Posts Tagged ‘japan’

It was a rainy day, but we decided that we had to go to Kanazawa no matter what. We needed our shopping in Costco.

After 5 rounds of chocolate testing and 3 rounds of saying hello to clam chowder, we bought what we wanted and headed to the place I had been wanting to go: Myoryuji templein 1-2-12 Nomachi, Kanazawa, which is famous as Ninja Temple (Ninja dera). It’s not actually made for ninjas, but it’s full of tricks just like a ninja house. We went through the back gate as we walked along Nishi Chaya, a former geisha district, first.

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Nishi Chaya. There’s a writer’s museum you can visit for free, and this district is famous with its very delicious (yet very expensive) golden chocolate or something like that

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Myoryuji back gate

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Myoryuji front gate

Sorry taking pictures is not allowed inside the temple. It costs 800 yen to enter, please make a booking beforehand (click the link to the website above). Surprisingly the temple provided guide books in so many languages!

Then we proceed to Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of History. I really love this museum because it costs only 300 yen but they provides audio guide in several languages for free. Here I could understand more about Japanese history, which impressed some of my Japanese friends because they didn’t even know some of it.

Bonus for me, it was raining and there were barely anyone but us, so I got to try a beautiful kimono (Japanese women clothing) worn by princesses in the old times. There are several other costumes people can try, BUT they suppose to be for children only. Glad that I knew that later after I took the kimono off.

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Became a Japanese princess. Photo by Suemasa Kyohei.

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My Loco Moco set

We had late lunch at Nanea Hawaiian cafe, where another friend works.

Here’s another recommendation for you if you love food:

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Dai Nana Gyoza no Mise (Dumpling Shop Number 7), 7-120 Onebu, Uchinada-cho, Kahoku-gun, Ishikawa-ken. Anyways it’s not exactly in Kanazawa but pretty close.

I love gyoza so much I ate 17 pieces of them. They have pan fried dumplings (yaki gyoza), deep friend dumplings (howaito gyoza), and steamed dumplings. Just point at the picture! 😛

Mikuni Minato Station is the last station of Mikuni-Awara line of Echizen Train / Echi-tetsu. It’s the closest to Mikuni Sunset Beach, where you can go fishing or surfing as well as watching the beautiful sunset. If you come on August, you can see Fireworks Festival too. Nearby, there’s Yuaport Onsen (hotspring) to experience the Japanese public bath for only 500 yen.

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The classic Mikuni-Minato Station

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kite surfing / kite boarding at Mikuni sunset beach

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Near sunset at Mikuni sunset beach (please pardon my phone camera – the color is uneven because of the lighting)

Walk along the beach (heading northwest) about 300m, you will find stairs going down to Tojinbo Nature Forest walking trail. Follow this path to Tojinbo Cliffs, one of the world’s most beautiful natural cliffs. The sad thing is that so many people come here to commit suicide. Thankfully there are volunteers who always patrol to rescue these people. Their basecamp is a Japanese rice cake /mochi shop near Tojinbo Tower. Then you can walk to Oshima Island, which is famous with its vermilion bridge and as a sacred place.

Other attractions of Mikuni are Echizen Matsushima Aquarium and Mikuni Museum. Mikuni also has beautiful parks with cherry blossoms (sakura) if you come on spring time. Check HERE for events information.

 

Around Mikuni Sunset Beach (Komegawaki area, where I lived)

Mille Graines. It’s a petite cake shop but has really pretty and yummy cakes. My suggestion: ask for seasonal cake or go for the cheese cake. The owner speaks English and a bit French. Open at 11.00 – 19.00. Closed on Sunday – Tuesday.

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One Touch Café. It was a church established by Norwegian missionaries, now run by church staffs (they speak English and some speak Chinese/Mandarin), open on Saturdays 12.00 – 15.00. One set of fine meal and free flow coffee/tea for only 500 yen. Serve limited number of people, so please make reservation. (I’m trying to get the phone number for you. I’ll update this A.S.A.P)

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Meal set example – salad, meatloaf, garlic bun, cake

Port Dijk Coffee. It’s a great spot to watch the sunset. Just up the hill behind One Touch Café. Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Open at 10.00 – 17.00 (or sometimes 18.00). The owner is learning English and really loves talking to new people. The price is quite high though.

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L.A. Surf. Learn surfing or kite surfing/boarding while you’re here. This store is across Port Dijk. The owner speaks English and very active surfer. If he closed the store then he might be at the beach surfing! Best time to surf is autumn to beginning of winter (September-early December).

Tentsuru Noodle Shop. If you go up (heading east) from One Touch Café, then turn right and walk around 100m, you will see “てんつる” sign board. It’s classic Japanese noodle shop which is run by a family. Their katsudon (rice with deep fried pork cutlet and egg) was on the newspaper. There are 3 kinds of Japanese noodles: ramen (Chinese egg noodles), udon (chewy big noodles), and soba (buckwheat noodles). If you’re mainstream, just pick ramen. Otherwise, chikara udon (udon soup with mochi) or tempura soba (soba soup with deep fried seafood/veggies) will be good 🙂 PS. They barely speak English. Closed on Mondays. Open at 17.00 – evening (maybe 22.00 or 23.00).

 

Must Try

Echizen Crab. Get it with other fresh seafood around Mikuni Fish Market (across Mikuni Minato Station) or Tojinbo Cliffs shopping street. Best time to get it is October, when the crab hunting season is on. Usually there’s crab festival on the beach around 2nd week of October.

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Sakka Manjyu. It’s a traditional Japanese bun with sweet and soft mashed red bean inside and hint of sake (Japanese rice wine). The best shop to get it is Nishisaka: walk on the road across Mikuni Station (not Mikuni Minato) – heading southwest- about 200m, it’s on the left side.

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Sakka manjyu from Nishisaka – the mark on the bun shows it

Church / Sunday Service: Sundays 16.00 at The Lighthouse 749, 5-8-3 Komegawaki, next to One Touch Café. For now the 1st to 3rd Sunday service is at a church nearby Mikuni station. They also have a lot of other events like parents-children event, oil painting class, baking class, pizza party, etc. Please ask the church staffs on One Touch Café for more information.

May 2014

Bring a map and go around with JR loop bus 🙂

Higashi Chaya - a tea house district which has the oldest geisha house in Kanazawa

Higashi Chaya – a tea house district which has the oldest geisha house in Kanazawa

When I was in Higashi Chaya, I found a very interesting sushi wrapped in bamboo leaf (chimaki sushi) for lunch, then had soy sauce flavored ice cream with Notto bamboo charcoal wafers. It was random, so I hope you can find it too 🙂

Kanazawa Castle park store house - get the tour guide to explain about the secrets of this castle!

Kanazawa Castle park store house – get the tour guide to explain about the secrets of this castle for free!

the wall structure of Kanazawa castle

the wall structure of Kanazawa castle

Kenroku-en - one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan

Kenroku-en – one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan

Kenroku-en

Kenroku-en – signature place to take picture! 🙂

Kenroku-en - the very old trees that need support

Kenroku-en – the very old trees that need support

Kenroku-en - natural pressure fountain

Kenroku-en – natural pressure fountain

Nagamachi Samurai District

Nagamachi Samurai District

Nomura-ke Samurai House - the samurai harness

Nomura-ke Samurai House – the samurai harness

A samurai family's stable and servant house

A samurai family’s stable and servant house

Check also the ninja temple and the golden leaf factory.

Ramen! :)

Ramen! 🙂

Gyoza - my must eat dish in Japan

Gyoza – my must eat dish in Japan

Place to chill

Cafe Hope - Asahi machi 2-8-38 - www.hopehousekanazawa.com

Cafe Hope – Asahi machi 2-8-38 – http://www.hopehousekanazawa.com

Open during lunch time. Good and affordable meal set, nice service and friendly English speaking staff. Free wifi.

May 2014

An intermezzo. There is a nice park nearby Dejima wharf. I bought a beef croquette and walked around there. Suddenly something snatched my croquette while I was talking to my friend. My friend screamed and I tried to attack the snatcher. Unfortunately, the snatcher flew away. It was a hawk.

Dejima Wharf

Dejima Wharf. Cozy area to hang out with friends

Nagasaki has a tragic history of being bombed during the World War II. A lot of innocents became victims and the stories I read in the memorial were so heart-breaking. However, the people in Nagasaki moved on though they still remember the tragedy. You can go around pretty easily by tram. I chose to walk from the nearest tram station to the sites.

Take time to walk back to the history of Nagasaki….

Atomic Bomb Memorial- the light pillars. There you can find the names of the victims and pray

Atomic Bomb Memorial- the light pillars. There you can find the names of the victims and pray

10,000 cranes for peace

10,000 cranes for peace – almost everyone in Nagasaki knows how to fold paper cranes. They pray as they fold each crane.

The atomic bomb hypocenter

The atomic bomb hypocenter

Fountain of Peace

Fountain of Peace

Peace Statue

Peace Statue

Urakami church - rebuilt after the bomb

Urakami church – rebuilt after the bomb

There are several others places for this historical journey of Nagasaki too in the same area.

megane bridge nagasaki

Megane (spectacles) bridge – the reflection of the bridge on the water makes it looks like spectacles/glasses

Castella sponge cake - the Nagasaki specialty :)

Castella sponge cake – the Nagasaki specialty 🙂

Another specialty you can only find here is kakuni manjyu. It looks like white Chinese steam bun folded with roasted pork in between.

General info * Tokyo Kyoto * Iga Osaka

Day 4: 11 April 2013

I wanted to see Mount Fuji, so I rode the train to Kawaguchiko (lake Kawaguchi) early in the morning.  I alighted at Otsuki station and took Kawaguchiko express to Kawaguchiko station. You can also stop at Fujikyu Highland station.

Kawaguchiko station is both train and bus station. There is tourist information center next to the station. You can put your luggage here ONLY IF you already reserved a hotel. Otherwise, there is a locker room on the other corner of the station. You can rent a locker for JPY 300-500 depends on how big the space you need.

I suggest you to stay overnight here if you have time. There are plenty of places you might want to see, or maybe you want to climb mount Fuji. Try to check out Fuji Royal Hotel Kawaguchiko. They have dorm room and onsen.

I only had around  5 hours in Kawaguchiko, so I asked the direction to Kachi-kachi and anything else I could see during 5 hours. They gave me a map that I regretted my decision no to stay there longer. Kachi-kachi ropeway  is a cable car to Mount Kachi-kachi where you can see Mount Fuji. The roundtrip journey costs JPY 700. There’s a myth that if you can see Mount Fuji clearly, without clouds on the sky, you’ll gonna be lucky!

Then I went to stop no.17 where I could see a lot of Sakura trees blooming near the lake by bus. I wanted to visit an ice cave near lake Saiko, but it might take 4 more hours T,T

Kachi-kachi ropeway station

Kachi-kachi ropeway station

a cafe on top of Mt. Kachi-kachi

a cafe on top of Mt. Kachi-kachi

Mt. Fuji view from Kawaguchiko

Mt. Fuji view from Kawaguchiko

I went back to Tokyo (Shinjuku station) by bus. I read that I could go directly to Kyoto by bus from Kawaguchiko, but it would take 9.5 hours. If I took bus from Kawaguchiko to Shinjuku, then Shinjuku to Kyoto, it would take only 7.5 hours. And… I could spend the night on the bus. It cut the hostel cost.

Shinjuku

Again, a Japanese young woman helped me to find tourist information center on TMG building. I needed the inter-city bus schedule information and asked about Suica card refund because I reloaded it too much.

There is JR office in Shinjuku station where you can refund Suica. Don’t forget to bring your ID. I found a beautiful park on the way to JR bus station. While waiting for the bus, I went to Tokyu Hands building. Just to clean myself up. You should notice that Japanese toilets are clean and there are some interesting buttons on the seat. Some buttons have unique functions like “flushing sound” to cover your “activity noise” on the toilet and seat heater.

somewhere in Shinjuku

somewhere in Shinjuku

toilet buttons

toilet buttons

Expenses

11

Kawaguchiko express   train

1,310

10364

April 

Locker

300

 2013

Kachi-kachi ropeway   (round trip)

700

 

Bus

740

 

Baked potato miso

350

 

Onigiri

136

 

Express bus to   Shinjuku

1,700

 

Dinner set (gyuudon,   tofu, miso soup)

350

 

Snacks (Lawson)

248

 

Coffee

130

 

Night express bus to   Kyoto (Seishun Eco Dream no.7)

4,400

Links: * General info * Tokyo Kyoto * Iga * Osaka

General info * Tokyo Kawaguchiko * Kyoto * Osaka

Day 6: 13 April 2013

I think this is one of the most exciting trip for me. Iga is the former ninja village. You will find “ninjas” everywhere. Yeah, you can rent ninja contume, with the sword! I always want to be a ninja, so I rented one 😀

little ninjas

little ninjas

I found tourist information center in Danjiri Museum. A friendly staff gave me a map and directions. She asked me if I could fill a questionaire, so I said OK. As the result of filling the questionaire, I got a ninja file folder. That’s cool because I needed a file folder to keep my schedule, maps and tickets.

I went to Igaryu Ninja Museum to see the ninja house, weapons, and also ninja performance. There’s a discount ticket if you want to visit Igaryu Ninja Museum, Ueno Castle, and Danjiri Museum. So, I also entered Ueno Castle, a museum and the tallest castle in Japan. Then, Danjiri Museum, where I could wear ninja costume indoor for only JPY 200.

ninja show

ninja show

Ueno castle

Ueno castle

I still had some time left, so I decided to find Murai Bankoen Ninja Cafe. And I found something more than I expected. The owner, Murai Motoharu, is the grandson of a famous real ninja, Murai Soukichi! I was amazed when he told me the history about ninja and his store. You’ll see Murai-san’s collection of ninja weapons and buy ninja souvenirs here. And I agree with someone from Disney who said that Murai-san makes the most delicious green tea soft ice cream in Japan. Murai-san even let me tried ninja supplement that made me feel like a ninja (sorry, I’m still too happy even just to tell story). He popped some firecrackers and shouted “arigatou gozaimashita! Ki wo tsukete!” (thank you! Take care!) as I ran quckly to catch my bus.

Murai Bankoen Ninja Cafe

Murai Bankoen Ninja Cafe

me and Murai-san

me and Murai-san

There should have been a Spring festival, but it’s cancelled. I was extremely happy anyways. Iga city made my day! The best 4 hours of the day!

My suggestion: enter Igaryu Ninja Museum, take picture of Ueno Castle from the outside, rent ninja costume in Danjiri Museum (if you want to walk around the city with the costume, it costs JPY 1,000), buy green tea ice cream at Murai Bankoen.

Download Iga city map here.

Expenses

13

Danjiri museum, Igaryu ninja museum, Ueno castle

1,450

4355

 

Ninja show

300

 

Ninja costume   (indoor)

200

 

Bus

380

 

Locker

200

 

Macha soft ice cream   (Murai Bankouen Ninja Cafe)

250

 

Onigiri

105

 

Train tickets

1,140

 

Dinner (Yoshinoya – curry rice) Osaka

330

Links: * General info * Tokyo * Kawaguchiko * Kyoto * Osaka

General info * Tokyo Kawaguchiko * Iga Osaka

Day 5: 12 April 2013

I arrived at Kyoto station at 6 AM. It was an extremely freezing Spring morning. There was almost nothing I could do that early, so I thought of breakfast. I had ham sandwich and tea at a cafe nearby. Then I walked back to the station and looked around until 8.30, when the tourist information center is open.

Kyoto station

Kyoto station

Kyoto Station is very big. There is a sky garden on the rooftop and they perform light show on the stairs at the evening. I took a bus map and bought one day bus pass on the tourist information center, then ran to catch the train to my first destination, Fushimi Inari. It’s the only destination I reached by train, because the main public transportation in Kyoto is bus.

There are so many places you can visit in Kyoto, but I only have one day, so here are my destinations:

Fushimi Inari. This is an awesome temple with beautiful red gates up to the mountain.

a part of Fushimi Inari

a part of Fushimi Inari

Sanjusangendo. A temple with 1000 Kannon statues. You’re not allowed to take pictures inside the temple.

Nishi Otani Mausoleum.

front of Nishi Otani Mausolem

front of Nishi Otani Mausolem

Kiyomizudera, one of the world heritage site you must visit. You must walk up a bit, but it’s worth to see. You will also find jinrikisha, and ride it if you don’t want to walk.

Kiyomizudera

Kiyomizudera

jinrikisha

jinrikisha

Ginkakuji, the silver temple. Someone told me that Sakura trees are blooming along the road of philisophy (tetsugaku no michi) to Ginkakuji on Spring. But there was almost nothing when I walked there.

Ginkakuji

Ginkakuji

Kinkakuji, the golden temple.

Kinkakuji

Kinkakuji

Nijo castle. Well… I only got to the main gate because it’s already closed…

Gion, the famous geisha district. I visited Yasaka Shrine and met a geisha on Hanami koji street. She walked so fast avoiding the tourists who tried to take her picture.

Yasaka shrine from across

Yasaka shrine from across

food festival on the outdoor of Yasaka shrine

food festival on the outdoor of Yasaka shrine

running away geisha

running away geisha

Expenses

12

Breakfast (ham sandwich   & tea)

450

6280

 

Sanjusangendo &   donation (100)

700

 

Drink (vending   machine) 2x

230

 

Kiyomizudera

300

 

Lunch (Tamago soba)

700

 

Ginkakuji

400

 

Kinkakuji

500

 

Dinner (Omusoba)

500

 

One day bus pass

500

 

Hostel (Sakura Peace   House)

2,000

Links: * General info * Tokyo * Kawaguchiko * Iga * Osaka