Sunday, May 27, 2018

JAPAN 2018 - PART 1

As my regular BLOG readers know I went to Japan in March/April and I would like to document it for myself on my Blog so there will be lots of photos, I hope you enjoy them and I take you on my journey with these photos. My travel companion Sandra is my Aunty In Law whom I've known for 40 years.

I departed from Coolangatta airport AKA Gold Coast airport on Wednesday 28th March, 2018 at 10.45am and arrived at Narita airport (Tokyo) at 6.30pm, about 25 minutes earlier than the scheduled time.  It was a great flight, I didn't know what to expect as it was my first International flight.

We were being met by my dear friend's husband, Hiro.  He was going to be at arrivals to collect us at 7pm.  We flew Jetstar and arrived at Terminal 3 at Narita airport, good grief, we had to walk down steps off the plane, then up steps to get to Immigration, we were quite exhausted  after doing all this with our not so light carry on luggage.  Our first stop was the toilet and after doing so and lining up we were the last to get through Immigration, then we had to walk down more stairs to wait for our checked in luggage then go through customs.  After all this time I was worried Hiro would be waiting for us outside but no he was running late and I had no way of communicating with him.  Eventually we found each other, mind you it had been 7 years since I had seen him and I had only met him 3 times ever.  So can you imagine my panic being in Japan with a LOT of Japanese around and me looking for Hiro.  I was starting to panic but then I saw him and we recognised each other at the same time which was so great.  There is no parking at terminal 3 so we had to catch a bus with all our luggage to terminal 2 and then get to the parking area and put our luggage in the car and then back to Terminal 2 to have our Japan Rail Pass certificate exchanged for our Japan Rail Pass.  Then we had over an hours drive to our Hotel at Kashiwa-no-ha in Chiba which is close to where Marina and Hiro live and we were staying for our first 4 nights.  We were quite hungry as we didn't have dinner on the plane and it was an hour later Australian time.  On the way to the Hotel Hiro stopped at a 7 Eleven so we could get something to eat.  If you haven't been to Japan the 7 Eleven's, Lawson's, Family Marts etc are the places for groceries, snacks, coffee etc.  They are literally everywhere, even several in one street.  Our first glimpse of a Sakura in Bloom (Cherry Blossom tree) was in the car driving to the Hotel. It's not a great photo, but it was night and I took it from the car.

We arrived at the Hotel around 10pm local time and after 11pm by the time we got to bed after checking in and unpacking a few things.

Day 1 - Thursday 29th March, 2018
Outside our Hotel, Mitsui Gardens Hotel.

I only got about an hours sleep, I was so excited that I was finally in Japan and Sandra snores BAD, oh gosh I have another 34 nights of this.  I finally got up at 5.50am, showered, dressed and down to brekkie at 6.45am.  We met with Marina, Hiro and their two gorgeous kiddos, Hibiki and Haruma at the Kashiwa-no-ha train station for our first day of sightseeing at Asakusa (the locals pronounce this as Asuksa).  We went to the Tokyo Skytree, then to Sensouji Temple, Kaminarimon. We strolled through Nakamisi Dori (a long shopping street).  We saw many girls dressed in Kiminos, the crowds of people were unbelievable as the Sakura Blooms were magnificent.

After the Tokyo Skytree we had lunch at a shopping centre eatery, I had Chicken Curry for lunch, my favourite and my first time to experience it in Japan, it was delicious. 

                                       A photo of food displayed in a window (all fake food)

We were quite exhausted after all of our walking and sightseeing so we found a little coffee shop and enjoyed our first Matcha ice cream, really delicious.


Day 2 - Friday 30 March, 2018
Having breakfast and watching people go about their daily lives, no matter where you are in the world, everyone rushes to catch transport to work.

Waiting to be picked up by Marina and Hiro to head to Hakone for the day. It was very cold and windy this particular day, that's why I have my coat and scarf on....

Behind me can you see the sign "La La Port", it's a shopping centre 5 levels.
Some photos on our car trip to Hakone, 2 hours drive away.

        Finally at our destination, here are some photos of the most gorgeous Sakura Blooms.

We had lunch at this little restaurant, it's famous for soba noodles, we waited for 30 minutes for a seat.  We came across this everywhere in Japan as 98% of eating places are very small.  Outside of the restaurant is a stand with sheets of ruled paper and a pen and you write your name and how many people then you wait to be called.

Oh yes we are sitting on pillows on Tatami mats, so you need to take your shoes off before stepping onto the Tatami mats. Then sit on the floor, oh gosh I was so worried I wouldn't be able to get up and yes my worst fears were realised after eating, thankfully the table was made of a solid heavy piece of timber so I could push myself up with my hands on the table.

                                                               Marina and Haruma


             Our Lunch  - Soba noodles and Tempura prawns and vegetables, absolutely delicious


                                                          A photo inside the restaurant

My first time to see and touch snow, LOL I look a little excited.  Actually it was a clump of ice, the last of the snow for the season, we saw quite a bit like this around Hakone.  It was a very cold day too.

Enjoying a hot cup of coffee and enjoying our feet being in nice hot spa water

Enjoying the glorious view of Lake Ashi, having a hot foot spa and a hot coffee, thank you Marina and Hiro.

We had a wonderful day, we arrived back at our hotel at 9.45pm

More to come


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