing Boat from the Hakone Ropeway station. These pirate-like-ships that took me to Moto-Hakone are a bit too cute but I thought they add an old-town charm to Lake Ashi. 

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Togendai looks like a quaint town that I would enjoy exploring. Alas,  not enough time.

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Lake Ashi and mountains as my selfie backdrop in Togendai! One of the few times I used the self-timer mode on my camera on this trip.

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Last shot of Togendai before I board the pirate ship to Moto-Hakone. Feeling blissed to be surrounded by Lake Ashi and wooded mountains.

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View from the boat. Apparently, you may get a good view of Mount Fuij on a good visibility day.

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The view of Moto-Hakone from the boat. Spot the Tori gate?

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Cold day. Heart and hands warmed by hot tea from the vending machine! Wish Singapore has these vending machines that dispense warmth too.

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Another selfie. This time with Hakone Mountain as the background taken en-route Hakone Shrine.

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Looks like a nice spot to soak in Lake Ashi. Wondering what these ladies are looking at?

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The Tori gates that welcome us to Hakone Shrine.

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Walking through the dense forest to Hakone Shrine. Soaking in the beauty of mist and sunset – that golden hour of the day.

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Make a wish.

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Hakone Shrine.

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A close-up with the famous Tori gate. Wondering if it is the most photographed Tori gates in Japan. What do you think?

Wondering what I have been doing in my one-month absence from wordpress? Well, July was such a crazy month at work in Singapore. But I did managed to steal time for a 4-day trip to Bangkok 😛 Photos are on Instagram @ilovelongvacation, so check them out!

#ilovelongvacationjp #travel #togendai #motohakone #lakeashi #hakoneshrine #japan #tokyo

 

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Hakone Reminisce #1 – Gora to Souzan to Owakudani

This gallery contains 15 photos.

Hakone was great  – one of the best in this trip in fact. Got the Hakone 2-day pass from Shinjuku station and enjoyed unlimited use of Odakyu-affiliated transport and discounted admission to some tourist attractions in the Hakone area. Worth … Continue reading

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From Tokyo Imperial Palace to Yasukuni Shrine

On 30 March when I was still in Tokyo and when memories of Day 5 was fresher, this was what I posted when I shared pictures on Instagram @ilovelongvacation : Wet, cold day. Did not managed to get a ticket to visit the Tokyo Imperial Palace so can only visit the garden – Very big with many Sakura trees of course. Walked the Chidorigafuchi – no boats spotted – en route to the Yasukuni shrine.

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Although it can be a hassle to carry an umbrella around on a rainy day, it can add an interesting touch to a picture.
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Another side of the cherry blossoms with the raindrops. IMG_9195

Saw white cherry blossoms when I walked to Chidorigafuchi. A walk that was longer than I thought it would be. But glad I walked as I saw many Sakura trees along the way.IMG_9198  IMG_9203IMG_9205

Chidorigafuchi was quite deserted. Guess I would not have been able to capture this serene scene if it was not a wet day. 
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Yasukuni Shrine was less serene though.IMG_9221IMG_9222  IMG_9226

The tree that helps the Meteorological Agency to declare the start of the cherry blossom season. I only just learnt about this interesting fact!IMG_9228

So this sums up Day 5 in Tokyo. A wet day. Not a good one for walking. But walk I did.

#ilovelongvacationjp #travel #tokyoimperialpalace #chidorigafuchi #yasukunishrine #japan #tokyo

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A stroll in the (Ueno) park

I will always remember Ueno Park. Because of the many firsts I experienced here.

My first close encounter with the cherry blossoms in Tokyo. Was amused to see so many Sakura fans taking pictures under the trees. It was not as splendid as I imagined. But still pretty.

The first time I saw Hanami parties. Not like anything I imagined. Was amazed by the many Japanese having picnics under the Sakura trees everywhere in the park. Could not resist the Sakura Party and had a mini solo one with a flask of hot green tea and a pack of Calbee chips! 🙂

My first visit to a museum in Tokyo. Have always like visiting museums (and yes, Ueno Park reminds me of Europe) and Tokyo National Museum was a good introduction to the Japanese history and art. A pity I had only an hour to spend here.

Will definitely visit Ueno Park again when I am in Tokyo. There are several museums and a zoo to explore. There’s a huge Star Bucks too. Having a coffee and reading a book in the park would be nice, ya? 🙂

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Meiji Shrine near dusk

Made it to Meiji Shrine only in the late afternoon on Day 3, about an hour before it closes for the day. Love how the setting sun added a glow to the shrine, sparking sun rays and casting shadows. Definitely glad I ended here near dusk after quite a walk from Omotesando.

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That was a sunny day started with a free gorgeous day view of the city from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, followed by a sumptuous lunch at Maisen Tonkatsu (a famous Tonkatsu restaurant – I like it and glad I only waited a while for a seat – a pro of travelling solo) at Omotesando and a fruitless search for the infamous Omotesando Coffee (I couldn’t find it LOL) as I wondered through the quaint streets of boutique shops, cafes and dwellings. The walk continued down (or up) Omotesando hills before I reached Meiji Shrine. Checked out Harujuku before hitting Shibuya – all by foot! 🙂

To end, just wanted to share that one of the best things about pressing again is re-reading the ‘relevant’ presses that WordPress called to my attention. Not sure how ‘I can still see the sky of Old Uppsala‘ and ‘Day1onAlishan‘ are relevant but they definitely brought back good memories…

#ilovelongvacationjp #travel #meijishrine #omotesando #harujuku #shibuya #japan #tokyo

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Night out at Tokyo Sky Tree

As Sensoji Temple and Tokyo Sky Tree are in the same area (at least according to the train line), I had planned to check out both on the same day. But nearer the end of my trip because I wanted to get the Tokyo Banana Tree – Choco Banana flavour only available at Tokyo Sky Tree! But I changed my plan (the beauty of solo, free & easy travel) upon arrival and decided to visit Senjoji Temple – read more about my first day in Tokyo.

I got lost trying to get from the former to the latter. Did I tell you that this trip was planned in a week – flight bought 7 days ahead, accommodation booked 3 days before and itinerary put together over 1 weekend?

Being my first trip to Tokyo, I didn’t know that the Asakusa train station nearer Sensoji Temple did not have a train to Tokyo Sky Tree (note to fellow first-time traveller to Tokyo). I had to walk to another station by the same name and I could not find it. In the end I landed in another station where I was advised to take a bus instead. Well, on the positive side, I maximised my Tokyo travel 2 day pass (highly recommended too).

The tower was beckoning at me throughout the day – I could see it while exploring Sensoji Temple. And it did not disappoint. The night view was one of the best I have seen in my life  – Tokyo is so beautiful from the top! I was feeling on top of the world up there in the tower!

Would have been nice to spend more time in the shopping precinct – I enjoyed browsing the shops, having dinner at Rokurinsha and deciding what to buy at the Tokyo Banana shop! 🙂 Another reason to return to Tokyo.

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Spot Tokyo Sky Tree Tower in the background? Took this picture of an alley from Sensoji Temple. Kind of like the composition in this picture – selfie, photo bombers, sign-boards, girls in kimonos. man on bike, shop houses, tower – they combined to form a real moment in time.

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It was good to spot the all-surrond Tokyo Sky Tree on my way to it. Although I was lost, I did not feel lost. The kind of lost-but-not-lost feeling if you know what I mean.

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Up-close and personal with Tokyo Sky Tree Tower at sunset. So bright and light before the night fall.

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Decide to go for an early dinner and tried Rokurinsha. This is the first time I ate ramen dipped in thick soup. I like the strong flavours. For those who prefer ramen in light broth, this might not be to your liking.  It was a good decision – the queue was not as long as I thought it would be because this ramen is quite popular, and I did not have to go hungry in the almost 1-hour queue to go up the tower.

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I was wowed by the gorgeous night view of the city from the tower. This picture does not do it justice at all. Spot the other famous tower?

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Selfie while sharing the view with many others 🙂 Looking a bit sheepish towards the end of Day 1 in Tokyo.

#ilovelongvacationjp #travel #tokyoskytree #Rokurinsha #japan #tokyo

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