Tuesday, 20 May 2014

47 Ronin | 31st March 2014 | Sengajuku Temple & Shrine

For those who are familiar with 47 Ronin, will know that this is one of Japan’s most famous Story. More recently, Universal Studios produced a Japanese-American fantasy action film depicting the account of forty-seven Ronin.

The story of 47 Ronin is about a real life group of Ronin (Master-less Samurai’s) who avenged the death of their lord, Asano Takumunikami, after he was unjustly sentenced to commit Seppuku (ritual suicide by disembowelment) following a provoked attack on Lord Kira KĂ”zukenosuke.

Almost 2 years after the fateful incident, The 47 Ronins assembled and prepared the avenge of their Lord’s death by killing Lord Kira in his mansion. They returned to Sengakuji to present Kira’s head to Lord Asano’s grave. The Ronins was later sentenced to commit Seppuku. This story became highly popular where loyalty and honour remain highly respected.

The reason we visited the 47 grave is because my husband Kevin was selected to become part of the stunt and extra crew on the Hollywood based movie when the movie was created back in 2012 and even made it onto some of the scenes in the movie.

Since Kev was connected to the Hollywood film, we are very much inspired by the true story of 47 Ronin, (and as we were in Japan!) we would visit the 47 Ronin Grave to pay our respects. For us, it was an honour to be in the presence of these legendary samurai’s who, with their actions, upheld in true spirit the Japanese warrior code of honour – Bushido.

Kev standing with the leader Ako Gishi who led the attack on Kira's residence. The statue was built in 1921

The Temple's entrance

Steps leading up to 47 Ronin Grave Site

The entrance to the graves

The graveyard of the Ako Gishi, buried here after their seppuku on February 4th 1703. The grave site is over 300 years old.

The film created by Universal Studio's was released in December 2013, starring Keanu Reeves

I did watch the movie (and my husband) in the cinema and couldn't resist watching again when it was part of Virgin Atlantic's media selection. Yes, it was pretty awesome that I was watching my husband on screen, whilst he was sat next to me! Kev did appear in the movie (albeit brief). The main one is where Kev was a Samurai in the movie and was shot by arrows. His dying scene is this one:

Friday, 9 May 2014

The Life Size Iconic Gundam RX-78 | Diver City

Day 3 (continued) | 29th March 2014 | Life Size 1:1 Gundam RX-78

Kev is a big fan of anime and there was one thing that he made mandatory on our holiday itinerary and that was to visit the life size 1:1 scale model of Gundam RX-78 at Diver City in Tokyo.

Gundam RX-78 is a fictional robot known in Yoshiyuki Tomino’s anime series Mobile Suit Gundam. As part of the 30th Anniversary of the Gundam series, a project was launched back in 2009 to build a 1/1 real size scale Gundam in Japan. It measures 18 meters tall and it currently stands in Diver City, Odaiba.

The Gundam series is culturally a significant part of Japan and though the series had been made many years ago, it is always recognised and remembered.

We made our way through the large shopping complex with only one thing on our mind and that was to aim straight to Gundam. When we found it, we were absolutely compelled to see the iconic Gundam up close!

I for one was amazed at the stature and magnificence and it certainly is structurally surreal. In intervals throughout the day, there is a 15-20 minute light and sound anime show with smoke effect which does add to the drama and appeal, however, we had expected the real life model to move (which it did) but underwhelmed by the small movements it made L Nonetheless, we were still extremely impressed by this giant Gundam and left us in wonderment of this incredible attraction.

Diver City is a huge mall with a large food court within it. It was a nice place to shop but personally for me, it lacked a bit of jazz, so I left empty handed. Near Odaiba, there is also the Rainbow Bridge which lights up in the evening and serves as a good observation platform. We didn't get a chance to walk over to soak in the sights, but we saw it whilst on the train to Odaiba.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Happy Birthday Kev! | A little New York - Style Glamour in Tokyo

Day 2 (continued) | 28th March 2014 | Park Hyatt Tokyo

We planned our Japan trip to coincide with my husband’s birthday in late March. Prior to our holiday, I reserved us a table at Park Hyatt Bar & Grill Restaurant, Tokyo, located on the 48th floor, so that we had a perfect night time view of downtown Tokyo, as a birthday treat to my beloved husband!
I must say, the (rather expensive) food was overshadowed by the stunning views. From the moment we were guided through the spectacular entrance, we made our way through the elegant library as you pass through the hotel, up on the lift to the 48th floor and as the lift doors open, you are hit with a breath-taking twinkling view of the city. You walk through the restaurant, passing the fabulous jazz musicians playing at the bar, and then to be seated by the window, with Tokyo beneath your feet. Now, I for one would be very happy with a birthday gift like that!

Konnichiwa! Kev and Jen in Japan 2014

My husband Kev and I have been longing to visit Japan and has been on our ‘bucket list to do’ for several years and at long last, we have finally got round to ticking this destination off our extensive list!

We traveled out late March for 2.5 weeks (Purely to coincide with Kev’s birthday and to be able to experience the beautiful Sakura Season in Japan). I have documented and captured the amazing wonders of this intriguing place so that we are forever reminded of our epic experience and journey through this chaotic city. Through the madness, we also came across tranquil and picturesque escapes which would leave you in awe and amazement.

If you want to come along, I will take you through our diary through Tokyo and beyond...

Day 1 | 27th March 2014

We arrived profoundly tired after a long 12 hour flight from London Heathrow to Narita Airport, made our way to the ticket office where we bought our Suica Cards and NEX train tickets to Tokyo. From Tokyo, we managed to find the Yamanote Line to take us to Shinjuku, where our Hotel is located.

Making our way from Narita Aiport to Shinjuku was the easy part!/div>

Trying to locate the hotel in a ultra busy district of Shinjuku, in the rain, on the other hand, was not! Eventually, to our relief, we were guided to our hotel but was not able to check in until 2 hours later as we had arrived too early!

We dropped off our luggage and went to explore the area around our hotel and one of the first things we did was to find a place for some much needed food!

Thankfully, the hotel is situated in one of the most convenient places where food sources where at arm's length! We stumbled across a small restaurant serving noodles and Takoyaki - the're ball-shaped snacks usually filled with mince or diced seafood and often topped with dried Bonito flakes.

Once we checked in to our rooms, we had a much needed nap before we could start exploring our area. In fact one of our first stops was to Ginza. The Ginza district is known for it's luxury department stores spreading multiple floors, but we skipped all that jazz and headed straight to the world's largest flagship store, Uniglo! 

This store is spread over 12 floors! The prices here are much cheaper than in the UK and the variety and styles were so vast, we could have spent hours just shopping away time, but we didn't, we gave ourselves a limit, thankfully!

The view from our hotel room. Good night! x

|Hachiko - Japan's most famous Dog | March 2014

In the evening, we stopped by Shibuya to visit Japan's famous Dog Statue. Anyone who has heard of the story of Hachiko knows that the relationship between Hatchiko and his master is an emotional one. It is a story about a dog that possessed legendary and remarkable loyalty to his owner, Professor Hidesaburo Ueno, before and even after his death.

Every day. Hachiko would see his master to and from work at Shibuya Station until one fateful day, in 1925, his master died from a brain hemorrhage and never came home. Hachiko would wait in vain every single day outside Shibuya Station for his master to return, even after 10 years after Prof Ueno's death.

The fact that Hachiko never gave up attracted local media and national attention, so much so that Hollywood turned the story into a feature film starring Richard Gere in 2010.

I knew I had to visit and take a picture of the statue of Hachiko as a reminder of ones' true loyalty.

The Statue is situated just outside a prominent landmark of Shibuya Station - next to the infamous large intersection crossing just outside Hachiko Exit.

Shibuya at night. It is popular for shopping and entertainment and is Tokyo's most colourful and busiest districts and swarms of visitors come to the district every day. Despite Shibuya being a centre for youth fashion culture (and is the birthplace to many Japan's fashion trends) Kev and I picked up very little in terms of clothes shopping. Perhaps that was a good thing!