Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse
The former warehouse was transformed into shops, cafes and restaurants on the harbourside.
Osanbashi cruise terminal
Strolled back to hotel in Sakuragicho via the World Porters and Canal Park at dusk.
Harbour view day and night from hotel room
This is the end of our sakura and spring flower trip in Honshu and Hokkaido in 25 days.
After checkout from Hatake onsen, I drove uphill to Fuji Shibazakura Park via Asakiri Kogen in about 1 hour.
With drizzles and rain clouds Mt Fuji was completely shrouded as if it had disappeared.
As it was chilly cold and less impressive than similar parks in Hokkaido – despite being reported as full bloom on its website few days earlier, we strolled around for 40 min, drove back to Mishima for lunch, returned car and took Shinkansen to Yokohama.
Delicious Unagi-don in Mishima old shop filled with locals. We were much warmer after lunch. My Tokyo friend was very jealous of it.
On the way back to Hatake onsen on the previous day, we dropped by Mishima Taisha. Did not visit the museum as we were cold so rather dipped into onsen asap.
Took Tokaido Shinkansen to Mishima and pick up car to visit Nishi-Izu (West Izu).
Day 1. Coastline along Izu Toi to Izu Heda
Day 2. Numazu
Day 3. Visit Hakone Open-air Museum
Day 4. Visit Fuji Shibazakura Park
Sushi lunch in Izu Toi
dropped by famous local small sushi shop in Toi, which is famous for fresh fish caught in Suruga Bay. Nice and delicious sushi freshly prepared. Luckily we arrived earlier as late comers had to wait.
beach in Toi
Coastline along Izu Toi and Izu Heda
after lunch headed south towards Koibito-misaki (Cape of lovers) where Mt Fuji could be seen on clear days. Lucky to have Mt Fuji in blue sky as if it were floating on Suruga Bay. As rain clouds started to roll in we headed back north to Izu Heda. By the time we reached there an hour later Mt Fuji was barely visible.
Mt Fuji from Koibito-misaki
Mt Fuji barely visible in Izu Heda
Dinner in Izu-Heda onsen ryokan
Though this was our sixth stay in Izu onsen ryokan, it was our first taste of Takaashi-kani (Japanese spider crab) caught from the depths of Suruga Bay. Super delicious and highly recommended.
After checkout we abandoned plans for scenery in Nishi-Izu and headed north to seaside town of Numazu due to heavy rain for whole day. Stayed in Hatake onsen in Central Izu for 2 nights.
Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium
It has plenty of fish varieties and other sea creatures down to 300m+ below the Suruga Bay – one of the deepest sea troughs closest to Honshu.
Hakone Open-Air Museum
On next morning drove uphill to Hakone Gora for this outdoor museum. After the passage of cold front day temperature was down to around 10C with occasional drizzles up there. Spent about 3 hours, including an indoor Picasso museum with plenty of his works. Other sculptures include Henry Moore and French, Italian, Japanese artists.
entrance to kids playground
kids indoor playground
Returned to Tokyo by domestic flight from Hakodate for the first time. Stayed in Tokyo for the next few days during the 2nd half of the golden week. Afterwards, visited western Izu, Hakone Open-Air museum and Fuji Shibazakura Park by car while based in Izu for few days before returning to Yokohama.
Roses in Yoyogi Park
Visited Yoyogi Park on a sunny morning. It was a surprise as we did not expect roses to be in full bloom so early during the golden week.
Torii gate to Meiji-jingu but did not enter
Star Wars Stormtropper in Shinjuku
There was a long queue in Shinjuku with people dressed in costumes of Star Wars characters. Ah – it’s a promotion for a new episode Han Solo. Looks like there are many fans in Japan.
May the 4th be with you
On next morning we strolled around in Akasaka – where we stayed. Dropped by the Tokyo Garden Terrace Kioicho, where it used to be Akasaka Prince Hotel. There was a nice garden outside the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho. Roses were blooming as well.
people were fishing while crossing the Benkei bridge
Tokyo Terrace garden Kioicho
The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho
Met up with local friend for cake and coffee. Spanish dinner for wife’s birthday !!
tea time with local friend
appertisers in different tastes
cold tomato soup
smooth Spanish wine
grilled prawn, fish with caviar
slowly braised beef cheek
paella for sharing
Visited a few spots including Trappistine Monastery, Onuma National Park before returning to Hakodate.
Omonai Jinja (重内神社)
climbed 250 steps for sights as suggested by pamphlets from Hokuto town. New greens in the mountains around Shiriuchi machi and a row of pinky Naden sakura trees stretching towards the coast.
row of Naden sakura trees
While this monastery can only be visited with appointment, we dropped by its shop selling delicious ice-cream and cookies.
Another historical sakura tree in Hokuto town
Onuma National Park
3rd visit but first time by car. Had lunch before strolling along the lake rim. Good to see Komagatake again in the distance.
Before returning the rental car in Hakodate, dropped by this convent which we visited 10 years ago. Even in late afternoon there were several tour groups.
Hakodate at dusk
As we went up to Mt Hakodate for night view in 2008, we did not go this time. On next morning we returned to Tokyo by domestic flight.
Visited the Aomori Museum of Art. Lucky to bump into a special exhibition of Marc Chagall – The Third Dimension, apart from other works by local artists such as Nara-san.
Had lunch in museum and headed to the Aomori Port.
Visited World Heritage in Hiraizumi, which was fairly close to Hanamaki onsen by JR Tohoku local train in less than 1 hour.
From Hiraizumi station we took a shuttle loop bus stopping by Motsuji, Chusonji and a few other spots. As it was a rainy day, we visited the two temples only.
As it was raining quite heavily at times, we skipped the treasure house and walked around the Pure Land garden in less than 1 hour.
Walked uphill in about 15min reaching the Treasure Hall. It contained some impressive treasures and artifacts. A video explained the Konjikido (literally gold-coloured hall) in details (in Japanese). Not only was it covered in gold foils but also decorated by beautiful sea shells. Though it was much smaller than Kinkakuji in Kyoto, it was the resting place for 3 generations of the Fujiwara family.
The Konjikido nearby was housed inside another hall for protection. Inside, all visitors could only watch it behind glass at a distance. Photography was prohibited in both the Treasure Hall and Konjikido.
Konjikido – golden hall
Kyozo Hall – for scripts
Bassho poems inscribed on stone
Shidarezakura still in full bloom at the foothill
After visiting the Hitachi Seaside Park and Ashikaga Flower Park, we headed to northern Tohoku for sakura in late April as per original plan.
The first stop was Kitakami in Iwate Prefecture – a top 100 sakura spot. Arrived from Tokyo by Hayabusa Shinkansen train in about 2.5 hours direct. The venue was along a 2km river dyke on the other side of a river. We took a temporary boat service crossing the river in 5min, landing in the middle of the venue.
There were well over 1000 sakura trees – mainly of Somei Yoshino, of which 500 of them were over 90 years old. Sakura was in full bloom with temperature in low teens – about 10C cooler than in Tokyo. As usual, the pink Shidarezakura (weeping sakura) attracted more crowds.
Though there were more sakura trees to the south of the venue where lots of temporary food stalls were selling cooked food, we left the venue after 2 hours.
Kitakami Tenshochi (北上展勝地)
horse carriage – a rare scene in sakura matsuri
Koi-nobori hanging over the river
Hanamaki onsen (花巻温泉)
After late lunch in Kitakami station, we headed to Hanamaki onsen where we stayed for 2 nights in 1 of 4 onsen hotel premises belonging to the same group. According to its exhibits, some of the premises were nearly a century old and the Japanese royal family members had stayed.
Just opposite to our onsen hotel there was an indoor rose plantation, while sakura was in full bloom. Roses were totally unexpected in April.
Daily performance after dinner – local folk dance, traditional singing and sanmisen performance.
Samisen – common instrument in northern Tohoku
leaving Hanamaki onsen