Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

The Tokugawa Ieyasu Shrine in Nikko, Japan

Japan > Nikko

 

05 December 2011

 
The Tomb of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616).
https://i2.wp.com/lh6.googleusercontent.com/-Ez5wUmfaB5w/Tt6yrdTeS2I/AAAAAAAANvs/_eQuIhHVDaM/s640/DSC00353.JPG?ssl=1
 

 
Below is a slideshow of our visit to the Shrine of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan for more than 250 years between 17th and 19th century. It’s a Unesco World Heritage Site, and Nikko’s most popular spot.
 

 
For best experience, please view in HD 720p full screen. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

===

Travels of 2011

I have put together a slideshow of our travels in 2011.

 

 
Our Travels of 2011 — locations in video above are, in sequence: Canada (Nova Scotia), Kelantan (PCB), Indonesia (Anak Krakatau), Malaysia (our Setia Alam house), Indonesia (Prambanan, Mt Merapi, Jogjakarta, Borobudur, Dieng Plateau), Malaysia (SMS Faris Petra, Tg Tuan, Port Dickson, Kuala Selangor), Myanmar (Bagan, Irrawaddy, Mandalay, Yangon), Malaysia (Ketereh), India (Darjeeling, Kolkata), Malaysia (Kg Penarik, K. Terengganu), Australia (Great Ocean Road, Ballarat, Bright, Mt Hotham), Malaysia (Kenny G @ KLCC), Canada (Niagara, Ottawa, Quebec, Gaspe, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Hamilton, Toronto), Malaysia (Pangkor Island, Pantai Batu Buruk, MAS B747, KLIA), Indonesia (Bromo, Surabaya), Norway (Fjords, Bergen, Tromso, Aurora, Oslo), Japan (Nikko, Hakodate, Sapporo, Otaru, Kushiro, Nagano), HongKong.
 
Soundtrack: Medwyn Goodall’s Timeless.
 
Looking forward to more adventures in 2012. ๐Ÿ˜€
 

Tokyo International Airport (Haneda – HND)

Japan > Tokyo > Haneda

11 December 2011

Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport HND) is a huge pleasure to use. In my opinion, the best way to access it is via Tokyo Monorail operated by JR, hence a JR Pass is valid here.

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It starts at HND Terminal 2, stops at Terminal 1 and International Terminal before connecting to the Yamanote Line (Green), also owned by JR. Good deal for JR Pass holders.
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Platform at International Terminal.
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Spacious interior, for all the baggage.
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This is Terminal 1 — with two wings, where the centre is the commercial area, designated ‘Market Place’.
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Go up and you come to this concourse.
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South Wing of T1, mainly used by JAL domestic operations.
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In particular, JAL domestic flights going south.
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Another view of South Wing — a cavernous long hall.
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The North Wing is a replica of the South Wing, also used by JAL domestic, and Skymark Airlines.
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Continuing with the monorail, I leave Terminal 1 for a ride to Terminal 2, its end-station. This is the beautiful home of ANA domestic operations. From the monorail station, up a long escalator to the check-in floor.
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Atop the escalator, their flagship plane, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
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Turn left into North Wing.
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Huge posters of their Dreamliner.
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Flight Information Display with more details than normal.
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More Dreamliner pictures.
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The ‘Market Place’ at the centre of the long terminal.
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Christmas decorations at the concourse of Market Place.
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Huge banner hung above the Christmas tree, looks cool but not sure what it is about.
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This is the South Wing of T2.
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FID, and Air Do is Hokkaido International Airlines. Qatar and Thai codesharing with whom?
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Check-in area of South Wing, T2.
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Heading back to the Market Place.
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Down the escalator, two floors to get back to the monorail station.
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The monorail terminal at HND International Terminal, and go past those ticket machines …
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… you are right inside the departure hall. Very convenient.
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Go one floor up and get a nice view of the check-in area.
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The roof is amazing — no support in the middle, no pillars, and it feels like being in a huge tent.
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And of course this is the ‘Market Place’, the common theme in all three terminals at HND.
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The Market Place is actually called the Edo Marketplace, replicating the traditional Edo period villages (‘Edo’ is the old name for Tokyo in 17th-19th century, capital during the Tokugawa Shogunate)
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Mainly shops selling Japanese traditional craft and fabric, but also a number of restaurants.
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So I decide to have my farewell dinner.
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And here also I find the most sophisticated toilet ever.
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It even blows warm air into your rear to dry it.
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Anyway, a floor up, there is something even more interesting — a spotter-friendly open-air observation deck.
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Night-spotting has never been exciting, especially with a flashless, handheld camera.
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The lights on the taxiways are quite vibrant and colourful, unlike other airports I’ve been at.
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Haneda is the official ‘Tokyo International Airport’.
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Overall, a beautiful user-friendly airport.
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It is freezing cold outside on the deck, so I make my way to the departure gate to board AirAsia X flight D7 523 back to Kuala Lumpur.
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Next to me, smokers poison each other in a Mild Seven-sponsored compartment. How appropriate. :)
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> THE END

 

The Japanese Dancing Cranes of Kushiro

Japan > Hokkaido > Kushiro

09 December 2011

A visit to Kushiro Shitsugen National Park in eastern Hokkaido in search of the majestic Dancing Cranes aka Japanese Crane aka Red-crowned Crane, sp. Grus japonensis, an icon of Japan. Very rare, only about 1000 birds now live in Japan. Long journey from Sapporo — a 4-hr express train ride to Kushiro, then a 1-hr bus trip to the site in Tsurumidai, just before Tsurui village — a round-trip of almost 750km, all done in one day out of Sapporo. Worth it all!

The Dancing Cranes.

 

HD Video

 

Please click below for slideshow. For best experience, please view in HD 720p. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

===

The Snow Monkeys of Nagano

Japan > Nagano

11 December 2011

A visit to Jigokudani Yaen-koen, some 35km northeast of Nagano city, to see the fascinating Snow Monkeys.ย A long way to get there. An express bus ride from Nagano Station takes 50min to a stop near the park — fare ยฅ1300 one way. Then another 40min walk along a village road followed by a 1.6km trail into the forest. Park entrance costs ยฅ500. But definitely an experience not to be missed.

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Slideshow of Sapporo-Nagano train journey and the Snow Monkeys. Please watch in HD 720p for best effect.

 

HD Video

 

===

RETRO: Hiroshima and Enola Gay

[ originally published at http://mny.nuraina.com/index.php?itemid=7 ]

Tuesday, 6th November 2008

RETRO: Hiroshima and Enola Gay

Last week Brig Gen Paul W Tibbets, Jr, died at 92 years of age.


Source: Salt Lake Tribune

Which brings me back memories of my own pilgrimage to Hiroshima. It was Aug, 2004, during a trip to Japan …

I start my journey at Tokyo station, boarding a bullet train to Kyoto, en route to Hiroshima.

I finally set foot in modern Hiroshima, on a hot balmy night of Aug 8, 2004, just 2 days after the 59th anniversary of that dreadful event.

The next day, in the sweltering heat, I board a tram …

… along the wide streets of Hiroshima. The place was built from scratch after the 1945 obliteration, and reminds me of any modern western city, with blocks and wide roads. For example, Adelaide (Australia) comes to mind immediately.

The tram soon deposits me at the doorstep of a very famous landmark, the A-Bomb Dome.

A tragic tale unfolds.

This is how it looked 2 months after the bombing, in Oct 1945. Note the A-Bomb Dome, then a Hall.

Another view of the Dome/Hall.

A hundred metres up the road, near the epicentre of the explosion, I squint at the blue sky, imagining the A-Bomb detonating some 580m up. The weather on that fateful day of 6th Aug, 1945, must have been very similar to today’s – hot, humid, clear blue sky. Visualise a blinding flash of intense white light up there …

Fast-forward to Feb 2005, six months later. I’m in Washington DC, USA, and with time to kill, decide to pay the well-regarded Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center at Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum annex, near Washington Dulles International Airport. I spot something familiar ….

Yes, it’s The Culprit, the Enola Gay, the machine which brought hell to the folks in Hiroshima – she was there, lurking in the sky, that fateful morning of 6th Aug, 1945.

To the right, a slender carpark is seen. The A-Bomb detonated 580m somewhere above the spot where this carpark is.

And it was delivered by this creature, a Boeing B29 Superfortress, now sitting harmlessly in its den on the other side of the planet.

I feel like being eyeballed by a monster. It’s both eerie and spooky. Just six months ago I witnessed the remnants of utter destruction it caused 60 years ago.

At the A-Bomb Memorial Park, the Japanese flag is perpetually at half-mast.

The focal point of the park is this memorial.

People come to lay wreaths and pay respect to the dead.

The Culprit is like a knight gleaming in silvery armour.

Poignant juxtaposition.

Nearby, there’s a nice museum, with a great view to boot. Note the carpark building ‘P’ to the right, which marks the spot where the A-Bomb exploded 580m up.

Inside the museum, sobering exhibits. Instantaneous destruction.


The T-shaped bridge above is the target for Enola Gay to drop it’s deadly load, and here it is today.

Another display: before, … (note the T-shaped bridge for orientation)

… and after.

The A-Bomb exploded (red ball) almost above the T-shaped bridge. Excellent aiming by Enola Gay.

Survivors, but not for long.

Fused ink bottles found at a decimated factory.

Intense heat melted and fused glasses.

“Letters of Protest” against the use of the A-Bomb, from all over the world, adorn the wall.

A letter from Nehru.

Names of the (identifiable) dead. Estimated dead: 70,000 instantaneously, another 70,000 due to injuries and radiation.

I’ve had enough, and on the way out, take a final look at the forlorn Dome.

At the Smithsonian, I take a finally gaze at Enola Gay. It brings a closure for me, after the Hiroshima visit 6 months ago.

After the traumatic trip to the A-Bomb Park, I take a short train ride to the sacred Shinto island of Miyajima, for a bit of therapy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Soon I am on another bullet train for another destination, but that’s another tale.

EPILOGUE

Source: inRich.com

Please visit HIROSHIMA REMEMBERED. Thanks!

> THE END

RELATED STORY IS HERE.


RETRO: A Japan Story from August 2004

[ originally published at http://ny6.blogspot.com ]

FIRST ~ Japan 070804: Bullet Trains at Tokyo Station

These sleek shinkansen machines can go all the way up to 300km/h. On one stretch between Hiroshima and Osaka, my GPS registered 286 km/h! No shaking, no rattling, just a hum. It covers the very busy 520km Tokyo-Kyoto route in just 2.3 hours, with trains leaving one station for the other every 5-10 min during peak periods.


JR train tickets, including for bullet trains. Top left is my first ticket – from Narita Airport to Tokyo Station. The nice English-speaking girl at the counter subtitled in red for me. Splendid start!


Japan 090804: Hiroshima A-Bomb Memorial Park

The Hiroshima Memorial Park, built to commemorate the 8.15am, 6/8/45, A-Bomb blast which took place 580 metres in the air somewhere above the slender car-parking building marked ‘P’ in the bottom pic. The bomb should have exploded right above the bridge in Pic #3 (from the top), but I guess that’s academic now. As a result some 140,000 citizens of Hiroshima perished (70,000 from the blast, 70,000 from radiation), and Hiroshima was decimated. Now a modern Hiroshima is a bustling and beautiful city, surrounded by mountains and the sea, with wide streets, trundling trams, rivers and waterways, and 1.1mil people.
I arrived at the city around 7.30pm, 8/8/04, aboard a bullet train from Osaka, oblivious to the fact that the city had just had its 59th a-bomb anniversary a couple of days before. Otherwise it would have been tough getting a room for the night. I ended up spending two nights in Hiroshima, and could not get over the fact that on 6/8/45 the whole city was obliterated, and had to be rebuilt from scratch – a testimony to the power of life over destruction.

Japan 090804: Hiroshima’s A-Bomb

In the grounds of the Hiroshima A-Bomb Memorial Peace Park, you will find a splendid museum detailing the event, with a strong anti-nuclear weaponry theme, not surprisingly. The pics attached below were taken in the museum:
Pic #1 (top): model of Hiroshima prior to the bombing.
Pic #2 (middle): model of Hiroshima after the bombing – only bits of some ferro-concrete buildings were left standing.
Pic #3 (bottom): a stitched pic of four separate photos I took of a huge display in the museum of the real panorama of Hiroshima a few days after bombing.
For orientation, the T-shaped bridge at left of Pic #1 is shown at the far right of Pic #3. It is partially hidden to the extreme left of Pic #2.
This odd-shaped bridge survived the blast and is still in use today. The A-Bomb was supposed to be detonated above this bridge because it was easily identifiable from the air. The bomb instead exploded 300 metres to the south-east of the T-shaped bridge, at a height of 580 metres, in order to maximise its destructive impact. The time was exactly 8.15am, 6/8/1945, on a beautiful sunny blue morning (similar weather to the day I was there 9/8/2004). The bomber had 4 possible cities to bomb, but Hiroshima got it because it had the best weather for the drop.

Japan 090804: Hirosima A-Bomb relics

The pics attached are real items, thanks to the A-Bomb, all on display at the museum. The blast from the bomb generated heat of almost 4,000C which vaporised (or burnt) people, and melted glasses.
Pic #1: melted glass bottles.
Pic #2: melted and fused empty ink bottles found in a spot where an ink factory used to stand.

Japan 090804: A quick trip to Miyajima and the floating shrine

After a sombre morning at the A-Bomb Memorial, I caught a tram to the Hiroshima train station, had a quick McD’s fillet-o-fish, and boarded an afternoon local train to the coastal town of Miyajimaguchi, for a ferry ride to the island of Miyajima, an hour away from Hiroshima. Miyajima is famous for its venerable shrine of Itsukushima-jinja (built 1168), whose vermilion gate rising out of the sea (not at low tides) is considered one of Japan’s top three most scenic views.
Top pic attached shows a view of the ‘floating’ gate from the path leading to the shrine on Miyajima island, with the mountains on Honshu island as a backdrop. Bottom pic shows the gate as the ferry approaches Miyajima island. The position of the sacred gate indicates that the whole island of Miyajima is a Shinto holy site and should be respected as such.

Japan 100804: Hiroshima-Osaka bullet train

After spending two nights in Hiroshima, I packed my stuff and decided to back-track to Osaka with a bullet train, and then change at Osaka for a normal express train for Kanazawa. I had the option of pushing further west to Kyushu island, but I reckoned the west coast of Honshu was worth seeing too, considering the lack of time. Anyway I had to head back to Tokyo for a date with missus. Maybe next time :-). Hence my furthest point from Tokyo is Miyajima, some 920 km away by train. Kanazawa, on the other hand, is only 470 km away, but on the other side of Honshu island.
Pics attached are taken during the bullet train ride from Hiroshima to Osaka (with a short 3-hour Himeji lay-over in between). The GPS caught the train doing 280 km/h, though the max speed I recorded was 286 km/h. The scenery was mainly mountainous interspersed with forests, villages and urban areas. Rice-fields were everywhere, even in between buildings in towns. The cabin of the train was very comfortable, spacious and quiet, with just a humming sound.

Japan 100804: Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle. Most famous castle in Japan, also known as “white egret castle”. More than 600 yrs old, but present structure was built 400 yrs ago by Tokugawa Shogun, totally wooden but coated with white plaster and well-defended by walls, ramparts, towers and moats. Climbing up the 6 floors of the castle tower was a bit of a challenge – narrow, steep wooden staircases (more like ladders). Featured in 007’s “You Only Live Twice” and countless samurai shows. Himeji Castle is registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Stopped by in Himeji for 3 hours while traveling on the shinkansen (bullet train) from Hiroshima to Osaka 10/8/04. Himeji is some 650km west of Tokyo. After stowing my backpack in the coin locker at the Himeji station, it was a 15-min brisk walk to the castle which was built atop a hill north of the city centre.

Pics’ descriptions:
Pic #1 – View of castle from near the main gate.Model of internal wooden structure of Himeji Castle.
Pic #2 – View of main street in Himeji from top floor of castle. The train station is behind the building at the end of the street.
Pic #3 – Model of internal wooden structure of Himeji Castle.
Pic #4 – View of castle from the garden below it.

Japan 100804: Harakiri-maru at Himeji Castle

So what happens when you are a disgraced samurai at the court of the Shogun. You come to this place, sit like in ‘tahiyat awal’ with head bowed in front of the platform where the dignitaries sit to observe (Pic #2), and proceed to disembowel yourself with a sharp knife. Not to worry, if you are in real pain, your assistant will lop your head with a stroke of his sword. Then he proceeds to wash the sepukku knife (which you used to cut your belly open), his sword and your stand-alone head in the well shown in Pic #1. This spot is known as the harakiri-maru, within the Himeji Castle walls. Or so the story goes.

> THE END

RETRO: Hiroshima and Enola Gay

RETRO: Hiroshima and Enola Gay


Almost 3 years ago Brig Gen Paul W Tibbets, Jr, died at 92 years of age.


Source: Salt Lake Tribune

Which brings me back memories of my own pilgrimage to Hiroshima. It was Aug, 2004, during a trip to Japan …

I start my journey at Tokyo station, boarding a bullet train to Kyoto, en route to Hiroshima.

I finally set foot in modern Hiroshima, on a hot balmy night of Aug 8, 2004, just 2 days after the 59th anniversary of that dreadful event.

The next day, in the sweltering heat, I board a tram …

… along the wide streets of Hiroshima. The place was built from scratch after the 1945 obliteration, and reminds me of any modern western city, with blocks and wide roads. For example, Adelaide (Australia) comes to mind immediately.

The tram soon deposits me at the doorstep of a very famous landmark, the A-Bomb Dome.

A tragic tale unfolds.

This is how it looked 2 months after the bombing, in Oct 1945. Note the A-Bomb Dome, then a Hall.

Another view of the Dome/Hall.

A hundred metres up the road, near the epicentre of the explosion, I squint at the blue sky, imagining the A-Bomb detonating some 580m up. The weather on that fateful day of 6th Aug, 1945, must have been very similar to today’s – hot, humid, clear blue sky. Visualise a blinding flash of intense white light up there …

Fast-forward to Feb 2005, six months later. I’m in Washington DC, USA, and with time to kill, decide to pay the well-regarded Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center at Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum annex, near Washington Dulles International Airport. I spot something familiar ….

Yes, it’s The Culprit, the Enola Gay, the machine which brought hell to the folks in Hiroshima – she was there, lurking in the sky, that fateful morning of 6th Aug, 1945.

To the right, a slender carpark is seen. The A-Bomb detonated 580m somewhere above the spot where this carpark is.

And it was delivered by this creature, a Boeing B29 Superfortress, now sitting harmlessly in its den on the other side of the planet.

I feel like being eyeballed by a monster. It’s both eerie and spooky. Just six months ago I witnessed the remnants of utter destruction it caused 60 years ago.

At the A-Bomb Memorial Park, the Japanese flag is perpetually at half-mast.

The focal point of the park is this memorial.

People come to lay wreaths and pay respect to the dead.

The Culprit is like a knight gleaming in silvery armour.

Poignant juxtaposition.

Nearby, there’s a nice museum, with a great view to boot. Note the carpark building ‘P’ to the right, which marks the spot where the A-Bomb exploded 580m up.

Inside the museum, sobering exhibits. Instantaneous destruction.


The T-shaped bridge above is the target for Enola Gay to drop it’s deadly load, and here it is today.

Another display: before, … (note the T-shaped bridge for orientation)

… and after.

The A-Bomb exploded (red ball) almost above the T-shaped bridge. Excellent aiming by Enola Gay.

Survivors, but not for long.

Fused ink bottles found at a decimated factory.

Intense heat melted and fused glasses.

“Letters of Protest” against the use of the A-Bomb, from all over the world, adorn the wall.

A letter from Nehru.

Names of the (identifiable) dead. Estimated dead: 70,000 instantaneously, another 70,000 due to injuries and radiation.

I’ve had enough, and on the way out, take a final look at the forlorn Dome.

At the Smithsonian, I take a finally gaze at Enola Gay. It brings a closure for me, after the Hiroshima visit 6 months ago.

After the traumatic trip to the A-Bomb Park, I take a short train ride to the sacred Shinto island of Miyajima, for a bit of therapy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Soon I am on another bullet train for another destination, but that’s another tale.

EPILOGUE

Source: inRich.com

Please visit HIROSHIMA REMEMBERED. Thanks!

> THE END

Global Green Challenge 2009: ‘Tokai Challenger’ from Tokai University

Austalia > Northern Territory > Darwin



Global Green Challenge Darwin-Adelaide 2009
25-30 Oct 2009



Tokai Challenger


LATEST: Tokai Challenger has won the race, arrived Adelaide checkpoint 3.39pm local time, 28 Oct 2009, having covered a total of 2998km in 29h 49m, averaging 100.5km/h. Well done to the Tokai Univ team! ๐Ÿ˜€ [added 1.45pm MYT, 28 Oct 2009]


Built by Tokai University in Tokyo, Japan, this is the best looking solar car I saw yesterday (25 Oct) at flag-off in Darwin, meticulously tended by its minders. As of this morning (26 Oct), it is leading the pack at Tennant Creek control, and has covered 1000km, almost a third of the race course.

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The solar cells numbering 2,176 pieces covering an area of 6 sq metre are supplied by Sharp, and at 30% conversion efficiency it is reputed to be the best in the world. Total output is 1.8kW, which can propel the car at up to 150km/h!

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These hi-tech solar cells are normally used to power satellites in space.

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A Slideshow Tribute to Tokai Challenger
[added 28 Oct 2009]


To start slideshow of all Tokai Challenger pics that I took in Darwin on 25 Oct 2009, please mouse over image to retrieve control panel, thanks.



Tokai Challenger Arrival in Adelaide
[added 28 Oct 2009]




GREAT STUFF, GUYS!


For pics of other Solar Cars at Darwin on 25 Oct 2009, please click HERE.


For More Info
Global Green Challenge
http://globalgreenchallenge.com.au
Tokai Challenger
http://www.u-tokai.ac.jp/international/activities/solarcar.html
http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20090908/175016


Awesome Archives

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DIRECTORY OF PICTORIALS 2004-2009

Please click HERE for a full list of stories from 2004. Pleasant viewing, thanks!