My love of Japanese wooden dolls and changing my spending habits

Honeymoon, Travel

So even though I love to travel and explore, I am not on the biggest wage so when it comes to spending money there are only a few things I like to invest in. Travel and experiences, I don’t mind, meals and nights out I think are memory makers, so if I blow my budget on a weekend then I don’t go out for the rest of the month and I am fine with that. I try not to live above my means but my credit card will definitely tell you a different story. I don’t have issues spending my money on food or skincare but that’s where it stops.


That is when I doubt myself and go no further.
I have had a look at my wardrobe in recent years and I am not really happy with it. Even though I didn’t spend hundreds I still indulged in fast fashion of Primark and although I actually have some nice pieces from there, I need to invest more in myself. I made a conscious effort to not be so frivolous and invest in better quality everything. Because I teach art I do get covered in paint and ink a lot so I do have a cheaper work wardrobe but I have started buying better jeans etc.


In Japan I bought a lot of skincare but that is a passion of mine. I also bough a fair few kimono jackets that I adore. They are all second hand and Gavin encouraged me as they are beautiful and I will have them forever. Because we were at the end of our holidays and because I hadn’t bought a souvenir Gavin (again) encouraged me to buy some wooden dolls.


These are frivolous, but I wont have the opportunity to buy them in Yamagata any time soon. So I took the plunge and bought three.
I love them.


In our vast and winding hotel in Yamagata we discovers Kokeshi dolls. They had cabinets full of them and I oved the display. These Wooden dolls that are hand painted with beautiful flowers and expressions. The original Kokeshi dolls were connected to the mountain gods and were said to bring fortune such as health recovery and good harvest to them. So what better reminder of my time on the mountain then 3 lovely wooden dolls.
I don’t mind if you don’t like them.


I spent ages selecting the ones I liked arranging them to see if they work together. I played around and selected my 3. The shop was empty so the man was delighted I was buying 3. I wanted more and if I had found them in Tokyo I would have bought more.


But I didn’t.


When I got home and put them in my red dining room Gavin produced a tiny doll. Then the next day he snuck another one in. I love them and I love him for being so thoughtful. They wont be to everyone’s taste but I think they are a wonderful reminder of our time in the slopes.


What strange item did you bring back from your holidays?


Or do you have any shopping regrets that you wished you bought?

Snow boarding japan Yamagata

Honeymoon, Travel


So firstly if you are just reading this post I should let you know that in March 2020 I honeymoone in Japan. This was at the start of Covid 19 when it was just called the Corona virus and the British government said it was safe to go! So off we flew with the air hostess wearing masks and gloves.

Which felt a bit alien to us…. not any more.

We felt pretty safe in Japan as everything was clean, 60% of people were wearing masks and Japan was quiet. We didn’t face many crowds and the whole world was just getting on with it. Italy had not yet shut down and all the horrific deaths had just been reporting China and the cruise ship off Japan.

It felt safe and quiet.


Really, really quite.


Restaurants where half empty, bars, shops it was really tough to see. Zao Onsen was half closed down due to the lack of tourism and they were suffering for it.


Some places were really busy and others were just not.


Snowboarding

We stepped off the bus into crisp cold air and the town was white with snow. We had 3 nights booked and we were excited for this part of our trip.

We went to Zao Onsen to do two days snowboarding up in the beautiful mountains. The trees look like they are made of glass it definitely felt like we were in Narnia . It was too warm to see the famous Zao Onsen snow monsters but we could see there out lines and it was still filled with magic.


We got to see a different side of Japan and in many ways we were really lucky. We definitely lucked out with Snowboarding.


I should tell you that because of all the onsens the whole town smelled like eggs, stinky eggs. You soon get used to it but it did permeate everywhere.


Hotel Matsukaneya Anex

Our hotel was pretty much empty, the owners were amazing and attentive. They picked us up from the station, advised us where to go for food and dropped us back at the station. We had two onsens to choose from and the food was pretty great two. I am going to do a review of all the hotels we stayed in. This on was defiantly brilliant, great budget hotel full of character and wonderful people.

The room was large and the heating was on so it was nice and cosy! We stayed in a traditional futon in the floor which was comfortable enough and we spent our evenings in the Onsen and watching movies on my Amazon Tablet ( the only time I used it!) plus I got to wear the robe to dinner which I loved!

Our hotel was a short walk to a main rope way (gondola) and we went straight to the top of the mountain. Like most of my trips I have no confidence on my first slope but we had no one with us. It was icy cold. My hair froze in its place and matted together. It was so cold but like all boarding trips, when its that cold you keep on moving.


When we went boarding in Le Deuce Alps, we had a lot of blizzards and wind. In japan we had less but still some moments when the slope whited out and you could see nothing. I had to hunker down in fear of being blown off the mountain (that was never going to happen).


The slopes were great wide and flat and unlike any mountain I have ever been on they were filled with trees from top to bottom! It was really stunning and I loved it. We celebrated our 11 years together on the mountain which was pretty special. Definitely an anniversary to remember.

Safety first


I would love to tell you that this was the first snowboarding trip without tears but that would be a big fat lie.


In Japan they have chairlifts that don’t have a safety. You just sit in them. As someone with a fear of heights I found this unbearable. I hate chairlifts generally, and will happily do my best to avoid them. We took a wrong turn down the most beautiful slope only for the fear to take hold of me. I was angry, blaming Gavin for taking me this way knowing there was a chairlift at the end. I cried the whole way and begged him not to move so much. He decided to take a photo of me in this moment. ( charming)


This would have been fine if we didn’t take anther wrong turn and end up at the same bloody chair lift again. I could not believe it. Gavin looked sheepishly at me and looked like he was prepared to walk back up the hill but I whizzed past him and got on the terrible thing again. I didn’t cry this time but I was scared.


It was horrible.


We rented our boards so we dropped them off at the rental place every night to save us from having to carry them. We soaked our tired bodies in the natural onsens. I really miss the Onsens! And had dinner at the ryokan.

Apres ski

There wasnt any apres ski at all. Everything was pretty much closed. So we went to a little cafe bar every day, I had hot sake and Gavin had local beers ( Japan beer is excellent) and we treated ourselves to a bowl of chips. The food was good here, very french and Gavin craved Ramen every day! But we weren’t here for long.

I am not sure whether Japan has good apres ski, when we come back it will be interesting to see! Renting our gear was easy but it was expensive but it was our honeymoon and we wanted to treat ourselves.

Summary

Like all of our trip so far Yamagata was beautiful and wonderful. We wish there had been more to do but with the current Covid crisis we were also great full for everything we got to experience.

The slopes were beautiful and empty, they felt very blue/ green on a french scale. Icy patchy and some blizzard weather but on the whole pretty great!

I would love to go snowboarding again but next time I am back I want to discover more or Japan, explore further up from Yamagata.

Have you been skiing/ snowboarding in Japan?

What did you think?

Hotel Matsukaneya Anex ホテル松金屋アネックス

7 Things I didn’t expect about Japan

Honeymoon, Personal Experience, Travel

We did a lot of research before we went to Japan. We learned about Japanese etiquette so we didn’t insult anyone. Japan is super forgiving if you apologise but somethings still surprised us about Japan. So here is 7 things we didn’t expect about Japan.

For the love of eggs

The Japanese love eggs, boiled, raw, baked you name it. They will even stuff it in a little octopus! We have eggs sandwiches that made us drool. We queued for 15 minutes to get an omelette on a stick ( that we are still drooling about). My favourite was the stained eggs that come In The ramen!

But my absolute favourite egg was the one we had with breakfast. It was basically like a lightly poached egg, with a perfect reddy orange yoke still in its shell. We had it with our rice and mixed in the rest of our ingredients. I can’t tell you how good that breakfast was.

Ramen Eggs



Hakone eggs!!!

Stone the crows

Okay don’t stone them! Every place we went there were huge crows everywhere. They are magnificent birds that caw loudly fight and play. They are pretty brave and fearless and will walk right up to you.

I love crows I think they are clever and I like the fact they are hardly alone. When me and Gav were first dating he was walking me to the pub and teasing me about something. Two crows were fighting and fell out of the sky landing on Gavs head. Quite rightly he freaked out and ran down the road. We laughed afterwards but I just looked at him and said karma. Since then I feel an affinity with crows! If there is a spirit animal then mine would be a crow.

When we were walking through the castle at Osaka we had to walk through a small wooded area. The trees were absolutely filled with crows cawing and chasing each other. Gav was a little freaked out so for the whole holiday I teased him that the crows were following him. When we got to to Kyoto the crows were super confident!

My spirit animal

Plastic is not so fantastic but it is hygienic!!

So plastic is an issue in Japan. Everything is wrapped or double wrapped. Packaging is far too much however. We were in Japan during Covid-19 so everything being in wrapped made sense. No germs were being transferred unless you touched the packaging.

I did get into the habit of showing a bag I was carrying with me but it was crazy how they would give you a bag for everything. Maybe because it just doesn’t happen in the Uk anymore we are cutting back on plastic. I am self isolating at the moment but if I was allowed to shop I would be reaching for those plastic wrapped fruit…. sorry.

Plastic may be bad for the environment but it is hygienic. I just think our government needs to invest in recycling plastics so we stop sending them to the dump. After all a lot of plastic can be recycled.

Bullet trains

Organisation can be achieved on public transport

We all know that Japan is highly efficient when it comes to public transport but seriously! Everything was on time, trains, tubes, buses. Japanese people hate being late! Hate it!

We had one incident where we were sat on the bus and was about to leave. Some tourists meandered over with their suitcases I think there were 6 of them. The bus driver told them they had to hurry because he had to leave. They slowly got on the bus. The bus driver wanted to yell at them. In stead he turned into superman and lifted all the cases up and stacked them on the bus blocking the back door so he could leave on time. He was furious and it rubbed off on the bus. This family made us all late!

So if you visit Japan don’t be late. If you live anywhere be courteous and arrive on time. Lateness is for fools!

Japanese standards in cooking

We never had a bad meal in Japan whether it was a cheap eats or a fancy meal. That doesn’t mean we had perfect meals every time. Because we didn’t. But the food standards where just good everywhere. When I was disappointed in food it wasn’t because it wasn’t good it’s just because we had already had better.

Gav even liked the Lawsons ( minisupermarket) chicken and hot food! Me not so much but we tried all the food at the stations, food stalls, restaurants and supermarkets. We tried lots and different food and I was so impressed with the standards of food!

Gyoza

Japan doesn’t do street food

So yes you can buy street food in Japan, and yes it is authentic Japanese food. Japan doesn’t like eating outside they take such pride in the food and everywhere is filled with tiny restaurants some don’t have seats just tables but street food nope. Street food is for tourists. It’s becoming more popular with the younger generation but in general it’s not a thing.

You probably already know that you should not walk and eat or drink! It is highly frowned upon and if you do buy food from a food stall or market they ask you to eat at the side. You will see signs up in the markets in english stating not to walk and eat. You get used to it except for the drinking! Although I do feel like you can get away with it more.

Service charge

You don’t tip in Japan they find it insulting however restaurants and bars sometimes have a cover charge. Now everywhere we went we were informed before we sat down. Now to make up for this you often get like a bowl of peanuts or snacks! We never had an issue with it except when an empty bar wanted to charge us 700yen but he had to make his money some how. And he turned out to be full of knowledge and really friendly.

Lots of restaurants have rules like you must order a drink each etc. All these rules are either as you enter or the first page in a menu, they don’t hide them. It can be frustrating when you have to pay an extra £6 just to sit down and have a drink but the cocktails were about £9-12 so that wasn’t to bad cheaper than many London bars so we just always orders two drinks each so we didn’t notice the costs!

Old fashioned at the Bees Knees Kyoto
S


So we learned a lot about Japan, before we left and while we were out there. We are already planning our next trip out there. What we want to do and see!

Have you been to Japan? What surprised you about it?

Onsens let’s get naked and talk body confidence

Advice, body confidence, confidence, Travel, weight loss

Firstly if you think I have body confidence you are mistaken. My pale chubby body is not a sight for sore eyes, even mine. I have gained a little weight since the wedding and I am not happy about it.

I do appreciate my body, don’t get me wrong, it is fairly healthy and fairly strong but it does look way better by candle light. I do believe in women loving themselves but I also understand that having body confidence is all in your head. And confidence grows from confidence so you can judge me all you want but my insecurities are not going away with a talk about how I should be proud of my body.

I was

Now I am not.

So let’s get back to Onsens. Onsens are like hot tubs but more like a the kids bathing pool. They are hot, they have to be a minimum of 37 degrees and have a minimum of 19 different minerals. Two of the Onsens we visited were 51 degrees

and were so hot we felt like we were cooking!

Getting naked

Most places will supply you with a kimono dressing gown cover called a yukata,belt, socks and the most uncomfortable flip flops ever. They are heinous but slow you down. This whole outfit forces you to take your time and relax. I loved it so much and you can sleep in them too if you want to. The yukata not the flip flops.

The men and women are divided so you only get naked infront of other women, few.

You go to a room full of baskets. Turn your basket the right way up and fill it with your bits. I left everything in the room so I just had what I was wearing.

When dressing women tie at the front and men tie at the back. Also the left lapel goes over the top. The right only goes over the top when you are dead!

It’s not out of focus it’s just that steamy in Here

Modesty

There is a modesty towel. It’s fricken tiny it barely reaches from boob to boob but it does cover your vagina so you don’t need to worry about your front. The whole rest of your body is on display. Oh boy…. I am not sure exactly what I was so afraid of until an American goddess with a perfect body entered the room. She was leaving and I was getting in so I hid in the loo till she left.

Because I had no confidence!

A few rules

The first Onsen I went to the lighting was nice and low so it helped me build my confidence. No it didn’t it just meant I didn’t run as fast to the Onsen like I did in the second one. After my fourth Onsen I was a bit less caring about what only her people thought of me and more concerned with how long I had been outside for!

It’s a hot bath which you share, this means you have to be clean going in. They have these tiny stalls with tiny stools you sit on and wash yourself. There is soap shampoo and conditioner but you don’t have to get your hair wet at all. You must clean yourself to keep the experience as hygienic as possible.

There are also shower heads, taps and a cute wooden bucket that you fill and splash over yourself. When I was alone I really enjoyed this process as the room is heated by the Onsens so you stay nice and warm. It’s a strange but pleasant way to wash and if I could get an Onsen in my garden in London I would, not a hot tub an actual onsen.

So far I have been in a Onsen alone, with a goddess ( she joined me the next night) and with a Japanese family and then a room full of Japanese beauty’s.

It was all fine no one cared.

I will go in again and again and get the most of the Onsens. We are in Japan at a quiet time of the year so I have been lucky that none of the Onsens have been full. I need to work on my confidence. I also need to work on my body. It’s not bad but it could be better!

Tattoos and Onsens

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but tattoos are generally not accepted in Onsens. I found one out of the five I visit were accepted and that was because it was a private Onsen.

I bought some tattoo covers with me and these are exceptable but if you have larger tattoos then you might face some issues.

From what I have read the reason Japan hates tattoos is because years ago prisoners used to be tattooed as a punishment. Then the yakuza decided to decorate the tattoos even more making this punishment a rite of passage instead. Yakuza had a lot of control in Japan so Japan decided to ban all tattoos from Onsens this making a huge statement to Japanese gangsters that they are not welcome.

Flash forward to modern times and things are changing but it is important to respect the traditions. You are not going to change anything by kicking up a fuss.

How did I feel about my tattoo

Well, honestly I felt like it was a hindrance. I had the stickers and I had to buy more but I was more worried about being kicked out for having a tattoo which came with a certain amount of shame that I had never felt before. I felt better when I had a cover up or I snuck in when there was no one around! But I did feel like I was sneaking.

I am sure if you search for them there are plenty of places that have no care for tattoos but like I said, 4/5 did. And we traveled a nice amount.

An Onsen life for me

We squeezed in as much Onsen action as we could and I swear it helped with the jetlag as we never suffered any!! These baths are open air relaxation and I enjoyed them immensely. In Zao Onsen they hawks closed off the open site but bit you could see the piles snow, it was beautiful but we weren’t allowed outside.

Hotels we stayed in Japan

Advice, Honeymoon, Travel

If your planning a trip to Japan then you may be interested in hotels we stayed it. I won’t put the prices up as it will change when you get there.

Before we left I popped all our hotels in my Google maps so that I could find them quickly on my phone.

They were easy for us to find our way back to even if we had had one two many cocktails!

Ryokan Onsen Tokyo

5 Chome-3-18 Shinjuku, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan

This was probably my second favourite hotel of the whole trip. Walking in from an 11 hour flight to find the most peaceful interior. Filled with soothing music, calming staff. The location was perfect. 10 minutes from the station and from all we needed. We loved it so much we chose to stay here when we were returning to Tokyo two weeks later.

Even though it was our honeymoon we decided to opt for twin beds rather than doubles. We had been warned that the beds in Japan were small so we wanted comfort. We moved the beds so they were next to each other but on the first night we were so tired we didn’t care.

The Hotels

Entrance to hotel

The Onsen was the best thing after a long flight and we took advantage of it when ever we were at the hotel even using it in the morning as you have to clean yourself before you get in! If you want to know more about Onsens I wrote about my experience here.

The room was small and functional we just slept and relaxed here. We never really suffered from jetlag so we were out from morning till evening then we would have an Onsen as it was open late and go to bed.

Considering how hectic Tokyo can seem this hotel was a breath of fresh air. We didn’t eat there but we loved staying there we only had one negative. On our last night there we organised for our luggage to go straight to the airport. The guy who was serving seemed like he couldn’t be bothered. He basically said we had to organise it all ourselves. When we first stayed we asked them to send our suitcases on to another hotel so we didn’t have to carry them. The women who helped us couldn’t do more, the guy couldn’t be bothered and kept making up excuses.

But that was a 20 minute experience from a 4 night stay so I would. Stay there again!

Overview

Location 4

  • Location 4
  • Price ££
  • Extras Onsen
  • Size of room Compact but perfect
  • 3 words modern peaceful compact

Shinaokoi annex Hakone

This place was wonderful. It was a traditional Ryokan where we wore robes to our meals and to the Onsen. It was surrounded by trees and was beautiful.

It was halfway between the town and the attractions so it was a good location however there was little to do there. We ate at the hotel so we didn’t have to go far and it was only one night I wish we had stayed for two minimum. The hotel was not modern but that is not what we wanted. We wanted a more traditional experience and although we didn’t have rice paper wall it still felt authentic.

The bathroom was just a toilet and sink as you were encouraged to use the Onsens and as we were only there for 1 night we didn’t miss it. Our floor table had a heater under it and kept us warm and we enjoyed having our tea and relaxing.

  • Location 3
  • Price ££
  • Extras Onsen the food was outstanding
  • Size of room Large and traditional
  • 3 words: traditional peaceful remote

Hiroshima Kokusai Hotel ひろしま国際ホテル

Hiroshima was a magical place and this hotel was pretty basic but it was fine. We didn’t spend long enough in Hiroshima it as most things were closed we didn’t mind too much.

The room was traditional with two futons on the floor it comfy clean and warm. The best thing this hotel had for it was it’s location. It was great. Right in the middle of things. It also had rice paper wall and lots of different spaces we didn’t really use because we were too busy exploring that we didn’t spend much time there.

We did eat here but to food wasn’t great. It was breakfast so we wouldn’t recommend the food but the hotel was fine. There were a few nice bars close by.

  • Location 4
  • Price ££
  • Size of room Large and traditional
  • 3 words: traditional clean and tidy

Hotel Wing International-Select Osaka Umeda ホテルウィングインターナショナルセレクト大阪梅田

Time for a bit of a change we headed to Osaka. To modern hectic Osaka.

This was a super modern, clean tidy hotel. It had a strange Art Deco theme but beds were heavenly with thick mattresses. The bathroom was small but had a bath and missing the Onsens we took full advantage.

We had a bit of a mishap with the language barrier and ended up getting our clothes dry cleaned rather than laundered and although it cost us £100 for tee shirts we put it down to a foolish mistake! A costly one but a mistake.

The location was great just a ten minute walk from the station but if I could go back I would stay closer to Namba as we ended up going out there a lot.

  • Location 4
  • Price ££
  • Size of room Small and compact
  • 3 words: modern, fresh, comfy

In summary

Even though I have about 4 hotels left I am going to leave it there for now. I will pop the information up in a blog later on.

I hope that wasn’t too boring we never stayed in a bad hotel and I do feel bad for any negative feedback as we were looked after pretty well. Any mistakes were generally ours. We had decent nights sleep every night, all in comfortable beds. It didn’t matter if we were in the heart of a city or out in the country the rooms were all peaceful and tidy.

Hakone, I wish I stayed a wee bit longer

Honeymoon, Personal Experience, Travel

So lots of Japanese people head to Hakone for the Onsens. Being tourists we wanted to see Mount Fuji, take a trip in the pirate ship, eat volcano cooked eggs and take the ropeways. Which is fine but we didn’t really get out to the restaurant and walk anywhere but the touristy areas. And there really isn’t anything wrong with that but if we had had more time we would have loved to explore more.

We left Tokyo at about 11 and got on the bullet train to Hakone. We packed a bento lunch and watched Japan whiz by. It was easy. We had booked our seats E and D so that we could see Mount Fuji the whole way. Japanese travel efficiently is something all countries should aim to achieve.

When we arrived we booked a Hakone 1-2 day pass and it was worth it. There had been a landslide so the little train was out of action so instead we hopped on the bus for 40 minutes. Dropped off our rucksacks and headed straight for the rope way.

Mount Fuji

This area of Japan is so serene with all the trees, rivers streams trickling down the mountain. Clouds often cover the peak of Mount Fuji so rather than relaxing in our hotel we wanted to get straight up and see it, in case it was Hidden The next day. With clear skies above us we checked into our hotel and went straight our again.

If you follow me on Instagram you will know that gondolas are my absolute favourite thing even though I am scared of heights I don’t mind being in one. And because tourist levels were super low we got a gondola to ourselves. We rode it to the top and entered what can only be described as the dragons den.



The Dragons Den

Now it says that if you have asthma then you shouldn’t go up here. Gavin said he was fine and wanted to go so we went up anyway and he didn’t suffer at all. I am not saying people should go up if they do have asthma but you guys know your levels. The conditions on the day we went up were lovely so I think that helped.

This place was magical they said that a few years ago an earthquake opened up small fissures adding to this dramatic sulphuric smoke. I took so many photos I was completely in love with nature’s drama. There was still a lot of trees plants and birds around which felt slightly out of place. I want to do a bit more research on this place.

We walked around for a bit then headed to the gift shop. The museum was closed but everything else was open. So in Hakone they have magical eggs that are cooked in the volcanic water boiled for 60minutes and they turn black. Now legend has it that for every egg you eat you live an extra 7 years.

They come in bags of 5 so I ate two and Gav ate 3. We also had a curry pan and a beer so we were pretty full. They are just normal boiled eggs they don’t smell or taste any different. But 7 extra years guys! I had to try.

So we went all the way over then back again, which felt right as this is definitely Hobbit country and Smaug is definitely hiding beneath this mountain.

Prince Eric’s boat

We wanted to catch the last pirate ship of the night. Accross the lake, I thought it would be amazing to watch the sunset whilst we were on the ship however I forgot that the mountains would block out the light so it was really pretty but no sky drama. It looked like the boat at the start of the Little Mermaid. This boat is purely for tourists and it’s all for show. The journey was cold and pretty and we stayed outside drinking instant coffee and had a good old laugh.

At the end of this we hopped on a bus back to our hotel where are rooms where ready and dinner was served in just 15minutes so we ran upstairs to change into our traditional robes yukata.

Even though we had only spent a few hours travelling we were both tired so even though the food was great I didn’t have much of an appetite. I will pop the hotel food in its own blog just because it was exceptional.

Dinner and Onsen

The restaurant was full and we were the only tourists there which makes a nice change. We ate our amazing meal and then jumped in the Onsen. ( we didn’t jump in we had to do all the bits first!) I had the whole place to myself so we could really enjoy it.

It was nice to have an early night. We had breakfast which was a epic feast that I am still dreaming about another Onsen at it was our last one for a while and then thought we would do a bit more sight seeing.

We visited the Hakone open air museum which was lovely but modern art isn’t really my favourite. We did enjoy all the Henry Moore’s as well as the actual grounds were impressive. The Picasso wasn’t my favourite but we were lucky because it was fairly empty and we got to wander around at our own pace.

Outrage favourite bit was actually the foot Onsen which was beautiful and we were the only ones in it so we took our time and just took in the park. There we a few your cherry trees blossoming but not incredible pictures yet!

We divided to visit Hakone town have a wonder round the shops eat amazing cheesecake and mocha from ancient store holders. We wish we could have stayed a bit longer but Hiroshima was calling us.

We then took two bullet trains to Hiroshima.

Even though we spent the night there we really didn’t get the chance to explore this wonderful place. So when we return we already know that we will book two nights minimum here and spend some actual time visiting bits of the Hakone deserves a bit more time and effort.

First day in Tokyo… an early start

Personal Experience, Travel

When we arrived at Tokyo it was 6am and we were understandably tired. Our hotel would not let us check in Till 3, so we had some time to kill. Our hotel was in Shinjuku and we decided to head there and just have a walk around and take in the sights. Our luggage was forwarded to our hotel so we didn’t have to lug them around.

We decided to get off at Harujuku. We knew full well that not much would be open at they time but it would be nice to see bit. I was in my snowboarding coat and it was 17 degrees so we searched a few shops for something I could change into. In the end gGav gave me his shirt and I wore it like a dress.

We found a little coffee shop and ordered an egg sandwich. The shop had a hatch so we ordered from there and the door to the right looked into it. The cutest Dalmatian puppy stood at the door and we were invited in. The cafe was also a dog groomers. So we had puppies running round our feet. It was wonderful.

Sandwich was delicious too

If you want an excellent cup of coffee I would definitely recommend this place. Whyte Sandwiches. It was a tiny place but was super clean and they were all about sustainability and looking after the planet. We chilled here playing with the dogs and setting up our WiFi which was super easy.

Then after a bit of hunting for a dress I never bought, Harujuku started to get busier. We had seen the amazing candle floss here and even though it was early we thought that as we may not be back to Harujuku it was now or never. A little girl stood in the door way holding a candy floss that was half the size of her. The look of elation was exactly how I was about to feel when I got mine.

Every colour was a different flavour !

We wondered around a lot, the streets started filling up but it never got swamped. Then we headed back to our hotel. It was 13.30 and we just wanted to see if our room was ready. It was, thank god, because we were both exhausted. We decided not to fight our jetlag and set our alarms for 4 hours. We both passed out pretty fast.

Our room was small but immaculate and the view over Japan was insane.

When we woke up still feeling tired but more ourselves, we headed to the roof for an Onsen. Onsens are hot baths, shallow so you can’t swim but deep enough for your privacy. You can’t wear clothes and you have to wash before you go in. I will write a little blog on them when I get home.

I was so nervous about being naked infront of other women I ran to the shower cubicles and then ran to the Onsen. About 5 minutes later I realised there was an outside Onsen. It was cold and the water was hot.

This is the view from the other side

Din dins

We knew we wouldn’t have too much energy so we got ready and headed out. It was about 8pm by the time we left our hotel. We headed for memory lane or Piss Alley. We did get a wee bit lost and went down the wrong lane but we easily found the right one. We stopped at the first yakatori place on the left and had a grisly meatball and some tasty chicken all downed with Japanese beer.

Which is so good.

Then we went to another yakitori place had more beer with more meat. I read somewhere that if in doubt head to the Albatross bar so we went there for a few cocktails. A nice old fashioned followed by a spicy gin. It was really cool in there and we will probably is it again.

Then it was about half ten! Where does the time go we started heading home and Gav saw a sign for gyoza so we went to the second floor of a building and had last ordered with two sides of gyoza. You had to order through an iPad and it was all Japanese so we ordered 3 beers by mistake!

We drank them and ate up and by the time we arrived at our hotel it was almost 12.

So we hit the hay.

It was a lot to do on our first day but the Onsen really helped us relax as well as the 4 hour nap. When we woke the next day we were a little tired but we haven’t suffered from jetlag.

My advice to you is sleep if you need it just not for too long and if you can get to an Onsen then have one. Book a private Onsen if you don’t like to share.

That was our first day in Japan and we loved it. Good food. Good drinks! A perfect way to start our honeymoon.