Day 1 & 2 Honolulu – Narita – Daiba
Traveling to Narita by Korean Airlines. Everyone was on time and so thrilled to go to Japan! Our fight time was about 8 hours. We all enjoyed eating good inflight meal especially the famous Korean bibimbap and watching many movies. When we landed in Narita, the weather was very nice. We arrived at Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba around 4:30pm, a little earlier than scheduled. We checked in our rooms and we got back together at 5:30 pm for Daiba strolling. We went to Aqua City and we had great dinner on our own.
Day 3 Tokyo – Asakusa – Akihabara – Miraikan
We all enjoyed our breakfast buffet on the 30th floor with a great view of Tokyo Bay. The weather was so nice and we were so ready to go on the first day excursion in Tokyo.
We met around 8:45 at the lobby and our English Speaking Guide, Coco-san was there already waiting for us. We departed for Asakusa where the historical Senso-ji temple and Nakamise where small souvenir shops line the street to the temple. We entered Kaminarimon (gate) through big chochin (lantern) . Coco-san explained who those guardians are and the history of the temple. There are so many small cute Japanese souvenir shops and food shops. I hope everyone found something special to take home!
After about an hour of Asakusa excursion, we got on our bus heading towards the lunch place. Okonomiyaki is like a Japanese pancake – hands on making Okonomiyaki place in Kiba. Otafuku is very famous okonomiyaki sauce in Japan which is also sold in Hawaii, too. Otafuku started out as vinegar company in Hiroshima and became famous with it’s Okonomiyaki sauce after. We went in our cooking studio and the chef explained how to make our own Okonomiyaki thoroughly. About after 20 minutes of explanation, we started making our own. It was a first experience for everyone to make them but all of them did great job and made beautiful Okonomiyaki for themselves! Of course the taste was ONO! After lunch, we all went down to their shop and bought Okonomiyaki sauce as souvenirs. I wonder how many of them already cooked Okonomiyaki after we came back home?
After lunch, we took our bus to Akihabara where many electric appliance and anime shops are. We had one hour to stroll but it wasn’t enough time for anime fans! Sorry. Hope to take you anime people back to Akihabara in the near future! There are cat, dog and even owl café in this area. They were calling us to their café but no time to go. Akihabara has its own culture within the city. It is very interesting to see those new shops!
After Akihabara, we again got back in bus and headed to Miraikan – The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation near hotel in Daiba. As we entered, there was a big Geo-Cosmos which is a giant globe like display with many different information and images. Android, robot girl was there to talk to you. Many hands on displays and computers for our future. Asimo (robot) demonstrates amazing movements which will be our future friends.
We went back to our hotel around 5pm. So we were still able to explore around Daiba area again. Some went to Diver City, Aqua city and Decks. We had to pack 2 night overnight bag for Hakone and Yokohama!
Day 4 Hakone
We had checked out of our hotel and stored our big suitcases for 2 nights. We left our hotel before 9am and headed to Hakone.
The weather was nice and we were able to take a peek of Mt. Fuji. There was some snow on the top of Mt. Fuji. We took a break at Ebina Service area and stretched out for a while. There are many food vendors and little shops at service area as usual.
After we arrived in Hakone, we had a buffet lunch at Hakone Kowakien.
After lunch, we all walked to Yunnesun Spa Resort where visitors can bathe in hot springs with swimming suits. The baths are filled with popular beverages such as red wine, sake and coffee. There was one bath with Gogo no Kocha, too. (English Tea) (seasonal) It was much fun for all ages. We all had to try Dr. fish! It was an experience you would never imagine. We laughed so much and it was such fun! We had to try each different theme bath and water slides. We spent about 2 -3 hours at Yunnessun.
We walked back to Kowakien to check into our hotel.
We had some free time – strolling pretty garden and some rest. We got together around 6:50pm for dinner together. Almost all of us got an experience wearing yukata for our dinner! We had a great dinner together.
I was the only one to enjoy onsen – public big bath at Kowakien!
Day 5 Fuji Safari Park – Yokohama
We headed to Fuji Safari Park before 9am and arrived there at 10:10am. Our driver was looking for a great spot for Mr. Fuji viewing but wasn’t successful. We arrived at Fuji Safari Park but it was empty so our Rhino bus was waiting for us! After short break, we got on our safafi bus right away!! We fed bears, lions, and camels from our bus. It was quite an experience going through the park. We learned each animal’s habits and life from bus driver. We were on bus for about one hour.
After safari tour, it was lunch time. Many of us ordered this Mt. Fuji curry! It was yummy!
After lunch, we had some time to go to cat, dog and rabbit house, small animal zoo, and shopping!
And it was time to head to Yokohama. It took about one hour and 20 minutes. We arrived Nisshin Cup Noodles Museum for making our own cup noodles!
At first, we had to draw something on the outside of package. And we can choose soups from 4 kinds. Then we can pick 4 ingredients to put in. Then they sealed the cup noodle for us. Yes, we made our one and only own cup noodles to take back. Nisshin cup noodles was invented by Momofuku Ando back in 1970’s. The exhibit of Nisshin instant noodles history cube was also interesting. Then we headed to Yokohama China Town.
We rode our bus for a short time to get to Art Trick Museum in Yokohama China Town. Some art made us dizzy – making 3D art is so effective. We tried to strike our pose and had good picture taken time. After Museum, we had about 30 minutes in China Town to find our dinner place. We strolled around and enjoyed the atmosphere and food.
After China Town, we headed back to the bus and finally we arrived at our New Grand Hotel in Yokohama which is only 5 minutes walk from China Town. We really liked this historical hotel. We enjoyed walking Yamashita Park before and after dinner.
Day 6 Tokyo Tsukiji – Sushi Making – Makuhari Aeon
It started raining late night. It was wet but we were on bus to Tsukiji so it didn’t discourage us much! At an ocean view restaurant, we really had nice breakfast. After we checked out of our hotel, hotel manager took us to the original historical lobby. This New Grand hotel was built about 90 years ago and in the past, Charlie Chaplin, General MacArthur, Babe Ruth stayed here. It was interesting looking at their historical photos. More to this story, their chef created rice gratin, spaghetti Napolitan, and pudding a la mode, dishes that are now widely enjoyed throughout Japan. He therefore significantly influenced Japanese food culture. We had to say goodbye to the hotel and headed to Tsukiji where fish market is.
It started raining a bit harder and we had extra time, so on the way to Tsukiji, our driver took us through Ginza, Emperor’s palace and Tokyo station. By the time we arrived at Tsukiji, rain had stopped. We had about 40 minutes to walk around outer Fish Market. Coco-san explained about this market and we walked along. This Market is Japan’s “Food Town,” where everyone can encounter all kinds of Japanese traditional foods. A mixture of wholesale and retail shops along with numerous restaurants line the streets and new culinary trends are born in this area.
After shopping around, Coco-san led us to Sushi college to make our own sushi for lunch.
We attended sushi chef’s lecture and learned how to make traditional nigiri sushi, Gunkan sushi and chirashi 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, we all did great. We made 4 nigiri sushi (tuna, salmon, white fish and shrimp) and one gunkan sushi with fish roe. And we made chirashi sushi with eggs, kanpyo (shaving of calabash), cucumber, anago (salt water eels), and crab fish cake. They served us udon and chawanmushi (egg custard dish) along with our handmade sushi. We had more than enough sushi. After our lunch, we received our certificate for finishing our sushi lessons! Now we can open up our own new sushi restaurant in Hawaii!!!
After big lunch, we headed to Makuhari Aeon for 3 hours of shopping! Some enjoyed Japanese Costco and we all enjoyed huge shopping mall for more! After shopping, we were so tired but it took us only 30 minutes to check back in Grand Nikko Tokyo Daiba.
Day 7 Disney Sea
Our shuttle to Disney Sea departed the hotel at 8:30am. It was another gorgeous day. Everyone was so excited going there! I introduced about Duffy and ShellieMay who are only sold at limited Disney resorts in the world. Disney Sea is the one of them. We made sure where to catch shuttle bus back to hotel and started a dream day!
Many people were at the Disney but all of us enjoyed! (Photos Provided by Iwata Family)
Day 8 Tokyo Tower – Ameya Yokocho – Harajuku – Narita Airport
It was the final day in Japan!!! We really enjoyed our hotel breakfast. Garden Restaurant just reopened on June 1st. We were able to try 3 different restaurants while staying at Daiba. We made sure we packed and were ready for the final day excursion in Tokyo. We departed hotel before 10am and headed to Tokyo Tower by bus.
Coco-san was again our English speaking guide and explained today’s experience. Again the weather was so nice and we arrived at Tokyo Tower within 30 minutes. Morning view from Tokyo was awesome. Not many people were around so we really enjoyed Tokyo view (even Mt. Fuji). One family had to leave from Tokyo tower to catch their flight earlier. After spending little more than one hour at Tokyo Tower, we headed to Ameya Yokocho.
Ameya Yokocho market in Ueno is the place to feel the lives of Japanese people. It is a very busy, narrow street between Ueno and Okachimachi stations with has many as 500 shops side by side. Shops sell a wide variety of items ranging from fish, snacks, clothing, cosmetics, jewelries and more. Prices are very reasonable. After 20 minutes of walking or so, we decided to have lunch at regular restaurant by on our own. We promised to meet in front of Matsuzakaya Department store about one hour later.
Then we headed to the last spot, Harajuku going through Shinjuku and Shibuya. Harajuku is the trendy city where teenage culture is the born. Takeshita Dori and its side streets, where you would see many trendy shops, fashion boutiques, used clothes stores, crepe, fast food and 100 yen shop. It was Saturday afternoon so the street was covered with many, many people! Some walked and shop. Some had a good rest at café. Then finally we headed to Narita Airport.
At last, we arrived at Narita Airport, we had to repack our luggage but we were on time and had some shopping time at airport!
We did final shopping – buying famous Royce chocolate and other sweets!
I really do hope everyone on this tour had a great time in Japan. Also I do appreciate everyone’s great hospitality. We do hope to see you all on our future trip to Japan soon! Big Aloha and Mahalo!!
Posted by Anne Clausen
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