Travel Journal from the Orient

personal note ** I kept a daily journal from my trip to the orient.. I traveled with my dad (so if I refer to I, it usually pertains to my dad and I, or - in the second week - the Globus Tour group we traveled with).


Thursday, April 27, 2000 - Left my house at 6:15 am to go to Ft. Lauderdale airport, Flew (on United # 1733) to Chicago, and boarded a connecting flight (United # 141) to San Francisco. Arrived in San Francisco and went to the U.S. Customs Office to register some video and camera equipment. (Note: This is a good idea for anyone leaving the U.S. and heading to the Far east.) I was picked up by the hotel van and taken to the Westin San Francisco Airport. Had dinner, and went to bed early.

Friday, April 28, 2000 - Left the Westin Hotel about 10:00 am for the San Francisco Airport. Checked in (which didn't take very long - Thanks United) and proceeded to the "Red Carpet Club" until my flight was ready to leave. Boarded (United # 837) bound for Tokyo (Narita Airport). Long plane ride: 2 full meals, a snack, as well as 3 full  movies.

Saturday, April 29, 2000 - We landed at Narita at 4:15 pm and cleared immigration & customs, and were met by a JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) agent who escorted us to an awaiting bus to the Tokyo Hilton. It's a long ride in (about 90 minutes) but you pass quite a few historic sites. In addition, we passed "Ski Dome" (the world's only indoor ski facility) along the way.. Arrived at the Tokyo Hilton (in Shinjuku) {6-2 Nishi - Shinjuku  6-chome, Shinjuku-ku  160 Tokyo Japan  (81) (3) 33-44-51-11 }and went to bed early.

Sunday, April 30, 2000 - Awoke at 7:00 am. Took a short walk around the Shinjuku area. We met a JTB representative at the Hilton who took us (in a cab) to Tokyo Station. We had some time to kill so we went in to the Kokusai Kanko Kaikan Hotel and had some tea. (It's connected to the station.) We then boarded a 9:21 am Shinkansen (Hikari # 213) bound for Kyoto. (Shinkansen = "Bullet Train"). Rode in the "Green Car" - 1st class.. The Bullet Train travels at around 155 mph, and it made one stop along the way in Nagoya... You pass amazing sites, and we were able to see Mt. Fuji in the distance. We arrived at Kyoto Station @ 11:59 am (these trains run pretty much to the exact minute) and met Jean from JTB - Sunrise Tours and went to the New Miyako Hotel for lunch. Had some Shrimp Scampi. Departed on a bus at 1:40 pm for Nara City (which was a bout a 1 hour ride) and visited: Todaiji Temple, Kasuga Shrine, and a deer park. We then boarded the bus and headed back to Kyoto (1 hour ride) and checked into the Kyoto Hotel. (A very nice hotel). At 7:00 pm I went out for a walk (down Kawaramachi St.) and had dinner at McDonalds. Then went to AM PM for some coffee and headed back to the Kyoto Hotel to sleep.

Monday, May 1, 2000 - We were picked up from the Kyoto Hotel at 8:30 am and went to Nijo Castle. It was built in 1603 to house the shogun, "Ieyasu". Then we went to the Gold Pavilion. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens and sights. Then an old Imperial Palace. It's extremely guarded since it is (or was) a government building and housed the Emperor. We had lunch at the Kyoto Handicraft Center - nice Japanese buffet. In the afternoon, we visited: Heian Shrine, Sanjusangendo Hall (with it's 1001 statues). The last stop was Kiyomizu Temple on a mountain in Kyoto. It is very impressive and looks down upon the city of Kyoto. I met a friend, Emiko, from Osaka for dinner. We had some great Yakitori at the "Charcoal Grill Agatha" located at: Yurika Bldng. 2F Kiyamachi - Sanjyo Agaru - Nakagyo-ku Kyoto City. (075) 223-2379. It was excellent. I highly recommend it if you are in Kyoto. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2000 - Leaving for Osaka, Japan this morning. Took the Hankyu Railway at Kawaramachi Station to Osaka Umeda Station. Met my friend, Emiko (at 10:30 am) and took a local train (subway) to Namba Station to see Den Den town. It is an electronics area. We saw many electronic gadgets and strolled through big shopping areas. Covered streets are very popular in Japan. We had lunch at an authentic (traditional) Soba restaurant called, "Shinsyu-soba SOJIBO. We walked around a lot more and then went back to Umeda Station to take take the Hankyu Railway back to the Kyoto Hotel. We were picked up by a JTB representative and taken (by cab) to Kyoto Station for the 6:14 pm Shinkansen (Bullet Train - Hikari # 254) back to to Tokyo. It was a 2 hour and 45 minute ride back and we arrived (on time of course) at 9:14 pm where we were met by a JTB rep who put us in a cab back to the Tokyo Hilton in Shinjuku-ku. We checked in an had a late dinner (@ 10:00 pm) at Royal Host. ** Special thanks to Emiko - who really went out of her way to show superior hospitality.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2000 - Just to let everyone know.. This is a big holiday week in Japan known as "Golden Week". Everything is very crowded, but people move swiftly. After a tremendous buffet breakfast (which is part of the daily package at the Hilton) we went to Shinjuku Station and took the subway (SOBU Line) to Akihabara Station. The Akihabara area is probably the largest electronics area in the world. (seriously making Times Sq. New York look tiny). There are hundreds of shops that sell the latest (and I mean the latest) of electronic gadgets and hi-tech devices, such as: computers and DVD navigational systems. We walked around for a few hours and then got back on the train (Yamanote Line) and went to Ginza. The Ginza area has some of the finest retail shops around. (ala Beverly Hills - Rodeo Drive). Plus it has the SONY Buliding.. This is a must in Japan. It has 7 floors of (all of) SONY'S latest and soon to be released products. It takes two hours to explore this building. We had a late lunch at McDonalds, and then boarded the subway (Marunouchi Line) and headed back to Shinjuku - back to the Hilton Hotel... Relaxed for a bit before dinner at (once again) Royal Host.

Thursday, May 4, 2000 - Breakfast at the Hilton. Then we went to Shinjuku Station and got on the subway (Marunouchi Line connecting to the Hibiya Line) bound for Roppongi. Roppongi is well known for its many bars, restaurants, and sensational night life, but it's still a pleasure to stroll around in the early morning.. We walked east to Tokyo Tower. It was built in 1959 and resembles the Eifel Tower in Paris. It has many TV and radio antennas and transmits signals all around Tokyo as well as Japan. We walked around that area and found a beautiful Japanese garden and park known as "Shiba Park". We also saw the Zojoji Temple. We then got on the "Toei Shinjuku Line" (at Hamatsucho Station) and headed back to Shinjuku Station. I had lunch - Soba and Tonkatsu at some place in the area. Now it was time to really enjoy Shinjuku.. This is one of the busiest areas in Tokyo. I went to Tower Records and looked at all the CD's and Videos that are not available in the U.S. I then went back to the hotel (hooked up with my dad) and had dinner at a restaurant called "Lion". It is a very nice Italian Restaurant.. had Penne in a basil sauce.   


Return to Homepage                View Photos from the Orient   (low resolution)