Japan Itinerary – Day 1 of 8

17 March – Day 1 [Lake Kawaguchiko]
Hotel: Asafuji , we booked this via Agoda or Expedia for $374.31 for 1 night, and this included dinner and breakfast which was – we concluded the best meal we had in Japan.

The day started with our arrival at 730am Tokyo Narita Airport.
We bought tickets at the JR office for the round trip Narita Express costing 4000yen
Took the 813 train and expect to arrive at Shinjuku at 9:55am

https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/nex_round.html#category04

You can read here for more information or check for the train time tables here. There are NEX trains at every 30minute intervals.

narita express counter at airport ticket office nex narita

The return ticket was an open ticket. All seats on the train are reserved – meaning you’re allocated specific seats.

The train was comfortable  – and you can pack food to eat in it. We were in a huge hurry to get to Shinjuku to catch our highway express bus that sets off at 1030am to Kawaguchiko hence we didn’t have time to pack food. I wasssss by then – pretty hungry. 2017-03-17 08.07.48 copy

The highway express bus tickets can be booked online – and i highly highly recommend you book way in advance, It’s free to book anyway – and your seat once again is assigned

The cost was 7000Yen for 2 pax to and fro Kawaguchiko station. Hence it was about $45 per person for the 2hr journey to and fro per way, we only made the booking about 3 -4days before arrival and there were almost no tickets left!

If the routes and fully booked, you can try booking the same bus however with the pick up at Shibuya instead.

More info via https://www.highwaybus.com/gp/foreign/frgSelectLine?lang=en

 Highway express bus

highway bus jp keio keio highway bus tickets to kawaguchiko2asafuji ryokan limokawaguchiko station

Then we checked into our lovely Ryokan called Asafuji which overlooked the lake and mount fuji. The ryokan has about 13 rooms, its cozy and the service was immaculate, in-fact it felt really personalized, the staff speak english and are really accomodating too.

And the food – the food was superb.

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More on that later , because upon a quick check at 2pm – off we went to the craft park and kawaguchiko music forest museum to make the full use of our day. I must add the Asafuji staff were very kind as they sent us to the craft park with their shuttle. Amazing service really, as we were going to take the bus there but because we didn’t have small change and our smallest note was 10000yen , they decided to take us there . I’m so touched.

The craft park opens till 5pm daily and not only can you try your hands out at the amazing craft with instructors to guide you, you can also do your shopping there.

Here’s some of the amazing glass art made by the artist there. And then here’s a video of me trying to make my own glass bead lol.
silverclay kawaguchiko craft park glass making kcraft park kawaguchiko glass bead at kcraftpark

We spent an enjoyable 2hrs at the musical forest museum which opens daily year round from 9am to 530pm, the Kawaguchiko Music Forest is a small theme park and museum that is devoted to automatic musical instruments. There’s even a store within it that sells some hefty priced musical boxes for collectors such as the one here which cost over $7362 SGD gasp.

symphonion

music forest museum

It houses some really really eye-opening grand automatic instruments. Ie:

An organ hall built by Belgium Motiere Company around 1920 Belgium Mortie C.1920

Belgium Motiere Company organ hall lake kawaguchiko music forest museum The Organ Hall is an underground hall that was made around 1920 in Belgium, this dance organ has approximately 800 pipes and an assortment of percussion instruments. There are also 43 dolls holding fully functional instruments strewn around the hall. This dance organ alone is capable of making music equal to that of an orchestra with 30 – 40 people. These dance organs were originally placed in dance halls, hence the name dance organ.

Here’s a snippet of the organ hall magic

1999 German deraika company street organ

In the History Hall, there lies one of the valuable orchestrions in the hall called the philharmonic orchestrion -Titanic model. This orchestrion was supposed to be installed in the Titanic but was cancelled right before the installation and thus was saved from sinking to the bottom of the sea along with the ship itself. Alot of how orchestrions work, are explained during the session. Built by the Welte Company of Germany Welte Company in 1912. It was planned to be placed on the the first class passengers on that British luxury liner “Titanic”, however completion was not in time for departure, so it miraculously avoided that miserable accident . Using 263 pipes and large drums incorporated in the orchestra.

There’s actually lots to do there and you can even rent a princess costume for a photoshoot in the park, or have your wedding photos taken. You can also build your own music box…and watch sand art performance with live music

Address:3077-20 Kawaguchi, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi Prefecture 401-0304, Japan

Entry fee per adult : 1500yen
A little steep but worth it considering how many artefacts they house and the cost of these instruments.
Tip: Entry fee drops to 500yen if you enter at 4pm, last entry at 5pm , as the park closes at 530pm

Closer to home, we have in singapore a music box museum by a mister Orui-san who’s a collector, here’s a detailed write up by another blogger about his visit to the Singapore Musical Box Museum. http://www.ckphoto.net/blog/2015/12/singapore-musical-box-museum

The local musical box museum is located at: 168 Telok Ayer Street. Worth a trip too probably :)
We left the music forest museum at closing time – 530pm where it was really really cold. In fact it started to snow while we were there – temperature was perhaps -2? I was soooo glad to be back in our hotel room after. We took a one way bus trip on the red-line of the sightseeing bus , the journey cost i think 280 or was it 360 yen per person, http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/get-on-bus/
We took a shower, got changed into our Yukatas and then made it down to the lobby to have our dinner.
 Ume wine asafuji Asafuji ume Asafuji dinner
This was one of the best meals we had in Japan. The food was amazingly fresh. The sweets and everything , even the butter mushroom soup was the best I had in my life lol.
We took a walk outside in the snow too lol
goofing around with snow on our head
Then we headed up and went to the public onsen. Photography was obviously not allowed then so I don’t have a photo of the onsen.

The onsen hot-spring baths tho have views of Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi, and the rooms in Asafuji Inn have Shoji paper screens and a low table with floor cushions. Each room includes a private toilet, and Japanese-style futon bedding on a tatami (woven-straw) floor provided.

The wonder onsen opens from 06:00-09:30 and from 15:00-23:30 daily, so for as long as you like, or as many times as you wished! LOL however i reckon 20-30min soak is good, if you don’t want prune skin that is.

The next morning we awoke to an amazing view of mount fuji and of course the best breakfast! We woke at 445am so we could walk to the lake and take photos of Fuji-san lol.

We spent over an hour in this -4 / -5 degree weather LOL! Wondering how to keep our fingers warm hahaha. first cherry blossom blooms in lake kawaguchiko mount fuji casio FR100L beautiful mount fuji mount fuji from the lake

Breakfast is served! We took breakfast at 7am or so :) and then we went to the Onsen for a soak once again lololol , at 10am we bid goodbye to our wonderful hosts at Asafuji, which i gifted some stationery to as appreciation, and I was pleasantly surprised that in return they gave us postcards of Mount Fuji.  With that , we left to Kawaguchiko station once again to take the highway express bus at 1130am back to Shinjuku.

Asafuji breakfast

Japan travels

Earlier in March – I made my maiden trip to Japan and to say the least! Cherry blossoms are now my favorite tree, it’s hard not to fall in love with the sight of it, however as with all beautiful things, such moments are fleeting and the blossoms last some 3 weeks I guess?

It’s really quite an unreal sight to behold  – a tree full of flowers with few or no leaves- wow . JUST WOW. Against the blue skies of spring ….. One_more_shot_of_the_Sakura_and_my_wild_wild_hair__nofilterneeded__FR100L__casiosg__exilimsg__activeSelfie__SelfieIsCasio

Photo taken by my CASIO FR100-L yay.

We were there from 17 – 24 March and were in for a treat with some early blooms in Ueon Park and Shinjuku Gyoen [Entry fee of 200yen per adult],

Frankly speaking – 8 days was barely enough but good time!! Most people I know would dedicate about 10 days at least, and it seems like everyone just keeps going back for more.

We took singapore airlines to Tokyo and these were promotional tickets which cost about $740 per pax. Flight time was about 7hours.

Our flight departed Changi airport at 23:55hr on 16 march and we landed at about 7:30am at Narita airport.

You can also pick from ANA or JAL which flies there daily and i heard at better rates and timings. They probably offer more luggage allowance too.

Our singapore airlines luggage allowance was a good 30KG per person of which between us we used about 45-49kgs only.

Some tips on traveling to Tokyo:

  • Get the changiwifi -the promo price was $5 a day for japan. Book before hand and then pIck up and drop up upon arrival directly at the airport. It was convenient but hey prepare a powerbank as the battery of the wifi device doesn’t last the entire day!
  • Extra perk if you have a NTUCcard, use “NTUCJP” code for $4.65 rate per day – for all other countries check here but be sure to bring your NTUC card when you may payment. You’re welcome. We paid $46.20 for 7days ,breakdown will be $37.20 for 7days rental, and extra $10 for insurance, there’s a $1 off discount as well on top of the ntuc code.
  • I can’t emphasize how important it is to be punctual, and also to prebook most things in Japan. We made plans to ride the Akibacart, as well as visit Akiba Fukuro Owl Cafe and had to prebook to ensure availability. Especially during Mar/Apr months where its cherry blossom season and Tokyo is flooded with people.
  • Bring an extra bag! You’ll need it for shopping, or buy a cheap luggage at Donkihote if you don’t mind the crazy crowd there.
  • Buy all the things such as Tokyo Banana, Pocky, Hiyoko sweets and whatever biscuits and confectionery at the airport – once you are in the transit area, There’s soooo much shopping there and it is all tax free and you also won’t need to produce your passport for the tax free claim/documentation – saves your passport from being stapled here and there with documents.
  • Get a suica/pasmo for easy train transfers and basically it functions like an Ezlink -you  can even use it in 7-11 and family mart and many places to pay for food/purchases etc.
  • If you’re going to view Mount Fuji spend at least 2 days there to increase your chances of seeing Fuji-san – some days cloud cover is thick and your chances of seeing Mount fuji is alot lower. Consider going to Fuji-Q highlands as well to play!! Since i aint big on roller coasters lol , i choose to go to the craft park as well as music forest museum instead. But with just 24hrs that was barely enough!
  • Consider booking you disneysea tickets via klook for discounts, or better yet if you are a risk taker like i am, head to carousell where many tour vendors hawk cheap tickets, we scored 2 tickets to disney sea at $50 each! The same will cost $89 on klook. The only thing was that our uber cheap ticket was only emailed to us a day before our disneysea trip, and we had to get it printed at our hotel but thankfully the hotel offered free printing services!
  • Another tip on cheap tickets: if you’re already in tokyo, then check out the Daikokuya as some branches sell tickets to disneysea for cheap!
  • Oh don’t forget to check the disney crowd calendar http://tdrnavi.jp/forecast/disneysea?lang=en and you can download TDRnow This simple website application displays the wait times for both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea in English, which you can check on your smartphone anytime you are in the Parks. Its immensely useful -Features include:
    • Current weather conditions
    • Park Hours
    • Fast passes indicator which tells you what fast passes you can get and what time they will be if you got hold of them now.
    • Wait times for both Parks
    • Quick switch (switch between parks quickly)
    • Refresh times
    • Favourites list [add the rides you want to conquer to this]

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I saw my very first Cherry Blossoms at Lake Kawaguchiko :) Complete with Fuji-san in the background. It was a stunning sight. Unforgettable – did i mention it snowed the night before? Hence the snow capped trees in the background. <3This_view_was_worth_waking_up_at_445am_for_and_also_braving_the_-4_degree_weather___lakekawaguchiko__fujisan__fuji__japan__sunrise

This was us at the AkibaKart – you’ll need an international drivers license for this as you’re driving on the roads , along with cars and buses and can drive up to 60KM/H at top speed. Each cart has their own number plate heh, oh and costumes are provided for free – except their cleanliness is in question *Gasp*. gocart

We liked their facebook page and hence were entitled to discounts!  There was another gokarting company called Mari-cart that offered very precise routes as well as a similar service, they seem good too but prices were higher but their website is alot clearer and in english, compared to Akibakart :)

Extra note about Disney tickets, you can get them at Shibuya’s disney store, or like i mentioned at Daikokuya

Tips:

Phrase: Disneyland Passport please.

Japanese: ディズニーランドパスポートおください

Romanji: “Disneyland Passporto o kudasai”

Pronounced: “Disneyland Pass-poh-toh oh koo-da-sigh”

Phrase: Disney Sea Passport please.

Japanese: ディズニーシーパスポートおください

Romanji: “Disney Sea Pasporto o kudasai”

Pronounced: “Disney Sea Pass-poh-toh oh koo-da-sigh”

also here’s the hiragana for 2 day, 3 day and 4 day passports.

2デーパスポート

(2 day passport)

3デーマジックパスポート

(3 day passport)

4デーマジックパスポート

(4 day passport)

More details in my next post where i’ll be sharing our itinerary.

SK-II – for sun protection beyond just UV rays

On my recent trip to Lake Kawaguchiko to see mount fuji, not only did i face really harsh weather (-4/-5 degree celcius), it also snowed in the night, and well as usual the UV rays are really strong at mountainous areas. Thankfully throughout the whole trip, not once did my lip crack nor the skin on my face peel. For my face i would attribute it to my clarins moisturizer as well as my all important SK-II atmophere Airy UV Emulsion!

This_view_was_worth_waking_up_at_445am_for_and_also_braving_the_-4_degree_weather___lakekawaguchiko__fujisan__fuji__japan__sunrise skii atmosphere airy light uv emulsion

Sitting pretty in my ryokan windowsOh_happy_parcel_day_-_this_sunscreen_will_be_my_face_saver_for_my_upcoming_tokyo_trip__skii__facethewild__facethecamera__atmosphere__airylightuvemulsion

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The husband was not as lucky and had a cracked lipped as the days past (maybe its the chapstick that he used. or maybe he’s just more sensitive? He also got alot more tanned)

Did you know

Infrared rays, another cause of skin aging, makes up to 54% of the harmful sunlight your skin is exposed to every day. I had the new SK-II Atmosphere Airy Light UV Emulsion SPF30 handy to protect my skin from harsh weather conditions to prevent skin surface damage from UV and IR.  The Atmosphere Therapy Complex O, which combines natural ingredient Opuntia Cactus extract, and Niacinamide, with concentrated PITERA™ protects skin against by environmental aggressors like UV and IR.

With an airy light texture, it is easily absorbed on the skin without leaving a greasy residue. It was very moisturizing in fact, almost weightless and really quickly absorbed. Thank goodness, the extra moisture helped for sure.

The lovely Asafuji ryokan was basically our home away from home, it was spacious (compared to tokyo standards lol), and the staff were very attentive, they pick us up from the kawaguchiko station and sent as back, they even went as far as to send us to the kawaguchiko craft park when we didn’t have small change to take the bus there.

Lake kawaguchiko asafuji ryokan

 

We paid almost $400 for 1 night’s stay at the Ryokan, which includes dinner and breakfast for two, the onsen was open from morning til late in the night and you could basically go as many times as you want – it also had an amazing view of the lake and mount fuji (that is when mount fuji wants to be seen if at all). On certain and in fact many days where its cloudy. then you won’t be able to see the peak of mount fuji.

 

Ume wine asafuji

Me in my Yukata and sweet ume wine.dinner in asafujiall warm and toasty while eating dinner :)  goofing around with snow on our head

Goofing around while it snowed.

Asafuji breakfast

Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko area Route Map

route map

We almost didn’t have tickets, despite peak season being the following week.

So please please those who are going please prebook your tickets online at
https://www.highwaybus.com/gp/foreign/frgSelectBordingDate
You don’t even have to pay anything when you make the booking! yeap
http://highway-buses.jp/fuji/ at least 1-2weeks before your trip!

Fares

Shinjuku ⇒ Kawaguchiko: Adults 1,750JPY Children 880JPY
(Travel time: about 1 hours and 45 minutes)

Shinjuku ⇒ FujiQ highland: Adults 1,750JPY Children 880JPY
(Travel time: about 1 hour and 40 minutes)

Shinjuku ⇒ Mt. Fuji Fifth Station: Adults 2,700JPY Children 1,350JPY
(Travel time: about 2 hours and 30 minutes)
Caution: Does not operate during the winter season.

*Note
Advanced reservation is highly recommended to ensure your seats since this route is relatively crowded.

Note if tickets are all sold out, considering boarding the bus at Shibuya which is just 5mins away from Shinjuku. There should be more available tickets there.

 

We arrived at Asafuji at around 140pm on 17 March, and we left at about 1015am on 18 March to return to Tokyo, Ideally I think two full days will do the place justice, one was just too short! :)

While we had little time there, we managed to visit the craft park to try out glass bead making http://kcraftpark.com/ , as well as visit the music forest museum which houses an amazing collection of musical boxes and automatic musical instructions such as the Orchestrion , along with a throng of other live musical performances you can watch.2017-03-27 14.46.18 2017-03-27 14.45.04

Tickets to the music forest museum cost 1500yen per adult, and a craft session at the craft park cost about 1500yen per adult as well. (About $19SGD)

Here’s a video from youtube to show you what an Orchestrion is playing Queen’s bohemian rhapsody no less.