Joined April 2017
  • Day14

    Day 13 - Asakusa, Tsukiji, Nezu Shrine

    March 8 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    We had a sleep in and left for a 7-11 breakfast after 8:30am. Checked out, and had them store our luggage. Our first stop was to Tsukiji for Jason to buy another knife from Tsukiji Masumoto. On the way there we passed through Akiba yodabashi, so we let the kids visit the toyfloir for a few goodies. Then it was on to Tsukiji. The old fish market area has only changed slightly.

    From here we headed to Nezu (behind Ueno) to visit Nezu Shrine. This shrine has a mini tori gate line similar to Fushimi Inari, and has a shrine built in the 1700's. As well as some koi fish in ponds and we also saw lots of turtles sunning themselves. Today was a beautiful clear day, though a bit chilly.

    From here we returned at 2pm to grab our bags and head to Tokyo station. Once at Tokyo station we reserved some tickets on the NEX using the last day of our JR East pass. We then had an hour and a bit to kill, so we found the nearest 7-11 for snacks.

    We jumped on the 4pm NEX headed for the airport. We then let the kids loose with some more capsule toys. Theb we collected tge luggage we taqbined to the airport (note terminal 3 is 1st floor of T2). We then joined the mega long check-in queue for our flight home.
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  • Day13

    Day 12 - Odaiba, Kanda, Asakusa

    March 7 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    After a small sleep in and 7-11 breakfast, we were on trains heading for Odaiba just after 8am. It was a drizzly rainy day here in Tokyo. We arrived at 9:30am to find a small crowd of around 50ish people.

    We entered Teamlab Borderless at opening at 10am. It is a total mind spin, and at times headache inducing in its sensory overload. It was visual amazing and also a technical wonder as to how they manage to create Iit all. The highlights are the crystal forest, the balloon bounce and there even an exhibit you climb through. Another one had us colour in sea life pictures, that are then scanned in and appear on the walls interacting with others in a virtual aquarium. We left after 2 and a half hours, and grabbed lunch at Wendy's right outside the exhibit.

    From here we headed to Kanda, but the vast choice and array of ski shops gets overwhelming and we decided to leave after looking in about 4-5 shops.

    From here we headed to Don quixote in Asakusa to buy up some alcohol for hubby. And had a quick stop at Daiso for some souvenirs. At 6pm we dropped bags at the hostel and headed out for dinner. McDonalds for the kids, Katsu for us.
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  • Day12

    Day 11 - Disneysea

    March 6 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 11 °C

    We out by about 7am, off the 7-11 to grab some breakfast. Then we set of for Maihama by subway and train, 3 changes and about 40mins. One of those trains was jam packed and we were squished it in sardines. We arrived at Disneysea after it had opened at about 8:45 After taking the monorail (¥260). We sat out front and ate our breakfast, then purchased tickets for entry. There was no line to do this and 1 or 2 people in the entry line. Today was forecast to be red crowd (Very crowded 36k +).

    The park is very detailed and visually spectacular. The kids have loved it all. We worked our way around with no plan, we just started by heading right. We went and got fast passes for 'journey to the centre of the earth (for between 1-2pm). We then waited about 20min for 2000 leagues under the sea. This freaked out kids out a bit.

    After that we headed to Mermaid lagoon for some kid sizes fun. This undersea area is visually awesome and the kids had fun riding the rides here. After this we headed to the lost river delta area where the wait times were over 1:40. I knew about single rider options, and I found the entrance for singles, so I ditched Jason and the kids and strolled past the mega long queue, holding up 1 finger for the attendants. The Raging spirit rollercoaster was loads of fun. Then I managed to catch Jason, Dale and Oscar before they had even gotten onto their ride. They loved the flying carpets in the Arabian coast.

    After this I decided to try to find the single rider for Indiana Jones Temple of Doom ride. I asked the attendant for single rider, and was ushered through the fast pass entrance. Again I walked past the mega long line At one point an attendant opened a chain and pointed me off down a path that led to a stairwell, and I came out right at the ride entry, in about 4mins. 2 people we ahead of me in single rider. The ride was fun and I ended up at the front of the ride. I was back with the others before they had made it onto the flying carpets again.

    From here we walked around the park, going on most rides with 25-35 min waits. It only briefly started the lightly rain at one point. We watched the Mickey New York show, saw Lightning McQueen. We had dinner at the same place we had lunch, Italian the kids devoured the pizza and pasta which were well priced at ¥700 each.

    We managed to walk out of dinner and right into a big designated spot that was empty and roped off, turns out it was for families with little kids, bonus that was us, so we got let into this area to watch the Fantasmic show, and there was only like 5 other people in the section. We had a small bit of light rain, but it stopped while the show was on. We then made the poor choice of visiting the gift shop on exit, along with half the park. They must make a ton of money. We left the park at 9pm, 12 hours after we entered. The kids did really well, but crashed before the first train station.
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  • Day11

    Day 10 - to Tokyo via Aizuwakamatsu

    March 5 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

    We left the hotel early and caught the 7:34am Shinkansen to Koriyama. From here we changed to a local train bound for Aizuwakamatsu, the journey takes 1hr10mins. We wound our way through some snow, but were blessed with great, albeit cold weather.

    From Aizuwakamatsu station we caught the hop on/ hop off bus (¥1500 for adults plus entry into the 3 main attractions pass, ¥600 if just the bus)

    We ended up on a 10am bus bound for Tsuruga Castle, we toured the castle and grounds, then rode the bus bound for Oyakeun gardens for a lap of the lake, then we were hungry, so 4 gaijin entered a local 7-11 for lunch. I had a great carbonara for ¥360, Oscar a hamburger for¥189.

    After this we headed back by bus to Sazaedo pagoda which is a wooden double helix structure built in the 1700's (included in our ticket). From here we headed up the hill to the 19 tombs site of the byakkotai warriors. Back down the hill we visited the Byakkotai memorial hall (also included in our ticket).

    Then we headed back to the station where we managed to jump on the waiting 15:05 train, for the 3hr journey back to Tokyo.

    Aizuwakamatsu was much bigger than we had anticipated and it is very spread out so not great for walking. The loop buses run on a half hour schedule.
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  • Day10

    Day 9 - Morioka and Sendai

    March 4 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 10 °C

    After another yummy breakfast at the hotel we headed for the train station to use the 3rd day of our five day pass. We caught the 8:08 train to Morioka, the train was another double shinkansen. The trip only took 39mins and had no stops between the two destinations.

    At Morioka we went to the tourist office, where they handed over a walking map of the city. We first went up the Malious building to the 20th floor for a free observatory viewing deck. There were some nice views of Mt Iwate.

    From here we walked through the main street of Morioka heading for the castle park. On the way we stopped at Mister Donuts for morning tea. We then saw the rock splitting Sakura, and walked through the castle grounds (no castle, just some base rock walls evident.) It was after 12 and we were not sure what to do next. My suggestion wad head up to Aomori, Jason's was head to the Nikka Whiskey Distillery. We looked up the trains but neither would really work out.

    So we headed back to Sendai on a slower train, the return jouney was 1:15min , thete was evidence it had rained, and it was 4 degrees. We then went for a 15min walk to find Coco Curry for a late lunch. After this we walked to see Jozenji dori, a tree lined street (though at this time of year they are just sticks). So we headed back to the hotel to warm up, before heading out to dinner.

    We have definitely been the only foreigners we have seen in Morioka, and there are definitely only a very small number of foreigners we have seen in Sendai.
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  • Day9

    Day 8 - Sendai and Yamadera

    March 3 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    We had a good breakfast included in our room rate, then headed off for Yamadera. As we were too early for the tourist centre to open we missed out on taking advantage of the cheaper tourist pass for the Sendai area. So ¥3800 had us return tickets to Yamadera on the 8:18 train (¥840 one way). This rapid train took about 50mins.

    The train wound through the outskirts of Sendai and then further north west, where the ground turned to snow, making us wonder what hike would be like.

    We arrived in the quaint little town of Yamadera with just a small bit of snow left in a few places, not all over the ground thankfully. The temple is up 1000 stairs, and was built in 860ad.

    After a short stroll through town we arrived at the start of the hike, after a climb of around 100 steps, we arrived at the base shrine, where you then pay a ¥300 fee per adult, ¥100 for kids. Then you head up.

    The 1000 stairs lead through some cedars and mossy covered rocks, to exposed outcrops of cliff face, and small shrines all over the place. Near the summit at 860steps, is a lookout over the valley, then the climb goes up some more to some other temples. Only up here did we encounter some slippage due to snow, a few careful steps and we got by that. The views were spectacular and the descent was all good too.

    At the bottom we stopped for ice creams, not realising that doing so caused us to miss the hourly interval train. So we then took a walk through town, then waited in the station for the 12:17pm train.

    Arriving back in Sendai after 1pm, we went to the shopping street for food. Some italian for lunch pastas and pizzas. We then continued to walk the 6 blocks of the shopping street, stopping at Don Quixote for some sweet treats. On return up the street the kids were watching a games parlour, where a guy won a huge bear, then proceeded to gift it to Dale, much to her delight. So then Jason tried a few times to win something for Oscar, we gave up and headed to the Pokemon centre for a toy instead.

    We made a brief stop back at the hotel to drop things off before heading back out to Tonkatsu Matsunoya for another great dinner.
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  • Day8

    Day 7 - Sendai & Matsushima

    March 2 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    We left Naeba on the 7am bus, arriving in Echigo-yuzawa before 8am. Got tickets reserved for the trip to Sendai via a train change at Omiya. The shinkansen here was 2 shinks joined together, that would separate later. This Hayabusa was a fully reserved train and got us into Sendai at 10:40am

    We found some new days food, chicken schnitzel rolls, and then found our way to the close by Hotel JAL city, where we'll stay for the next 3 nights ¥52000 For a triple including breakfast. It was too early to check in so we dropped bags and headed out.

    First stop was the 31st floor of the AER for a nice free high view of Sendai. Then back to the train station for a trip to Matsushima. Here we followed the small crowd to the bayside. We had a look at the close by temple Godaido, accessed by some wide tapped wooden red bridges. After this we purchased tickets for the bay cruise to Shiogama ¥1500 per adult.

    The cruise took about 50mins past some nice looking islands (this is supposed to be a top 3 view in Japan). I wouldn't rate it that high, but it was nice, though shorter would have been fine too, once you'd seen a few islands they all were kind of the same perhaps if we understood the commentary our view might have changed. From Shiogama we caught the train back to Sendai.

    After checking in, we hunted down Tonkatsu Matsunoya, (by the way it's on the 2nd floor), where we had an amazing meal that was astoundingly cheap. My tonkatsu was under ¥600, hubby's double was ¥830, and the kids meals with toy and drink were ¥400. (I think we ate at one of these in Nagoya a few trips ago).

    After dinner we let the kids loose in the Pokemon store, then got some family mart dessert.
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  • Day7

    Day 6 - Kagura (Tashiro area)

    March 1 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 3 °C

    Another slow morning as we worked out what the weather was doing. There were some clouds around.

    Around 9am we went and exchanged our webket tickets and bought the ¥700 all mountain upgrade. As we headed over to the Dragondola we noticed the snow was not hard and crunchy, but just right.

    At Kagura, the Tashiro area, it was like a ghost town, there was hardly anyone around. The snow was great, the best so far, hard under, but just enough softness on top. We had a ball skiing around this area, dressed a bit warmer so we didn't freeze. There was no wind, and we had a bit of everything, sun, sleet, snow, sun and snow.

    At around 11am they were hungry so we ducked into an eatery next to the lift. Curry was on the menu, so we had curry. We ordered extra rice for the kids, but it too was added to our plates. All good as we just all dug in.

    We continued to ski this area, the kids were having fun skiing through the trees off to the side of the green runs, we even did a few snow angels in the foot deep snow off in the trees. We noticed some weather closing in and decided to bail just before 2pm. We boarded the Dragondola in a cloud and had very low visibily - like next to none.

    By the time we got back to Naeba is was clearer and a slight wind, but the snow was noticibly worse, soft and chopped up. This caught the 9yr old up and she had the falls all the way back across the Naeba face.
    A few more runs off to the left and we called it quits while everyone was still intact.

    We then dried off the skis and ski gear and packed up the ski bag and ski clothing bag and taqbin them off to the airport (¥5160). Another food court dinner, as we have an early start in the morning.
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  • Day6

    Day 5 - Naeba

    February 28 in Japan ⋅ 🌧 2 °C

    It was a slow start to the morning, as when we looked out the window it was raining. Luckily the rain turned into snow, so after watch the lovely fat flakes fall, we decided we should get up and go ski.

    We exchanged a webket ticket for JASON, and it was ladies day again, so only ¥3500 for me. The kids are free at Naeba.

    We started out admiring the snow, until we went to ski in it, it was sticky slow snow. We got quite wet as the snow came and then went.

    At 11am we took the gondola up to the curry house, not the great views we had last year, as this time we were in cloud. After a good feed, we rode the gondola down, much to Dale's disappointment. We told her that the low visibility wasn't safe.

    We continued to ski the front face of Naeba for the rest of the afternoon, drying off as the rain and snow stopped. There was no wind today, and it didn't feel that cold. The kids,are still skiing great on some pretty steep slopes.

    At about 3:30pm we called it a day. Then had pancakes and waffles for dinner (as one does).
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  • Day5

    Day 4 - Kagura

    February 27 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 2 °C

    We feasted on convenience store snacks for breaks, pastries and waffles. We were out by about 8am and off to exchange our lift ticket coupons and get the kids free passes. We paid the ¥700 extra for an all mountain pass that included Kagura and Naeba.

    We headed over towards the Dragondola - the longest gondola, it goes for 5km and takes 20mins. The views were awesome. Over at the Tashiro area of Kagurathere was not a breath of wind, but it was bloody cold about -5.

    We started off on the left and made our way across to the right, the runs were bloody icy, skis were chattering. By the lime we got to the 4th lift we were cold and hungry, so we went back across to lift 2 to the tonkatsu restaurant for an early lunch at 11am.

    After a feed and a warm up, we headed right again. This time we actually went right on the 4th lift, and found the orange course, which was actually a bit soft. The kids had a ball on this run, so we lapped that a few times. The kids had a few minor stacks at times, but were sking well, I had trouble catching them at times. We were all freezing so around 2pm we left and headed back for the Dragondola.

    We crossed back across the Naeba face, where the snow was softer and the wind a bit stronger. After the kids had a warm up bath, we went out for an early dinner. Then a chill in our room.
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