Tokyo Skytree

We’ve finally made it up Tokyo Skytree! 


We’ve been here for nearly 5 years and we’ve finally made up one of Tokyo’s most iconic views! It only took a visit from a South African cousin to get us up there! 

Tokyo Skytree holds the Guinness Record for the Worlds Tallest Free sanding broadcasting tower. It stands at a height of 634m. It provides digital transmissions for terrestrial broadcasting and needed to be over 600m due to an increase in volume of skyscrapers in Tokyo. It is also reassuring to know that it will assume the role of a disaster prevention function in times of a natural disaster. Something I hope I won’t experience while we are here. 

So we arrived and made our way from the station, through the shops and through  the entertainment, all the while answering “No, we not buying anything now.” “No, we aren’t going on the trampolines or bouncy castle”. Whew, that is a minefield on its own when heading out with the kids. 

It is quite possible to buy your tickets in advance online and to buy a fast pass if you are an international traveller. {So the website says}
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to buy our tickets in advance due to time constraints, and we didn’t want to pay the extra ¥2000/person to get a fast pass ticket. So we queued. For 50 minutes! 
Boy, do I wish I had carved out the 5-10 minutes I would have spent organising the tickets. I will definitely be buying future tickets in advance!

The lift going up was smooth and quiet, reaching a top speed of 600m/minute. In no time at all we were at Level 345. Unfortunately due to haze, the distant view wasn’t that spectacular, but it was amazing to see the various Tokyo sights. 

The brochure had a panoramic map of what could be seen from each window which was very helpful and informative.


Due to time constraints and hungry children, we opted not to go up to the 450m viewing floor, but we didn’t feel like we have missed out. There was lots to see and do. 


Heading down to level 340m, the view seemed less hazy. We wandered round, took a brief look at the glass floor (I wasn’t brave enough to stand on it though!!)and then headed down to find some food…

Lack of food had turned the 3 children into grumpy monsters! 

Access:

 We caught the Hanzommon Line to Oshiage station. 

Exploring, Exploring: My 5 Favourite Beaches near Tokyo

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Summer is here in Japan and in true Japanese weather form it arrived on its due date!

BAM! 1 July- the day that the Japanese beaches and the outdoor pools open- the temperature goes up by 2-3 deg C and the humidity by about 15%. Friday the first, the humidity was so thick, it felt like we could cut it with a knife!

So where to when the temperatures are in the high twenties/ early thirties
Well personally I feel there are a few options…

1: Water
2: Mountains
3: Airconditioning

But it’s the beach that’s calling me, beckoning me…

So here are My 5 favourite beaches to visit.

Ohama Beach is my favourite beach along the Izu penninsula. Admittedly it isn’t near to Tokyo, but it is well worth mentioning. It is a stretch of beach about 10 minutes drive from Shimoda station. The sea is a lovely colour as is the sand. Shimoda isn’t close enough to be a day trip, but well worth it for a weekend.

Araihama Beach is our go to beach for a day trip out of Tokyo. It is a lovely cove,with facilities on the shore. The sea is relatively sheltered, so is great for children.
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Enoshima beach isn’t always the prettiest, but I really like it because it is easy to get to from Tokyo by public transport, and the island is a great place to wander and just people watch. There is also a spa on the island, which is another way to relax and unwind.

Zushi Beach is round the corner from Enoshima. It is a large straight beach, with plenty of water sport enthusiasts enjoying the sunny warm days. This is another one that is easy to get to by car or by train.

Onjuku Beach, Chiba is further to reach than the others, but is still possible for a day trip. That said, the shortest way to get there is through the Aqualine, which isn’t always the fastest- especially on a Sunday afternoon.

Apparently there are some beautiful beaches in Chiba, but I have yet to explore them- when I do, I will let you know!

I hope I’ve whet your appetite for beaches around Tokyo. There are some within Tokyo, but you aren’t allowed to swim in the sea, so on a hot summers day they aren’t really worth visiting!

And if you have found any beaches worth visiting around Tokyo, please do let me know as I would love to visit some new ones!

 

Exploring, exploring…

I have made a new friend at swimming. She and I meet every week while our children have their lesson and as the year has progressed we are becoming more than just two mums-who-meet-at-the-pool-every-week.

She only arrived in the summer, and after one of our chats about places to visit, I realised what a wealth of knowledge I have gained over the last 3 1/2 years as I’ve gone about ‘making the most of my time here’.

So I’ve decided to start another series. This series will be linked to My 5 and will give some information about where to explore in Japan (though for now it will mainly be in Tokyo.) At the start of each month, I will post about My 5 favourite places to visit based on a particular theme.

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Hopefully this will inspire you to head out and explore. I would also love to hear what you would recommend each month. If there is anything you would like to see on the list (Such as parks, playgrounds or such like), please do leave a comment below.

I will start next week with My 5 Favourite Aquariums.

Araihama Beach, Miura, Kanagawa

In mid-September, Japan had two typhoons pass through, with some areas receiving double their average rainfall for September in just over a week.

With a forecast of more rain, it was a no brainer to head out of Tokyo to the beach when Saturday dawned bright and clear.

Araihama beach is situated on the Miura penninsula, about 90 minutes drive from Tokyo. It has a protected cove, which makes it ideal for children to swim and play.

We ate lunch at Kamehameha, the Hawaiian restaurant on the beach, where everything (even the music) had a Hawaiian theme.

Even the dog was in a hawaiian outfit!
The proprietors were very friendly and spoke an element of English. They also had various water sport equipment which we were able to borrow.

The Hawaiian restaurant and the others on the beach, offered a BBQ option. It requires at least 1 1/2 hour advanced reservation, and then the BBQ and all the food is provided. The whole beach was filled with delicious smelling aromas, and we never felt smoked out, despite having a group BBQ-ing next to us.

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We first visited Araihama last May and stumbled across a festival. The beach was closed off and there were lots of people around. Someone, eventually explained to us that it was a ceremony to commemorate the souls of the Miura clan, who died out in the Muromachi period. It is held at Araihama beach on the last Sunday in May each year and the festival includes Kasagake ―old archery and horsemanship techniques passed down from the Miura clan. Basically the samurai gallop their horses along the beach where they have to aim at a wooden target. If they hit the target, it is considered good luck. The splinters are collected and for a fee, signed with your surname at the end of the festival. They are supposed to bring good luck to your house.

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The festival was fascinating and well worth a visit.

We drove down to the penninsula on both visits, parking at the Keikyu Aburatsubo Marine Park, which is Y700 for the day. The drive was relatively straight forward, and I believe just as easy to get there on public transport as there was a bus terminal not far from the beach.

  
Araihama is a lovely beach, one of our favourites for a day trip out of Tokyo

Beginning of the School Year Blues

It’s that time of year again.

The children are back at school.


But I have been struggling a bit. Looking back at various posts, it’s not the first time I’m struggling with this, so I’ll try not to bore you too much.

What I have been struggling with since coming back from our summer in the UK is that age old question of what to do with my time, now that my children are all at school. Granted this is not a situation unique to being an expat, but being an expat has different aspects to that question.

Go back to work: as a teacher by trade, that could be easy, as finding an English speaking school here wouldn’t be too hard. But I’m here on a dependent spouse visa. Meaning, I am dependent-on-my-spouse. I am not allowed a job. Can’t open a bank account. Dependent. I can change my visa status and I believe it isn’t that hard, but how desperately do I want to go back to work…


Friends come and go: in my case, I’ve already seen a lot of my close friends leave and most of the others will be leaving at the end of this school year, due to the fact that most expat contracts are 2-4 years in length. Do I want to be working, or spending the time I have left with them enjoying their company?

We are entering our fourth year here, so we perhaps we will be leaving too. Perhaps she says….
We don’t know. Not quite Limbo Land, but the uncertainty is there.

So what to do with my time?

I could embrace the expat life:

    • Join a particular elite club, attend it’s gym and use its facilities.
    • Enjoy lengthy lunches
    • Have beautiful blow dried hair and nails sporting the latest art.

Hmmm… Maybe not.

Don’t get me wrong, I have been enjoying the lunches with my friends, and my waistline is proof of that, but there have been times when I’ve been enjoying lunches with my friends after an explore.

That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to exercise and I’m going to enjoy lunches with my friends. We are going to make the most of what time we have left in this amazing country and see as much as we can. Using, wherever possible, our feet as the primary form of transport and enjoying a lunch before heading back to collect our brood.

I shall bring you along too. I plan to blog more regularly, sharing posts about matters of faith, life, travel, motherhood and just the fun and games Somedays bring and so inspire you to explore more….

Related Posts:

Spring into Spring Series- Out ‘n About

       I so love spring.       The feeling of the days getting longer…         Seedlings piercing the ground….       The milder temperatures…..        The sound of birds calling for a mate……      The sun gently stirring sleeping world.

Spring into spring

I want to get out. To explore. To potter on my patch of earth. To marvel at the beauty around us.

Today is the last of the series. Every Monday for the last 6 weeks, I have posted my moments as I ‘Spring into Spring’. They have been of explorations of the Japanese Spring, in and around Tokyo. Some of the trips I have done on with just J and I and others have had my family with me. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching how the spring has changed over the last 6 weeks from the cherry blossoms to the tulips, azaleas and irises. I hadn’t realised how green Tokyo is as a city.

Enjoy the final installment of ‘Spring into Spring’

Out ‘n About.

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What has been your favourite spring moment?

Spring into Spring Series- Showa Kinen Park

  I so love spring.       The feeling of the days getting longer…         Seedlings piercing the ground….       The milder temperatures…..        The sound of birds calling for a mate……      The sun gently stirring sleeping world.

Spring into spring

I want to get out. To explore. To potter on my patch of earth. To marvel at the beauty around us.

To this end- I’m starting this series. Every Monday for the next 6 weeks, I am going to post my moments as I ‘Spring into Spring’. They will mainly be of explorations of the Japanese Spring, that I will do with my family, but there might be others- who knows where the spring will take us. If you want to join in- please share a link to your blog. Enjoy as we ‘Spring into Spring’

Showa Kinen Park

This is another of my favourite parks and I do plan to review it in my Tokyo with Kids series. It is a great day out for families and garden lovers alike. P1060585

There is a flower festival on until the end of May (if my memory serves me correct), so if you are in Tokyo, do pay them a visit. I trust that you will enjoy the park as much as I do.P1010240 P1010241 P1010246 P1010248 P1060583  P1060591 P1060604 P1060612 P1060677 

       

Have you found some beautiful spring moments recently?