Author Archives: rolfboom

Tokyo Tower

The Tokyo Tower, built 1958, is ever since a symbol of Tokyo. Used as a broadcasting tower for radio and TV, it was now replaced (not sure if completely replaced or if it's still sending signals) by the Tokyo Sky Tree, with almost double the height of the Tokyo Tower.

Well, even if I don't climb up the Tokyo Tower that often anymore, I still like the view of it. A few days ago, I went to Roppongi Hills with a friend, where from the top of the Mori Tower you have quite a nice view of the Tokyo Tower. We even had a full moon that night!


View of Tokyo from the Mori Tower.


Same view a few minutes later. You can even see Mount Fuji on the left.


Thats the new Tokyo Sky Tree, which I also like. Went up there last year, a few months after it was built, but it was still very crowded then. Maybe I'll go there again next year.


The Tokyo Tower!


This is the Zōjō-ji temple in front of the Tokyo Tower. I was there a bit too late, usually, it's lighten up in the evening.

Tsukiji Fish Market

The Tsukiji Fish Market is Japans biggest fish market and every tourist guide of Tokyo has at least one page mentioning it. Also, before the market starts, there is the tuna-auctioning, where big fat frozen tunas are auctioned to other stores, restaurants and all the shops in the fish market.

I went to the market before, but hadn't seen the auctioning yet, which is limited to 120 people per day (but is for free).
Since trains stop in Tokyo between 1 and 4 a.m., a friend and I went after some eating and drinking for a long walk down to the fish market (we could've stayed in some place near the fish market too, there are a lot of places in Tokyo to spend the night). Arriving around 2:30, the guard told us that we should come back around 3:30 to get into the auctioning. After some waiting at the river nearby, we went back at 3:20 to see already some tourists lining up.
Well, more tourists came, at 4 we were let inside, waited another hour and at 5:20, the first group of 60 people were let in to see the lined up tuna and some auctioning. I think, the small tunas were around 300kg and the big ones... well, no idea, but probably double or triple the weight. And prices start at 1500 Yen per kilo, and I have no idea how much they go up with the quality.

After the auctioning, we walked around the shops outside the main market hall, since tourists are allowed in there from 9 a.m.
Sleep derived, we ate some fishy breakfast, waited another hour and went into the main hall, where we were mostly trying to survive the small vehicles driving around everywhere.
Well, if you want to see a lot of fish, maybe even eat or buy some, this is a place worth to go. And if not, it's still a interesting place I would always return to.

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Tuna auctioning. This was before the auction, when the buyers walked around inspecting the fish.


You can see here, that the tail is cut of and a part of the flesh is almost cut of. Thats the part where buyers look at the flesh to determine the quality of the fish. I have no idea though how exactly they do it.


These vehicles transport all the goods around the market - and there are a lot of them. You have to watch out, because they don't slow down for you. As a tourist here, you are observing a busy work-place, so you should try your best not to disturb the sale.

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A temple beside the market, where buyers/sellers come to pray, a guide-book said. On the right, you see Katsuobushi, which are bonito flakes, made from dried bonito fish.


These are the dried bonito fish the Katsuobushi are shaved from.


In the outer market, a lot of Tamagoyaki where made. Tourists can also enjoy the still warm, freshly made egg-rolls.


Sold Tuna.


Wasabi. I bet a lot of you didn't know what it looks like.


In the outer market, there are also a lot of (sushi-)restaurants. A cook enjoying breakfast behind the shop.

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Oh, my breakfast. Kaisendon, which is a rice bowl with various raw fish on top.


Inside the main market hall.

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This guy is cutting frozen fish (probably tuna) with an electric saw. You see these saws everywhere here, because the small shops buy the frozen tuna in the auctioning and cut those in smaller pieces for selling.

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Climbing Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is Japans highest mountain. And since I've never been there yet, I thought I might try hiking it. Well, the main climbing season is through July to August, when the weather is mostly good. In this time though, there are a lot of people and the whole mountain seems to be crowded. September seems to be a good month, since the weather is still okay, and there are less people on the mountain. So - looking at the weather forecast, I decided to go there three days ago.

Right, there are 4 different routes. I took the easiest (not the shortest, but the one with most people and huts on the way) and decided to climb during the night, so I'd arrive at the top in the morning.
I took a bus from Shinjuku to the 5th station (halfway up the mountain, there are about 9 stations to the top). The bus was empty except one Japanese guy and two girls from America and Australia. I talked with the girls and we decided to climb the mountain together. We got to the 5th station around 10 p.m., and started walking with our headlights on.

First, it was really easy, but it got quite steep sooner than expected. And then it got foggy. And cold. Really cold.
All guides said that climbing this route took an average of 6 hours and thats exactly what it took for us to get up there. Physically, it was okay, but since we didn't sleep over in a mountain hut, so without adjusting to the thin air, I did notice the lack of oxygen and the last part was really tough on me. In addition, I did underestimate how cold it gets with all the wind, fog and rain. I was freezing when we arrived at the top, lining up to get into a warm hut where we just had time to get something warm to eat. The sun was coming up, and we took some pictures, but since we where all freezing like hell, we were just eager to get back into that warm hut.
As the sun came up, it was all foggy and rainy again, so the view was... well, non-existing. But I coincidently met a friend from Hamburg up there who decided to climb Mount Fuji on the same day.

Well, wet, freezing, surrounded by whiteness, we decided to climb down. The route down was different from the one we came up, and it took about 3-4 hours to get back down.
Yeah. At this point, I just wanted to crawl into bed. Well, arriving at the 5th station, we got some breakfast and jumped into the first bus back.

This was a bit fun, I can proudly say that I've been on Mount Fuji now and it was awesome to be standing above the clouds, which I've never done before.
Sad part is, I didn't see the mountain at all (I came in the dark and next day was just foggy) and the weather up there wasn't that nice (nothing to see, plus I was freezing so bad I wasn't really in the mood to try to get any pictures at all). There is a walk around the crater up there, which I also didn't do because of the weather.

Well, maybe I'll try it again. Definitely not that soon, but maybe somewhere in the future.


The Yoshida Trail is the one we took. It was sometimes a bit difficult to find the right way in the dark.

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A mountain hut around the 7th station.


The menu. Some warm foods and drinks. Getting higher, the prices went up too.


Around the 8th station, where we arrived around 2-3 a.m., all the people who climbed halfway up in the day and stayed in the huts were starting their last part of the climb.


It got crowded suddenly and we were only able to walk very slow. Which was good for me though, because I was feeling the lack of oxygen.


A few minutes before sunrise, when the sky was still clear.


This was awesome, standing here with the clouds beneath you. Still, I just took some quick pictures and ran back into the hut, since I was freezing really bad.


The 'restaurant' up there.


Aaaaand sunrise! Yes, everything went white and it stayed that way.


The path downwards was just a zig-zag course, which was quite fast, but also no fun at all.


After hours of descending, vegetation again!


Sword Art Online – A Tender Feeling

Lately, I almost don't watch anime anymore. However, last year, a friend recommended me an anime called Sword Art Online (or short, SAO), which I then watched. It's about an online role playing game, where the players log in through a device connected to their brains, so the gaming experience seems real. But then, they get stuck in the game and in addition, dying in the game means dying in real life.

Well, I liked the anime a lot and - as always - especially the soundtrack. Didn't do much about it then, but recently, I found the score for the openings/endings and for the first time, tried writing some down on my own.
So this here is a track from the soundtrack I wrote down. I tried to write down another track, but haven't had the time to record it before leaving for holidays.
And sorry if anything is weird in the score.

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Click the image for the score!

Well, this was fun and I really want to learn to write down songs, so hopefully, I'll try doing more of this.

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Teaser of another track. I'll record it when I'm back in Germany.

Places I went lately – India

This will be the last of the 'places I went lately'-posts for the time being. Right now, I'm in Japan and I hope that I will overcome my laziness and upload stuff without that much delay.

So, I went to India this year. January 20th to February 14th. With my father.
India was a completely new experience for me. It was hot, people everywhere, it was load, hectic, dirty, animals mixed into every crowd, a lot of new smells, and - as obvious tourists, there were a lot of people coming up to us, trying to sell something, invite us somewhere, get us to go somewhere or always at train stations - telling us our hotel is full and we should follow this person to a much better hotel.
Honestly, it was exhausting - since I'm not really good at saying no, or what we often had to do - shoo people away. But once you get somewhere and get out of the tourist hotspots, it can be quit nice. Drinking some chai in the morning, watching people hustle by or just enjoying the view, get some nice indian food in a cozy restaurant, or just wandering around some busy streets. It was sometimes weird - in a lot of places, we got constantly bothered, but if you're in smaller villages or places where tourists are rarely seen, you can walk around more freely.

On my Instagram-page, you might already have seen some pictures of things I've eaten there and places I visited. Roughly said, we arrived in Mumbai, then travelled by train (21 train ride for 2 persons for ~7€!) to Jaipur, went to Jaisalmer where we did a 3 day camel safari, drove down to Udaipur and then took the train to Delhi. From there, we visited Agra (with the Taj Mahal), went back to Delhi and flew down to Kochi, where we stayed a few days and then flew back home.


This map shows the route, the numbers are just a indicator for the order of the places we went.

As I said earlier, it was a completely new experience for me. There was a lot of extreme poverty, people living in slums, on the streets - but then there are also some rich Indians. And especially in Mumbai, you can see wealth and poverty side by side.
All together, it was without doubt an incredible experience. There is a lot to see, taste and hear. But also, I'm really glad to be back. There are still places I might want to see there, and maybe I'll visit India again some time, but probably not soon.


Mumbai, taxi. There are a lot of these on the streets, but you'll see the Tuk-Tuk everywhere (pictures further down).

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Mumbai, boats. This was near the Gateway of India, and these balloon-sellers were there too.

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Mumbai. Train tracks. People just throw their trash out of the train, so the tracks are always covered in trash.

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Cows are everywhere. People just ignore them or touch them as walking by. Maybe thats supposed to bring luck. Dhobi Ghat, a lot of the laundry in Mumbai is done here very cheap.


Cows searching for food in the trash.

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These rickshaws are really cheap. And they have to be moved by muscle. Most of the people pulling a rickshaw have to rent these and probably pay most of the money they earn for being able to drive it. At night, you'll see a lot of them pulling out a blanket from under the passenger seat and sleeping in their rickshaws.


This is in Jaipur.

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Jaipur sunset.


The "pink city" Jaipur. Only the inner part of the city is actually red. This was the city palace.




Food. There was a lot of street food (really cheap, but I mostly didn't eat it, because a lot of things would probably ruin my stomach). I thought I'll loose some weight in India, but I actually gained a little. They use a lot more oil than I thought. And they have really sweet sweets.


This is a Tuk-Tuk. They're cheap, they're loud, they'll drive through any road and they're everywhere.


Pigs. Trash.

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Climed a hill by Jaipur to get to some fort on top.


Yeah, it was really hot. But with a nice view.


Food, fried in a lot of oil.


I don't remember what this was. Haven't tried it, I think he just began cooking.


Okay, I've tried a lot of different foods, and I really liked the non-fried bread, like Chapati and Naan, and also the different vegetable "curry" dishes (they don't really have one curry, but a lot of different dishes with vegetables and spices, which we generalize as curry). The masala chai (black tea with a lot of milk, cardamom and sometimes sugar) was good and some of the sweets and lassi were really good.


This is Jaisalmer. It's in the north, near to Pakistan (there was some military present around here) and right by the thar desert.

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Jaisalmer is a nice city, not so crowded, so we had the chance to relax for some days.


These cows grabbed some things from the cart, and got shooed away from the cart-owner.

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Yeah, cows everywhere. They don't belong to anyone, live on the streets and eat the garbage the people are dumping onto the street. They completely ignore humans, cars, everything and don't give a damn, if a Tuk-Tuk misses them by a few centimeters.


In Jaisalmer, we booked a three day camel safari into the desert.


Oh, a lot of kids wanted their pictures taken. Mostly, they looked very seriously into the camera, so I asked them to laugh after a few pictures.

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A camel. Or a dromedary, to be more precisely. My father on his one, the white sack contains food for the animals, above that is his mattress and some eggs for breakfast. My dromedary carried the water.


Had to make our camp around 5 p.m., because it got dark really fast.

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There was always a village somewhere nearby, and kids came visiting us.


Dinner. We had always something with lentils (Daal, in Hindi. Maybe you've seen some daal dishes at your local indian restaurant). I really liked these lentil-dishes.


These came crawling all towards us in the night. Had to get them out of everywhere in the morning.


This is in Udaipur, our next stop.

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The view from Udaipur palace.


This is in Delhi. Delhi is really big, and we went just a little bit into New Delhi (which is the southern part of Delhi). This picture is taken from the Tibetan Refugee Colony in Old Delhi, called Majnu Ka Tilla, where we stayed while in Delhi. I really liked it here, because the Tibetan people were more relaxed and didn't bother us. They weren't as load as the Indians and I felt more comfortable here - it reminded me a bit of Japan. And I really liked the food. Could've just stayed here all the time.
Oh, yeah, this picture is actually behind the camp, already kinda outside the city. I have no idea who's living down there.

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This is way inside Old Delhi. We walked past the big roads and the tourist markets, into small passages where only locals were. Also passed a muslim district, I think. First, it was a bit scary, because we had no idea where we were, and didn't see any other tourists. But the people here just ignored us, following their daily lives - and in the end, it was really relaxing walking around here.


School girls on their way home.


"Horn please". Yeah, everyone used their horns. Even little kids on bikes were constantly ringing their bells, which I found really irritating.


School boys on their way home.

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Tibetan monk in the Tibetan Refugee Colony. Tuk-Tuks outside the colony.




Man sewing outside by the street.


The Taj Mahal as seen from the roof of hotel we didn't stay at, but had dinner in. Oh, yeah, this is in Agra, about 1-2 hours south of Delhi (the hotel is called Shanti Lodge, if you're interested. There are some other hotels/restaurants with a nice view too).

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The Taj Mahal in the morning. We got the first tickets of the day.


In a Tuk-Tuk on our way to the Agra train station back to Delhi. These drove everywhere they could, like on the wrong side of the street. Well, whatever. I survived.


Agra station.

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Agra station. Monkeys everywhere.


Our train arriving after waiting for four hours.

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Oh, this is Kochi. From Delhi, we took a plane down to the south of India. 37° C hot, humid, more fish, ocean.


Chinese fishing nets, this is one of the things Kochi is famous for. We didn't stay long, we even took a flight slightly earlier back home.