Category Archives: Japan

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!


Places I went lately – Japan

Hi. Maybe you've just seen my blog post about New Zealand. Japan was right after that. In fact, I was going to Japan (as I do almost every year) and booked the flight with a stop-over in New Zealand to visit a friend.

So this was also last year, end of September and a bit of October. This time, I was in Tokyo all the time and didn't go anywhere far away. I met a lot of friends, ate a lot and didn't take that many pictures - still, I've got some I'll post here.

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A temple near where my mother lives.

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Same temple including a grave-yard.

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I think the left one is at the Meiji temple in Harajuku. Right picture I took in some park.


This is part of the Sensoji. Big temple in Asakusa with a lot of tourists.


Omikuji at the Sensoji temple. You draw a random one and it tells you your fortune.

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Sensoji temple vs. Tokyu Plaza in Harajuku.


Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Tower as seen from Odaiba.


I think this is the Fuji TV-Station in Odaiba. Mainly, I just like the picture.

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Tokyo Sky Tree. Open since May 2012 and replacing the Tokyo Tower as a broadcasting tower (I think). 634m high, has a whole shopping mall at the bottom and a lot of people wanting to get to the top. And the view from up there.


People looking down.


Again in Asakusa, this time in the evening. I like Asakusa in summer-evenings, when there are mostly only a few local people strolling around. Near the Sensoji is a street with a lot of small, traditional japanese Izakayas (pubs) where you can enjoy beer and food!


An after-work stroll at the temple.

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Yeah, still here.

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And again. Sensoji. From here, you have also a quite good view on the Tokyo Sky Tree. But then, you can probably see the Sky Tree from anywhere in central Tokyo.


Somewhere... I think this was in the Imperial Garden or somewhere around Tokyo Station.


コロッケ! Japanese croquettes. They are sold in convenience stores and sometimes on the street as snacks. Yummy.


This is the Buddha statue in Kamakura, a bit south of Tokyo.

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Again. With my sister.


Three different kinds of Soba! (buckwheat noodles)


せんべい (Senbei), japanese rice crackers.






Cute statues. This is all still in Kamakura, as the following pictures (until said otherwise). There are a lot of temples and shrines in Kamakura, plus Enoshima (small island connected with a bridge, a lot of visitors and nice for a day-trip) is nearby.


Again, 'Korokke'. This time filled with black sesame paste, very tasty.


Tokyo Disney Sea, with halloween decorations.

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Fast 5 Monate ist es nun schon her, dass am 11. März vor der Küste Nordostjapans das große Beben stattfand, mit verheerenden Folgen durch Beben, Tsunami, aber auch dem beschädigtem Atomkraftwerk in Fukushima.
Mittlerweile ist Japan hier nicht mehr in aller Munde, aber die Aufbauarbeiten gehen immer noch voran, die Lage um die Kraftwerke in Fukushima ist weiterhin heikel, und in den japanischen Nachrichten sehe ich immer wieder Meldungen zu Nahrungsmitteln aus den betroffenen Gebieten, in denen höhere Dosen von Radioaktivität gemessen wurden.

In Japan gab es schon immer viele kleine Beben, so dass ein bisschen Schaukeln im Monat normal war. Seit dem großen Beben finden aber täglich Beben statt, in letzter Zeit auch weniger geworden, aber immer noch täglich, und alle paar Tage auch mal ein etwas größeres, mit Magnitude 5~6.
Über Twitter lese ich immer wieder, wie die Leute auf diese reagieren. Für viele scheint es auch schon ein Teil Normalität geworden zu sein, dennoch finde ich es beunruhigend, auch, wenn meine Mutter mir dann berichtet, dass zwischen den ganzen Beben nun auch vermehrt welche sind, die nicht zu den Nachbeben des am 11. März Stattgefundenen gezählt werden, und gerüchteweise wohl auch irgendwann ein starkes Erdbeben in Tokyo erwartet wird.

Direkt nach dem Beben im März, als in Zentraljapan zum Großteil die Telefon- und Funknetze ausfielen, wurde zum Internet gegriffen, Menschen vor Ort haben über Twitter und Facebook berichtet, Bilder gezeigt, Menschen wurden kontaktiert, gefragt, ob es ihnen gut gehe, über Twitter, Blogs, Foren wurde diskutiert, Medien kritisiert, kurzum, eine Informationsflut, wie ich sie bisher nicht wahrgenommen hatte.

Es gab nun Leute, die diese Informationen aufgegriffen, zusammengefasst und weiter veröffentlich haben. Aufgefallen unter diesen Projekten ist das Quakebook, welches Ourmaninabiko aufgestellt hat. In diesem hat er viele Berichte von größtenteils in Japan lebenden Nichtjapanern zum Zeitpunkt des Bebens gesammelt und in Bücherform veröffentlicht.

2:46: Aftershocks: Stories from the Japan Earthquake

Dieses wurde recht früh als E-Book für das Kindle auf Amazon veröffentlicht, wobei die gesamten Einnahmen direkt an das Japanische Rote Kreuz weitergeleitet wurden.
Nun ist es auch endlich in gedruckter Fassung erhältlich, entweder über Amazon, oder auch bei jedem Buchhändler bestellbar.

Falls man also ein paar Euro übrig hat, ich finde, dieses Buch ist lesenswert und in nun gedruckter Form für viele wohl auch praktischer als auf dem Monitor zu lesen.
Einzig ist es für den Japanunkundigen vielleicht zu empfehlen, auf einer Karte nachzuschlagen, von wo aus der jeweilige Bericht geschrieben wurde, denn es sind zum Teil nur die Gebiete angegeben.