Sagamiko, June 2017

Last weekend, we went to the Sagamiko (Lake Sagami) area in Kanagawa prefecture with my friend’s family and some of her coworkers.

We stayed overnight at Sagamiko Pleasure Forest, where an amusement park, campground, and hot spring are all on one site.

キャンプ場の朝。 #breakfast #相模湖

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Since Lisa is two-year-old, there were many rides at the park she wasn’t able to ride. But she had plenty of fun with the merry-go-round, mini-coaster, and several coin-operated car/bus/bike rides (she was really into those).

Picaso-no-tamago was also fun. It’s a giant obstacle course with 27 different types of stuff. It wasn’t easy for us to keep up with her!

Before driving back to Tokyo, we stopped at the public park surrounding the lake to ride a swan/duck boart.

ピンクのあひるボート #相模湖

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Kamakura, May 2017

We took a day trip to Kamakura, which is a town in Kanagawa prefecture 1-hour train ride away from Tokyo Station.

First, we arrived at Kamakura Station around 11:10 and had lunch before it gets crowded. ROOFTOPS near the station was a hit (though you need to be prepared to get really messy!).

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Avocado & grilled tomato burger at ROOFTOPS

Then, we strolled Komachi Dori Street to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu (鶴岡八幡宮) Shrine.

From there, we walked more to see the bamboo grove in Hokokuji Temple (報国寺). The quiet zen garden was a nice contrast to the vivid shrine. Some bamboo shoots and young stalks

We took a local bus and Enoden train to the Great Buddha, then walked by the Yuigahama beach.

Kamakura has so many places you can easily visit within a day. We picked some of the major spots to visit since it was my first time there (Keita’s second), but it felt like I only saw a small portion of this old town. We kept walking around until it’s time to go home.

It’s a great destination to take a short trip to while in Tokyo. So much closer than Kyoto but you still get to see & learn the historical parts of Japan.

Kamakura Travel Guide (japan-guide.com)

Yamanashi Wine Tasting & Grape Picking Trip

I’m on a late summer vacation this week. We just went to the Katsunuma and Isawa Onsen areas in Yamanashi Prefecture for an overnight trip with my husband’s mom, who was visiting Tokyo.

Katsunuma/Isawa are in the eastern part of the Koshu Basin, and it’s about 1.5 to 2 train ride from Tokyo. Katsunuma is the viniculture/winemaking center of Japan. Koshu grapes” (Yamanashi has 95% of the Koshu plantings in Japan).

 
Our first stop was the Budo-no-oka Center (ぶどうの丘). After lunch at a restaurant with an open view of the Kofu Basin, we headed to the basement floor wine cave at for tasting some local wine of Yamanashi.

There must have been at least 80 different open bottles all available for tasting. It was nice to be able to try out wine from several different cellars all at one place. They don’t have any water or wine crackers there, so it’s a good idea to bring bottled water along with you.

Our favorite picks: Classic (クラシック) from Katsunuma Winery, Barrel Fermented Chardonnay (シャルドネ樽発酵) from Soryu Winery, and Made in Katsunuma 100% Red (勝沼産100% 赤) from Chateau Katsunuma.


 
We stayed at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) in Isawa Onsen, and enjoyed the hot spring and traditional food. Only in Japan (I think) — you can hit both wine country and hot spring at once!

On next day, we went to Budoubatake farm for grape picking. We got to taste about a dozen different kinds of grapes that are now in season. Then the staff took us to a few of their farms where we could hand-pick the ones we liked. I really enjoyed the fresh taste of Tamayutaka and Shine Muscat. We took home those in addition to Fuji Minori and Kaiji.

They also have a small winery called Hishiyama Chuo Winery (菱山中央醸造). We took a quick tour and tasted their white, rosé, and sparkling, and I was amazed by how good they were.

The winemaking facility here is mostly used by grape growers for making wine from their own local (food-grade) grapes. They only sell a very limited number of bottles to the public, and the bottles don’t have any labels. I highly recommend visiting this place and hearing the story behind their wine!

Bottles of Mujirushi Label wine

Mujirushi (“no-brand”) Label wine by Hishiyama Chuo cellar (菱山中央醸造)

Further Reading

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Enoshima Walk & Aquarium

I went to Enoshima for the first time today. It’s a small island in Sagami Bay of Kanagawa. We met up with our friend on the way, who picked a nice cafe for lunch.

It got cold by the time we walked down to the bridge, so we decided to go to Shin Enoshima Aquarium (Enosui). Really enjoyed the jellyfish display, penguin feeding time, and huge aquarium full of native species.

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Yakushima, Winter 2013-2014

After a few days in Kagoshima City, I spent a very relaxing new year holiday in Yakushima Island with Keita and my parents. Here are some photos I took during my 11-day stay.

Anbo River

On New Year’s Day, we went for a short hike in Yakusugi Land park.

Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen is a very rare natural spa spot, which is directly connected to the ocean. The sign says “no swimsuits allowed”!

Hirauchi Kaichu Onsen

We also went to see the banyan tree “gate” in Sarukawa and Ōko-no-taki & Torōki-no-taki Falls in the afternoon.

Some photos of Harutahama Beach where we went running. We got there at the perfect timing to see the sunset.

On the last night with my parents, we went to Sanpotei for dinner.

Flower at Sanpo Tei

More photos from this trip are in my Flickr set: Kagoshima & Yakushima 2013-2014 Winter

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Kagoshima, December 2013

On our way to visit my family in Yakushima Island, we spent a couple of days in Kagoshima City.

Yamakataya department store across from the bus stop still had some holiday decorations a couple of days after Christmas.

Yamakata-ya Department Store in Kagoshima

On the next day, we went to Voilá Coffee in Dolphin Port. We’ve been ordering their coffee beans for the past few months based on recommendations made by Steve. The coffee shop isn’t large but they had a wide selection of their merchandise. They have 3 other shops around Kagoshima Prefecture.

Inoue Coffee Company Voilá

After strolling around the port area, we walked to the south east side of the city.

The statue of Saigō Takamori. He was “one of the most influential samurai in Japanese history,” a rebellious hero from Kagoshima.

Saigo Takamori Statue

A black cat and Kagoshima Modern Literature Museum building.

Black Cat in Kagoshima

We walked up Mt. Shiroyama.

It was a very cloudy day with some rain, but luckily we got to see most of Sakurajima Island without clouds from the top of the hill. We didn’t make it to Sakurajima Volcano this time but it’s only 15-minute ferry ride away.

Sakurajima

That night, we had dinner with some of Kagoshima WordPress community members. Both the shochu and local food were really good – thanks, Nishimura-san, Niinuma-san and everyone who came over! I wish I could have stayed longer but I had to take an early morning boat the next morning because of the forecast.

I shot this blue & white lights in Tenmonkan Archade on the way to the hotel.

Blue Illumination in Tenmonakan Street

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October 2013 Photos

Some photos I took last month.

Leiden & Amsterdam

At the beginning of October, I went to WordCamp Europe (WCEU) in Leiden in the Netherlands. I spent one extra day in the country, exploring around Amsterdam. I really liked Dutch cityscape and people – would love to go back for a longer period next time.

More photos from WCEU and Amsterdam & Leiden on Flickr

Fukuoka, Ureshino (Saga), Nagasaki and Tokyo

After a short stay at home in Tokyo, I went to WordPress meetup in Fukuoka then spent some time with my family traveling in Kyushu. Quite interestingly, one of our family trip destinations was Huis Ten Bosch, a Dutch-themed park  in Nagasaki prefecture. We celebrated my grandma’s birthday together and had a really good time together.

More photos from the Kyushu trip on Flickr