I recently spent some time in Chester. I took a few photos while I was there.
It’s Chinese New Year (Year of the Rooster). I went into Manchester and took a few photos.
There was a few things happening but most of the activities are happening tomorrow so I’m planning to go out again and hopefully get some more photos.
Earlier today a friend sent me a video featuring a popular children’s song celebrating the new year (see link below). There are numerous versions of this on the Internet.
*** Spoiler Alert *** Nothing much to write about here as I was returning home and travelling all day but here’s what happened.
I got up early, grabbed all my stuff and set off for the train station. I got a train just before 07:00 to Shinagawa where I bought a ticket for the Narita Express. I didn’t understand the different types of tickets available so I got the most basic one. I went to the platform. There were signs on the platform saying that all the seats were reserved. I just got on the front carriage which happened to be a Green Car which is First Class. I was the only one in the car for most of the journey and only a couple of people got on this car at another station. A couple of stations before the airport a conductor entered the car and asked me to pay for an upgrade on my Ticket.
When I got to the airport I headed for the check-in desk and checked in my luggage. I went through security and headed for the departure gate. Before the flight I had a large beer while I was waiting.
The first flight for Zurich left at 11:05 and took over 12 hours.
In Zurich there was not enough security desks open although they opened some more desk after customers complained. The staff were quite rude and complained a lot about customers not following the rules (even though these rules were not explained to anybody). The staff man-handled my external hard disk and cameras. I chose not to argue as I had already heard them threaten another customer with not being able to fly that day.
I had a coffee while I waited at the departure gate for the next flight at 17:10 (local time). I took 2 hours to get to Manchester.
I arrived in Manchester just after 18:00 and collected my luggage then went through the automated security checks and went home by tram. I was a bit tired and chose the wrong ticket from the ticket machine but I spoke to a staff member who changed the ticket for me.
I got up early and caught a train into Shinagawa.
I got a coffee and spent some time watching people go by. I caught a train to Shinjuku which arrived at about 10:00. I spent a couple of hours there. I went to Kabukichou and took a few photos.
I had arranged to meet a HelloTalk friend again. On my way back I also took some photos near the station.
I got to Shinagawa at about 12:00 and spent just over an hour there. I had a look around the station and the general area and too a few photos.
I met my friend inside the station at 13:15. We caught a train to Minatomirai Station.
We got there just after 14:00 and walked to Grand Mall Park Round Square where we watched some of my friend’s favourite street performers. There were 3 sets of performers that day. We watched two of them. There was between 100-200 people in the audience. At the end of each performance the performers asked for a donation of 1000 Yen.
After the performances we took a walk through Yamashita Park to Yokohama Chinatown.
Chukagai (Yokohama’s Chinatown) is the largest Chinatown in Japan. We had a look around and had some street food.
My friend had to leave around 18:00. I looked around some more and that caught a subway train to Yokohama Station. From Yokohama I caught a train to Shinagawa where I bought a personalised IC card and make some preparation for my trip to the airport the next day. I used a ticket machine to print out some information about the Narita Express and then asked someone at the information counter which track the train leaves from.
I returned to Kita-Shinagawa and packed my suitcase ready for my flights home in the morning.
I set off just after 09:00 heading for Asakusa. I caught a train from Kita-Shinagawa to Shinagawa and then caught a train to Tamachi Station.
Then I had to leave the station and walk to Mita Station where I caught a subway train to Asakusa Station. I got there just after 10:00 and spent almost 2 hours looking around the area and visiting Sensoji Temple.
My next stop was Ameya Yokochou. I returned to the station and caught a train to Ueno. I spent about 20 minutes at Ameya Yokochou market and then made a quick trip to Ueno Park before returning to Ueno Station to catch a train to Akihabara.
I got to Akihabara about 13:30. I spent about 30 minutes walking around and taking photos before catching a train to Ikebukuro.
I got to Ikebukuro just after 14:00. I looked around for a bit before making my way to Sunshine City in order to visit the Pokémon Center.
While I was in Sunshine City, the fire department were showing a video advising children what to do if the there is an earthquake. The audience was made up of children and their parents. They also had a brass band and Kyuta, the fire department’s mascot, made an appearance.
I spent about an hour in the centre and then returned to the station.
I returned to Shinjuku and caught a train to Nakano. I arrived just before 17:00. Nakano Broadway is a popular destination for geeks and otaku but I wanted to visit the many izakaya at the back of the shopping centre. I got some food and explored the area for about 40 minutes.
I returned to the station about 18:00 and caught a train back to Shinjuku.
On my way back to Shinagawa I stopped off at Shibuya and took a few photos. While I was there a fire department vehicle arrived to assist an old man who couldn’t seem to stand properly. A security guard and the police had been looking after him before this.
After about an hour I caught a train to Shinagawa. I had a coffee at Anna Miller’s. I wanted some pie but they were out of the one I fancied on the menu. I finished my coffee and caught a train back to Kita-Shinagawa.
I set off about 09:00 to head for Tachikawa. I stopped off at Osaki Station to take a look around. I needed to go to Shinjuku and change trains there. On the way I was confused about which train to catch and I wasn’t sure if I had caught the right train, so I asked a nun who was stood on the platform for help. I arrived just before 11:00.
At 17:30 I met a friend from the UK who I used to work with. We went to an Izakaya that he knew until about 21:00.
While we were walking to our next location, my friend noticed that a policeman was carrying out a security check with a Japan man. Apparently this happens from time to time. This reminded me about something I had seen in the news advising that there was a raised security level at that time.
We went to another Izakaya for a bit and I returned to the station just before 23:00.
I caught a train back to Shinjuku where I changed trains to get to Shinagawa and then changed again to get to Kita-Shinagawa.
I woke up early and went to Shinagawa. I had some coffee and had a look around for a bit before going to Shibuya.
When I got there around 10:45 I took a few photos and went to Shibuya 109 and bought some clothes for my girlfriend. After that I took a few more photos and some video footage.
Just after 12:30 I caught a train to Harajuku and had another look around the wider area.
I took a few photos and then about 14:00 I returned to Shinagawa.
I spent a few minutes in the station then went to Kita-Shinagawa to drop off my shopping at the Air BnB.
Just after 16:00 I went for a walk in a quiet street around the back of the train station which was had numerous local small shops and convenience stores. I walked down the street for about 30 minutes stopping to look in shops on the way.
I bought some bananas at a fruit stall and caught a train to Shinagawa from Shin-Bamba Station.
From Shinagawa Station I caught a train to Shibuya to take more photos of people celebrating Halloween and to get some more video footage. I stayed in Shibuya until about 20:00 before returning to Shinagawa.
When I got back to Shinagawa, I stopped for a coffee in Anna Miller’s opposite the station then headed back to Kita-Shinagawa. Anna Miller’s is a chain of Restaurants in Japan (and Hawaii).
I got up around 10:00 and went to Shinagawa Station. I bought a couple of snacks and took some quick video footage of the station.
I caught a train to Harajuku Station to meet one of my HelloTalk friends. We arranged to meet at 11:30 inside the ticket gate at the Omotesando Exit. I arrived early and eat one of the snacks that I bought earlier.
I met my friend and we went to Omotesando.
The area was a mixture of new and old buildings and is known for being a shopping destination.
My friend told me that one of the old buildings we went into used to be apartments a long time ago.
Then we went in a souvenir shop and I tried to get some money from a cash machine. It didn’t work with my MasterCard which may have been because it was Sunday.
While we were there, there was a Halloween Cosplay Parade in the main street. People lined the streets to see it. I took a photo and some video footage.
One of the shops had a robot called Pepper. Pepper is a Japanese robot which is designed to have realistic conversations with people. It was being used to describe make-up products.
Then we headed for Takeshita Street through some back streets.
On the way we stopped in a cafe and had something to eat. While walking I noticed a few people were getting photos of their fashion and cosplay outfits away from the crowds.
Our destination was Takeshita Street which was packed full of mostly young people and teenagers. This area is has been somewhat of a Mecca for young people who love fashion since the 1970s. It is teaming with fashion and accessory shops.
I had a coffee and managed to find a cash machine that worked with my MasterCard.
We then left to catch the train to Shinjuku where I had arranged to meet another HelloTalk friend at 18:30.
We got there about 16:30 and my friend and I looked around some shops until she had to leave at about 17:30. I continued to look around the area until I met my other friend.
I met my other friend and we went to Kirin City for some food and a few beers. After Kirin City we went to a traditional coffee house before I returned to the train station in order to get back to the Kita-Shinagawa.
I woke up early, got ready and finished packing. I set off for the station and caught a Train to Osaka. I got there around 09:00. I was surprised to find that the station was extremely busy with people coming and going to work and school. I mistakenly thought it would be quiet on a Saturday. The information counter didn’t open until 10:00 but I found a station employee and asked which platform I needed for the airport train. I caught the train to the airport. I had to stand for a few stops before I got a seat.
I got to the airport at around 10:00. My flight wasn’t until 14:05 but I chose to arrive early in case there were any issues with transport. Getting around in Japan only basic Japanese can be a challenge. The stations are huge and finding where to go and which platform you need, can be difficult. Understandably, English is not widely spoken.
I got something to eat and explored the shops and restaurants. While I was waiting a young Japanese women approached me as if she needed some help which I thought was strange because in most cases like that there is a language gap. It turned out though that she was an undercover policewoman and she asked me questions about my trip and where I was staying. She only spoke a little English so the conversation was a mixture of Japanese and English.
I checked-in at 12:00, went through security and waited at the departure gate until the plane boarded.
The flight took 1 hour so I arrived in Narita Airport in Tokyo at around 15:00.
Inside the terminal I had to catch a shuttle train to the baggage collection area. I picked up my luggage, got something to eat and headed for the train station at about 17:30.
In the terminal I noticed a policeman carrying out another security check with a group of foreigners.
There several options to get to the centre of Tokyo. I opted to catch the Narita Express which stopped in Shinagawa Station which is close to where my next Air BnB was in Kita-Shinagawa. I got a ticket on the platform and caught the train. The train was reservation only.
When I arrived at Shinagawa Station I had a quick look around and then asked someone at the information desk how to get to Kita-Shinagawa. I caught the train and when I got there, I checked into the Air BnB which was directly opposite the train station on the other side of the road.
I dropped my things off, had a quick shower and got changed. I was really tired but it was only about 19:30 and I really wanted to get some Halloween photos. I left the apartment and caught a train to Shinagawa where I caught another train to Shibuya on the Yamanote Line. This line loops around central Tokyo and stops at several popular destinations.
I got to Shibuya just after 20:00. I followed the crowds towards Shibuya Crossing. This is the busiest crossing in the world and a major destination for visitors. I followed everyone to a raised walkway which was packed with people viewing Shibuya Crossing through the windows. I watched for a bit and then found an exit. I exited via the Hachiko Exit. Hachiko was a Japanese dog famous for having legendary loyalty to his owner. There is a statue of Hachiko outside the station in Hachiko Square.
There were thousands of people coming and going. Most of them were dressed in Halloween costumes or wearing cosplay. I explored the area briefly and took several portraits and some video footage then returned to the station.
I caught a train to Shinjuku to see what was happening there.
On the way I briefly stopped in Harajuku to take some photos. I heard about plans to upgrade Harajuku Station and I wanted to get a photo of the building as it is now. I took a photo of some cosplayers and of Harajuku Station outside the Omotesando Exit.
I arrived in Shinjuku just before 22:00. Shinjuku not as packed as Shibuya but still very busy. Only a few people were dressed in cosplay.
I got something to eat and headed back to the Air BnB. I got a little lost and it took me a while to find the station. Luckily we have Google Maps now to help with directions.
I caught a train back to Shinagawa where I caught a train to Kita-Shinagawa. When I got in I just went straight to bed.