Worrall Travel R's

Worrall Travel R's
Roz and Russ

Worrall Travel R's - Kicking the Bucket List

My photo

We are the Worrall Travel R's Roz and Russ Worrall. Our goal before we "kick the bucket" is to see as much of the world as we are able, learn about world cultures, experience making friends around the world, and share goodwill and what we learn with others. WE HOPE YOU JOIN US VIA THE BLOG ON OUR TRAVELS.

We started our world travels in 1969 in VW camper van in the USA, Canada, and Europe, but didn't actively blog about our travels until 2009 aboard our sailing vessel SV Worrall Wind, a 44 ft Nauticat Ketch.  On September 5, 2009 we left San Francisco and took a left at the Golden Gate to Explore the World.

From to Sea to Land
After almost 4 years of cruising Mexico and the South Pacific, we sold our beloved boat in Australia, 2013. The Worrall Travel R's are continuing our travels around by many other means of conveyance -boats,trains, planes, sometimes camels, elephants, rickshaws, and hot air balloons.. 

Russ is a retired engineer, optometrist, professor from U.C. Berkeley. Roz is a retired computer programmer/analyst, educator, (teacher, administrator, professional developer). 

Our Mantra:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Tokyo by Train, Foot, and Bike, WTRD 18, September 21, 2017

Dress Rehearsal

This morning was the beginning of our second full day in Tokyo, Shinjuku.

Our plan for the day was to take the Metro to the JR Train into Tokyo Station as a "dress rehearsal" for tomorrow when we will be towing our luggage.  We purposely left around 10:00 am after the morning rush hour.
Our local station is pretty quiet at 10:30 in the morning.
We learned two important facts, the door will open on the right side as we exit the train in Tokyo, and we need to board train car number one on the JR train which is a quick exit to the elevator  to the tracks of our Shinkansen train to Odawara.

While we are on the subject of trains, Russ compiled a few facts worth noting.  Every day in Tokyo, there are 20 MILLION tickets sold for 20 MILLION rides, not necessarily people but ridership to and fro.  Wow!  Tokyo runs 25 trains per hour with up to 3200 passengers per train.  Over the course of a year, there are 13 BILLION riderships in Tokyo!  Holy Sushi!  That is a lot of people.

It wasn't too busy before lunch, but coming home was a different story.  More about that later.

Bicycle Tour

After our dress rehearsal expedition, we made our way to the financial district in Tokyo


where we are to meet our bicycle tour group.  Since we arrived a little early, we walked a few blocks  through the financial district. (white shirts, no ties, and black pants seems to be the official uniform here)

to the Imperial Gardens and walked around a bit.  Again, nothing blooming, but the greenery and the oasis in the middle of the city is wonderful.

Looking down the street from the big gates.

We returned to our meet up place later than we anticipated, but still in time (or so we thought) for a quick bite to eat.  And I mean quick!  We threw the food down with the promise to chew it later, and packaged up more than half to take home for dinner, and joined our group.

Our group leader was Baba.
Attended UC Berkeley Summer Session, MBA from MIT, Been to Yosemite 8 times.

Our group consisted of us and a family of four from Melbourne, Australia.  Baba explained that we would be riding power booster bikes.  We peddle, but each push accelerates the bike faster than normal.  This was going to be fun!  And it was!  The only difficulty I had was turning tight corners. Usually going through a tight bend, barrier poles, etc., I slow down than push down on the peddle to finish and slowly accelerate the turn.  Twice, I did this and ran into a wall or a pole because the acceleration happened so quick I was unprepared.  I finally got the hang of it.  Russ, turned off his power boost, since this was a piece of cake compared to his morning rides up to Donner Summit.

Both of us are too tall for Japanese bikes.  I felt like my knees were coming up to my chest and never extending fully even with the seat at full height.  The power boost really helped otherwise I think my legs would have really gotten tired without a full extension.

The Japanese are very orderly when riding escalators in the subway.  Everyone steps to the left and there is a definite system for orderly movement.  This is completely contradictory to what happens on the street with bicycles and pedestrians.  Bicycles are allowed on the sidewalks and there is no motility protocol.  Walkers and bikes come from all directions and weave in and out amazingly not hitting one another. Everyone is very careful and polite.  Nevertheless,  it takes a lot of defensive driving trying to figure out whether you can squeeze in here or there and if an oncoming rider will pass on the right or left of you.  What an adventure.

Here is the map of our trip.

The most amazing fact we learned was that when the Imperial palace was built 400-500 years ago, it was ocean front property.   It isn't anymore.  Everything including the financial district to the south of the palace is all land fill.  That's amazing.

We cycled around the Imperial palace and the giant moat that surrounds it,

we saw the Tokyo Railroad station (brick building),

saw the stadium where the martial arts competitions take place, and several other venues for the 2020 Olympics.

We cycled through the financial and commercial district,

across several bridges,

down alleyways, and along old established streets, seeing sights like neighborhood shrines,

we would not have seen by foot or by tour bus.

Our tour took us about 3.5 hours and we probably covered about 10 miles.
 Overall the trip was fun and we really enjoyed it.  After we parked the bikes, Baba, Russ, and I got on the train an headed back to Shinjuku.  By now the rush hour had begun and there were mobs of people moving in the streets.


The lights of the city began to  twinkle an the nightlife was gearing up.

We made it back to our apartment, ate leftovers from our lunch, took showers, and worked on the blog.  Tomorrow we are off to Hakone, at the base of Mt. Fuji for three days.

All is Well With the Worrall Travel Rs in Tokyo.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

From Cityscape to Parkscape - Shinjuko, WTRD 17, September 20, 2017

Stations, Shrines, and Gardens

This morning when we first awoke, we had no agenda for the day, other than to take it easy.  We got up around 8:00 am.  While I worked on the blog that I was too tired to write last night, Russ worked on fleshing out today and tomorrow's agenda of places to go and things to do.

We sat at the kitchen table until almost 11:00 am working on our separate projects, and then went out to explore Shinjuko.  First stop would be the Japan Rail Office at the Shinjuko Station; second stop would be the Meiji Jingu Shrine and Garden; third stop would the Shinjuko Gyoen Gardens.  Both of us look forward to walking in the woods and gardens.  But this is a shoulder season between summer and fall so we were probably not going to see any flower blossoms or falls leaves.  Actually, we weren't sure what we would see.

Russ and I set off on foot what should be about a 6km walk from our apartment to Meiji Jingu Garden via the the Shinjuku station.  With twists, turns, and back tracking here and there, it was probably closer to a 10 km  (6 miles) walk including our wandering in the Gardens.

Along the way:

Befor we got under way we wanted to check out the garbage disposal areal outside of our apartment. For such a tiny kitchen we have four large waste bins where we are to separate trash into bottles and and cans, an burnable garbage.  We hope to find out what burnable garbage is, and if plastic yogurt containers are categorized with bottles and cans or are considered burnable garbage.  In the apartment these are only alternatives.  We think looking at the recycle bins downstairs will help us figure this out.  It doesn't.  It only makes it more confusing.
The writing is in Japanese, and there are many more categories that the two we  have in our apartment.

There are approximately 13 million people in Tokyo.  Streets are busy, parking is a premium.  Most of the folks by the time we are walking down the sidewalk have already gotten to their workplace in the bustling city.  We see a few entrances to car parking lots with turntables (didn't see this action so not sure how it works),

 and saw hundreds and hundreds of bicycles parked and locked up and down the sidewalk.  

Didn't see anyone using this relic.

Like the Brits, the Japanese drive on the left.  Love the Fir Trees on the city Streets.

Always a train going by.

Everyone walks across this intersection at the same time.

Shinjuku Station:

We arrived at the Shinkjuko station and found the Japan Rail Office where we registered our 14 day rail pass that will begin on Friday, September 22 as we head out of Tokyo to Hakone near Mt. Fuji. We also collect some tourist information from the visitor center.  By then it was almost 1:00 so we stop for lunch at a nearby Starbucks, and then continue on to Meiji Jingu shrine. 

Meiji Jingu Shrine and Garden

Beautiful shaded walk through the towering trees

The shrine is a Shinto commemoration to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his Empress, Shoken, who both died in the early 20th century.  Shinto has no founder, holy book, and not even the concept of religious conversion.  It is based on Shinto values, for example harmony with nature, and magokoro (sincere of heart).  Meiji was loved by his people.  Before entering the Shrine, the devoted faithful, wash their hands and clean their mouths.

The Shrine is currently under restoration, and we could not see much beyond the construction screens in front of the buildings, only the large central courtyard.  

The inner garden predates the Meiji Jingu shrine in  the 15th century inhabited by the  Li Clan. We see the famous well from the Edo period.  It is believed to have been made by the famous Samruai, Kiyomasa Kato 1562-1611.  The water still bubbles up crystal clear from the spring and was said to have been used for the Emperor's tea.

Hard to believe there is  over a foot of water on top of the rocks in the well.  Only reflection on top surface gives it away.

The only blooms in the garden during this time of year are water lilies.  

Nevertheless, the gardens are a peaceful and verdant oasis in the middle  of a very busy city.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden
This beautiful garden was that of Feudal Lord Nato in the Edo Era (15th-16th century).    The garden was restored as an imperial garden in 1906 and became the Natioanal Garden after World War II. 

The Japanese garden is considered the most important garden from the Meiji era.  It is a peaceful place and we can almost forget that we are still in the middle of a large metropolitan city except for occasional city siren and the reflections of sky scrapers in the serene ponds and lakes.

I am so tired of seeing selfie sticks and people mugging in front of every picture they take.

Beautiful reflections.

After a day of walking around in the city's oasis, we head back to our apartment.  I am sure we have covered at least 12 miles round trip and feel justified having a glass of wine for dinner.  Tomorrow, we will head further into Tokyo (dress rehearsal for when we leave for Hakone on Friday), for an afternoon bicycle tour of the city. 

All is Well With the Worrall Travel Rs in Shinjuku, Japan.