Playing Away Again As The New J-League Season Kicks Off

Away day travel is good at most times of the year but there are some grounds which are just that bit more appealing during certain periods and Mito Hollyhock certainly fall into that category. This Ibaraki-based side may live in the shadows of their more famous and successful prefecture rivals Kashima Antlers but they have the advantage of lying much closer to Kairaku-en.

These gardens are famed as being one of the best three gardens in Japan and worthy of a visit at any time but the end of February is particularly good as that’s when the plum blossom is at its best. Hollyhock’s home game against Shonan Bellmare (relegated from J1 last year) gave the Rambling Northerner and I the perfect opportunity to combine the gardens and the K’s Denki Stadium into a day trip.

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Having paid 900 yen at JR Mito station (bus stop #4) for a one day pass bus ticket, we actually left at about 12:45pm ahead of a 2pm kick off. However Continue reading

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Tokyo Daytripper: Ofunakannon-ji Temple

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Over the years I have passed through Ofuna in Kanagawa prefecture a few times and have always noticed a giant white goddess statue looming in the mountains looking down on the station. The sight of this has always been of interest to me but it always seemed too much trouble to stop off there or go specifically to see it as I didn’t really know what it was. However, the journey back from Odawara was the perfect opportunity to Continue reading

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Tokyo Daytripper: Taya Caverns In Ofuna

Undeterred by my failed attempt to see the Iko-ji Temple Benten Cave near Keio Yomiuriland station last year (it had closed down), I decided to head off on a 30 minute walk from Ofuna station to locate Josen-ji Temple. This one was mentioned to me by a student at the same time as the closed one, and the journey back from Odawara seemed like the perfect opportunity to seek this one out.

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Located in a suburban neighbourhood surrounded by rice paddies, the tunnel entrance could be Continue reading

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Tokyo Daytripper: A Morning In Odawara City

There are many castles dotted around Japan and I seem to have been to my fair share of them but one omission has been the one that is actually the closest to Tokyo. Odawara lies in Kanagawa prefecture about 80km away from Tokyo and so with my parents-in-law driving back to their holiday home in Izu the other Sunday I decided to catch a lift with them and get dropped off in Odawara. We all left the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre at 7:45am so was already at the castle by 10am and they accompanied me to the exterior grounds where there was a photo opportunity with some armour clad guys.

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We had seen Mount Fuji in all its splendid glory on the drive but I have no decent photo of that so you’ll just have to take my word for it! I know that sounds a bit crazy but in a world where just about everything is recorded it is not often the case! My in-laws departed once we’d had a quick look at Continue reading

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The Lowdown On Tokyo’s Most Restrictive Tunnel

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Cycling around Japan is a great way of truly experiencing the sights but there is one thing which is never nice and that’s tunnels. Thanks to ‘A Ride In The Neon Sun: A Gaijin In Japan‘ by Josie Dew (1999), I was aware of them before I came to Japan. Whilst journeying across Japan she often waxed lyrical about her least favourite occupational hazard and said that entering a tunnel was like being sucked into a giant black rectum of toxic effluvium.

Whilst she was referring mostly to countryside tunnels the one featured in this article is very much a city one as it’s not too far from Continue reading

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The Wolverine Filming Locations

Of the many, many X-Men characters it seems that the Wolverine has done the best with a few stand-alone movies dedicated to the mutant who possesses animal-keen senses, enhanced physical capabilities, and powerful regenerative ability known as a healing factor. First there was the ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ (2009) prequel, then there was ‘The Wolverine‘ (2013) and now we have ‘Logan‘ (2017) which will be the last time the wonderful Hugh Jackman plays the character.

To mark the release Tokyo Fox has brought together all the filming locations from the 2013 movie and compiled them into one special picture special post. The time codes given are from the dvd so may be slightly different to the blu-ray or downloaded versions.

17 minutes – Yasukuni Dori Bridge, Shinjuku-ku (Tokyo). More details here

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29 minutes  – Zojoji Temple, Minato-ku (Tokyo). More details here  Continue reading

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Dining Out: Vingt Et Un Restaurant Ship In Tokyo Bay

Rarely does any year go by in Tokyo without me finding myself on a boat in Tokyo Bay but it’s usually for a night time all-you-can-drink cruise party rather than this recent experience which was a lunchtime affair. For six months we had had some free tickets lying around the house entitling us to go on a restaurant ship and finally we used them on the very day they expired.

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As ever in Japan there was a souvenir shop on board to pass through en-route to our seats where we were served up seven French courses though I always think it’s a bit of a joke to Continue reading

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