A week spent in Tokyo and the Izu Peninsula
Parks in Tokyo
We had already visited Hong Kong (12)
arranged for an 8 day stop over in Japan before we returned to
Canada. We have tried other ways of doing this - last year
we visited Okinawa
middle of a Hong Kong (11)
trip. Two years before that, we arrived first in Japan (5)
and then went on to Hong Kong (9)
trip (inside of trip to Hong Kong) actually has another trip
inside - we are mostly in Tokyo, but we are taking a long weekend
trip to the Izu Peninsula, close to Tokyo.
We arrived late Monday night. We were already over out jet
lag from Canada (we were actually waking up an hour late) so I
figured some outside time walking would be good to orient
ourseleves. We lucked out with the timing - we arrived right
in prime Cherry Blossom time. Our first destination - Meiji
Shrine - has cherry blossoms, but I went to the wrong entrance and
we missed it all.
From the side we entered, the signature feature is the road
covered in trees like it is a tunnel. On a sunny day you get
beams of light coming through the holes in the foliage making for
blotches on the road. Walking down the road (and a turn) you
come to the temple complex. The temple is old but is always
being maintained so today it actually looked quite new.
We walked out of the park into Harajuku where we looked for lunch.
After lunch we took a taxi to Shinjuku park.
This park is a hot spot for cherry blossom
viewing and the crowds were out in full force. Many of the
people here are tourists from other parts of Asia.
The cherry blossoms in Vancouver are quite pink - I was surprised
how white many of the trees are here. In Vancouver, we have
several varieties of trees, some boom early and some bloom
late. The park seemed to be organized so that everything is
blooming at the same time.
We had just eaten lunch so we purchased cookies from a stand and
hand a snack under the cherry blossoms.
We took the subway to Tokyo Station and
after a bit of searching (there was construction) we found the JR
bus station to catch a bus to the Tokyo Disney parks. The
total trip got us there around 9:30am and I was surprised by the
massive crowds that were already in the park.
Our trip to Japan happened at the end of a school semester so
there was no good day to go to DisneySea. We tried a
Wednesday hoping it would be least busy, but it was the best of a
bad situation. We knew from reading online that your best
strategy is to collect some fast passes early and then get in
lines that are reasonable until your fast pass comes up. The
Toy Story ride we knew was going to be hot, but we really had no
idea - by 9:40 when we arrived, there were no more fast passes and
the line up was 220 minutes long - almost four hours. We
were seriously dejected.
We decided to go to the Mermaid Lagoon to get some tickets for the
show. We had much more luck there - fast passes available
about an hour later and the rides had roughly a 30 minute line
up. The kids and Helen lined up for a ride and I went
to get fast passes for the Nemo and Friends SeaRider. By
11am, the SeaRider fast passes were for 4 hours later.
We watched the King Triton Show which
mostly involved a mermaid on high wires flying around while a
musical performance went on.
We were a little worried about long lineups at lunch so we had
lunch early and then went to the Arabian Coast part. The
rides were smaller scale, but the line ups were short. The
kids have a soft spot for carousels.
There was a magic carpet ride, very similar to the dumbo ride in
Hong Kong Disneyland. We actually got into trouble - they
have a sign asking you not to take photos but we ignored it.
They actually stopped the ride to remind us of the rule. Our
We saw the Nemo Ride, watched a water parade and then had time for
one last ride. We picked the gondola ride in the Italy
section of the park.
Three years ago, we went to Hakone.
Hakone is about an hour away by train from Tokyo and it feels much
like Whistler does relative to Vancouver - a busy weekend spot
where wealthy people play. This trip we picked Izu - we were
hoping for a bit more of the small town Japan feel. We
picked a place on AirB&B and rented a car from the closest
Shinkansen station. Weekend set!
It took us a bit of time to find the house (the host kindly met us
at the train station and showed us the last few km). The
kids wanted some quiet time so I went for a brief walk with Mark
along a part of the Jogasaki Coast.
One of the nice things about renting a
house is that you can almost have a normal life - cook as you
like, take a bath and read by the fire. Finding alternative
vegetarian protein (other than tofu) doesn't happen in a small
town, but everything else could be like home.
Mark gave us a reasonable "9am" go time but the kids and I were up
earlier. Some birds were in the trees around the home.
For our "all in Izu" day, we decided to go
with more of that natural attractions. Our first stop a
Cherry Blossom park at the base of Mt. Omuro. The near by
parking lots were nuts (but free!) but this was by far the best
cherry blossom viewing we saw outside of town proper.
We did some family photos. We certainly weren't alone.
It was still pretty early in the day, but a few stands had already
opened selling things. Mark got a coffee, I decided to try
the grilled Shiitake mushrooms. Nice eating! These
were grilled from fresh with what I thought was a dashi
sauce. Well before lunch they were already having trouble
keeping up with orders.
We got back in the car and drove 5 minutes down the road to Mount
Omuro. There is a sky lift style ride to the top of the
mountain. Once you are the top you can walk the paved path
around the caldera, taking in the views of the surrounding
countryside and the inside of the now extinct volcano.
The path way is on the highest part of the ridge around the
volcano so everyone walking shows up as a silhouette in pictures
of the volcano. The entire landscape is covered in short
grass or small shrubs so there is no limit to the views.
There was a small gift shop a the top of the
lift and traditional archery was offered in the bottom, but most
of the experience was just going for a walk. I really
The roads in Izu aren't large so you do want to optimize your
route. I picked
because it was on the way to other
falls. The trip started promising (large road) but after a
few minutes we were on a single lane twisty road going through the
forest. We came out in a small town and drove on road
through farmers fields up to Banjo falls. The parking lot
was quite big with areas roped off for buses. We were one of
two cars in the lot.
We walked down the trail and found the
falls. All of the rocks behind the falls are cemented into
place and the trail that went behind the falls has now been
There was more hiking, but we were running out of time. Next
tourist attraction! Our next stop is Joren Falls, maybe 25
minutes down the road. This had a larger parking lot with
lots of gift shops (all closing at 4pm). The falls are
attractive, but the area has been highly developed.
The next morning I got before everyone else and took a walk to see
more of the Jogasaki Coast. You can walk for kilometers
along the coastal trail, but I didn't have time for that.
There was a free parking lot near the train station and a trail
next to the river to take you to the coast. A brief walk
along the trail and you come to Oshima falls. The river you
walked along just drops into the ocean and there is a nice
headland to take in the view.
Further down the coast is Oyodo Reef - an outcropping of Columnar
Basalt that was once cooling lava in a volcano but is now ocean
front. A steep set of stairs takes you to shore and you can
see the ocean pouring over the hexagonal rock.
The rock isn't
perfectly regular hexagonal columns, but it's still pretty to look
Back home, we packed up and left our AirB&B. Today our
plan was to drive down the eastern side of the peninsula, see some
sights and then return to Atami to drop off the car and get on the
Shinkansen back to Tokyo. Our first destination of the day
was a small farmers market in Inatori.
Googling a "Farmers Market" in
Japan doesn't really work - you usually find stores selling produce
from Japan. If you are looking for a market with
lots of vendors that are local, you need to search for "Market" and
then sort out everything else. Helen found what we would call
a farmers market - lots of local vendors selling locally produced
produce, food and items.
I must admit, I am a sucker for anything steaming. Mark found
a vendor that had a sweet desert style bun so we picked one
up. Helen found locally harvested seaweed which the kids
Lunch at 万宝商店
Helen's guide book
from Hong Kong came through for us for lunch. This small
restaurant looks like a converted carport and illegal add on to
someone's house. They have a grill on one of the tables and a
large display fridge showing locally caught and marinated fish and
other seafood. You pick your items (all meat), they BBQ them
and if you ask nice they will give you white rice as well. The
fish was so nice, the kids ate it even though they didn't recognize
Back in Tokyo
The kids had been traveling for about three
weeks at this point and they were quite reluctant to try new
things. We thought we would try conveyor belt sushi and Mark
suggested a Genki Sushi in Shibuya. Genki Sushi is a
multi-national chain (it's quite popular in Hong Kong - we
actually had lunch in one earlier in the trip). This Genki
sushi is a bit special. Instead of a conveyor belt, it has a
point to point, multi-level rail system that delivers your orders
to your table.
It had been a few days since the kids had been to a playground we
saw on the map there was one in Shinjuku Chuo Park near the
Metropolitan building complex. We walked over from Mark's
place and found lots of kids using it. The kids had a good
We had one last day in Tokyo and were
looking for a kid friendly thing to do. We picked a small
aquarium in Tokyo called Sumida Aquarium, which I was quite
surprised to find on the roof of a 6 story building. They
have traditional huge tanks (which must take some pretty crazy
structure to support 6 stories up in an earth quake zone).
They also have penguins in a novel tank that makes it appear as if
they flying. Seeing Penguins swim above you was quite an
interesting experience. The penguins can get out of their
tank an into a land/burrow area. You can get surprisingly
close to the penguins which don't seem to mind people being so
Tags: Japan(59), Tokyo(19), cherry blossoms(11), theme park(8), restaurant(6), playground(6)
People: Claira(19), Nara(14), Mark(3), Helen(2), John(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > Japan 7
Last Modified Saturday, May 26th, 2018 at 16:28:58 Edit
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