Archive for July, 2007

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Monday, July 23rd, 2007

We went out to Izu peninsula this weekend which was great fun. We went with Ani and Hideo, Anne and Jani. We found a pension in Shimoda (下田) which was really close to the beach – a few minutes walk.

On the Saturday we went to the aquarium which was a bit expensive and not too interesting. We had a great dinner in Shimoda though. Fresh fish! Yum!

Here’s a shot of the group:

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And here’s one of the girls:

The girls!

The rooms in the pension were very nice and we had a western style room, as did Anne and Jani, while Ani and Hideo had the Japanese-style room (washoku).
It rained most of the weekend, but on Sunday it let up for a bit, so we were able to have fun at the beach. It was overcast the whole time, but we still managed to get a sunburn!

On the drive home, we went through a great spiral bridge which was a feat of engineering! Check out a picture of the bridge here.

Hakone trip

Sunday, July 1st, 2007

We had a terrific trip to Hakone this weekend. We left work early on Friday and headed up in the rain. Fortunately it stopped raining after a while and we had a quick trip up there.

Ani and Hideo rented a log cabin in the woods for us, which was great fun. We had a barbeque waiting for us when we got up there. Far too much meat! We only ate half of it.

The kids loved the cabin. Thick wood buildings with a second-story, more like an attic, where I slept. The kids loved going up and down the ladder, which concerned the parents a bit. Nevertheless, everybody climbed safely and there were no accidents. Interesting is that the vending machines sold beer and milk! So we had milk in the morning!
The next day we walked down to the water’s edge and went to the aquarium that was there. It wasn’t very big, but near the entrance they had a huge glass tank, with very clear water and tonnes of fishies swimming about. The kids moved on quickly though to the seal area and the crabs. Evan’s always been afraid of the crabs in the markets, but he was fine here. Then we went outside to feed the Koi and geese. Lauren and Julia really loved that!

After the aquarium we took a boat ride on Ashi no ko. We’ve done it before, but the lake was crystal clear and the air was as clear as could be from the night’s rain. The clouds floated around the matsu trees, almost reminded me of NZ. The other thing that struck me was how green everything was. Granted, Hakone has been really well maintained and organised not to have too many buildings, but everything was really, really green.

After the trip and a lunch, we headed out to Yunessun spa, still in the pouring rain. It didn’t matter that it was raining though, since the natural hot water offset the cool of the rain.

Yunessun is a massive pool/spa area. They’ve got lots of fun rides for the kids (slides, water works, waterfalls etc.) and heaps of other novelty things. There’s a rather famous “fishie” pool, where the fish nibble on the bits of your toes, eating all the gunk from your feet! Unfortunately I didn’t notice that they’re only open certain times and I missed the last opening. Oh well. We got to try the “curry” bath, which was a light green batch, rather than a yellow/brown one.

We headed over to the onsen which is a bit more for adults and we swam through the coffee bath, o-chya (green tea), atsuji (hydrangea) bath, wine and sake bath. There were a few more with frangrances I couldn’t figure out. All very very cool. My favourite was the atsuji bath, which had a lovely blossomy fragrance. The wine bath was very odd, since our appendages were a light pink colour!

The whole onsen area was newly renovated and looked spectacular. There were lots of places to sit and dry yourself under the heat lamps and lots of waterfalls everywhere. It was a bit too bad that it was raining, otherwise we would have taken some pictures. It’s not that often one sits in a vat of coffee!

We had a sukiyaki for dinner back at the lodge (again far too much food, but we ate most of it) and I really enjoyed dipping the meat into the raw egg. Nicole wouldn’t do that though.

The kids were late to bed both nights! Friday night at 11 and Saturday by 10:30. On Sunday morning, the kids slept to 9am. Poor Ani was awake with the kids since 6am or so. :(

Sunday, Hideo had a golf match in Chiba, so he left by 5am. Nevertheless, we checked out (late) and went to Motohakone for some swan rides (paddled out to the floating torii) and then a walk around Hakone Motomiya (Hakone shrine). Evan fell while chasing the flags and scraped up his knee pretty badly. So I had to carry him around a bit. A nice lady gave us some plasters for it, and after that he was fine. Until he scraped up his thigh playing soccer. :(

After Hakone, we went to Odawara castle, which was really neat. They had just picked all the irises (irie?) from the moat, so the outside was looking a bit bare, but the inside was great. They had monkeys and peacocks and even an elephant up near the castle! Amazing! The kids loved it. The elephant was a bit of a jokester and he got some of the tourists really wet with water from his trunk! Very funny.

We had lunch at a restaurant up there and then went to the play centre. There were racing cars for the kids to ride (Julia was too small) and the riding games were only 30 yen each! Amazing. Usually they’re like 200 yen around Yokohama/Tokyo! The amusement rides were also only 80 yen. We went on the little train (kaikishya) too, which was good fun.

As usual, it was a slow slog home, but the kids were pretty good in the car and didn’t make too much of a fuss. In all, a wonderful weekend!