Apologize for lack of regular updates as usual, as life seems to be slowing down with all the routines heh. So this is December, the last year of 2010. Oh boy I've lots of thoughts wanna share it out here, but let's start with the recent trip organised by the university....
Date: 27 & 28 Nov 2010.
Location: Ibaraki (茨城県) and Tochigi (栃木県).
Organiser: Shobi University International Affairs Support (尚美学園大学国際交流センター)
Fees: JPY 4,000.
To put it in a nutshell, it's a 2D1N trip to visit various modern and traditional landmarks of Japan located at the north-eastern part of Kanto region, with the main agenda of staying at a hot spring hotel in Tochigi.
First stop of the day was Kirin Brewery located at Toride, Ibaraki (茨城県取手市).
Nothing much to say here as in the factory area photography is prohibited, and we were just briefly briefed about the factory's operation. Well, in most of our minds we're looking forward for the beer-tasting session heh.
Besides Kirin, the factory is also responsible for making Heineken beers (contract-bonded) too. Personally I would prefer the European to the Japanese though.
Later quick lunch at a hotel by the lakeside. Simple bento lunch but it was beautifully presented.
Taste-wise, I'd say this set would easily cost more than 1k yen lol.
Up next was the scientific city of Tsukuba. First stop was a science center.
Was expecting some Gundam-like figure but a bit disappointed heh.
However this cuddly baby seal is so cute and realistic and it's POSSIBLE TO PURCHASE IT.
..... with the pricetag of 350k yen (~MYR 13,500) LOL!
Just beside the science center is the Space Center JAXA.
Used to be a big fan of space when I was a kid but nowadays these shuttles look merely, plastic and aluminium foil to me.
As expected from the creativity of the Japanese, so-called "space food" as souvenir! How convenient!
I wonder how does beef curry taste like in the outer space.
Outside the exhibit hall there's this 1:1 scale rocket model (or is it the real deal?) overlooked by the JAXA HQ.
After JAXA, we took like 2 hours++ to travel to the final destination of the day, the hot spring hotel located at Yunishigawa (湯西川). Nothing much to do in the bus except for sleep and some quizzes.
The hotel was かめや平家の庄 (link). The traditional atmosphere was great! Words and the pic couldn't do justice for the place!
Something that I've been looking forward the most, DINNER!!
The dining hall, got the "feel".
Lots of great stuffs here.... We've quite some fishes, pickled stuffs, vege, tofu and various other fresh ingredients. It's safe to say that this is one of the best meals I ever had in Japan so far!! :)
After the hearty dinner, it's time for some hot spring!! But I didn't brought my camera along, the feeling of dipping into a 50'C hot spring when outside's close to 3'C.... what an experience hahah!! Carving for more hot spring from now onwards!! <3
Back to my room, too bad didn't took any pic of it. Slightly old-fashioned, but it's very comfy. Not to mention, the 29" flat screen LCD lol. Roommates were 2 Malaysians from the other campus, a Hong Kongnese, a mainland Chinese and a Sri Lankan. We get along quite well and joked quite a bit that night hah.
I slept quite well that night, all thanks to the earplug which helped to reduce the noise of snorings lol.
The next morning, looking outside the room. It's a shame that we came late Nov when all the leaves were fallen off. Heart this region the red leaves season is slightly earlier than the rest of Kanto region.
Went to morning shower and managed to dip in the outdoor hot spring which is quite another experience. Too bad due to the time constraint I wasn't able to enjoy it thoroughly, but will do so next time when I have the time. :)
Buffet style breakfast! Then again, quite a few unfamiliar stuffs but as daring as I'm usually is towards food, devoured everything hah.
So.... this was the hotel we stayed. Link can be found slightly above.
We continued the journey on the bus, towards Nikko (日光).
As you can see, the mountains are changing colours.
Somehow I kinda like this setting, hillside and running river.
Was at this pickled stuffs shop. Didn't bought anything as not really a big fan of pickled stuffs.
Tried one of their so-called "spiciest" pickle and I had a laugh. It doesn't qualified to be called "spicy" by Malaysian's standard heh.
This is how the Japanese used to boil their water. I find it pretty cool and wonder why it's only found in Japan huh...
Main attraction of the day is the Nikko Toshogu Temples (日光東照宮; link), a series of temples/shrines built almost 400 years ago.
It's a popular tourist spot, and the limited area doesn't help much either... crowded.
Nicely preserved shrine.
One of the attractions, the 3 wise monkeys who see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil.
The main one's up ahead.
The main entrance gate, Yomeimon (陽明門).
Towards this point.... I find it kinda meaningless to post further pics of the shrines. First is because didn't manage to get proper shots, and secondly at some parts photography is prohibited.
Toshogu is actually a nice place to explore minus the crowd..... but since it's such a heritage site, I doubt the crowds will get lesser.
Late autumn of Nikko.
The lunch was however, surprisingly, vegetarian. I find it hard to find proper vegetarian meal in Japan unless u DIY or goto those specific vegetarian restaurant (which I haven't encounter any so far). Main ingredients are beans, tofu, pickled stuffs. Surprisingly no proper green vege spotted. :\
OK, so the last destination of the whole trip falls to the Kegon waterfalls (華厳滝). So-called one of the most famous waterfalls in Japan.
Too bad the surrounding trees went bald too early.... so it wasn't as spectacular as it suppose to be.
Some pics of the waterfall during another season can be view here.
Last but not least, a pic of me and the waterfall.
Once we're done with the waterfall, it's time to head back to Saitama. While on the way back, I checked the Map to reveal the sharp hairpin corners the bus' taking.
Drifters would love this place I believe.
Final few words..... I think that overall the trip is not bad, but there're things that could be improved in the future. For JPY 4k, this trip was worthwhile as the meals we had itself can easily cost more than 4k yen lol. I believe the dinner itself would cost more than 2k yen!
Next time, once I get my international driving license, I might be driving there again to explore those places slowly, bit by bit~ :)