Since I looked up Tokyo bay for the first time in Google Maps in 2005, I have always been wondering what is that tower that comes out of the sea, more or less on the middle of the bay.
If you zoom in this is what you get:
Its name is 風の塔 “Tower of the Wind” and was built by Kajima Corporation. It seems like an antenna but it turns out that it is a ventilation system for the highway that crosses the bay under the sea. The name of the highway is Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line and it is actually a combination of a bridge and a tunnel. The Tower of the Wind can’t be visited, but the rest area 海ほたる Umi-hotaru “The Sea Firefly”, which is right at the end of the tunnel, can be accessed by anyone.
The other day we cross Tokyo bay using the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line, we passed under the Tower of the Wind and we stopped at The Sea Firefly to have a coffee and take photos. To best way to access the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line from the center of Tokyo is to go to Odaiba first using the Rainbow Bridge.
Crossing the bay under the sea. Speed limit 80km/h (50mph).
When we arrived to the rest area 海ほたる Umi-hotaru “The Sea Firefly” we parked our car and walked around for a while. We had the sensation that we were on a boat. The building has several floors, all of them full of shops, restaurants and, of course, a Starbucks.
That thing by the sea that looks like a monument is part of the machinery that was used to drill the highway tunnel.
This is a guest blog post written by Matt Baxer from Cheapo Japan, I follow his blog/site since a while ago. He is very good at finding ways to not only survive but also to move around Japan very cheaply. I asked him to compile his top 10 tricks for cheap travelling in Japan, here is the result!
By Matt Baxer / Cheapo Japan
Many say Japan is too expensive a country to travel in, but there are some great ways to keep costs down. Cheapo Japan is here to show you the best tricks for travelling in Japan cheaply. Here are my top 10 tips:
1 – Get a free guide
There are a huge number of volunteer networks all over Japan with people who want to practice their English by guiding tourists around famous sites, explaining the historical and cultural meanings behind the sites. Ask at any tourist information center in a big city for help on how to set up these free tours.
2 – Stay in capsule hotels
When in a big city such as Osaka or Tokyo, you are never too far away from a capsule hotel. These offer little pods in which you can sometimes sleep for as low as 2500 yen (about 25 dollars). It’s very cramped, but capsule hotels often have free spa facilities, so you will be too sleepy to care!
3 – Get a bento, rather than going to a restaurant
There are so many cheap bento shops around Japan, selling bento boxes from as cheap as 399 yen (about 4 dollars). Look out for chains such as Origin Bento (オリジン弁当) and Hotto Motto (ほっともっと). There are also many independent bento shops, particularly in business areas.
4 – Go for a Gyudon
Gyudons are to Japan what the hamburger is to America. It’s a basic rice bowl with meat on top. They are very cheap and come to your table in under 30 seconds. Matsuya (松屋), Yoshinoya and Sukiya have gyudons starting at 300 yen. Be sure to fill up your water bottle for free when you go to these places as well!
5 – Use buses and budget airlines rather than Shinkansen trains
They may be super cool and fast, but Shinkansen (bullet) trains are also super expensive. Instead use a bus company such as Willer Bus for journeys within one of the islands. For journeys between islands, LCCs such as Jetstar and Vanilla Air will save you a bunch of money.
6 – Get a take-out at lunch
Many rather expensive restaurants are battling for customers at lunchtime, and have therefore started to sell cheap ‘1 coin’ (500 yen) lunches. Walk around any shopping area and you will soon find one of these.
500 yen (1 coin) pizza!
7 – Stay in a mountain hut
Buy any hiking map for Japan and you will surely see lots of mountain hut and camp site signs. These are certainly not 5-star accommodations, but they provide a great way to save money over often crazily expensive Ryokans. Many mountain huts are also free, so you just turn up with a sleeping bag and sleep up in the quiet mountains!
8 – Don’t pay for a rental phone or internet
Free Wifi access is available at all 7-Eleven and Family Mart convenience stores, as well as subway stations, bus stops and JR stations. Rather than paying for a rental mobile phone, you can just use Skype or such from one of these numerous Wifi spots.
9 – Eat like a king
Lots of traditional Japanese restaurant chains, such as Yayoiken (やよい軒) or Ootoya (大戸屋ごはん処) offer reasonably priced set meals, with free rice bowl refills and drinks. Look out for these signs outside a restaurant: 食べ放題 (all you can eat) orご飯のおかわりが無料 (free rice).
10 – Shop in 100 yen shops
You can buy almost anything in a 100 yen shop, from envelopes to hot drinks. There are also an increasing number of ‘300 shops’, which have a larger range and are great places to buy cheap souvenirs.
Daiso es one of the most popular 100 yen shops in Japan
For more tips and advice for travelling in Japan on a budget, visit Cheapo Japan.
Do you have any other tips that you would like to share?
The matryomin is a musical instrument based on the theremin that is shaped as a matryoshka doll. It is interesting to see the video below with 167 Japanese women dressed in black moving their hands in the air in front of matryoshka doll, with stethoscopes and all of them crossing their legs… Let me say it’s a little bit scary!
Okunoshima is an island similar to Tashirojima, the difference being that instead of being full of cute cats it is invaded by rabbits. According to Treehugger it is an island were chemical weapons were produced during Second World War. Nowadays there’s no industry in the island anymore and there’s not many people living there. There are more rabbits than people! The island has a perimeter of 4 kilometers, one hotel, one camping, one golf course and hundreds of rabbits.
Map with the location of rabbit island
Continue reading: Cat Island.
Several years ago I came across several small Space Invaders in the streets of Tokyo. It seems that this kind of street art is growing and now the Invaders are becoming larger. They are easier to find! Have you seen any around?
In this Instagram account you can see Space Invaders art around the whole world.
This one was taken by my friend @lluisgerard
Astroboy with the same style as the Invaders.
This one doesn’t have the same style as the Invaders but I liked it
An otaku nicknamed Negipoyoshi has coded a simulator that you can use to share a drink with Hatsune Miku, a Japanese virtual idol that will pretend to be your “real” girlfriend.
To achieve this feat, Negipoyoshi has used version 2 of the Oculus Rift Development Kit. This is just another example of how the real and the virtual world are starting to converge. It is difficult to explain with words, better see the images and watch the video below.
Source: Rocket news
My friend Javier Yañez sends me this video that he recorded while travelling around Japan last Spring. It’s great!
One of the things I want to improve myself is my ability to create good videos. I asked Javier and he recommended me to use Hands Free Camera Shoulder Pad to stabilize the image. To record the video Javier used a Canon 7d in Magic recording in Latern RAW and gave it colour using Davinci Resolve.
Here are a couple of Japanese inventions that look impressive at first but that I suspect might not be so useful. The first invention is a chopsticks-fan that will help you cool your noodles.
The second one is a full body umbrella to avoid getting wet at all