Yeah, we're back from the land of the rising sun! I'm gonna lay off ramen for a while because I had it every single day that I was there!
Aside from the overdosage of noodles, the trip was enjoyable. I still can't get over how orderly and clean Japan is. The public loos are soooooo clean! Service was fabulous but language is a problem..most of the Japs on the street don't speak English so we had some problems communicating. The subway was a mega headache initially and it took us a while to grasp it and when we finally do, it was time to go home. For the first 7 days, it was rather warm and we were berating ourselves for bringing so many jackets and sweaters but once we were in Tokyo, the weather turned cold and rainy..I actually prefer colder weather :). We were with a tour group for the first 7 days and we extended our stay for 3 more days. Those 3 extra days were definitely not sufficient as I wasn't able to visit some places I'd marked out. Wouldn't mind going back to Tokyo again!
The boy enjoyed himself loads. Ain't surprising since Universal Studios and Disneyland were 2 of the highlights of the trip. He got to know this pair of siblings and their cousin who came with their moms. He and Clare, who's also turning 5 this year were constantly playing together! Actually, it turned out for the better as we then took turns looking after each other kids so when we were in Disneyland, Aidan joined the other kids and hub and I scooted off to check out the adult rides. Thus, most of the pics were of Aidan with the other kiddos as they were inseparable!
Oh yes, we all tried the onsen (Japanese hot spring)..Aidan too! The boy went with hub coz coz since ours was the single sex baths (I doubt I would have tried it if it was the traditional sort where both men & women bathed together). It was still awkward because I was with the other ladies in our tour group ..we hardly knew each other and was about to see each other naked in the bath..And boy, am I not used to seeing so many nude ladies walking around nonchalently. Way too many exposed breasts (see, I'm a prude at heart :P) We had to all strip down to our bathing suit, wash ourselves clean first before entering the hotspring. We only had a small white cloth and I think everyone was deliberating between covering their *ahem* or their faces! But after getting over the initial discomfort, we all started enjoying the therapeutic warmth of the bath and was more relaxed and chatted with each other easily (albeit being butt nekked). After the bath, hub told me that Aidan was initially afraid to enter the water but after some persuasion, he finally did and then refused to leave it when it was time to go..hehe.
I didn't do as much shopping in the shopping malls at Tokyo as I thought I would. But I did spend a bomb at the Burberry boutique on some outfits from the Blue Label..simply couldn't resist their gorgeous workmanship! Most of my shopping was done at the Gotemba Premium Outlet. Gotemba is a picturesque resort town at the base of Mount Fuji. Surprisingly, not many tourists seem to know about this outlet. My client who stayed in Japan for 5 years gave me the heads-up abt this sprawling complex. For those who do plan to visit Japan anytime soon and has shopping in mind, do make a trip there because it is definitely worth it. There were shops like Gucci, Coach, Space (with Prada & Miu Miu), Ralph Lauren, Gap, Muji, Banana Republic, BCBG, Pleats Please (from designer Issey Miyake), Nike, Adidas (just to name a few). The prices were great with most of the stuff going between 30 to 60% discount. I'd asked my tour guide earlier on why they didn't include a visit to the outlet in their itinerary since it is so near to Fuji and he claimed that factory outlets in Japan only sell local stuff..what a load of bull!
Since some have enquired about the outlet, here's the direction if you do plan to go there. Take the Odakyu Highway bus from Shinjuku Station. To purchase bus tickets, go to the Odakyu Service Centre (which is one level above the subway at Shinjuku and same level as the mall). The staff mending that centre speak excellent english. It cost 2900 yen for the bus-ride (2 way). The ride itself is 1 hour 40 minutes and the Gotemba bus station is the last stop. From the bus station, a free Gotemba shuttle bus will drive shoppers to the outlet which is about 10 minutes away. It was really easy to get there! For those with kids, there is Lego & Bandai there and a playground too.
Okay, as per my usual postings, here are just some of the pics that I'd taken!
At Changi Airport..Aidan insisted I take a pic of piggy, who'd been his constant sleep & travel companion..
Along the Nakamise Shopping Street
@ the Asakusa Kannon Temple
@Universal Studios in Osaka
Aidan with Conrad, Wayne and Clare..
check out her makeup!
Trying out the supposedly best ramen at Shinsaibashi..
It was really tasty!
At the entrance to Kiyomizu Temple
The cheeky boy with siblings, Clare & Conrad..
Kimono Fashion Show at Nishijin Textile Centre..
gorgeous eh, the kimono!
Shinkansen “Bullet Train” approaching..
At the 5th level of Mount Fuji..
Onsen Tamago - Eggs, boiled in the naturally hot waters, are said to prolong one's life by seven years. Alamak, I ate 2!
Aidan fashion show hehe.I have to admit, I enjoyed dressing Aidan up in all those thick clothings I'd bought for him!
Didn't have much opportunity to show them off before..
Mmmm..fresh sashimi! *slurp*
At Lake Kawaguchigo. That's Joanne, mommy of Clare & Conrad
We saw several folks going to Disneyland dressed as Disney characters..
Aidan insisted on taking pics with them!
@the Tsukiji Fish Market
Yes, we brought Nenita along too.., as a reward for being such a fab helper and also to take care of Aidan especially on nites when we wanna 'escape'.
Heh, we spied him at the noodle stall and asked to take a pic with him and pretty soon, the poor sumo wrestler was swamped by others who wanted to take pics with him too :P
Yakatori man :P
Oooh, look at the size of the claws!
According to japonais, these funny looking balloons are actually flavoured tofu.
Colors indicate the flavours: sea urchin, black sesame, maccha, etc..
Chio jap fishmonger :D~~~
The Ginza strip are closed during the weekends so shoppers are able to walk on the streets.
At Shinjuku with Siew Lee & Jasmine from the tour group. They had also extended their stay in Japan.
Outside the Tokyo Dome where they had a theme park..
The gleeful boy!
All pics can be seen here