Day 1 Honolulu ~ Narita Airport
On the day of departure, we checked in early for our flight.We had plenty of time to explore the airport terminal shops before boarding time. Our flight was delayed 15 minutes but we had a pleasant ride to Narita. The choices for the inflight meal was vegetable fried rice or chicken and rice. They even served ice cream! We also were served a croissant and yogurt shortly before landing.
Day 2 Narita Airport ~ Tokyo
We arrived at Narita International Airport around 1:30 PM. It was an 8 hour flight. Getting through immigration was relatively slow due to the high volume of foreign travelers. The airport was very crowded! Our English-speaking assistant welcomed us and transferred us to the bus. The rest of our group arriving on separate flight joined us on the bus later. We saw the Tokyo Sky Tree on our right just before Tokyo Station area. Traffic was light because it was Sunday and we arrived at our hotel within 70 minutes. After we checked into the hotel, we had dinner on our own near Odaiba Diver City and Aqua City.It was very pleasant evening. There were many Japanese families outside area.
Day 3 Tokyo
It started beautiful day in Tokyo. At the hotel we had three choices for breakfast. On the first floor, the hotel prepared a nice buffet. The 3rd floor had a Japanese set menu breakfast. The third option was on the 30th floor, where they served Japanese sushi for breakfast! At 9AM we departed for our Tokyo sightseeing excursion with our English speaking guide.Our first stop was the Tsukiji Outer Market. A few of us visited the Namiyoke (Free from the waves) Shrine, located near the Tsukiji Outer Market. The shrine also holds monuments dedicated to shrimp and fish. We learned the traditional Shinto style prayer from our guide:two bows, two claps, and one final bow.
After visiting the shrine, we explored the various vendors in Tsukiji Market. Ichigo Daifuku (Strawberry mochi), Tamago-yaki (Egg-roll), and Hotate-gai (Scallop) were popular withour group. So Yummy! Some bought dried salmon and scallop as souvenirs. Great for drinking!
We continued our day at the one of the popular sauce company, where we took hands-on lessons on how to make Okonomiyaki for lunch. Okonomiyaki is a healthy pancake dish consisting of cabbage and pork. We learned that the dish originally came from Osaka. We had a lot of fun flipping the Okonomiyaki. The process of making Okonomiyaki was more complex that we thought. For example, the pork must be lined horizontally rather than vertically to ensure a successful flip and end product.
After the Okonomiyaki lunch ,we visited Sensoji Temple at around 1:30 pm. The Sensoji Kannon temple is dedicated to Kannon Bosatsu the Bodhisattva of compassion, and is the most widely visited sacred site in Japan with over 30 million visitors annually. Some of us drew Omikuji (fortune telling), and others visited shops nearby.
At 3:30pm we got on the bus for Harajuku. On our way there, we saw the new stadium under construction for the 2020 Summer Tokyo Olympics. When arriving at Omotesando (main street) we noticed the modern architecture. We visited Takeshita-street, known for its young crowd and trendy shops and restaurants. There were interesting cafes such as the shiba dog and owl café! 5:30pm we returned to the hotel. We had dinner on our own at Odaiba. After dinner,we had to pack for our two nights trip!
Day 4 Tokyo~Hakone~Kawaguchi
We left the hotel at around 8am. Everyone prepared luggage for two nights in Hakone and left their remaining luggage at the hotel. English speaking guide greeted us and came with us together.
Our first stop was strawberry picking at a strawberry farm. We enjoyed different types of strawberries such as the Oishi berry, Beni-Hoppe, Yotsuboshi, and Akihime. We agreed that the Oishi Berry was the sweetest. We all enjoyed picking and eating fresh strawberries from the vine, but the children had so much fun and even pick some to bring back to the hotel.
At 10:30am we left for Odawara Fish Cake Museum. On our way there we could see the beautiful Mt.Fuji. Mt.Fuji is known to be “shy” and doesn’t show herself very often due to the fog and clouds, which surrounds its snow-capped peak. We were lucky enough to get a good view of it! At 11:00am we arrived at our destination, the Odawara Fish Cake Museum. The water in Odawara is known to be very fresh and pure, and is used in the fishcake making process. We learned that one Kamaboko (fish cake) consists of 6-8 fishes. We ate lunch at the restaurant across the museum. We were served Kamaboko, chicken, pork as well as a wide selection of cakes and sweets. So delicious! After lunch we stopped at a nearby souvenir store selling beautiful plates and cutlery.
At 1:30 we headed for Fuji Safari Park. Once we arrived we got on the jungle bus, which led us to the safari. The first stop was the bear zone, where we fed them carrots and apples.Then we approached the lions. We fed them raw chicken meat. Then we saw the tigers and cheetahs. Then we saw the Asian elephants, the African elephants,rhinos, zebras, giraffes, and camels. We finished the tour with herbivores animals of the mountains. Children in our group loved interacting with the animals.Definitely something you don’t see everyday! After the tour, we headed toward the hotel.
On the way there, the English-speaking guide taught us how to make Mt. Fuji with origami. We arrived at our hotel. We had a magnificent view of Mt.Fuji from our hotel room! So beautiful. For dinner we dressed in our Yukata and had kaiseki dinner in the private hotel restaurant banquet room. We celebrated two members’ of our group Birthdays in this month. Happy Birthday to you! Children still reserved their energy to go to swim in heated pool.
Day 5 Yamanashi~Yokohama
We checked out of our hotel and headed toward Kotoku-in Temple in Yokohama. Kotoku-in Temple is also known as the Kamakura Great Buddha.It was raining, so everyone carried an umbrella and wore raincoats. The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha, which stands on the grounds of Kotoku-in Temple. With a height of 13.35 meters or standing about 43.8 feet tall, it is the second tallest bronze Buddha statue in Japan. Most of the children went inside the statue! We had lunch at a local restaurant nearby. We were served Tori-Kama meshi (chicken rice) and green noodles. Everyone was intrigued by the green noodles.
At 2:00 PM we arrived at the cup noodle museum. First, we personalized our cup by drawing on it. Then we chose soups and ingredients for our cup noodle. They sealed it, and brought it home to eat later. I wonder how it tasted!
We checked in the hotel located by Yamashita Park and close to Chinatown. At 3:45 we left for the Yokohama Trick Art Museum. Everyone loved interacting with the art and taking pictures that blur reality. The illusions were really interesting and looked so real! At the end of our visit everyone enjoyed the fish footbath and others enjoyed watching. So much fun! We then had dinner on our own in Chinatown, and stayed at a historical hotel in Yokohama. It is such a beautiful hotel.
Day 6 Yokohama~Tokyo
Breakfast served on 5thFloor with beautiful view of Tokyo Bay. It was very elegant setting of table and furniture. Most of all it started with good weather.
We departed the hotel at 8:00am for Tokyo Disney with English speaking assistant. The group split into two groups, Disneyland and Disney Sea. After a day at the park, some returned by shuttle bus and others returned by train.I returned to the hotel for checking in stored luggage before everybody. I heard that Disneyland was very crowded and Disney Sea was quiet. Tonight I suppose everybody needed foot bath !
Day 7 Tokyo
On Day 7, some returned to Disneyland or Disney Sea for a second day, and others joined the English speaking guide for a Tokyo sightseeing trip. Our driver took us around Imperial Palace and Tokyo central station on the way to Ueno. We arrived at Ameyoko at 9:30AM and enjoyed shopping and visiting Japanese food vendors. At 11:30 we visited Tokyo Sky-Tree. The observation deck gave us a 360 degree panoramic view of Tokyo. We even saw Disneyland, where the rest of our group was! The weather was perfect. We had lunch on our own at Soramachi mall, located at the base of the Sky-Tree. At 2:30 we arrived at Akihabara, which is known as Japan’s electronic mecca. We saw the Japanese television technology and robots. Many tourists were testing the massage chairs! We all returned to the hotel and had dinner on our own nearby. The group that went Disneyland and Disney Sea returned to the hotel earlier than scheduled.
Day 8 Tokyo~Narita~Honolulu
In the morning we split into separate groups to explore different parts of the city. Two groups extended their stay for 1 additional day and returned to the hotel while the third party headed for the airport to return to Honolulu with me. Third party and I went to Tokyo central station to visit department store. We took pictures of Japanese sweets stores where they displayed beautiful cakes. We arrived at Narita International Airport at 4 PM for our flight.We had a pleasant fligh and arrived in Honolulu 15 minutes ahead of schedule.We made a lot of great memories and experiences.
I hope the two families who stayed additional day and headed for Osaka had a safe trip and returned home with extra good memories.I hope that everyone enjoyed this trip and the fun that Japan has to offer during the early months of summer. I look forward to seeing you on all of your future trips to Japan.
Posted by Tina Kondo
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