Lilypie - First Birthday

Monday, June 29, 2015

Tokyo Trip Day 2: Mt. Tenjo Kachi-Kachi Ropeway and Kawaguchiko Herb Festival

Since it was a beautiful day outside, we took a short stroll by the lakeside from our hotel to the Mt. Tenjo Kachi-Kachi Ropeway. The area was blooming with all sorts of hydrangea blossoms, pink and blue, in various shades and sizes. Mom was happily chirping all the way about how beautiful the surrounding scenery was.

Mt. Tenjo Kachi-Kachi Ropeway

We bought the round-trip tickets for the Kachi-Kachi cable car ride, it cost 700 yen per pax. The view of the lake and the surrounding mountains from the top was awesome.

On the top, there was a little shop selling ice-cream, roasted ricecakes, drinks and souvenirs. We bought an iced peach drink and a blue Mt. Fuji popsicle. It was really refreshing as the day was quite hot. However, although the day was bright and sunny, clouds were blocking our view of Mt. Fuji.:-(

Supposed to see Mt. Fuji behind us but it was blocked by clouds :-(

There is a funny story about Mt. Kachi-Kachi:

①Once upon a time there was an old man and an old woman living together peacefully.
②One day they found a raccoon eating the seeds that they just sown in the mountain. On the next They laid the snare to catch the raccoon.
③The caught raccoon apologized for what he had done so they forgave him. However the raccoon betrayed them and killed the old woman.
④A rabbit , a good friend of the old man and the old woman, promised to revenge him.
⑤The rabbit and the raccoon went to the mountain to gather the firewood. On the way they come back, the rabbit set a fire on the firewood of the raccoon's back and the raccoon got burned on his back.
⑥On the next day the rabbit and the raccoon went into the river however only raccoon's boat
sank because his boat was made of mud. The rabbit got his revenge!

We also hiked a slight way up the mountain (around 15 mins) to take a look at a shrine. However, it was not really a proper shrine... kinda disappointed. The view from among the forests was not too bad though. It was a good mother-daughter bonding moment.

When it was about time to alight from the mountain, mom found out that she had lost our ropeway tickets! However, someone at the ticket booth had found it and kept it for us. We were sooooo impressed by their Japanese honesty!

Kawaguchiko Herb Festival

While checking-in our hotel earlier, I saw a poster about the Kawaguchiko Herb Festival. Thus we took the retro-bus to Lake Yagasaki where the festival was held. Once we got there, we were awestruck by the beauty of the place! Rows and rows of lavender fields were in full bloom. I had always heard about how beautiful the lavender season is in Japan and I thank God that I got to see this wonderful view by chance. Other than lavender fields, there were also hundreds of hydrangeas blooming everywhere. We took millions of pictures until my camera battery died. Mom and I also shared a lavender icecream.

There was a live performance by a "natural artist" playing instrumental music on his keyboards. It was like a background soundtrack to the beautiful surroundings of lavender fields and Lake Kawaguchi. I wrote a few words describing the scenery in my Instagram video:

"Listen to the wind blowing
Through the lavender fields
Ripples on the lake
The music in the garden"

Tokyo Trip Day 2: Kawaguchiko Station and Hotel

It was already as bright as day at 4.30am early in the morning in Tokyo. Luckily for the rising sun, we got up early and took a taxi from our hotel to Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal, hoping to catch the 7.40am bus to Fuji-Kawaguchiko (富士山河口湖).

There are two ways to get to Kawaguchiko, either by train or by bus. Taking the train is more expensive and it would take longer to get there. So I opted for the bus ride, which cost 1700 yen per pax and takes around 1 hour 45 mins journey. 

Bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko information:

After a pleasant ride on the bus, we arrived at Kawaguchiko Station. The station itself is a pleasant little place to visit, it comprises:- tourist information center, highway bus/ retro bus/ train ticket counter, restaurant, souvenir shop, locker storage, restrooms, etc. We had our breakfast there and were busy eating the special flavoured icecreams. We also bought almost all of our souvenirs there, they were so reasonably priced compared to Tokyo!

I also bought the hop-on-hop-off 2 day pass retro bus ticket from the bus station for 1500 yen each. The retro bus is such a cheap and convenient way to travel around Lake Kawaguchiko (red line) and Lake Saiko (green line) area. The bus stops are numbered properly throughout the map and you need only check with the bus driver where you are going once you board the bus.

Some pictures of Kawaguchiko Station:

Our second stay was at Hotel Koryu, right beside Lake Kawaguchi. My mom and I had a very enjoyable stay there. Although a bit old-fashioned, the place was kept tidy and clean. The staff were pleasant and kind and could understand some basic English. The hotel is breastfeeding friendly - there was a freezer in our room to store the breastmilk. The room we stayed in was spacious and had all the facilities required - even a couple sink! The best part about the hotel is that they have 3 onsens - 2 public and 1 private. That means we didn't need to go out in search of an onsen, we could indulge in the onsen whenever we wanted! Also, we didn't even need to book the private onsen (3000 yen for 50 minutes), we had the 2nd floor onsen practically all to ourselves! The onsen is sooooooooo nice and relaxing. A slight disadvantage is that we couldn't view Mt. Fuji from the hotel itself.. but just a short 5-min walk down the road would suffice to see Fuji on a clear day.

Our room:

I love the thick, comfy futons and  sleeping on tatami mat. After coming out from hot onsen, dressed in yukata, turn on the air-con in the room and cover myself with the futons and go to dreamland... ahhhhh the feeling is just soooooooo heavenly!!!

The second-floor onsen:
There is a lovely pink rose blooming in the onsen

I really wished that we could have done Tokyo first and put Kawaguchiko at the last days of our trip. It would have made such a relaxing and enjoyable end to our trip.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Tokyo Trip Day 1: Harajuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo Tower

My company had a mid-year shutdown, so I decided to visit Tokyo for 6D5N together with my mom. It was the rainy season (梅雨季节) in the beginning of July, so we went prepared with umbrellas. 

I bought return tickets from KLIA2 <-> Narita Airport for RM2032.15 for two people. We took the midnight flight and reached Narita Airport Terminal 2 at around 8.30am. We had our breakfast set in the station which cost about 360yen each.

After breakfast, we took the Narita Express (N'EX) to Shinjuku Station. They are having a promotion where round-trip tickets cost 4000yen. But I had already bought my Keisei Skyliner tickets for the last day travel to airport, so I could only buy the one-way N'EX ticket which cost 3180yen per pax.

Narita Express (N'EX) info:

Our first stay was at Sunroute Hotel Higashi Shinjuku. One mistake I made was not taking a taxi from Shinjuku Station to Higashi Shinjuku Station. It would have saved us much time and effort, especially when we had to lug around those heavy suitcases... The hotel itself is a very nice business-type, clean and located at a very convenient location. It is on the Toei-Oedo line, same line as Akabanebashi Station (to see Tokyo Tower) and Roppongi. Of course, as the name implies, it is very near to Shinjuku Station too.

After dumping our luggage in the room, it was already 1pm. We had to meet my friend Kelly at 3pm at Shinjuku, so we only had time to go to either Harajuku or Shibuya. Since it was a Sunday, I decided to go see the Harajuku girls. 

We ate strawberry chocolate ice-cream crepe and takoyaki at Harajuku. While walking aimlessly following the crowd, we chanced upon the busiest road in Harajuku -- Takeshita Dori! However, we missed out visiting Meiji Shrine and Shibuya's busiest pedestrian crossing. Well, as I always say to myself, there's always next time...

We met Kelly at Shinjuku! True to what she described to me, Shinjuku is only a place with many tall buildings... haha... so we walked around the underground shopping department stores instead. I was so happy to find my kid's wooden plate (500 yen) and bowl (300 yen) and stuff at Natural Kitchen near Odakyu Department Store. It is like a zakka store with many cheap and beautiful items. We also bought a lot of food from Odakyu Department Store to pack back to the hotel for our dinner. After dinner, we were so tired and took a rest in our hotel.

After an hour or so, we decided not to waste the night and went to explore a bit on the streets outside our hotel. It was kinda boring, so luckily we decided to take the 15 min train ride to Akabanebashi Station to see the Tokyo Tower!!! It is soooooooo beautiful, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

After Tokyo Tower we went to the 7-11 across from our hotel and bought Ippudo Ramen pack and milk as our supper.