This selection of charms, key chain straps or whatever else you want to call them are some of my favourite things I brought back from Japan. There is an elephant, a hamburger mirror, Hello Kitty doughnut, Mr Green Tea Ice Cream man, edamame, Miffy with Sakura, Madeline, a little tea set etc etc and more. Probably once a week or so, I change round what I’ve got on my hand bag, mobile and uni bag. I get to take some little pieces of Japan with me where ever I go. sigh 🙂
Spent some time with Grandad today – we did laps round the ward, practised his exercises and of course read the paper. Hopefully he won’t be at the hospital too much longer and respite care can be found which will make it a little easier in some ways.
Spring Flowers in waiting.
A sizeable number of Primulas have been planted in the front garden beds so there will be Spring flowers again (I said to Mum just after moving back in that I wished she would put plants in the front bed again – her answer to me of course was something along the lines of “you’re old enough to plant the bed yourself” so I did).
Well, we arrived home on Wednesday morning and boy were we relieved to be home. I’m slowly going through all my goodies (about 22 different Kit-Kat flavours just for starters) and even more slowly going through photos. I’m starting to catch up on the 2.5 weeks of Uni I missed as well as work. I’ve found it extremely difficult to read/watch/listen to any more news about what is happening in Japan. I almost burst into tears whilst reading a news article about people waiting for lost loved ones to hopefully be found alive whilst on the bus home the other day. Whilst we we were nowhere near any of the devastation it was just so heavy in the air across Japan during our last few days.
We ended up seeing a lot of places, doing a lot of shopping (oh the shopping), eating all sorts of things (Kobe beef!!! OMG), talking to a random mix of people and most of all enjoying the plum blossoms. We did see some cherry blossoms but personally we prefer the perfume from the plum blossoms (we were talking to a volunteer guide at the Osaka Castle Gardens and he said that that preference is quite common amongst westerners).
Well we are now at our third night in Tokyo and whoa what a city it is. People watching, shopping and walking has been done not so much “proper sightseeing” but that is coming.
We had rain through the night last night and woke up to it snowing this morning, it continued up until midday’ish. The snow melted pretty quickly but it was nice for that little while.
The shops, whoa. It as all about variety and then some more. In some way I like the limited ranges of things back home. For example you want a pair of nail clippers; back home you probably have about 5 or so to pick from in a shop, here we were in one big electronics store and I kid you not there would have been at least 70 different types!
Still we’ve been having a ball and tomorrow is the halfway mark 🙁 :-).
Mum, the baking powder photo is for you, does it look familiar?
Cherry blossom season is getting quite close and the shops are filling with cherry blossom/sakura themes items (no Kit-Kats yet 🙁 )but I have had the cherry blossom frappacino from Starbucks and mmm it is very nice, will try the lattes soon.
Tomorrow we are doing more of the sane from the last few days and going to karaoke tomorrow night with a bunch of people from the hostel.
Today, we are certain will be the most memorable day in Japan. It started with waking to snow falling softly outside our window and just continued.
We rugged up and had a stroll round the streets of Togura Kamiyamada Onsen, where we are staying on a traditional Japanese ryokan. The snow was so peaceful and pretty.
We then packed up for the day. 2 layers of thermal bottoms were the key. We were going to see the snow monkeys!Â Our hosts very kindly lent us gumboots – 2 sizes too small but they would prove to be a godsend in the snow.
It kept snowing lightly as we left Togura station and was getting heavier as we came into Nagano. We grabbed coffees on the way through the station and got the bus heading to Shiga Kogen. The snow got heavier and heavier and most importantly the outside got whiter and whiter.
After about 40 mins we were dropped at the side of the road at Kanbayashi Onsen Iriguchi and quickly piled on more clothes and the gumboots as the snow was everywhere.Â We walked up th hill to the start of the trail that heads up to Jigokudani Yaenkoen where the monkeys hang out and stopped for many photos along the way.
Oh the snow.
We walked through a pine forest which we just kept saying things like “whoa” “It’s so pretty” “sigh” “look at that snow” it was quite possibly the most beautiful track I’ve walked on.
The snow continued to fall and we stuck our tongues out from time to time to catch snow flakes.
Then we came to the monkeys, OMG so cool seeing them swimming, bathing, playing and grooming in the Onsen. They were such posers.Â We walked back down the other side of the river on a road that is closed in winter. Oh so pretty. We made an armless snow person, snow balls and generally enjoyed the moment.
This took us down into a real old fashioned Onsen town – Shibu Onsen.
We then got the newly opened Snow Monkey express trainÂ into Nagano where we had a good preliminary look in a book shop and a department store. Oh the stationary! We grabbed a late lunch from the food hall and then got the train back to Togura where we had a cup of green tea then we walked round the corner to a foot Onsen to revive our sore and weary feet (the gumboots were great but they were tight).
Back to the ryokan where we would be having an amazing traditional meal served in our room. There were 12 different dishes/courses ! OMG it was incredible and it cost us about $35. Similar in Brisbane would be $200 plus we guess. We are getting the matching breakfast in the morning 🙂
I will post photos and more text about the meal when we get home. Tomorrow we are going to see a piggy bank museum and some other local shops before we get on the train to Tokyo.
This is my Kit-Kat currently as it stands on day 4. We have 5 regional packs, 1 standard and a fun size bag which has two types of green tea Kit-Kats.Â We will pick up a miss soybean paste regional pack when we head back through Nagoya in a couple of days.
We are really hoping to find cherry blossom Kit-Kats in Tokyo as we can get cherry blossom frappacinos at Starbucks and pink noodles at some grocery stores.
Here us to Kit-Kats