Sawadee Krab! Hi everyone, that our family wants to see Sakura blossoming in Japan, so we plan this Japan trip from 15-25 April 2015. Altogether, it's a 10 days trip.
Here is our travel plan: Tokyo (Narita Airport) – Matsumoto – Tokyo (Ueno) – Gala Yuzawa – Yokohama – Lake Kawaguchiko – Matsumoto - Japan Alp – Tokyo ( Narita Airport).
The time we visited was when the Sakura was fully blossoming. This made our family hope of seeing Sakura getting closer to reality. This trip we planned according to our mother so we'd like to make it the most memorable one. Our mother wants to visit Gala Yuzawa and see Snow Wall at Japan Alp or what we commonly known as Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route.
If you guys are ready, let's get started!
And before starting, if you guys would like to see other reviews or beautiful photos, you can follow our journey as our channels below:
Twin Traveller : Travel and Lifestyle.
Wedsite : https://twintravellerblog.wordpress.com/
If you guys like this review, please like and share it further to encourage us, thank you very much :)
We choose the evening flight from Don Mueang International Airport (DMK) and reach Narita international Airport (NRT) the next morning. We do so because we'd like to have more travel time. Once we reach, we need to queue to exchange for JR PASS and then going to town to check in. We're afraid that we wouldn't get to travel on the first day and it'd be wasted, to make the most of the journey, so then we chose to reach here early morning.
The first thing after arriving the airport is going to the Ticket Office to exchange for JR Kanto Area Pass and JR East Pass after taking our luggage. After that, it's time to visit our first destination of the day.
The first town that we will see Sakura is Matsumoto. This city located Matsumoto Castle which is a national treasure of Japan. It is also a popular tourist destination that constantly welcomes many foreign visitors. Probably not many people are aware that there's a beautiful garden nearby this castle. And the Sakura is fully blossoming while we visited. Let's enjoy the beauty of this castle and the surrounding atmosphere together. But before enjoying the beauty of Matsumoto Castle, we'd like to introduce our hotel first. We are staying at Hotel Morschein (Double room with small double bed) at Matsumoto city.
This hotel is very convenient to travel around and easy to find. It's located near the train station, shopping mall, convenient stores and shops. From the train station, we only need to walk about 280 m. According to the map, after getting off from the station, we turn left, cross the street and turn left on the first alley.
This hotel offers 5 room types:
1.Single Room for 1 Person
2.Double Room with Small Double Bed for 2 People
3.Twin Room for 2 People
4.Double Room for 2 People
5.Triple Room for 2 People
We choose to stay at Double Room with Small Double Bed (Room Size: 16 m²) for this trip.
The rate for 2 nights is 18,021 JPY.
The room equips with air conditioning, a flat TV, a fridge, a hot water kettle and tea. The bathtub is there. Overall, the size is sufficient for two people.
The pajamas is also there for us in the room.
The bathroom is very spacious and comes with shampoo, soap, toothbrush, hair dryer, etc.
1.It's close to Matsumoto Station and only 280 m walk on foot and reachable in 4 minutes.
2.It offers Western buffet breakfast. The recommend dish is tomato, it's sweet and crispy, so delicious, you must try.
3. It's quiet around the hotel.
4. The bicycle is free of charge to borrow.
5. A lot of restaurants both cheap and expensive are located nearby the hotel.
6. The hotel is very clean.
1. The staff doesn't speak much English but it's understandable when they try their best to recommend us the place to eat.
This hotel has several restaurants nearby both economic and expensive ones like grilled restaurant, Ramen shop, or fast food. This includes Coco, the curry shop that Thai people must have because the price is not expensive and it suits our Thai taste.
The first restaurant that I want to recommend is:
It's the vending machine shop. In addition to cheap price, the food comes in big portion and very delicious. During our two days stay here, we come here several times. It also offers a variety of menus.
This is one of the first restaurant that I'd like to recommend. It's inexpensive and very nice. I wouldn't recommend if it's not this great, haha.
It's also easy to reach here. It's just within 1 minute walk from our hotel.
2. CoCo ICHIBANYA
This curry house has several branches in Thailand. The taste is good and fit with Thai people. I'm sure that you guys must try it when you are in Japan. When I book the hotel, I try to find it nearby this kind of restaurant as it tastes good and not so expensive.
It's also just a minute walk from our hotel. It's very convenient. You can also enjoy it at night time, I think it closes around 22.00 or 23.00 p.m.
These are the only two restaurants that I'd like to recommend. It's easy and delicious. Some of the hotels do not have these restaurants nearby and that's quite bad because the authentic Japanese is more expensive though it's also very delicious. Well, we'd like to enjoy both cheap price and delicious food, haha.
There're also lots of supermarkets nearby the Hotel Morschein. I really recommend this hotel.
For the tourist destinations, Matsumoto offers a lot of them both in Sakura blossom season or leaves changing color season. We can go check them out from the tourism website of that city in which I also did and got nice places to visit.
English website: http://welcome.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp
Here offers the tourism information in Thai also: http://www.go-nagano.net/
Or we can also visit Japan-guide website where Pantip people are quite familiar with:
After checking in and unpacking our stuff, it's about 15.00 p .m. and the time for us to start roaming around. Our first destination is Matsumoto Castle. We want to see it at its most beautiful moment so we wait until it's late evening. After the sun is set, the castle lights will be turned on and let's see how beautiful it is.
The beautiful red bridge is another highlight of this Matsumoto Castle. It's a popular angle where everyone must take a photo. If you want to have beautiful photos, you probably have to wait until it's twilight time. At that time, the lights are up and the sky is still blue. Otherwise, it'd be more difficult to take photos when the sky is completely dark.
After the Sukura is fully blossom, they will fall. It's such a pity that it falls within a week. All of the Sakura is blossom together and fall together. When it falls, it looks like snow so the falling Sakura is called “桜吹雪 (cherry blossoms blizzard)".
Nearby the castle is a small canal where lots of Sakura is blossoming. It's especially beautiful at night when the Sakura is reflecting in the water with light. Since we reached Matsumoto in the evening, we yet capture the atmosphere around Matsumoto Castle. We intend to do so in the next early morning.
We wake up early the next morning. We wake up around 4 a.m. because the sun is risen very early during the time we visited. Do not forget to check weather application if you would like to get good photos as time is important for shooting. Then, we quickly take a shower, get dressed and walk to the castle. It's very fresh and cool in the morning, such a relax time. This city is quiet, not crowded like other big cities. We reach here at 5.30 a.m. and it's only 10 minutes walk. Some people are jogging, some are walking dogs, and some are taking photos too. This morning, the sky is very bright and the sun is about to rise.
The water is completely still in the morning so we get the castle shadow reflecting in the water shot which makes this photo look even more interesting. Now the tourists start to come and the Sakura is 100% blossom, let's take a look around.
Here is the atmosphere around the bathroom at Matsumoto Castle. Well, the bathroom is already so beautiful, I can't imagine how other parts would look. Well, it's a true Japanese where they well take care of everything.
The atmosphere in the early morning is very quiet with no people around. Well, we wake up and come here since 5.30 a.m. haha. If you want to have a beautiful solo shot with Sakura without people nearby, I recommend you to wake up early to visit the place.
The big swan is also here and it makes this photo looks even more beautiful.
Sakura is now fully blossom. It's all white no matter where we look. When the wind blows, it's like snowing falling form the sky. It's so beautiful and very memorable experience.
The tourists have not showed up yet during this early hours. We only see Japanese children and students come to appreciate the beauty of this garden.
The atmosphere is so great and we would like to fully enjoy the place with no rush. We take photo around the garden and take a rest from times to time. While doing so, we also look at way of people's lives here which is also quite enjoyable. Now, it's almost noon and more tourists show up. The students are also here to appreciate the Sakura and this shot gives us quite authentic Japanese feeling. After enjoying taking photos and the place since the early morning, we go back to have lunch near our hotel before going to appreciate the Sakua at another place. Actually, we'never known that this place has so much Sakura as no one has reviewed before. This place has many corners for photography and it's yet well known for tourists. I only see the local people come to relax and enjoy the family times together.
We have been taken the photo at this garden since early morning until noon so we'd like to go other place. We didn't know where to go so we just take a look and find interesting park called Agatanomori Park which is quite easy to go. We start from the Matsumoto Station. In front of the station is a bus stop and we take the bus that goes to this park and we reach the park within 15 minutes.
And this is the bus stop that we get off.
The surrounding atmosphere of this garden is very beautiful and with no tourists.
The small Japanese car that is commonly seen in the countryside of Japan, it's so cute.
We reach here in the afternoon and find a group of students walking to school. We want to know why they are coming in the afternoon. Out of curiosity, we follow them to the school. We find out that the school happen to have afternoon class so we see them here. Having Japanese students in this photo makes our photo become more meaningful.
An uncle is also out here for jogging, such a refreshing scene.
Some are walking their dogs.
I try to walk around to capture the atmosphere of people here alongside the Sakura.
The children are playing while the parents are watching from afar.
This garden offers several sports. Many elders are here for sports. It's almost like a club thing. I feel so good seeing this. This helps the elders to exercise and socialize at the same time. It's commonly seen throughout rural areas in Japan.
In the midst of this beautiful atmosphere, how nice it'd be to have the loved ones besides.
Picnicking under this atmosphere must be very happy.
Overall, this garden is spacious and offers lots of activities. It has lots of trees for us to relax. It's such a great place to stop by for those who don't want to appreciate Sakura in the crowd. Here, you can enjoy taking photos and Sakura without much disturb. I highly recommend this place, you won't be disappointed.
Here is the end of our second day with Matsumoto and Sakura. We are so happy to actually see the full blossom Sakura as expected. Now, we go back to rest and get ready to go to Tokyo tomorrow.
Now we are in Tokyo at Ueno. Today, we'd like to go for snow and skiing. We searched the internet and found that Gala Yuzawa is the most popular place that people from Tokyo like to go. Gala Yuzawa is a place that everyone love due to it offers a variety of slops and has places for children and adults so it's full of ways to enjoy those snow. We now are indecisive as what to do. Gala Yuzawa is located in Ejiko Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture. It is about 200 km north of Tokyo. It's well known for having lots of snow. Gala Yuzawa is the place we can enjoy skiing from the height of 1,181 to 358 m. It is a ski resort that is best for snow conditions testing.
On how to travel to Gala Yuzawa, please click here: http://www.galaresort.jp/winter/thai/access.html
It's not a peak season during the time we visited, also, we come here quite early so there's not many people. It takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes from Tokyo so we can all have a good rest.
When we walk in from the train station gate, we will find the spacious ticket booth.
The counter sells souvenir and ski equipment. If you forgot anything, you can find them all here. In addition, snacks and clothes are also sold here.
Once we buy the Pass, we must fill out our information here for renting socks, gloves, and ski equipment.
Do not worry if you cannot read Japanese, Thai translation is there. It's quite a simple form only asking about how many people are renting, how many pairs of shoes we need and the size.
We can try our shoe's size here before filling out the form.
Once we are done with the form, we come here to hand our form to the staff and wait for the ski equipment. And do not forget to put the things you don't need inside the locker. The locker here is divided into the male and female ones. We can deposit our things here before taking the cable car up to the snow mountains.
Once we got our ski equipment, we deposit our unused things inside the lockers of which divided into male and females. It's quite simply of how to deposit things as the instructions are all there and very easy to understand.
Once everything is done, it's time to take the cable car up to the mountain and enjoy the snow!!!
Soon, the cable car comes. The people are yet crowded in the morning. The cable car is quite comfortable. We can enjoy the ride while taking photo and appreciating the beautiful view of Gala Yuzawa.
This is the atmosphere there which is all covered by snow. Well, the weather is not that cold although I didn't wear much winter jackets.
Soon, we go up to find many people up there including children and adults. The ski course is also offered here in case you are interested.
The place is very spacious. The snow is white, clean, and all new. The weather up here is very fresh and comfy.
In addition to adult zone, children and general people zone is there also. There's a tray for us to slide in the snow. It looks fun and quite interesting. Here, I think it's suitable for everyone.
If you guys are searching for something new or tired of city atmosphere, you are always welcome to visit and enjoy here. It has beautiful views with lots of corners for photography and activities. Indeed a worthwhile visit. We play here about 2 hours before planning to go to the next place as now is noon. Our next destination is Yokohama but we will stop for lunch in Tokyo first. We'd like to go Yokohama for night view. It's only 30 minutes from Tokyo Station.
If you wonder about the history and importance of this city, let me tell you that Yokohama is the first port that was globally recognized as the gateway to Japan. It comes with the Western touch. Since it's located near the bay, the weather is cool and comfy. It's a great place to jog in the evening. The tourists like to come here for walking and enjoying the sunset.
The place that I'd like to recommend is Ōsanbashi Pier. It is the popular place for the photographer to take nice shots. We get off at Nihonodori Station which is the terminal station. Then, just a bit walk and we will reach here.
The surrounding atmosphere is so great, many couples are out to enjoy the place.
Once it's dark, the lights from the city are lighten up. This is the best time for photography as you will get the blue sky with beautifully shinning lights from the city. After taking enough photos, it's time to go back Tokyo for dinner and rest and get ready for tomorrow.
Here is the end of our third day journey :)
We stay in Tokyo for our fourth day journey. Today is our relax day and we don't want to go anywhere far. We find something to eat and just shopping around. In the evening, we travel to Karuizawa, the famous resort city with nice and shady atmosphere. The people are not much since we visit during the low season, haha. Overall, the city is beautiful but looking a bit deserted and lonely so I didn't take many photos.
There're a lot of tourists destinations in this city:
1. Karuizawa Outlet
It is a shopping center with lots of brand name products. The price is not so expensive. Many people come here to visit with many tours. If you like shopping, you'd like this place.
For more information, please click: http://www.karuizawa-psp.jp.e.kd.hp.transer.com/web/plazaguide/en/
In addition to shopping, there're also other interesting things to do.
Please kindly visit Karuizawa Travel Guide: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6030.html
This great spacious lake view is suitable for sitting there and looking far. It's so still. It's my favorite spot of this lake as we can see the still water reflecting trees and houses. Karuizawa is a resort town with several big and small hotels as well as lots of houses. The weather is cool as it's surrounded by mountains so the wind is constantly blowing. When the sun is set, it's also the time for us to go back to Tokyo.
DAY 5 – 6 – 7
Today we wake up a bit early as we need to catch the early train to Kawaguchiko Lake, a popular tourist destination for Thai people and foreigners. The highlight of this lake is we can see the Mount Fuji outstandingly standing near the lake. If the weather and luck permit, you will see the entire mountain; otherwise, nothing is visible, haha, so cruel right? As for me, I used to visit here once in last leaves changing color season. We stay at a 2 story houses as we came in a big family so it's more convenient to stay at the same house. Also, we like to cook and this house provides the kitchen, big dining room so it's very convenient. Besides, all the electronic devices are fully provided here.
If you are interested in this house at Kawaguchiko Lake, please visit this review:
LAKE VILLA KAWAGUCHIKO @LAKE KAWAGUCHIKO, the accommodation with Mount Fuji view and Onsen Pool
LAKE VILLA KAWAGUCHIKO (SUPERIOR COTTAGE).
We book this house three days for this trip. We want to spend slow life with no rush. We'd like to wake up early to see Mt. Fuji and the sunset as well as walking to appreciate Sakura along the way. I will also post these 3 days atmosphere for you.
There's a fair during when we visited. Many things are out including food which comes in great variety. What I love the most is grilling dish like grilled beef which comes in a big piece and not so sticky. It's melted in our mouth, so delicious. The grilled squid is also great with good sauce, very yummy. Also, it's not so expensive, about 300-500 JPY.
Today the Mount Fuji is visible but the fog is too thick that we can't clearly see it. We set out camera to wait for the sunset but the sun can't come in due to the clouds covered them up. So we only get this view of fade fog instead. Ok, that's alright, let's try our luck again tomorrow. The sky might be open and we can clearly see it.
But wait, today is our first night here. We have a meeting at midnight to take the Mount Fuji near the lake shot. That I really want to take this photo because I used to see the image of the Mount Fuji near the lake and accompanied with the stars at night from the internet and it's just so breathtaking. While waiting for the time, I just play on my laptop. When it's midnight, I come out and look to the sky to find that the clouds are not so much. But the weather is terrible. I have to say that it's not easy to capture the night shot at Kawaguchiko Lake because the weather is so cold (it must be a single digit weather) and very windy. Anyhow, I want this photo so badly that I put on multiple layers clothes, take my camera and a tripod to challenge this cold. I'm trembling while walking around the lake. The light of these houses are off and people are asleep. The atmosphere is very scary but I have no means to give it up. I continue walking with my lamp to the lake. Actually, the Mount Fuji is not that clear but if you look carefully you will see it right in front of you. So then, I quickly made my shooting.
After a few clicks, I can't handle this cold and it's very windy so I give up and walk back to my accommodation. When I'm back home and see my camera, I find the photo of Kawaguchiko Lake with Mount Fuji and stars at night. Yay! I made it, it's so worthy!!! Then, it's time to sleep as tomorrow we are going to wake up early to wait for the first light near the lake again...
We wake up at 5 a.m. to see the sunrise. Before going out for any photo shooting, we must check the weather forecast first. There's a website that we can see the Mount Fuji and everything around it, it's quite convenient, that website is http://www.fujigoko.tv/live/camera.cgi?e=1&n=10. From this website, we can check the weather at certain time. It's so convenient to prepare for any shooting. I think it's such a useful website and I really recommend you guys to save it for future use.
We check the weather forecast to find that the clouds would spread out and the Mount Fuji to reveal herself at around 6 a.m. We than quickly grab our camera and out to the lake because the chance might be just a few minutes. We finally are here on time to see the light shines out from the clouds and touches the Mount Fuji. The water is so still that we can see the complete reflection of the mountains and the clouds. It's so spectacular. It's so worth the wait. We only have 10 minutes before the clouds cover everything and the Mount Fuji disappears.
" Just the 10 minutes that we met is already worth the wait."
Here is the atmosphere near the lake. The Cherry Blossom Festival was also held from April 11th-19th so several colors and species of flowers are here. It's so beautiful. And the light is turned on at night also.
Today is one of the last days that Sakura start to fall and we can see the green leaves start to come out. Yet, many people are traveling here to enjoy them.
It's such a romantic scene. It'd be a wonderful time coming with your lover.
Today is our last day at Kawaguchiko Lake so we plan to visit the Red Pagoda or Chureito Pagoda which is the popular destination of the tourists. We also must not miss it.
How to get there?
We can travel from Kawaguchiko St. – Shinmoyoshida St. which takes about 15 minutes more or less. It's quite convenient.
Once we reach the station, we turn right and will find the sign leading us to Chureito Pagoda. It's quite easy, just follow the sign. This place welcomes lots of tourists due to it offers a beautiful viewpoint. The Red Pagodais is beautifully situated with the great Mount Fuji as a backdrop. It's such a beautiful combination. On the nice weather, you will clearly see the Mount Fuji too. Many foreign and Japanese photographers are here to take photos.
When you reach here, just walk inside and follow the path.
Once walking for a while, we will see the stairs for walking uphill. It can be a good exercise. But if we carry camera bag and a tripod, it could be an exhausted walk.
But wait, if you are driving, you can also drive it up near the walkway which is quite convenient and you won't get too tired.
Now we are here and walk inside a little bit and we will find the Chureito Pagoda which is so beautiful and worth the walk. Anyhow, this is not the most beautiful spot, we need to walk up more, let's go!
Even the elder can walk up, and so do we, cheers!
On the way to Mount Fuji, we can also see the city view below. Unfortunately, the Mount Fuji is shy today so we can't see her.
Finally, we arrive at the most beautiful viewpoint of this place. The Sakura is beautifully blossom with the bright Red Pagoda but we miss our main character today, which is the Mount Fuji. It's such a pity that we can't see her here.
After taking enough photos around the Red Pagoda, it's time to go to the ancient village called Saiko Iyashino-Sato Nenba (Healing Village), which is recognized as a World Heritage Site. This village is located at Saiko Lake and we have to start at Kawaguchiko Station and then take the green bus there. It takes quite sometimes to reach but the view along the way is just fantastic!
The entrance fee of this village is 350 JPY each.
Hours of operation:
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., March to November
9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., December to February
Wednesdays from December to February
In the evening, we must hurry back to our accommodation to take the Mount Fuji near the lake shots. Now, there's a strange thing happen. The clouds are so huge and come in strange shape. At first, I didn't pay much attention to it but the shapes get stranger and stranger. Now they look like they are sucking something in, it's quite scary....
This morning is our 4th day after 3 full nights at Kawaguchiko. We enjoy the atmosphere near the lake a lot and also have tons of its photos. This morning we try our luck again to see if we can get the full view of Mount Fuji. Well, it's yet our luck. Anyhow, the weather is so nice and fresh. Finally, the clouds start to fade and let us see the Mount Fuji. Even though the Mount Fuji doesn't reveal herself in the full size, we have seen it. The 3 nights and 4 days at Kawaguchiko Lake is such a special time. We enjoy it a lot of everything we've seen. Now it's time to go back to Matsumoto.
The final destination and the highlight of this trip is Japan Alp. What we love to see the most is the high snow wall. It's said that this year is as high as 19 m. So we must enjoy this new experience as well. There's several ways of getting there depending on your convenience.
How to get there?
Introduciton to Alpen Route
For more information, please visit its official website:
Finally we arrive at the beginning path before reaching the snow wall, which is the Kurobe Dam, the largest dam in Japan and it can keep enormous amounts of water.
The water in the dam is all frozen now, such a strange thing to see.
Lots of tourists come with tours like Chinese, Thai and others so we must wait while quite sometimes when changing the ride. I recommend to visit here in the morning when people are yet crowded.
After finishing with the Kurobe Dam, it's time to take the tram.
The tram takes us up to above along this pipeline. It's such a long ride and so is this pipeline.
And we now arrive at the top. The view is getting higher and in fact, this is yet the summit. Anyhow, we stop to rest and take more photos as it's still the morning and we have plenty of time.
There're a lot of corners to take photos up here and the tourists enjoy themselves a lot.
And finally here is our final destination which is to take the cable car up. It's quite thrilling as it's so high!!!
Once we are up here, we see snow, snow, and snow everywhere. That we are at the top now, the snow wall wouldn't be too far.
When walking along the route, we finally find the snow wall. The further we walk, the higher snow wall gete, so let's keep walking....
This stop has the sign indicating as the highest point which is 19 m height!! It's really high.
Overall, it's a worthwhile trip to see snow wall. Although it's not natural, it's made from creative and innovative men and is astonishing alike. We enjoy our time up here until 13.00 p.m. before going back to Matsumoto to rest. We are going back to Tokyo tomorrow and roam around there as our last day of the trip.
DAY 10 Tokyo
This morning we travel from Matsumoto to Tokyo. We then check in at our hotel. The last destination of this trip is Odaiba. I wouldn't explain much, let's just see the atmosphere together as this is a quite popular attraction already.
Diver City Odaiba Gundam
Gundam RX-78 has the same size as the DiverCity Tokyo Plaza.
FUJI TELEVISION NETWORK, INC.
Odaiba Kaihin Koen
Rainbow Bridge (Tokyo)
And here is our final destination for this trip. We roam around Odaiba until noon and go back to the hotel. Then we walk around Ueno to shop and eat. Tomorrow we are flying back to Thailand. I'd like to end our trip here. Thank you so much everyone for yours always support. If you have any questions, feel free to ask us anytime. Thank you so much, Kob Khun Krab :)