2 week Japan Trip Report and Vlog! (Tokyo/Disney/Osaka/Kyoto)

Sarahboo

100% geek
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Hi everyone!

We returned from our 2 week trip to Japan last Thursday, and I finally feel human again and I want to share our trip report! I'll be gradually working on it over the next couple of weeks, but follow along on our YouTube channel as well!

Here's a link to our channel:


And here's a link to our first video about Japan - our souvenir haul:



Our basic Itinerary that I'll be doing posts for:

Day One - Travel and Kurand Sake Market
Day Two - MariCar Go Karts, Shinjuku
Day Three - Wine tasting in that Katsunuma Valley and Robot Restaurant
Day Four - Akihabara
Day Five - DisneySea
Day Six - Disneyland
Day Seven - Tsukiji Market, Ginza, Pokemon Center, Tapas Molecular
Day Eight - TeamLab Borderless, Trick Art Museum, Ferris Wheel, Unicorn Gundam
Day Nine - Asakusa, Senso-ji Temple, Piss Alley
Day Ten - Shinkansen to Osaka, Dotonbori, Yuki's Bar
Day Eleven - A day of rest, ramen, conbini food, Netflix (and hangover recovery)
Day Twelve - Kyoto
Day Thirteen - Hep 5 - Gudetama Cafe, Amerimura, VR Experience, Izakaya Toyo, Yuki's Bar
Day Fourteen - Shinkansen to Tokyo Station, Narita Express to Narita, and Fly home

Day One: Travel Day -

We have 4 kids (one in college) - so we got our middle two kids off to school and then my BFF picked us up to take us to the airport. We brought my youngest along and my BFF dropped him off at school after dropping us at the airport. We wanted to get to the airport extra early so we could just check in, send our luggage off, and have breakfast and a couple of mimosas before the flight. We frequent the Country Cat Cafe at PDX. DELISH.

See you in Tokyo, Artoo and C3PO!








At Portland Airport - it's required that you take a picture of your feet with the airport carpet for every trip. It became a thing when we had the old airport carpet and it was so distinctive and weird that it took on a life of its own. They replaced the carpet a few years ago with a more modern take on the old carpet, but it's still a thing everyone does:



Also, I will give mad props to our Sketchers with Memory Foam featured in this picture of our feet. We walked 10-15 miles a day and our feet never hurt (our backs and hips sometimes, but never our feet).



We took the direct flight from Portland to Narita airport on Delta, and the ride was BUMPY. It went on for so long that I actually got sick. Other than that, the flight was comfortable and quick.


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We landed in Narita about 3:30 and headed right for the restroom. Protip: They were doing construction and we had to walk FOREVER to get to a restroom. I thought I was going to die. That being said, two thumbs up for the airport toilets. I wanted to hit all of the buttons, but then I couldn't turn the music off so I spent a ridiculous amount of time in the bathroom. I'm pretty sure Chris thought I had been abducted.

The wait at immigration was about 10-15 mins, but then customs was super fast. As soon as we got through customs, there were two places to exchange cash (on either side of the exit from customs to the main airport). The rate was better than if we exchanged through our bank or in the states. We exchanged about $1500 US cash, and then took money out of 7-11 ATMS the rest of the time.

Immediately after we exchanged money, we were asked if we wanted to be on Japanese TV, so here we are being interviewed. A friend in Japan said it was a popular Tokyo TV show. The people who interviewed us said it would air Monday at 7pm (I think? Maybe it was 6:00), but we didn't try to watch it. I'm afraid they just made fun of us the whole time. I'm a pretty good sport about that kind of thing, but I don't want to see it. :heee:




We grabbed Suica cards and a round-trip ticket for the Narita express. Here's a tip about the NEX - we went to Shibuya station, but wanted to return from Tokyo station. That was totally okay to do and instead of an actual return ticket, we were given a voucher for Narita Express in the Tokyo Metro area, so you can just exchange it for tickets at whatever station you'll use for your return. It was significantly cheaper to purchase round trip tickets than two one-way tickets.

We hopped right of the train there and rode a little over an hour to Shibuya station. We had the unfortunate timing to land in Shibuya Station during Friday night rush hour. It wouldn't have been a big deal later in the trip - but my eyes must have popped out of my head trying to navigate Shibuya station with that many people, hauling our luggage behind us.

We found the right exit, and thanks to GREAT instructions from our Air BnB host, we had no trouble finding our apartment. We dropped our luggage off and then headed back out because we had reservations for an all you can drink sake market.

Here's a link to the AirBNB we used in Shibuya - we LOVED this location. It was a quick walk to anything we could have wanted and about 5 mins to the station. It was a small apartment, but it was perfect for 2 people.


Kurand Sake Market was awesome. If I could do it again, I would have reserved it for a different night because we were tired from the trip and I think I would have enjoyed it more after being in Japan for a few days and learning a bit more about sake. BUT! We had a blast there anyway. We pre-reserved and pre-paid for our seats. You can bring in your own food, so we stopped by a Family Mart and grabbed some egg salad sandwich, onigiri, chips, and a blueberry/whipped cream sandwich.

Once they seat you, you can have up to three glasses of sake in front of you at a time and you just walk up to the coolers without 100 varieties and pour your own sake. You can have as much as you want! When we were there, the place was packed and it looked like a popular place to go after work. Groups of friends were meeting there and they would all bring some food item and then share with their friends.



You can kind of see here how it works with the coolers of sake and then the table in front of the coolers are for pouring your sake. They have a variety of glasses and our package came with some souvenir sake cups that we show in the video above.

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We stayed a couple of hours and then stopped by a cute little bar across from our apartment. We became friends with the owner, Akira, who didn't speak English. It's really amazing how you find ways to communicate, though. Between charades and Google Translate, we had a great time talking with him and we went 4 or 5 times while we were in Tokyo. He gave us a CD with his favorite Japanese hip hop, and we gave him a CD of Chris's music and some of our friends who perform Hip Hop. We have some other picrtuyers from Akira's bar that I'll share later but I did take a picture of his English drink menu that night. He had other drinks and even food available, but it was all in Japanese. He offered us other things than are on the English menu, though, so I'm certain that if we knew what was available he would have served us anything we wanted.

When we became friends (and follow each other on IG now even though we don't speak the same language ❤ ) he stopped charging us the cover charge.

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Music ended up being a common theme for us - every time we made friends in Japan it started with connecting over music.

A few highballs later, and we stumbled across the street to our apartment where we promptly fell asleep.

Stay Tuned for Day 2!
 
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  • Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    Adjusting to the time change took a few days. IN retrospect, I think we were definitely kind of tired and grouchy for 3 or 4 days, but it didn't seem so bad at the time. Chris and I travel really well together, so it wasn't a big deal, but if I could do it again - I might plan a little less the first few days just to allow for some adjustment.

    So, we woke up very early on Saturday November 9. We were showered and out the door by 6am. We didn't realize a few things about Tokyo:

    1. They take their partying very seriously in Shibuya and I am HERE for it.

    While Chris and I packed in a full night's sleep, Akira's bar was STILL GOING from the night before when we left. He ran out to greet us on the street and he gave us a CD of his favorite Japanese music. <3 (Later that day we stopped by a BIC Camera to purchase a flash drive so we could return the gift of Chris's music and some of our friends who are also musicians). This was true of several bars we passed - still going strong at 6 am. There were also SO MANY people still drinking on the streets. We would pass groups of people just having Strong Zeroes on the sidewalk. There was a lot of trash about too, which struck us as odd because we had only read/heard/seen how clean Japan was. Well, spoiler alert: we went back to the apartment a little later for about an hour and when we came back out at like 9:00am, it was like the Fairy Godmother had swept through and there wasn't a piece of trash in sight. It was kind of incredible.

    2. Nothing in Tokyo opens before 10am.

    We ended up having a lot of Starbucks coffee because it was the only coffee shop we could find open when we were out the door early. We also had a lot of Ichiran Ramen for breakfast because they're open 24 hours. We tend to be early day travelers, and if you are too - it's a great time to go to shrines and temples, but very little else is open before 10am.



    Ok, so we walked around Shibuya a bit - getting our bearings, acquiring our You Are Here Starbucks mugs, and exploring the area. I'm a city councilor in my town at home, so I'm really interested in infrastructure and transportation design, excuse me while I nerd out on these. This is a plaza ABOVE a busy intersection. Before we saw the stairs, I was scared to cross the street because it was INSANE and there was construction everywhere (true of a lot of Japan as they prepare for the 2020 Olympics), but then we hopped up here and it was so peaceful and allowed you to cross to whatever corner you wanted to get to:

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    Uh, how do I rotate pictures? Anyone?

    Anyway, this is a stairwell with a ramp so you can walk your bike up to that plaza thing - how clever is that? You'll also notice the yellow bumpy things. Those paths are all over major cities and they're to assist vision impaired people. As long as the bumps are long rows (instead of circular bumps) - you walk straight. When it's a bunch of little bumps that means you're either at an intersection or stairs or something else. I'm sure the pattern has specific meanings, but we didn't learn those.




    We also discovered a couple of shrines in the area.





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    This was a cemetery - they were often just right in the middle of neighborhoods, but they were so beautiful.

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    This was a sign on the cemetery gate. I have no idea what it says, but I was kind of tickled by it.

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    Ok, I hit my attachment limit, so now I'll try to figure out how to rotate images and get on with the report!
     

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    Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    Well, it seems I can't rotate them? I'll just have to upload them to FB first, I think.

    Ok, back to the trip report...

    Here are some more shrine pics that I didn't have room for in the last post:







    On our way back to the room, I noticed that Akira's bar had finally closed. I love how the businesses have shutters there, you almost can't tell what something is until it opens:



    And this is the parking for the apartment building we stayed in, they can rotate the cars when you want to get yours out to make the most of having very little space:


    After wandering aimlessly, we headed back to the apartment to rest. We watched TV for about an hour, and then it was almost 9:00 so we knew we could eat breakfast and then the Disney Store would open (we needed to purchase our tickets for the Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea still since they're difficult to purchase online. We knew that the crowds were supposed to be low those days so we didn't worry about buying them once we got there. We purchased on Saturday for Tuesday and Wednesday. You may already know that you can't get Park Hopper tickets unless you buy a 3 or 4 day pass and even then ONLY the 3rd and 4th day are park hoppers. You actually have to declare when you purchase the tickets which day you'll be at which park - so be prepared for that if you're purchasing tickets.

    Anyway, we had Ichiran Ramen for breakfast, and checked out the Hachiko statue at Shibuya station:

    You purchase a ticket from a vending machine in the entryway, and then you customize your ramen with a sheet like this:




    After that, you push the button in the picture below and set both your vending machine ticket and customization sheet down. They whisk it away, close the blinds and a few minutes later they return with ramen! Yay!






    I know Ichiran is a chain ramen restaurant, and we tried ramen in smaller places as well, but we really like Ichiran. Chris and I have very different palates, so it's nice to be able to customize mine to be more garlicky and spicier, and his to be richer with extra-pork.





    Our next stop was MariCar Shibuya to go kart through the mean street of Tokyo!
     
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    Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    We elected to do only the one hour go Kart ride through Shibuya and Shinjuku. I could have done it for longer, but I don't feel like I missed out by only doing an hour. I really enjoyed doing the Go Karts though, and I would for sure recommend it. They even have us a 50% off coupon if we wanted to do it in Osaka or Kyoto and we ALMOST did when we were in Osaka, but decided against it at the last minute.

    If you want to do Go karts in Japan, you need to get an International Driver's License PRIOR to going to Japan. We went to the AAA and all we had to do was fill out a short form and show them our US Driver's Licenses. They took pictures, and about $25 each, and handed us the International Driver's Permit. It's a little bigger than a passport and it unfolds, so it's not a card like a DL.

    Other notes - Japan has a zero tolerance for drinking and driving. They have an open container law (and we learned that passengers can even drink in a moving vehicle), but there's no legal limit - if you blow anything you get a DUI. IN fact, if you have passengers in your car that have been drinking or are drinking, everyone in the car gets a DUI if the driver blows any alcohol. All of that to say - you cannot do Mari Car if you've had anything to drink. Chris and I like to have drinks on vacation, so we booked our go karts during the day so we could drink in the evening.

    I reserved ahead of time via FB messenger and they had us send pictures of our International Driver's Permits prior to confirming our reservation. We paid upon arrival. We showed up a little early, but Chris bought a snapback and we tried on various onesies. We ended up getting a totally private tour, which was awesome!

    We wanted to match, so we narrowed it down to Nemo and Dory or Chip and Dale. We ultimately went with Chip and Dale. For around 3000-5000 yen you can purchase a onesie new in a bag, but a rental came with our fee so we just borrowed onesies.

    We also paid 500 Yen each for insurance (about $5 but if you crashed your go kart or damaged another car - its was 50,000 Yen - or $500) and I rented a head camera and strap. Chris is going to edit the video here sometime soon and I'll post the YT link when it's up. In the meantime, here are some pictures - we weren't allowed to touch our phones, but our guide took like 70 pictures at various stop lights and then air dropped them to me when we were done. He also sent some ahead to print off and gave us a few prints when we were finished:
















    This was our guide giving us pics after we returned:

     
  • Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    After MariCar, we grabbed a couple of strong zeroes and some friend chicken from Lawson's, then we headed to Shinjuku where we tried our hand at some Pachinko. We had no idea what was happening, spent about 1000 yen each, and then moved on.

    My favorite Strong Zero was pear, but this grape was a close second:



    You'll hear later about how much I love Gudetama, but we also tried our luck at a claw machine, and I think we spent 500-700 yen ( definitely not more than that), and came away with a giant Gudetama :




    We walked around and explored a whole bunch before finally deciding we should eat a real meal. We had dinner in this great restaurant near Shinjuku station:






    Then it was time for something we were both SUPER excited for - ROBOT RESTAURANT. The streets were all really crowded:



    But then we saw it:




    We waited in line for about 20 minutes to exchange our Klook vouchers and were promptly told that we were a whole DAY EARLY. Oops. They couldn't get us in that night, and we weren't sure if we could make it the next night because we had hired a guide to take us wine tasting. Disappointment set in, but we quickly decided to just have fun anyway. We found this cool open air pod of various food and beverage vendors with seating on traditional mats. The sinking disappointment of being a day early for Robot Restaurant was no match for a Suntory Whiskey Highball:

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    On our way back to Shibuya, we stopped off at Harajuku. It was SO PACKED and I didn't enjoy it at all. Everything was kind of closing anyway so we decided to just head back to Akira's bar and then get a good night's sleep thinking we might get back to

    Harajuku on any night other than a Saturday night. Here is Chris descending on the Harajuku crowd before we knew what we were in for:



    And here's Akira's bar at night - you can actually tell it's a bar!




    The next installment will be all about hiring a private English speaking guide to do a custom wine tasting trip through Katsanuma Valley in the Yamanashi Prefecture!
     
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    LovesTimone

    Christmas Day 2017
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2009
    Wow looks like your off to such and great start...

    So I do have a few questions... With us going next year, I am really trying to be smart with our time, and money... so I am going to most likely ask alot of questions... sorry in advance...

    1) We would love to do a Air B&B for a portion of our trip in this area... So with that said... DH is 6'4" and a big guy and I am 5'8"... the beds look really short? was it like a American size double, and single? are the beds soft or hard? and the picture of the shower, looks really small... and barely enough room to room around? and there was no sitting area... basically just a bedroom, bath and kitchen...?

    2) what exactly is "Strong Zero"?

    3) Why did you not like Harajuku ? was it due to the crowds or overall...?
     

    Haley R

    With all the strength of a raging fire
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2017
    Thanks for stopping by!




    Yay! It's such an incredible place to travel! We'd love to do Europe next year, but I think I'll definitely be back to Japan in the next several years.
    We went to japan in May/June of this year and are planning for Europe in 2021, but Dh keeps begging to go back to japan instead lol.
     

    Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    We went to japan in May/June of this year and are planning for Europe in 2021, but Dh keeps begging to go back to japan instead lol.
    I LOVED Japan. I'd really like to get to some other parts of the country, but the world is so big, we'll fit a few other locations in before going back. Next year will be Olympics crazy, but then they'll get the tourism bounce too for the following year or two.

    Wow looks like your off to such and great start...

    So I do have a few questions... With us going next year, I am really trying to be smart with our time, and money... so I am going to most likely ask alot of questions... sorry in advance...

    1) We would love to do a Air B&B for a portion of our trip in this area... So with that said... DH is 6'4" and a big guy and I am 5'8"... the beds look really short? was it like a American size double, and single? are the beds soft or hard? and the picture of the shower, looks really small... and barely enough room to room around? and there was no sitting area... basically just a bedroom, bath and kitchen...?

    2) what exactly is "Strong Zero"?

    3) Why did you not like Harajuku ? was it due to the crowds or overall...?

    Ask away!

    1 - I'm 5'7 and Chris is 5'10 - but I feel like the bed in our AirBNB was as long as our King Bed at home. That being said, it was for sure like a US Full size bed and we're used to a King. Tight quarters. We could have pushed the twin together with the full bed but we ended up using the twin for our suitcases since there was no dresser to put clothes in. The bed was firmer than our bed at home, but we have a memory foam bed. I didn't find it as uncomfortable as expected.

    The apartment was definitely small. The shower wasn't too bad, but the shower head is lower than at home, so I held it a lot of the time - especially when I was washing my hair. No sitting area - we sat on our bed when we wanted to sit but we really didn't spend a ton of time at the apartment. We were either getting ready to head out for the day or coming back to sleep so I don't feel like we really needed one. The room was super inexpensive for the location and I'd take a smaller apartment rather than a worse location. Our walk to the train station was fast every morning and we were close to everything. It was awesome being on the Yamanote line because it makes a loop around the whole city so we didn't transfer at all many days and when we did transfer, we only had to transfer one line.

    We got to Shinjuku, Tokyo Station, Asakusa, and Akihabara without transferring. We only transferred to get to Disney and Odaiba.


    2 - Hahaha. Strong zero is just a silly (but STRONG) alcoholic drink. It's almost like a more flavorful White Claw. They were kind of a joke for us on our trip. If we were getting stressed out or something was going haywire we were like "This calls for a Strong Zero."

    3 - I am 1000% sure we would have loved Harajuku if we went any time other than a Saturday night. Generally, I didn't mind the crowds in Japan. It's a dense metropolis, you just have to accept that places will be crowded when you go. Harajuku on a Saturday night was worse than a Tokyo metro train during rush hour. We couldn't move, couldn't see anything, and we got there so late everything was closing anyway. If I was planning it again, I'd go on a weekday.
     
  • Haley R

    With all the strength of a raging fire
    Joined
    Sep 3, 2017
    I LOVED Japan. I'd really like to get to some other parts of the country, but the world is so big, we'll fit a few other locations in before going back. Next year will be Olympics crazy, but then they'll get the tourism bounce too for the following year or two.




    Ask away!

    1 - I'm 5'7 and Chris is 5'10 - but I feel like the bed in our AirBNB was as long as our King Bed at home. That being said, it was for sure like a US Full size bed and we're used to a King. Tight quarters. We could have pushed the twin together with the full bed but we ended up using the twin for our suitcases since there was no dresser to put clothes in. The bed was firmer than our bed at home, but we have a memory foam bed. I didn't find it as uncomfortable as expected.

    The apartment was definitely small. The shower wasn't too bad, but the shower head is lower than at home, so I held it a lot of the time - especially when I was washing my hair. No sitting area - we sat on our bed when we wanted to sit but we really didn't spend a ton of time at the apartment. We were either getting ready to head out for the day or coming back to sleep so I don't feel like we really needed one. The room was super inexpensive for the location and I'd take a smaller apartment rather than a worse location. Our walk to the train station was fast every morning and we were close to everything. It was awesome being on the Yamanote line because it makes a loop around the whole city so we didn't transfer at all many days and when we did transfer, we only had to transfer one line.

    We got to Shinjuku, Tokyo Station, Asakusa, and Akihabara without transferring. We only transferred to get to Disney and Odaiba.


    2 - Hahaha. Strong zero is just a silly (but STRONG) alcoholic drink. It's almost like a more flavorful White Claw. They were kind of a joke for us on our trip. If we were getting stressed out or something was going haywire we were like "This calls for a Strong Zero."

    3 - I am 1000% sure we would have loved Harajuku if we went any time other than a Saturday night. Generally, I didn't mind the crowds in Japan. It's a dense metropolis, you just have to accept that places will be crowded when you go. Harajuku on a Saturday night was worse than a Tokyo metro train during rush hour. We couldn't move, couldn't see anything, and we got there so late everything was closing anyway. If I was planning it again, I'd go on a weekday.
    I think we would at least wait until 2022 when the new expansion should be done at DisneySea
     

    Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    We woke up on Sunday morning extra early again. Chris was feeling a little rough from the night before, but some advil and water took good care of that. We headed off to have ramen for breakfast again - there really aren't a lot of places open in the morning, so this became a bit of a habit. Then we headed off to Shibuya station, and needed to transfer at Shinjuku station for an express train to Kofu. It was about 1.5 hours total and it was a beautiful ride into the hills. We were headed for the Katsunuma Valley in Yamanashi Prefecture.

    After reading an article in some wine publication or on a wine website about the Katsunuma Valley wines, I thought it would be a fun way to get out of the city for a day. I used to study wine in school, and I like to try wine wherever we travel. I found this website:


    He said he was working on a new website JUST for wine tours, but I don't think it's up yet.

    Our guide, Morey, met us at the train station and we were off to taste wine. Morey is from the mid-west, but he's lived in Japan for 28 years, so he's fluent in the language and culture and he was an AWESOME guide. All of the tours are private and custom, and it was nice to have a private guide to answer questions.

    The weekend we went ended up being a promotional weekend where they were doing special events at several wineries. Morey told us it made the wineries busier than usual, but there was only one that I thought was kind of crowded, and it was a small winery with a busload of people that pulled up right before us.

    One thing that was very different than at home, is that you often poured your own wine. At a couple of the places they poured for us, but generally the culture is that you just pour your own. I tried to be very careful to not over pour because I wanted to remember the day.

    I did a horrible job of taking pictures, but here are some of the ones I did take:

    This was one of Chris's favorites. The Koshu grape is a unique grape that Katsunuma Valley grows. Like Japanese food, the flavor is a little more delicate. We actually did a wine tasting video when we got home, so when that's all edited, I'll post a link. This wine is Nigori which indicates it's unfiltered.



    The wine maker at Sanyo Winery was awesome and funny.

    After we finished up here, Morey took us to a several hundred year old Sake brewery for a tasting and lunch (which was included in the tour). We were about 15 minutes early, so we walked a block away to a shrine.









    Morey taught us how to pray at the shrine and then we walked back to the sake brewery. The restaurant is upstairs in this old Japanese house, and this is a picture of some persimmons drying outside while people dine inside:



    This is Chris ready to GET WILD:



    The first floor is still made up like an old traditional home with dirt floors:





    There was even a swallow nest above the welcome desk on the main floor. You can see the electrical wires exposed since there is no drywall to hide them:



    Then, you take your shoes off and go upstairs to the dining area:



    Ok, so in a few days we'll have the best meal of my life - but this was honestly a close second. We had three choices of sets - Pork, Salmon, or Vegetarian.

    Chris and Morey had the pork (which was almost like a pork belly):



    I had the salmon:



    It was the best salmon I've EVER had (and Chris says the same about the pork). Everything was incredible. The rice, the miso soup, the coleslaw, the sweet potato salad, and pickled vegetables.

    Then we had a sake tasting of 3 cold sakes and one warm sake (which I don't have a picture of, unfortunately) and then they brought coffee and sake ice cream. Holy yum.



    We ended up purchasing the unfiltered Koshu and a red blend from Sanyo, and we purchased the warm sake from the sake brewery.

    Next, we headed off to another small winery - Kizan Family Winery. They also made a brandy and a grappa that they allowed us to try. I purchased a bottle of the Family Reserve here:





    By this point we had moved from the area of Kofu to Enzan.

    The next winery we went to was a little larger and had a more rigid system for tasting. Morey purchased a card and it had a certain number of credits on it that we used to dispense wine. I thought it was the prettiest location of all of the wineries, though, and they had a cool display room of Reidel glassware upstairs in their dining room that they use for special events.







    Morey is teaching Chris how to get a wine tasting here:



    This was the path to the bathroom which also acted as a sobriety test:



    The next winery we arrived at was the most crowded, but there was a bus of tourists that arrived right before us. Their wine was super sweet and I didn't purchase any at the oneI just posted about or at this one:



    The next winery is the one I thought was most interesting. You walk into a courtyard that has a 70 year old vine hovering over it. It was massive and amazing:





    When we post the video of us tasting the wine with our friends at home, you'll recognize this as my favorite one because it's so unusual. It tastes almost like a Niagra wine but it's a deep red and it's a dry wine:



    After this, we headed to the final winery which was more like a huge wine cellar that had over a hundred wines to taste from several wineries. You get this with the tasting fee - it's a traditional wine tasting cup and it has bumps on it so it aerates the wine when you swirl:



    This was the view from the parking lot - it's up on a huge hill:



    And this is what the cellar looked like:



    Here we are with Morey down in the cellar:



    After that, he drove us to Enzen station and helped us buy tickets to get back to Shinjuku. We were running a little later than I hoped because I wanted to try to make Robot Restaurant, but it looked impossible. The women next to us had the BEST time on the train ride home:







    Ok, my overall review of the wine tasting is that it was fantastic. It was 25,000 yen per person plus the 10% consumption tax and it includes all wine tastings and lunch - but you have to pay for your transportation to Kofu Station and from Enzen station. It is for sure spendy at about $525 for the day, but without a car and without speaking Japanese, I don't think we could have gone wine tasting any other way. Morey was awesome and we learned a lot of about the culture and area from him on the tour. It was also nice to have a private tour for the day compared to the busloads of people. Morey knew the owners of the wineries and that helped us get a little more attention during our tastings.

    Next up - our attempt at getting to Robot Restaurant!
     

    LovesTimone

    Christmas Day 2017
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2009
    This looks so amazing... and something DH and I would absolutely love love to do... I have jotted this down in my "notebook" and starred it so that I know its up there with things to do...

    Did you bring the bottles back to the US?... and if you did how did you protect them during transport? ...
     

    MermaidLagoonResident

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 2, 2019
    This looks so amazing... and something DH and I would absolutely love love to do... I have jotted this down in my "notebook" and starred it so that I know its up there with things to do...

    Did you bring the bottles back to the US?... and if you did how did you protect them during transport? ...
    Something I've personally done while bringing bottles back from places is purchase a can of Pringles, ate the chips and then put the bottle into a sock and then into the can. Ive done this in the past with beer bottles, don't know if every wine bottle would fit but I've been successful in the past doing this.
     

    Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    Something I've personally done while bringing bottles back from places is purchase a can of Pringles, ate the chips and then put the bottle into a sock and then into the can. Ive done this in the past with beer bottles, don't know if every wine bottle would fit but I've been successful in the past doing this.
    That's a great idea!

    This looks so amazing... and something DH and I would absolutely love love to do... I have jotted this down in my "notebook" and starred it so that I know its up there with things to do...

    Did you bring the bottles back to the US?... and if you did how did you protect them during transport? ...
    We brought all of the bottle back except one (which we gifted to our bartender friend, Akira, on our last night in Tokyo). They actually packaged them all pretty well for us in bubble wrap, and sometimes bubble wrap and boxes. Morey asked them to package for travel, so I'm not sure if they do that normally or not. I think we ended up with about 6 bottles that we brought home. They were so heavy to lug around once we got back to Shinjuku that I wish I would have brought a different bag with us that day (a backpack instead of my smaller crossbody bag) so I could have at least put a few of the bottles in that instead of carrying them in plastic bags.
     

    Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    So Chris and I were lugging bottles of wine to Shinjuku station and for the first and ONLY time during my whole trip Pocket Wi-fi failed me and Google Maps just refused to load. We had gone to Robot Restaurant the night before, so I THOUGHT I knew the general direction to head - I have a pretty darn good sense of direction which served us very well in Japan - but I had been drinking all day, so. It turns out I was headed in the wrong direction and by the time Google Maps started to work again, there was definitely no way we would get to RR in time. We tried anyway, and they told us we couldn't enter once the show had started but we could enter at the intermission. We threw our things in a locker as quick as possible, then they walked us this crazy back way and we entered through the side. We only missed one act - which wasn't so bad.

    We purchased cocktails in flashing lightbulb glasses to get in the mood:



    Then the show started!

    Look - it's cheesy and goofy and weird, but we had SO MUCH FUN. I think I took enough video that Chris will edit one together, but I have to give it a thumbs up. My advice would be to not order food when you purchase the ticket. You're not really sitting at a table, you have more of a tray in front of you and you're so busy watching the show that there's no real time to eat (unless you only ate during intermission). Very few people seemed to have ordered food, and the show isn't super long. Eat before or after and just enjoy the show while you're at Robot Restaurant.

    There were several little mini shows with different storylines and music.








    It was all so delightfully quirky - Chris and I laughed the whole time.



    Before the last act, they handed these out to everyone (you can see them in the picture above) and then they collect them at the end of the show:



    There's also a fun photo op in front of the restaurant. Chris is feeling that Asahi Dry Tallboy energy:



    It's not something I'd ever need to do again, but we really did have so much fun watching this goofy show.

    After RR, we wandered around a bit, grabbed some street food, and headed back to Shibuya station.

    We hopped off the train and realized we had never eaten dinner, so we popped into Genki sushi. You order sushi on an iPad, and then a little conveyor belt brings it to you. It was pretty darn delicious and super inexpensive. Chris and I each ordered a few items and a highball and I think our bill was about $20.






    We were exhausted by that point, so we went off to go to sleep - the next day was Akihabara!
     
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    Sarahboo

    100% geek
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2007
    We had a slow start the next morning. We quickly learned to avoid the trains during rush hour when possible, but still managed to get to Akihabara a good 45 minutes before anything opened. We didn't really have much of a plan for this day other than to play some video games, and to do some shopping. I was looking for a couple of Japanese board games that have never been released in the United States.

    We started the day wandering near the station looking for something to eat. We're super nerdy, so I thought this sticker was hilarious. Later I realized I caught Chris walking ahead of me and I just really like this picture for some reason:



    We passed this restaurant which wasn't open yet, but it cracked me up too:









    We stopped at a little diner and had some gyoza, meat and rice, and ramen:

    Google Translate consistently cracked me up. TANTALIZING PUDDING.





    This was my least favorite ramen we had the whole trip, but I LOVED the gyoza.

    When the Sega Gaming buildings opened at 10:00, we played some video games. I really didn't take many pictures this day because we spent a lot of time looking in stores and exploring.



    We bought some Pokemon cards for our 11 year old son, and there were so many stores with just floor after floor like this:



    Before we realized it, it was lunch time and we found a little place where you cooked your own food over open flame at your table. We tried some beef tongue and short ribs:






    The funniest thing happened to me here, I COULD NOT figure out how to flush the toilet. I felt like I was in the bathroom for an hour. They had buttons that did EVERYTHING. When I walked in the bathroom, the light came on and the toilet seat lifted. Then, I had all of these buttons:



    So I was like "maybe it's one of the buttons on the top."



    But instead, I just stood there with the toilet lid and seat going up and down. I was seriously about to ask for help when I realized that the toilet had a lever just like at home. Chris thought I had gotten sick or something because I was in there FOREVER just hitting buttons.

    After lunch we went in some Manga and collectible stores, as well as some board game stores (I never did find any of the games I wanted).



    About 5pm we decided to head to Asakusa - and this is where I made my only big train mistake. I was exhausted and jet-lagged, and we headed off to Asaksa instead of Asakusa. By the time I realized, we were halfway back to Shibuya so we decided to just head toward home and go to Asakusa at the end of the week because we were going to Tokyo DisneySea the next day! Yay!

    We went to Tokyu Food Show when we got back to Shibuya station and it was awesome, we wandered around there forever looking for foods and snacks to take back to our AirBNB and we snagged some rolls to eat in line at DisneySea the next morning.

    I didn't LOVE Akihabara, TBH and it's the one day I look back on and think "I wish we had done something else." It was fine, and maybe I was just really feeling the jet-lag that day. I really thought we would love it, but I can only shop for so long. Maybe we just didn't plan well enough to see what else in the area, but I was ready to leave by mid-afternoon.

    The upside is that we finally caught up on our rest that night!
     
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    MML7

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Dec 6, 2019
    OP and others who have experience. What's the best option for Mario Karting in Tokyo? Looks like I will also need to somehow get an international driving license? Is that right?
     

    LovesTimone

    Christmas Day 2017
    Joined
    Apr 29, 2009
    We went to Tokyu Food Show when we got back to Shibuya station and it was awesome, we wandered around there forever looking for foods and snacks to take back to our AirBNB and we snagged some rolls to eat in line at DisneySea the next morning.

    I didn't LOVE Akihabara, TBH and it's the one day I look back on and think "I wish we had done something else." It was fine, and maybe I was just really feeling the jet-lag that day. I really thought we would love it, but I can only shop for so long. Maybe we just didn't plan well enough to see what else in the area, but I was ready to leave by mid-afternoon.

    The upside is that we finally caught up on our rest that night!



    I have been talking with my friends that just got back... they also like the Tokyu Food Show store, the tip about getting something for the next morning is a great tip... Her family is a big breakfast family, so they did have issue's with nothing being opened until around 10:00 am like you have said... they learned really fast to have something for first thing in the morning... she said they stopped every night somewhere to get some snack for in the morning... She said normally she bring stuff like breakfast/ cereal/ granola type bars, even pop tarts or little debbies... she said the one time she does not is when they needed it the most... As well, she said finding fruit, like banana's, or grape's was challenging... she said that 7-11 might have them... she said and when they did find they were quite expensive? Did you happen to notice?

    As well she also said that Akihabara was just "meh" and they wished that they would have done something else, they only spent a few hours, then left to go back to hotel to nap and relax, before their private guided tour of the skinny bars in the evening....which she said was fun at the beginning..of the tour, she said you can only drink so much the tour was 4 hours long .. and their group was large 6 people, at times they would have to split up between bars due to the available seating... She said that people don't realize that they are called skinny bars for a reason... most only had only 8 to 12 seats, after about 2 hours, they were done drinking, and wanted a meal... so the tour guide took them his favorite restaurant, the guide said that he and his family have been eating there since he was a kid... that she said could only be describe as the best food of the trip... totally amazing...she said that they were so welcoming, and took great care of them... she said make sure to have cash for the bars...

    Looking forward to more of your trip report....
     



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