We are back from Japan! :D
What a trip! After spending 12 days in Japan, our bodies are tired, our pockets felt lighter, but we really enjoyed ourselves. What was unexpected was that it rained most of the days that we were there, and it snowed on at least 4 days too. I think we’ll have a lot of thoughts and emotions to write regarding our honeymoon, so let me start the ball rolling by doing a quick itinerary recap. Here we go.
Our flight with Northwest Airlines departs at 6am, so in order to save on taxi fares, we decided to travel to Changi Airport the night before on the last MRT around 11pm. We spend the night wandering the 3 airport terminals and finally checked in at around 3.30am and spend the rest of the time inside the duty free area.
Breakfast from Northwest Airlines was really bad. Egg was grossly overcooked and hashbrown was soggy. If I need to pick the best of the lot, it would be the instant sugar which I added to the coffee.
The view from our seat about 20 minutes to arrival at Narita. You can see a small Japanese island in the ocean.
Northwest Airlines food sucks. We arrive in the early afternoon and went straight to the JR ticket office to exchange for our 4 day flexi JR East Pass. We also reserved our train seats for the upcoming few days. And we bought the Narita Express & Suica Combo too. And off we go to Yokohama.
Upon arriving at Yokohama station, we experienced our first culture shock. There were so many many train platforms and we totally didn’t know where to go. Luckily, the staff at the station was very helpful and guided us to the correct platform. We boarded the train for Kannai, and checked in to our hotel at Toyoko Inn Yokohama Nihonodori-eki Nichigin-mae.
After a short break, we went to Sakuragicho to visit the famous Yokohama cityscape. After dinner, we decided to head home as we were tired after the 7 hours flight.
Our first Japanese breakfast, taken at Toyoko Inn. Rice balls tasted surprisingly good and we really liked the tenderness of Japanese eggs.
The empty Yokohama Chinatown in the morning that we went.
The famous skyline of the Yokohama Minato Mirai area. This picture was taken from Yokohama International Passenger Terminal.
We had breakfast at the hotel and then spent the morning exploring the Chinatown area and the Yokohama bayside area. By late morning, we had checked out of the hotel and enroute to Odawara on the Ltd Exp Odoriko. We saw Mt Fuji from inside the train, and it would turn out that this was the only time we got to see Mt Fuji throughout the whole trip.
Odawara Castle was about 3 minutes walk from the North Entrance of the park, and about 10 minutes walk from Odawara Station.
At Odawara, we visited the Odawara Castle and also bought the Odakyu Hakone Pass. Next, we took a bus from Odawara station directly to our ryokan for the night, Ichinoyu Honkan. It was still early to check in, so we left our luggage at the lobby and went out to explore Hakone.
The view of the streets of Hakone on our way climbing up the steps from our ryokan to Tonosawa Station.
We had made our way to Sounzan without knowing that the Hakone Ropeway was closed. We were rather angry that they didn’t have a signage at Gora to inform us about the closed ropeway. Or maybe the announcement was made in Japanese?
Originally, we had intended to complete the famed Hakone round trip before dinner, but unfortunately, the Hakone Ropeway was closed due to strong winds. It was a pity that we couldn’t visit Owakudani to observe the volcanic sulphur pools and eat the volcanic eggs.
This was the port at Togendai where we missed our sightseeing boat after making a long detour from Sounzan to Gora to Senkyoro-mae to Togendai by bus.
We took a detour to reach Togendai to take the sightseeing boat around Lake Ashi only to miss the last boat of the day by 5 minutes. Since it was going to be dinner time soon, we headed back to the ryokan.
The private onsen at Ichinoyu was a great way for us to get into the culture of hotspring bathing. We were still not very comfortable with the idea of going naked at a public bath yet.
That night, we have a sumptuous feast at the ryokan and also enjoyed our first onsen experience at the private family bathroom within the ryokan.
It was a rainy morning at Motohakone port. The Hakone Shrine was nearby but we didn’t have enough time to visit it.
We woke up early to try to use the private bath again. Luckily, no one was using it at 7am, so we went in for it again. So relaxing. Next, we had breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and took a bus to Motohakone. From there, we took the sightseeing boat that we missed the previous day to Togendai to enjoy the views of Lake Ashi. From Togendai, we took a bus to Gotemba station. It was raining since the morning, and it would continue for much of the day.
Gotemba Premium Outlet is a huge discount shopping village, almost like a shopping theme park.
At Gotemba, we took a shuttle bus to visit the Chelsea Premium Outlets. The prices there were at a discount but we couldn’t find anything suitable.
The sewage covers at Kawaguchiko were decorated with the scene of Mt Fuji. In fact, images of Mt Fuji can be found everywhere, on signages, traffic lights, instant noodles, soft toys, etc.
At around mid afternoon, we boarded a bus from Gotemba station that would bring us to Kawaguchiko station. At Kawaguchiko, we bought the retro bus free pass and checked in to K’s House where we will be staying for 2 nights.
It was to be the last fireworks of the winter to mark the end of winter and to welcome the spring season. The fireworks lasted more than 30 minutes and it was truly spectular to see the fireworks standing at the edge of the lake.
In the evening, there was a fireworks display at Lake Kawaguchi and we had the opportunity to witness the wonderful fireworks in Japan that was often the romantic scene in J-drama and anime. I managed to upload the video onto Youtube, so enjoy. :D
Mt Fuji can be found everywhere. :D
A model of Mt Fuji outside the Nature Living Centre at Kawaguchiko. It also says that Mt Fuji Day is celebrated on the 23th of Feburary every year.
Our plans was to spend the entire day exploring Kawaguchiko and Fujiyoshida area. In the morning, we took the retro bus from terminal to terminal to view the areas around Lake Kawaguchi. It snowed today, the first time we saw fresh falling snow.
The Kawaguchiko retro sightseeing bus. We happen to be the only young people on board. The other passengers were all Japanese senior citizens.
This is the shop where we ate the handmade udon at Fujiyoshida, 1 minute away from the station. It is managed singlehandedly by this kind old lady. We were able to have a good chat with the stall owner as we were the only customers at that time. She even gave us a page of the magazine where her shop was featured in several years ago.
The weather was cold and the wind was chilly so it didn’t make sense to ride such a tall and high speed roller coaster. Excuses. :P
In the afternoon, we took the retro bus to Fujiyoshida and tried the famous handmade udon at a little shop own by a nice old lady. We also stopped by Fuji Q Highland but the rides looked a bit too scary, so we didn’t go in.
The retro bus schedule ends early at around 4.30pm so we had to make our way back to Kawaguchiko earlier than expected.
The weather was cold so all we had to do was to leave the juice next to the window to enjoy cold apple juice the whole night. Slurp!
We dropped by a supermarket on our way back and it was having its evening sale. Most of the shelves were already emptied and a lot of Japanese aunties were rushing to grab the last of the discount meats with their already fully loaded shopping carts. Even the bread counter was swiped clean. In the end, we were only able to get a packet of apple juice at 88yen, cheap!
Satou Steak House at Kichijoji where we had matsuzaka beef for lunch. At ~SGD80, it was definitely the most expensive piece of steak we had ever eaten, and it was truly the best beef we had ever eaten.
We woke up early today to catch a train to Otsuki where we would transfer to the Ltd Exp Kaiji for Mitaka, and transfer again to Kichijoji. We stopped by Kichijoji to try the famous matsuzaka beef. But we had to leave Kawaguchiko area without even seeing Mt Fuji once. :(
The Shinkansen Max Toki which we took from Tokyo to Yuzawa. Total duration was 77 minutes.
The foot of Yuzawa Kogen resort. This is the lift for the easiest of the beginner slopes. Also the first time we saw so much snow. Mountains of snow!
After lunch, we continued our journey to Tokyo station where we transfer to our first Shinkansen of the trip to Yuzawa, Max Toki. We would reach Yuzawa in mid afternoon and checked in to Hotel Yanagi for the night. We spent the rest of the day exploring this snow town. It was the first time we’ve seen such thick snow. In the evening, we decided to go to the hotel onsen as Yuzawa is known to be an onsen town and our hotel had the baths on the second floor. Truly relaxing in the winter cold. Somehow, the onsen warmth was able to penetrate into our bones and rejuvenated our bodies.
Fresh snow fell through the night and continued in the morning. The snow flakes here were much finer and firmer than those at Kawaguchiko. The snow flakes would literally bounce off our winter coats upon contact. Breakfast was provided at the Izakaya within the hotel.
We took the Yuzawa Kogen Ropeway to the mountain top. The weather was too foggy and so skiing was prohibitted. We threw our skis down and played in the snow instead. Snowballs fight. Go Go Go!
In the morning, we went skiing. Neither of us knew how to ski, but we still went ahead and took the lift up the slope. It was so scary becos we didn’t know how to stop and the snow felt so slippery. After 5 mins of struggling, we decided to detach our skis and walked down the slope where we would spend some time practicing first on flat ground. By the time we got the hang of it, it was already noon and we had to catch our train back to tokyo. Lesson learnt: half a day is not enough to enjoy skiing.
The view of Yuzawa town taken from inside the Yuzawa Kogen Ropeway on our way down to the foot station. Indeed a town built in a valley, bordered by mountains on both sides.
In between, we also found time to ride the largest gondola car in the world, the Yuzawa Kogen Ropeway. The view of the town from up in the mountains was breathtaking.
Wako building at Ginza. It looked very outstanding because of its more historic architecture in the midst of all the standard rectangular modern buildings in the Ginza area.
Dior building in the picture. While we were at Ginza, we were somewhat shocked by the size of the showrooms of these big brands. They don’t just have a shop space like in our Orchard Rd. They have the whole building to themselves. Floors and floors of Dior was just mind boggling.
We took the Shinkansen to Shinjuku where we checked in to our hotel for the next 6 nights, Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku. In the evening, we took a train to Tokyo station and explored the area and south towards Ginza before calling it a day. We made a last stop at Meguro station to try out a famous tonkatsu shop there too.