Travel Diary: Hakone 2017

After our day-trip in Kyoto where we did endless walking and sightseeing, our next adventure is trying the onsen in Hakone. I’m the mastermind behind this onsen trip naturally because I’ve seen it in anime shows and it looks so relaxing. The closest onsen I’ve been was back when we stayed in a skii resort in Niseko and the house has a onsen-like bathroom. But that time you can control the hot water while in Niseko the hot water is already all prepared and you just have to jump in (though I will caution you against that, more on that later).

From Tokyo to Hakone, we had to take the Shinkansen (“Kodama”) to Odawara as there is no direct train ride from Tokyo to Hakone-Yumuto station. Then from Odawara station take a train to Hakone-Yumuto station around 15 minutes ride. It was a gloomy day and we were quite disappointed not being able to get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji due to the rain and clouds. ūüôĀ¬†Hakone Yuryo is very near¬†Hakone-Yumoto Station and there’s actually sort of like a waiting shed outside the station to wait for the Yuryo shuttle ride to and from to the onsen.¬†There’s a lot of onsens in Hakone but we chose Yuryo due to the shuttle ride and reviews of the private hot spring. I booked one private open-air hot spring (“Hanare Yuya Kaden”) Type 1 – Sumire, which can accommodate 1-2 people for 1 hour. That’s 4,000yen and additional¬†1,950yen/ 30 minutes extension. You need to email them around 1 month in advanced for the reservation. The onsen opens at 10 so that’s the earliest time you can book.

When we got to Hakone Yuryo, I had to adjust my reservation to include my brother – another Type 1 for him. The receptionist gave us a small bag each with towels, keys to the private onsens and off we went to bath!

This is how the private onsen looks like. We had each a yukata which is like an equivalent to a bath robe. There were some sweet mochis (which is super delicious!)

They also have a hair dryer, a basin to wash your face and some complimentary skin care products from Shu Uemura. It looks very much like a scene from a romantic anime episode.

The bath was already all filled up and ready. It got me thinking if they replace the water after each customer but maybe that’s not the case?? The temperature is super duper hot so no jumping in at once. I was torn between super cold (it was open air) and super hot (my feet are being fried) as I slowly lowered myself in the water. You have to let your body adjust to the heat because it really feels like you are being cooked at first. This is the hottest ever bath I’ve ever taken. After my body adjusted to the heat,¬†I was finally able to relax and savor the moment – I’m in an onsen!! I really love bathing and my dream is to have a bathtub at home where I can fill up with scented bubble baths and oils (luxuryyyy). I felt my muscles relax and all the tension from my body faded away – it felt like I had an hour long massage. My mom also loved the experience¬†and afterwards I was teasing her that she got her energy back in order to shop some more.

After that wonderful bath, it was still pouring outside, so we checked out the restaurant of Yuryo РThe Irorisaryo Hachiri. Irori cuisine means hearth-cooked and is a traditional way to cook Japanese food. Probably the least favorite of our food trips while in Japan mostly because the serving is very few for the price.

The fish that took 40 minutes to grill, devoured in less than 5 minutes.
We don’t understand how to cook these vegetables hahahaa.

Check out the rest of my Japan travel diaries:

My last entry will be our short trip to the fish market Tsukiji. Stay tuned!

Travel Diary: Kyoto 2017

We were supposed to go to a day-trip to¬†Kyoto during¬†our 2014 Japan trip but due to my unexpected knee injury, we had to cancel it and just stay in Osaka. I thought it wasn’t a big loss since it’s mostly temples. When we finally pushed through with the¬†day-trip to¬†Kyoto this year, man, was I super shocked that Kyoto is such a beautiful place! One day is not enough to explore it’s beauty!

On our way to Kyoto~
Family pic with the Golden Pavilion. (I forgot to put aside the folding chair lol)

We visited Kinkakuji Temple also known as the Golden Pavilion. There’s so many people so it was difficult to take a solo shot haha! I think it would be nice to share how we travel. So I was in charge of bringing the foldable chair of my mom’s and sometimes I was also carrying the trolley, where all our shopping bags, umbrella, water, etc… are kept. ¬†I definitely felt frustrated at times with all the things I had hanging off me (the thick clothes were already heavy on my tiny frame, and how can I be camera ready with all these stuff!) but I am relieved for the seat and trolley especially when we are all tired. I also want Mom to be comfortable and the chair makes it easier for her to rest.

Sadly, no sakura trees were blooming because we were too early and it was still too cold. I only spotted this little one and it’s still as magical as seeing it for the first time.

Break time. No cold weather can stop me from eating my ice cream.
Mom to me – “Bantayan mo yang kapatid mo baka mali mali yan at san tayo dalhin!”
They said that the further up we go the nicer the bamboos are but we did not reach the top and settled for the entrance. This photo took many tries before I’m satisfied with the crowd at my back.
So refreshing to be away from the city!

We also went to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove which was super crowded too. We only managed to reach the spot where there are souvenir shops and a small temple; we took a break and decided to go back.

One of my brother’s Japan goal is to eat a good steak so he researched a nearby TripAdvisor recommended restaurant¬†called Otsuka. We passed it on the way to the Bamboo grove but my brother already signed us up in the waiting list (there’s already 3 people on the list even though it’s only 10AM!). After we’ve gone back, there were quite a lot¬†of people in waiting area¬†and they’re already skipped our names! I thought we had to write our names at the bottom again but good thing the kind staff told us we can be the next ones seated. Whew!

Someone’s overly excited about steak!

The steak of course was super delicious (hello we are in Japan!)! We tried out different kinds and at first I thought I will not be able to finish mine but it was so soft and juicy, definitely melts in your mouth! Quite pricey though so it left quite a dent in our food budget. If you go to Kyoto, go and visit Otsuka steak shop!

Wagyu Sirlion Steak Grade A4 –¬†150g ¬•4,200
Murasawa Sirlion Steak Grade A5 – the highest grade for steaks –¬†150g ¬•6,200
A meal to remember!

We actually visited one more temple but I didn’t have a lot of photos of that one because I think it began to drizzle? And I was carrying Mom’s trolley up the winding temple stairs. Too bad. ūüôĀ All the more I am determined to go back to Kyoto and visit the other temples – preferably during sakura season!

Next up on the blog – our trip to Hakone for the hot spring! ūüôā

Read about my post about Tokyo and Shinjuku and a visit to Sekaido as well!

Travel Diary: Tokyo and Shinjuku 2017

Let me start off this travel diary by saying that I never thought I would be back in Japan again, with my family, so soon. After our trip in Hokkaido two years ago I thought it would take me around 5 years, to earn enough for the family, to go back to my favorite vacation destination. But my mom is not getting any younger and our lives are not getting any easier – what better time than now?

So when my mom was down with traveling we wasted no time in booking our plane tickets and hotel (she might change her mind!). We decided to complete our itinerary from way back 2014 and that was to go to Kyoto. My knee got injured before so we weren’t able to go on a day trip in Kyoto and¬†I was never forgiven because of it. (Is it my fault they have so many stairs???)

One of our most important To Do’s before the trip was to get a JR Pass. JR Pass essentially is a 7 day free pass to all JR railway. Yes it is pricey, around 12k pesos per person but it also lets you take the Shinkansen, which one ticket already costs¬†13,500 yen on a reserved seats train (that’s about 7k php). We opted to take the JR Pass because also of the convenience since we just flash the pass in the JR booth to get in the train station. We no longer need to buy any tickets prior to entering, as long as the train we are taking is located in the JR track. Most of Tokyo anyway have JR trains. You can get a JR pass in the Philippines through travel agencies like this one.

More precious than our wallets in Japan.

Once you purchase your JR Pass here in the Philippines, they will give you documents and receipts to give to the JR train booth in the airport. It’s located one floor down from the arrivals area and the people that work there speak English (yey!) so we had assistance in booking our Shinkansen seats for the entire duration of the trip. Note that Shinkansen are very prompt so always arrive at the train station earlier than what’s written in the ticket. Also, you can change a reservation just by going to the Shinkansen or JR booth in any train station.

First meal in Japan! Just bought this in 7/11 while waiting for the train to take us from the airport to Tokyo station. Everything tastes so good.
Feeling blogger. Ha. This is right in front of Ikebukuro station.
We just discovered that Tobu was really nice mall on our last day. They have an entire floor dedicated filled with cats merchandise!!! Japan why so awesome

Our hotel is located in Ikebukuro which I chose because it’s a setting in an anime that I watched years before. Sakura Hotel (the name is cute too) is actually quite far from Tokyo Station (about 11 station away huh)) and I know my mom and brother will forever blame me for this. But it’s a really nice place! Ikebukuro I mean, not Sakura Hotel. The crowd is young so there’s lots of cafes, bars, karaoke, pachinko and many more (and I think there are yakuzas around)! We saw a lot of people in school uniforms so it might be the ideal destination of students cutting class. My mom was like, “Wala bang pasok ang mga ito?!” (Don’t they have classes!?) Our hotel¬†room was….cozy. But with our huge luggages we had to crab-walk to move in the room. I know my mom will not stand for it but we were in Japan and she can’t do anything about it. Ha.

After depositing our stuff in the hotel, we were off to Shinjuku to visit Sekaido. I talked more about Sekaido in another post because it’s art related and I spazzed too much there. After my mini-shopping we were dead tired already (the family with low energy) so we wanted a quick dinner and rest because the next day is for Kyoto! Finding a quick dinner in Japan is difficult, mainly because there are so many choices and everything looks good. My brother wanted ramen so we found the nearest ramen shop to eat. It was also very cold so a bowl of hot soup is super welcome.

The lone cherry blossom tree in Shinjuku. One day I’ll schedule a trip at the exact time of the cherry blossom season.


I love beansprouts! My mom hates it so I ate all the beansprouts while she ate most of the noodles.


Got distracted in Shinjuku station because they have a store selling tea with cat printed merchandise. How can I resist? Bought a T-shirt, a souvenir and a lip balm.

The store is called Afternoon Tea and it sells gift items like mugs, tea, soap, perfume, cellphone cases, pouches, etc.. It’s one of those stores that is uniquely Japan that my mom and I love so much.

I’ll end my first Japan post here. There’s not much pictures yet because we just landed and our airplane selfies aren’t very interesting haha. Please look forward to the Kyoto and Hakone post soon (in the next long vacation kekeke~)!