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Trip to Japan in October 2014, part 1: Conference, Tachibana-Ya ryokan.

From China we went straight to Japan (it's really strange how a ticket from US to China then to Japan and back to China was twice as cheap as the ticket straight to Japan for the same dates).

In Japan first of all we attended another conference where I delivered a talk in Japanese (a first for me).

JLUG 2015 conference

Akihabara Hotel window view
We were staying in Washington Hotel Akihabara with a direct view of Akihabara station out of our window.

Akihabara lines
Saturday morning in Akihabara - long lines of people lined up to buy limited goods from shops.

Akihabara lines
Japanese people lining up, foreign tourists taking pictures Wink

 

Our own plan was to go to Tenshi no Mado (Angel's window) VOLKS store in Harajuku, that specializes on SuperDollfie goods.
They also had a special Halloween-themed event called WindowFesta with various limited goods available.

Tenshi no Mado event

Tenshi no Mado event

Tenshi no Mado event
Our two little angels got some pictures there too.

Takoyaki
Just near the station and the store there's a takoyaki stand called Gindako (silver octopus) with pretty tasty takoyaki.

Crouissant tayaki
And also a novelty - croissant-tayaki, which in my opinion tastes much better than just tayaki (just a bun with bean filling).

From there we headed towards the Doll Culture exhibition that was held in a highrise in Roppongi Hills.

Tokyo Tower from Roppongi Hills
A Tokyo view you from the exhibition floor.

Rei Tenshis at Roppongi

Next I'll show some pictures from the exhibition (mostly focusing on VOLKS stuff), that had a lot of dolls from Japan from
various times, From pretty simplistic looking pre-war ones to much more advanced Barbies to a lot more contemporary BJDs.

Doll Culture expositions
Volks SDCute May and Mina

Doll Culture expositions
Yo-SD Alice and White Rabbit

Doll Culture expositions
Lieselotte - In My Closet Room ver.

Doll Culture expositions

Doll Culture expositions
Quite a few visitors came with their own dolls and of course took pictures. Wink

Doll Culture expositions
Saki

Doll Culture expositions
Charlotte - In My Closet Room ver.

Doll Culture expositions

Doll Culture expositions
Volks SDGrG Alice and Lorina along with the White Rabbits were also shown in display cases.

Doll Culture expositions
SDGou Yukinojo as The Hatter, Yo-SD Ayumu - a pretty egg and Piccolo - Crowned White King.

Doll Culture expositions
This and the next two pictures show dolls available for sale (one of each) via a lottery for the buying rights. SD16 Ami Ayase

Doll Culture expositions
SD17 Hijikata Toshizō.

Doll Culture expositions
SDGrG Suigintou.

Rei Tenshies at Doll culture

Right there at the refreshment stand with a nice Tokyo view they had doll-themed parfait , very tasty.

Doll icecream

Doll icecream

Doll icecream

Comics exposition

Comics exposition
Nearby there was a stand with manga and artist autographs.

Next day we headed to Kyoto - for fall festival and to see the results of Tenshi no Sato renovations (the shop was closed most of the Summer due to it).

Tenshi no sato cake
Traditionally we started the visit from sweets.

Tenshi no sato pie

Also there we had a somewhat preplanned "the date with a dark stranger" photoshoot.*

* - A note from Ksusha 'not so much preplanned, we can say that the story flowed by itself and we just followed it'.

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The main female character Arabells belongs to Shawnah and Ren is ours Wink

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

The date with a dark stranger photoseries

Rain in Kyoto
Meanwhile it was raining outside...

Rain in Kyoto

 

We returned back to Tokyo that same night (very convenient and cheap with the JR pass), and next day we headed North,
into Yamagata prefecture, where we had booked a room in a ryokan named TachibanaYa.

Local train at Niigata station
Local train at Niigata station as we are waiting for our train to Yamagata.

Getting there took quite a bit more time than I expected. First on Shinkansen to Niigata and then another hour and a half
on a more regular train though mountains.

In the end we have arrived right in time for dinner.

As is customary in good ryokans, dinner was great.

Dinner in Tachibana-ya
First the starters

Dinner in Tachibana-ya

Dinner in Tachibana-ya
then sashimi.

Dinner in Tachibana-ya

Dinner in Tachibana-ya

Dinner in Tachibana-ya

and then lots of other good thing and of course the rice.

Yamagata prefecture is well known for it's great rice, at the ryokan we were served with two kinds: Tsuyahime and Haemeki.
Both kinds were pretty great so we even bought a sack of each to bring home with us.

And where there is rice, there is sake. Normally I don't really drink it, but this time as we needed to buy some for gifts,
I tested quite a few of them.

Ryokan room
And this is our first breakfast.

Ryokan garden
Views of the Ryokan garden from our patio.

Ryokan pond

fish in ryokan pond
Pond is populated by fish (parasite-infested as it turned out).

fish in ryokan pond

fish in ryokan pond

fish in ryokan pond
We were given fish food to enjoy feeding the fish.

And then we went out for a bit of a walk outside.

IMG_7284
The main ryokan building.

IMG_7283
There's a river just across the road.

IMG_7285

IMG_7286

river near ryokan

openair hotspring
Open air hotspring and foot-bath.

Japanese town

Gas meteer out of a gas can
While walking we saw a lot of gas cans connected to gas meters which really looked strange to me.

hotspring
Another hotspring was on a bridge over the river. The water there is drinkable too.

Overall we did not se anything of note around and decided to return back to the ryokan.

IMG_7304

IMG_7307
This is the garden and pond as seen from the lobby and the cafe area.

Ryokan fish

Ryokan fish
Lots of fish mostly camp here waiting to be fed.

IMG_7317

Ryokan garden and pond

Door to our room
This is a door to our room.

part of our bathroom as seen from the hallway
Just aside there is a window in the wall with a partial view of our bath mini-garden.

entryway to our room
entryway.

hall in our room
Hallway into the main room, left hand there's an entrance to the bathroom and right hand to the toilet.

hall in our room

toilet in ryokan
Toilet is partitioned into two rooms.

toilet in ryokan

Bathroom
as is the bathroom - the sink

Bathroom
and the bathtub with a shower (water comes from the hotspring), there's also a door to the mini-garden outside.

Ryokan room
This is our main room, our bed is also prepared here when it is time to sleep.

Ryokan room
There's also a second room with cotatsu (a traditional Japanese foot warmer) under the table (the one with laptop)

Overall this was probably the biggest room we have stayed at not just in Japan, but overall throughout all of our travels.

resting in ryokan
Resting after the bath.

And our second dinner

dinner

dinner

dinner

dinner

dinner
A very sharp-teeth fish.

our room

Making up the futon bed in the evening:

 

All service was in this super exaggerated polite way, with deep bows and kneeling. The language used was also in the most
polite forms, pretty hard to understand at times.

resting in ryokan

resting in ryokan

resting in ryokan

resting in ryokan
Time to sleep after a busy day.

dwarf pomegranat
Dwarf pomegranats for breakfast. Interesting appearance, but the taste is so-so..

breakfast

Ryokan garden

Ryokan garden
Ryokan garden, this time while the sun shines.

And then it was time to check-out and go back to the station:

Atsumionsen station in yamagata prefecture

Around the station everything looked pretty rural, but on the ocean shore.

near Atsumionsen station in yamagata prefecture

near Atsumionsen station in yamagata prefecture

near Atsumionsen station in yamagata prefecture

near Atsumionsen station in yamagata prefecture

The station itself had just two platforms for three tracks. Suitable train to Niigata was only running three times a day or so.

The station was so small that it did not even have automatic ticket gates we got so used to, instead the station master
is checking the tickets as you go in and would sell you one if you don't happen to have one.

Atsumionsen station in yamagata prefecture

Atsumionsen station in yamagata prefecture

And as we go back, initial bit of the way goes along the shore:

view out of a train window

view out of a train window

view out of a train window

view out of a train window
And then we reach the mountains and the road turns into a big series of tunnels with rare emerges along mountain slopes, lasting a bit over an hour.

I guess this should be enough for now, to be continued.