Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Brompton goes to Australia

I started exciting days with Brompton in Melbourne. The city is beautiful and has a lot of attractions.

A lane with a beautiful apartment house in South Yarra. 

A riverside trail to go.

Brompton friendly city with its extensive tram transportation.

In a short while, Brompton and I reached St. Kilda by tram. Beach is close enough to the central business district. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Brompton Lovers Gathering in Tokyo #25 & the Fourth Anniversary

On March 13 Sunday, it was a bit chilly weather with clouds. My Brompton M3L and I were a part of the Brompton gathering. Today 91 Bromptons gathered to stand in a row, celebrating the 4th anniversary of the Brompton Palace gathering.

After a photo session with all the participants, we moved on to the usual restaurant to chat.

Every foreign traveler passing by the Marunouchi Nakadori Avenue was interested in and took a photo when they watched this strange flock of bikes in front of the restaurant.

We shared wonderful time together.

The gathering in Tokyo is held bimonthly at the Imperial Palace Park near Tokyo Station. Why don't you join the meeting next time? The next gathering is scheduled on May 8 (Sunday).

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Brompton Junction Tokyo

Last September, a new Brompton Junction flagship store has opened in Tokyo, the second Brompton showcase in Japan. The store is located in a fashionable but quiet street of Daikanyama, near Ebisu and Shibuya. 

There are more than a dozen of titanium models in the store. I have never seen that number of store stocked Ti-models in other places.

The photo was taken on the day when more than 30 Brompton lovers in Tokyo gathered and filled the store in the end of last year.

At the store Oi-san and Shiobara-san will take care of you and your Brompton.

Store Details:
Opening Hours: 10:30 - 19:30 (Closed on Thursdays)
Address: FLEG Daikanyama, 1-31-12 Ebisu-Nishi
Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Tel. 03-4283-1117

Hida Takayama

Do you know Takayama?

Takayama is a beautiful castle town of Hida region surrounded by mountains in every direction. The city is usually commonly referred to as Hida Takayama in order to differentiate it from other places named Takayama. The town maintains a traditional touch like few other Japanese cities, especially in its beautifully preserved old town called Sanno-machi. Takayama is also known as a town of great traditional festivals taking place on April 14/15 and October 9/10 every year. It now ranks as one of the prime candidates among foreign travelers wishing to watch and experience Japanese traditional scenery of the town.

Sanno-machi, Takayama's old town, has been beautifully preserved with many buildings and whole streets of houses dating from the Edo Period (1600-1868), when the city thrived as a wealthy town of merchants connecting the west region and east region of Japan.

You start exploring from JR Takayama Station. To reach Takayama Station it takes 2 and half hours from Nagoya Station.

By Brompton you reach the Sanno- machi historic District in 5 minutes. 

The streets in the district offer traditional Japanese styles. You can enjoy strolling around and drop by cafes, restaurants, temples, castle remains and museums. 

Why not visit Takayama with our Brompton?

The following URLs contain useful information about Takayama:

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tokyo Temples and Shrines to go

When you visit Tokyo, let's go to the shrines and temples for a pray of your travel safety!

Meiji Jingu Shrine (JR Harajuku Station)
Meiji Shrine is dedicated to the deified spirits of Emperor Meiji and his consort, Empress Shoken. The shrine was completed and dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken in 1920. Emperor Meiji was the first emperor of modern Japan. He was born in 1852 and ascended to the throne in 1867 at the peak of the Meiji Restoration when Japan's feudal era came to an end and the emperor was restored to power.

Yasukuni Shrine (Subway Kudanshita Station)
The origin of Yasukuni Shrine was established as Shokokusha in the second year of the Meiji era (1869) by the will of the Emperor Meiji. In 1879, it was renamed Yasukuni Shrine. Yasukuni Shrine was established to commemorate and honor the achievement of those who dedicated their precious lives for their country.

Hie Shrine (Subway Akasaka Mitsuke Station)
In 1478, Ota Dokan constructed Edo Castle on the site of the present Imperial Palace. He also erected a Sanno-Hie Shrine in the compound for a guardian deity of the castle. That was an origin of Hie Shrine. The Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa began ruling Japan from Edo Castle. He also became a patron of the Hie Shrine and worshipped the deity as the protector of Edo, the old name for Tokyo. The citizens of Edo also had the strongest faith in Hie Shrine, which enshrined the guardian deity of the Shogun. In 1657, Hie Shrine and a large part of Edo was destroyed by fire. However, in 1659, Shogun Ietsuna Tokugawa rebuilt the shrine at its present location. Regrettably, the shrine buildings were burnt down again in the bombing of Tokyo during the Second World War, in 1945. The present shrine buildings were constructed in 1958.

Zojoji Temple (Subway Onariomon Station/Shiba Koen Station)
Zojoji was founded in 1393 as an orthodox and fundamental nembutsu seminary for Jodo shu in the east Japan region. After the start of the Edo Period when the Tokugawa shogunate ruled Japan, Zojoji became the family temple of the Tokugawa shogunate family and an unparalleled grand cathedral was built. In those days, its precincts covered an area of 826,000 square meters which also contained 48 smaller attached temples and about 150 grammar schools. Moreover, as many as 3,000 priests and novices always resided here as students.

Kameido Tenjin (JR Kameido Station)
Kameido Tenjin Shrine is located east side of Tokyo Metro. It is famous for its Fuji Flower. Kameido Tenjin was built in 1646 to enshrine Sugawara no Michizane, the God of Education. 

Kanda Myojin (JR Ochanomizu Station/Subway Nezu Station)
This shrine is the chief guardian god of Edo and was established in 730. Local people are very proud of Kanda Myojin Shrine's very long history over 1270 years. Kanda Myojin Shrine is very popular with the local people because they feel that if they worship here it will give them: happy family life, success and prosperity in their businesses, and will help them to find a well-matched marriage partner. Recently, because Kanda Myojin Shrine is not so far away from Akihabara, it has become the guardian of IT business. People can get a lucky charm here called the "Protection and Safe keeper of IT Data", which has become increasingly popular. Every year during the New Years celebrations, many of the engineers and people who run businesses from the area come to Kanda Myojin Shrine and buy this lucky charm.

Finally Sensoji Temple in Asakusa. It is one of the most popular places to go among foreign travelers. (Tobu and Subway Asakusa Station)

Each of those temples and shrines have their own history and roles in the traditional Japanese life. You can learn a part of Japanese religions, culture and tradition through visiting the places.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Japan Travel Destinations for Bromptoneer (3) - Other special places to go

Other than regular and popular destinations, there are a lot of special places to go for Bonsai lovers, anime funs, and Sumo lovers. Selective destinations of Tokyo and vicinity are as follows:

1. Bonsai Art
(1) The Omiya Bonsai Art Museum, Saitama
Opened in 2010, the Omiya Bonsai Art Museum is the world’s first publicly run museum dedicated to bonsai art. It boasts a collection of more than 100 bonsai masterpieces and bonsai-related artifacts such as bonsai pots, miniature landscape stone called suiseki, books and woodblock prints, etc. 

Selected in accordance with the four seasons, about 50 pots of bonsai are always displayed in the garden and some in the gallery.

From JR Utsunomiya line Toro Station or Tobu Urbanpark line Omiya Koen Station, you can reach the Bonsai Art Museum in 3 to 5 minutes by Brompton.

(2) Shunka-en Bonsai Museum
The Museum was built with the ambition to spread Japanese culture, especially Bonsai in a new way to the rest of the world. I wanted to show both the beauty and the severity of nature that is hidden within Bonsai, even just a little glimpse but to a great number of people from around the world. With that thought in mind I was successful in creating this beautiful museum.

Every Sunday learn Bonsai under the personal guidance of Kunio Kobayashi at Shunkaen. You use Subway Shinjuku line (Toei) to get off at Mizue Station to reach Shunka-en (7 minutes by Brompton). 

2.  Ghibli Museum
The Ghibli Museum is the animation and art museum of Miyazaki Hayao's Studio Ghibli, a world famous animation studios. Located in Mitaka, a suburb of Tokyo, the museum is a must-see for "anime" lovers. The museum itself is whimsically designed and many of their famous characters are there, including a life-sized robot from "Castle in the Sky" on the rooftop garden. When you visit, please get off the train (JR Chuo line) at Kichijoji Station or Mitaka Station and take a Brompton ride for 5-10 minutes to reach.

3. Go-karting on public road!
Put your costumes on, play some crazy tunes on loud speakers, and drive around your favorite part of town! Expect a lot of pedestrians and drivers take many pictures of you!

4. Sumo Watching
Let's go to see live Grand Sumo Wrestling Tournaments at the Ryogoku Kokugi-kan, a venue for Sumo regular contests. Three of the six official sumo tournaments that take place nationwide each year are held here, in January, May, and September. Other than Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka (Kyushu) host the tournaments.

Ryogoku, where the hall is located, is truly the heartland of sumo, and there are many chanko hotpot restaurants serving the same dishes that the wrestlers eat everyday. It is also often possible to see young wrestlers wearing traditional Japanese clothe (yukata).

Next to the Ryogoku Kokugikan, there is the Edo-Tokyo Museum, the best and most interesting museum for travelers who are interested in Japanese tradition and Tokyo's history. This museum shows Tokyo's miraculous transformation from feudal city to modern capital, through city models, miniatures of real buildings and Ukiyoe displays.

5. Game Software Shop "Super Potato" at akihabara
While most stores only focus on what's new in the gaming world, Super Potato is a chain of retro video game stores in Japan filled to the brim with equipment and merchandise for games that you've long forgotten.

The fifth floor of Super Potato has a vintage video game arcade, with a nice collection of old games available to pump coins into while sipping on pop sold in glass bottles. The collection of machines isn't huge compared to other arcades, but there are a nice selection and enough memorable classic games to make it a nice finishing touch to the Super Potato experience. 

related article:
Japan Travel Destinations for Bromptoneer (2) - Suburban Tokyo & Vicinity

Friday, March 4, 2016

Japan Travel Destinations for Bromptoneer (2) - Suburban Tokyo & Vicinity

(continued from the previous article: Japan Travel Destinations for Bromptoneer - Central Tokyo )

In addition to Central Tokyo, there are a lot of attractions in its vicinity. The following areas and attractions are just 1-2 hour distance from Tokyo Station by train and good for a Brompton ride to explore around. 

- Suburban Tokyo: Takao-san, Izu Islands
- Kanagawa: Hakone, Kamakura, Yokohama
- Chiba: Tokyo Disney Land, Tokyo Disney Sea, Tokyo Sea Life Park
- Gunma: a bunch of hot springs like Takaragawa Onsen
- Tochigi: Nikko
- Yamanashi: Mt. Fuji

1. Central Tokyo (See a previous article for details. Click a photo to go.)

2. Nikko
Scattered among hilly woodlands, Nikko is one of Japan's major attractions. The World Heritage temples and shrines are an awesome display of wealth and power by the Tokugawa shogunate. Nikko Toshogu is a Shinto shrine established in 1617 to enshrine Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. It is a brilliantly decorative shrine in a beautiful natural setting. 'Sunset Gate' Yōmei-mon is the most famous structure. 

3. Mt Fuji 
Of all Japan's iconic images, Mt Fuji (3,776m) is the real deal. Admiration for the mountain appears in Japan's earliest recorded literature, dating from the 8th century. Back then the now dormant volcano was prone to spewing smoke, making it all the more revered. In 2013, Fuji was granted World Heritage status.

4. Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Sea Life Park
Tokyo Disneyland is a theme park opened in 1983 as the first Disney theme park outside of the United States. Modeled after Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Florida, Tokyo Disneyland is made up of seven themed lands and features seasonal decorations and parades.

Tokyo DisneySea is Japan’s second gate of the Disneys theme park, with lands and attractions based on various ports of call, both real and imagined. 

Tokyo Sea Life Park (Kasai Rinkai Suizokuen) is reproducing aquatic habitats in Japan and in the world. In this light, it installed a huge donut-shaped tank (2,200t), where bluefin tunas swim around visitors freely.

5. Takao-san 
Takao-san (599 m) is a highly popular day trip destination from Tokyo with year-round hiking. It's rather built up compared with other regional hikes, but can make for a perfect family outing if you avoid busy weekends and holidays.

From Shinjuku Station, take the Keiō line to Takaosanguchi Station, one of the final stops. The tourist village, trail entrances, cable car and chairlift are a few minutes away to the right.

6. Minakami & Takaragawa Onsen 
In the northern region of the Gunma Prefecture is the sprawling onsen town of Minakami. Surrounded by beautiful natural forests and mountains, and cut through by the gushing Tone-gawa (Tone River) it's a mecca for outdoor-adventure sports, hiking and skiing enthusiasts. The area is also home to Takaragawa Onsen (about 30 minutes away by road), a riverside spa ranked among the nation's best.
(photo source: Takaragawa Onsen official site)

7. Yokohama 
Yokohama, Japan's second-largest city, has a distinctly different urban spirit. Even though it's just 20 minutes' train ride south of central Tokyo, Yokohama has an appealing flavour and history all its own. Locals are likely to cite the uncrowded, walkable streets or neighbourhood atmosphere as the main draw, but for visitors it's the breezy bay front, creative arts scene, multiple microbreweries, jazz clubs and great international dining. 

8. Kamakura 
The old capital and coastal town of Kamakura brims with temples, shrines and nice restaurants. The glory days of Japan's first feudal capital (from 1185 to 1333) coincided with the spread of Zen Buddhism in Japan. This legacy is reflected in the area's proliferation of stunning temples. Only an hour from Tokyo by train, this popular destination tends to get packed with visitors on weekends and holidays.

Daibutsu is the Kamakura's most iconic sight, an 11.4m bronze statue of Amida Buddha which was completed in 1252. Once housed in a huge hall, today the statue sits in the open, the hall having been washed away by a tsunami in 1498.

9. Hakone
Offering so many hot springs, world-class art museums, traditional inns (ryokan) and spectacular mountain scenery crowned by Mt Fuji, Hakone can make for a blissful escape from Tokyo. 

10. Izu islands
Easily reached by ferries the islands feel worlds quite away from Tokyo. The peaks of a submerged volcanic chain extending 300 km into the Pacific are what makes up the Izu Islands. The islands are good places to enjoy riding Brompton. Snorkeling, surfing and fishing are also popular. Island hopping is possible on daily ferries that run up and down the archipelago. Check schedules.

Avove all, I recommend to visit Shikine-jima. About 6km south of Nii-jima, tiny Shikine-jima's Jinata Onsen is one of the most dramatically located onsen I've seen: at the end of a narrow cleft in the rocky coastline. The waters, stained a rich orange from iron sulphide, are naturally 80 degree centigrade; mixed with the cool ocean, they're just good temperature around 38-40 degree centigrade. The tide affects the condition, so bathing times change daily; check before making the steep descent.