May 2016
  • Day15

    Our A330 has arrived!

    May 23, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    Alan finally got things happening for us at the check-in counter and our Qantas A330 aircraft has arrived to take us home. Janet has made one last foray into the Narita Airport crowds to "get rid" of her remaining yen. It's been a most enjoyable trip. Talk to you all when we are back in the land of the living after our long haul flight.Read more

    Great blog Gary - really enjoyed following your exploits!

    5/25/16Reply
     
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  • Day15

    Malcolm all is forgiven, on our way home

    May 23, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Well folks, we have decided to give Malcolm and Bill another chance and are on our way home. It will be a bit of a marathon though, we left New Chitose Airport at 1355 hr on Jetstar Japan and are currently waiting for Alan to let us check in for our flight from Narita to Brisbane. We will fly to Brisbane overnight and then on to Canberra first thing on Tuesday morning. Here are a few photos of our journey so far.Read more

  • Day14

    Navigating the Chitose Maze

    May 22, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    After navigating our way across country from Sapporo to Furano and Biei we finally got stymied in Chitose when we attempted to return the Wingroad to Mr Nissan this afternoon. After a couple of laps of the New Chitose airport and a few more terse words with our churlish GPS we managed to successfully return our vehicle. Earlier in the day, fuelled with a hearty traditional Japanese breakfast, we took in the very impressive snowcapped mountains around Furano and hectare after hectare of agriculture. Lots of rice, corn and canola being grown. Also came across a Brit chef in a fairly remote town where we'd stopped for lunch. He even offered to help us order, but Janet had the all-Japanese menu deciphered by then. Tomorrow we start to head for Oz, first to New Chitose Airport, then Narita, Brisbane and finally Canberra.Read more

  • Day13

    Traditional Japanese Anyone?

    May 21, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    Today has been more of traditional Japanese experience. We pointed the trusty Wingroad - well up until the female English GPS operator went on strike, she did eventually return but it took some coaxing - north from Sapporo to Furano and ultimately Biei. Along the way we called in at a lavender farm, a blue lake and a flower farm. Very rural up this way and the farmers are all very busy planting. Weather has been very kind to us - 29 degrees today. We are staying at a flash Japanese style Ryokan tonight for Janet's birthday, where we'll get to experience a traditional Japanese dinner & breakfast. Then off to Chitose in the morning before we fly out to Tokyo on Monday afternoon.Read more

  • Day12

    The Famous Otaru Canal

    May 20, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Today we took in more of Japan's west coast, we headed up as far as Shakotan and then worked our way back to Otaru which is famous for its canal & glass art. Lots of tunnels along the way and still quite a bit of snow on the peaks. Also still very warm, it was 26 degrees mid afternoon. Janet's elusive search for 'special' Japanese socks has also finally been realised. Tomorrow we move location and our accommodation as we are staying in a Ryokan for Janet's birthday. Will update you WiFi permitting tomorrow.Read more

  • Day11

    A stroke of luck

    May 19, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    Tonight we explored Sapporo city. Definitely the pick of all the Japanese cities that we have visited so far. Well laid out and vibrant with lots of folk out and about. In a stroke of luck we discovered two festivals in the centre of town. A wine festival and an international food festival. Janet had a Spanish paella and Gary some very tender New Zealand lamb. Nothing Aussie in sight....will have to drop Steve Ciobo and Barnaby Joyce a line if they get re-elected.Read more

    Janet Hanson

    Enjoyed a cold glass of NZ red with my paella 😊

    5/19/16Reply
     
  • Day11

    Japanese Road Warriors

    May 19, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Well it finally had to happen, we have joined the ranks of the Japanese road commuters. Thanks to Janet's Japanese language skills and more than a modicum of patience we managed to successfully hire a Nissan "Wingroad" - think under powered, Japanese rice burner complete with English GPS with churlish attitude. Have also discovered that Japanese drivers have a complete disdain for the 50 km per hour speed limit, we have consistently been overtaken at 20km per hour faster. Have successfully made our way cross country from Hakodate to Sapporo via Lake Toya. Still lots of snow on the ground though melting rapidly.Read more

  • Day10

    Bright crowded lights of Hakodate

    May 18, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    Well folks we have finally made it to Hokkaido. We caught the Shinkansen from Aomori to Hakodate this morning. This part of the Shinkansen system only opened on the 26 of March this year and involves a 53km trip in the Seikan Tunnel, 20 odd km of which is under the seabed. The trip was uneventful, everything looked brand new and worked flawlessly. The Shinkansen station is a bit out of town but the Hakodate liner synchronises with the Shinkansen arrival and we arrived in Hakodate a bit after the 1100hr. Since then we have checked out Goryōkaku fort and the Hakodate trams - not a pinch on Melbourne's system but don't tell the locals! We ended the day on the top of Mount Hakodate where we had dinner and took in the bright lights along with a couple of thousand other tourists!Read more

  • Day9

    The West Coast.

    May 17, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

    No not the West Coast Eagles! Rather, we decided to head to the west coast of Japan today. Was looking to get on one of the Joyful Trains - the Shirakami Resort train down to Akita but left our run a bit late. However, Janet wasn't keen on being down at the station at 0810 to catch it! In the end we caught a local train down as far as Fukaura and caught the Shirakami Resort train back to Aomori. The train literally hugs the West Coast of Japan in a feat of Japanese engineering ingenuity. Other big surprise was all the apple trees, Steve Jobs would have been impressed. Am sure that you will agree that the scenery made it all worthwhile. Probably the highlight of our trip so far.Read more

    Janet Hanson

    Spectacular scenery & amazing weather - even managed to squeeze in an ice-cream by the seaside while waiting for our return train 😊

    5/17/16Reply
     
  • Day8

    Templed out?

    May 16, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    So are we. Given the fine weather in Aomori though we decided to check out Hirosaki Castle. This involved a train and bus journey to Hirosaki and then a short walk to the castle. The original castle was built in 1611 but burnt down in 1627. It was rebuilt in 1810 and is a pretty impressive structure as you can see from the photos.Read more

    Janet Hanson

    Mt Iwaki, in the background here, can even be seen from the west coast

    5/17/16Reply