day one hundred and ninety-five: april 1, 2016

We spent a night in Hakone at a really great AirBnB that was in a remote area of Hakone, but unfortunately the weather wasn't great and we couldn't see Mount Fiji, so we only have one  photo from that day.

days one hundred and ninety-six thru one hundred and ninety-eight: april 2, 2016 thru april 4, 2016

After saying our goodbyes, we boarded a train back south in pursuit of sakura in full bloom. First stop, Nagoya. Wow, what a difference a few days makes. Our two days in Nagoya were quite something with the sakura in full bloom. After a full day of cruising around the city, we were lucky enough to meet up with another group of friends visiting Japan. Our friend Fion and her husband Marcel stopped thru Nagoya to have a quick dinner with us and catch up before to Kyoto. 

Later that evening we headed to one of Nagoya's main parks where the sakura were supposed to be illuminated. That's not the only thing we found in the park. Tons of locals were out enjoying the sakura and there were food stalls and live music. It was quite a celebration!

The next morning we continued to explore Nagoya and took our time and enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery with the locals.

Hope you're not tired of sakura yet...because there are a lot more pictures coming! :)



days one hundred and ninety-three thru one hundred and ninety-four: march 30, 2016 thru march 31, 2016

Next stop, back to Osaka in search of more cherry blossoms. In just the few days since we landed in Japan, the sakura blossoms were already more mature, beginning to bloom and the locals were already out enjoying the beautiful scenery, weather, and picnicking under the blossoms which they call hanami .


day one hundred ninety: march 27, 2016

In the late afternoon we headed to the airport to catch a late night flight to Osaka, putting us in close to 2 AM. To our surprise, the immigration lines at Osaka airport were some of the worst we've experienced thus far. We didn't get our bags and exit the airport until close to 4 AM. For such a major airport, we would have expected there still to be taxis available to take us into the city, but we weren't so lucky. Our other option was to take a bus into the city and then a taxi the rest of the way to our AirBnB. At around 5 AM we arrived at our AirBnB. I went to sleep for a few hours while Jonathan went up to the rooftop to check out the sunrise with Osaka Castle across the river.

days one hundred and ninety-one thru one hundred and ninety-two: march 28, 2016 thru march 29, 2016

Today we took the train to Kyoto, dropped our bags off in a locker at the station and went to meet our friends Lindsey, Clement and Kari who were on vacation from the states. Thankfully, they were ok with us crashing their trip. For two days we cruised around Kyoto and explored temples, shrines, and ate as much food as our stomachs could bare.

When we visited Fushimi Inari Shrine, it was late in the afternoon and we intended to find a nice place to watch the sunset. Not surprisingly, there were tons of people walking thru the Torii Gates and was near impossible to escape the crowds. Jonathan had the bright idea of following a trail that wandered off the side of the hill and supposedly reconnected with the main walk path at the top of the mountain. Let's just say that we successfully escaped the crowds, but we also didn't get to see much of a sunset. We did, however, get to make our way casually down at dusk which was much more peaceful than being amongst the crowds down at the bottom of the hill.

After leaving the shrine, we were starving. Lucky for us, just nearby the train station there was a small yakitori restaurant that was still open. I think we ordered the most of anyone there.

The next morning, we headed to Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion and managed to snap a few photos with barely any people in it, quite an art form when some of these places are seen in person.

This was one of the first areas where the sakura (cherry blossoms) were starting to bloom, but many weren't open yet.

Next stop, the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and the nearby park.

Just above the bamboo forest is an area overlooking the river down below. The sakura contrasted against the green surroundings was beautiful.

That evening we went to visit Kiyomizu-dera Temple perched up on the hillside with a view of Kyoto. We had read that some of the areas were illuminated in the evening so we wanted to check it out.

Afterwards, we headed back to Gion for some dinner with the rest of the group. On our way, we came across this beautiful weeping sakura tree hanging above the walkway. 

We found another small yakitori restaurant off a small side street and were told that we could wait for seats to open up. After about 5 minutes of waiting they called us in and asked if a room upstairs would be ok and if we could squeeze. To our surprise, the room was more than big enough and we even had our own little balcony area. (yes, we pretty much ordered the entire menu!)

Next stop, Osaka!



day one hundred and forty-six: february 22, 2016: a loooong day in transit

The afternoon before, we flew to Kuala Lumpur since flights to Tokyo were significantly cheaper and KL was a good hub for future travel. After our one night stopover, we boarded our ANA flight to Tokyo on time on the morning of the 22nd. After settling into our seats and taking off we were both comfortably watching movies when there was a sudden jolt and a bit of noise. It wasn't characteristic of typical turbulence and to be honest, we were pretty scared, momentarily clutching each other's hands. About 5 minutes after the incident, the flight attendant came on the intercom and announced that the right engine failed. Yikes! She said that we had to turn back to KL because we wouldn't make it to Tokyo on one engine. Of course, we were thankful to be safe, but bummed to be delayed. We were told that everyone would be sent to an airport hotel and rooms would be arranged and flights were being rebooked for everyone.



days one hundred and fifty-two thru one hundred and one hundred and fifty-five: february 28, 2016 thru march 2, 2016

Sorry, not a ton of photos from Tokyo, but it mostly entailed eating, drinking and a little bit of karaoke. So in addition to the whole ski crew from Myoko Kogen, we also were able to meet up with our good friends, Hajime and Maily, and my cousin, Stephanie, all of whom live in Hong Kong now. So yes, we basically ate our way thru Tokyo. There are some videos from karaoke the first night that somehow didn't make this post, but those who were there enjoyed a Jung brother's rendition of Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas", something that will never be forgotten.



We heard about the Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival so we rescheduled our time to spend one day in Sapporo before heading back home. Some of the snow and ice sculptures were pretty impressive, including a massive one completed by the Japanese military of Darth Vader and Storm Troopers, complete with TIE fighters. We pretty much spent the 24 hours we were there – wandering the city and eating food. Needless to say, we were stuffed for the long plane ride home. 



Our second week in Niseko, more friends and family joined us. We moved to a new house on the outskirts of town to fit everyone in. We were lucky enough to get another good powder day on the same day we had guides from Hanazono Powder Guides again. Perfect timing. We also ventured over to Rusutsu for a day for a change of scenery. We enjoyed the onsens, good snow, good company and plenty of hot lemonade at the 1,000m Hut at the top of the mountain. We will definitely be back to Japan to ski in the future.

- Jonathan



We heard about Niseko through Jonathan’s brother and brother’s wife, Jason and Paula, who went to Niseko last season and couldn’t stop raving about the awesome snow. So, we knew we had to visit! We told a couple friends about it, not expecting anyone to come, but nine of our closest friends came out…and we couldn’t be happier about it! Then after four days, we had more friends come!



Before hitting the slopes in Niseko, we spent three days in Tokyo where more friends (Caitlin, Jack, Zak, Gena, and Pat) joined us!

Three days was definitely not enough time but we made the most of our time there. We stayed near the Shibuya Crossing, which is considered the busiest intersection in the world. It was the perfect location for us to jump on the JR train that took us to awesome, little spots around Tokyo.