Okayama 2016 Pt IV: Korakuen Gardens And Okayama-Jo Castle

Three is the magic number in Japan when it comes to rating and numbering things. The Japanese like to categorise in three’s and one such example is the trio of most celebrated gardens. Okayama’s Korakuen Gardens are considered to be one of the three finest gardens in Japan with the others being Kenroku-en in Kanazawa and Kairaku-en in Mito.

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As I was up early each morning I thought I’d take advantage of them opening early and so was there at 8am (they actually open at 7:30am) with just a few other people present during my time there which was so Continue reading

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Okayama 2016 Pt III: Kurashiki

It had already been a long, long day for me but time is money and all that, so with a couple of hours of daylight remaining I decided to squeeze in one more site before retiring to my capsule hotel for some much needed rest.

Following my lone appearance at Washuzan Highland Theme Park I ventured on to Kurashiki which is a city famed for its Bikan historical area just fifteen minutes away from Okayama by train on the Sanyo Line. It was 5:30pm when I arrived and ten minutes later I had already found my way over to the historical quarter located by the picturesque canal area.

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The entrance area possesses some scenic townscape preserving history from  Continue reading

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Okayama 2016 Pt II: Washuzan Highland Theme Park

Have you ever met anyone who went to an amusement park by themselves? Probably not as that is pretty sad, isn’t it! As you can probably guess though, that is exactly what I did on my first afternoon in Okayama!

Keen to experience the Sky Cycle ride which brought this theme park to my attention a few months ago I had no real choice but to go alone with my wife out of the way. With no idea when I may next be in Okayama I thought I had better take this opportunity even if I did have to fly solo!

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Washuzan Highland is actually some kind of Brazilian themed amusement park where the staff all Continue reading

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Okayama 2016 Pt I: Staying In A Capsule Hotel

Accommodation in Japan, particularly the big cities, often tends to be a bit more cosy when compared with other global places. All the amenities are usually there but it’s all very compact with very little room to manoeuvre around the bed. And then there are capsule hotels!!

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These extremely small rooms are not for claustrophobic people, that’s for sure! They are almost reminiscent of corpse drawers in a morgue! Continue reading

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Review: Films Inspired By Japan – Ronin (1998)

When I first sat down to watch this I felt slightly reassured by its well-known cast of Robert De Niro and the safe pair of hands that is Jean Reno. The former may be a legendary actor but that hasn’t stopped him from making some truly awful films. Thankfully, this wasn’t one as it is actually very good.

Warning: Contains spoilers!

This gritty tale of trust is set and filmed in France (Paris and Nice) and it is these settings, along with the musical score, which really drives this movie for me. It’s a slow but tense opening as the viewer tries to figure out what exactly is happening – someone has something some other people require and they want to get it. Yes, it really is that vague!

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Just after the half way point in this 121 minute film, there is a conversation between Sam (Robert De Niro) and Jean-Pierre (Michael Lonsdale) about the Ronin myth giving an explanation about Continue reading

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Tokyo Daytripper: Chiba-jo Castle

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“There’s a castle in Chiba!” is often the reaction of the Tokyo-ite folk I teach when the subject of castles occasionally pops up into conversation. I then confirm that there is indeed one and that I have been there a couple of times with the first trip being a long, long time ago during my Continue reading

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London Filming Locations: Buster (1988)

This soppy 90 minute film doesn’t half romanticise criminality and ignore the violent assault of the train driver that really happened on August the 8th, 1963 when the Great Train Robbery took place. Phil Collins stars as Buster, the loveable rogue who steals a suit at the start of the film from a mannequin before hailing a taxi across the road from Broadway Market (below).

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Buster and his wife June (Julie walters) live at 30 Beck Road (below) in Hackney which is seen after 4 minutes. Both Cambridge Heath and London Fields on the Overground Line are around ten minutes away on foot.

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Just after the half hour mark, Abady House (below) on Page Street in Westminster appears and one of these flats is supposedly Continue reading

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