June 5 & 6: We left Honolulu by China Airlines at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on June 5. The flight took about 8 hours. We arrived in Tokyo around 5 o’clock in the afternoon the next day due to crossing the International Dateline. The flight was bit bumpy but landed very smoothly. As soon as we arrived at the Keio Plaza Hotel in Shinjuku, we went looking for good and cheap food. The area between the hotel and Shinjuku Train Station has many reasonable places to eat. I think we all ended up finding a good place of our liking.
June 7: After a sumptuous buffet breakfast at the hotel, we were ready to explore Tokyo. Our first stop was at Tokyo Tower. Tokyo SkyTree Tower surpassed the height, but Tokyo Tower is still a popular place to visit. We then took a river cruise boat from Hamarikyu Garden to Asakusa. Asakusa was full of visitors as usual. We then drove through Akihabara, saw the Imperial Palace from the distance, and to Harajuku, a town populated by mostly young people. It was Sunday so Asakusa and Harajuku, particularly Takeshita street, were packed with people. Most of the tour group members were interested in visiting Daiso, 100 yen store.
June 8: Today was a free day. Fourteen of our group members went to Disneyland. Six people decided to visit Akihabara and Daiba on their own. Five people went to Shibuya and a couple went back to Harajuku and visited Komaba Sports Complex. Everyone seemed to be excited to use the public transportation and mingle with the locals. Everyone came back to the hotel at night without any incidence. What a relief!
June 9: After breakfast, we left for Hakone. It was raining but it wasn’t too bad. Going to Hakone was bit worrisome because of the active volcanic activities near Owakudani Valley which is close to where our hotel, Hakone Kowakien, is located. Many Japanese tourists have already canceled their trip to Hakone so there were hardly any people in Yunessun, water Park, and the Kowakien Hotel. People in our group seemed really enjoyed playing in the Yunessun. We were hoping that no drastic volcanic activities and the earthquake would strike us while we were there. Luckily, we were safe!! Whew…
June 10: We skipped Owakudani Valley due to active volcanic activities. Instead, we visited Lake Ashi and spent some relaxing time. Some visited Hakone no Sekisho, check point during Edo era. We spent more time at the Safari Park. We felt relieved when we left the Hakone area. At Safari Park, we enjoyed watching different animals roaming around freely. Of course, the kids were having fun but adults were also having fun feeding the animals. It was cloudy day so we couldn’t see Mt. Fuji from Safari Park. Our driver made a great effort to show us Mt. Fiji by using Chuo Express way instead of returning the usual way. We could briefly see Mt. Fuji from Yamanashi side. Hooray!
June 11: The weather forecast was rain today but it turned out to be a very nice day. We explored city of Yokohama, the second largest city in Japan. We stopped at the Cup Noodle Museum and everyone was having fun making their own noodle cup design. We then visited Red Brick House, relatively newly developed shopping area. After shopping and looking around, we went to China town for lunch and visited Trickart Museum afterwards. Again, everyone seemed having fun taking pictures that created illusions.
June 12: Time went by so fast. We had to say farewell to Tokyo but three people squeezed in two more places to visit, Tokyo Edo Museum and Tokyo Sky Tree by themselves. Some stayed around the hotel and visited Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Observatory. A majority (17 people including 6 kids) of people wanted more shopping so we explored east side of Shinjuku Station before we left for Narita Airport at 3:30 pm. We were all safely back to Honolulu. It was a very friendly and wonderful group of people. Hope to see everyone again in the near future!
Posted by Harumi Karel
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