Japan

TAKINOUE, YUBETSU, ENGARU, AND KATAMI

TAKINOUE, YUBETSU, ENGARU, AND KATAMI

May 26, 2017

Over the next few days we drove around the northern island of Hokkaido in search of shibazakura. The shibazakura may have been past full bloom in the Mt. Fuji area, but in Hokkaido they were at their peak! And the flower parks were absolutely incredible fields of pink and purple flowers. And of course, they had flower flavored soft serve.

BIEI AND FURANO

BIEI AND FURANO

May 23, 2017

Today we took the long train ride from Tokyo to Sapporo. After arriving in Sapporo we rented a car and made our way to the small city of Asahikawa. Over the next two days we drove around to check out the sites around nearby Biei and Furano. Unfortunately we were a little too early (by at least a month) for the lavender season and hillsides full of blooming multicolored flowers. Google Biei and you'll see what I'm talking about. We did, however, still get to catch some flowers in bloom and eat some flower flavored soft serve. Let's just say we took in some beautiful flowers and ate a lot. In fact, some of the best ramen we had on this trip was in Asahikawa.

HITATCHINAKA

HITATCHINAKA

May 22, 2017

From Tokyo, we took about a 2.5 hour train ride to check out the flowers at the Hitachi Seaside Park. When we first arrived, we were a little confused where we were since the entrance seemed kind of drab or like we were entering an airport base or something. Once we entered the park, we found a large amusement park that also had large spaces of grass to hang out and areas dedicated to different types of flowers. 

MOUNT FUJI

MOUNT FUJI

May 20, 2017

From Kagoshima, we made our way to Nagoya for a day of eating and met up with Stef, Jonathan's cousin who lives in Hong Kong. No trip to Japan is complete without her! :) We stopped in Tokyo for a couple days and took some day trips to different flower parks to see what we could find. 

We took a train to the Fujii Five Lakes area and took an hour bus from Kawaguchiko to check out the Fuji Shibazakura Festival. Shibazakura is a flower that covers the ground like a lawn and the flower's petals look like that of sakura or cherry blossoms. It didn't hurt to have Mount Fuji in the background. :)

BEPPU

BEPPU

May 17, 2017

Beppu is most famously known for being the home to over 2,000 onsens. Sadly, because I was already pregnant by this time, I couldn't partake in any of the activities, which included mud and sand baths and a visit to the hot springs. So bummed!

Instead, we took a day trip to Oita, visited a museum, and did a little more people watching outside the train station. Can't help but fall in love with all the little kids in their cute school uniforms! :)

NAGASAKI, KUMAMOTO AND KAGOSHIMA

NAGASAKI, KUMAMOTO AND KAGOSHIMA

May 15 - May 17, 2017

Since we were in the south of Japan, we decided to hop around to different cities, try the local fare and explore a bit since we didn't know when we would be back again. 

Our Airbnb host picked us up from the station and took us to a restaurant in Chinatown with what he considered to be the best champon. Champon is a Chinese style of ramen, where the noodles are cooked with the broth then topped with various vegetables and meat. Unlike Japanese ramen, where the broth and noodles are cooked separately and only put together when served. 

ARITA

ARITA

November 13 - November 15, 2017

We took a two hour train ride from Fukuoka to Arita, a small town known for its porcelain and ceramics. We heard about Koraku Kiln the last time we were in Japan, which was founded in 1865 and has been producing ceramics for the past 150 years. Over time, they've accumulated overstock and have been housing product in warehouses over the years. Just recently they started hosting a "treasure hunt" where visitors can pay 5000 yen to 10000 yen and can spend 90 minutes digging through the different crates and whatever you can fit in your basket is yours to take home. 

FUKUOKA

FUKUOKA

May 10, 2017

Yatais or food stands in Fukuoka are really popular and are sprinkled all over the city. They usually set up shop in the early evening and stay open until the early morning. We decided to eat at Yatai Mama Chan and it did not disappoint. Mama Chan wasn't there that night but her son and husband held down the fort and prepared our dinner. It was so simple but we quickly fell in love with the fried rice and ramen. So delicious!

EATING IN NAGOYA

EATING IN NAGOYA

November 2, 2016

I hope you're reading this next post on a full stomach. If not, you're tummy will definitely grumble for the next few minutes.

In our 24 hours in Nagoya could be summed up in two words, it would be "happy tummies". All we did was EAT EAT EAT. We had every intention of seeing the fall colors here but again, we were a little too early so we did the next best thing.

HALLOWEEN IN TOKYO

HALLOWEEN IN TOKYO

October 28, 2016 - October 30, 2016

Halloween isn't Halloween, until you've done it in Tokyo.

Our best friends, Hajime and Maily, spent last Halloween in Tokyo and told us it was the best party of their lives. It didn't take much convincing us or Jonathan's cousin, Stef, to join in the party this year. Knowing the Japanese and their love to dress up, we knew we had to be something special. I would try to explain what we were...but I feel like the pictures can pretty much do all the talking. Just as we expected, there was a big party in the Shibuya area, where thousands of people flocked the streets and would stop to take pictures with anyone and anything!

TOKYO - SUMO!

TOKYO - SUMO!

days two hundred and eleven thru two hundred and fifteen: april 17, 2016 thru april 21, 2016

Coming to Japan, we had really wanted to see a sumo match. After doing much research, Jonathan discovered that every year there is a free match at Yasakuni Shrine in Tokyo. Of course, the seats are first come first serve, so we tried to show up an hour early, but still ended up waiting in a long line. However, the arena is fairly large and we were able to get pretty good seats in the shade where we could see.

FUJISAN - PARAGLIDING

FUJISAN - PARAGLIDING

day two hundred and ten: april 16, 2016

Today, we headed over to the train station to catch the bus to a nearby flower festival where pink flowers were supposed to cover the entire grounds with Fujisan in the background. Just before purchasing our tickets, the man collecting the tickets told us that there were less than 10% of the flowers blooming and that in his opinion it wasn't worth going. We took his advice and decided it probably wasn't worth the money so we headed out to the lake to enjoy the morning air and find a clear view of Fujisan.

KAWAGUCHIKO

KAWAGUCHIKO

days two hundred and eight thru two hundred and eleven: april 14, 2016 thru april 17, 2016

After landing back in Osaka from Seoul, we boarded the train and headed north for our full day of travel to get to Lake Kawaguchiko. Our timing couldn't have been more perfect. Our AirBnB host told us that it had rained all morning and it had just cleared up within the hour before our arrival. We rode the express train, which we were pleasantly surprised with since it was a Fujisan themed train.

TESHIMA/NAOSHIMA/TAKAMATSU

TESHIMA/NAOSHIMA/TAKAMATSU

days two hundred and one thru two hundred and four: april 7, 2016 thru april 10, 2016

On the 7th, we spent the day in transit on trains and boats making our way south to Teshima Island. Every three years, there is an art exhibition called the Setouchi Triennale. We had been told by friends of friends that Naoshima Island was a must visit if we had the time. After doing some research we discovered that Naoshima is just one of the islands in the Seto Inland Sea that houses permanent and temporary art installations. With our last minute planning we were only able to find one option for accommodations on any of the islands and to our pleasant surprise, it was an awesome AirBnB experience with Kazu Hide, a Teshima local who had returned home to grow and sell fruits and vegetables while also managing a small homestay. He was an excellent host and hosted us each night with tea and great conversation. He also cooked dinner for us one of the nights and it was quite exceptional.

YOSHINO/NARA

YOSHINO/NARA

day two hundred: april 6, 2016

After realizing we would be seriously missing out if we moved further south without visiting Yoshino/Nara, we booked another night at our AirBnB and took the train to Yoshino for the day. We were not disappointed and were happy we went early in the morning too as it got hazy in the afternoon. Oddly enough, we ran into a woman, Donna, from our New Zealand trek on the Milford Track in Yoshiko. What an incredibly small world!