Thursday 8 June Kanazawa to Tokyo

We were up early this morning to finish packing our last-minute things and put our suitcases out for collection. We had breakfast in the Lido Café and the weather was overcast and raining lightly. We
disembarked the beautiful Caledonian Sky for the last time and the staff were there to say goodbye and wish us well. We identified our suitcases on the dock and one of the staff loaded them onto an Express Luggage truck that transported our luggage straight to our hotel in Tokyo and they were delivered to our room – great system!
Our bus took us to Kanazawa Station and we followed our guide through the busy station to the Shinkansen platform 11 and we lined up on the markings on the platform for Carriage 2 – we love this system as the Shinkansen zooms into the station and stops exactly in the right position so that our door was right in front of where we were lined up.
We had 5 minutes for about 80 people to board the carriage and the train left the station at exactly 9.46am as scheduled. Yesterday our guide told us that if her local trains are running late, up to 3 minutes, she gets a text to advise her of the delays as this doesn’t happen very often.
Japanese bullet trains, known locally as Shinkansen, are among the fastest in the world and routinely reach speeds of close to 200mph (320 km/h), easily linking major cities throughout Japan with one another. The Shinkansen uses a Body Incline System to tilt the train so that we didn’t feel as though we were going around corners. They also have a long, specially shaped nose on the leading operations car, which reduces the noise when going through tunnels.
The Shinkansen are known for their safety – no fatal accidents in history; pressurized cabin comfort – relatively silent cars with spacious forward facing seats; record-setting punctuality – trains depart on time to the second; and fantastic cultural touches like heated toilet seats. The Shinkansen are said to be by far the easiest and most exciting option to see the amazing Japanese countryside.
The Shinkansen that we were on was the Kagayaki, which has 12 cars, is the fastest train category along the Hokuriku Shinkansen departing Tokyo and Kanazawa in the mornings and the evenings. There are several Shinkansens but we were interested to hear about Dr Yellow, which is a Shinkansen that travels every 10 days without passengers and its job is to monitor the wires that supply 25,000 volts of electricity to the train and also electronically check the tracks. People love Dr Yellow, especially the children, who see it as being a hero.
We sat back and enjoyed the sights during our 2.5 hour journey on the Shinkansen between Kanazawa and Tokyo, only stopping at Toyama, Nagano, Omiya and Ueno. APT had organised lunch boxes and apple juice for us, which were quite tasty.
We arrived at Tokyo Station at 12.20pm to a sunny day with just a few clouds. Some of our cruise group were taken straight to the airport for their onward flights and the rest of us went for a tour of the Imperial Palace East Gardens and some of them will be transported straight to the airport when we reach the hotel, so we are not sure exactly how many people will be joining us for the 3 day Tokyo City stay.
The Imperial Palace East Gardens are the former site of Edo Castle’s inner circle of defense. None of the main buildings remain but the walls, entrance gates, some guardhouses and the moats still exist. We entered through the Ote-mon gate and the Hyaku-nin-bansho Guardhouse and wandered around part of the Gardens, which are 210,000 square metres, enjoying areas like the Ninomaru Grove, a woodland area and garden pond with a lantern and a little tea house. We saw the most amazing Iris Garden that was the loveliest part of the gardens – it has 84 different varieties of Irises grow in this garden. These varieties have been carefully maintained since they were donated by the Iris Garden of Meiji Jingu Shrine (which we will be visiting tomorrow) in 1966 when the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace were being created.
We were then taken on a sightseeing tour around the city through the business district, the Ginza area, past the fish markets, which are the largest in the world, over the Rainbow Bridge, through the Daiba area and finally to our hotel.
The Hotel New Otani Tokyo, which will be our home for the next 6 days, is a large hotel, with a main building and garden tower and garden court building – it has hosted numerous heads of state and has a 400-year-old Japanese garden.
After meeting Kristen, who will be our guide for the next 3 days, checking in and getting organised in our beautiful room, which is on the 30th Floor in the Garden Tower and has a beautiful view over part of the city and down to the Hotel’s Japanese Gardens, we managed to upload the past 7 days of photos.
Then, we went to explore the hotel’s Japanese Gardens. With a history of more than 400 years, the garden has in the past been the property of various Samurai Lords. The 10-acre-ground features several ancient stone lanterns, two red bridges over carp ponds, a stone Zen garden, a huge waterfall, as well as several restaurants. While the hotel and gardens are in the midst of this busy city, we were amazed at the quiet and peaceful atmosphere.
The New Otani Hotel is huge! It has the Main building with 17 floors, the Garden Court with 30 floors and the Garden Tower, which we are in, with 40 floors. There is a Banquet Floor with several Banquet Rooms and Boardrooms/Meetings Rooms, a Wedding Chapel and Wedding Hall as well as a huge Bridal area with dressing rooms etc AND a Shopping Arcade with lots of shops, a doctor’s clinic, a pharmacy and a dental clinic. Although there are 39 (that is not a typo) different restaurants, cafes and bars to choose from, we decided to have a light dinner in the Garden Lounge overlooking the beautiful Japanese Garden Waterfall – the food was delicious and the view was superb.
What a lovely start to our 6 days in Tokyo!


One Response to “Thursday 8 June Kanazawa to Tokyo”

  1. Maria Hughes says:

    Beautiful photos again. Grant, Tim and Dennis enjoy a Japanese beer from time to time and I think it is Grant’s favourite. Michael and Maggie took us to a Japanese Restaurant for a lovely lunch on Tuesday – made me think of your guys. Keep enjoying your adventure in Tokyo, love from us all xoxo

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