Japan 2015 – Part 1

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I recently spent a whole week in Tokyo, Japan, to visit my cousin. Our trip started in Incheon Airport, Korea, and we took a Jeju Air flight to Narita Airport.

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Our first dinner was at a tonkatsu restaurant located near the airport bus-stop at Tokyo Station. I didn’t get the name of the restaurant, but it was located at the top floor of a department store building.

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The tonkatsu sauce came in small and adorable clay pots, and we doled it out in wooden ladles, like the ones you can find in Japanese temples.

We stayed the night at the Tachikawa Grand Hotel, a small business hotel located a 5-minutes walk from Tachikawa Station. Tachikawa Station isn’t too close to the center of Tokyo, or Shinjuku, but it was close to where my cousin lived. It was also a very affordable and clean hotel, with friendly English-speaking staff and a delicious breakfast buffet selection.

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The next day, we had some time before we had to get on the Romancecar to Hakone, an onsen town east of Shinjuku. So we hung out at Granduo, a small department store right next to the Tachikawa Station. The 5th/6th floor was a lot of fun, with lots of cute Japanese zakka and stationery for sale.

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Soon enough, it was time to board the Romancecar to Hakone. The train would take us straight from Shinjuku Station to Hakone, a town designated by UNESCO as a GeoPark, and famous for its various onsen resorts.

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Our train ride took us about 2 and a half hours, and I enjoyed a cold fruit and sakura flower popsicle on the way.

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From the Romancecar Station, we got on the mountain train for about 30 minutes and finally got to our destination – Gora Station. Our onsen, Tokinoyu Setsugetsuka, was located conveniently right next to the station. A traditional onsen, we had a lovely view of the mountains and a large and spacious room. We also could borrow yukatas to wear around the onsen grounds.

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We even had our own private wooden bathtub on the balcony!

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In addition to our rented yukatas, we also could borrow these adorable wooden baskets that we used to carry our spare clothes and underwear in when we went to the onsen.

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The onsens are divided by genders, but there are three small private onsen houses where you could go with your significant other if you chose. The gender-segregated onsens are, however, much bigger, with several washing stations and a large variety of tubs with different types of water and different temperature. There were even two tubs located outdoors, so you could enjoy the weather as well. I would have loved to be here during the winter, and enjoyed the hot bath while it snowed, just like the pictures, but unfortunately it was the middle of the summer, so it was a little bit on the warmer side. Obviously, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the onsens since we had to strip naked, but believe me, it was a lot of fun and very well-maintained.

The ryokan also gave us a hearty dinner meal. It was comprised of several courses, including…

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…various appetizers and shabu-shabu vegetables and meats…

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…tempuras…

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…sushi…

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…and even dessert!

While we were eating, we experienced a very short but strong (to us, at least!) earthquake! Apparently we were the only ones concerned about it though, since everybody carried about their business as usual.

The ryokan also provided us with free snacks throughout the entire day, including udon noodles and little Japanese orange jellies. They also had a little Japanese-styled lounge where we could enjoy a cup of coffee or tea. Despite the earthquake during the meal, we managed to enjoy all the food…to the point of bursting! The ryokan also provided us with another delicious and uber-hearty breakfast…but that’s for another post 🙂

Signing off,
Marie

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