Day 1 & 2 Honolulu – Narita – Yokohama
Traveling to Narita by China Airlines. Everyone was ready for new adventures and so thrilled to go to Japan! Our fight time was about 8 hours. When we landed in Narita, the weather was nice. We went to Yokohama for our first night. It took us more than 2 hours to get there. When we arrived at Hotel New Grand, Yokohama, it was already 8 pm. It was late so I suggested some restaurants in the neighborhood and we all went out for a quick bite. The New Grand is such an elegant and historical hotel where so many famous people stayed in the past. The New Grand hotel was built about 90 years ago and in the past, Charlie Chaplin, General MacArthur, Babe Ruth and other celebrities stayed here. It was interesting looking at their historical photos. Adding to this story, their chef created Rice Gratin, Spaghetti Napolitan, and Pudding a La Mode, dishes which are now widely enjoyed throughout Japan.
Day 3 Yokohama – Lake Kawaguchi
It was a beautiful morning so many of us enjoyed walking around Yamashita Park in front of our hotel where Hikawa Maru is anchored. Hikawa Maru is a Japanese ocean liner that Yokohama Dock Company built for Nippon Yusen company. She was first launched in September, 1929 and made her voyage from Kobe to Seattle. Hikawa Maru is now permanently docked at a pier and used as a museum.
There is also a large rose garden. It is fall so we were able to smell ginko nuts which tastes good but smells horrible.
We had a very nice breakfast at an ocean view restaurant.
After we checked out, we met with our English speaking guide – Eko-san in front of our hotel and started our day. Our first excursion was to visit Sankeien, a traditional Japanese garden.
Sankeien is a very historical place and it’s grounds are about 43 acres. We walked among in the inner garden and enjoyed taking photos of Japanese garden. Some of us also tried a tea ceremony. It was a fun challenge. We learned how to eat sweets before green tea and how to drink green tea the proper way.
After beautiful Garden, we visited Nisshin Cup Noodles Museum to make our own cup noodles!
At first, we had to create our own package. After the package, we go to the counter and start making our very own cup noodles! First, we choose soup from 4 different flavors. Then we can pick 4 ingredients to put in. Then they seal the cup noodle for us. Yes, we made our one and only own cup noodles to take back. Nisshin Cup Noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando back in 1970’s. The exhibit of Nisshin instant noodles history was interesting.
Then we headed to Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum for lunch. There are 9 different ramen shops from all over Japan at the museum. We walked together and tried to find which ramen each person likes. But there were huge lines for each Ramen shop and we all had to wait at least one hour to eat our ramen. It was a Japanese holiday so many visitors were there. But it all tasted so good!
Then we headed to Yamanashi where we stayed for the night. Passing Mt. Fuji was beautiful! We stopped at service area along the highway for a bathroom break. The rest stop is fun to go inside because you will find good omiyage and food! It’s part of the adventure of a road trip in Japan.
We finally arrived at our hotel – Regina Kawaguchiko.
We all got together with our yukata wear for dinner. Our Japanese kaiseki dinner had so much different foods including ginko nuts, matsutake mushroom, sashimi and more! Kaiseki Ryori is a Japanese traditional course meal where you can enjoy many different flavors. However you don’t only enjoy the flavors but you also visually enjoy the presentation.
Day 4 Kawaguchiko – Mr. Fuji – Tokyo
It was a nice day to start again! We had breakfast at hotel and left for grape picking. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the farm where we started picking and eating Kaiji brand grapes. They were so big and sweet and hard to eat the all of the grape by ourselves. Yamanashi is famous for great fruits. So we all enjoyed our time there. After eating, we stopped by their souvenir shop for shopping.
Then we headed to Mt. Fuji 5th station. Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and the height is 3,776.24m (about 12,389 ft).
On the way, our driver stopped at a great scenic point. It was so nice to see Mt. Fuji with Lake Kawaguchi. There are five lakes around Mt. Fuji which were formed when Mt. Fuji erupted.
Some leaves had started turning yellow and red but not the full autumn colors yet. It wasn’t that cold at 5th station. The 5th station is about 2,305m high (7,562ft). We drove up there and it almost felt you were as high as the clouds.
After seeing beautiful Mt. Fuji, we went to lunch at Fujiyama Terrace.
After a good lunch, we headed to Fuji Safari Park.
When we arrived at Fuji Safari Park, luckily it was empty so our Rhino bus was waiting for us! After a short break, we got on our safari bus and started our adventure!! We fed bears, lions, and camels from our bus. It was quite an experience going through the park. We learned a lot about the animal’s habits and life from bus driver. Even adults enjoyed riding bus! We were on bus for about one hour.
On our way to Daiba, Tokyo, the highway was so crowded. It took us more than 3 hours to go to our next hotel – Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba.
Our hotel was beautiful. We headed out for dinner. There are many shopping malls and restaurants near our hotel. Some of us went to see new Unicorn Gundam at Diver City. It was a long, adventurous day!
Day 5 Tokyo Disney Resort
It was cloudy but a nice day again! I took a photo from my room. Our shuttle to Tokyo Disney Resort departed at 8:30am. Everyone was so excited going there! Some went to Disneyland and some went to Disney Sea. I introduced about Duffy and Shellie May who are only sold at limited Disney resorts in the world. Disney Sea is the one of them. We made sure to catch shuttle bus back to hotel! These are some fun photos from my people!! Thank you!
Day 6 Tokyo – Tsukiji, Tokyo Skytree – Asakusa
We have been so lucky to have such nice weather since we arrived in Japan. Today, we experience Tokyo all day! First is Tsukiji Fish Market. Our guide, Eko-sn explained about this market and we walked along together first. This Market is Japan’s “Food Town,” where everyone can encounter all kinds of Japanese traditional foods. We also got a Tsukiji map at the visitor center. A mixture of wholesale and retail shops along with numerous restaurants line the streets and new culinary trends are born in this area. We had one hour and half to burabura aruki(leisurely stroll). Some went to Sushi place and ate great ootoro(fatty tuna). Others enjoyed buying seaweed, dried fish, and other to bring home. Also some started eating at food venders. We all wish that we could bring seasonal fruits or vegetables home! We all enjoyed ourselves immensely!
We wanted to be at Tsukiji a longer but our next stop was Tokyo Skytree. The tower’s height is 634m (2,080ft). The major role of Tokyo Skytree is to transmit electric signals in a stable manner free from influences of super tall buildings that have been increasing yearly. It is one of the most popular tourist spots since it opened. We went up to the observatory deck together. For a little extra money, some went up to the higher observatory. The elevator only took like 30 seconds to take us up. Each elevator is decorated seasonal panels. There is a glass floor where you can stand on it and see down to the ground. It is bit scary but it was a great experience. After visiting the observatory, we separate for lunch on our own. There is a huge shopping mall right under Skytree. We didn’t enough time to shop but some enjoyed Pokemon store a lot.
After Skytree, we visited Asakusa Temple and Nakamise shopping arcade. First we visited the historical temple. After that, we could walk around shopping area. There were many mochi – sweets stores, senbei – rice cracker stores, and many other souvenir stores. We arrived at our hotel around 4pm so we were able to visit shopping area near our hotel.
Day 7 Nikko – Edo Wonderland – Kinugawa River Cruise
The weather wasn’t as nice as the first 6 days. But we were ready for Nikko! We left the hotel around 8:30 am and it took us about 3 hours to get to Nikko. We had a nice Japanese lunch first and headed to Edo Wonderland. This park is the only place to experience the living history and culture of the Edo period of Japan. We checked the time schedule and we were able to see Mizugei – water magic show. The show was good and we were able to try to throw our money (ohineri) to the stage. Then, we had some time so we wandered around the village. It was raining so not too many people were visiting. So we were lucky to see another show – a Ninja action show. It was an exciting show and we all loved it! It was getting so cold so I had amazake(fermented rice drink) with Eko-san. It was so good!
While we were going to Kinugawa River Cruise, it was still raining but we were able to do the cruise. We were given ponchos and got on the boat. The Kinugawa River Cruise is a ride down Kinugawa River in flat bottomed, wooden boats. The cruises lasts about 40 minutes and travels through mostly undeveloped stretches of the river, passing rock formations along the way that resemble various animals and objects. The boatman guides along the river and Eko-san translated for us!
After the river cruise, we arrived at our hotel – Kinugawa Onsen Hotel. The room was ryokan style with tatami mat and futon for our bed. There are big onsen baths for men and women. Also private onsen were available. Some enjoyed private onsen but others enjoyed the big onsen. We had big buffet dinner for our last night in Japan.
Day 8 Nikko Toshogu – Narita
Toshogu Shrine is a World Heritage site and is dedicated to Ieyasu Tokugawa who was the founder of the Tokugawa Shogun era. It was originally built in 1617. There are 55 buildings on the site and which took 18 months to finish building. Yomeimon is a famous gate with splendid carvings, rich color painting and decoration. We also saw restoration of sleeping cat (Nemurineko) by Jingoro Hidari was completed. The sleeping cat is also the national treasure. In the “Shinkyusha (sacred stable)” for the horses serving God, there are a series of 8 carved boards on which the life of a monkey is illustrated, from birth to pregnancy, caricaturing human life. One of the sculptures, the “Three Monkeys”, is famous throughout the world for the “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil” poses. These monkeys were recently restored.
After Toshogu, we headed to Aeon Mall Narita – a big shopping mall for a final round of shopping. We had about 3 hours for lunch and shopping.
After the last stop, we headed to Narita airport.
We needed to do our true final round of shopping at the airport – buying duty free items, famous Royce chocolate and mochi!
I truly hope everyone on this tour had a fabulous time in Japan. Also, I appreciate everyone’s great hospitality. We hope to see you all on a future trip to Japan soon! Big Aloha and Mahalo!!
Posted by Anne Clausen
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