Tokyo's Glass Palaces .

Tokyo International Forum

 

Located in Tokyo’s Marunouchi Ward , the Tokyo International Forum was opened to the public on January 10th , 1997 . The majority owner of the company administering the Tokyo International Forum is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government . It was designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly , and it was built at the former site of the Tokyo City Hall ( before it was moved to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building , in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward , in 1991 . The closest train station is JR Yurakucho station , though it can accessed from JR Tokyo station through an underground passage . The Glass Hall building features swooping curves of steel truss and glass ; it’s exterior is shaped like an elongated boat .

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Conference rooms are located on the Yurakucho station side of the Glass Hall . There’s a ramp running clock wise on the sides of the Glass Hall . Through this ramp it is possible to access the top floor of the Glass Hall . There are foot bridges connecting this ramp , the adjacent events halls building and the conference rooms . Beware if you’re going to take pictures inside the Glass Hall , as it is a functioning business building . Tripod use is only possible with prior authorization . Depending on the conference rooms usage , there are times that access to the foot bridges is restricted .

 

The National Art Center , Tokyo

 
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The National Art Center , Tokyo , is a museum located in the Roppongi district of Minato Ward in Tokyo . The building was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa . It was opened to the public on January 21st , 2007 . Unlike Japan's other national art museums, NACT is an 'empty museum', without a collection, permanent display, and curators. Like Kunsthalle in German-speaking regions, it accommodates temporary exhibitions sponsored and curated by other organizations. There’s a direct access , exit number 6 , from Nogizaka station , on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line or you can walk from Roppongi station , either on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line or Toei Oedo line . The museum is adjacent to the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies and close to the Tokyo Midtown shopping complex and the Tokyo Ritz Carlton hotel . The museum is closed every Tuesday .

The curved steel and glass exterior is a distinctive feature of the museum’s architecture .

 Café: Salon de Thé ROND (2F)

Café: Salon de Thé ROND (2F)

Another distinctive architectural feature of the museum is the restaurant / cafe area situated close it’s entrance . There are 2 inverted cones in which are situated the Café: Salon de Thé ROND , on the 2nd floor , and the BRASSERIE PAUL BOCUSE Le Musée , on the 3rd floor .

 BRASSERIE PAUL BOCUSE Le Musée (3F)

BRASSERIE PAUL BOCUSE Le Musée (3F)

With citations from Wikipedia .

Navigating Through Tokyo Station's Dungeon

Once I saw an online article in Japanese about Tokyo Station’s Dungeon . The title of this post might be a bit odd , but in reality it is about the underground passage from Tokyo Station to the entrance of the JR Keiyo Line Tokyo Terminus . The JR Keiyo Line Tokyo Terminus was opened in March 1990 , so it is newer than the other stations across Tokyo . The JR Keiyo Line is the train line that links Tokyo to Tokyo Disneyland and Makuhari Messe , both in Chiba Prefecture . This underground passage is also a way to go from Tokyo Station to the Tokyo International Forum on foot without the inconveniences of the outdoor weather . It is a 15 to 20 minutes walk from Tokyo Station to the Tokyo International Forum .

Tokyo Station , basically faces either the Marunouchi District or the Yaesu District . Tokyo Station has several entrances . The closest one to this underground passage is the Marunouchi Underground South Gate . Beware that this is an unmanned gate , with only automatic gates , if you’re using the Japan Rail Pass you might need to exit at the Marunouchi Underground Central Gate .

 Marunouchi Underground South Gate

Marunouchi Underground South Gate

You can easily find the beginning of the passage by looking for the train wheels monument close to the Marunouchi Underground South Gate .

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Past the train wheels monument go to entrance to the underground passage , which the red lights in it’s columns .

 Not to the left . Straight ahead .

Not to the left . Straight ahead .

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The JR Keiyo Line is color coded in red , hence the red lights in the columns .

 Through this corridor , down the stairs .

Through this corridor , down the stairs .

 Almost there . Down the slope .

Almost there . Down the slope .

 Another view of the slope .

Another view of the slope .

Before you get to the gates of the JR Keiyo Line , to your right side is the entrance to the Tokyo International Forum .

 Entrance to the Tokyo International Forum .

Entrance to the Tokyo International Forum .

 Street Level entrance to the passage at the Tokyo International Forum .

Street Level entrance to the passage at the Tokyo International Forum .

At the Tokyo International Forum , it is possible to access the passage either through the entrance at street level or at the underground entrance .

 Underground Entrance to the passage at the Tokyo International Forum .

Underground Entrance to the passage at the Tokyo International Forum .

At the Tokyo International Forum , the underground entrance to the passage is close to the Mitsuo Aida Museum .

One day Trip to Iwakuni

My advice for a one day trip to Iwakuni City in Yamaguchi Prefecture would consist of sightseeing the Kintai Bridge and Iwakuni Castle in the morning time and doing a factory tour at Asahi Brewery of Dassai Sake fame . Here's a YouTube video of the Brewery tour , though the actual tour is not like the video , it's much shorter and basic ( Visitors are not shown the Koji Room ) . What is shown in the Brewery Tour is the new 10 stories Brewery . You're taken by elevator to the 10th floor where the already polished rice is washed and prepared for cooking . Then you're taken downstairs through a flight of stairs to the refrigerated floor where there are huge fermentation vats with what is to become Dassai Sake . At the end you're shown a short video in a conference room . The actual tour might not be as interesting as the YouTube video , but the chance to feel the fruity vapors emanating from the fermentation vats is an interesting experience . 

Things to take in consideration when visiting Iwakuni City . It's more convenient if you take a taxi from the train station to the Kintai Bridge . The Dassai Brewery is situated very into the mountain side of Iwakuni City . The afternoon Brewery Tour begins at 2:00 PM . It's recommended to take a taxi to Iwakuni station ( not Shin Iwakuni station ) after visiting the Kintai Bridge . From Iwakuni station take a train to Suo Takamori station on the Gantoku Line . From there take a taxi to the Asahi Brewery ( about 15 minutes ride from Suo Takamori station ) . For the Brewery Tour you'll need to make a reservation with at least 1 week in advance through this web form . The Brewery Tour schedule for the weekends is quite busy . Only 5 participants ( ages 13 and older ) are allowed per tour . The cost of the tour is 200 yen per person , covering the cost of the lab coat and cap to be worn during the tour . After the tour it is possible to do a tasting session of the Dassai Sake at the nearby Dassai Brewery store . The cost of the tasting session is 300 yen per person . Asahi Brewery will try to arrange an English speaking guide for the tour , but it is not guaranteed . The prices at the Brewery store are cheaper than what you'll find at Japanese liquor stores .

Iwakuni Castle is situated at the top of the mountain . To get to Iwakuni Castle you must take the Cable Car .To get there , first cross the Kintai Bridge towards the mountain . After passing by some local stores , Kikko Park with it's fountain and Iwakuni White Snakes Museum you'll find the Cable Car station . You're advised to buy the set ticket when crossing Kintai Bridge . The set ticket costs 940 yen and covers the Kintai Bridge crossing fee , the Cable Car fee and the Iwakuni Castle entrance fee . 

Japanese Fortune Cookies

The Chinese Fortune Cookies that can be had all over the World , except in China and Japan , at Chinese Restaurants , are really Japanese Fortune Cookies . You can read more details in this Japan Times article . Or can watch this Adam Ruins Everything short clip on the matter .

I was able to find two shops selling the Japanese Fortune Cookies ( Omikuji Senbei or Tsujiura Senbei ) around Kyoto's Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine . Matsuya is close to Fushimi Inari Station on the Keihan Main Line . Matsuya has a web site and it is possible to order the cookies through the site , though it is all in Japanese . Matsuya is open from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM . The other shop I've found is Souhonke Inariya , mentioned in the Japan Times article . Souhonke Inariya is located adjacent to Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine . It is open from 8:30 AM until 5:30 PM except on Thursdays , when it is closed .

The Fortunes inside the Cookies are written in Japanese , though at Souhonke Inariya it is possible to place orders for Cookies with the Fortunes written in either English or Chinese .

The main ingredients in the making of the Japanese Fortune Cookies are : Flour , Sugar , Miso Paste and White Sesame Seeds . Matsuya has a new version of its cookie in which Ginger is added giving a spicy flavor to the cookies . 

The cookies can be bought in packages of 5 or 10 cookies . They cost the same price at Matsuya and Souhonke Inariya , which is 450 Yen for the package of 5 cookies and 900 Yen for the package of 10 cookies .

 

The Moss Garden and the Heart shaped Bush

Most people when visiting Tofukuji Temple's famous Moss Garden usually look down from the balcony and take pictures of the Moss and the square rocks , the usual Moss Garden Picture . But there is a small interesting Heart shaped bush , close to the Tea Room . Looking from the Balcony , the bush is at your left side , in the direction of the Tsutenkyo Bridge . I didn't noticed it until a Securit Guard showed it to me . It was quite a surprise because the said Heart shaped bush is not hidden , it is standing there in plain sight .

Tsutenkyo Bridge

Tofuku-ji Temple ( Buddhist Temple ) is located at Kyoto's Higashiyama Ward . You can reach Tofuku-ji Temple either by bus ( Get off the bus at the Red Cross Hospital bus stop ) or by train ( Tofukji station on the JR Nara Line or Keihan Main Line ) . Before you reach the Kusaka Gate , that leads to the temple compounds , you will have to cross a covered bridge , the Gaunkyo Bridge . It is from the Gaunkyo bridge that you can take pictures of your beloved ones crossing the Tsutenkyo Bridge , inside the temple compounds . To cross the Tsutenkyo Bridge you will have to pay the admission fee to the Kaizando . The best timing to take this photo at the Tsutenkyo Bridge is either Spring ( Green leaves and clear sky ) or Autumn ( Autumn foliage ) . In terms of equipment , a point and shoot camera with a zoom lens with a range on the tele side of around 100 mm to 135 mm ( 35 mm sensor equivalent ) will do the job . Unless you use digital zoom on your smartphone , which will degrade image quality considerably , most smartphone cameras lenses are too wide for taking this shot . As always mind your manners as a tourist , and be considerate to others who might be wanting to take a picture like you're doing or of the view from the Tsutenkyo Bridge .