Day 1 Honolulu – Kansai Airport
Fall break starts today so the airport was crowded. Many of us are traveling to Japan for the first or second time. We are all excited for the new experiences.
Day 2 Kansai Airort – Kyoto
We arrived at Kansai Airport smoothly and checked in at Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo about 9pm. The hotel is conveniently located across from the station so some diners, Seven Eleven, Lawson etc. are open late at night. Some of us went to eat out and enjoyed the first night of Japan.
Day 3 Kyoto
A full day in Kyoto. First, we took Sagano Romantic Train from Kameoka to Saga in which we enjoyed the scenic view of Hozu River along the train track. After getting off from the train at Saga Station, we strolled through the famous bamboo forest to the main street of Arashiyama. It was beautiful! Then we had about 2.5 hrs. of free time to have lunch, visit souvenir shops, enjoy the famous Tenryuji Temple garden or taking pictures of famous Togetsukyo bridge.
Then we spent the afternoon experiencing two hands on activities. The first activity was Yuzen dyeing. Yuzen is the traditional method of Kimono dyeing. We picked our favorite stencil pattern and layer the colors on the table mat. The second one was Yatsuhashi Sweets making. Yatsuhashi is the well-known Kyoto sweets. Some showed their creativity fully on those activities and some…oh well…lol. We all had fun in this afternoon!
Day 4 Kyoto – Osaka
We left Kyoto early in the morning to go to Universal Studio Japan. Because of the weather being cloudy with some rain, the park wasn’t too crowded. The longest line for a ride was about 70 minutes or so which is considerably shorter compared with the usual wait of 2~3 hrs. Lucky us!
Hotel Universal Port where we stayed at is one of the USJ official hotels located by the main entrance. It was decorated with a lot of Minion characters and provided the guests fun and uplifting atmosphere.
Day 5 Osaka – Hakone
It was a beautiful sunny day in Osaka! Kaiyukan Aquarium was amazing. The sea creatures from all over the world were displayed in the 8 story building and very appealing to all generations of visitors. The Ferris wheel at Temposan Market Place next door which is 112m high from the ground level was another fun attraction to try in that area too.
We moved to downtown Osaka and continued exploring the town. Kuromon Market being called “the kitchen of Osaka residents” had amazing street foods and the shops in Dotombori area were fun to see their eye-catching huge décor on their outside wall. Many of us shopped at Mega Don Quijote located along Dotombori River and enjoyed the discounted prices.
Then we moved to Hakone by bullet train. We said good-bye to our Osaka guide, Kuniko, at Shin Osaka station and then our Tokyo guide, Harumi, greeted us at Odawara Station.
After a long day, it was perfect to relax at the hot spring. How healing it was! We all dressed up in Yukata(Kimono) and tried the Japanese Kaiseki style dinner as a group.
Day 6 Hakone – Tokyo
Here we go, Tokyo! We visited the popular new entertainment spots in Tokyo. TeamLab Planets is filled with interactive digital artworks which was a totally new experience to all of us. The trendy Takeshita Street in Harajyuku was filled with a bunch of small shops that we don’t find in Hawaii. We pet Hedgehogs for the first time at the Hedgehog Café in the afternoon and drove to Mitaka City to visit Ghibli Museum. The admission to this museum is all presale and very popular. It was amazing to see the precise animation works at the sacred place of the Anime fans.
Day 7 Tokyo
We stayed at luxurious Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba conveniently located at Tokyo Bay. We took a hotel shuttle bus to Tokyo Disney Land/Sea to enjoy the park all day. However, the super typhoon was approaching to East side of Japan so that some of us left the park to do shopping in other areas of Tokyo in order to avoid the bad weather.
Day 8 Tokyo
Unfortunately the typhoon landed on Honshu and hit Tokyo directly. We were advised to stock up water and food and stayed at the hotel all day. In the evening we even experienced an earthquake, M4 level!! It was scary for a moment but didn’t cause us any damage. Some areas near the rivers seriously damaged with flood caused by this typhoon but Odaiba was safe. The hotel operated as normal despite of the impact of this huge typhoon.
Day 9 Tokyo
We were very lucky that our flight to Honolulu wasn’t affected by this typhoon and was able to take off on schedule. The public transportation was back to normal operation in the afternoon so we could enjoy the last minute shopping before heading off to the Narita Airport.
On this tour we experienced an unexpected event at the end and were very fortunate that everyone safely returned home on schedule. Let’s go back to Japan again soon to clear the shopping list that we didn’t complete!
Posted by Kat Spear
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