Final days in Tokyo

Our final days in Tokyo were revisiting some places we enjoyed on our first leg, as well as visiting some new places.  I am posting this several months after we arrived back home, and on reflection Sue enjoyed the trip more, the linger she is back home.  The boys certainly enjoyed it more than the girls, and your truly cannot wait until going back for a photo tour, just so many opportunities for great shots!


Sue pointing out a koi or playing ‘pull my finger’3W9A4013


No luck winning this guy…
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We headed up the skytree on new year’s day, and it was star wars themed!  It was insanely busy!  You lined up, to get allocated a time (several hours later) that you could then head up to the viewing level.



Thanks to Raul, I have come away with a love of all things stormtrooper!IMG_3739 IMG_3747

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One of the winnings for Tegan IMG_3715 IMG_3730 IMG_3731



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The kids won me a prize!  It now sits proudly on my monitor to remind me.



Sue and I watched this fake horse racing / gambling centre, and it was just over the top.  Lots of punters reading up on the form of fake horses before they jump.



Absolutely loved the Yamazaki 12 years, and disappointed in myself that I didn’t buy it at this shop, assuming it would be available at the airport, which it wasn’t or anywhere in Australia since coming back…



Last meal before getting on the plane.  We needed to activate the buzzer by placing it on a specific spot on the table, then the meals were brought out.




Travel day to Tokyo, nothing much to report

Wednesday December 30, 2015

Check out from Nozawa Onsen day, sad faces all round.  We packed, said our goodbyes to Mark and Kerri, who were fantastic hosts, and a very helpful brother and sister team.

One thing we learned and made use of, was the ability to send on 2 of our bags straight to Narita airport to put up on our departure via the ‘black cat’ service. We had overheard some people talking about the service, and we got the low down from Kerri, and sorted what we needed in Tokyo, to that we don’t.  Having 2 less large bags will make a world of difference for us with dragging them on the buses, trains and the Tokyo metro, storing them in small accom, plus on our final day, after checkout, storing them and battling the Tokyo crowds to get to the airport later in the day.

The bus from the village to the JR station was filled to the brim.  I thought we were standing, but extra seats fold out.


My legendary direction fails and shortcuts caught us again, with one wrong turn, I took us on a extended journey to our apartment.

We got in, the girls decided to dig in for the night, so I grabbed them some supplies and Ryan and I then found a great place close by, that you ordered your meals via a ticket machine and took them then to the counter.


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The crew are exuding a feeling of ready to go home.  Whilst we are not heading off until Sunday night, I think we are ready to get back to the comforts of home.  Don’t get me wrong, we will still be enjoying our days here in Tokyo

Today’s song of the day is Whole Wide World – Sister Jane

Three days on the snow

Sunday – Tuesday, Dec 27-29, 2015

I am combining the days for the last post from Nozawa, as it is fairly much the same routine each day, which is still super fun for us, but you my one reader may not like me coming up with yet another way of saying the word ‘white’ when describing the snow!

The village sure looks prettier as the snow falls!

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looking out our windowIMG_3636 IMG_3598 IMG_3596 IMG_3597

Time to hit the slopes!IMG_3613

Tegan and I heading to the slopes before our 3rd mountain member can make it out the door.

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Getting suited up at the ski locker

With not all of the mountain open as yet, there were some queues at times for chairlifts and gondolas.


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coming out from popeye’s on the slopes

We stopped to make a snowman along a trail were were skiing, and it is a lot harder than we thought to make one from very powdery snow, but the kids did a great job.




Coming back into the base station

IMG_3662This shot was taken roughly in the same spot as Christmas day photos, one attached below.



Some shots of some of the food we inhaled.


nozawana IMG_3625

I wondered why we weren’t getting served until Ryan spotted thisIMG_3621 IMG_3619
We bought a bag of bacon whilst we were here, but we think whilst it may be bacon’ish, it is pork.  I have no idea of the difference, but it smelt and tasted of a roast 🙂

brown bacon and snow, worst video ever!

Some shots from around town.

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getting colder

The onsen / hot springs water flowing through town is where you put your build up of snow.

Today’s song of the day is Alex Lloyd – Snow

Green to White Christmas

Friday December 25, 2015


We woke to clear snow, rather than the fluffy white stuff, but there were some gifts for the kids under Terry.

3W9A3885We had a relaxing morning, and decided to walk through town to the other gondola station to check it out and grab some lunch.  Whilst we were there, it started to snow!


temperature starting to drop


These steamed buns were delicious!


Not much snow when we arrived


It started snowing!

Sue found a great option for dinner with the help of Kerri at our accomodation, Haus St Anton’s degustation menu, and it was so good! 7 courses of joy!

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It then snowed for us on the way home, which a fantastic finish to our Christmas!



Today’s song of the day Paul Kelly ‘How To Make Gravy’

Christmas eve

Thursday December 24, 2015

Today was our first day up the hill and getting a Skiing lesson at 1:00, so it was off to get some runs in to remind the legs what this skiing is about. Sue was set to get the lay of town.
no snow yet in the village
heading up on the gondola
getting in some runs
pastries and views 
We had a 2 hour lesson with Tom, which went well and gave us all tips on what to concentrate on. We then headed back to hear about Sue’s day.


We had the last couple of presents to grab for the kids, whilst we are having a minimal gifts year, there were a couple spotted to grab.  Once that was sorted, Sue and I decided to go into a bar for a Christmas eve drink, and met a lovely couple from Liverpool, and enjoyed a few drinks and talked music, tv shows and travel.

My yamazaki whisky, which is a new favourite to sip on.

It was then back to the unit to wrap up the gifts and get ready for our Christmas.

Today’s song of the day is LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends

Off to Nozawa Onsen

Wednesday December 23, 2015

Today we are off to our Christmas destination, Nozawa Onsen on the recommendation of Nigel, who holidayed there the previous year with his family, who was also recommended there by a mutual friend John C.

After experiencing the crowds a couple of days before on the local train into Kyoto, we arranged for taxis to take us there, and it could not have been smoother, and quite reasonably priced.

Once on the first train, we settled back for a 2 train, 1 bus journey.
beverage for the train
We found our accomodation, and was greeted warmly by Kerri, and shown to our accomodation.  Sue’s eyes lit up.  Modern, spacious, and universally warm throughout!  The last place had no heating in kitchen and bathroom areas and was very cold.  Sue’s isn’t skiing at all, so I was glad it was a great environment for her to relax whilst not out in the town.

We had a quick reccy of the  village, and got some supplies. On the way out, I asked if there was anywhere in town that I could buy some little speakers, as there wasn’t a tv in our room, and we might want some music playing.  On our return a tv had arrived, and whilst it didn’t have an aerial cable, we had an apple tv with us to connect in music and netflix shows.

Yes we packed a small tree to bring with us
After a western style dinner at an Italian place in the village, we got fitted out for our ski gear, ready to hit the slopes in the morning.

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It has been an unusually late start to the snow season, but there are predictions that it is coming soon, hope it does while we are here…

Today’s Song of the day is Peking Duk ft. Nicole Millar – “High”

Day trip to Hiroshima and Miyajima

Monday 21 December, 2015

Today we were off to Hiroshima on the Shinkansen, and we were determined not to have the screw ups of the train journey a couple of days before.

our train comes in

We headed to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum first off, and we saw that you can get a guide, and it was lovely to have been led around and explained particular items of the exhibit.

It was a very somber experience, and serves to remind us not to allow this to happen again.
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The gang and our guide3W9A3683 3W9A3686
The peace cranes were great to see, and inspired one of our party to start making them in the coming days.
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We then headed to the A-Bomb dome, which stands as a striking reminder of the devastation.  It was one of the few structures that stood after the bomb exploded. It is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and represents people’s prayers for a lasting peace.
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The lunch split routine continues, and the boys needed to take photos of the models of the food, to communicate what they wanted to eat.

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different way of cooking the gyoza’sIMG_3431

We were then off to Hiyajima via the ferry.
All the temples we have been to, have some differences, one here liked beanies??
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so many photo opportunities!3W9A3753 3W9A3745 3W9A3740
friendly deer
then we see the sign…3W9A3723
It was a long day 6:45AM – 9:30PM, and refreshments were called for on the train back to Kyoto.
great packaging a glass in with the bottle of wine

Slow start, then lads go solo in Kyoto

Sunday December 20, 2015

Today was designated a rest(ish) day, so we had a slow start, which allowed me to catchup with some of these posts.  The girls decided they wanted to stay in or close, so it was the boys to venture out today.

First stop, Nijo Castle.
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 We then headed off to Kiyomizu-dera, and it was a flurry of activity, in a beautiful area.  It was great to see so many people dressed in their kimono’s and yakata’s.

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selfie time3W9A3589 3W9A3591 3W9A3601 3W9A3610 3W9A3615 3W9A3606 3W9A3623
We then walked to Gion, to hopefully spot a Geisha, but we weren’t successful today.
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We found a great little food bar, where the cook was making his noodles in between customers coming in and out.  The noodles, broth and tempura were superb, and we were so glad to poke our heads in the door.

Making the noodles, so much care taken
IMG_3413finished product

Today’s song of the day is Total Control – Flesh War

Tori gates and Ryan’s OP result is in

Friday 18th December, 2015

Another big day planned by our tour guide, with the first stop Shōren-in temple. Whilst the temple itself was beautiful, the gardens really struck us.


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We walked towards our next temple stop, and we were sidetracked by other temples along the way.
We split for lunch in Gion, where Ryan had eel, and Tegan going for the sandwich option.
We headed to Rengeoin Sanjusangendo with its 1,001 statues, unfortunately no cameras inside the temple, but a book was purchased for us to remember it by.
outside Rengeoin Sanjusangendo

3W9A3380nice gardens here as well

It was the off to the Tori gates – Fushimi Inari-taisha, and man it was a leg burner!

journey to the top3W9A3393
Tegan wanted to check out some J-Pop at tower records, so we dropped in there for a while and it was great listening to new music, whilst I didn’t understand the lyrics, there were some great tracks listened to.
We strolled around Nishiki market
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After a long day on the feet, we had dinner and headed back to HQ.
I had just headed off to bed around 11:00 when Ryan came in and showed me his phone with his OP result of a 1 on it.  It had just ticked over to Saturday back home, so results were published.  Time for a celebratory drink with him on achieving such a milestone.
Today’s song of the day is Birds of Tokyo – Plans

Intro to Kyoto

Thursday 17th December

Today was our introduction to Kyoto with Ryan as the guide.

The team split into boys and girls for the first hour, with the boys heading to the Kyoto tower and the girls off shopping.


friendly locals get accosted by camera toting tourist


view from the top of the tower3W9A3223

loads to see

We headed off for a Ramen lunch at the request of the boys.


osaka style ramen

After fueling up on our ramen, we headed to Imperial Palace park, for a wander around.  The colours were still showing off their autumn shades, and it was gorgeous.


working out the planIMG_8994

caught in the act


Where’s mummy became a theme3W9A3282


throwing leaves at Tegan

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great colours!

Ryan being the good brother that he is, had the Manga Museum for our next stop. I didn’t realise that there was so much Manga!  There were walls and walls of them!



We grabbed some Sushi for dinner, but abstained from the raw horsemeat.


planning for the next day

Today’s song of the day is The Chemical Brothers – Go