Day 1 & 2 Honolulu – Narita – Daiba
Traveling to Narita by Korean Airlines. Everyone was at airport early and so excited about going to Japan. Our flight time was about 9 hours. We all enjoyed watching movies and eating bibimbap. We landed in Narita a little earlier than scheduled. The weather wasn’t great but at least it wasn’t raining. We arrived at Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba around 5:30pm, again, a little earlier than scheduled. We all checked in to nice rooms. Some of us got together soon after and started strolling the city. We went to Aqua City and had great dinner on our own.
Day 3 Disney Sea
Some of us enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the Garden Dining on 1st floor from 6:30am and others at the Japanese teishoku breakfast on 3rd floor from 7am. Most of us were still on Hawaii time. Unfortunately it was raining and the temperature was about 50°F. It was a cold morning but everyone was ready for Disney Sea. Our shuttle bus for Disney Sea departed at 8:30am. It only took us less than 30 minutes to get there. I informed the bus pick up location for return shuttle. Each family has a bus confirmation sheet so there’s nothing to worry about. I said good bye and good luck to all of them and I had to take a train back to hotel. I took a photo in this Disney train. This train goes around the outside of Disney Sea. Some came back to hotel earlier and others stayed as scheduled. Despite the bad weather, everyone told me that they really enjoyed the rides, shops, and food.
It was an early departure for Yokohama sightseeing. But we started early, eating a great breakfast buffet again! We left the hotel at 8am with an English Speaking Guide, Harumi Iwase, for Sankeien Garden in Yokohama hoping to have decent weather. It was another rainy day and cold, too. Sankeien is a very historical place, about 43 acres big. This garden was opened to the public in 1906. Harumi-san took us around and explained about the garden. It was still raining while we walked. We walked among the inner garden with our umbrella and ponchos. At one point, it became so cold so we all went into Sankei Memorial building. Some of us tried tea ceremony. While we were watching them learning about tea ceremony, it started snowing outside. Everyone was so excited to see snow falling for a while. Unfortunately we had to walk back to our bus. It was a cold, cold weather. It is hard to believe we saw that much snow falling.
After the beautiful Sankeien, we headed to Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum where we had 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. Then we spread apart to find each person’s favorite ramen shops. We made it there on time so we didn’t have to be in a long line to have ramen. I tried Shio ramen at Nidai-me Genkotsu-ya. Ramen was good and everyone enjoyed it. I wish I could eat more than one bowl. We shopped and left for Nisshin Cupnoodles museum.
When we arrived Nisshin Cupnoodles museum, it was still snowing. We were there to make our own cup noodles. First we had to draw our art on the outside of package. Then we choose soup from 4 different kinds. Then we can pick 4 ingredients to put in. After that they sealed the package for us. Yes, we made our one and only own cup noodles to take back. Nisshin cupnoodles were invented by Momofuku Ando back in 1970’s. The exhibit of Nisshin instant noodles history was also interesting. It was still snowing after we finished. So we discussed and agreed that we were going to stay this area instead of moving on. We had great time shopping. Then we headed back to our hotel.
Day 5 Hakone
We were so worried about the snow in Hakone but Harumi-san and bus driver said GO! We had checked out of our hotel for an overnight trip to Hakone. We left our hotel at 9am and left our big suitcases at Grand Nikko Hotel. As we went up to Hakone, we still saw snow on the side. We had a nice buffet lunch at Yunessan.
After lunch, we went to down to the Yunnessan Spa Resort where we can bathe in hot springs with swimming suits. The different baths were filled with popular beverages such as red wine, sake and coffee. It was much fun for all ages. We tried Dr. fish. It was an experience you would never imagine. The weather turned out to be very nice but the temperature was still in the 40s. We went outside for slides and outside onsen. It was too cold to walk to the top. Kids were playing with snow at the same time we soaked in onsen. It was a quite experience we all had. We really enjoyed the facility and headed to our hotel.
We had a little time to stroll around the Hakone Yumoto station area.
We had a great Japanese Kaiseki dinner at 6pm. We all enjoyed the beauty of seasonal cuisine. Some of us enjoyed onsen again at hotel, too.
Day 6 Hakone – Fruit Picking – Fuji Safari Park
We left for Safari Park earlier to get on a safari bus. Yes, we got on the most popular tiger bus! We were able to feed bears, lions, and camels from our bus. Our bus was the first one to go into the safari so many animals came out to eat from us. It was quite an experience going through the safari. The bus driver was very knowledgeable about each animal. We learned a lot about many animals. After about one hour bus ride, we walked around the park and had lunch. After more shopping, we headed to strawberry picking. We could see a little bit of Mt. Fuji from the park.
When we arrived at Izu Fruit Park, we were ready for strawberry picking! Their strawberries were so fresh and so sweet. Everyone enjoyed picking and eating strawberries for about 30 minutes. We also enjoyed omiyage shopping, too. We had enough time to spend at shop so we all loved it!
We headed back to our hotel and checked in again. We had a nice dinner buffet together at our hotel.
Day 7 Nikko
The weather was getting nicer and a little warmer. I heard that cherry blossoms would be fully bloomed the next day at Ueno. We had to plan the free day for tomorrow soon. We left the hotel at 8am and it took about 3 hours to Edo Wonder Land. Edo Wonder Land is the only place to experience the living history and culture of Edo period Japan. When we entered the park, samurai warriors were waiting for us. We wanted to the see Ninja show together. The show was exciting! Several of us went to see the water show. Some tried archery and shuriken throwing games, too.
We had a barbeque lunch – which we cook on your own. Then some of us tried to go through the Ninja House! It was full of performances and entertainment. We had to leave for Nikko Toshogu Shrine after 2 1/2 hours of stay.
Toshogu Shrine is the world heritage site and 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 those were finished building within 18 months. Yomeimon, a gate with splendid carvings , rich color painting and decoration was just finished its renovation last year. Also restoration of the sleeping cat (Nemurineko) by Jingoro Hidari which was just completed so we were able to see the real one. This sleeping cat is also a national treasure. Also the three wise monkeys restoration was finished so we could see the bright colorful monkeys, too.
Day 8 Tokyo Excursion
We had planned our Tokyo excursion on the way back from Nikko. So we started at 9am from Daiba Yurikamome station. We changed Yurikamome to JR Yamanote line at Shinbashi and we arrived at Ueno in about 35 minutes. It was finally a great day to walk outside. Cherry blossoms were fully bloomed in the Ueno area. So we all decided to go see them. It was rare to see them this early in the year as it is only the end of March. There were many people and we couldn’t get into Ueno zoo. There was a huge line and we decided not to wait for couple of hours. We took a subway to Tokyo Skytree town. We didn’t go up but it was a quite view looking up the Skytree tower from the bottom. We went to the Pokemon store and spread out for 2 hours. Some went back to hotel after lunch and some of us went to Sumida Aquarium. The aquarium isn’t big but it had very interesting creatures. We enjoyed walking around for an hour. It was a great day for excursion and we had great time.
Day 9 Makuhari – Narita Airport
Finally, it was the day we have to go back home. It was another great and warm day. We had about 2 hours to spend around hotel after we checked out. I walked around and saw tulips and big Unicorn Gundam.
At 2pm, we headed to Makuhari Aeon and it took only 40 minutes from our hotel. It is a huge mall but everyone handled it well. Seven of us went to Costco Japan and enjoyed shopping!
At last, we arrived at Narita Airport and we had to repack our luggage but we were on time and had some shopping time at airport!
I really do hope everyone on this tour enjoyed staying in Japan. I, myself always enjoy spending time with my customers. It made this trip so memorable with snow and cherry blossoms. I do appreciate your warm hearts and hospitality. We hope to see you all on our future trip to Japan.
Posted by Anne Clausen
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