Sapporo, Australia v Fiji

Well we finally arrived in Sapporo after a 26 hour journey, 3 planes a train and a taxi later we were in the hotel. Went out the Friday evening to avoid the jet lag and after a few pints and a great Ramen we crashed out at 10pm. Great sleep but struggled to get up the next day for the match. Australia v Fiji. The Fijians battled well but were unable to compete in the Mauls letting the Wallabies come out on top eventually.
Japan is as expected. wacky, unexpected, manic at times and also frankly odd to us sometimes.
The Ramens are fantastic here. We went down "Ramen Alley" for food and once you got over having to pay into a machine to order your food it was great. In Japanese it's a bit like a lucky dip to what you get!
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Sapporo and Tokyo

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We have now left Sapporo and have arrived in Tokyo. Airport was chaos, incoming typhoon apparently. 2 hours checking bag in.
Sapporo was excellent. The Ramen was great and we also went to a lamb BBQ place, apparently they are another foodie item particular to Sapporo. They were actually cooking Suffolk lamb. I followed the lamb with some tripe. A bit like crunchy squid. Enjoyed the England game. The queues for the food and drink were ridiculous. Heineken are the main sponsors and the lager is supplied as a can which they individually pour. Because of this they are now allowing food to be brought in. But obviously not drink.

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Kazuo, our Japanese friend met us at the station in Tokyo and guided us to our hotel, which was very nice of him as negotiating a city's train and underground system isn't easy at first. We are staying in a little trendy hotel called the "Wired Hotel" not sure why. It's situated in the Asakusa area. A warren of restaurants and shrines. Quite an old part of the town. We went to the restaurant closest to the hotel called the "Yonekyu Honten", almost a 150 years old. When it started it was trailblazer as one of the first meat restaurants. Eating meat was only allowed from 1872. We had the traditional Sukiyaki dish a kind of hotpot you cook yourself. It isn't easy getting off those tatami mats at the end of an evening.
Rhonda did not have much of a birthday, being in transit but Sophie and Fergus gave gifts and cards, which Rhonda appreciated
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Tsukiji Fish Market

This interesting fellow below belongs in Japanese folk law. When you purchase him he should have blank eyes - you then make a wish /prayer and where this is realised you fill in one eye and make another desire . Once that has been completed then and only then can you fill in the other eye. Go figure!!

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Peter has caught Sophie's cold so I was on my own today at Tsukiji Fish Market. Travelled by Taxi as was not prepared to fight with Tokyo Tube System in rush hour (or any other time). Great guide called Tak and four other travellers. Seeing the market with a guide was really interesting and learnt a lot, although not convinced about their whale ethos. Turning around from our tuna filleting session who was behind me but Allan and Sophie so I departed the group and went with them onwards and upwards. I had had enough sweet omelette and shrimp/octopus fried kebab anyway.

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More Tokyo

After the Fish Market we walked not far to the Hama Rikyu Gardens, beautiful and tranquil in the heart of the city was once a favourite of the Emperor dating from the Edo period originating back to 1654, it continues today with beautiful tea houses, we were lucky to have tea in one that is open to the public.We then caught a water bus back along the river to Asakusa.
Tomorrow we travel to another area of Tokyo, a more modern and impressive part of this enormous city called Shinjuku where we meet up with the family for an evening meal before going our separate ways.

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Asakusa Continued

The temple complex in Asakusa is roughly a mile square, pedestrianised with the temples in the middle. The Sensoji temple and the Demboin temple. Surrounding the temples are a grid of shops and restaurants. It's a very touristy place but very nice. You can pay 100 yen and shake a box for fortune, extract a stick with a number and from a drawer with the same number pull out whether you will have good and bad fortune. You can also hire traditional dress and you see lots of woman dressed if full regalia. all good fun.

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You can see Rhonda shaking that box only to get a bad fortune which you then have to tie up so it fthe bad luck falls out. Weird I know. I got good fortune!

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Last night we went out to a restaurant. Had not a clue what to expect. The meal was cooked on a hot plate,some diners cooking their own meal. I googled it on returning to the hotel. There are roughly 30 types of Japanese restaurants and this was an Okonomiyaki restaurant. This evolved form the cooking of leftovers in a pancake batter resulting in a crunchy pancake. You can pick and choose your ingredients. Monjayaki is a Tokyo version using a thinner pancake mix.

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Shinjuka

After 2 days in Asakusa we moved about 6 miles across Tokyo to the Shinjuku prefecture. It's very much an entertainment area. All forms of entertainment. It's vibrant, brash, crowded and noisy. Fergus took us to a all you can eat shaba shaba restaurant and afterwards to the " Golden Gai " an alleyway full of bars, over 200! Some will only take 6 customers at a time.
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The main government building in Tokyo has an observation deck on the 45 floor and we went there to watch the sunset after we arrived in Shinjuku.

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Today we visited the Meiji shrine. apparently an example of restrained Shinto architecture.It was very peaceful. You can buy a "votive" tablet and inscribe it with a prayer. Some of the requests were funny others quite sombre.

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