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

Gallery

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.