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.
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.
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.
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