Travel plans/Winter 2014

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This page lists to the schedule, plan, and options for the trip. For other ideas we couldn't do this time, check out Travel plans/Winter 2014/Ideas.


  • 2/8-2/11 Tokyo
  • 2/11 Tokyo → Tsuyazaki
  • 2/12 Kurokawa onsen → Kurokawa onsen
  • 2/13 Tsuyazaki → Naoshima
  • 2/14 Naoshima → Takamatsu
  • 2/15 Takamatsu → Hakone?
  • 2/16 Hakone → Yokote
  • 2/17 Yokote → Tokyo
  • 2/17-2/20 Tokyo


Staying in an AirBnB place in Shinagawa.

  • Review: There are 4 rooms but a few are semi-permanently occupied. A clean place run by easygoing people. Would be happy to stay there again.

Try to go visit the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel (official link).

  • Review: Didn't go there because it was closed after we came back from the trip.

Also go visit the Mori Tower in Roppongi hills to view the city and the Mori Art Museum (open until 22h every day except Tuesdays and 17h then) and showing Gabriel Acevedo Velarde and Andy Warhol at the moment.

Visit Shibuya to see people splitting apart and coming together. Review: Went to Coins with Justin.

2/11 Tokyo → Tsuyazaki[edit]

  • Travel: Tokyo → Tsuyazaki which includes: JR Tokaido / Sanyo Shinkansen from Tokyo to Hakata; JR Train to Futuma Station (the 鹿児島本線 train); Then #1-1, #1-2 (12 mins, 9 stops), or #5 Bus (14 mins, 13 stops) to Tsuyazaki-bashi run by Nishitetsu Bus (¥220). The bus and trains run until about midnight.
  • Day: Travel mostly but maybe stop for food/activity on the way?
  • Evening: Stay in Tsuyazaki

The plan is to leave on an early train and then try to spend a big chunk of the day in a stop along the way. Either Hiroshima for some bomb tourism and okonomiyaki or Miyajima for some shrine tourism.

  • Consult Tabelog for Hiroshima okonomiyaki spots (maybe in the station). Wikivoyage also has a few recommendations.
  • To get to Miyajima, we'd take the JR Sanyo Main Line to Miyajimaguchi Station (and then presumably transfer to a ferry). The train ride takes about 27 minutes and departs every 15 minutes.

Proposed trip: 7:40-12:36 Shinagawa → Hiroshima, 15:31-17:11 Hiroshima → Fukuma

In Tsuyazaki, we'll stay in an amazing guest house run by friends of Mika's college friend Takara who now lives in the US and won't be there. 3000 yen/person/night. Reserved.

  • Kono House map
    • 〒811-3304 福岡県福津市津屋崎4丁目12-21
    • 811-3304 Fukuoka Fukutsu Tsuyazaki 4-chome 12-21
  • Review: Very nice place. The house is big and clean and even though it has been remodeled, it is still a traditional Japanese-style house. The kitchen is large and we'd have loved to cook there. We paid less than normal people because of Takara. We also walked from the station to Tsuyazaki instead of taking a bus -- about 40 minutes.

Vaughn will leave Tokyo around noon and should be able to arrive in Tsuyazaki by 7.

Dinner and an onsen or similar in Tsuyazaki?

2/12 Tsuyazaki → Kurokawa onsen[edit]

  • Day: Visit shochu distellery in Tsuyazaki
  • Travel: #5 Bus to Futuma; Train Futuma → Hakata; Train Hakata → Aso; Bus Aso → Kurokawa-onsen
  • Evening: Onsen and stay in Kurokawa

In the morning, we'll get a tour of a shochu distillery somehow associated with Mika's friend Takara in Tsuyazaki. We'll have breakfeast and check out the town and then we'll be off to to Kurokawa-onsen.

In order to make the last bus, we'll need to leave a little early. Bus from Aso to Kurokawa onsen leaves Aso: 10:28, 11:28, 12:28, 14:40, 17:12. We must leave Tsuyazaki by 12:50 to arrive in Aso at 16:35 to make the last bus.

  • Stay in this Ryokan. Reserved. 7020 yen/person/night.
  • Review: There were no airbnb or other cheaper options in Kurokawa-onsen. Even though this inn was reasonably priced for Kurokawa (most places are very expensive), it was a proper ryokan. It's a very small town in the mountains and you can walk around the whole town in less than 30 minutes. Most restaurants had closed by the time we got in but there was one shop and one izakaya that were open until 22 or 23:00. Izakaya had good food and was fairly reasonably priced (about 2500/person?). We got some local shochu at the shop.
  • Review: We wanted to try the Tofu restaurant next day but it wasn't open until 11AM. It looked great. We visited a temporary ceramics gallery (she comes there once a month) and found great ceramics. We got very tasty, freshly baked apple pies at a bakery and hot dango at a dango shop near the tofu restaurant. Many shops seem to offer free tea and coffee. We didn't have time to visit other onsen but we enjoyed the outdoor foot bath at the inn while watching the snow fall.
  • Review: We got to the station too late for the buses that go to Kurokawa-onsen but the lady at the information desk called the inn and asked if they can pick us up at a nearby local bus stop (Yu-land? 15 minutes away by car). That bus was running until 18:00 or so. We learned that during this season, we don't really need to make reservations -- most of the time there are enough seats left to accommodate four of us.

2/13 Kurokawa Onsen → Naoshima[edit]

  • Travel: Kurokawa onsen → Naoshima (6h?)
  • Day: Onsen in the morning and, if there's time, maybe stop along the way?
  • Night: Hostel on Naoshima and bath at I ♥ Yu

Naoshima (WV) is an incredible island with wonderful contemporary art. We'll spend the whole day of the 14th there.

I ♥ Yu is open until 21:00. We should try to make the 18:53 ferry in order to go there.

Afternoon and evening ferries leave Uno at: 20:25, 18:53, 17:10, etc.

We'll plan to stay in the Seven Beach Inn [1] or maybe in the Dormitory in Kowloon (ドミトリーin九龍) right in front of Miyanoura port, behind a 'snack' bar, ☎ +81 87-892-2424. Both are owned by the same people.

  • We stayed in xx obasan's house, which is right by the seven beach dormitory. It's a small but clean and cozy studio.

Useful links for the day:

2/14 Naoshima → Takamatsu[edit]

  • Travel: Boat trip to Takamatsu (1-2h)
  • Day: Exploring Naoshima
  • Evening: Udon and Staying in Takamatsu

The last slow boat from the main Naoshima port to Takamatsu leaves at 17:00, costs ¥510, and takes ~1h. The last faster boat leaves at 19:25, takes 25 minutes, and costs ¥1200.

Takamatsu (WV | WP) is major port city in Shikoku and the udon capital of the planet. Gird your loins fellow travelers.

This public bath in Takamatsu looks interesting.

There are many famous udon places but recommendations include:

  • Tsurumaru (手打ちうどん 鶴丸), 古馬場町9-34 (About halfway between Kataharamachi Station and Kawaramachi Station on the road running along the Kotoden Line.)
  • Kawafuku at 2-1 Daiku-machi
  • Waraya (91 Yashima-nakamachi, Yashima), a 19th-century farmhouse-turned udon-ya that's popular
  • Ichidai (12-3 Nishinomaru-cho, Takamatsu), a bright, bustling lunch spot near the main train station
  • Review: Tsurumaru was Mika's favorite. We also went to a bar in the arcade that had a few good uemshu. I took a picture of the menu.
  • Review: There were 5 beds in one room. Not the cleanest but sufficient. There was internet in the lobby.

2/15 Takamatsu → Hakone[edit]

  • Travel: Takamatsu → Hakone: Train Takamatsu to Shin-Osaka (3h); Shin-Osaka → Hakone (~3.5h)
  • Day: Stop in Osaka for Umeshu Convention
  • Evening: Onsen in Hakone

En route from Takamatsu, we'll stop in Osaka for much of the day to visit The 8th Tenmatenjin Umeshu Convention. The address for the convention is:

2-1-8, Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi 530-0041
  • From Odawara, take [hakone tozan].19:10, 19:18 (more expensive), 19:30, 19:45 (more expensive), 19:52, 20:12

[Kappa-tengoku (かっぱ天国)] which is around ¥5000 and supposed to be great (+81 460-856121). Reserved.

  • Review: It was a Showa-era style inn. I felt like yokai lived there. It's not the cleanest but Mako and Mika liked it. Most Japanese people probably don't. It's got a beautiful outdoor onsen upstairs. It's right by the station.

2/16 Hakone → Yokote[edit]

  • Travel: Hakone → Yokote, Akita (WV | WP) (5-6h) (Vaughn to Tokyo)
  • Day: Onsen
  • Evening: Yokote snow festival with kamakura and bonden (Akita February 15-17) Kamakura festival in Akita!]

In the morning, lets visit one of onsen resorts in Hakone. Particularly attractive seems Yunessun for a wine, sake, coffee, and green tea onsen. It costs extra to enter the naked zone.

  • Review: Yuneesan couldn't be reached but we went to another onsen spa, Tenseien. We walked from our inn, which was about 30 minutes. It's a proper spa with lots of tatami rooms for resting after or inbetween bath times.
  • Review: There is a great yuba place -- we couldn't go to the main restaurant but as we waited for a taxi, we got takeouts from a food court that had a smaller branch of this yuba restaurant and they were delicious.

According to the official festival website, the igloos are in action 18:00 to 21:00 so we should plan to be there before the igloos are shut down.

The two nearest trains along the railroad are: Yuzawa (Akita) and Omagari.

  • There were many perks that came with this stay. Two onsen vouchers were given -- Annex is disappointing but the other one was great.

2/17 Day 7: Travel: Yokote → Tokyo[edit]

  • Day : More snow festival in Yokote
  • Travel: Yokote → Tokyo
  • Night: Back in Tokyo

2/18-20 Tokyo[edit]

  • Maybe we can go to this Kabuki performance (ordering details are here).
  • Wave Artists at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum (Tokyo February 19-March 7)
  • Natto factory in many places including Chiba?
  • the Mona Satoimo Festival (茂名の里芋祭) which is a kind of potato festival in Chiba on February 19-22
  • Review: We stayed here this time. It's small for three people but clean and close to the station. We also found a good soba restaurant, Kaoriya, right by the station.

Regions in Japan[edit]

  • There are 8 main regions in Japan. In general, it's cold everywhere in Feb but it's colder in Chubu, Tohoku, and Hokkaido. There's a mountain range in the middle of Tohoku/Chubu region; west of the mountain range is very snowy.
  • There are onsen, temples/shrines, good food, sesame, and vending machines pretty much everywhere. The whole country is made of volcanoes.


Description Cost Paid Beneficiaries
Tokyo Airbnb Feb 8-11 (Aaron only for one night 2243 Mika Aaron
Rail Passes 82822 Mika Mika, Mako, Aaron
Tsuyazaki Guest House 14000 Mika All
Tsuyazaki Guest House 1000 Aaron All
Tokyo AirBnB Feb 17-20 50203 Mika Mika, Mako, Aaron
Kappa's heaven in Hakone 13050 Mika Mika, Mako, Aaron
Lee ufan museum 4000 Aaron All
chichu art museum 4000 Aaron All
kurokawa onsen 28680 Aaron All
yokote hotel 15150 Aaron Aaron, Mako, Mika
leftover yen (for Mako & Mika) 4000 Aaron Mika
hakone taxi 2690 Aaron All
benesse museum 4000 Vaughn All
seven beach guesthouse 15000 Vaughn All
takamatsu century hotel 12000 Vaughn All
chichu art museum 4000 Vaughn All

The same list here:

  • Mika: 116GBP for Tokyo Airbnb Feb 8-11 (Aaron only for one night for 12.9GBP).
  • Mika: 480GBP for Aaron, Mika, and Mako's JR pass.
  • Mika: ¥15000 for Tsuyazaki Guest House for 4 of us (Aaron paid ¥1000 and Mika paid ¥14000).
  • Mika: 487USD for Tokyo Airbnb Feb 17-20 for Aaron, Mika, and Mako.
  • Mika: ¥13050 (4350/person) for Kappa's heaven for Aaron, Mika, and Mako -- we had to pay in cash and I sort of remember paying for 3 people but if I'm wrong, let me know!
  • Aaron: ¥4000 Lee ufan museum
  • Aaron: ¥4000 chichu art museum
  • Aaron: ¥28680 kurokawa onsen
  • Aaron: ¥15150 yokote hotel (for Mako & Mika)
  • Aaron: ¥4000 leftover yen (for Mako & Mika)
  • Aaron: ¥2690 hakone taxi
  • Vaughn: ¥4000 benesse museum
  • Vaughn: ¥15000 seven beach guesthouse
  • Vaughn: ¥12000 takamatsu century hotel
  • Vaughn: ¥4000 chichu art museum

Who paid for Mika&Mako's umeshu in Osaka?