On our last day in Tokyo we went down to the Odaiba area. Great idea! Odaiba is basically Tokyo’s giant amusement park. In contrast to some of the narrow streets back in town, Odaiba is expansive, and has well-designed everything.
There is the Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. It has displays of robots, cat brains, the space station, genetically-engineered plants, model demonstrations of concepts from quantum mechanics, and best of all: a fully-working mechanical model of the internet. (Actually, this was perhaps not as awesome as the robots.)
There is the giant ferris wheel. It has impressive views, is 119 metres high and the ride lasts 16 minutes. The audio system in our gondola played Ravel’s Boléro on the way up.
There’s a Toyota showroom. (Still popular when we had a quick look there despite the problems with their pedals). There’s a ginormous shopping centre. There’s strange buildings and huge carparks and musicians.
So that was fun. The next day we went to Nara, again, first with the Shinkansen to Kyoto and then a rapid train.
Nara is famous for its deer population. There are two things I learnt about the Nara deer from simple experimentation: they are natural posers for photographs, and will follow you if you rustle a plastic bag (this was handy: I got a deer out of the way of a truck that looked like it was waiting for a while.)
We did the usual shrine and temple tour, but unlike the ones in other places that had been ravaged by many fires or destroyed for one reason or another, and subsequently reconstructed, some of the original buildings in Nara have actually survived until today. Very impressive.
I like the smaller-town feel of Nara. It reminds me a bit of Hobart. It also rained for most of the second day, which helped.
Then the other day we went back to Kyoto. It’s convenient to stay here for the last couple of days since there is a train back to the airport, and we certainly haven’t exhausted the sights here.
We went to Nijo Castle. If I was Tokugawa Ieyasu I’d be pretty pleased with how expansive and decorated my castle was. Many of the fascinating original paintings are kept in the dark for preservation, and there is no photography allowed inside, but I did take a lot of photos of the gardens.
We also went to see a film. Being a huge gushing fan of the Haruhi franchise, I was thrilled to see that Kyoto Animation had finished the first Haruhi film (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, or 涼宮ハルヒの消失) and released it to cinemas on the 6th. The large quantity of unsubtitled Japanese washed over my head but I was still really happy to see this film.
That pretty much brings us up to today—tonight, we fly back to Australia. Hope you’ve enjoyed the read. See you next time!