Sunday, December 4, 2016

Kyoto Trip Highlights - Amazing Sights

We saw so much in the four days we were in Kyoto.  I wanted to experience the cultural treasures of the old capital of Japan where ancient shrines and temples are both beautiful and active places of worship.  There are millions of tourists passing through Kyoto every year (many of them Japanese), so a zen experience it was not, but it was great to see so many places I had read about or watched in anime.  Even with all the tourism, one of the things I like the most about Japan is that much of the tourist trade is still geared towards an Japanese touring their country rather than foreigners.  Here are some of my highlights from the visit.
Torii Shaped Ema Plaques for wishes at Fushimi Inari
 Shinkansen (The Bullet Train)
The bullet train network of Japan is amazing.  The trains run very much on schedule, depart every ten minutes, and everything is well maintained.  The ride on a bullet train traveling at 250+ kph is really smooth, and is like smooth flying.  The only turbulence you get is when another bullet train flies by in the other direction and the shock wave of the two trains passing at 500+ kph is a slight thump and roar.

We rode on the N700 trains between Tokyo and Kyoto.  These trains look so sleek and you can walk along the inside of the train for 16 cars from the first to the last car.  It was a 2.5 hour ride to Kyoto with plenty of leg room, nice wide seats, and we had a great ekiben (train bento) lunch on the way.  You need to pick up a train bento a Tokyo Station from Ekibeniya.  We even managed to see Mt. Fuji out of the windows for a bit. Anime Note: Train bento scene from Summer Wars. Remember the bullet train fight scene from the Wolverine movie?
Display at Ekibenyia showing all of the bento available.
You can get drinks and your meals here from numerous fridges.
N700 Express
Cabin inside an N700 car.  The pairs of seats can pivot around so if you have a party of 3 or 4 and no one else is sitting in the extra seat, you can pivot it around to talk to each other.
A yummy fish and rice bento with veggies.
Fushimi Inari Shrine
This is the grand shrine for the Inari Shinto shrines in Japan and it is amazing for the thousands of vermilion torii gates that lead you up the mountain to the shrine at the top.  These shrines are dedicated to good rice harvests and are protected by fox guardians, one of which has a key to the granaries, while the other has a sacred jewel.  You don't need to go all the way to the top either as most of the gates are located in the bottom half of the mountain walk and it does take 2 to 3 hours to do a round trip walk.

This is a very busy shrine, and is often packed with tourists for the bottom quarter of the mountain.  There is a very festive atmosphere with many food vendors and souvenir shops on the way to the shrine and the food is tasty.  It is hard to find solitude on the trails here unless you are there early in the morning or later in the evening.  It can be a very magical place to walk through all the mysterious gates that seem to go on endlessly on parts of the trail.  Anime Note: You've seen this place in the Memoirs of a Geisha movie, the Inari Kon Kon anime, and read about similar shrines in the Aria manga and seen it in the anime.  I really like this place for its beauty and mystique.
Fox with cylindrical key.
A hallway of gates leading up the mountain.
Each gate is donated by a sponsor who has their name or their company name painted on the back of the gate.
Yasaka Shrine in Gion
A very popular and important Shinto Shrine in the heart of Gion where the Gion Festival is held every year.  It is actually one of the oldest shrines in Kyoto too being founded in 656 AD.  There are smaller shrines for both love and beauty here, making it a very popular location for the local both past and present.  Geisha would apparently come here for the beauty shrine.  We visited this shrine in the day and evening.  It has a steady stream of visitors during the day and is very quiet and atmospheric at night.  There is also a stage that has hundreds of lanterns hanging from it that is illuminated at night, making it quite pretty.  Anime Note: In  the 6 minute short "Shelter" has scenes from this shrine
Front gate for the Yasaka Shrine
Small shrine
Stage with hundreds of lanterns
Kyoto Railway Museum
This rail museum recently went through a major upgrade and is an amazing museum dedicated to the railways which were vital for building modern Japan.  Inside are a variety of engines and cars of all historical periods.  You can enter some, walk under some, and peer inside many others, including some of the luxury trains.  Very cool museum if you like technology and especially trains!
Old rail station, now the main gift shop.
Some of the floor displays, including a bullet train.
Nishiki Market
This lively food market is a covered street that is a that runs for five blocks.  It is chock full of traditional food stores, all with an open frontage onto the street.  You can tell you are there by the distinctive red, yellow, green roof panels and the smell of freshly cooked food, pickling vegetables, and herbs and spices.  It is a very busy street, full of locals, but packed with tourists looking at all the great food both raw or ready to eat.  You can graze your way down this street and have great snacks or even lunch.  This place is amazing and more fun than many food or farmers markets you might have been to before.  However, it may also become a victim of its own success as you can see more touristy shops encroaching on the street itself, probably as business owners retire and sell out.
Nishiki Market Street
Deep fried treats.
Fresh seafood for sale.
Arashimaya Bamboo Groves
These towering groves of bamboo are very beautiful and serene if you are looking up and not looking at the crowds on the pathway.  The pathway winds through several groves as it heads up the mountain.  The breeze whispering through the tall bamboo, with the sunlight washing out the leaves high above you and playing games of dark and light in the grove are captivating.  Again, go early, as in before 8 AM to avoid the crowds or go late.  Pretty at any time of day, and worth braving the crowds if that is the only time you can see it.  You can feel like you could be watching that bamboo grove fight scene in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
Bamboo grove.
Walk in the Western Hills to Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple
After passing through the Arashimaya Bamboo Groves you arrive at Okochi Sanso Garden.  From here you can walk north on a road that will jog a little to the east at Arashimaya Station, then north again that will pass by many temples on the left had side.  It follows the hills here and it will take you by a doll museum, eventually to Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple, and finally the more isolated Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple.

This is a very picturesque walk that feels like a small town / semi-rural area with many traditional houses and gardens along Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street.   We only wanted to stop to see two temples, both famous for their little statues of stone.  The first one we stopped at was Adashino Nenbutsuji Buddhist Temple famous for the 8000 statues of here, some of which were found lost in the forest, of people who died without relatives to remember them.

When you reach the big torii gate, in the photos below, pass by it and north up the road to reach Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple. This temple is not really famous, but it is very atmospheric, and many of the statues are quite recent, but it was one of the coolest places we visited this trip.  It was practically deserted on a semi-rainy morning, adding to the charm of the hundreds of moss-covered statues of worshipers of Buddha (all are unique and many are somewhat unorthodoxed).

Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street

Big Torii Gate

Small shrine at Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple

Unique Statues at Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple
Tenryuji Temple Gardens 
Tenryuji is one of the five great zen temples in Kyoto.  The buildings (like many in Kyoto) have burned down to be be rebuilt many times, but the gardens have survived for centuries.  The gardens here surround a pond against a backdrop of trees, stones, and mountains and it is stunningly beautiful.  You could contemplate nature here for a long time.  This is like a generation 1 zen garden.
Main pond at Tenryuji
The Famous Ryoanji Rock Garden
I'm not the first to say this, but I did think this garden would be larger when I actually saw it.  It is an immaculately kept rock garden, perhaps the best of the generation 2 zen gardens, where there is no water, everything is more abstract, with islands of rock and circular ripples in the well groomed white pebble beds.  You can contemplate the universe here, seated at the side with hundreds of other people, as it is quite a popular site.  Outside this garden in the temple building, there is a large garden walk around a picturesque lake - very nice place to visit.
Ryoanji Rock Garden
Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion)
This place is definitely worth the price of admission and the landscape is stunning.  As you can see we visited on a cloudy day and it was still amazing, with the Golden Pavillion absolutely glowing and standing out from the duller greens around it.  The beauty of the place and the garden walk left an impression.  We visited relatively late in the afternoon, and it was still quite crowded as it is one of Kyoto's must sees.
Golden Pavillion
Golden Pavillion close up.
Giant Torii Gate at Heian Shrine
We were shocked at the size of this massive torii gate that has to be well over a hundred feet high.  We walked by it on the way to Nanzenji and were most impressed.  It is taller than the giant Gundam at Odaiba who could walk through it.
Nanzenji Temple
This is a grand old temple complex with many smaller temples and spacious gardens.  It has a gigantic, and ancient wooden main gate that must be 5 stories high.  The gate was impressive with an entire upper floor with balcony and rooms.  All of this is nestled at the base of the Higashiyama mountains.  Hiking trails lead up into the mountains past the temple (bring bear bells?).  The Hojo (main hall) here has a famous rock garden and there are some famous paintings of tigers in gold leaf here.  We were here early in the morning and it was a nice calm place to walk through without the crowds.
Main Gate Nanzenji
Inside view of the main gate
Rock Garden at the Hojo
Pontocho and Gion 
These are the old entertainment and geisha districts of Kyoto.  They are chock full of picturesque narrow streets with the lanterns of the various businesses hanging out front. In the evening, when everything lights up, it would be even more atmospheric to walk around in.  There are narrow little alleyways, often with a bar or restaurant off of it.  You can even pretend to see geisha everywhere even though it is mostly tourists cosplaying as geisha, something which is amazingly popular to do.
Kenninji Buddhist Temple.
Street in eastern Gion
Kiyomizudera Temple
This is the pure water temple located up in the mountains at the south eastern edge of Gion.  Some of the most picturesque streets and all the tourist shops you want to find are on the way to this temple.  It is a massive complex with the famous wooden stage that looks over downtown Kyoto to the west.  This is one of those places that all Japanese want to visit at least once in their life and it is full of tourists both local and from abroad.  There are many good souvenir shops on the way to this temple catering to locals and foreigners.  Plenty of good food to eat too, something that is common on the way to many temples and shrines. Very crowded place and like many large temple complexes you can even find a Shinto Shrine or two on its grounds (there is a love shrine here too).  Anime Note: I've wanted to visit this place, and Kyoto ever since I saw Love Hina - where Keitaro and Naru both run off to see the place as they both needed a break from studying for entrance exams.
Great Wooden Stage with central Kyoto behind it.
A Pagoda.
Yasaka Pagoda in Gion near Kiyomizudera
This is a very photogenic five story pagoda in Gion.  We caught it lit up at night and it kind of glows as it stands out from all of the lower buildings around it.  It is just embedded in the middle of a neighbourhood and gives the area a great deal of charm.
Kyoto Station 
Finally, this is where you arrive in Kyoto on the bullet train.  This will be the first wonder you see in Kyoto and it is an amazing building.  You need to explore its vast staircase that also doubles as stadium seating, and walk the skywalk with its views of Kyoto at night.  There is great dining and shopping here too.  This place is a modern marvel and not just a transport hub.
Main hall.  You can explore both ends of the hall that rise above the middle.  The skywalk is to the upper right.
The massive staircase that lights up at night and shows messages and pictures.
That is a quick overview of some of the highlights to see in Kyoto.  There was more we wanted to see, but we were unable to fit more in, so some great sights like northern Gion, the Silver Pavillion, Nijo Castle, etc., were missed.  I would definitely visit the city again to see many of these sights for a second time too, and cover things that we missed.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Whirlwind Tour Through Tokyo and Kyoto

I just recently returned from an eight day vacation in Japan where I visited Tokyo and Kyoto.  I'll go through the sights in more detail in subsequent posts, but here is an overview of the trip. The main goal of this trip was to visit Kyoto to see the famous historic sites there and experience the living history that still exists here.
Nanzenji in Kyoto
Kyoto was spared conventional and atomic bombing during WWII.  Many ancient sites, buildings, and neighbourhoods still exist as a result of not being bombed.  The history here isn't what you find in a museum either as many of these UNESCO World Heritage sites are very alive and still in use as Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples, or even have people living and conducting business in an ancient precinct that is a mix of old and modern buildings.
Kyoto Station at night
Modern attractions such as Kyoto Station, the Kyoto Rail Museum, and the shopping district around the intersection of Shijo and Kawaramachi Streets complement all the traditional sights and the outstanding Nishiki Market Street for all things food.  Kyoto is a relatively large city of 1.5 million and its pace of life is still lively, yet not as frenetic as the megacity of Tokyo.  Kyoto is the city of shrines and it seems like there must be hundreds to thousands of them from tiny neighbourhood mini-shrines to the mega-shrines that are head temple or shrine for an entire Shinto or Buddhist sect across Japan.

Our itinerary was as follows by day:
  1. Arrive in Narita and take the Narita Express into Tokyo in the late afternoon.  Have to transfer to a metro train to get to hotel (not a problem on a Saturday) and enjoy Shinjuku in the evening.
  2. Full day in Harajuku and Omotesando (we skipped Shibuya this trip).  Visited the Kawaii Monster Cafe and experienced very large crowds in Harajuku and Omotesando on a Sunday.
  3. Early morning departure from hotel in Shinjuku to take metro to Tokyo Station (on metro by 7 AM to beat rush hour) and catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto.  Spend the afternoon exploring Fushimi Inari Shrine and Sanjusangendo Shrine and Yasaka Shrine near our hotel in Gion.
  4. Visit the Kyoto Rail Museum, Yodobashi Camera near Kyoto Station and have lunch there at the train station.  Then visit Nishiki Market which is an intense shopping experience for food ingredients (spices, herbs, rice, fish, veggies, miso, etc.), and a continuous snacking experience.
  5. Visit Arashimaya Bamboo Groves, Tenryuji Temple, Adashino-Nembutsuji Temple,
    Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple, Ryoanji Temple, and Kinkakuji (Golden Pavillion).
  6. Visit Nanzenji Temple, Yasaka Shrine during the day, Pontocho, Gion, and Kiyomizudera Temple.
  7. Mid-morning departure back to Tokyo, and take metro to hotel across the street from the Tokyo Skytree.  Spend time at Solomachi Mall (excellent mall at the base of the Tokyo Skytree), Asakusa Temple, and Ueno.  Basing out of the Skytree means relatively easy access to Ginza, Tokyo Station, Akihabara, Ueno, Asakusa (so easy), but it is a long trip to Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Shibuya.
  8. Full day at Akihabara to see all the otaku sights, then the Tokyo-Edo Museum, and back to the Solomachi Mall and hotel.  Skipped Ginza and Tokyo Station sights.
  9. Check out of the hotel and have them hold our luggage.  Ascend the Tokyo Skytree just after 8 AM before the crowds hit and hang around the Solomachi Mall shopping the amazing traditional crafts and Japanese souvenir stores on the 4th floor.   Grab luggage for a noon departure to Narita on the Sky Access Express from Oshiage Station (across the street from our hotel).
Yasaka Pagoda in Gion
As you can tell, it was a busy schedule and on some days, we took taxis to reduce travel time (see day 5).  Our feet were pretty sore after the first full day and jet lag hit us fairly hard on this trip, but we managed.  Walking all day means you need to rest your feet and our feet weren't normal for a week afterwards even with good shoes.  We had a great time and really enjoyed Kyoto and the selective sights in Tokyo.
Kiyomizudera Temple with Kyoto in the background
Planning for this trip was not as fun as it should have been.  Finding a room for three really limits your options.  The next time I do this, I might consider a room for two and a single to find convenient locations.  Pricing will factor into this too, but you do pay per person in Japan.  I did find some pretty good hotels, with the hotel on our last night being outstanding for location and accessibility to the Skytree and Solomachi Mall.
Tokyo Skytree and Solomachi Mall
Since I had never been to Kyoto before, I researched all the sights and places to eat before I went.  Tripadvisor, Google Maps, Google reviews, and a number of websites about Kyoto were extremely valuable.  We only had four days in Kyoto and we had to skip northern Gion (along the canal is best in the evening), The Philosopher's Walk, the Silver Pavillion, and Nijo Castle due to time constraints and exhaustion, but we saw what I would consider the essentials.  I Google mapped all of the sights and restaurants I wanted to visit so I could plan itineraries and minimize transit time.

Tasty ramen.  Anything in Japan seems to be better than anything at home.
We still didn't eat at half of the places I researched, but we hit enough of them to have the effort pay off.  It is actually pretty hard to have a bad meal in Tokyo or Kyoto based on my experiences there, as food is really good from pricier restaurants all the way down the food at a convenience store.  I'm not much into really expensive dining experiences ($100+ per person) as it is overkill, but I'm comfortable eating in the $10 to $30 range for memorable dining experiences.
Display for "Is The Order A Rabbit?"
I'll just say one more thing about visiting Kyoto.  In Tokyo, I'm there to visit the modern city and enjoy all of the geek culture there related to anime and high-tech wonders, but I know this stuff.  In Kyoto, you need to read about the history, get the basics of Zen rock gardens, Buddhism, and Shinto, and find a guidebook or make your own resource that has more than a short paragraph about the places you are going to visit.  Otherwise, it might be beautiful, but you don't get the whole context for enjoying it.  In Greece and China I used the Blue Guides for archeological sites, but there isn't one for Japan.  After awhile, one temple is going to look like another temple, so context and the stories about the place are very important.  The Lonely Planet Kyoto guide has a fair bit of content and is a decent guide, but I would still do additional research. One last thing, during peak tourist season like cherry blossom time or November for the autumn colours, Kyoto can be crowded and many of the tourist sites can be an annoying zoo (you will hate selfie-sticks unless you are using one).

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pokemon Go As You Travel In Tokyo And Kyoto

I just came back from a short trip to Japan and played a bit of Pokemon Go on the side as I was touring around Tokyo and Kyoto.  That Niantic Lapras Event, to boost tourism in the tsunami hit Tohoku region of Japan, started just after I left.  Lapras everywhere in northeast Honshu for awhile!  That would have been interesting to attend based on the large crowd photos I have seen, but I don't feel quite as bad to miss it as I would have needed more time and a Japan Rail Pass.  Fortunately, my only good luck ever with over a dozen 10K eggs was to hatch two Lapras in a row from my only two 10K eggs during the Halloween Event.  That good luck ended with the next egg as it was a Jynx.  The only other thing I have hatched that was any good from a 10K egg was a Chansey.

Anyways, Japan, the ancestral home of Pokemon, is pretty much full of Pokemon, and some parts of Kyoto and Tokyo that I ran across were densely packed with pokestops.  I also thought that both the item drops from spinning the stops and the number of pokemon spawns was a bit crazy high, then I figured out it was because of the effect of the increased drops and spawns promotion that Niantic had on from Nov 7 to 11.  I also never made it to Odaiba this trip to see if it is still a Lapras hotspot, or to check out Ueno Park with its crazy number of pokestops.

Anyhow, I'll show some in-game screenshots of the layout of the land and put some real photos to give it some real world context below.  Enjoy the augmented trip through Japan in the virtual and real worlds!  It was another awesome trip there with fantastic sights, great food, and a great cultural experience.

Tokyo First
For the first couple of days after we landed in Tokyo, we just toured around Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Omotesando.  I didn't do a lot of Pokemon hunting at all as I didn't have wi-fi except at the hotel, and no roaming data (way too expensive).  Around my hotel, the Citadines in Shinjuku, there were Pokemon on the nearby, but not many that spawned at the hotel or near it.  The only real Pokemon I saw were in toy stores.  I'll be posting about the travel experiences in more detail later, as this post focuses mainly on playing Pokemon Go in Japan.

Our next major stop was Kyoto, the ancient political and spiritual capital of Japan.  Ancient buildings and art dating back over a thousand years have survived here thanks to it being spared the atomic bomb during WWII (  Nintento, Kyoto Animation, and Pokemon also exist thanks to this.  In Kyoto, as I was unfamiliar with the city, I had borrowed a global wi-fi unit from my brother-in-law, so that I could use GPS with data, but it also allowed me to play a bit of Pokemon Go too!  These little wi-fi, cellular modems are pretty nifty (from Skyroam), as it allows unlimited data for 24 hours for $10, and it came in really handy several times.

Our hotel, the Sunline Gion, was located right by Yasaka Shrine in Gion, the district where geishas still walk the streets.  I was surprised by the number of tourists cosplaying in kimono and there were rental shops everywhere for them.  Every day we would head out to see sights and shrines of Kyoto, but we hit a few days of cool, rainy weather that had us switch our itineraries a few times.  A few of our favourite sights are listed next.
Red torii gates at Fushimi Inari Shrine
Bamboo groves at Arashimaya
Nanzenji Temple Old Gate
I started checking out the Pokemon sights around Yasaka Shrine at night as it was right next to the hotel.  Almost every historical building, shrine, monument, etc., is tagged in Kyoto, so there are plenty of pokestops.  There were also a fair number of Pokemon, although I'd say that Clefairies and Drowsies were uncommon.  Water Pokemon were quite common down by the river, canal, or by ponds/lakes.
Yasaka Shrine with all the lured stops out at the north end of the shrine complex.  The park area just north of that had a few gyms.
Big Electabuzz spawn just north of the shrine grounds.
On the way to the Kyoto Rail Museum we passed by the Kyoto Aquarium.  OMG.  There were so many Slowbros right outside the main entrance.  I counted seven at one point.
The bar district of Pontocho just west of Gion with its narrow main street.  You could just imagine what a bustling place this would be in the evening.
I'm walking down the narrow street of Pontocho and there were water Pokemon everywhere.  I caught two Dratinis and tons of  Psyducks.  I also really don't like how Pokemon Go needs to be restarted after taking a photo.  Hope they fix this in future releases.
I actually didn't think I would catch a Farfetch'd this trip but I ran into this little guy on the way back to the hotel one night!  I noticed a funny looking brown Pokemon on the map and probably shouted out loud when I realized it was a Farfetch'd.  Got real lucky as they are uncommon.  Another got away from me in Tokyo.
Pikachu at a shrine entrance.  Many shrines / temples tend to have cluster spawns at their entrances.  Some of the shrines / temples also have no Pokemon Go signs up too so please respect them.
Fantastic scenery near Arashimaya as you walk north up the mountains and there were very few tourists.
Other than getting a Farfetch'd by luck, I also got lucky as I bumped into two Snorlax while walking through Gion on afternoon.  I couldn't believe my luck because I loaded up the game for fun and the first thing I saw was a Snorlax blocking the sidewalk. It was a block and a half down Yamato Oji Dori, south of  Shijo Dori.  Then two blocks later at Kenninji temple, there was another Snorlax, a CP1500 and then a CP1000.  After getting the two, I pretty much put away the game and just focused on the sights.  That was an amazing moment as I had spent months playing and only have seen two, catching a CP400, and having another one run on me.
We also visited Pokemon Centers in Kyoto and Tokyo.  These are Pokemon stores run by Nintendo I think, but we did not visit the biggest one (the Pokemon Mega Center - which I have previously visited on another trip).  The Kyoto Pokemon Center located in Takashimaya Times Square is not huge, but it still had plenty of Pokemon merchandise.   I got one of those Pikachu cosplaying as Mario from the Mario x Pikachu crossover event that was happening at the time.
Pokemon Center Kyoto
1:1 scale Pikachu on a Ho-Oh
Pikachu x Mario Crossover
Pikachu in traditonal garments.
All Pokemon gashapon machines.

Tokyo Again 
We only had 4 days in Kyoto, but we managed to blitz the old streets of Gion, and most of the major sights.  All too soon, we were on a bullet train back to Tokyo.  Here, I stayed at the Hotel Richmond near the Tokyo Skytree.  What a great hotel and so convenient if you are planning on staying in the NE quadrant of Tokyo and then heading back out to the airport at Narita (direct train service at Oshiage Station across the street).   There was a nice modern supermarket with a great liquor section right below the hotel (to buy all your food souvenirs) too.

The Solomachi Mall and the Tokyo Skytree are some of my favourite places in Tokyo.  The mall here has great food and shopping (Uniqlo, Loft, Daiso, QPot, etc.).  Just in the last year, they opened up a new Pokemon Center here called Pokemon Center Skytree Town.  This Pokemon Center was bigger than the one in Kyoto and was full of good stuff.
Pikachu rides Rayquaza
Great big statue of Pikachu and Rayquaza.  This was cool and it looked like itwas breaking out of the ceiling.
Pikachu plushies
Note the Pikachu tails and backpacks.
The Pokemon Center was a gym along with the Skytree pictured above.  There was a Macross Valkyrie robot here too and that was another pokestop!
Skytree Mall and the pokestops and gyms here.
Pokemon Center Gym
Skytree Gym.  I tried to train at the gym one morning, but as I leveled it up, my GPS wandered and I wasn't able to get a pokemon in as it was attacked and taken down a level.  I was only going to play 5-6 mins and I just packed it in to focus on other things again.  There gyms here were not usually at too high a level as there are too many people battling.
Crazy lured Pokestops outside a train station.
And, McDonald's here are pokestops!
Anyhow, that all for now.  So happy Pokemoning if you ever visit Japan, but do take time out to enjoy the sights, sensations, and food of Japan.