Category Archives: Preparation

SUNDAY – 19 DAYS TO DEPARTURE

WOW!! We’re in our teens now! I can’t believe how fast the time is ticking away. This time in three weeks we will be in Japan, in Sapporo and preparing to head off to Furano, our second stop on the journey!

We’ve had a very quiet weekend in Perth. Last night we finally sat down and finalised our accommodation for Hakone and Matsushima.

We did a funny thing with the booking for Hakone, mainly because there are some odd ‘rules’ for our hotel. We are staying at Senkei Hotel for the first night. Included is kaiseki ryori and breakfast. Woohoo! We had to have kaiseki! It is amazing. Kaiseki consists of about 15 different, 100% traditional Japanese dishes. Some of them are unidentifiable but hey, you just have to trust. Japanese people have been eating these things for hundreds of years and they’re OK. The last time we had kaiseki ryori was at Miyajima Seaside Hotel in March 2008.

Kaiseki

Kaiseki at Miyajima

How I love this! A beautiful Japanese lady brings the meal to your room and sets it all out for you, like you are royalty. Then she  leaves you to enjoy and marvel over it (and it truly is marvelous!). In a traditional Japanese room you have your meal and then you will go for your ‘bath’ at the communal bath (onsen). While you’re away from the room your dishes are cleared and your bed (futon) assembled –

Futon

Futon at Miyajima Seaside Hotel

So, this will be our first night. For the following two nights we are moving to Senkei Plaza which is part of the same hotel, however it is more Western style and we will only have breakfast included. This is partly because the ‘rule’ is that you can only book for one night in the traditional Japanese room at Senkei Hotel (is this so everyone can have a turn?) and also because we couldn’t actually afford three nights. When I said I thought we would blow the budget spectacularly I didn’t mean that spectacularly!

At the Senkei Plaza part of the hotel we have an ‘American’ breakfast included. I think I know what that is, as opposed to an ‘Australian’ breakfast of weetbix and vegemite toast.

0254100147910_5

The funny part is that, for some reason, breakfast isn’t available on Wednesdays so we didn’t seem to be able to book a room at all on Wednesday, because breakfast is included. Oh, it was all too confusing. So we have one night at Senkei Hotel and two nights at Senkei Plaza. The onsen are available at both venues. We still blew the budget…

Onsen at Senkei

Onsen at Senkei

Next update – Matsushima accommodation…

Advertisements

FRIDAY – 21 DAYS TO DEPARTURE

Hello!!

It’s been a while and an update is well overdue. I hope no one has been holding their breath waiting!  The time has just flown by and this time in three weeks we will be at home preparing for our long awaited and very exciting departure! Woot!! I’m getting over-excited just typing this.

Our rail passes are being sent out from Railplus today – that’s all organised and saves having to to into the city to HIS to pick them up.

I am still looking for a hotel or ryokan in Hakone. I think I am going to have to accept that we will blow the budget on this occassion. This weekend we will have a chance to sit down together and I think I’ve decided that if we are going to blow the budget we will do it spectacularly. Or maybe not…

On our first night in Sapporo we’re going to the Sapporo Autumn Fest 2009. I’m so excited I feel like jumping up and down and squealing! This is not typical at all, for those of you who don’t know me that well, so I’m talking major amounts of excitement.

Sapporo Autumn

Sapporo Autumn

Here are a couple of pics from the last time we were in Sapporo.

Meanie outside Loft

Meanie outside Loft

We only popped in there on a day trip from Niseko to organise our rail passes. It was winter but a particulaly warm day and all the snow had started melting. It was sludgey and muddy and a bit smelly but we loved the city so much we’re staying for two nights this time to kick off our Japan 2009 adventure!

Japan 2008 - 70

FRIDAY – 35 DAYS TO DEPARTURE

Sorry, been slacking off on the blog side of things again and still haven’t picked up the last of the foreign currency from the Bank yet, but that can wait until next week. It’s probably safer there anyway.

What have we done on the preparation side of things since our last blog? Well, I’ve spent most of the morning today searching for accommodation in Hakone. We want to stay in Hakone Yumoto this time because it is the main centre really. Last time we stayed at Charlotte Inn, which is in Hakone Machi.

Charlotte Inn

Charlotte Inn

It is a fair bus trip from the station to Hakone Machi, on the shores of Lake Ashi. We had a spectacular view over the lake from our room and it was walking distance to the pirate ship which took us on the first leg of the Hakone Round Course . This is a day trip which involves travel on the boat across Lake Ashi, the ropeway to Sounzan, the cable car to Gora and the little switchback train back to Hakone Yumoto. From there we caught the bus back up the hill to Hakone Machi.

Lake Ashi

Lake Ashi

So, this time we want to commence our travels from Hakone Yumoto. We’re definitely planning on doing the Round Course again. There is so much to see, including, of course, Fuji-san! We will buy the Hakone Free Pass which covers all this travel and more.

Anyway, as I was saying, I have been trying to find somewhere nice in Hakone Yumoto. This area is well known for being expensive, but I’m determined not to blow the budget on this one!  At this point though, nothing has been booked in.

Love these!

Love these!

 

Next week I think I will organise the Japan Rail Passes!

I’m going to purchase them online at Railplus. There are not many outlets within Australia for purchasing these, but I have found Railplus to offer the best deal and their price varies weekly in accordance with movements in the exchange rate, so it has reduced somewhat in the last couple of weeks. I think next week I will pounce.

 

For the time being we’re going to take a short break this weekend at Oakfield Bed & Breakfast in Balingup . We can’t wait. It’s probably going to be horrible weather down there, judging by the look of the weather in Perth, but just to get away from it all will be such a blessing! We’ll update about this little interlude when we get back. There will no doubt, be a million photos, but I’ll just post a few.

Have a great weekend, whoever is reading this. God bless you!

WEDNESDAY – 37 DAYS TO DEPARTURE

So, it is apparent from the blogs I read, that regular blogging is important. No blog for three days is thoughtless, neglectful and just plain rude!

Well, there have been happenings, but no photos, but I will try to remedy that.

Our preparation has been peaceful this week. We have our currency to take with us. We have been watching the Australian dollar fluctuate and struggle to regain its (thanks Mum, for letting me know there’s no apostrophe in there!!) strength after months and months of being painfully weak. It is very hard to understand how all this works; the funny reasons for a surge of strength – “Golden Week in Japan so everyone is investing their holiday bonus payments  in Austalian bonds”. Oh, come on! But strangely the very first day of Golden Week saw the Aussie dollar perk up, just for a day and then settle back into it’s sad, sick, nobody wants me, rate of exchange.

We had kind of made a pact that, if we could buy 75 Yen with one Aussie dollar we would be happy. And we have and we are!!

We bought our Yen through Westpac Bank. Why? Well, I checked out a few options for ordering and paying online – Travelex, Commonwealth Bank, American Express and Westpac. Westpac always offers the best rate and charges no commission. We did this last year through Commonwealth Bank, mainly because I used to work there and knew the system. That seems foolish now, because they charge commission (1%) so even if their rate happens to be better than Westpac (which is rare) it still ends up costing you more. So there’s a “trap for young players”. The savings may seem negligible but, hey, it all adds up – a coffee at Starbucks every day? Well worth the saving!

Today I will leave you with an image from our last trip.

Miyajima

Miyajima