Day 1 & 2 Honolulu – Narita – Daiba
We traveled to Narita with Korean Airlines. Everyone came early to the airport and was ready to go! We had plenty of time to relax at Honolulu airport. Our flight time was about 9 hours. On the place we all enjoyed watching movies and eating Korean bibimbap. We landed in Narita on time. The weather was nice and felt like autumn(fall) season which we don’t have in Hawaii. We arrived at the Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba around 5:30pm, a little earlier than scheduled. We all checked in to nice rooms. Some of us got together soon afterwards and started strolling around the city. We went to Aqua City and had a great dinner on our own.
Day 3 Tokyo – Ginza, Akihabara, Making wind chime, Tokyo Skytree
We woke up early for our first morning in Japan. We all enjoyed eating breakfast and got together on time. We met our English speaking guide at the hotel and left for today’s excursion! First stop was Ginza. We got off the bus and walked towards Matsuya Department store. We spread out and enjoyed shopping for an hour and half. Some of us went to Kimura-ya, Mitsukoshi department store and Uniqlo. Some of us tried to go to Tokyu Hands but it wasn’t open yet. We enjoyed just looking at many shops and people.
After Ginza, we headed to Akihabara where there are so many electronic appliance and anime shops. We had a little more than one hour to stroll around and have lunch. There are many cat, dog and even owl café’s in this area. Café’s where you can pet the animals. Hawaii no more eh!?!. The staff were calling us to their café but we didn’t have time to visit them. Akihabara has its own culture within Tokyo city. It is very interesting to see those shops!
Then we headed to make our own wind chimes! It was a brand new experience for all of us! The master of wind chime making gave us lessons on how to blow the glass first. It was very hard to blow the glass to make a perfect round shape. After blowing a round shape, we painted our own glass wind chime. It was a quite experience.
For our last excursion, we went to Tokyo Skytree Tower. 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 in the Tokyo area. It is one of the most popular tourist spots since it opened. We went up to the observatory deck together. OMG fast, the elevator only took like 30 seconds to take us up. Each elevator is decorated with seasonal panels. On the observation desk, there is a glass floor where you can stand on and see down to the ground. It is quite scary to look down but it was a great experience. After visiting the observatory, we separated for shopping. There is a huge shopping mall right under Skytree. We didn’t have enough time to shop because the observatory deck was so crowded with school kids and took us a while to come down. However we still enjoyed the tall tower and the views!
Day 3 Disney Resort
The weather has been so nice for us. We took the Disney bus to Disneyland and Disney Sea. I wished everyone to have a great day at heaven on earth.
Day 4 Tokyo – Tsukiji Outer Fish Market, Sushi Making, Ueno Zoo, Ameya Yokocho
Another nice day to start off with! We had breakfast at hotel and left for Tsukiji Outer Fish Market. The original Fish Market at Tsukiji recently moved to Toyosu but the outer market remains the same for a while. This Market is Japan’s “Food Town,” where everyone can encounter all kinds of Japanese traditional food. We also got a Tsukiji map at the visitor center. A mixture of wholesale and retail shops line the street along with numerous restaurants and new culinary trends are born in this area. We had one hour and half to burabura aruki (leisurely stroll). We all enjoyed buying seaweed, dried fish, and other Omiyage to bring home. Also some of us started eating at the local food venders. We loved the green grapes – shine Muscat brand. Those grapes are so delicious and we couldn’t stop eating them! We all wish that we could bring seasonal fruits or vegetables home! Also we enjoyed eating different flavor ice cream! We all enjoyed ourselves immensely!
After Tsukiji, we headed to Sushi college to make our own sushi for lunch . We attended sushi chef’s lecture and learned how to make traditional nigiri sushi. We had to wash our hands really good first. Then he lectured us about 30 minutes. We practiced with dummy rice first. Once we started making real sushi, and we did great. We made 4 nigiri sushi (tuna, salmon, snapper (marinated with seaweed), fatty tuna) and one temaki (hand roll) sushi with cucumber and fake crab kamaboko. Some of our nigiri was huge! And they served Master (Sensei) made nigiri sushi. It was a huge lunch! We also had persimmons for desert. That was another seasonal fruits! After our lunch, we received our certificate for finishing our sushi lessons! Now we can make sushi for New Year’s Party!!
After a great lunch, we went to Ueno Zoo to walk and burn off some calories. The main attraction at Ueno Zoo was to see the Panda Bear Baby – Xiang Xiang. The wait was about 50 minutes to see the baby panda. Some of us waited in line, and others just checked out the whole zoo. It was a relaxing afternoon!
We walked to Ameya Yokocho from the Zoo. We walked through Cherry Blossom Trees which is so beautiful in the spring with Cherry blossoms. Gingko tree leaves were turning yellow and many gingko nuts were on the ground. (It actually smells a little bad.) Ameya Yokocho was an exciting area as usual. We spread out and enjoyed shopping and eating good food.
By now, we all knew our way around Odaiba area. We enjoyed great dinner our own.
Day 5 Mt. Fuji, Fuji Safari Park, Hakone
We made an over night bag for Hakone stay. First we headed to Mt. Fuji 5thstation. Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and the height is 3,776.24m (about 12,389 ft). Mt. Fuji World Cultural Heritage Site Asset (registered in June 2013) is revered as the “spring of the gods” since a long time ago. From the highway, we were only able to see part of Mt. Fuji but we were hoping to see summit of Mt. Fuji when we get to 5thstation. Some leaves had started turning yellow and red but not the full autumn colors yet. It was cold at 5thstation. The 5thstation is about 2,305m high (7,562ft). We drove up there and it almost felt like you were as high as the clouds. We could see Mt. Fuji’s peak here and there.
After spending an hour at the 5thstation, we headed to our lunch restaurant near Lake Kawaguchi. There are five lakes around Mt. Fuji which were formed when Mt. Fuji erupted. Lake Kawaguchi is one of them. We had a great Japanese meal for lunch!
After 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 jungle 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. This park is not just for kids. Even adults enjoyed riding bus! We were on bus for about one hour.
After the jungle bus, we went to the petting zoo area. Capybaras were so cute and almost seem like stuffed animals. We saw red pandas, maras and red kangaroos. Feeding kangaroos was challenging. They are so aggressive and almost like attached to you to get food. It was so much fun to be with animals.
It took us almost one hour and half to get to our Hotel – Hakone Yumoto Fujiya Hotel. We had little less than one hour until dinner. We all got together for Japanese style Kaiseki dinner. We all enjoyed the beauty of the seasonal cuisine. Some of us enjoyed onsen and massage after dinner.
Day 6 Hakone – Oshino Hakkai – Gotemba Premium Outlet – Tokyo
We had breakfast at the hotel. I went to outside to see the beautiful scenery. Our hotel was located across Hakone Yumoto station, along Hayakawa river. It was nice to feel the fresh air. It was getting cooler and soon will be winter in Hakone.
After we checked out of the hotel, we headed to Oshino Hakkai. There are eight springs at Oshino Hakkai. At one time, Oshino village used to be a lake. Mt. Fuji erupted many times, and gradually filled the space around those areas. Then the lake finally dried up. But some springs received water from Mt. Fuji’s underground water reservoir and remained. Oshino Hakka is one of the representatives of those springs. Some of these ponds are sacred places for water practices by Fuji mountain ascetics. On the way to ponds, there were many food vendors along.
After Oshino Hakkai, we headed to Gotemba Premium Outlets. Gotemba Premium Outlets is the flagship center, and is one of the largest centers in Japan. It is situated on an extensive site within view of World Cultural Heritage site, Mt. Fuji. There were about 210 stores for shopping and dining. We had little over 2 hours for lunch and shopping. It was a huge area so we had a good walk.
At 3:15 pm, we got together and going back to Daiba Tokyo. We took a little break at Ebina Service area. There were many bento and omiyage shops. Some of us picked up bento for dinner. We got back to hotel little earlier than expected and checked in to hotel rooms again.
Day 7 Daiba – Narita
Finally, it was the day we have to go back home. We had all morning to spend around hotel until check out time. Japan triathlon was happening around Daiba. I walked around and it was raining a bit.
At 11 am, some of us decided to go shopping at Toyosu Lalaport for a few hours. Some of us never rode a train before so I thought it would be a great opportunity to ride the train. It was Sunday so the mall was crowded. We had lunch and enjoyed shopping. We got together and headed back to our hotel. At 5 pm, the bus picked us up heading to Narita Airport. We arrived at Narita Airport and we proceeded to the check in counter. We spent some time outside of security and went through security. More shopping to do before our boarding.
I really do hope everyone on this tour enjoyed staying in Japan. I always enjoy spending time with my great customers. I do appreciate your warm hearts and hospitality. We hope to see you all on our future trip.
Posted by Anne Clausen
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