We are always on the lookout for new and interesting places to visit from Tokyo, and were excited to learn about Sarushima from this article from rocketnews24.com. WOW, what a pleasant surprise!
1) A deserted, all-natural island and…
2) An atmosphere that just like the one from the famous Miyazaki animation, “Castle in the Sky – Laputa”
That’s like all things good wrapped in one bundle. Well, we just had to make a trip there! And off we did!
The island is located in Tokyo Bay, but is part of Yokosuka city. Yokosuka is known as the town of little U.S. due to the large number of US Navy bases in town. The atmosphere in this town is quite different from the typical Japanese town anywhere else!
From Mikasa port in Yokosuka, it is a short 10 minutes boat ride to Sarushima. That’s much closer than I had expected!
Even though it is just another Sunday, discovering a new place and meeting and laughing with friends from all over the world made a perfect holiday for me. It was relaxing to get out of the city and enjoy the timelessness of the forests of Sarushima.
And apparently, I heard that it is possible for us to have a barbecue in summer… Isn’t that a great reason for us to go back again? 😛
On 11 Feb, the day of Japan’s Country Foundation Day, we went to Kamakura to walk around, and more importantly, to witness a strange religion ceremony. This ceremony is a disciplinary ceremony / training for monks in training.
As some of you may know, there are many shrines and temples in Kamakura, so, it is sometimes called “Small Kyoto”. The town is a famous and popular sightseeing spot among Japanese as well.
From Shinagawa to Kamakura, it takes around 1 hour by local train.
At first, we visited Chosho-ji (長勝寺) to watch the religious ceremony.
Monks in training came….
Cold water was poured over their heads with chanting reading sutras!!! Note, this is February, deep in winter!
IT LOOKS SOOOOO COLD! o(>_<)o
To warm ourselves out from that “cold” experience, we went for lunch near Kamakura Station and walked around the area..
After walking around Kamakura and Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, we took tram and visited this famous site.
At last we visited the beach and said “See you again!”
Of course winter is off season, so it was really quiet and tranquil…
After all Kamakura is good place to visit any number of times!!!
We were going to Oiso on January 11th 2015 to see a Sagicho Festival 左義長 or Dondo Yaki どんど焼き (a kind of bonfire festival) that was held on Oiso Beach in Kanagawa. We met at Shinagawa station and went by the 3pm train to Oiso Station. The beach weren’t so far from the station (about 15 minutes walk) and nearby the beach entrance, we were greeted by locals with some soup and snacks to warm up our bodies. As it was near the beach, it was really windy and cold for most of us! According to the locals, this is the first time they have seen foreigners at this event! They were just as surprised to see us, as we were to visit this secret festival! We felt really honoured to be there!
At 6pm, we started to heard to the beach. There were many pyramid-like structures made from grass and decorated with lucky charms from the past year. The locals will bring their old charms from the previous year and decorate it here over the new year. We waited there until they lit the fire to the structures. We were given mochi (rice cakes) to on long bamboo sticks which we can use to BBQ the mochi around the fire. Just imagine, instead of marshmallows, we were BBQ-ing mochi. It was the first time for most of us and it was fun! It seemed like a pretty small-scale festival, and there were not many food stalls unlike the other big festivals. There were only 3 yatai (food stalls) but it was the locals’ hospitality and warmth that completed the festive mood!
The real fun began when the festival started. With the fire, it became pretty warm (of course) and there were so many people gathering around to pray and to join in the festival. After the fire was kindled, some men wearing only the traditional loin cloth went into the water to do pull some kind of rope, which I think was attached to the mikoshi (portable shrines that are common in traditional religious festival). When they are done, they head back to the shore, singing and drinking sake. It was a pretty interesting sight to behold! I cannot imagine how they actually withstand the cold weather and water!
That’s pretty much what happened in the festival. It was hard for us to really understand the background and history since all the information are only in Japanese and the locals couldn’t speak English. Nevertheless, it was one of those times when experience transcends the language barrier. Just being there, experiencing the festival, interacting with the locals and taking it all in was really fun!
Here are some photos of our journey ☺
A few weeks ago, we visited the Cup Noodles Museum and Ramen Musuem in Yokohama. To get there, it is just a short 30 minutes train ride from Tokyo city to Minato Mirai Station, followed by a short walk through neighboring attractions such as the World Porters Shopping center and Cosmoworld.
First stop, Nissin Cup Noodles Museum! Nissin is a famous household brand, not only in Japan but also in many Asian countries! Over the years, Nissin has come up with many different flavours, including Tom Yam, Clam Chowder, Cheese Curry, Chicken Gratin.. and the list just gets whackier!
Though small, the Cup Noodles Museum was a fun and slightly inspirational. The museum explains founder Momofuku Ando’s experiences and troubles before the success of the cup noodles. And as we all know, the revolutionary 3-minute cup noodles is a part and parcel of everyone’s lives – as a late-night supper, post-drinking snack, a quick lunch, or just a comfort food that reminds us of the typical Asian noodle soup!
Of course, making our own personalized cup noodles was the best part of the trip. It costs an additional 500 yen, but we could make our own cup noodle from scratch, design the “cup” and take it home… to eat (although it seems like such a shame to eat this truly only-one-in-the-world ramen >_<)! There’s also a food court on the fourth floor, with yummy noodles from all over Asia.
Next, we headed over to the Ramen Museum in Shinyokohama. The interior is made to look like Japan during the Showa period. It provides pretty interesting information about the history of ramen and how different ramen originates from different areas in Japan! At the end, there are about 7 shops where you can try the different kinds of ramen!
Located at the foot of the majestic Mt Fuji, Hakone has always been a favorite destination of both Japanese and foreign visitors. It’s famous for its hot springs, beautiful scenery of the lake and Mt Fuji, Owakudani, an active volcanic area that smells of sulphur, and the onsen-tamago (eggs boiled in the natural hotspring). It took some time to get there and required a few transfers along the way, but eventually we made it to our first stop, Owakudani.
Owakudani is the area around a crater created during the last eruption of Mount Hakone some 3000 years ago. Today, much of the area is an active volcanic zone where sulfurous fumes, hot springs and hot rivers can be experienced. It is accessible via the Hakone Ropeway from Souzan. The view from the ropeway was totally spectacular as we could see the whole valley and the steam rising from below. Once we reached the actual site, the smell of sulfurous fumes was incredibly strong and almost intolerable! Despite that, we made our way further up the trail.
One of the most famous things in Owakudani is Kuro-tamago (literally “Black egg”), a local specialty of eggs cooked in the natural hot springs. Because of sulfur in the water, the egg shells are blackened. Consuming the eggs is said to prolong one’s life by seven years so surely we wouldn’t miss a chance to try it.
We then took the ropeway down to Togendai where we had to transfer to the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise. Before that, we stopped to have lunch at Togendai View Restaurant which is located inside the station building and overlooks Lake Ashi. The highly recommended dish is the fluffy rice omelet made with fresh eggs from nearby Gotemba Plateau and the curry with deep-fried pork cutlet made with pork raised on the Asagiri Plateau. Here we could enjoy our lunches while watching the scenic view of Lake Ashi.
After finishing lunch, we headed to board the pirate ship-shaped sightseeing cruise. It was cold and windy but the beautiful view was totally worthwhile. Although we could not see Mt Fuji from there because it was too cloudy, we enjoyed a breath of fresh air and the magnificent scenery along the coast.
Our next destination is Hakone Shrine which is about ten-minute walk from where we got off the cruise. To get to the main building of the shrine, we walked up a series of steps through the forest where the atmosphere was so peaceful and refreshing. We finished up our trip at Hakone-Yumoto by shopping for souvenirs or soaking in an onsen after a long cold day.
If you are a Slam Dunk fan, you’d know about Enoshima, the coastal area where the comic was set.
A few weekends ago, we organized a day trip to Enoshima to enjoy the sun at the coastal area. Located in Kanagawa prefecture, Enoshima is only an hour away from Tokyo city. We bought the Odakyu Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass at 1,470yen, that gave us access to Enoshima and Kamakura.
Upon arriving at Katase Enoshima Station, we were greeted by the sea, and picnickers and beach-goers! As we crossed the bridge over to Enoshima Island, you could see the calm and smooth windsurfers on one side, and high-speed jet-skiiers doing their tricks on the other side. What a contrast!
Arriving at Enoshima, we were met with a very strange “welcome party” of men in loincloths! Wow! Japan never fails to surprise me! It turns out that there was some local festival going on and the men were carrying the portable shrines (aka mikoshi) around the area.
Moving on, we followed the crowd uphill to the Enoshima Shrine, and then over the hill to the other side of the island, where you can look out into the Sagami Bay. There were no sandy beaches but instead, rocky outcrops where you can stand and watch the waves come crashing in. Beware of sea cockroaches, though, because they are EVERYWHERE and it totally freaked me out. That aside, the scenery was beautiful… but perhaps better appreciated from one of the restaurants looking out into the sea! We had our lunch at one of such restaurants, with sumptuous meal of Shirasudon (whitebait and rice), the local specialty.
After Enoshima, we took the train on the Enoden Line. It was a scenic train ride, slowly chugging along the coastline to Hase, Kamakura, where we visited the famouse Kotokuin, the temple with the Kamakura Daibutsu (the Great Buddha of Kamakura).
After which, we continued on to Kamakura station and took a walk down Komachi-dori, a shopping street with plenty of souvenir shops and restaurants. Our final stop for the day was at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, the most important shrine in the area. The main hall of the shrine was a big and impressive building situated at the top of a long flight of stairs, overlooking Kamakura’s waterfront.
In all, it was a long day but we covered a lot of ground and made a lot of new friends.. all in a short day-trip from Tokyo!
We visited Misaki Fish Market and Jogashima Island last Sunday. Lesser-known compared to Tsukiji Fish Market, Misaki is just 60mins outside Tokyo, but famous for its tuna auction! It is only one-hour from Tokyo. You can get there with Keikyu one-day Misaki Maguro pass. It is only ¥3,060 from Shinagawa, includes train, bus, one-meal (maguro-don) and entrance to choice of onsen / aquarium / ferry.
In order to catch the Tuna Auction which ends at 9am, we had to meet at Shinagawa Station in Tokyo at 6.15am! After a sleepy one-hour ride on the train, we finally arrived at Misakiguchi Station in Miura, Kanagawa, caught the bus to Misaki Port Bus Stop and made our way to the Fish Auction market. To our dismay, there is no tuna auction on Sundays (both tunas and fishermen are resting) so there was only the sale of some small local fish. Instead, we saw a couple of interesting fish – including flat fish, mackerel, eel, octopus…
Most of the action died off around 9am, and we left to look for a restaurant for some maguro-don. The one-day pass actually includes a free meal at some of the local restaurants.
After a hearty breakfast, we took a bus across to Jogashima Island, a rocky outcrop of an island where most of the shops and buildings seem to be the same from 1980s, where children are knee-deep in the water hunting for crabs while their dads await next to their fishing poles for their catch.
We walked along the coast, hopping up and down the rocks and made our way to this landmark “hole” in the rock. Then we climbed up the cliff, and continued to the other side of the island. It was an easy 1 hour hike, with some amazing views of the coastline.
After Jogashima, we caught a bus to the Marine Park (a.k.a. aquarium). The entrance was included in the day-pass. It was a small aquarium, and seemed to have been around since 1980s. We saw some cute animals and then caught the bus back to Misakiguchi Station before heading back to Tokyo!
It was a relaxing day at the beach, a great getaway from the busy city life!