London: Tower of London, Tower Bridge

The following are pictures I had taken when I went to London during the Remembrance Day holiday weekend while I was still a Canadian salaryman. Taking a holiday during the Remembrance Day holiday = taking 4 vacation days while getting 10 holiday days back in return.

I started posting pictures from my 2009 London trip before I got interrupted by going to the internship in Tokyo so this post continues from the previous two that I did.

London: Remembrance Day Parade

Visiting Windsor Castle

The pictures are all from Nov. 10, 2009 when I went to visit the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Unfortunately as with all paid attractions in the United Kingdom you are not allowed to take any pictures inside the buildings. As with everything in the U.K., everything is bloody expensive, the admission tickets per person were about £20 ~ $32 CDN.

The Tower of London, from the outside, you can see that the moat was filled in long ago and replaced with grass.

Crazy Food Adventures in Tokyo

During this summer (August 2011 - October 2011), I stayed in Tokyo because I had an internship with a company called Nikken Sekkei (a.k.a. architectural firm in charge of designing the Tokyo Sky Tree), but I was in the urban planning/town planning division.

After studying in the mountainous suburbs of Hiroshima where there isn't much choice in eating out unless you like "family restaurants", McDonalds or okonomiyaki, I decided to explore what kind of tasty food Tokyo had to offer with total disregard for the price (to certain limits!).

Most of the pictures where taken with Mr. Blurrycam (iPhone 3GS) while a select few were taken with a real camera (Canon Powershot S80).

My meal on the 4.5 hour Shinkansen train ride from Hiroshima to Tokyo.

Shinkansen Bento

Stewed pork with some sort of teriyaki sauce. 6 pieces of pork in total!

Cost 1000 yen.

Quite expensive in my opinion.

Yokohama Walks 2011: Nissan Gallery and Global Headquarters

On Sept. 23, 2011, I walked from Yokohama station to the Motomachi area of Yokohama because I wanted to see what kinds of interesting things I could bump into. Previously, whenever I went to Yokohama, I had always gotten off at Sakuragicho station and had no impression of how the rest of the waterfront area looked like.

My walking route. Once again thanks to Google Maps on my iPhone I did not get lost. I actually walked straight back to Yokohama station from the Motomachi area at the end of the day because I didn't feel like paying the rip-off fare on the Minato-Mirai line. (I did not show the return walking route on this map)

View Yokohama in a larger map

Nikko: World Heritage Tourist Trap

On Sept. 25, 2011, I took a day-trip to Nikko, Japan. Although I lived in Tokyo for 10 months when I was on the study abroad program at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in 2005-06, I never visited Nikko.

Nikko is designated as a World Heritage Site so I thought it would be as interesting as Kyoto, unfortunately, not only was it nothing like Kyoto, but every attraction there was designed to suck money out of the tourist...(They were selling tourist maps at the Nikko railway station for 100 yen each!)

Because I was in Tokyo for 2 months for an internship this summer from August to October, I decided to take the opportunity to finally visit Nikko.

The location of Nikko relative to the location of Tokyo. After tracing the train line with Google Maps, the distance from the north of Tokyo (Kita-Senju) to Nikko was calculated to be 80 miles (130 kilometres).

View Tokyo to Nikko in a larger map

Tokyo Walks 2011 - Tokyo Station to Odaiba

On Sept. 19, 2011, I walked from Tokyo station to Odaiba because:
  1. I enjoy "urban hiking"
  2. I wanted to see how far Odaiba really was by foot, to put the distance on a human scale
  3. I wanted to see if there was anything in between all those man-made islands

My route. If it wasn't for my iPhone, data and Google Maps, I would have gotten lost. I am convinced that Tokyo is one of those places where a smartphone is really necessary for finding directions and not getting lost. Google Maps calculated the time for walking at 1.5 hours, but it actually took me 2 hours and I walk pretty fast...

View Tokyo to Odaiba in a larger map

Archi-neering Design Exhibit 2011 - Tokyo

I was walking around the Tokyo station/Marunouchi area after work when I stumbled upon this exhibit in the Marunouchi Building.

Apparently, the 24th World Congress of Architecture was being held in Tokyo and for this convention, they decided to put some exhibits for the public to see.

What caught my eye, other than the large "Genki FOR JAPAN" banner" was the Archi-neering Design Exhibit. It was a showcase of unique works in archi-neering (a new concept combining architecture and engineering design) featuring scaled models of real buildings.

The main exhibits were put on display in the "Marucube", the spectacular atrium inside the unspectacular dull looking Marunouchi Building.

Archi-Neering Design Exhibition 2011

Tokyo Walks 2011 - Kawagoe

On Sept. 10, 2011, I took an afternoon trip to the town of Kawagoe. The town (its more like a suburb of Tokyo now) is about 30 minutes away by train from Ikebukuro station in Tokyo. Its supposed to be famous for its preservation of Edo era (1603 - 1868) buildings.

In my opinion, it wasn't so interesting as all the Edo era buildings were located in a single "preservation zone" that is designed like a tourist trap and everything outside of that zone just looks like your typical Tokyo urban sprawl.

Arrival at Kawagoe station Typical layout of a Tokyo suburban community with the train station and the centre and shopping centres surrounding the station.


Tokyo Walks 2011 - Monzennaka-cho, Nihonbashi

On a very hot day on Aug. 17, 2011, I did some "urban walking" from the "shitamachi" (下町) (old traditional) areas of Tokyo to the business centre of Tokyo in Nihonbashi.

I started from the Monzennaka-cho (門前仲町) area.

The entrance to the Tomioka Hachiman Shrine.


Tokyo Walks 2011 - Tokyo Sky Tree

On August 16, 2011, a very hot and humid day, I ventured out to see the Tokyo Sky Tree site. The Tokyo Sky Tree is the "New" Tokyo Tower and the purpose for its construction is for the digital television broadcasting. It is scheduled to open next year in 2012 with a height of 634 meters. I heard that they were going to charge people 3000 yen per person to visit the tower! (That's insanely expensive)

Tokyo Sky Tree and the Asahi Beer Buildings as seen from Asakusa.

Tokyo Sky Tree and the Asahi Beer Buildings

Visiting Windsor Castle

On Nov. 9, 2009, after one day in London we took the train from Paddington Station and the whole journey took about 40 minutes. We had to take an intercity train to Slough and then change for a local train to Windsor. Our purpose of coming to Windsor was to visit Windsor Castle.

Intercity train at Slough Station. Whats interesting is that fast intercity trains regularly passed through this station at high speeds, maybe 120+ km/h, which I don't think is quite safe...

Slough Station

London: Remembrance Day Parade

Almost 2 years after my trip to London, I am finally making a blog post.

On November 2009, while I was still employed at my previous company, I took one week off to visit London with my mom, taking advantage of the Remembrance Day holiday. Because of this, I used 4 vacation days into a 9 day holiday (5 weekdays, 4 days on the weekend). We took a British Airways flight+hotel package and it was quite cheap, around $1500 for one person.

The flight departed from Vancouver on November 6, 2009 at 8:45 pm and arrived at London at 1:55 pm.

The post shows our activities from November 8-9, 2009.

Approaching London's Heathrow airport.

Over London