After arriving safely in Tokyo, we checked into the Grand Pacific le Daiba Hotel. It is situated in a man made island called Daiba or Odaiba. There are many shops and restaurants near by the hotel. The area was illuminated with many lights and it looked very nice. Some of us went to eat dinner at one of the newest and largest food court in Diversity Tokyo which was built in 2012. It was less than 10 minutes walk from the hotel. All of us are in good spirits, looking forward to explore Tokyo!
March 17, The day started with beautiful sunrise. The temperature went up to almost 60 degrees during the day time. We had three choices of restaurants to choose from for our breakfast, a Japanese and two western buffet. Some of us went to the Star Road Restaurant on the 30th floor of the hotel. The view from the restaurant was fantastic and the buffet was very tasty. We left the hotel at 9 am sharp to visit Tokyo Tower. Although it was sunny, it was bit hazy. It was a typical spring weather of Japan. After visiting the tower, we took a boat ride to Asakusa, our next destination. The 40 minutes boat ride was very relaxing and everyone enjoyed it. As usual, Asakusa was really crowded with people visiting Sensoji (famous temple)and shopping at Nakamise street. We also visited Akihabara where more than 500 stores that sell electrical appliances and digital media equipment were located in a small area of Tokyo. It took for a while to get to our final destination, Harajuku, due to a very heavy traffic. We were so amazed to see Takeshita street packed with so many Japanese youth dressed in funky dresses. The traffic was so bad that we didn’t have enough time to visit 100 yen store in Harajuku. Instead, we went to the same store in Odaiba before dinner.
March 18, We left Odaiba at 9 am for Yunessun in Hakone. Yunessun is a hot spring resort and water amusement park. It was divided into 2 zones, Japanese traditional onsen and water recreational attractions.
One or two cherry trees have started blooming in Tokyo, but we were very lucky to see beautiful cherry blossoms in Odawara area on the way to Hakone. By the time we got to Hakone, the rain had started. But it didn’t stop us from having fun in onsen, hot springs.
Kowakien, the hotel across from the Yunessun, was a very old famous hotel in Hakone. The hotel itself had nice inside and outside onsen on the 3rd floor. Some of us used the hotel onsen several times while we stayed there. Buffett lunch, dinner, and breakfast at the hotel were great. It was a day of relaxation for everyone.
March 19, We visited Owakudani “Great Boiling Valley” after breakfast at the hotel. Owakudani is a volcanic valley with sulphur vents and hot springs. Kuro tamago “black egg” is a very famous local product that is believed to extend life of people for 7 years by eating one egg. It is boiled in the hot spring of Owakudani. Nobody in our group missed eating kuro tamago. Some of us went very closed to where steams were coming from and the actual site of the boiling eggs.
We were expecting to see Mt. Fuji since the sky had started clearing up. By the time when we got to Owakudani, clouds had started came in so we could’t see it. The weather changes rapidly in mountain areas.
Our next destination today was Fuji Safari Park. It took about one hour to get there from Owakudani. There were 3 zones, Fureai zone where people can touch animals, Dobutsu zone where you watch animals in their cages, and Safari zone where people get into a caged bus to watch animals roaming around freely. In the Safari zone, we could feed bears, lions, and camels. Both adults and kids enjoyed feeding them.
March 20, The day of free time. The weather wasn’t favorable for people who visited Disney Sea in Tokyo. It rained and was very windy and cold. It was a great day for some to visit the Oedo-Onsen Monogatari hot springs in Odaiba. It was very close to the hotel, only two stations (3-4 minutes away) by Yurikamome line. The onsen opens from 11 am until 9 am the next day.
Inside the building, there are inside and outside baths fed by natural hot springs. There is also a re-creation of a traditional street from the days when Tokyo was called Edo. There is food court and Japanese traditional games for kids to enjoy. The admission is about $20 for adults, $9 for kids older than 4 and it is free for under 4 years old. Regardless of the weather, everyone enjoyed the day.
Now we are ready to go home tomorrow.
March 21, The last day before we go back home. We had until 4 pm to enjoy some activities in Tokyo. After breakfast, some of us visited Tokyo Station and it’s famous underground shopping areas. It was packed with people who came to see the Character Street where there were many shops that sell character items, such as Hello Kitty and Pokemon. We also went to Pokemon Tokyo Center and Kyu Shiba Rikyu Garden, a detached imperial palace garden, across from the Pokemon Center. Although it wasn’t full bloom, we saw cherry blossom and people were so happy to see it and touch flowers. Both places are easily accessed by Yurikamome line, just get off at Takeshiba Station. It was sad to leave Tokyo. Everyone wished to come back to Tokyo again since there are so much to explore.
Posted by Harumi
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