Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tokyo DisneySea!!!

I guess you can't go to Japan without visiting one of the Disneyland's.......bit like going to the Northern Territory and not visiting Uluru. It was a little reluctantly that I headed off with the Thompson Clan to DisneySea. Leaving from Shinagawa, with the weather hot as usual, we changed trains at Tokyo, an enormous station with five travellators in a row through one section. At Tokyo we caught a JR train to Maihama Station, which is adjacent to Disneyland. Once at Maihama we then caught the special Mickey Mouse monorail to DisneySea, not necessary if you are off to Disneyland.
We chose to visit DisneySea on a Thursday which turned out to be a great idea. It was busy but queueing was kept to a minimum. On the weekends the waiting times can be two hours or more. Why would you bother??  The amusement park consists of seven theme ports: Mediterranean Harbor (a reproduction of Venice), American Waterfront (a reproduction of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States), Port Discovery (a science-themed area), Lost River Delta (a reproduction of a tropical rain forest), Arabian Coast (based on Disney's Aladdin), Mermaid Lagoon (based on Disney's The Little Mermaid) and Mysterious Island (based on the books of Jules Verne). It is arranged in a circle around a central landmark,  Mount Prometheus, an artificial volcano that "erupts" intermittently. There are fun rides, entertainment shows, restaurants, and shops in each area. Since Tokyo DisneySea is targeting adults as well as children, alcohol drinks are available at Tokyo DisneySea unlike Tokyo Disneyland. 
There is no general admission ticket available for Tokyo Disneyland. You need to purchase a Passport, which includes all attractions. A one-day passport costs 5,800 yen (adult). A two-day passport costs 10,000 yen (adult). Children under age three are free of charge. In AUD that's about $75.00 or $125.00. We decided that two days in a row would definitely be stretching the limit with the two littlies.

We chose to make a beeline for 'Mermaid Lagoon' as Ariel was a huge attraction for one little Thommo. On the way we did stop to have a chat with Daisy, Pluto and Mickey who were doing a meet and greet.
 All I can say about the whole experience is WOW!!! It was really quite exceptional. The different ports were amazing and the attention to detail was great. 'Mermaid Lagoon' was beautiful and so colourful. I could have spent half a day in this area alone. The approach to
Mermaid Lagoon' was impressive and the detail of the exterior structure speaks for itself. Inside was gorgeous!
The 'Little Mermaid' performance was exceptional and the costumes were gorgeous. The lyrics in the songs were in English and the narratives were in Japanese but this did not affect our enjoyment. No photos were allowed here.
I loved the streets of the 'Arabian Coast'. The buildings and decorations were very authentic and, fortunately, everything was well attached because, naturally, Soph tested everything. 'Sinbad's Storybook Adventure' was a lovely boat trip through Aladdin's caves.
The rides in each port were great and the three adults had enormous fun going on most of them. Sophie's first rides were a little loud and fast so she wouldn't go on any others! Apart from some of the rides, the highlights of my day were the live performances, 'Little Mermaid' and 'Mystic Rhythms'. The energy of the music, instrumentals and dancers in the latter were brilliant. It was a special FX spectacular!! Sophie preferred the peace of the 'Caravan Carousel' and Harriet was grateful to just 'have a go' of Soph's Minnie ears.
 Although, initially, a reluctant participant the whole experience was terrific. DisneySea in Japan, I had never imagined it.
Harriet sums up how we felt by the end of the day.....exhausted!! (again)....the heat and humidity, two toddlers, lots of excitement and fun, crowds and trains...what's wrong with us??
Say┼Źnara tomodachi!!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another Day in Kamakura

On their first weekend in Japan we decided to take our alien visitors to Kamakura. Kamakura was one of the first places we visited when we arrived and is the location of the Great Buddha. On this occasion we did not get around to seeing any temples or shrines, instead it was a day spent roaming along the beach observing the preparations being made for the opening of the Summer season and having a swim. We then continued along past the main beach and came across another little bay with a very large high rise tourist resort close by. We had lunch in this area which, even though it was raining at this stage, had a bit of a Florida feel about it.

Further on around the bay we found a little beachside area which, in a Japanese way, had a bit of a Greek Isles feel to it. The pebbly little beach was crowded with fishing boats.

We continued to meander around the back streets and enjoy the different sights which this area offered. Like many places in Japan, depending on which gate you exit the station from, you see quite different things. This trip back to Kamakura gave us quite a different perspective. The addition of a few rain showers also altered the visual impact. One thing that continues to intrigue us is the simplicity of the housing and the quite inferior materials which are used. Housing and living conditions are still very 'Asian' for want of a better word with minimal exterior sophistication.
Without a doubt, a highlight of the visit was a swim in the sea, finally!! Sophie loved splashing in the waves and joined Steve for a nice swim.
Each Summer season is heralded by the sudden construction of masses of temporary eating places along the entire length of every swimming beach. A beach is suddenly transformed into a place teeming with human traffic. It's quite an amazing transformation. At the end of the season every building is once again removed.

Power poles such as this one provide an interesting insight into the electrical standards....very similar to our insights into Balinese electrical standards...what standards???

I'd like to see this happen on an Australian beach. Smoking booths are placed at regular intervals along the beaches. Smoking is restricted to these booths...a rule which appears to be adhered to by all!!
Our day was finished off with a walk through the streets near the station, a different set of streets to those we walked along on our first visit. It was very busy and the boys were not interested in window shopping...so what's new? They found a different variety of beer to sample...obviously Bek and I weren't thirsty because we didn't get a drink...then we headed off home.

This posting is out of order but is one I started a while back and failed to complete. Life in the household is not quite as orderly since the arrival of the aliens. Other postings may also be out of order but I like to have a diary for my records.