Japan 2013

On the 23th of September I began my third trip to Japan. The main goal this time is to visit the Ogasawara Island. And to relax of course.

25 September 2013, Tokyo, Japan

After I arrived in Tokyo on tuesday morning I did some minor sightseeing, my jetlag was still having the better of me. Today I felt a lot better so it was time for some shopping in Akihabara, asking questions at the tourist center and looking over Tokyo from Odaiba.

I will try to get a ticket to the Ogasawara Island tomorrow. The weather was pretty bad over there because of a tyfoon, but the forecast is looking good.

26 September 2013, Tokyo, Japan

My plans have been altered slightly because every hotel on Chichi-jima was booked full for this week. But I have a reservation at the youth hostel for next week, from the 4th till the 10th of October. That said, I still need to get a confirmation from the youth hostel on Haha-jima. If I can's stay there for 4 nights starting the 10th of October I need to find another place to stay. And if I don't find another place I might have to cancel the whole trip, because the boat only leaves once a week. I can't just leave 4 days early, I have to leave 7 days early, resulting in a stay of just 3 days which is not worth a 25 hour boat trip. And there I thought my plan for this vacation was to relax.

At the moment I'm still in Tokyo, shooting photos at day and night..

28 September 2013, Nikkō, Tochigi, Japan

The youth hostel on Haha-jima still had place for me, so I'm all set to go to the Ogasawara Islands. :)

I still have a couple of days before the boat leaves so I took the train to see a bit more than only Tokyo. At the moment I'm in Nikkō, about 150 km north of Tokyo. A couple of photos to give an impression.

29 September 2013, Nikkō, Tochigi, Japan

I'm still in Nikkō and today I visted the emperial villa. My fish eye lens really came in handy to take a photo of the inner gardens.

After the emperial villa I walked to Jakko Falls, a waterfall a couple of kilometer away from the main road.

I actually planned to go to another town tomorrow, but it seems like I'm staying another two nights in Nikkō. There is some urban exploring to do..

1 October 2013, Nikkō, Tochigi, Japan

Yesterday I went to the Ashio Copper Mine. The mine has been closed for fourty years and part of it has been converted into a theme park for kids. Not very fun because we (I went together with Tony, a Chinese student from Fukuoka) actually expecting to see old abandoned buildings. Tony had already asked a local where the old mine buildings were, but he was told that all the old buildings we gone. Not fully convinced about this, we walked along the main road until we found an old gate with a couple of concrete basins behind it. The gate was open so entrance was easy and soon we saw an enormous abandoned factory. Score!

I'm going to upload the full set when I get home. The whitebalance goes crazy in places like this and editing raw photos on a small laptop is a small disaster.

After a bit of investigating this is not the smelter factory of the Ashio Copper Mine that always appears on urbex websites. This was only some kind of ore crushing and cleaning factory. However, since the reports on various urbex sites say that the smelter factory is now fully closed off by fences and guards, we were really lucky to find this factory which had not been closed off.

During the rest of my time here in Nikkō I did some more tourist like things, like visiting the Bake Jizo, eating ramen noodles and walking along a scenic path.

2 October 2013, Tokyo, Japan

I had to move back to Tokyo today, because tomorrow at 10 in the morning the boat to the Ogasawara Islands is going to leave. It was raining when I left Nikkō, but in Tokyo it was almost dry. Perfect weather to do some shopping and shoot some photos.

7 October 2013, Omura, Chichijima, Japan

At 4 October I arrived at Chichijima, the main island of the Ogasawara Islands. Yes, it is a tropical island. :)

After resting the rest of the day I decided to go snorkeling the next day. I rented some equipment walked to the most nearby beach. The water was a bit cloudy, but with a water temperature of around 30 degrees Celcius and lots of things to see it was nice.

But, there is always more. I planned a diving trip for yesterday, and we went to three different diving sites. All three the sites were beautiful. The red in the photos is gone, maybe I should invest in a decent external flash if I plan to do this more often.

One of the messages during the last dive was 'dont hit the big bomb'. There are all kinds of WWII wreaks and relics on and around these islands.

At the moment I am waiting for my laundry to get ready, but I think I'll rent a scooter and go around the island today.

9 October 2013, Omura, Chichijima, Japan

The weekly boat departed two days ago, heading for Tokyo. It looks like half the island came to see off the boat.

The boat took nearly all the tourist away so every tour was now basically a private tour. After a bit of searching the tourist information found a night tour which was willing to go around the island for just one guest. The guide for the night tour said that we were quite lucky to find a flying fox on the first try. After that he also showed me the 'Green Pepe', a bioluminescent mushroom.

I could not resist trying to shoot a photo of the milky way during the night tour. Still a fair amount of noise, I have to figure out how to improve that.

Yesterday I went on a dolphin swim tour. We went around half the island, twice, according to my gps logger.

To bad I got a bit seasick after five hours on the little boat and when we finally found two dolphins I didn't feel like going into the water. So no photos, but I've seen dolphins. However, we did stop halfway to do some snorkeling.

Finally, today I did a tour around the island. Apearantly my international driver licence is not good enough to rent a scooter, but it is good enough to rent a car. Well, a car is was.

With 660cc it's more like a scooter on four wheels. Taking into account driving on the left side of the road is somewhat new for me, and the fact I have never driven with an automatic gearbox, it went great. I think I only turned on the windscreen wipers twice when I was supposed to turn on the signal lights. I have lots of photos of the entire island, but those will have to wait. It is past midnight at the moment, and my boat to Hahajima leaves at 7:30 in the morning.

10 October 2013, Oki, Hahajima, Japan

Yesterday I went around Chichijima by car and again I took too many photos. Here is a small selection.

A panorama taken on the highest mountain of the island, Mount Chuosan.

Today I moved to Hahajima, an island about 40 km south of Chichijima. It seems like I have to solve a little money problem first. The ATM here does not accept international cards and I'm out of cash. Hopefully a bank transfer will solve things.

11 October 2013, Oki, Hahajima, Japan

Yesterday I moved to Hahajima and while I was on the boat I had my own farewell crew on the shore. All the remaining guests and the owner of the youth hostel had come to the port to see me off.

After I arrived at Hahajima I had a little money problem, but that was solved this morning. I have a decent amount of cash again so I reserved a spot on a diving trip tomorrow and a car for the day after tomorrow. The rest of the day I walked around the island taking some photos.

If someone is still wondering where I am, I made a little clickable map.

13 October 2013, Oki, Hahajima, Japan

Yesterday I went on a diving trip. We went to three locations in front of the west coast, because the sea at the east coast was too rough. Typhoon number 26 is closing in on Japan. I'm starting to get the hang of taking photos underwater, too bad I'm leaving the Ogasawara Island tomorrow. A couple of photos to show the progress.

Today I went on a trip around the island. Well, not exactly around, since there is only one road that goes up 8 km to the north and 2 km down to the south.

Yes, sorting some photos while lying in a chair on the deck of the youth hostel, I could get used to that.

We did not had dinner in the youth hostel tonight, because there was a festival in the village. The owner of the youth hostel brought us to it where we got a dinner with entertainment for only 500 yen. Cheap!

Tomorrow I'll go back to Chichijima and from there back to Tokyo. A combined 27 hours by boat.

16 October 2013, Honno, Chiba, Japan

Yesterday I arrived in Chiba where I'm currently staying to visit a family member and sitting out the typhoon. Not much damage around here other than some flooded roads and fallen trees.

Tomorrow I'll travel in the direction of Mount Fuji.

18 October 2013, Moto-hakone, Kanagawa, Japan

I'm staying in Moto-hakone since yesterday. This area is famous for the view of Mount Fuji. That is, if you can see it through the clouds. I had similair problems five years ago when I first came to Japan.

The whole area seems to be one big tourist trap which takes a bit of getting used to since I was on a tropical island with only 450 people less than a week ago. At least there are some hiking trails which are not often used.

19 October 2013, Moto-hakone, Kanagawa, Japan

After I did my laundry today I hiked along the old stone paved highway a bit. This is part of the road that used to connect Tokyo and Kyoto. Later on the day I went to see the silver grass fields.

I think I would like a patch of that grass in my future garden.

Tomorrow I'm going back to Tokyo, but I think I'll make a midway stop in Odawara.

22 October 2013, Tokyo, Japan

No stop in Odawara because it was pouring. After some coffee together with the German couple who were also staying in the same guesthouse I went straight to Tokyo. Where it was pouring also, of course. Luckily the weather has been fine for the past two days.

Yesterday I went shopping in Akihabara and today I found a 100 yen store. The perfect places to buy too much. :) I've already bought a box to send it home.

I wanted to visit The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) today, but it turns out they are closed on Tuesdays. My bad for not checking that.

Since I was in Odaiba anyway I stopped by the Fuji TV station to take some photo's before going back with the boat to Asakusa. Not with the cool one on the photo, because that one just left before my eyes.

24 October 2013, Tokyo, Japan

Yesterday I went to Kawagoe, also called little Edo. In Kawagoe there are some buildings and temples from the time that Tokyo was still called Edo. It's only 30 minutes by train from Tokyo.

Today I visited the fish market in Tokyo. Not at four in the morning, but rather at eleven in the late morning. Tourists have become a bit of a problem (aren't they always) at the market so most of the market is closed off for tourists till nine in the morning. By that time most of the business is over. Still, after that time there is enough to shoot.

I'm flying home tomorrow.