Onsen We’re Gonna Miss You

Our last day in Japan today. Our flight wasn’t until 6pm, so we packed up our stuff, had our regular set breakfast at Andon, stored our luggage and headed out.

We had discovered there was an onsen in close proximity to us. We got out of the train at Sugamo station, and had a bit of a wander trying to find a morning snack before heading to the onsen. We stumbled across a shopping street, and realised we had been here before on a previous trip, except last time we caught the cute little street car that runs from near Andon. We stopped in to a pickle shop for some pickled cucumbers as a snack. We got served them on little plates and sat on a small seat in the shop to eat them.

Then we headed for Sakura onsen and soaked our weary bodies. It was really nice there, and after our baths we decided to have lunch at their restaurant.

After lunch we wandered down the shopping street. Then we headed back to Andon (via the street car) to pick up our luggage and say our goodbyes.

Then it before we knew it we were on the Skyliner train headed for Narita airport.

See you next time Japan.

As we were flying in to Hong Kong, the view looked really cool and slightly eerie. You could just see the mountains in the darkness, and there were low lying clouds and the lights of Hong Kong, it all just looked awesome. The photo doesn’t really do it any justice.


Better than Nikko

We visited Yanaka today. The sun was shining and it was a lovely warm day. Last time we were in Yanaka it was freezing. We were so cold a lady on the street gave us free hot chestnuts to warm us up. We wandered around a bit, and we a bit disappointed to find most of the little galleries closed because it’s Monday, and that’s when galleries are closed apparently. Never mind, our favourite cafe Kayaba was open and not crazy busy so we went in for lunch. We even managed to get a spot upstairs. 

Then we wandered to the Ye olde shopping street and looked at things. It’s a popular place for cats to gather, but alas, there were no cats present today. Yanaka is a bit bonkers for cats. Luckily Blainie was wearing her cat cardigan so she fit right in.

Then we headed for Nezu Shrine. We had never been there before, but decided to go because we keep seeing on NHK. We thought it would be just small, but we we pleasantly surprised to find it was big and really quite cool. And there was an Azalea Flower festival on – which was pretty amazing.


Then we headed for Ueno, and walked through Ueno park. We hadn’t been to parts of the park since our first trip in 2005, so that was a bit weird. They seem to be doing a lot of work and sprucing things up a bit. We saw a cat in a tree.

It got cold and rainy in the evening, we had Dinner at a Yakitori place in Ueno and then headed home. Not before picking up some cute donuts first though.


Two teaspoons and a pair of tweezers

It was a blustery, rainy day today. So we decided to go and see the Pixar exhibition that is currently on at the Museum of Contempory Art. Problem is the rest of Tokyo had the same idea. 

We eventually got in and it was very good and interesting. No photos inside though, so here’s one of the sign and one of Mike & Sulley from Monsters Inc.

After looking at all the things, lunch was in order. So we set out in the wind and rain to check out some of the cafes in nearby Kiyosumi Shirakawa. Apparently it was once a bit of a run down suburb, but recently lots of cafes have started to open up. It didn’t take us long to stumble across Allpress Esspresso. It looked good and it was cold outside, so we went in. Good coffee and tasty food.

The sun was almost out by now, so we had a bit of a wander around. We found a cute shop that sold lots of cute things. Blainie bought two teaspoons and a set of tweezers.

Then we headed back to Andon for a bit of a rest and costume change. Then we headed for the bright lights of Shinjuku, where we were going to the 8 Bit Cafe. A cool bar that is themed with all things nerdy and video gamey. We have wanted to go there for years, but never quite made it. Tonight a Japanese band we like – YMCK were playing a show with some other bands, and we managed to reserve tickets for it (although we were a bit worried that we hadn’t done it properly and we weren’t going to get in) Luckily, we did get in and the venue and the gig were AWESOME! So good. The first band P.O.P. gave out free beers to the audience. Blainie managed to schnaffle a Hadouken Street Fighter beer. Good stuff.

We had a great night. Gigs in Japan are the best. Then we caught the subway home and picked up some late night dinner at the local supermarket.


Yuba Yuba You Bet

Today went to Nikko. It has only taken us 10 years to do this. Nikko is about 2 hours out of Tokyo. We have always wanted to go but never quite made it. So today was the day.

When we got there we found a Hello Kitty shop.

We headed up to the temple area, and got stiffed by paying to walk out on the ‘famous’ red bridge. We felt a bit like foolish tourists.

Then we went to look at some of the fancy shrines. A lot of them were under wraps being fixed up and stuff. That was fine, but it was so busy and the push to buy souvenirs was a little more that we normally like.

We had enough after a while, and headed back into the town. Blainie made a phone call.

We had lunch. The Nikko specially it is Yuba. Yuba is skimmed from the top of soy milk when tofu is being made.Blainie loves Yuba. We had Yuba lunch sets andBlainie had a Nikko beer.

There was actually a festival going on in Nikko while we wee there. They gave out  free sake.

We headed back in to Tokyo after all that and had a very late dinner at Tokyo Soup Stock. And then cake.


Waiting for Gyoza the 2016 Remix

This morning we headed for Omotosando in search of coffee, galleries and cute little shops. We had an early lunch set at an awesome cafe called A to Z. Not only was it super cute, it was filled with cool artwork by Yoshimoto Nara. Their lunch set was fabulous, and we just couldn’t resist the desserts.

Then we checked out a small gallery called Spiral Gallery. It had a shop, restaurant and a small exhibition of felted dogs. Some of them looked real.

We found the Crunchy Roll office, but it didn’t look like we were allowed in.

And Blainie found her favourite shop (again)

And we are just not sure about the name of this coffee product :/

Then we visited a place called Commune 246. It’s basically a bunch of food vans and pop up food vendors set up with some tables etc We had planned to have a beer and dinner here, but the weather turned a bit windy and cold, and it wasn’t entirely pleasant sitting outside. We had a coffee, and then some taco rice, before moving on.

Then (after not finding it earlier in the day) we found this place called Urasando Garden. It’s an old house converted into some shops and food places. One of the shops is a stationary shop called Kakimori and one of the things they offer is the ability to make your own notebook. You get to choose the cover, types of paper for the pages, binding etc etc Blainie could not turn down this opportunity. But it was all a bit overwhelming for a bit – how to choose!?!!

Once she had finally decided, the shop keeper assembles it all for you. We were told it would take about 20 minutes or so, so we went for a look around and found a sake bar downstairs. We took our shoes off, sat on the tatami and enjoying a couple of delicious sakes before it was time to pick up the notebook. 

Then we wandered to Harajuku and had a bit of a look around, then decided the only sensible thing to do w to have Gyoza for dinner. We found the place we went to last year, and it didn’t look too busy, so we thought we would go in. Then we realised that it was indeed busy and there was quite a line. But it was too late, we had our hearts set on Gyoza. So we stood in line. In the end it was probably only about 20 minutes. Not so bad really, when you consider the delciousness at the end.


Koko wa doko?

Today we left Hiroshima and said goodbye to the Dormy Inn.

We also met up briefly with Taryn, Mike and the girls for a coffee before we headed back to Tokyo.

Then we caught the Shinkansen  to Shin-Osaka. We ate cakes on the train.

At Shin- Osaka we changed to the slowest Shinkansen in the world (stopping ALL stations) to Tokyo. We ate delicious bento, and then we sat for about 3 hours or more….

We tried to see Mt Fuji from the train but it was hiding behind clouds. We saw a tiny part of it. We eventually made it to Tokyo and checked in to our accomodation. 

Then we went and had ramen for dinner at a nearby ramen place called Toybox. It was very good.

Then we decided to walk to Asakusa. We saw the temples and wandered around a bit, then on the way back got lost. We managed to find a subway station and got home eventually.