MIKE TRIP 2012
After a 4 year break, our friend (and newly married) Mike came to visit us in Japan. He was in the country on business, but took a few days off to hang out with us. He arrived on a Monday, and on Tuesday we were showing him Mt. Takao. Here we are the bottom of the visitors lodge.
We chose to take the chair lift of course, as it's the most fun way to visit the mountain.
The chairlift actually takes you up the mountain a good mile or so.
You can see the suburbs of Tokyo in the background far below.
Halfway up the mountain, we stop at the Beer Garden Resturaunt and pose.
Of course they had to play with each other's photo opportunity....:)
Sean and Mike exploring the world...just like the old days..

We may be older, but we are alot wiser and sneaker now! Best of friends for almost 20 years now.

Off in the distance is Yokota Air Base, looking north east of the mountain.
And off to the east is downtown Tokyo...kind of hard to see thru the haze tho.

We then start the two kilometer hike up to the top, going past the path of a thousand prayer sticks.

Thru the active Shinto Shrines...
Past the Budhist Statue Hillside...
Past the Shinto Spirits statues and Fox shrine...
The bronze statues are actually pretty cool. .

Finally we got to the top, and looking off the backside of Mt. Takao you can see Mt. Fuji in the hazy distance.

Here is a heavily filtered image, to help bring out the view of Mt. Fuji from the top of Mt. Takao.

We then walked down the back side paths and over this cool suspension bridge.

The following day which was Wednesday, we took Mike for walk around Showa Park, and then down to Tachikawa City. Here is the Bouncy Hills, which were closed at the time for repairs.

Here is a cool aztec pyramid that is also in the "Childrens Forest" area of Showa Park. it would make a great storm shelter if it had an inner chamber...but I don't think it does.

The next day on Thursday, Mike and I took the bus into Tokyo to stay at the Military Hotel, the New Sanno. We then took the subway to Akihabara, the electronics and anime center of Tokyo. Here is a daytime shot looking down the main street. Almost every floor of each 7 story building is a seperate store selling electronics, movies, anime, manga, and related items.

A corner intersection. There were many people out on the side walks hawking services and products.

One thing that has become very popular are "Maid Cafe's". These are sandwhich and coffee spots, where girls dressed up in maid outfits serve you food, while calling you "Gochi-sama", which means "Master of the House". It's an opporunity for someone to feel like a rich person with a personal staff. Last time I was here there was only a few of these places, but now there are dozens. I've never visited one myself, but someday maybe....

The stores are filled with costumes, cospay gear, posters, figurines, movies, books.......

Some of the shops sell very elaborate cosplay outfits....
And of course tons and tons of printed material, of all sorts!
Figurines of popular shows are all over the place. I know alot of shows, but I only recognized about 5% of the stuff,...maybe less than actually.
A shot looking down a side street.

Very popular near the train stations is the Gundam Cafe. Gundams are the Japanese name for the giant robots in much anime and manga books.

The next day we took the subway and then monorail across the harbor to the Odaiba district. Here is a shoot looking from the central Tokyo area across Tokyo bay to the Odaiba area. It's all built on reclaimed land from the ocean.

The building with the large ball on top of it is the Fuji TV building, and is a famous location, where movies and TV shows are shot for Japan.

It's also in the middle of a huge shopping and beach resort area.

A cool shot from the beach looking back at the Fuji TV building.

There is a Statue of Liberty there, and you can see the Sky Tree in the background. The Sky Tree is about 2,000 feet high.

We took some pictures for tourists, and they happily reciprocated and took one of us.

Looking down from teh Fuji TV building towards the East. The Big Sight Convention Center is now blocked form view by the upside down U shaped building.

Looking north from the Fuji TV building at the 2,000 foot Sky Tree.

Looking south east towards the International Trade section of Odaiba. Below is a new mall they spent a year building, and should be open soon.

Looking south at the Maritime Museum. Sadly it was closed when we walked over there next, so we decided to explore the International Trade area instead.

Looking at the back side of the Fuji TV building. It has really interesting architecture.

We found a large building called the Museum of Emerging Science and Technology, and decided to check it out. Inside we first saw this giant digital earth, spinning around. You can see how big this LCD globe is by looking at the silloutes of the people walking near it. The building had many hands-on science exibits, and was alot of fun.

We then left and headed towards Venus Fort. We had to stop in front of the full scale GUNDAM in front of the soon-to-open Diver City Mall.

Here is a shot of Mike with the full 60 foot tall GUNDAM in the background.

I've taken photos of Venus Fort Mall in other posts, so I'll not repeat it here. But here is a shot of a "kid in a ball on water" attraction they had in the outside courtyard. I guess it's one way to keep an eye on your kids and wear them out at the same time.

In the inner courtyard they also had the bungie jumping things too...looks like fun!

On the way back from Odaiba to the New Sanno, we stopped at the Shiodome Monorail Station to check out the Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghbli "SteamPunk Clock" that was put up a few years ago. Made out of copper, the moving clockworks are 30 feet high and 100 feet long. It's based off of the "Howls Moving Castle" movie of a few years ago.

I wish we had been there when it was moving, but we go there just after an event, and it only happens every three hours or so. Here is a YOUTUBE video of it in action.

Here is a shot looking out my hotel room at night, at Roppongi Hills tower on the left, the French Embassy with the courtyard light on, and the Tokyo Tower on the top right.