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Originally planned to see the spring cherry blossoms, this trip was taken in March-April 2002. Due to unusually warm conditions in Japan at the time, the cherry blossoms were about two weeks ahead of schedule. We started on the northern island of Hokkido in the city of Hakodate and then continued to Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto, Hiroshirma, and back to Tokyo. Many of the cherry trees were still in blossom, especially in the city of Kyoto. See more info about this country and others on my Virtual Tourist homepage.
Hey it's a Pikachu plane!This brought back memories. Do you remember the French Barbapapa cartoon?Small rooms are part of the Japanese culture. This bathroom must of been a good 20 ft2
The 100 Yen store in Hakodate. These are very popular and to top it off they have really good stuff all for Y100!Sign at the front of Hakodate's denshaw showing the fare you pay when you leave. The fare number is printed on a piece of paper when you board.
Hakodate's denshaw (=electric train) runs the main routes of the city.Seafood market in Hakodate. Lots of lots of extremely fresh food and vendors are more than happy to give samples.Ever seen corn wrapped in plastic?
Many stores in Hakodate sell fresh squid, which happens to be the mascot found on manhole covers.Fresh sushi in the supermarket -- so so tasty!
Hakodate also has an influence from nearby Russia. Can you guess all the political characters on the board here?Onuma Quasi National Park is about an hour's train ride north of Hakodate. Yes, I had to hide a geocache somewhere in the park.
Oh no! An electronics store with all sorts of neat stuff that won't even make it to North America for at least a couple of years.Toilet seats that play music and covering sounds, release perfume, warm you, wash you and much more -- only in Japan. Hard-Off is a chain store that sells previously owned stuff. I think they should of consulted an English speaker before using this name...
Hakodate bus stop. Instead of a timetable, a GPS system on the buses relay timing to timetable boards telling you exactly how long you have to wait for the next bus.Onto Hakone, south of Tokyo. A popular nature resort area.One of the older series Shinkansen (bullet trains), but still speeds up to 250+ km/h!
Cherry blossoms in KyotoGeishas pose near a temple in Kyoto......And the cool shoes that they wear.
Fresh octopus ready for sale.More trees in blossoms inside a temple in Kyoto.Some new leaves on a Japanese maple tree.
About 30 minutes from Kyoto by train brings you to Nara and the world's largest wooden building at Daibutsu-den Hall (Hall of the Great Buddha)Inside the hall you can crawl through this hole which is the same diameter as the Buddha's nostril. Apparently good luck if you make it through...Will that be an hour of rest (ahem) or stay? At least the hotels are open about why people frequent them.
Pachinko hall. Pachinko is a very popular Japanese gambling game played with steel balls. Gambling for money is illegal in Japan, so you trade your winnings for merchandise and then go next door to the pawn shop to do an exchange for money. All Pachinko halls are owned by the Japanese Mafia.A newer 'Nozomi' ShinkansenThe Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima. Take tissues with you as your eyes will be red when you leave. Very educational and worth the visit.
Some scenes inside the museum, including this panoramic shot showing the famous Industrial Promotional Building.The Industrial Promotional Building today. Ironically they have to do maintenance to keep the building standing as it is.Paper cranes are sent from around the world to Hiroshima as a sign of peace.
The floating Torii is seen at the entrance to Miyajima Island.More tasty goodies for sale in a 7-11. And it's good too!Fuji-san (Mt. Fuji) seen from the Shinkansen.
The Akihabara electronics district of Tokyo -- lots of toys you can buy at competitive prices.A GPS-enabled cell phone.Parking lot in Tokyo. Park your car and a ramp goes up infront of the back tires to ensure that you don't leave without paying. This would only work in Japan.
Big Koi for sale at a pet store on the roof of a department store. Bring a few thousand bucks with you for one fish.You can also fish for crayfish at this pet store. About US$7 for 30 minutes and you don't get to keep the crayfish either.Strange things happen near the Harajuku train station on the weekends as teens dress up in the latest exotic fashions.
More interesting people at Harajuku.These guys dressed as greasers and did a couple hours of really good dancing and singing.Another 'only in Japan' scene. Musicians play at Harajuku for fun. Note the guitar case is facing INWARDS.

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