Narita airport. We realized we didn't pack the Obama sake, so we had to drink it before going through security. The Japanese are SO polite, even their pat down in security is pleasant. LOL. Last gift shop, and yes this Tōkyō milk cookie is BOMB. Expensive and awesome. A small pile of Royce candy, more manju, and I think we're ready to head home. Best part: tailwinds get us home in only 6 hours! Sayonara, Japan!!!
19 March 2016
Last day in Tōkyō we wanted to see the Sakura blooms one more time. There's a few early ones but the majority haven't yet arrived. Sooooo we'll have to return!!
18 March 2016
Saturday was raining so we decided to go easy today, strolled through Ueno's famous shopping street: Ameyayokocho. It wasn't very crowded due to the weather. Stopped to eat ramen, good and cheap. Gyoza ¥190. Finished with dinner at an Italian restaurant with Stacie and Fred. He was nice enough to buy the kids a ladybug cake!
Friday. We went to Shibuya Disney. It was cute, constructed like a castle. Then onto Harajuku. Walked Omotesando a bit to find Kiddyland. That was huge!! Of course Emy wanted dinosaurs. Found a tendon shop having a lunch special ¥390 for a set!! It was awesome! Then walked around Takeshita dori, ate another crepe, then finished with Daiso. Tons of people here, and a very lively area.
Drank a lot of Japanese beer. Yum yum.
17 March 2016
A ¥4200 taxi ride later we made it to Kiyomizudera. Could only spend about 1 hour here. Nice walk up with shops and eateries. Had the best crepe ever!! The kids had ice cream, of course. We couldn't go to the top since we had to catch the train back to Tōkyō. Would love to come back here, possibly on the fall.
16 March 2016
Kinkaku-ji. This is a bucket list item. Ride to the temple took longer than expected, about 25 minutes. The temple itself was marvelous, in spite of the billions of tourists there. A crazy monk burned it down, so this one was restored in '55. Beautiful does not describe it. This is a MUST in your lifetime.
One of the trip highlights: early start to Fushimi Inari on 3/17. Ride the JR Nara train. It is a sacred place where businesses would come to get blessings and after success in business, return to build a red gate, the torii. Each torii symbolizes all those success. The hike goes up, over 10000 torii on Mt. Inari, but we had limited time.
15 March 2016
Travel to Kyoto on Wednesday, 3/16. Bullet train in only 15 minutes!!! 🚄✅😀Kyoto station is HUGE and an architectural marvel. Kyoto tower is adjacent to the station, and out hotel only a block away, 5 minutes walk. Of course, a Lawson's on the corner and a supermarket across is very convenient. Spent the afternoon strolling and eating through Nishiki market. We saw many women in kimono. Also tried the tofu....SO good, and kushikatsu. Mochi was delectable. This market is MUST for eating and shopping. Here we purchased some sake that POTUS sipped on a past visit. Evening: breezed through 8 stories of Yodobashi camera. It's more than just cameras!! Food court and cafe in there too!!! It's like 10 department stores on steroids.
14 March 2016
Universal Studios Japan. You need at least 2 full days if you wait in line for any rides without the express passes. Harry Potter wait time was 4 hours: never mind!! We did enjoy Jurassic Park and Spider-Man. Snoopy town was decked out for Easter. Overall lots of fun but lots of waiting. Butter beer, hot or cold was delicious!!
14 March 2016
Started off this rainy morning to Kaiyukan Aquarium, one of the world's largest. Adults ¥2300 children ¥1200. Highlights: whale shark, Japanese spider crabs, petting tank filled with sharks and stingrays. Lots of unique creatures!! Definitely surpassed my expectation and worth the visit. Kids absolutely loved it (and me too).
Next...Ōsaka castle. The rain let up so it was better but not best for photos. The castle is cool but not the actual original (it's too shiny for that). I'm not a fan of reading a ton of history in the exhibits, so I thought it was just ok. ¥600 for adults, the kids were free. We went in and out of the castle within 1 hour. Wear good walking shoes because it's an 8 floor ascent. Plus, you need to walk a way to get to the perimeter.
Last stop: Dotonburi. The famous eating street. It's filled with tons of great smells and tastes. Literally food heaven. The most popular: tako Yaki. You can really see the love that goes into making these tender little squid balls
Travel to Ōsaka from Shinagawa via Hikari 463. It was not very difficult to navigate to platform since it was a Sunday. Discovered a Tokyo banana kiosk and had to chow down a few of those for breakfast! ¥1080 for 8 cakes.
The Shinkansen was roomy and pleasant. Chairs can swivel so we could face each other.
Upon arrival at Shin Ōsaka station, must transfer to Ōsaka station. There, finding the Yotsubashi line to Higobashi fare was difficult. Thankful for the nice Japanese girl who helped me at the ticket booth. ¥180 adult fare.
Hotel is literally a few feet from the subway station. Hotel is in a perfect location.
Caught the sub down to Shinsaibashi shopping street.
There we decided to try the ticket machine ordering system. Then you sit at a table to present the server your tickets. Very efficient and very delicious! About ¥3000 for 3 ramen and 1 friend chicken. Sheryl's dish was Ōsaka style noodles, thicker, gravy style.
Later we munched on Mister Donuts...mochi-like😊❤️
12 March 2016
Day 2: Meet with Sachiko, first stop Tsukiji. Viewed unique seafood of all sorts. Got to peek in the auction room. Such a historic place! Lunch at a local fave sushi restaurant where famous people like Jeff Bezos, Andrew Garfield, and Nadeshiko have dined. About ¥2500 for a set. RIDICULOUS sushi. Not sure what I ate, but it was all wonderful. Then took a quick stroll through the outer market. Lots of interesting items: like dried fugu (blowfish). You need a special license the serve it. We bought some ume, and softest warabi kinako mochi. Also tried the strawberry mochi served by Japan airlines. Everything was delish!
Last stop: Akihabara for an hour at cat cafe. Girls had a ball. We fed some treats to the dozen or so cats. They look healthy and happy ¥4900 for 4 including the treats and a grape Fanta.
On the way back to the hotel, quick Sakura viewing. There were a couple of early bloomers at Ueno. Sushi at Tsukiji and Sakura in the afternoon. What a day!!
11 March 2016
Airport arrival and customs was a super breeze!!! We only took 12 minutes to get through customs. 👍🏼Rode the airport limo bus: ¥7750 for 3 of us, Emy was free (under 6). It was a chilly 39 degrees this evening and dropping. The hotel is great: directly across Shinagawa station. The hotel room is stocked with Shiseido products.
Went to a diner across the street. Emy is more interested in getting the hamburger toy car from McDonalds.
Eeeek. And noticed that the Shinagawa train map is NOT in English. Will have to calculate fare beforehand.
Bed is hard. But we will will sleep well I'm sure!
Shrimp curry, not bad with 2 large shrimp, little taste of coconut, with long grain rice. Or, fried chicken adobo ish style. Both came with Mac salad, pickle, soybeans, tamago. Finale: mango sorbet!
ANA flt #181 to Narita. Funny thing is the plane does not board by zones, they all just get in line😂amazing Japanese service: complimentary bottles of water, hand towels, children's toys: Emy got a Star Wars airplane and Hayden a deck of cards. Oh yes, first class kakimochi. Not like the bulk cheap crap on the other airlines. BEST of all: FREE beer👏🏼👍🏼❤️🍻🍻🍻. Star Wars, Creed, or Mockingjay? Emy can't stop eating snacks. Good thing I packed plenty!!