Tokyo a GoGo!

I spent a few days in the end of October through the beginning of November in Tokyo. My trip was mostly seeing the sights, shopping, and delicious food. We saw a lot, so I'll just put up favorite photos and say a little something about them.
We went to the Ghibli Museum on the first day we arrived in Tokyo, its a museum of the work of animator Hayao Miyazaki. His most famous movies are probably Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and my Neighbor Totoro. I haven't seen most of his movies. But his most recent one, Ponyo was released in the US and I enjoyed it a lot. Here's from the roof: the building was especially designed for his work and its very whimsical. All of the details from the stained glass inside to the light fixtures have images from Miyazaki movies on them. You aren't allowed to photograph inside the building, but we took some photos from the roof.
It was a beautiful sunny day and Victo and I made our way from the overnight bus to the museum. We were a little sleepy but determined to see the museum.

On the roof of the museum there is a statue of the Iron Giant. Having just seen Ponyo right before I left it was great to see sketches and the gorgeous hand painted backgrounds from the movie. If you are a Miyazaki fan and are in Tokyo its a must!

I stayed in a the Ninja Hostel in Asakusabashi! It was cheap, clean and I got this cool cabin bed!
Here's the room of cabin beds.
The inside of my cabin included; a light, a shelf and an outlet so I could charge my phone.
Here's me looking out from my bed!
Victo and I spent a day sight seeing and we grabbed a beautiful bento set lunch near the Asakusa temple. It had soup, chirashi (sushi on rice) and a variety of delicious pickles. The outside of the container is painted to match the famous lantern of Asakusa.
Asakusa is a very popular tourist destination, its quite crowded with lots of other tourists each trying to get a photo of themselves under the lantern.
Past the lantern are stalls leading up to the temple filled with kitschy gifts, food, and other souvenirs.

I really liked these dog costumes, too bad they don't come in a larger size to fit Lexey or Chloe. Past the stalls are another set of lanterns and these abnormally large sandals.

The lantern is bigger than me!
The inside of the temple has these beautiful painted ceilings, last time I was here I tried to photograph them but I wasn't able to get a good photo.
Around the outside of the temple there are small shrines, a koi pond and a garden.
Yay Koi!
More street vendor food: takoyaki! (octopus cooked batter)
Seafood on a stick!
Olivier and I took a trip to the 53rd floor of Roppongi Hills, where there is an art museum and this great view of the city.
I spy... children standing in a heart shape outside!
Giant bowl of ramen in Shibuya or Shinjuku?
We also went to the Tokyo Design Week Exhibition where Olivier was attacked by a preying mantis.
We managed to meet up with friends of Victo's and Olivier's. Victo's friend Nori brought us delicious dessert from a great place in Tokyo. Banana tart and cream puffs!
Victo and Nori with the cream puffs!
Laeyn was able to meet up with us so we grabbed some dinner at a delicious Chinese place and we got some drinks too!
Harajuku, the younger fashion district, was one of my favorite places to walk around. There's great shopping there that appeals to a younger crowd, mostly teenagers and twenty somethings. In Harajuku you can find lots of creperies, sock stores, toy shops and trendy boutiques.
Shinjuku at night looks like lots of other big cities.
...Except that its even bigger and so very crowded. We had a great time in Tokyo; running for the last train, grabbing okanomiyaki , karoke and visiting with friends. I look forward to going back again when my family comes to visit!

Day trip to Nara- Part 2 (Mochi, Temples and Buddha oh my!)

This is part two of my day trip. After leaving behind the deer we got to the heart and soul of Nara: Todaiji. This temple was originally constructed in the Nara period (710-794) and was rebuilt and fixed after quite a few destructive fires. The temple survives to this day but at 2/3 of its original size. Despite that Todaiji is still the world's largest wooden structure.
We arrived at the entrance to the southern gate, inside this gate are beautiful wooden sculptures but its hard to get a good photograph of them because they are behind some heavy duty chicken wire. Here's a close up of a giant foot!

We continued past the gate and arrived at the main building. We washed our hands and faces in the fresh water as is traditional before entering the temple.

 

Here I am posing far away from the temple! Last time I was here with Robin it was so quiet and empty. Not today!
This guy sits outside the temple covered in red clothing. It is said if you have pain somewhere you should touch him on that spot and then yourself and you will heal. I couldn't reach his shoulders or his back or anywhere else that I'm actually sore. I got his knee so hopefully it will help keep my knee healthy.
Little demon guy

Inside the temple is the Daibutsu; Japan's largest and very golden Buddha. The Buddha is made of copper and bronze, he weighs 250 tons and stands 30 meters tall. The photo doesn't do him justice. His hair is all individually made balls and the eyes were hand painted on at the Buddha's dedication ceremony in 752.

Another close up of featuring the golden guys floating around Buddha

There are other large, golden statues in the temple but I'm not sure of their significance.

Maybe this gives you a sense of scale?
This is one of the guard statues also in the temple
At the back of the temple is a hole in one of the pillars. It is said that those who can wiggle through it will be blessed with enlightenment. There's a line of children who are waiting to go through and their parents waiting to take photos of their kids looking through the pillar. This hole is also the size of Buddha's nostril on the statue. This totally cracks me up! I like the idea of small Japanese children crawling through Buddha's nostril to reach enlightenment.
Here's the other side of the statue with another golden figure that is also really exquisite. We left the temple and headed back through the parks of Nara. It was slowly getting dark and the temples were closing as they usually do around 5. As we walked through the streets in the city of Nara we came upon an impressive street scene. . .
The men in the mochi shop was pounding bright, green mochi and yelling loudly. The mochi is pounded in a traditional mortar called a usu with giant wooden mallets called a kine. A crowd was gathered around the shop to watch the men pound the mochi.
Next, the pounded dough was put into a machine that filled the mochi with red bean paste, the small green discs of mochi were then quickly dusted with a powder and sold to members of the crowd. After watching the excitement for a minute Victo and I decided we wanted some fresh mochi to snack on. The mochi guys kept a steady rhythm as one would pound the dough and yells ichi (one). On ichi's upswing the other yells ni (tw0) and he hits the dough. This seems to prevent them from hitting each other and seems very useful when someone needs to put a hand in to turn the dough they are able to do so.

The sun started setting as we made our way back to the train station. It was a pretty fabulous day; I enjoyed the ramen I had for lunch, the vintage postcards I picked up at a little bookshop and all the photos I got of the temple and the deer. It was a long way home ; we still had to catch a train and then bike back to the dorms but we made it back around 11 after enjoying a delicious dinner in a drinking place with lots of tasty food.

Coming up: A sneak peak at some sketches.