Life in the old dog yet – plus some tech!

As we rolled into 2019 I realised that whilst have a decent fitness level in being able to practice and train in Choi Kwang Do it was getting a lot harder because lifestyle and work travel had led to me putting on an awful lot of weight. I am not one for New Year’s resolutions but on Tuesday Jan 15th I thought it was time to do something, making sure I had avoided that dreaded 1st of Jan starting point.

What did I do? I installed and paid for an app, as that always helps doesn’t it! However, I had decided to not only ramp up my exercise (which is relatively easy to do as I already train 3 nights a week in Choi) but also add the challenge of diet alteration. I have never dieted in 51 years but we already eat a pretty varied and healthy selection of freshly prepared food that I cook regularly. Though I was eating lots of late night snack and crisps to go with glasses of wine.

The last time I decided to cut anything out was a few years ago about 7 months before my 1st Dan blackbelt grading and I was certainly a lot better equipped to deal with those rigours. For the 2nd Dan I was a lot later getting ready and it was certainly a challenge to get through. In year of so it will be 3rd dan time. Which, is 1st Dan and 2nd Dan combined in one grading. So I have a decent goal to be ready physically and mentally for that, all training and exercise can therefore not just be for the sake of weight loss or a personal guilt trip.

I took up the moderately trendy Fast 800 diet, buying the Kindle version to support a fellow author :). The facts and figures were well worth taking a look at as a degree of reassurance and as of Jan 15th I took to a carefully calculated 800Kcal a day intake with high protein and low carbs and sugar. The app I subscribed to was Nutracheck’s Calorie Counter that I found instantly useful being able to scan the barcode of products to add to the diary or to craft multi person recipes and get my 1/4 of that. It also records fat, sugar, water intake etc. I therefore had some numbers to play with and a game to play in effect. What could fit into 800 a day?

I was happy to find that almost all the recipes I do and the things I cook off spec well ideal for things like a 400Kcal evening meal if I left out the Pasta/rice/bread etc and replaced them with things like baby cauliflower instead. This was important as it meant the family were not having to deal with my fad, and decreased the amount of extra effort that might cause me to not bother. I also started drinking lots more water, I was already a water drinker, I like it and always have. I dropped alcohol (having given that a go since new year in a non-resolution way. Also gone are evening snacks have gone completely, often in favour of things like Japanese roasted rice and match tea. I know if I do have a snack I fail my daily target in my app and blow the game I am creating for myself. Obsession is an interesting technique I find.

Another key part in the technology of this experiment is using my Apple Watch. I already use the Under Armour Record app during Choi classes and home training to keep an eye on heart rate and recovery, but I have also taken to the Apple Rings and managed to complete Move, Exercise and Stand each day since I started. The dietary app, the exercise app and the rings all feed into the Apple Health app to track the intake and the exercise and help me look at trends in things like protein. The idea is to stay on 800 for as long as possible up to 12 weeks, then switch to a 5:2 approach. Five days of normal calorie intake and 2 non consecutive days at only 600KCal. This gives the body a bit of a kick everyone and then to not get comfortable and static.

I mix and match the exercise, I am not a runner so a fast walk outside, or on our treadmill watching The Punisher on Netflix with the heart rate up nicely on the watch for 45 mins or so is a regular feature, often after the light lunch. Mornings or evenings is Choi, some flexibility training and some speed, strength and power depending on the evening lessons and what feels right. At home I use my Hykso punch trackers that record the effectiveness of punches (not kicks) and provide a way to structure workouts. I often use a high intensity or PACE approach of 2 minutes on the bag and Bob dummy working at about 80% effort, 2 mins rest, 1 minute on at full pelt, 1 min rest, 30 seconds really flat out, 30 seconds rest then 15 seconds working at the edge of being worn out completely. My average punch velocity, just in 2 weeks has risen from 8mph up to 12mph.

The other piece of tech in this the Withings/Nokia wifi connected scales. These also feed my Apple Health app, though I manually enter the weigh-in I do each morning into the calorie counter app as part of the ritual and mentally tracking and typing the weight loss.

So how has it gone so far then? Well in the 17 days so far (apart from one odd blip) I have lost weight every day, a lot of weight. So far I have dropped 10.4Kg/1st8/22.6lbs. I have a couple of dumbell weights I sometimes use to between punch training that are just 5kg each, they feel pretty heavy when I pick them up but that’s how much I have dropped already.

Last night I was put through my paces in Choi class doing coloured belt, 1st Dan and 2nd Dan speed drills which I am sure I would not have been able to do a few weeks ago quite so well, and yet that was at the end of the day having not yet had the extra 400 KCals of evening meal.

I am not finding myself particularly hungry, and I am enjoying trying a few things to slot into my rotating recipe collection that I work up each night. Lunch is also more interesting as I am mixing that up with more oily fish, like sardines, lots more poached eggs and the odd Avocado.

All this will meet a major challenge as work travel kicks in a week on Sunday I head to Raleigh, 2 weeks later is Barcelona and MWC. However, I may be able to work the 5:2 in as text and possibly come back to 800 between trips. I don’t tend to take gym kit or go to hotel gyms but the hotel rooms, in the US anyway, are big enough to do complete sets of Choi workouts, to at least keep the heart rate going.

So it seems, with some tech and some self direction I may be able to make this thing work! Fingers crossed. I also hope this may help as a bit of inspiration for anyone else, though of course make sure you consult Doctor’s etc. as needed.

As we say in Choi – Pil Seung! (certain victory)

The Northern lights virtual and real

The end of a very busy travel year in 2018 which included work trips to Barcelona, Madrid, Santa Clara, Boston, Shenzhen / Hong Kong and holidays to Japan and Portugal ended with a holiday trip to Sweden and up into the arctic circle in search of the Northern Lights.

This trip was a birthday president for my wife from back in August and I had booked the IceHotel for a couple of nights and then a trip to Abisko mountain (one of the best places in the world to see the Norther Lights.

Like all natural wonders, especially ones that depend on weather conditions we were not certain to see the lights so it was really interesting that serendipity kicked in just before we set off not the trip and wonder Forza Horizon 4 released its DLC – Fortune Island just before we set off. In this expansion the scenery is a remote crazy island north of Scotland and amongst other things, as night draws in you are treated to a wonderful display of the northern lights. So I took a few screen shots to take with me on holiday almost as a lucky charm.

Forza horizon 4 northern lights
Forza Horizon 4 Northern Lights
Forza horizon 4 northern lights
more Forza Horizon Northern Lights

Before the full northern lights trip to Abisko the Ice Hotel near Kiruna was our destination. (No kickbacks of benefits here but the trip was booked through Discover The World)

We stayed our first night in the IceHotel 365 where out room was at -5C, we did have a warm bathroom out back but spent the night in a thermal sleeping bag sleeping on reindeer skins on ice in a victorian themed room.

Ice hotel room
Ice Hotel 365
Ice hotel room
Ice Bed

This was quite an experience, yes its cold, but its quite nice sipping champagne from ice goblets in an icy work of art.

Ice hotel room
Goblets

I had to apologise to the hotel in the morning though as I sat on this Ice Chair and it decided to break as I leant back gently on it.

Ice hotel room
Ice Chair

It was -25C outside in the morning, so the Hotel felt tropical

-27c on frozen lake
iced up

Whilst there was a tiny bit of light (more of a dusk) we were far enough north for it to always be dark, as my sun cycle on the Apple watch showed

Untitled
watch

We had a great trip out on the snowmobiles from here on the night we slept in a warm hotel room, which was a good call I think!

On this trip we did see or first inkling of the norther lights which as you can see is not the most spectacular picture ever.

Northern lights
Faint northern lights

However, things improved greatly when we headed up to Abisko for the night, with a cable car up to the top of the mountain a nice meal and wine, then we heard shouts of “wow look at this” from one of our fellow travellers. He dashed in with a photo, that I thought was, like my earlier one at the start of this post, from a game or a fake. Eventually we finished eating and donned our polar suits and stepped outside. It was pretty amazing.

Northern lights
Northern Lights Abisko
Northern lights
Northern lights
Northern lights
Northern lights

The complete set I took are below and here on Flickr in a group (yes I am sticking with Flickr with a pro account)

Northern Lights Abisko 2018

All the photos are taken with an Iphone App “Northern Light” that helps set the exposure and camera settings, this is because they lights do not look this green to the naked eye, but you need to have a long exposure to see them on a camera, which enhances the green, and other colours sometimes.

What you see is a greyish wisp of cloud hanging in the sky that as you look at changes shapes and swirls, fast enough to notice its changed not slow enough it does not seem to. The guides suggest that it takes 30 mins of darkness for you nigh vision to kick in, but any light then resets that. We were all busy taking picture then looking at them so maybe we did not see the colours quite as much as possible if there is no light, but it was like an instant version of sending pictures to be developed, you see a swirl, you snap, you look and see more of this intense green blast on the screen. Look up and it’s a different shape.

I think the several hours of display we got was pretty much as good as it could possibly be. The entire group was in awe of it, and you can see, like many natural wonder, why it yields do many tribal folklore stories of ancestral ghosts, magic fox tails and gods battling.

So the real thing was definitely better than the virtual but the virtual you can see with the naked eye. It is also fascinating that every image we or film shown of the Northern Lights its effectively an image enhancement of the real thing. In reality its a subtle and ethereal thing rather than a full on fireworks display to our naked eye, but both are equally wondrous and fantastic.

I nearly forgot to mention another funny piece of detail in the Ice Hotel room artwork. I only just about noticed it, but on one of the bedside tables was an ice glass carved and placed, but it seemed to have something in it. Very clever 🙂

Ice false teeth on bedside cabinet
Icy False Teeth

The joy of exploration in game virtual worlds – Forza Horizon and Read Dead Redemption 2

Game worlds just keep getting better and better. The time and effort that goes into the environments in free roam games is certainly worth it, as a consumer and gamer. Two examples of free roaming but very different game types and narratives are Xbox’s racing game Forza Horizon 4 and the western epic follow up from the creators of GTA V, Read Dead Redemption 2.
Forza is about racing cars around, hundred of types, lots of customisation, on and off road. In Horizon 4 this time environment has moved to the UK. The huge game area represents areas of the UK, with cotswolds, lake district, Edinburgh all blended into the experience. It is not a 1:1 of the UK, but it doesn’t need to be. Also the game engine represents time of day changes and each week the seasons change which radically changes the look and feel of the game. There is also an incredible set of radio stations to listen to as you drift, speed, jump and crash around. You don’t have to stay on the roads either. The cars, as usual, feel great, but its augmented by the arcade madness of of os the challenges, of which there are many!
With all these free roam games the scenery is really important, the sense of wonder and space that they give really adds to it, hence you can just go for a drive as a digital tourist, not even engaging with the challenges of the game.

Also you can custom paint the cars, as I have often written and talked about.
Here the scenery is into winter, with a wonderful sky and my custom scooby with Choi and Reconfigure decals hurtling along. Pretty much anything you can see you can reach.

Forza Horizon 4 Scooby Snow

Here I am parked up at one of the houses that acts as a base, but the sky is the star in this photo. Remember this is a razzing around in a car game!

Forza Horizon 4 Sunset

The simulation elements of the cars are realistic but the antics don’t have to be. As you can get a lot of air

Forza Horizon 4 Jump

Forza Horizon 4 Bikes

The attention to detail in the sky and environment is just wonderful though

Forza Horizon 4 Sky trails

With Red Dead Redemption 2 the environment is even more detailed and huge. It also is even more key to the experience as you are a person in it, not a car razzing around. You trot around on your horse, or walk. It is full of wildlife and plants and trees of all sorts. Like Forza the night and day cycle, and weather fronts make a big difference. The immense map area transitions from mountains to plains, from desert to forest, swamps, lakes and rivers also feature. Once again if you can see something off in the distance, you can usually get there. The work id populated with lots of other characters and your gang help you drive the story forward, if you want to that is. It is fun just to go off on an adventure, just to see what you can find.

Here, as on of the initial camps the gang forms to get the story going you can see rich vegetation but off in teh far distance snow capped mountains.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Rich vegetation selfie

After a long ride you can find yourself up in those mountains (Making sure to change into a warm coat so you don’t freeze to death!)

Red Dead Redemption 2 mountain selfie

On the way, or in other adventures you get to see sights like this waterfall

Red Dead Redemption 2 waterfall

Dramatic skies

0_0-6Red Dead Redemption 2 sky

Even double rainbows !

0_0-Red Dead Redemption 2 rainbows

What is amazing is that many of these sights and sounds and experiences are unique to the player. With such a huge world being in a certain place at a certain time adds to the magic of exploration. On top of all that the games have brilliantly designed stories or things to do with set pieces that who the entire world to you in many different ways.

These are not the only two massive free roam games, but they are some of the best of the current crop especially in $K Ultra HD. With Just Cause 4 arriving next week we can expect even more free roam goodness with fantastic gameplay thrown in. The last one was 2016. In it I got to do silly things like this.

You see games, and in particular massive virtual worlds have a whole lot to offer 🙂

Made it at last (in VR too)- Thanks Streetview

I was just checking out Hong Kong on my Oculus Rift in Google Earth VR and also Streetview VR for a few mins today. I have a trip to China in a couple of weeks so was just using the tech to get ready.
After that I popped back to Basingstoke, remembering seeing the street view car in the summer as I left the station. I knew where I was, but I figured the picture would not be there yet or not be looking my way.

However, it was, and I got to see myself strolling back from a trip to London, but saw it first in VR 🙂 Now, I join the ranks of those that have appeared on StreetView. Yes I know I did TV, that was cool, but being on StreetView seems cool too 🙂

If only I was carry a copy of Reconfigure or Cont3xt
Here is the pic and the link

Spotted on Google Streetview

Forza and Bond a perfect combination

The upcoming release of the Xbox flagship car brand Forza, with Horizon 4 has given the developers some great fodder to advertise with. Horizon is a free roaming driving game and 4 is set in the UK, apparently with lots of seasonal activity, just like the real thing. You know, rain, and well… rain. 🙂
An actor James Bond car pack brings models of classic Bond cars to the series, complete with some gadgets.
In this brilliant advert, using the actual game engine they have combined the music of Bond, and recreate vignettes of Bond scenes with his car and the bad guys too.
I am a big Forza fan, having advertised my book via it.
Reconfigure book paintwork on a lambo
Also cool stuff collective,feeding edge and eightbar in various ways seeing it grow like this and be this good is awesome. Enjoy.

Watching Ready Player One on a VR Headset

This weekend I finally was able to purchase a digital copy of the film version Ready player One. It is something we saw as a family at the cinema but I had been wanted to take another look. I don’t buy many individial movies any more as with Sky, Netflix and Amazon things are usually easy to access as needed. It seems the US got to the home release first, another weird thing to be doing in the 21st century, slowly rolling out digital/streaming availability is so archaic and only really leads to piracy and lost revenue.
I had to make a choice on how to get to a digital version of the movie. Do I pay Sky for its buy and keep, where they also send blu-ray to go with the download. Or buy a blu-ray and attempt to figure out the film industry approach to digital, which, as with the release schedule is pretty archaic. Instead I went for Amazon Video. This we have on all our TV’s in the house, computers, pads and phones, alongside with Netflix. The last movies I bought were also on Amazon, John Wick 2 and before that The Raid 2, so its ideal to have next door to those.
I sparked up Amazon on the TV and home cinema and started to enjoy spotting even more of the references from my childhood and growing through the 80s as a gamer. Plus of course the who depth of engagement in VR is what flows through my head most of the time as a metaverse evangelist. Really though it is this targeted set of references and in jokes for me and my generation of geeks that I love. Wade’s Delorean with what seems to be a Knight Rider front grill, Duke Nuke-em aiming a launcher during the first battle scene, hello kitty and friends waddling along the bridge next to Wade, it goes on.
Being in VR though, with the headsets, suits, and running walkways I though I should at least try and watch it on my Oculus Go. I paused the TV stream, popped the headset on that is always next to me. I hoped an Amazon app had made it to the store, but no. Instead using the web browser I headed to Amazon video, logged in and found my movie, clicked play…. Nothing. It was a little deflating. Then though I noticed the “Use Desktop version” button in the top right and bingo it worked. Picking up where we left off at the start of the race with characters like SF’s Ryu wandering off to his car and seeing the Akira motorcycle raz into view. Selecting full screen gave a nice curved view of the 2D movie, enough I had to turn my head to look across the picture a little. Proper front row stuff. Not immersed as much as the main characters are int eh OASIS but a nice blend of traditional film, with new view tech and all a little bit meta 🙂

Another thing I noticed, which I think I had forgotten, was that when Wade first appears he has green hair, which he then dynamically changes to show avatar customisation in the OASIS. For me thats a big “yay” because I spent a long while with green hair in Second Life before finding my predator Avatar. My green spiked hair was a thing I identify with, and even got 3d printed. I also often referenced that in corporate presentations as the choice to have green hair is a subtle prod at conformity and social norms, just on the border of whether that would be acceptable to many in an office. It is not as full on extreme body shapes, or cartoon looks. The predator AV took this a stage further in the conversations. I also use green hair in almost every avatar in every platform as its a much quicker mental attachment than finding or trying to build a complex Yautja avatar. PS Home famously (from my point of view) did not allow green hair. Very odd!
So seeing Wade, in a movie about VR, the 80s and my generation my ego naturally assumed that any research the production team may, just may have come across my green hair metaverse evangelizing 🙂

Wade starts Ready Player One with  green hair. Just saying ;)

If you like player one ready, or don’t, you will still like my own VR and AR story telling with real world gaming and tech references though with Reconfigure and Cont3xt. Its got a love of Marmite in it too 🙂

Trust me I’m a Doctor

Yesterday, July 8th 2018 was a very unusual day. I was invited to Southampton Solent University to receive an Honorary Degree in Technology. I got the invitation a few months ago and I have to say it is a really humbling feeling. As with all these things it is not individual effort that has led to this, but all the fantastic people I have had the opportunity to work with and share time with over the years. Also thank you everyone for you kind wishes and congratulations, likes and jibes online 🙂
My job that day was to join in with the rest of the academic body on stage and congratulate each of the 600 graduating students with a round of applause from the stage. Then I had my citation read out and the Chancellor handed me my tube and conferred the honor. Then I had a free form 5 minutes to talk to the students and families about the wonderful opportunities out there for them all. This part was the biggest honour of the day as a graduation day is a rare and special time. I talked a little about Choi Kwang Do and the milestones that we have in martial arts, and how getting a belt doesn’t mean stopping practicing and learning from the previous belts, its ongoing to learn and practice and the journey really does matter more than the destination. I also implored everyone to share and work together and most of all be nice, all the time if possible!
Doctorate shots
Also with me in gaining a Doctorate was Mark Sanger, Oscar winning film editor on Gravity (amongst many other fantastic films). He became a Doctor of Art. He gave a really good speech, and we commented afterwards how we said very similar things in different ways, which I hope helped get re-enforce our enthusiasm for getting on out in the World.
Doctorate shots
The university link is here but I am adding int he video from that page of the mini interview and roundup that the team did and put up really quickly!

I can haz FPV drone

Father’s day saw my headset count++ with the google cardboard style parrot headset for the iPhone to let me fly the Mambo drone and its camera. Its great fun as you would expect. Unlike VR where you move your head to see you end up keeping still as you have to move the drone, but it is like sitting on it. For a little drone its very fast about 10mph according to some of the logs it generates.
I also used Swift playgrounds to program it to fly under code control on the iPad. Which is awesome too. Writing code, flying drones and VR headsets seems like some sort of perfect geek storm to me.

Travel broadens the mind – Japan Part 1 Tokyo

This year has been pretty full with travel mostly with work but also with a fantastic family trip. The work trips included January to Boston, February it was Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Las Vegas for an IBM event in March, end of April it was Hannover and I just got back from Santa Clara, California from an IoT event. Nestled in there between Vegas and Hannover at the start of April was the family trip to Japan. This was a 50th birthday gift from my wife that I received the previous August. It seemed to take an age coming, partly with all the other travel before it, but was well worth the wait.
We headed out from Heathrow airport stopping by Heston’s airline food place in the terminal

Heston at Heathrow

Our first stop was Tokyo (ignoring the part about the very long flight as I just zone out and get on with that now)
We arrived to be met by the local representative, as this was all book through the wonderful Trailfinders company. He presented us with all the train tickets and schedule reminders and navigated us to the hotel (we chose a to pay for a taxi though we had train tickets as … you know a long flight!). Driving through the Tokyo roads the place looked and felt just right, it was not even too crowded or busy. The taxi driver was wearing white gloves (no picture of that but it just came to mind)
We were staying in Park Hotel at the Shiodome Media Tower which was ideally situated for the train lines.

Park Hotel

The hotel took up the top floors of what a media office block but its internal atrium style made it feel miles away from anything.

Park Hotel

We still had some time to explore after arriving before crashing out, so we went for a walk.

Tokyo Sunset

Being in the media part of the city there was some interesting art. Which kind of hints at the wonderful Japanese mix of efficiency and buttoned down approach to life combined with a great expression of art and culture and the joy of life.

Odd Sculptures

Right near all the polished skyscrapers we found this district full of small arcades and shops. The loud noise of the pachinko places, where thousands of small ball bearing ping around pins was noticeable. We did not go in as they don’t allow under 18’s in to these gambling areas, despite the bright lights and manga window dressing.

Near the hotel

So here we were in Tokyo, ready for the adventure

Family in Japan

As expected, vending machines were everywhere, this was just round from the shops. Hot and cold cans of drink of all sorts.

Vending machines

Across from the hotel they were shooting a kids TV show, I was going to try and join in for old time’s sake 🙂

Japan trip

It made for an odd skyline picture but again, so very Japanese in its contrast and blending at the same time.

Character Hiding

With the potential confusion of a language that we have almost no possibility to read or speak with any degree of competence we had a guide show us around Tokyo on the first day. This was also great to be able to talk about the differences and similarities in our cultures. I learned an awful lot from our guide and we also shared our perspectives. One of the key things that we learned was about the religious side of life. Japan has both Shinto and Buddhist culture, plus a smattering of other things like christian churches. However the key is that there seems to be no specific religious tension, it is not a choice of believing or not in one or the other, the Japanese people have absorbed both, or all. Our guide said asking someone what religion they were in Japan would be a confusing question, as its melded and just all part of life. Shinto shrines are typically marked by the typical square arch, with rope and white flags and buddhism has ornate temples, they co-exist.
We first went to a temple though, obviously a tourist trap with lots of shops around it, but at the same time oddly tranquil despite the crowds. We were shown how to cleanse our hands with water and make an offering and a prayer. It did not, as an atheist feel hypocritical nor like being a tourist, just blending in.

Tokyo tour

Tokyo Temple

We were lucky enough to see some of the famous cherry blossom

Cherry Blossom

We also got to see a very rare art exhibition of panel paintings, not photos of those, but they were stunning. All telling various Japanese samurai stories and fables. The art style being 2d and not using perspective, yet at the same time feeling flowing and in motion.

Escaping hustle and bustle we entered the Japanese garden next to temple. The aim of these is to recreate elements of nature, ponds are lakes and sea, rocks represent mountain ranges.

Garden

Like our pond at home, lots of Koi

Koi

The garden is very old, again part of the absorbing of the old and new that the culture seems suited to.

Tokyo tour

Right next door, in the same grounds as the temple this was our first view of a Shinto shrine, we did not visit this particular one as we had more of that to come.

Shinto

We took a boat trip back to our next destination, but our guide pointed out these buildings and highlighted the symbolism that is often used. The Horns on the building in the background are the logo of the beer company, the building to its left has golden windows and a white top, representing a glass of beer!

Beer building

we were heading to another park, in the background one of those buildings is our hotel.

Park

The park offered more peace and quite from the hustle of the city

Cherry Blossom

Park

We were heading to a tea house, where we had our first tach of Matcha (Green tea). This is not the normal weak green tea, but frothy almost broth. Sweet paste is eaten first then the more sour tea is slurped down.

Matcha

No chairs (or shoes)

Tea house

Tea House

On leaving we saw one of the original 60’s capsule architecture examples. Still nestled in and preserved and absorbed.

Capsule architecture

Then it was up to a very high floor to have a meal.

High up

They did have an english menu but our guide talked us through this

Menu

It was also really nice to get this, and odd as I had forgotten it was now april 2018 and my birthday was in August 17 🙂

Birthday

An yes there were robots, Softbank’s Pepper made an appearance on this trip a few times

Pepper

In Tokyo, whilst navigation may have been a worry, once you get there its pretty easy, every is labelled and numbers and signs tend to have English too.

Sign

We went past or through a shopping district and ended up in a toy shop, thousands of collectibles. Including dancing storm troopers

Star Wars

I nearly bought this wonderful predator Mr Potato Head, but showed some restraint. In Second Life my full name is epredator potato, just to add to the serendiptiy! I bought a mini Deadpool instead.

Tokyo trip

We were headed to the main Shinto shrine, we were shown how our guide respectfully crossed each arched boundary, at the side of each, bowing with respect as we got deeper into the shrine.Not something everyone was doing by any stretch, but it seemed the right approach.

Shinto entrance

Organisations have barrels of Sake and of Whiskey stored as an offering for good luck and prosperity.

Sake Barrels

Whiskey

The centre of the shrine was a very large structure and area.

Shrine

Then for utter contrast we were taken to the “teenagers” favourite shopping street and hangout. An utterly crammed area that we battled around so that the kids could take a look, but I was very glad to escape.

Teenager alley

Tokyo tour

We then hopped on the train back to our hotel.

Train

I didn’t photograph all my food, but there is more of this later. Stunning textures and colours and presentation on every dish we ate everywhere

Soup

The next day we were on our own heading out into the city

Japan Tokyo day 2

More to come…….

The entire album of photos (all 550+ of course!) https://flic.kr/s/aHskBD8Lbw